Midnight Snack

by Rohan Parekh

Part 1

My cook is trying to poison me. Lately I’ve been getting sicker after consuming any meal prepared by him. He’s been cooking for my family for generations and I’m the last surviving member of that family. Why does he want me dead? His salary has gone up every year even though he’s cooked less every year due to the demise of one family member after another.

Today he’s made spaghetti. He sets the plate down in front of me and smiles.

I smile back and offer him the first bite.

“I’ll have my dinner later.” He replies politely.

“There’s enough for both of us.”

“That’s very kind of you but I’m not hungry.”

He leaves the dining room. I roll up some spaghetti in my fork and stare at it. I always roll up the exact same amount of spaghetti for each bite. I’ve gotten good at it. So why does this particular roll of spaghetti feel heavier than usual? Has the poison made it heavier? Should I take a bite?

Part 2

I ate the spaghetti last night. And I felt sick. I ate oatmeal this morning. And I felt sicker. My cook, who made the oatmeal, ate the same oatmeal with me, for I was insistent that he join me. But he seems fine. Absolutely healthy. Then why am I getting sicker by the meal? How are his movements so fluid and carefree while mine are lagging and sluggish? There’s only one answer. He has swallowed the antidote. He’s immune to the poison.

But where has he hidden the antidote? I’ve searched the whole house. But my cook knows my house better than me. I used to play hide and seek with him when I was a kid. He always found me, every single time, but I never found him once. There’s also the possibility that he finished all the antidote.

The point is that my cook has left me no choice but to resort to drastic measures. I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life but that’s about to change. If the antidote is inside him, I must eat him to cure myself. I enter his bedroom in the middle of the night. He’s asleep. I approach him with a knife and fork.

Part 3

The doorbell wakes me up. I push the newspaper off me and slowly get off the sofa. My entire body is aching.
I answer the bell and it’s the little girl from next door.

“Hi! Do you have any cookies?” She asks.

“Unfortunately no. My cook isn’t here.”

“He went on vacation, didn’t he?” She says. “He promised he’d bake some cookies for me before he left.”

“Did he? I can’t remember.”

“You never remember anything!” She frowns.

I go back inside after promising the girl I’ll give her a hundred cookies next week.

I think my cook mentioned something about taking a short vacation this week. But I can’t remember. And my stomach hurts more than ever, especially after my last meal. I don’t even remember what I ate.

I go into my cook’s bedroom. I check the closet and the wardrobe. None of his belongings are here. It doesn’t seem like he’s gone on vacation, it seems like he’s completely moved out. Where did he go?

Part 4

“What’s that you have there?” The little girl’s father asks.

“Our neighbor baked me some cookies!” The little girl puts the box on the dining table.

“What?” The father looks worried. “Why him?”

“Because his cook didn’t do it before going on vacation.” She replies.

The little girl picks up a cookie and takes a bite. She immediately spits it out and proceeds to vomit.

Final Part

“I told you we should’ve moved a long time ago. But you said having a strange neighbor is no reason to move!” Says the little girl’s mother.

“I thought he was just strange. I didn’t know he was capable of this.” Replies the little girl’s father.

The little girl’s parents are watching the news on TV. Reporters are talking about a man who murdered his cook and used the body parts to bake cookies which he then gave to the little girl. The man claims that he is innocent and has no memory of committing such heinous crimes.

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