This month, I have a bit of free fiction for you from horror writer Rob Smales. Not only is Rob my editing partner and friend, but he’s also one of my favorite contemporary authors. Check him out, won’t you?
Let Them Eat Cake
Becca tried to stay as still as possible as the box shook and swayed slightly. She braced her hands on the floor to either side, crouching on one knee in the dark as she was rolled out.
I hope they get this show on the road, before I get too stiff to move.
It had been a long time since she’d done this particular shtick. No one requested it anymore, and she’d been surprised when they asked her about it, but it all sort of made sense when they mentioned it was his one-hundredth birthday. Nostalgic. An old-fashioned surprise. It all made sense . . . but a hundred?
Becca crouched silently inside the huge cake, hoping to God she wasn’t about to give some very old man a heart attack.
She could feel them wheeling the cake into position; could hear the muffled party sounds penetrating the layers of icing, cake and cardboard. She wasn’t sure how large the party was, having been snuck in through the back after the festivities had already begun, and kept out of sight as she got right in the cake so as not to spoil the surprise. It didn’t sound like a huge crowd. She was waiting for them to start—there it was.
Happy birthday to you . . . happy birthday to you . . .
She sang along to herself, silently, keeping track of the words, readying herself, knowing that when the song was over they’d give the signal . . .
The song ended, and the whole crowd roared “Happy birthday!”
Becca leapt up, swinging her arms up to lead with her hands, bursting through the cake and sending the top layer flying; she’d probably wind up smearing some icing on herself during the show, but she really didn’t want that stuff in her hair. She came out of the cake to the waist, breasts bouncing as she scanned the room for the birthday boy. Her nipples hardened in the sudden cool of the room, a contrast to the stuffy warmth of her own body heat trapped inside the cake with her. Good, she thought. Maybe it’ll make me look interested, get me a better tip. Where the hell is the old guy?
She looked around for a few seconds, surveying the small crowd for an ancient face, but saw nothing but about two dozen twentysomethings smiling hungrily up at her. The group went silent as she stood there craning her neck at them, and the silence made her feel self-conscious. Her voice was a little too loud in the sudden stillness.
“Where’s the birthday boy?”
Between herself and the silent onlookers stood one man, dark-eyed, raven-haired and handsome, who slowly raised one hand. Becca stared at him, a man surely no older than herself, and tried to modulate her voice, the utter quiet of the men in the room unnerving her more than a little.
“But, I thought this was a one-hundredth birthday party?” she began, but trailed off as he captured her gaze with his. Keeping his eyes on hers, he reached out and swung a chair from a nearby table over to the edge of the cake platform, extending the other hand toward her. She took the proffered hand and he helped her out of her confectionery prison.
“It’s a misunderstanding,” he said, once she was on safer footing. His voice was soft but deep, a fair match for those eyes of his; eyes which seemed larger up close, soft black pools from which she could not tear her gaze, strangely dominating her attention until she had a hard time thinking of anything else. A small part of her was still aware that she was standing before the crowd of silent observers clad in nothing but a thong and a little frosting that clung to one knee, but the greater part of her wanted to simply stare into those eyes and wait for him to speak again, longing for his words, his attention.
He did speak again, the sound of his voice causing her to feel a heat that had nothing to do with the room. “My birthday was last month, actually. I was one hundred and twenty-three.”
He smiled, and she thrilled at the thought that his smile was for her and her alone, though that small part of her mind that had not been captured by his gaze, that still felt like Becca, registered that his mouth seemed to contain far too many strong, white teeth. The small bit of self she had left raged and fought to take control, but could find no purchase on the rest of her mind; it was like trying to hold back a waterfall with her bare hands.
“Tonight,” he went on, his voice caressing her like silk, drawing still more internal heat, “tonight, we celebrate not the day of my birth, but the day of my death. It’s my ‘rebirth’ day, as it were. My friends here,” he gestured to the silently staring assemblage, “took me to dinner, and now it is time for dessert.”
As her sense of self fought, the rest of Becca felt a slow, relaxed sorrow at his words, and she gestured vaguely at the mess behind her. “I’m sorry, I think I destroyed your cake.”
She felt his hand at the side of her face, caressing her cheek as those eyes drew closer, felt his breath upon her skin.
“That is all right, sweet girl. I do not eat . . . cake.”
The strange duality of feeling inside her, the intense battle between the inner Becca and the outer, meant even she could not tell if her tears were of joy or sorrow as his teeth found her throat.
Rob Smales is the author of Dead of Winter, winner of the Superior Achievement in Dark Fiction Award from Firbolg Publishing’s Gothic Library in 2014. His short stories have been published in over two dozen anthologies and magazines. His latest book, Echoes of Darkness, was released in 2016 by Books & Boos Press.
For more about Rob, including links to his published works, upcoming events, and a series of very short—but free—stories, please visit him at www.RobSmales.com. This piece originally appeared on his website at http://robsmales.webs.com/letthemeatcake.htm.