The pitiful wailing echoed through the great house, bouncing off of each wall on its way to the kitchen. My arms ached, sore from stirring, whipping, beating, mixing, chopping, peeling.
"Dennis!" I shouted, "I need those onions!"
"I've got 'em, I've got 'em!" my assistant cried as he hurried over to me, balancing a cutting board loaded with piles of chopped yellow onion. With his knife, he tried to slide them into the hot pan over which I slaved, getting about a third of them on the floor. "Fuck!" he yelled, closer to my ear than I would have liked.
"Doesn't matter!" I said, raising my voice above the deafening sizzle. "Scoop them up and throw them in! She won't care!"
"Bitch eats everything!" he remarked as he obeyed my orders.
It was true. The bitch really did eat everything. Eating was all she had. She was built for it.
When Miss Ann's parents left six months prior for their jaunt across Europe and Asia, they gave us one command: make sure their “child” was fed. Child. Hardly. We all knew, parents and servants alike, what would happen if Ann were to go for too long without a meal. It was a situation best avoided.
Now, as Dennis and I worked ourselves to the bone in the kitchen, we came dangerously close to the "too long" mark. I cursed both of us, trying for the life of me to figure out how we could have let this happen. Dennis was given to oversleeping. Many mornings, I was tasked with waking him up. That, at least, was predictable and, dare I say, reliable. But what excuse did I have? Was the stress getting to me? Perhaps. When I'd graduated from culinary school, I knew a life of heat, shouting, and deadlines awaited me, but never would I have imagined this.
"Okay," I said, surveying the counter full of dishes. I counted pie, stew, a roast, vegetables, and more. "I think that's everything." I loaded as many plates as I could onto a single tray and watched carefully as Dennis did the same. Between the two of us, we had just enough room and arm strength to carry it all in one go. I gave my assistant the same grave look I had every morning since he'd been hired. "Breakfast time," I said.
We took the elevator to the highest floor. Miss Ann’s screams, which had been constant, now rose in volume. At last, we came to her door. Dennis and I both took deep breaths and steeled our nerves for the sight we endured daily, but would never become accustomed to.
The room was always dim. The only light was natural, trying with all its might to push some warmth through the dusty curtains that hung from two great windows. Dolls and other children's toys lay strewn about. Many were in states of disrepair with missing limbs and noticeable teeth marks on the parts that remained. In the corner of the room was a four-poster bed, and in that bed was Miss Ann.
To call her a child seems wrong, for she was like no child I'd ever seen. There were times when I questioned, honestly, whether or not she was even human. She was fat, naked, pink, and hairless, glistening all over from a layer of unctuous saliva. Her face, if it can be called that, was nothing short of hideous. She had two tiny black beads for eyes, hardly any nose to speak of, and a giant, gaping mouth filled with the pointed teeth of an animal. Adding to her disturbing appearance were the rounded nubs that flailed on each side of her body where arms should have been. Every part of her was an abomination, making her unworthy of even her parents' love and care.
As soon as we entered the room, Ann took notice. She flopped out of her bed and pulled herself toward us, scream-shouting a wordless verbal assault. As quickly as we could manage, Dennis and I placed the trays down on the floor. A moment later, Ann was upon them, greedily sucking up whatever she could find. This, by far, was my least favorite part of feeding Ann, having to watch to ensure that everything went smoothly. Watching the creature shovel things into her mouth, combined with the swirling combination of odors in the air made me nauseous.
"Whoa," said Dennis suddenly. "What's happening to her?"
I realized something was wrong. Ann began to gag and wretch, making terrible noises that sickened me even more than watching her eat.
"I think she's choking!" I exclaimed.
"What do we do?" Dennis demanded.
As we panicked, Ann crept closer. Her wide mouth hung open as if she were showing us something. Still, the choking sounds came, and still my stomach roiled.
"I... I think she wants us to take it out," I said.
"Take what out?" Dennis asked frantically.
"Whatever she's choking on!" I said. "Do it!"
"Me?" Dennis' eyes were wide with terror.
"Yes," I said. "You're the assistant. You get the shit jobs. Do it, or it's your fault if something happens to her."
Poor Dennis. He must have been so desperate for a job, because my threat seemed to work. Gingerly, he moved toward Ann. Her eyes glistened, as if begging for him to save her. With a slow and steady hand, he reached into the girl's mouth. She continued making noise as his hand went deeper and deeper toward the back of her throat.
Suddenly, with a disgusting crunch, Ann clamped her jaws down on Dennis' arm. His agonized howls mixed horribly with the sound of his flesh being ripped from the bone. Instinct took over. I ran from the room and slammed the door shut behind me. Dennis' screams and the tearing of meat could be heard as I slid down to the floor. My tears flowed for Dennis, but at the same time, I knew it was better him than me. Another assistant gone, I mourned. We went through them like paper napkins.
At last, I found my legs beneath me and made my way back toward the elevator. I needed to get away from the sounds and smells and sights of that room and that terrible beast. Where I ended up was where I always went, where I knew I could remain in control: the kitchen. My terror only grew, however, as I spotted the clock on the wall.
It was nearly time for Miss Ann’s lunch.
Written by Jdeschene