WIP Wednesdays | Recipe for Disaster Excerpt | 5/4/2022


This fantasy horror short story is about two survivors of a dangerous cooking contest where they had to hunt down fantastical ingredients to use in their dishes. One of them was presumed dead after being attacked by a vampire.

The plot is a bit of a hot mess and this version might end up staying in WIP purgatory (it’s been there for a year) but I like the concept enough to possibly revamp it at some point.

Warning for a brief discussion of prior parental death, violence, and blood.

Toby thinks Graham is a lot stronger now that he’s dead. Mostly dead. Whatever. Certainly more than he had been during the contest.

The sound of his door being broken down at 3 AM wasn’t actually the thing that woke him up. He can’t say why, exactly—the rain shouldn’t cover up the break-in as much as it does. But it’s the hissed sound of his name that gets him sitting up and staring at the door from where he has his murphy bed in the corner.

For a hot second he thinks that he’s his dad. Graham bears a passing resemblance—tall, dark-haired, wild-eyed, teeth always bare and gnashing. Thank all that’s good his dad is still rotting six feet under in the local cemetery. Probably. At this point it wouldn’t surprise him if he’s still alive somehow too.

He doesn’t have to actually give him permission to come into his house. This is bullshit contest vampire laws where the rules are made up and the points don’t matter. He rushes in, shiny-slimy with rainwater and unwashed skin, and makes a dive at Toby. Toby, who struggles out of his bedding like he’s ten years old before he can even throw a punch. Not that it matters. Jab, straight—Graham catches both of his fists and pins them over his head to the bed. Then he climbs on top of him and bites on his neck.

Toby grunts in pain. Graham bites with more than just his sharpened canines. He can feel every one of his teeth right down to the molars breaking his skin.

His apartment is always small, but it feels particularly crowded with two people in it, especially when one of them is actively attacking. It’s all he can (barely) afford on his hourly pay from Burrito Barn.

He would ask him what he’s doing, but it’s obvious, isn’t it? Besides, his stutter would probably kick in and he can’t imagine Graham has the patience for that.

Just as suddenly as he started, Graham stops. He pulls his head back and gasps, blood bubbling between his teeth and dripping down his chin. Toby’s blood. He might faint. That might be a blessing. Dying while unconscious doesn’t sound that bad, actually.

“That might be the first real ‘food’ I’ve had in a while,” Graham says, mopping his wrist across his mouth.

Blood used to make Toby queasy, but he saw so much of it during the contest. It wasn’t all red, though. The dragon blood looked like blackberry juice, the vampires was thick and rotten, like it was stuck in a perpetually clotted state even when under the skin.

The lightning keeps carving out Graham’s wild eyes, his cheekbones, from the dark. Vampire. Ker-crash. Vampire. Ker-slam. Long-presumed-dead-human-turned-vampire. In his house. On top of him. Right now.

Graham had always been beautiful before, yes, beautiful, not handsome, despite–because?–of the way that he carried himself. Confident, shoulders back, even as he executed underhanded, cruel plots designed specifically to entrap his opponents or the creatures that they all hunted. His straight, white teeth appeared sharp to Toby, like there were too many in his mouth. That effect is only amplified now, exacerbated by the gaunt nature of his face.

Toby twitches, hisses through his teeth. Can’t decide if the sensation of his wrists being bent backwards is more or less painful than the bite. Painful in a different way, he decides. They both suck (ha).

“They said the bites weren’t contagious,” he says, managing to only stutter over a couple of words.

It’s funny, his speech impediment changes like the weather sometimes. He can’t list the specials at Burrito Barn to save his life but now that he just got his blood sucked out…

“Yeah, well, they lied. About a lot of things. Don’t worry, though, I don’t know how to make you like me.” Graham smiles thinly. “Wouldn’t even if I could. You’re welcome.”

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