Short story excerpt from the dichotomy/opposites anthology Split -by The Humble Fiction Cafe.
Hot of Hot/Cold
Hot of Hot/Cold
by Dorlana Vann
by Dorlana Vann
John knew the old saying: Revenge is a dish best served cold. But he had to disagree. Because this time, his revenge would be cooked and served sizzling hot.
Being the cook for the Beaumont family had definitely been hell, and it seemed as if he had already worked for them an eternity. When he saw his murderer, standing there on the auction block, another saying seemed right on: What goes around comes around.
New arrivals went straight to the auction house. Both demon and H.S.L. (Human Soul Laborers) bought souls for a variety of reasons — the juicier the more they cost. John’s assassin was already up to a stellar price.
The red demon auctioneer had the whole house animated with energy. He was saying, “This soul here has no moral backbone. He killed over fifty men. He’s a thief, a cheater, and a murderer. Do I hear seventy-five....”
When John held up his auction paddle, his assassin looked him in the eyes. John remembered the last time their eyes met. The next thing he knew, he was in hell, standing exactly where this guy stood now. John had committed minor sins in comparison to murder, so buying him to eat would have been like buying a sickly, skinny cow. Not worth eating.
John had been purchased as an H.S.L. by one of the more prestigious demon families. Some souls were bought for pulling wagons, for building roads, for housewives, for... dinner. He understood how lucky he had been that he knew how to cook. His duties included buying groceries at the auction house.
He didn’t win the bid on his murderer just for pleasure; he would also make a fine meal. The Beaumonts planned to have a dinner party for twenty guests. John purchased two other plump souls as well.
When John arrived back at his kitchen, he put the three men into his tall, refrigerated cage. They needed to be fresh. Much longer out in the heat, and they would have been tough. He himself had developed skin close to the texture of leather. He hadn’t lived in Hell long enough to figure it all out, but he reckoned all the demons started out looking the way the human souls did, but in time they adapted to the atmosphere, causing their crimson, rutted skin.
Once John shut the cage, the hit man said, “Funny meeting you here.”
“So, you do remember me.”
“I never forget a face.”
“Of someone you killed or just in general?” John reached in a drawer and pulled out his knife sharpener. He wanted to give this guy the full treatment. At that moment, if he had ever wondered before, he recognized one of the major reasons for his descent. He kept deep hatred in his heart. Hmmm. He began to grind the knife across the sharpener.
His murderer said, “What are you doing here?”
“I’m about to make dinner.”
“I mean, in the hole. I never characterized you for a sinner.”
“We all have our sins. It’s the people who realize it too late that end up down here.”
At this, the hit man nodded his head. “So, what are you making?”
The two other men in the cage looked downright terrified. John looked down at his knife. No matter what kind of show he put on for his murderer, this wouldn’t be any easier than any other meal.
He inhaled and then nodded his head over to the man standing to the right of the murderer.
“Leg of Sam,” he said. He glanced at the next guy, “Barbecued ribs.” He looked directly into the hit man’s eyes. “And roasted pig.”
“You don’t have to be so nasty. Just making conversation.”
“Perhaps we should save the small talk for the guests.” Meals had always just stood in the cage awaiting their fate. Once in awhile one would sing or one would cry, but never did he actually have to talk to one before he prepared it.
“For what it’s worth,” his murderer said. “I apologize. I was just doing my job.”
John thought about this for a moment. He wondered if he would have repented if given more time. If he had not been killed at that moment, would it have caused a different finale? He doubted it. Just doing my job. “All right,” he finally said. “I’ll accept your apology. I have an apology of my own.”
“I suppose you do,” the man said.
John said, “You know, I have to cook you now.”
“Yeah,” the hit man said, “I know.”
Humble Fiction Cafe Presents
A dichotomy/opposites anthology