By J. A. Homer
Zoey Maye woke up the smell of bacon and fresh biscuits. There was no doubt in her mind that it was her own recipe. Every day for the past six weeks she has been eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner from her own cookbook, Southern Style. The food was prepared exactly how the recipe read and was always delicious. The problems were that the food was extremely unhealthy and she was locked in a small utility room in a crazed fan's home. There was a hole in the sub floor next to the water heater so she could relieve herself. She had a stack of cookbooks and a night light to keep her entertained. With no exercise and a constant supply of fatty foods, she gained sixty-five pounds to her once slender frame. Zoey knew that her time locked in this hell was going to come to an end one way or another, because there were only three meals left that she had not eaten out of her cookbook.
She could hear her captor's footsteps coming down the hallway towards her tiny prison. Zoey knew what was for breakfast, baked eggs with salsa verde, brown sugar bacon, buttermilk biscuits, with sausage gravy. She almost threw up at the thought of all that grease. The door opened filling the musty furnace room with light and an overpowering stench of a perfectly cooked breakfast. She squinted as her eyes adjusted to the light. In front of her was a tall blond woman wearing a red and white polka dot 1950's house dress and apron. She couldn't have been older that twenty-three and was carrying a silver platter filled with fine china and a crystal glass full of whole milk and a canister resembling mace.
“Good morning Alison,” Zoey grunted.
“And a very good morning to you Zoey,” Alison said with just a hint of a southern accent, “We are having Baked eggs with salsa verde this morning. I'm sure you already knew that though.”
“Of course I did. It's my fucking cookbook.”
“There is no reason to curse, sweetheart,” Alison said in her proper tones, “It's not lady like.”
“Do you think it is lady like to hold someone prisoner?”
“Don't get snooty with me and eat your breakfast. You only have two more meals to eat after this one.”
“And then what?”
“I think you are smart enough to know the answer to that question Zoey.”
Zoey sat down in the chair that Alison provided and took the platter. She wasn't remotely hungry, but she knew better than refuse Alison's breakfast. The eggs were cooked perfectly and the biscuits were amazing. The gravy was seasoned to perfection, but the bacon had just a pinch too much of brown sugar. This made Zoey nervous. Once a day, Alison would purposely make a mistake in one of her dishes. Zoey never knew if it was going to be breakfast, lunch, or dinner that had the mistake, but if she guessed wrong she was sure to pay the price. Alison was a good home cook but she wasn't a trained chef like Zoey, so she would make mistakes from time to time. If Zoey guessed that the mistake of the day was one of these unintended errors, then her punishment was even more severe.
Zoey stared at her fingers as she pondered mentioning the over seasoned bacon.
“Well,” Alison said as she watched Zoey eat, “What do you think?”
Zoey could feel her eyes flooding with tears. If she takes too long to answer she is in trouble. If she answers wrong she is in trouble. If she gives the correct answer everything will be fine until lunch. God Damn it, she thinks to herself.
“Honestly Alison, you had a little too much brown sugar on the bacon.”
Alison's expression never changed. She had her same sweet smile on her face and her eyes never showed an ounce of pain or anger. She slipped her right hand in the right front pocket of her full length apron and pulled out a pink handled pair of pliers. Zoey's heart sank and her face went pale. Alison stood with perfect posture holding the pliers across her bust. With her free left hand she reached into her left apron pocket and pulled out a small aerosol canister containing a form of Lidocaine, an anesthetic used by most dentists and sometimes found in spray decongestants. Before Zoey could react Alison sprayed her in the face with the canister, making Zoey's eye's water uncontrollably and her face went numb. A metallic taste lingered in her mouth as she tried, unsuccessfully, to fight off Alison. The drug not only made Zoey's face go numb, but it also dulled her senses and slowed her reaction time while raising her heart beat. Her head was in the clouds as she watched Alison attach the pink handled pliers to the finger nail of her left ring finger.
