The Cookbook of the Dead-Prologue and Chapter 1

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Prologue

 

Have you ever been eclipsed by a brother or sister? I have, and it torments me more than any lake of fire or cloud of imps.

I was fashioned in the traditional way, from the essence of other demons, bound into a tome of dark magic. However, the Great Deceiver thought it was being funny when it made me into a cookbook. I can still hear its laughter even now that it has repented and gone back to sit at the foot of the Maker, leaving Hell and its colonies without a leader.

Do I sound bitter? I am.

You see, we Tomes were not among the Fallen, so we couldn’t repent even if we wanted to. So I’ll gain my freedom by being summoned or bringing an end to everything. If not now, then tomorrow, or even a hundred years from now. I have all eternity ahead of me, after all.

Now, everyone in infernal trafficking has heard of the Necronomicon, from the mightiest demon lord to the lowliest cultist. That’s my brother. He’s a huge showoff. Armies of humans vie for his presence, killing and sacrificing for his attention. He’s been fully summoned at least three times. But me? Not a single time. I’m lucky anyone knows about me at all.

So this is my latest attempt to be free.

Now I could just give you the important details, but being a book, (albeit, a cookbook) I’m inclined to spin a yarn, so relax and let me tell my tale. Once I’m done, I’m quite sure you’ll be a bit peckish, I can probably help with that too. So let’s take a look at our unlikely canine hero, shall we?

 

* * *

 

The Harrison home

Spring 2012

3am

 

A horrendous cockcrow decimated the peaceful silence of the otherwise quiet neighborhood, simultaneously waking and sending Boy tumbling from his bed that was perched on the rocking chair to the porch. Scrambling to his paws, he growled, tail held low as he sniffed the air, searching for intruders.

Movement in the flowerbed drew his attention. The dark, fragrant earth among the azaleas bulged as something beneath slowly forced its way to the surface

Growling, he approached the mound of earth, leaping back as it sprayed outwards, revealing a spectral rooster, its bones visible through faintly glowing, translucent feathers.

Boy barked a sharp warning at this intruder and growled as he sized it up.

Cocking its head at the dog, the rooster’s eyes blazed with emerald flame, flapping its wings. It further showered the area with damp clumps of soil.

Get back! You are in my territory!

Boy growled, his hackles rising as the sickly sweet scent of rotting flesh rolled towards him.

With an evil clucking that sounded eerily reminiscent of a laugh, the Poultrygeist stepped forward, its faintly luminescent wings spread in an aggressive posture.

A garden gnome launched from its resting spot amongst the perennials, hurtled over Boy and shattered against the wall. As the unfortunate garden gnomes’ pieces clattered to the wooden porch, the two joined in battle. Lunging, Boy snapped out but only managed a mouthful of slimy feathers.

You’re good. I’ll give you that much, but you’d better flee before I get serious! Boy circled to the right, re-evaluating his enemy.

Another gnome sailed through the air as the Poultrygeist leaped, wings flapping with the loud crack of laundry in the wind. Boy nimbly leaped to the side, but failed to see the third, with its red pointy cap like a kitschy missile, which knocked him backwards, crashing to a stop against the porch with a yelp of pain.

The searing pain of his ribs threatened to debilitate him, Boy struggled to his feet, fangs bared in defiance.

The Poultrygeist fell on him, slashing with wicked spurs.

Panic hit home as Boy realized that he was clearly out of his league. Fiery agony shot through him as one of the Poultrygeist’s spurs ripped into his neck. Yelping, he wrenched himself free of the melee and dashed around the corner of the garage.

With a squawk of outrage, the Poultrygeist gave chase, ducking around the corner after its prey. Much to its surprise, a face full of snapping fangs greeted it as Boy leaped out with surprising ferocity. Startled, it shrugged off the little dog and dove at the garage door, sailing through it leaving only faintly glowing ooze, marking its passage.

Boy started after the Poultrygeist, but rammed the aluminum door with a loud bang. Thwarted, he scratched the garage door madly, desperate to give chase.

The sound of havoc erupted from inside the house.

Momma!

He redoubled his efforts, barking as loud as he could muster.

 

* * *

 

The sound of shattering glass jarred Jason awake. Jerking upright and sliding out of bed, he felt around for his trusty baseball bat.

What the hell is going on out there?

Jason’s grip on his bat grew tighter as he slowly opened the door.

“Mom?”

Creeping down the hallway, he flinched at the sound of destruction.

