Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Eat Your Heart Out"

Robert Richardson’s three greatest loves were food, his kitchen, and TV shows dedicated to cooking. He would waste hours sitting on the couch with a homemade burger or some such fatty food stuff in his hand, and just mindlessly watch great chefs cook up culinary master pieces.

And sometimes, he would be inspired to attempt to cook some of the dishes he saw those chefs cook with varying results.

Needless to say, Robert was not exactly a trim man.

He had heard every fat joke in the book.

He saw the looks of disgust that people gave him out the corner of their eyes.

He heard their whispers.

They looked at him and called him a cow.

Robert didn’t care. He lived life with a great love for food. So what?

He just always kept doing what he felt he was born to do.

And on a night like any other, Robert plopped himself down in front the television and channel surfed for his usual brand of entertainment.

Channel…after channel…after channel…

And then…

“Welcome to….Eat…Your…Heart Out!” The booming voice of a gleeful announcer declared. 

Robert set the remote down on the arm of the couch and smiled to himself. He had never seen this show before. He loved discovering new chefs.

“And now….here’s Chef Louis!” The show’s announcer decreed.

Robert watched the television as a man clad in – as to be expected – a traditional chef’s outfit complete with tap strutted onto the kitchen set of Eat Your Heart out and blew kisses to the audience. It was clear that the sort of man that oozed charisma.

The camera cut to a panning shot of the cheering audience, and….all of the audience members were men and women definitely had their fair share of meat on their bones.

Robert thought nothing of it at the time, of course.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! We have quite a show for you tonight!” Chef Louis said with a bow. He looked over the audience with a wide grin. “Let’s get started! Will the audience members that won tonight’s volunteer lottery come on down!”

The audience erupted into applause once more as the lucky people rushed forward onto the set.

Three men and three women.

Chef Louis shook each of the volunteer’s hands, and gestured for the enthusiastic audience to settle down. He addressed the volunteers. “Good, good. Tell me, you fine slabs of meat, what are your names?”








Robert briefly frowned. Those names seemed familiar. A vague memory entered his head. barely They were barely recollected memories of his days in high school.

He shrugged it off. Just a coincidence.


The fact that Tom, Chris, and Ross were wearing varsity jackets from Robert’s old school was a complete and total coincidence.

He  shook his head and returned to focusing on the show.

There was a brief round of applause that was quickly stifled as Chef Louis shot another glance at the audience. This time…there was some sort of glint behind his eyes and his expression briefly warped into furious scowl.

Robert thought that was a little unusual, but he thought nothing of it.

Chef Louis quickly “Good. Now tell me, dear volunteers, do all of you love good food?”

“Yes, Chef Louis.” The volunteers cheerfully replied at the same time.

“And would you like to help Chef Louis prepare his usual dish tonight?”

“Yes!” The volunteers said with the same degree of enthusiasm that seemed a tad bit overzealous..


Chef Louis picked up a knife and looked at the camera. Robert felt as if the chef was looking directly at him with that pearly-white smile. “Pay attention, viewers at home. This is where things get…tricky.”

Without hesitation…Chef Louis drove the knife into the flesh of one of the volunteers and began to cut downwards.

Sitting on his couch, Robert nearly choked on the pizza he was eating.

“W-w-w-hat the fu—” Robert stammered. He held back the bile he could feel rushing up his throat.

Was this a joke?

Had he unintentionally tuned into some kind of horror movie?

He could only stare in shock as Chef Louis cut and butchered the six volunteers with perfect precision.

And…the audience was laughing and cheering.

Robert frantically picked up the remote, attempted to change the channel, and cried in frustration as the carnage remained on the screen.

Cutting…and…cutting…and cutting…

The victims were soon sprawled out on the floor with a smile on their faces. Damaged beyond recognition, they weakly lifted their hands up and gave a thumbs-up sign as they choked on their own blood.

Bodily liquids flooded the floor of the kitchen set, and all the while Chef Louis cheerfully hummed as he worked.