Zoey Maye had a passion for food since she was a small child. Her parents owned a fine dining restaurant in Bolder Colorado named Forensics, as well as an English themed bar. She spent every minute of her free time in the restaurant watching everything from the head chef to the dishwashers. Even as a child she would analyze every aspect of the kitchen process. For her eighth birthday she received her first set of chef's knives and volunteered to help the prep cook on the weekends. The restaurant staff didn't mind having the young addition to their staff, in fact, they constructed a small table of her own where she could chop vegetables and prepare various items.
When Zoey was ten she became the dishwasher at Forensics and at thirteen became a line cook. Her parents were hesitant in letting their daughter have large responsibilities at such a young age, but she managed to complete her school work as well as her duties at the restaurant. At eighteen Zoey was accepted at the Culinary Institute of America and achieved her associate degree without a problem and continued her education at USC with a major in food science. From there, Zoey attended Le Cordon Bleu and received her master’s degree in gastronomy, hospitality, and business management.
Zoey's big break came when she was twenty-three. A television crew came to Forensics looking for a classy, upscale restaurant to shoot a few scenes of their show The Next Great Chef. The producers of the show did everything they could to hide their excitement for Zoey. Her personality was refreshing and likable. Her spontaneous reactions to mishaps that happened in the kitchen were television gold. The only problem that she had was that she was from Colorado and cooked healthy refined foods. The network wanted a personality that had just a slight southern accent and was an expert at cooking fatty fried southern foods. Zoey accepted the transition from decadent gourmet chef to southern comfort food. She worked on her accent for a couple of months and finally nailed the dialect the producers were looking for.
Zoey's stardom was astonishing. Her pilot episode scored a 9.9 amongst her focus group, which was astounding, and she was immediately given a two year contract for her show Southern Fried. It was an instant hit. The commercial endorsements were overwhelming as well as the pressure from the studio to come up with an idea for two more shows. Her work ethics impressed the corporate giants and her international presence was recognized within a year. Zoey couldn't walk down a street in the United States or Europe without being noticed and mobbed by the local media.
Zoey finished taping an episode of Southern Fried and was signing autographs and taking pictures with the studio audience when she met Alison. Zoey was intrigued by Alison's 1950's era style. She was wearing a pink poodle skirt with white button down blouse and a gray cardigan sweater, bobby socks, and her hair was pulled back into a pony tail with a scarf pulled around it. Alison was a little shy and began to blush when she asked Zoey to autograph a cookbook for her. She signed the copy of her cookbook and complimented Alison on her attire. They chatted for a minute about cooking techniques. Alison thanked Zoey for her time, curtsied, and said, “I'll see you later.” Zoey didn't think twice about Alison's comment until she saw her again at her parents restaurant Forensics.
Alison held Zoey's finger with her left hand against her right leg while she straddled Zoey's knee. She stared in Zoey's eyes as she attached the pink pliers to her fingernail. With the concentrated Lidocaine running through Zoey's body, she could only watch as her biggest admirer started to rip her fingernail off. Alison took her time as she pulled and twisted her prisoner's fingernail. She kept constant eye contact with her prize as the nail started to tear away from the matrix, the skin underneath the fingernail. Blood started to flow as Zoey vomited from the pain. Alison's eyes rolled back in pleasure as she rubbed her crotch against Zoey's knee. With the fingernail halfway off, Zoey's vision started to blur as she dry heaved towards Alison's shoes. As the nail root started to tear, Alison began gyrating on Zoey's knee and started to scream in ecstasy. Zoey was as accustomed to this process as she could be and tried to whisk herself away to a more pleasant memory. It didn't work. Simultaneously, the fingernail started too ripped off and she could feel intense pressure on her knuckle. Her screams of pain landed on deaf ears as Alison's body convulsed on Zoey's leg as her first knuckle snapped and her fingernail finally broke loose, she could smell the sexual pleasure emitting from her captor. Zoey started to black out as Alison's orgasm climaxed. She remembered a single deep kiss as she passed out.
Zoey woke up with her finger bandaged and in a splint. She could smell lemon Pledge and she knew that Alison was cleaning the hardwood floors outside her closet cell. Alison frequently reminded Zoey of the importance of keeping a clean home and having a daily routine. She knew that lunch would be served in about an hour. It was going to be one of two dishes, smoky shrimp and grits with collard greens or deep fried cheeseburger meatloaf with brown gravy and hush puppies. Both meals made Zoey sick to her stomach.