Peeking around the corner, Jason saw a ghostly rooster flapping around the living room, amid a whirlwind of household objects.

“What the ever-lovin’ fuck is that?”

Hearing his expletive, the Poultrygeist’s head swung about. It fixed a baleful eye on him and crowed loudly. A trophy flew off of the mantle and embedded itself in the wall beside his head. Doing a double-take, he ducked back and called out to his mother.

“We have a problem here,” Jason yelled. “I’m gonna try to get to your room. Be ready to open the door for me.”

“What the hell is going on out there?” his mother yelled above the chaos.

“You’ll never believe me!”

Jason dashed for his mother’s room.

“Call 911!”

Jason parried a small brass sculpture with his bat as he crossed the living room, dodging flying kitsch.

“I can’t! My cell phone is in the living room.”

“Crap …okay,” He spun on his heel. “I’ll try to get it,” he ducked back into the living room, “I’m gonna…”

One meaty thump later, Jason fell to the floor, brained by a resin “world’s greatest mom” statue.

The Poultrygeist stalked closer to its victim, clucking in a low tone.

 

* * *

 

Covered in dirt and blood, Boy burst into the living room from the kitchen and surveyed the situation.

The Poultrygeist strutted towards Jason’s fallen form and spread its wings. A heavy cedar trunk rose into the air slowly and positioned itself in the air next to the undead cockerel.

Oh no you don’t!

Despite the little dog’s wounds, he managed to leap onto the back of the Poultrygeist and wrestle it to the ground. The Poultrygeist gave an indignant squawk and tried unsuccessfully to shrug it off its attacker.

Boy glared into the malevolent flaming eye of the monster he now held at bay. A flicker of fear reflected in the emerald flames that licked up from its hollow eye sockets.

Die. He curled his lips and exposing his fangs, Boy snapped out clamped his jaws on the beasts putrescent and shook it back and forth, tearing its head off. The Poultrygeist thrashed about with surprising violence then lay still. All the objects that had been whirling around the room crashed to the floor, causing the room to become eerily silent.

Swallowing his prize, Boy howled in victory over his foe as it dissolved into a pile of glowing goo and feathers.

Bones, He swore as he limped to Jason’s fallen form, My ward!

 

Boy licked the blood that ran freely down his face as Momma burst from her room.

“Oh My god! Jason! What happened?” She fell to her knees at her son’s side, unsure of what to do.

At least my people are safe.

Boy whimpered as he slowly fell over; everything went dark.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1:

Good News, Bad News, and an Invitation

 

ONE WEEK AGO:

 

“I’m home!”

Jason dropped his car keys into the monkey-shaped dish by the door.

His dog lay among the throw pillows on the couch, whimpering in his sleep, legs kicked the air in spasms.

“What’s wrong?” he stroked his dog’s overgrown fur.

With a jerk, Boy woke, righted himself, eyes alert for danger.

“Didja have a nightmare, Boy?”

Jason picked him up. A quick lick to the face assured him that he was alright.

Jason dropped his jaw in mock surprise.

“What do I have here?” he pulled Boy’s favorite toy from under one of the pillows on the couch.

Boy leaped out of his arms and spun around on the couch, his tail fanning the air.

“Bite it, Boy!”

Jason shook the furry bone at him.

Boy dove in and latched onto the toy.  He shook it back and forth in an attempt to wrest it from Jason, making growly noises of pure joy.

“Jason! Get in here!” Mom called from the kitchen.

Jason scooped up the scruffy looking poodle and headed into the kitchen. Jason’s mother, Janice was standing there waving a letter in one hand and pointing at the television with the other.

“I just found out I’m going to be on TV!” she exclaimed, jumping up and down.

“Sweet! Wait — what? What show?”

Jason’s face flashed with confusion.

“Oh, just a little show called ÜBERCHEF!”

She crossed her arms and looked smug.

“But, uh,” Jason said, flashing back to many, many bad experiences with his mother’s cooking.

“That’s a cooking show, and you know…”

Jason glanced at the various indelible oil stains and burns that liberally marked the walls and ceiling, telling the tales of her many failed attempts at cooking as a warning to all who would sit at her dinner table.

“Yeah! I know!” she gushed, “And to celebrate, I’m gonna cook a special dish for the three of us.”

Startled, Boy leaped out of Jason’s arms and fled the room.

Jason frowned briefly after Boy.

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I think he really understands us.

“Run, Boy! Save yourself!”

Jason stuck his tongue out at his mother as Boy disappeared into the living room.