Robert clenched his eyes shut. This couldn’t be real. This was probably just a bad dream spurred on by the cheap fast food he had eaten.

The sound of the audience settled down and there was a moment of silence.

And then?

“As you all know by now, the trick with my usual dish is to season the meat with garlic and drench it in barbeque sauce. Accept no substitutes. Plus, you have to always remember to thoroughly cook your meat until it is well-done.” The voice of Chef Louis said with a chuckle.

Robert whimpered and clenched his eyes tighter.

“I’m afraid we’re all out of time, but our next show will surely be spectacular. I guarantee! Until next time…”

Dead silence.

A soft whisper. “Good night.”

The buzz of static graced Robert’s ears, and he slowly opened his eyes.

Yes. Complete static.

Robert couldn’t get off the couch and away from the television fast enough. He…he…he had to  do something to get his mind off of what he saw. If he actually saw what he thought he saw.

It couldn’t have been real.

It was definitely a combination of going heavy on the pizza and fried chicken alongside exhaustion from long work hours.

However, that didn’t change the fact that Robert had a creeping feeling that he wasn’t safe in his home anymore.

As he exited his living room, Robert saw something that stopped him in his tracks.

Robert knew that he didn’t leave the light on in his kitchen.

Robert could smell the aroma and hear the sizzling sound of meat cooking.

Not only that, there was an all too familiar cheerful humming coming from the kitchen.

“Don’t just stand there, Mr. Richardson.” The voice of Chef Louis called out.

“I could use a little help preparing my usual dish.”

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"The Violinist"

There was nothing unusual about my day until it happened, it was the same torturous existence that it always was. The same mundane cloud of things happening that I've started to despise more and more as the days progressed. My children had started hating me due to me working "so much". I tried explaining them that working 8 hours a day is normal and that I spend a great deal of time with them but they wouldn't listen, just disrespected me with tomfoolery. None of this was enough to push me over the edge of depression. I was never a depressed person as I considered myself quite the optimist.

One day though I found out that my husband had been cheating on me with a high school student. Not knowing how to react properly to that my first thought was going to a motel with a few of my belongings, wanting to start a new life away from the poison that was my family.

But I didn't want to. This was by no means about me making a bold statement, it was about giving up.

It's true, I had given up on life.

Being in that room surrounded by nothing but bare necessities it wasn't hard to notice when the TV turned on by itself. I thought that maybe I had sat on the remote but such was not the case.

On the TV there was a woman playing the violin with a fiery passion. It sounded nice at first, even relaxing. The tone quickly switched however into a sound that I cannot even describe.

And I felt it all at once.

I felt how my life had no meaning anymore.

I felt my defeat.

My apathy for life.

"Number 13"

Some people collected stamps, others collected coins. Greg collected VHS tapes. That was his passion. He scoured eBay and Amazon, he browsed used bookstores and garage sales. He specialized in movies that had never been transferred to DVD. He had Wim Wender's director's cut of Until the End of the World. He had the 75th Anniversary restoration of Erich von Stroheim's Greed. He had Orson Welles' Ghost Story.
He was visiting one of his usual used bookstores when he came across a VHS tape simply labeled Number 13. The proprietor didn't know what was on it, but offered to sell it for a dollar. Greg accepted. When he brought it home, however, and began to play it, he noticed with surprise that the title card listed the director as "Alfred Hitchcock."

He realized that this was the Holy Grail of lost films: the very first Hitchcock film. The funding for it had run out; production had shut down the set and all the scenes that had been shot were supposed to have been destroyed, melted down for their silver nitrate. But someone must have found them and later converted them to VHS. Why they didn't come forward, he had no idea.

He sat down and, with excited anticipation, began to watch the film. The plot was ostensibly about the low-income residents of a building in London, but Greg soon realized that the plot didn't really make any sense. People appeared and disappeared randomly, sets changed, dialogue referred to events that never happened. These scenes had been preserved, but they were just random scenes.