During her six weeks of imprisonment she has endured three broken fingers, two broken toes, a deep laceration to her right cheek, and numerous cuts and bruises. Alison had shaved her head with a straight razor and took a small chunk out of her left earlobe in the process, but the most painful was the extraction of her fingernails and toenails. When Alison ran out of toenails to tear off she move to Zoey's fingernails, starting with her right thumb and most recently her left little finger. The sexual abuse was minor, consisting mostly of Alison pleasuring herself on Zoey with a kiss thrown in occasionally for good measure.
Zoey stared at the pilot light on the hot water heater. All she had to do was blow it out and wait. She could huff the gas rapidly and all her pain would be over. She considered this option on a regular basis but her conscious and religious upbringing always stopped her. Zoey started to cry as she thought about the last time she saw her husband and little girl.
Zoey was hosting a charity event for cancer research at Forensics the night she was kidnapped. The menu was a combination of Southern and French cuisine. There were a total of fifty dishes to be served and a dining room packed with more than three hundred people. The tickets to the event were a thousand dollars apiece with the option to bid on a plate. The opening bid per plate started at three hundred dollars with the first bid of five thousand dollars winning automatically. Zoey prepared and served each dish personally as well as provided an autographed copy of her cookbook to the winning bidder.
Zoey notice Alison from her odd 1950's wardrobe while she was waiting to prepare a dish and stopped to thank her for attending to the event. Surprised, Alison blushed and thanked the celebrity chef for remembering her and promised Zoey she would do her best to win a dish. The next plate was foie gras with a truffle sauce and Alison jumped out of her seat, flailed her arms, and placed the maximum bid of five thousand dollars. The auctioneer point towards Alison and shouted sold. She began to cry, resembling a beauty pageant winner.
The crowded dining room began to cheer as Chef Zoey presented Alison with her dish. Zoey posed with Alison for a few pictures, autographed a copy of Southern Style, and gave her a hug. Alison cut the duck liver and took a bite. The expression on her face darkened as she threw her knife and fork down.
“This is bullshit,” Alison screamed as everyone went silent, “This foie gras is over cooked! I spent five thousand dollars on over cooked duck liver! Fuck this!” Alison got up from her table and stormed out of the restaurant. The crowd snickered amongst themselves for a few minutes, the event continued without further interruption.
Matt, Zoey's husband, decided to take their daughter home for the night while she finished the last order of the event and joined the rest in the dining room for a few drinks.
“Did you over cook the foie gras,” Zoey’s producer, Timothy, asked.
“It is very possible,” Zoey said, “You have to remember that I am nervous cooking for all of these celebrities and wealthy people.”
“You shouldn't be nervous,” Timothy said with a smile, “You’re only the biggest celebrity chef on television right now.”
“I think if you don't get at least a little nervous before a show, a live appearance, or even cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the in-laws,” Zoey said, “then it wouldn't be fun anymore. It would be just another job. An extremely high paying job, but just another job none the less. Do I think the foie gras was over cooked? No. But it could have been. If it was, then that lady had every right to be upset. I would be if I just paid five thousand dollars for an over cooked meal. Wouldn't you?”
“Yeah, I guess I would be,” Timothy said, “Let's enjoy the rest of our night shall we?”
The evening continued in a flurry of movie stars and chefs. Zoey made it a point to talk to and thank as many people as she could. The champagne was flowing and the entire crowd, even those who didn't win a dish, were having a good time. At 8:30pm Zoey was informed of the total amount that the restaurant had raised. She announced that the total was over seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The dining room exploded in applause. Zoey made a quick speech and thanked everyone for their donations and for attending the event. From there, she made her way to the kitchen to have a beer with her waiting and kitchen staff and to thank them. Her evening was almost over and she couldn't have been happier.
Zoey left the kitchen through the back door to have a cigarette and talked to her security guards. The two armed men advised her that someone was hanging around a block down the road but everything else looked fine and her limo was waiting whenever she was ready to go. She finished her cigarette and tipped the guards before she signaled for her driver.
