The Death Cake – by PhoenixWolf – narrated by Asclepius
The Death Cake
By PhoenixWolf, aka Alexander Huffman
Background music by Smartsound
Jorib padded up the ramp into his spaceship, a white box bouncing in his hands with his excitement. Behind him a human male in his early adulthood years stood wide eyed, gazing at a large stack of green sheets of paper in his hand. Jorib didn’t have any idea of how money worked on this planet, but he figured fifty thousand units of the human’s currency was more than enough for this purchase.
The ramp closed and Jorib felt the inertia buffers turn on as the ship ascended into a safe orbit.
“Norgat!” He squeaked out as he broke into a run down the corridor. “I got it! Come see quickly!”
Jorib made excited giggling sounds as he entered the dining hall. Just as he placed the box on the table, Norgat shuffled in rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Norgat was a short and stocky example of his species, just like Jorib. His head stalks, which usually stood straight up from the top of his head, were askew to one side, and dark lines creased his grey skinned face. The telltale signs of his most recent nap being deep and way too comfortable.
“What?” Norgat said drowsily.
“I got that human food item that I was telling you about! The confection that was named for bringing death upon those who dare eat it,” Jorib said with a dramatic wave of his stubby hands.
Norgat stifled a yawn, ‘Okay…so, what are we going to do with a deadly dessert?”
“What else! We’re going to eat it!”
“What??” Norgat was definitely awake now.
“I have prepared everything we need. We will not only brave this deadly confectionery, but survive to document its effects for science and posterity!”
“By we, you mean me, don’t you?”
“Not this time! I plan on consuming this human creation too. Just after I document your experience with it first.”
Norgat stared at his companion for a silent moment. “You just want to see me suffer.”
“No! Your physical health is important to me. How else will I learn from these humans without your expert assistance and experimentation?”
Norgat’s stare turned into a dark glare. Not that it mattered much, once Jorib got an idea in his head, he was very difficult to dissuade. Jorib started to lift the lid of the box, but its corners caught part way, causing him to struggle and grunt as he tried to wiggle it free. Norgat watched this struggle for a few moments, enjoying Jorib’s growing frustration.
Norgat grew bored waiting, he grabbed the lid with Jorib and helped lift. It came free and slid smoothly off its base with a satisfying rush of air filling the space the lid occupied. They immediately jumped back with their nose holes wrinkled at the smell that filled the room.
“Uhg! That’s horrid!” Jorib cried out.
They retreated to the furthest wall away from the open box and waited for the smell to dissipate.
“If I start smelling like that after I eat it, my clutch-mate will replace me when we get home!”
“She still hasn’t forgiven you for bringing that Durian Fruit home?” Jorib asked.
“I had to sleep in the bog for a week!”
Jorib shuddered in sympathy.
“I think the smell is mostly gone now.” He motioned for Norgat to approach the box again.
Norgat rolled his eyes, but walked up to the box again. He took a cutter tool and carefully cut the corners of the box, letting the sides fall down to reveal the contents in all their glory.
“Oooh!” They both exclaimed at the sight. The cake was dark brown, almost black. It was also very tall, the top being made perfectly smooth, with dark brown flower-like embellishments arranged around its edge.
Jorib reached out with shaking hands toward the cake, but stopped short as if touching an invisible barrier. “Wow. Norgat, feel the power!”
Norgat gave him a sideways glance and eye roll. “Okay, let’s begin documenting. What do the humans call this?”
Jorib carefully enunciated the human words, “Death by Chocolate Cake.”
“‘Death’ meaning ‘the expiring of life,’” Norgat began speaking into his handheld computer.
“‘Chocolate’ being a substance created from the offspring-seeds of the cacao tree, and ‘cake’ being a special confection of layered bread substance held together with a sugary paste. The implication of the name being the chocolate cake brings death to anyone who eats it.”
“You take all the mystique and drama out of everything! Can’t you see this is a very artifact of human daring and death-sport?”
“Your romantic fascination with human death-sports does not bode well for posterity.”
Jorib dismissed the warning with a hand wave. “Nonsense, I have prepared the antidote in case the worst should happen.”
