Prompt: A man in a cabin is about to receive a visitor, but he is somehow transformed into the cabin just before the visitor’s arrival.
Absolutely nothing was ready yet and Christopher’s guest drew closer every moment. His pace was slow, but stopping would be the absolute worst thing he could do, as there would likely be no starting again. Christopher just needed to work harder. The smell drew his visitor in; there were a few things he could do to spice it up some more.
His cabin was alive with ten different dishes in various states of preparedness. The trout was in the oven and all its seasoning was set out, to be applied midway through the cooking: a pad of butter with sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and parsley. Christopher checked on its progress, as the skin should’ve been brown and crisping by now. The skin sizzled, as intended, but the trout’s eye followed Christopher’s face back and forth. Hopefully that would cook out; it might put his guest off his appetite.
He scurried over to the kettle to make sure the hot chocolate wasn’t burning. It was infused with peppermint and the steam smelled positively divine. Christopher wondered if any of it was, divine that is. It certainly wasn’t like the food he had before the cabin was his whole world. That food was difficult to acquire and easy to ruin. It never lasted, even though it taunted you with lingering scents. His dishes couldn’t leave the cabin, only their smell could, but they were perfect.
So why was he nervous? The spatulas and ladles danced about doing their duty, the cheese slowly shredded over the baked pasta, dusting each and every noodle in equal amount. The ceiling was hidden in all the mingling steam. The plates were already out and the glass was already full of fine brandy. Christopher had been aging it since his first week in the cabin.
Th visitor. He was the reason for the nerves. Nobody else had ever tried his food before. He’d had it all to himself for thirty-four years. The cabin had been in his family much longer than that. They didn’t own the lake that was barely fifty feet away, but they owned half its shoreline, and nobody ever bothered to visit their little strip thanks to its awkward position in the mountains. It was shaded most of the time, and all the visitors liked sun.
He was lucky to snag this one. He hadn’t even seen a person out the window in two years. He wondered if the world was ending out there. Obviously he wouldn’t be able to tell if it was; the cabin was immune to endings. It certainly would never let Christopher end. He had been the same young man for the entirety of his now permanent vacation: red hair, freckles, and a smile like someone peeking between classrooms to get a good look at their best friend.
Gravel! Tossed about just outside the front door… He was here! So Soon! And surely famished. Christopher clapped his hands, though it all would’ve happened without his participation. The food flew off the counters and took up its position on the table. There were two chairs, but only one pulled out for the guest. Christopher wouldn’t be able to sit and enjoy the meal with him.
He wasn’t allowed to show his face at all, because only one person could live in the cabin. The visitor pounded on the door, unaware it was unlocked. Christopher faded from sight, spread himself about the building with the steam, as the guest forced the door open and collapsed to the threadbare carpet. He scrambled up into the chair, which pulled itself forward.
The man was so dazed he didn’t even realize it had moved on its own. Christopher could see him, even though his eyes weren’t hanging about at the moment. He could see everything in the cabin, even under its floorboards, because they were one and the same. He was about to float a napkin over to the man, but thought better of it. He needed to eat before being startled.
He was a haggard sight indeed. Clothes sopping and ripped. Cuts across his forehead and nose. He was skin and bones, and not that much skin. His eyes were gray and sunken, like sickly quail eggs drowning in mud. He hadn’t eaten in days, maybe even a week. Best not to chastise him for his poor health. It was likely punishment enough. Christopher guessed he’d gotten lost in the mountains and had eventually been drawn in by the tantalizing smells of his divine cuisine.
Christopher would have smiled if he still had his face. The man dug into the feast with no questions asked. He could’ve used the silverware, Christopher had bothered to polish it, but perhaps his eagerness was compliment enough. The visitor shoved handfuls of garlic mashed potatoes into his mouth. He guzzled gravy straight from the boat. He wrapped the peppered bacon around the warm fluffy pancakes and dipped the tube in maple syrup before biting it in half.
Christopher was glad someone living could partake in the wonders of the cabin. Ever since he’d died there it had been so lonely, with nothing but his ghostly illusions to keep him company. His spirit possessed the cabin, so all anybody could see of him were his illusions and the movements of the house itself. He opened the curtains so the visitor could have a little light to see by.
He stopped, but only for a moment. He asked if anyone was there through a mouthful of croquettes. Christopher sighed at the expected question. No, not technically. It was just Christopher and his delicious illusions. He watched the visitor spill a little jelly as he tried to spread it across his toast with his two smallest fingers.
The spirit of the cabin leaned over to pick it off the carpet. Silly Christopher. It was just an illusion. There was no jelly on the carpet. His illusions never made a mess. Oops. Christopher moved through the visitor’s body, which would’ve sent a chill down his spine if the warmth of the stew hadn’t preempted it. He checked inside the visitor’s stomach. Empty.
How rude of him. It had been so long that he’d forgotten there was no nourishment to his creations. The poor man still starved, was still emptier than a plastic bag in the wind, and he didn’t even realize it. Christopher gasped, which made the window fly open. He might die right there in the chair! Then he would be the cabin, and where would poor Christopher go? The bottom of the lake? He couldn’t cook down there! His stew would merely disperse!
He had to act swiftly to feed the man, so he pulled out the cabin’s fishing pole. It danced across the floor and found its way to the window. The visitor watched it go, illusions dripping out of his mouth. The cabin was haunted. Oh well. Best keep eating before the ghost kicked him out.
Christopher baited the hook with an illusory worm, unsure if it would stay there once it was out the window. He cast the line and watched it create a ripple a hundred feet away. Come on. Come on. He couldn’t even remember how long people could go without food.
A bite! He reeled in a real trout this time, alive and flopping. He jerked the fishing pole, tossing the food onto the table, disturbing all the visitor’s scrumptious illusions.
“Hey!” he shouted. His stomach rumbled, but the fish was wriggling and gasping. “Whoever you are, I’m not eating that. Give me more of that other stuff.” He sat down and finally tucked his napkin in as a bib.
Christopher tossed a real fork into the trout’s flank. He had to eat real food, unless he wanted to be a cabin for eternity, next to a very irritated lake. “No!” he shouted. “Give me the good stuff!” Christopher moaned, all the floorboards squealing along with him. He’d forgotten something else about humans. The sweetness of a lie was always better than the truth. He baked an instant tart for the man, all warmth and glow and no nutrients. He devoured it.
What could Christopher make at the bottom of the lake? A lovely aquarium? That would have to do. The visitor’s head smacked against the table five hours later, starvation complete. It was a shame. He just didn’t have Christopher’s flair for cooking. There wouldn’t be another visitor for a good long time.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by OfficialMotive during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!