Zoey greeted her limo driver, Alessandra, and told her to she would like to sit for a moment. Zoey watched out of the back window of the limo at the figure down the street that was pacing back and forth under a street light. Every few seconds Zoey could make out a figure in a poodle skirt. Her heavy heart compelled her to have Alessandra drive around the block. Zoey wanted to apologize to her unsatisfied customer.
Zoey's limo pulled next to a young lady sitting on the curb crying. She stepped out and greeted Alison like an old friend. Alison apologized. She told Zoey that she had spent her entire life trying to be a proper woman and her actions were uncalled for. Zoey took Alison in her arms and consoled her. She felt bad for the young lady. Zoey invited Alison to join her in her limo for a few minutes to gather her-self and have a drink.
“I'm sorry,” Alison said, “I'm sorry I ruined your charity event.”
“It wasn't ruined,” Zoey explained, “We raised a lot of money tonight.”
“No, no, no, I fucked everything up.”
“Alison, you just had a blip in your judgment,” Zoey touched Alison's arm and gave her a smile, “The duck was probably over cooked. I apologize and I hope I can make it up to you.”
“I'm sorry to curse in front of you, I feel like a first class heel.” Alison stared at her feet for several moments. “Can I make you my all-time favorite drunk food? It is a simple recipe of poached eggs, ham steak, and white gravy. I swear to god it is like the best thing ever. I got this recipe from my mom, and like, you will totally love it. It is that scrumptious. We'll have another drink and I will show you my culinary skills. Oh this is perfect. My poached eggs are the shit.”
Zoey smiled at the enthusiastic young lady. Her demeanor was completely different from that of the pissed off 50's housewife. This young, twenty-three year old girl seemed to be fun. Her outfit didn't seem to fit her anymore. She was more immature and acting her age. The words “like” and “totally” presented themselves in the conversation instead of “decedent” and “gourmet.”
“Alison, where do you live?”
“Broomfield. Just a few miles down highway 36.”
“How about I take you home,” Zoey said, “You can make me your all-time favorite drunk food.”
“Really, do you really mean it?”
“Why not,” Zoey said with a smile, “I'll send my husband a text to tell him I will be home a little later.”
Zoey was more than a little surprised when the limo pulled into a stone circle drive that lead up to a very nice Mediterranean style home with wrought iron details and a modest courtyard with a beautiful garden. Zoey asked Alessandra if she wanted to join the couple for some breakfast but she declined and said she would rather stay in the car and read.
Zoey followed Alison through the courtyard to the massive oak front door that was out of view of Alessandra and the limo. Zoey was admiring the garden when she heard Alison call her name in a proper tone. As she turned she caught a glimpse of a small black canister similar to mace. The next moment her eyes were burning and her face went numb. Zoey fell to her knees and tried to scream but her throat was numb and she only mustered a small squeak. Alison grabbed a large rock from the garden and smashed it into the back of Zoey's head, knocking her out instantly. Alison dragged Zoey into the house by her hair, smashed her cell phone, and locked her in the furnace room.
With the celebrity chef locked in her cell, Alison turned her attention to the limo driver. She strolled out and made her way to the driver's side window and tapped on it with her thumb. Alessandra rolled the window down with a curios look on her face.
“Zoey insisted that you join us inside,” Alison said.
“Why didn't she just send me a text message?”
“Oh, uh, her phone died,” Alison stuttered, “Besides, she decided that she would make a meal for us.”
Alessandra reluctantly got out of the limo and followed Alison through the courtyard and up to the front door. Alison didn't say a word and let Alessandra go inside first. In a fluid motion Alison closed the door and reached around Alessandra and sliced her throat. She fell to the floor and twitched several times before her body became limp on the cold slate floor.
Alison drove the limo ten minutes east and parked it in an alley behind a jewelry store. She then walked several blocks west and called a cab to return home.
Once home Alison spent the next hour dragging Alessandra to the kitchen and struggled to get her body on to the stainless steel prep table.