He grabbed a tray with two glass containers filled with a white liquid from the cooler. Norgat immediately began shaking and backing up quickly at the sight of the liquid.
“Is…is that…cow milk?” He said, the look of shock apparent on his face.
“No, it comes from a different animal! The Almond. I tried it myself earlier and no profuse leaking occurred from any of my orifices.”
Norgat’s shock turned quickly to horror, “you didn’t follow safety protocol! And you sampled human food without alerting me first?”
Jorib ignored Norgat this time. Why let pesky things like protocols and assistants get in the way of true discovery?
He continued speaking, “while cow milk is the superior antidote, the almond milk should still prove adequate.”
Norgat just stared, gobsmacked, at Jorib.
“Now,” Jorib continued as he pulled a long dissection knife from the drawer, “If you would do the honors, we must make exacting dissection cuts from the center point to the edge of the cake, creating a wedge shape. We will then extract it for our first sample.”
Norgat glared as he grabbed the knife a little more forcefully than usual. He carefully lined the blade up to the cake, making sure the tip was centered.
“Carefully!” Jorib said as the knife began to cut into the upper layer of fondant.
Norgat took his eyes off the cake and glared daggers at his companion as he let the knife slide through to the bottom. Jorib nibbled on his stubby fingers in anxious horror as Norgat made another perfect cut.
“Tray,” Norgat said, as he carefully slid the knife beneath the cake slice and lifted it out. Jorib held a clean tray at the ready as Norgat smoothly transferred the four-layered slice of cake off the knife.
“Oooh!” They both exclaimed again as they inspected the pristine goo-marbled layers of dark chocolate frosting and sponge.
“It still stinks really bad, but it looks amazing,” Norgat said. Jorib could only nod, his mouth was agape in total, dramatic awe.
Carefully, Jorib handed an eating utensil to Norgat, never taking his eyes off the slice. This was the moment Norgat was dreading the most. He took the utensil with an audible groan and forced himself to take a bite-sized portion of the cake. His hand shook and he whined pitifully as he painfully drew his portion toward his mouth.
“Courage, Norgat,” Jorib said, “we are on the frontier of real science!”
The encouragement did little for Norgat. His hand inched toward his face, but his mouth kept moving further away. Jorib finally took hold of the utensil and Norgat’s head stalks, wrestling the cake into his companion’s mouth.
There was a stifled scream as Norgat’s eyes widened in shock. His mouth made large chewing motions. An exaggerated gulp followed a moment later.
“Well?” Jorib asked impatiently.
Norgat didn’t move a muscle, but his skin started taking on a strange dark shade, spreading steadily over every inch of his exposed body. Jorib panicked when Norgat began convulsing and turning a dark shade of chocolate brown.
“Antidote! Antidote!” Jorib grabbed the glasses of almond milk, spilling most of it, and splashed the rest into Norgat’s gasping mouth. When the convulsions didn’t stop, Jorib ran around the room in a panic, knocking shelves over and throwing things in a hasty attempt at finding something to help his dying companion.
He made it back to Norgat’s body with an armload of items in time to see Norgat’s final shudder and stillness, a foamy gurgle of almond milk pouring out his mouth in a ghastly final death sigh.
Jorib cried out in horror, dropping down to sob on the lifeless body of Norgat.
“No! Norgat! You *sob* were so *sob* young and full *sob* of promise!”
A gurgle bubbled out of Norgat’s mouth. Jorib looked up with bloodshot and goopy eyes in time to receive a faceful of chocolate cake.
He fell backward trying to wipe the deathly confection from his face and eyes as Norgat let out a hearty squeal of laughter and began rolling on the floor.
“You’re alive?” Jorib asked in disbelief as he rubbed the cake out of one eye. Norgat still just rolled around in laughter.
“You’re still alive?” Jorib yelled angrily, realizing he was now the butt of a very messy joke.
Jorib, dripping in gooey cake, dashed madly for his own fistful of cake. In a few moments, the dining hall was covered in a gloppy mess of cake and frosting as the two aliens enacted another great human tradition: the food fight.