He wondered how many scenes had been preserved. Certainly not many. The scenes began to get weirder and weirder. Cats started to appear in the building, but nobody commented on why they were there. They appeared on staircases and bookshelves. One quick scene had the main actress surrounded by six cats. She looked terrified. The cats themselves looked somewhat strange, though Greg couldn't put his finger as to why. In the next scene, the actress and the actor playing her husband were eating dinner, with no cats around. Still, Greg noticed that they both looked nervous and kept glancing towards the camera.

And then finally Greg came to the last scene. It took place in the same room where the cats had surrounded the main actress. Now, there seemed to be dozens and dozens of cats on the ground. They looked dead. Alfred Hitchcock himself walked onto the set, winding around the corpses of each cat, carrying a large gas can. He carefully tipped the can and poured the gasoline around the entire set, making sure not to leave any surface untouched.

Greg watched, enraptured, as Hitchcock pulled out a lighter and then looked directly into the camera. He said something, but there was no sound, so Greg couldn't make it out. Then he flicked on the lighter and dropped it on the set, then walked away as it burned. The set burned and the tape ended.

Greg quickly rewound the tape and watched Hitchcock talking again and tried to see what he was saying. He rewound again and again, until finally he figured it out:

"No one must watch it. Burn it all."

Greg wondered why Hitchcock had ordered the entire set burned. And, if he was willing to destroy the set, why hadn't he destroyed all copies of the film? Had someone just taken off with these scenes before he could destroy them? As Greg got up, he felt something brush his leg and jumped. He quickly looked down.

It was just a cat. Only a cat.

It purred as he petted it. He rewound the tape and wondered how it had gotten in. He was sure he hadn't left the door open.

"Butterfly Valley"

Butterfly Valley was originally a bright and cheerful show. Originally the first and most popular show created by Heykids studios, it was an animated cartoon about a pair of twins, Rose and Petunia, who were able to go to a world inhabited by fairies who turn into butterflies. This land was ruled by Princess Butterfly, a powerful princess. However, King Boogieman, the king of the Troll Kingdom, wished desperately to marry Princess Butterfly.

Here's where the controversy started. At trhe end of Season two, Princess Butterfly was engaged to a warlock named Frank, but it turned out he wanted to use Princess Butterfliy's powers to take over the world. The only way to prevent this was for Princess Butterfly to marry someone of royal blood: King Boogieman.

Many parents immediately saw King Boogieman's success in marrying the Princess as teaching children that evil can triumph, a very undesirable children's lesson. Despite this, he animators were able to curb the controversy by having King Boogieman visibly reform in season three. So for a while things were fine.

Then came season four.

During season three, Butterfly Valley's popularity declined because of competition from a show about a girl and some pirates, produced by the same company. The creators of Butterfly Valley mistakenly believed the rival show's popularity came from their dark tone, and made season four dark to try and compete, creating dark episodes with disturbing creatures and imagery.

That was their huge mistake. Many of the episodes in season four were banned. On top of that, Heykids had been creating some other controversial shows as well, and Butterfly Valley had been their least controversial show, and their biggest moneymaker.

Butterfly Valley's change in tone did the company in, as it's popularity plummetted. Realizing their mistake, they tried to return to their cheerful atmosphere in season five, but only two episodes were made of season five, because of lack of funding.

Now reruns are played on only one known station, and the show has been almost forgotten.

For details, one may look at the Butterfly Valley Wiki, which is currently under construction.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"You Bet Your Life"

csshhhhhhhhhh "-come to You Bet Your Life. And here he is: the one, the only-" csshhhhhhhhhhhh "-you're a teacher? Well, you know what they say: those who can't do, teach. And those who can't teach-" csshhhhhhhhhhh "-now if you say the Secret Word then-" cssshhhhhhhhhh "-you're on a streak and speaking of streaking-" csshhhhhhh "-well, there, you've said it, the Secret Word. It was 'help.' That's all you had to say. And you prize is-" csssshhhhhh "-the pain is momentary-" cssshhhhh "-we'll be back next week with more You Bet Your Life!"