It was a day like any other, save for the unusual, roaring and clawing craving of chicken soup I’d awakened with.
Let me clarify, I didn’t crave any chicken soup. No, I wanted my grandmother’s. No one cooked like her. She was a gifted lady when it came to fattening people. Unfortunately, she had passed away a year ago.
Perhaps, the fact that I missed her had played an important role, or perhaps, deep down, in the most concealed pocket of my heart, I hated chickens. It didn’t matter. I had to find her recipe. But how?
Half asleep and clad in my not-so manly, purple pajamas, I ambled through the morning-lit corridor, and up to the attic I went.
I despised this place. It was buried in shadows, save for an unimpressive, dust-filled beam of sunlight seeping through its only window. What’s more, my architect wasn’t the brightest of them all, for not only the place narrow, but it was also stupidly low.
I had to crouch, and walk like a confused crab through the cobweb-covered boxes, searching for the one with all her recipes. Fortunately, as her love for cooking was greater than her love for most things, and she had quite an interesting fascination with wool, it was easy to find.
Amidst all the brown, plain, boring boxes there was one lined with wool, almost as if it were wearing a sweater, a purple one. And, for things only fate can explain, the absolutely lackluster sunbeam was bathing it in the most disappointing and underwhelming possible fashion.
I barreled toward it with the intensity of a frothing dog, the hunger of a ravenous wild boar, and the sleep deprivation of a caffeine addict who hadn’t had his much needed coffee. In other words, I stumbled with a heavy box, reeled, hit the roof, fell to the floor, got up, repeated, burped, and after reanalyzing my strategy, I managed to reach my desired box.
Inside, there was a thick, beautiful leather bound book, to which my grandma had decided to knit a “sweater for those cold days in solitude.”
I took it out its prison of wool, and grinned a grin that was perhaps too exaggerated for the trifling task I had accomplished.
I left this nightmarish place, and headed straight to the kitchen, convincing myself that having chicken soup for breakfast was completely normal and acceptable, and not the subtle cry for help of the subconscious of a young adult who had no direction in his life.
My kitchen was a small mess of rancid, gut-stirring stains.
I was never a good cook, and I was quite bad at even following recipes. Still, with time and practice even the worst, less talented people could become decent at things. And I was quite sure a chicken soup was within reach of my subpar abilities.
I swept my palm across the counter, brushing away last night’s remnants of flour.
I sighed, I truly needed to make a change in my life. I was letting it ran me over. Everywhere I looked there were errant clothes, aged egg stains, scattered papers, and I better omit the furious, I even dare say mythological, secrets my bathroom hid.
Sometimes I wondered if all this chaos was a reflection of my mind’s state. But the answer was always the same, “No, you are just a lazy, untidy bastard.” However, I was beginning to doubt myself.
But that’s not important, not like the monstrous growling of my stomach. First of all things, I had to satiate the beast. Then I could strip my thoughts naked, and keep ignoring them.
I placed the book on the counter, and flicked through the pages.
There it was. Hand-written and beautifully detailed, with notes on the sides, and hearts embellishing the page of my grandmother’s chicken soup recipe.
My heart filled with happiness and butterflies. So much was the joy I felt, that I sang the recipe out loud as I danced to the discord of my voice. I could already imagine the tenderness of the broth, the meat falling apart in my tongue, releasing an explosion of flav--.
The ground shook. My heart thumped to the rapid rhythm of sheer terror. Desperate, I threw myself to the ground and covered my head. An earthquake?
The clanks and clatters of utensils and silverware falling and striking each other echoed through the kitchen.
It was then when a crackling noise, like that of a crackling bonfire, followed by an overwhelming heat, joined the cacophony.
Confused and terrified, I looked up.
A whirlwind of flames greeted me, tall as a man. A figure loomed within, but it was no human figure. I bolted to my feet, and lunged backward. As I did so, the flames dwindled revealing some monstrosity with skin red as fire, and four arms.
I shut my eyes, hoping it would make me invisible. My heart pummeled, as if attempting to rip open my chest and lunge out the window. My extremities quivered as if they belonged to a hundred year old man. What was this thing?
“You dare summon me? A demon of my ancestry? You, a mere mortal?” the demon said, his voice sonorous, bearer of a wrath worthy only of a being of great might.
“I was just trying to make chicken soup!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. Then, in an act of sheer bravery or stupidity, I wasn’t sure which one, I peeked through the spaces of my fingers. If I was going to die, at least, I wanted to witness what stripped me away from my boring life.
The demon's flames ceased roaring. He gave a sigh of relief, and raised clenched fists. Clouds of tar-black smoke billowed out the crevasses of the floor and across the grotesque scars and wounds on his fiery skin, covering most of his body in dark, apron-shaped toxicity.
"Let's get to work, then!" the demon said, and scanned the kitchen. "What are we working with? What ingredients do you have?"
"I-I...chicken?" I said, trying to compose myself.
He came and stared at me, prodding my chest with a crooked forefinger, burning a hole on my shirt in the process. "You. I like you. Every chef knows that a chicken soup is not a chicken soup without proper chicken. Tell me, where did you get the chicken, what breed of chicken is it?"
I froze, the smell of smoldering cloth pervading my nostrils. His face. It shifted every time I blinked. His hollow eyes. They played my worst nightmare every time I saw them. "The supermarket, and... and I don't know the br-breed. A farm one?"
The demon swung his hands exaggeratedly across the air, and the red of his skin changed to a scalding, glimmering orange, much like molten metal. Then, he drew a deep breath and nodded.
"I will tell you something," the demon said through gritted teeth, attempting to control his fuming wrath. "First I loved you, but now I hate you. You are a man of wit. You know the ingredients of a chicken soup, but you are not a man of knowledge. To make a perfect chicken soup, you need the perfect chicken."
He eyed me, and crossed his four arms, as if waiting for me to answer.
I frowned. What was I supposed to say? "Where can we get a perfect chicken?"
His eyes, mouth and nose disappeared, leaving only an eerie grin of unnatural curvature, length and razor-sharp teeth on his face. "I'm glad you asked that." He made a circular motion with his hands, as if opening many faucets. A square-shaped portal of ever-flowing fire appeared between us.
"You first," the demon said. "We are going grocery shopping."
“What?” I stared at the mess in my house. I heard the complaints of my stomach. I eyed the demon’s resolution.
I could use some adventure.
Comments (0)See all