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…
“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.
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.
“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…”
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.”