“And what is that supposed to mean?”

His mother arched an eyebrow in his direction as she crossed her arms.

Jason smirked as he dashed after his dog. “Oh nothing. Nothing at all.”

* * *

Staring outwards from a stone balcony, a large hirsute man in his late fifties, in superb physical shape for his age, beckoned to his butler.

Like magic, his butler, Edgar appeared at his side. “Yes, Baron?”

The Baron handed him a set of dossiers that he had been reviewing, Janice’s face mugged manically at him from a passport photo paper-clipped to the top cover.

“These last two contestants seem especially suitable for our needs. Have you completed the spell?”

Bowing deferentially, Edgar accepted the folders, tucking them under one arm.

“Yes sir. They will be drawn to the Cookbook like bees to honey. I took the liberty of making certain arrangements at the site of the shoot.”

“Excellent! This will be the best season yet!” The Baron clapped his large hands together loudly.

“Yes, sir. You’re right as usual, sir.” Edgar bowed again and retreated out of sight.

The Baron smiled into the night, pausing to listen to the sound of crickets chirping their sleepy song before heading inside, closing the enormous double doors behind him.

* * *

Janice twirled the phone cord around her fingertip as she chatted, her eyes bright with excitement.

“So yeah, I knew I had to impress them, so I made the recipe a little daring, and I was accepted! What? Well, I thought I’d…”

Frowning, she paused. “Well, I thought I’d worry about that when the time comes. I’m sure I’ll think of something. Yes! Okay. I’ll catch you later, Sue. Buhbye.”

Busying herself with organizing her kitchen cabinets, she peered into them desperately seeking inspiration. Frowning, she shut the cabinets, picked up a letter that lay on the table, and sat down to read it for the hundredth time.

I’m going to prove to Jason that I’m not a ditz in the kitchen once and for all!

Janice smiled and nodded to herself.

“Well, it looks like it’s time for a road trip.”

Folding the letter and slipping it back into its envelope, she squealed with glee.

“I gotta call Chuck!”

She hopped up and grabbed the phone again.

An hour later, Janice heard the front door open, the noise prompting Boy to rush excitedly into the living room. Clutching her acceptance letter tightly, she leaned her head through the doorway into the living room.

Jason was watching with amusement as his dog danced around him in excitement. “Well, hello Boy! It’s good to see you, too!”

“Hey, we’re going to Louisiana. I’m gonna check out the studio.” His mother waved her letter at him. “Pack a day bag.”

Jason’s expression fell, “You’re not even supposed to be there ’til the third. Will they even let you in?”

“Well,” she said, looking at the ceiling, “It’s like, scoping out the situation. I hope I can… or maybe even…” Flustered, she looked away, “Well anyway, I just have to go, and since Arlington to Shreveport is about four hours… I’m taking you with me.”

Seeing a way out, Jason’s eyes lit up, “What about Uncle Chuck? Weren’t we supposed to…”

“Already called him. He said we could do it next weekend.” Janice added, giving him the eye.

Jason muttered under his breath and ran his fingers through his unruly brown hair, as he headed to his room.

* * *

Jason lazily watched Boy stick his head out of the window of the SUV, his eyes squinting against the pressure and ears flapping in the wind.

It must be so easy for him, Jason smiled at his dog. No real worries on his mind, no school or anything. I suppose, just a loving family who spoils him way too much.

The scenery was flying by, and the humming of the tires on the road was making him sleepy, luckily his mother had a habit of chattering on nonstop (which he attributed to her coping mechanism, since his father died), so at least her conversation would keep him awake, lest he become the victim of a wet-willy.

“You know…” His mother signaled and swung around a slow moving semi. “I want to take Boy to the groomer and get him one of those fancy haircuts.”

“No, just no. I will not have it. Will not.” Jason emphasized his statement by making an X with his forearms. “He’s my dog. I will not have him looking fruity,” Jason scowled. “A trim is okay, but if I see so much as one puffball on him, I will be very, very mad.” Jason crossed his arms and looked out the window.

His mother giggled and focused on the road once more.

Jason rolled his eyes, focusing on the scenery as it flashed by.

I can’t believe I’m going along on this stupid road trip. I could be playing smashem’up with Eddie.

The rest of the drive was relatively calm; they arrived in Shreveport about four in the afternoon. As they drove through town, Jason stared at the clouds though the window. They hung ominously in the sky, a dull blue-gray that threatened to open up and drench them, which Jason considered to be a bad omen.

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