A 99.99 Percent True Story

I think I read too much. That might be the problem. Every time I read something, it makes my ridiculous imagination even weirder, and sometimes that really leads to trouble.

I don't remember too much about the dinner itself. All that comes to mind when I attempt to recall the evening is Mind-Control Juice.

My family (Mom, sisters, two cousins, aunt and grandparents) and I were visiting Ireland for about two weeks. Our trip was almost over, and as a grand finale, we decided to do something really touristy: eat at a castle.

I don't remember the name of the castle, just what it looked like. It was a real castle, but it hadn't been used as one for a few centuries. It wasn't our first castle that trip, but it was the only one that had been converted into a cheesy mock Renaissance Faire. The grounds surrounding it were covered with people in costumes with fake accents, showing the masses of tourists what life was like way back when. The main attraction at the castle was that, for a tidy sum, you could have an "ancient feast" inside the great fortress itself. Oooh.

Of course, the whole thing was just as I expected: obese tourists and people doing a bad job at pretending to be from the sixteenth century. In the beginning, we were herded in, one group at a time, to a waiting room, decorated with fancy carpets, old wood and antlers, and with about a dozen "royal servants" posted around the place. I have to admit, it actually did look pretty authentic, besides being filled with tourists snapping pictures and texting on their mobiles.

Now, this is where the story gets interesting. The first thing that happened when we walked in the door was two servants, holding trays of libations, offered us drinks.

For the adults, there was some sort of alcohol native to that area of Ireland, called mead, which was special, because it was brewed with honey. For the minors, a similar, non-alcoholic juice was offered.

We accepted our drinks, but I took mine rather hesitantly. Why, I wondered, were they posted so close to the entrance instead of wandering around the room? And why had they been so … forceful? As I glanced around me, I realized that everyone in the room was holding a glass, from the oldest grandparent to the smallest child. Not one hand was empty.

I absentmindedly took a sip of my juice… and gagged. It was unlike any other drink I'd ever had, and it was delicious! Almost like fruit juice, but something like fruit soda, with a bit of lemonade tossed in.

And that only made me more suspicious of it. The rest of my family was gleefully sipping and chatting and listening to the harpist in the middle of the room, occasionally surprising her by singing along to a song that, the harpist later admitted, she did not even know had words. I sat on the bench quietly, trying to figure out the conundrum of the mysterious drinks.

As my suspicion grew, a thought popped into my head. What if there was a different purpose for handing out the libations? And what if the drinks weren't just drinks?

I suddenly had a vision of all of the "royal servants" with malicious looks on their faces, waiting patiently for whatever was in the drinks to take effect. In that moment, they were the predators, I, the prey.

It was then that I had another vision, this time of the poor victims of the juice's poison becoming brainless zombies, obeying every demand they were given, and slowly but surely taking over the entire planet for their master.

Naturally, I was terrified about all the soon to be zombies surrounding me, my poor naive family and, of course, about the unknowing sip I had previously taken. I sat there, horrified, trying desperately not to wonder how long it would take before the mind control poison hit the right system and my brain began to fade. Instead, all sorts of horrible thoughts filled my head about how whomever had plotted this would, once the tourists here had been zombified, move on to larger targets, and the poison would be distributed in hamburgers, soda pop, candy, bread, and so on. It circulate the world, turning every last living soul into a mindless slave. In a small sense, in the middle of this overly priced tourist attraction, I plotted the end of the world.

I continued, for the better part of the evening in this fashion, and if anyone was concerned about my strange nature, they did not show it. The dinner was, as I suspected, amazingly corny, but I hardly noticed. I was too busy fretting about the mind-control juice.

About halfway through the meal, it occurred to me how incredibly ridiculous the whole thing was. It took me a very long time to figure it out, but once I did, there were only a few minutes before I was happily eating and, ironically, drinking with the rest of my family. I remained unsure for quite a while, but at the end of the evening when we drove back home, I almost, but not completely, forgot about it.

The incident occurred almost two years ago. Even though I have not yet (to my knowledge, at least) turned into the mindless servant of a mad scientist, I still, to this day, remain suspicious.