She sliced the corpse into manageable sized steaks and fillets and put them all in the freezer except a nice steak from Alessandra's calf. She would prepare that for dinner later.
Zoey could hear Alison's footsteps coming down the hallway again. It was lunch time. She could tell it was her deep fried cheeseburger meatloaf and hush puppies by the smell and she began to get sick to her stomach.
Alison unlocked and opened the door. She was carrying the all too familiar silver platter. The meatloaf looked as if it was prepared correctly and the hush puppies were golden brown. She had a glass of merlot and a glass of water to drink.
“Hello Zoey,” Alison said, “How are you feeling?”
“Like I'm locked in a fucking closet. How the hell are you?”
“I'm well. I made your fried cheeseburger meatloaf with hush puppies. I imagine you knew that already though.”
Zoey took the platter and started on her meal. It was prepared and seasoned properly except the meatloaf tasted just a little off. The meat had a tangy, earthy flavor to it. Almost like wild boar. As Zoey cut into the fried hush puppies an idea came to her and she knew she was going to take a beating for it, but it might save her life.
“This is delicious Alison,” Zoey said with the best fake smile she could come up with, “This meatloaf is fried perfectly and it almost melts in your mouth. The meat is like nothing I have ever tasted. That must be your secret ingredient of the day. Am I wrong?”
“You are correct,” Alison swelled with pride, “Is it really that good?”
“Absolutely, it's the best meatloaf I have ever tasted.”
“Thank you very much,” Alison's tone changed, “I hope this is not an attempt to get on my good side in hopes of freedom.”
“I've made peace with my fate. I only have a few hours left on this earth so I should at least enjoy some good food.”
Alison smiled and put the canister of Lidocaine in her apron pocket. She grabbed for the silver serving tray when Zoey made a simple suggestion.
“What do you think about meatballs?”
“Excuse me,” Alison said in harsh tones.
“The meatloaf is good but I think if you used this recipe to make meatballs, maybe add a little red pepper flake, an egg, and some bread crumbs, it would be perfect.”
Alison slapped Zoey across her face.
“I have cooked my heart out for over six weeks for you,” Alison said with her eyebrows curled and her lips pencil thin, “Who the fuck do you think you are? Since you have been my guest I have fed you nothing but gourmet food and you have criticized me the entire time.”
Zoey dropped the silver platter to her feet as she anticipated Alison attacking her again. She clenched her teeth and squinted her eyes as Zoey punched her in her nose, breaking it again.
“You stupid fucking bitch,” Alison's eyes were slivers, “You know you only have one meal left. After that I am going to butcher you. I will use the steaks that I cut out of your body for neighborhood barbecues. If you want your last meal to be a meatball recipe, that I create, then fine. The choice is yours bitch.”
In a furry, Alison kicked Zoey in the shin, and locked the door to her suburban cell, forgetting to take the silver platter with her.
Zoey smiled. She could barely breathe from the broken nose, but she was happy. For the first time in six plus weeks she had a weapon to fight back. Her, laid back, religious demeanor took a back seat to her rage to kill and a new found drive to win her freedom. She could hear Alison scream as she distanced her self down the hallway.
“You want some fucking meatballs? I'll make you some fucking meatballs. Alessandra would be especially proud of this treat. If you enjoyed her as meatloaf then you will fucking cum when you eat her as meatballs.” Alison's fury turned to pleasure.
Zoey became sick to her stomach. She realized that every meal that she ate, all the gamey meat, was her good friend Alessandra. Her fists tightened around the handles of the silver platter causing a thin stream of blood to flow, staining the floral etchings on the platter.
Alison's psyche regressed to that of her former self. She shouted obscenities directed at no one and slammed pots and pans like a child having a tantrum. Her language turned from proper “southern lady” to “pissed- off valley girl”.
Zoey's eyes focused on the keyed dead bolt lock, waiting for it to turn, waiting for her moment to smash Alison's brains against her skull. Her fists clenched against the handles of the silver platter, causing more blood to flow to the bottom of the tray. She knew she was at least thirty minutes away from confronting her captor, and the anticipation was killing her. Six weeks of being held captive. Six weeks of eating fatty, fried foods and gaining a large amount of weight; plus the physical and psychological tortures. Zoey was ready to kill.
