The third in the Open Prompts series. The story prompts are:
- 200 words ( my suggestion but I cheated: it’s actually about 570 words)
- a (possibly) haunted house (suggested by Tessa Sheppard)
- someone with an OCD problem (suggested by Amy at The Bumble Files)
- a rare bottle of wine (suggested by Christopher De Voss)
- the mention of an alien/terminator (suggested by Ripley Connor)
- a shift in tone from funny to sinister (suggested by Sharmishtha Basu)
It was Halloween and the mansion of Lord Fufflington was crowded with party-goers. The sommelier, Roderick, was busy in the private dining room of the lord.
“Oh, Roderick, can you recommend a good wine?” Lord Fufflington asked. “Maybe something white.”
Roderick sighed inwardly at hearing his entire profession boiled down to one of two colors.
“Sir, I recommend a 2001 Chateau d’Yquem.” The lord waved his approval and Roderick headed for the wine cellar.
He passed a female Terminator and a smaller alien on the stairs and shooed aside a decapitated Spongebob, who was smoking in front of the wine cellar door. Inside, he found Sailor Moon making out with Captain Jack Sparrow. After kicking these out, he found the right bottle of wine and was about to leave when he noticed something that made him gasp. It was the rarest bottle in the cellar, a bottle of 1953 Domaine de la Romanee . . . on the wrong rack.
It was a travesty. He had only been the sommelier of the manor for a month, but he had totally reorganized the wine cellar in that time. The old system had been some jumble of arcane nonsense instead of his new way: reverse alphabetic order by the last name of the vineyard’s original owner. Some party-goer must have moved the bottle. He carefully restored it to its correct place, aligned the label correctly, and brought the Chateau d’Yquem upstairs, locking the door behind him.
As soon as he reached the dining room, Lord Fufflington called him over. “We’ll need another bottle, it seems, Roderick. Lord Kigglistump has just arrived.” He motioned to an obese man whose body was straining against the neoprene rabbit costume he was wearing.
Roderick returned to the cellar and got another bottle of Chateau d’Yquem. On his way out, he saw that two other bottles had been moved. On the side of one dusty magnum was a note rubbed in the dust: Wine must be arranged by phenolic content only! – Diogenes, the butler.
So the butler did it! It was obvious. Roderick stormed upstairs, intent on informing Lord Fufflington. However, the wine requests kept pouring in and he was kept busy running to and from the wine cellar all night. Every time he entered, more bottles were moved and more notes were left in dust, in the dirt, or scratched in wood. They demanded that he return to the old system and threatened him grievous harm if he didn’t. The last even threatened to stab him in the throat in his sleep if he didn’t stop arranging the bottles in his own way.
That was the last straw. Roderick stormed upstairs and into the dining room, interrupting Lord Fufflington in the middle of a bawdy anecdote involving a hang glider and the constellation Andromeda.
“Sir, I must insist that the butler stop interfering with my organization of the wine cellar. He has been rearranging wine bottles all night.”
“That’s impossible, man,” Fufflington said. “The butler has been away all night at a private function.”
“He must have returned early then,” Roderick said. “In any case, tell Diogenes to stay away from my wine cellar.”
“Diogenes?” Lord Fufflington said. “The butler’s name is Ramses. Diogenes was the old butler. He died ten years ago tonight. Why, Ramses is at his memorial right now. I saw, Roderick, you’ve turned all pale and—I say! You just dropped that expensive bottle of wine on the floor. Are you sure you’re really cut out to be a sommelier?”