Alison spent ten minutes preparing the meatballs and put them in the oven to bake for twenty. “If that ungrateful bitch of a chef had the nerve to suggest a meal that would be more appealing to her fancy palate,” Alison grumbled to herself, “I hope she chokes to death. Maybe I'll shove one down her bitchy throat and give her a glass of muriatic acid to wash it down with.” She got a beer out of the refrigerator then lit a cigarette off of the burner on her gas range. She chugged her beer like a frat boy and threw the empty can on the floor. She thought about the muriatic acid cocktail and decided against it in favor of a less gruesome way to end the chef's life.
Alison got a step stool out of her broom closet and placed it in front of the refrigerator. She stepped on it to reach the cabinets above and pulled out a black glass bottle and a syringe. Alison put the bottle and syringe next to the stove and walked down the hallway to her prisoner.
“Your precious fucking meatballs are almost done you ungrateful bitch,” Alison screamed through the solid core door, “I hope you choke on the red pepper flakes you stupid cunt.”
“Well, I see that foul mouth little brat is back,” Zoey said, “I have to say proper Alison is easier to get along with. I wonder if you can cook better as a spoiled brat because as a prissy 1950's wannabe you can't cook worth a shit.”
“Fuck you,” Alison shouted, “Your special meatballs are going to be your last meal bitch.”
“What about my smoky shrimp and grits dinner? That's the only recipe you haven't prepared yet. Are you giving up so close to the end?”
“Oh I'll have my shrimp and grits tonight for dinner and then I am going to cut you up into bite sized pieces.” The timer on the stove went off and Alison punched the door and walked away.
Zoey laughed loud enough to make sure Alison heard her.
Alison removed the meatballs from the oven. She chose the three that were perfectly formed and dropped them in the deep fryer for forty five seconds to get a nice crust and a golden brown appearance. She then removed them to a paper towel to drain. She snatched the syringe off of the counter top, tore away the cellophane packaging, and rammed it into the glass bottle. She extracted fifty milligrams of cyanide, injected it into the meatballs and then placed them on a paper plate.
Zoey could hear foot-steps stomping down the hallway as she clenched her hands even tighter around the silver platter. She stood up with her hands and the platter raised above her head, ready to strike the moment the door opened. Her nerves were steady and her breathing was calm.
Alison put the key into the dead bolt and unlocked the door leading into the utility room. She held the canister of Lidocaine in one hand and the paper plate with three meatballs in the other. Alison took a deep breath and turned the doorknob enough to release the latch.
The audible click, the click Zoey has heard three times a day for the last six weeks in her personal hell finally came. Zoey waited until she saw the first glimpse of Alison's face before she kicked the door open and swung the silver platter at her head. It connected with a low thud on Alison's forehead, knocking her to one knee. She dropped the canister of Lidocaine as well as the paper plate full of meatballs. Zoey took another swing connecting with Alison's jaw, shattering two teeth. The chef paused for a split second in awe watching the blood flow. The single moment is all Alison needed to throw an elbow to Zoey's right eye. She dropped to the floor with her back vulnerable as Alison crawled on top of her, throwing her knee into Zoey's chest and punched her in the face several times. The two teeth Zoey knocked out of Alison's mouth was paid back six fold.
Alison held Zoey by her throat and picked up one of the meatballs that were scattered on the floor. She held it six inches above Zoey's throat and started to squeeze the meatball, allowing all the juices to flow in to Zoey's eyes and mouth.
“Is this meatball up to you culinary standards,” Alison asked as her personality changed, “How do you like that bitch? How does that grease feel in your fucking eye?”
Zoey's eyes burned and her throat started to go numb as she said, “Fuck you.”
Alison took a bite of the tainted meatball and chewed it up without swallowing. She held Zoey by her throat and forehead as she drooled then regurgitated a piece of meatball into the celebrity chef's mouth. Alison massaged Zoey's neck, put her lips against hers, exhaled vigorously and punched her in the stomach. Zoey swallowed the saliva filled piece of meat ball without knowing it. The next few minutes were followed by the same scenario of regurgitation and force ingestion until the meatball was gone.
“How does that taste you snobby bitch,” Alison said as her personality changed again, “I hope that you enjoyed this little piece of heaven that I prepared for you. It was my honor.”
Zoey's mind began to spin as she watched Alison stand up and laugh. Her head was swimming and her stomach began to churn as she tried to kick at the demented home cook. Alison evaded the feeble kick and laughed harder.
“I have to get some cleaning supplies,” Alison said as her personality continued to be proper, “I have a feeling you will be vomiting very soon.”
As Alison walked down the hall and out of view, Zoey tried to stand to her feet and threw up on the polished hard wood floors. A small sense of satisfaction came over her as she remembered the lectures from Alison of constant cleanliness of the home.
She made it to her feet and steadied herself against the wall. She took a step and almost threw up again. She walked down the hall; her eye's going in and out of focus, towards what she assumed was the kitchen. She could hear Alison throwing pots and pans around. The hallway led to a grand entryway with high ceilings, crown moldings, and years of dust. The walls were in need of painting and the stench was enough to make Zoey vomit again. She had to rub her eyes to make sure she was seeing things correctly. A smeared trail of blood ran from the front door, through the entry and around the corner to the living room. Zoey followed it.
The floors in the living room were littered with old pizza boxes, beer cans and an assortment of household trash. The walls were coated in a yellow film of nicotine and cob webs. Zoey kicked trash out of the way as she struggled to walk, but made it to a stainless steel dual swinging restaurant style door with a single square window in it.
Zoey looked through the window to see Alison vomiting in the kitchen sink. She pushed open the door and slipped in. The kitchen was of restaurant quality. Stainless steel work stations, over-sized ovens, an eleven gallon commercial dishwasher, a full size flat top grill, and a twelve burner gas range. It was any chef's dream kitchen, except for the mess. Flies swarmed over old meat that was decaying on the prep tables. Rotten fruits and vegetables covered every horizontal surface, including the floor. She could only assume that there was tile underneath the garbage. Zoey picked up a half full glass of a mystery liquid and threw it at Alison with the accuracy of a major league pitcher. The glass shattered against her temple, knocking her to the floor. Zoey shuffled her way through the trash and around the prep table and grabbed a cast iron skillet. Alison was in the fetal position face down on the floor. The decaying meat and rotten vegetables covered Alison's head up to her neck. Zoey approached her with caution, holding the skillet with both hands raised over her head.
Alison waited until her prey was within reach and grabbed Zoey's foot. She jerked it towards her. Zoey dropped the skillet behind her and fell to the floor. Her head would have smashed against the supposed tile, but the eight inches of trash cushioned her fall. Zoey lifted her head to see Alison still extending her arm out trying to find a piece of her victim. Her head was still buried deep in the garbage.
Zoey got to her feet and saw a deli slicer sitting on the edge of the prep table. Chills ran down her spine at the thought of what Alison has done with that machine. Zoey used both hands and all the strength she had to push the slicer off of the table and on to Alison. It landed on Alison's lower back making a horrific crack. Zoey picked up the cast iron skillet off of the floor and smashed it over Alison's head. A little insurance just to make sure she was dead.
Zoey walked out of the kitchen, through the living room, and returned to the entryway. She didn't notice the deadbolt was keyed on both sides until she grabbed the doorknob. She screamed and then doubled over in pain coming from her stomach. A headache came like she was the one hit in the head with an iron skillet.
Zoey felt like it took an hour to find the back door. The results were the same. A double keyed lock. Her vision started to blur as she got to the kitchen door again. As she pushed it open her heart sank. She couldn't see Alison's body. She stumbled, knocking a wire rack full of pots to the floor. She traversed the littered floor and got around the prep table where she left the body. The combination of blurred vision and the garbage covered floor made it was easy to miss Alison. She was still there, lifeless as ever.
Zoey fell to her knees. Her head felt like it was in a pressure cooker and she started to hear a ringing sound. As soon as it started it stopped. Then it began again. She realized it was a cell phone. She crawled with her head down on her hands and knees through the garbage, listening the best she could, praying whoever was calling wouldn't hang up. Zoey looked up and saw the skillet and the slicer. The phone was in Alison's pocket.
Zoey could reach between the trash and the floor to get the cell phone out of Alison's apron pocket. She pulled it out to find it was an older flip phone. She opened it and saw the screen was cracked. She looked it over for a moment before her stomach wrenched and she dropped the phone. Her bowels let go and she felt intense pressure near her right temple. Her vision went from blurry to black and the pain caused a trickle of blood to run from her right ear. She laid down on her side and blindly searched for the cell phone. The different textures of the trash and decomposing food made it impossible.
Zoey rolled on to her back and screamed. She was so close to escaping this hell. She was blind, her pants were full of shit, and just inches away was a phone that would grant her freedom. Zoey took a deep breath and collected herself. She turned to her side and began searching for the phone again.
After a few minutes she located the device. She screamed once again, this time out of joy. She was feeling the key pad when a horrible thought came over her. How am I going to dial? I can't see the buttons. If it was my phone I could dial in my sleep. I might as well have a remote control in my hands.
“Mother Fucker!” she screamed to the room. She immediately went in to a coughing fit. Her stomach convulsed and she could taste blood. The intense pressure was back in her head and she could feel her ears bleeding again. Just as Zoey was giving up hope, she heard the ringing again. She began pressing buttons and saying hello. With each button she pushed she knew there was a chance she would hit the 'end' button and the call would be terminated. After half a dozen tries she could hear a voice on the other end asking “Hello?” Zoey could only manage to say a few words in a barely audible tone.
“Call the police.”
Zoey Maye woke up to a silent, bright white light. She closed her eyes and opened them again to see an acoustic tile ceiling. One of the tiles was a back-lit picture of a snow capped mountain scene. Everything else began to come into focus. She was in a hospital room. She could move her arms and legs and see clearly, but she couldn't hear anything or speak. She remembered seeing a nurse and everything went black again.
Zoey woke up again to the smell of sulfur and bleach. A dozen people were standing over her and she couldn't move. She could feel a sense of urgency in the way the staff was acting. Everything seemed to be rushed and she didn't understand why. She smiled and faded to black again.
Zoey woke up for the last time from anesthesia. She was in a room with four other beds. She couldn't see if they were occupied. She could see that she was hooked up to an I.V. along with various other machines. She had the taste of copper in her mouth.
“How are you feeling Mrs. Maye?” Nurse Emma asked, “You have been through quit the ordeal.”
“I feel,” Zoey murmured, “I feel awesome. I can taste copper in my mouth. How are you?”
“I'm just fine Zoey. The copper you are tasting is a morphine drip. You have been in a coma for two months while going in and out of consciousness for two weeks.”
“What happened to me?”
“Zoey,” the nurse paused and took a breath, “The police got a phone call from a woman named Janice Moore. She was a good friend of Alison Roberts and reported to the police that she called her friend for a few cocktails. When she finally got through and the only thing that came from the other end of the line was a quiet statement saying “call the police”. Janice, of course did, and the police showed up half an hour later. They broke down the door to find a house full of garbage. Three bodies were found. One was yours and they managed to resuscitated you, Alison Roberts who was pronounced dead on the scene, was the woman who was holding you captive, and another unidentified woman was found mutilated and frozen in what can only be described as steaks.”
“That sounds horrific,” Zoey said without a care in the world, “What happened next?”
“The paramedics brought you here where you were diagnosed with cyanide poisoning. Dr. Patel said that the only reason you lived was because of your diet rich in saturated fats. The cyanide was absorbed in your fatty cells.”
“Really?” “How strange.”
“You do remember what happened don't you? The six weeks of torture, being force-fed, sexual abuse? You were held captive by a crazed fan. The entire world was keeping an eye peeled for the great chef Zoey Maye. Is none of this ringing a bell?”
“No. No I don't” Zoey paused with a confused look on her face, “I don't remember any of that. Why are you calling me Zoey? Is that my name?”