Making a culinary miracle is a hectic process.
What else is in the refrigerator besides the carrots, peas, red pepper, and? Oh, yeah, maybe spring onions, garlic, and onions? Kale might be included, too.
A plume of steam and a stream of grumbling came from the kitchen. Brown hair that was rumpled and being forcefully pushed to one side by its owner as they tried to read the falling paper could be seen through the vapor.
Onions are already in; you don’t need more. Potato? maybe some water to boil… The kettle ought to be on; shit, the onions are on fire; shit, shit, shit;
The charred veggies were seasoned with vulgarities. Smooth hands frantically reached for a spatula and made an effort to remove the crusty onions from the pan’s bottom. The onions wouldn’t release their hold until boiling water started pouring into the pan.
They said, alternating their promises with other whispered curses, “Right, yeah, it’s fine, it’s fine.” This background noise accompanied the sizzling of the peppers and the thudding of the carrots as they entered the pan.
All the vegetables were added shortly after. The stressed-out chéf took a step back, pushed their hair out of their face, and heaved a terrified sigh. The water was simmering and the vegetables were inside. The following assignment was now just waiting. Or did it?
Oh, the seasoning, my God!
Cabinet doors slammed open as the frantic cook searched for the required ingredients. Paprika, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and oregano…
A spice container with no label fell to the counter. Charlie’s focus was diverted from their heap of vegetables as the object’s glass casing began to shake slightly as it landed.
“Huh. never before seen you.
They took hold of the pot, cracked the lid open, and motioned as if to toss a pinch of something into the soup. The aroma of the spice halted them in their tracks before they could advance more than an inch. Spice, coal, and petrichor were smells that had a physical quality to them. They evoked feelings of coziness in the winter, receiving an influenza vaccine, and falling asleep with a candle burning low.
Charlie decided, lifting their increasingly heavy hand and tossing the jar, “Yeah you’re certainly going in the soup.” Even with the cover completely off, only a trickle of sand entered the seething pot.
Charlie threw the pot back into the cabinet after becoming unimpressed. Strange seasonings that had crystallized in their container took up too much of their time. Their top priority was the soup. Nothing was scorched or damaged since the spoon was in the pot while it was cooking (yet). Now all they had to do was wait and periodically stir. Charlie naturally accessed their phone as a result.
Stop showing me the king, that’s a spoiler, that’s an advertisement, boring, dull, and uninteresting.
Charlie stirred idly with their other hand as they read their news feed. They were conversing with their cat in their heads, who used to keep watch and keep vigil whenever Charlie started cooking. Charlie had tripped over the fluffy obstruction a few times, but overall the two got along fairly well in the kitchen. Until he was given a bite, Elton would scream at the top of his lungs. Charlie would reprimand the cat for misbehaving before sitting on the ground and holding the cat in their lap until the food on the stove boiled over or the timer went off.
I neglected to set a timer!
Charlie’s other hand was off the spoon due to frantic swiping. They had too many apps open on their new phone and were juggling too many competing thoughts. The search for the clock app required two hands.
The spoon kept stirring, spinning delicately as though being touched by unseeable hands. Charlie failed to notice since he was preoccupied by the “UPDATE PHONE” notification. The chef would have been brought back to focus if Elton had been around, but for the past few weeks, the home had been uncomfortably silent. No calls for help or soft thumps as paws trotted downstairs in the middle of the night in search of their owner could be heard (and a second supper). The occasional, soft sobbing was the only sound in the home.
Charlie started the timer and brought them back to the pot. Unfazed by the unexpected interest, the spoon continued to make its rounds, appearing to speed up as Charlie continued to observe.
Charlie stretched out in confusion to halt the spoon. To their horror, it sped up even more as it passed right through their palm. Charlie’s twenty-minute timer began to shriek shrilly, ending far too soon and objecting in distress at the odd events as unseen hands turned the dials on the hob to full.
To their credit, Charlie didn’t scream his way out of the eerie kitchen. They foolishly attempted to take the spoon once more, not realizing that doing so would not restore the cutlery’s physical shape.
The spoon finally came to a rest after seven frenetic turns. It spun furiously in one spot until the handle firmly pointed in the direction of the back door. The back door burst open in dramatic fashion, accompanied by a burst of damp leaves. Charlie was surprised to see that the entryway was empty; there was no monstrous figure silhouetted by streetlights or masked killer posing before their murderous rampage. only departs.
From behind them, someone or something yelled, “Your soup is done.”
Their socks slipped on the tile floor as Charlie shouted and swung around so swiftly that they fell backwards like an ice-skating deer. A hand grasped their wrist, putting them back on solid ground to their horror and relief.
“Careful. No turning the soup upside down, a stern voice warned them.
Charlie’s gaze eventually focused on the hand that was tightly gripping their arm. Clawed fingers and red, leathery skin. The arm was a darker shade of scarlet, well-muscled, and covered in veins. A shirtless, red entity was in Charlie’s kitchen; veins could be seen on its torso as well. A shirtless individual with areolas covered in tiny skulls and pierced nipples.
Charlie avoided a stare out of respect. Instead, they concentrated on the oddly thick neck, the clean goatee, and the lifeless eyes that sent a condescending glance their way.
The Devil asked, “Are you finished? “I want some soup right now.”
Charlie simply nodded. After releasing their wrist and regaining their footing, they frantically searched for the cutlery drawer.
They frantically thought, “I can just get a knife.” I might take a knife, ask myself, “And stab the Devil? Axe Satan? Yeah, buddy, don’t do that, the Devil said. Just grab a bowl and a ladle. All I’m here for is the soup.
Whimpering, Charlie flung open the drawer. The unusual shape of the ladle snagged on the surface and prevented the drawer from fully closing, at least it tried to.
After a brief period of frantic pulling, there was a slight click, and the drawer easily slipped out. Following suit, the ladle placed itself in the saucepan and gave it one more, delicate stir.
The burglar asked, “Now, where are the bowls?”
The Devil clicked once more as Charlie nodded in the direction of the proper cabinet. Two bowls landed on the countertop as the door flew open. Charlie started distributing the soup with a cheap plastic ladle that had melted after months of unsuccessful cooking trials.
When the bowls were full, the guest seized one with a gnarled hand and began drinking animalistically from the side. Charlie observed with grim fascination as the first bowl was emptied, the second bowl was consumed, and the food in the pot was gradually consumed.
With just one serving left, the Devil finally appeared content. It folded its arms and placed the dishes in the sink before turning on the hot water and turning its back on Charlie.
It questioned, “What do you want?”
I… I’m sorry, Charlie stumbled, still reeling from what had happened in the last 10 minutes.
“Your prize. with soup. The Devil kept asking you, “What do you want?” with increasing vehemence. “Money? Women? Men? a fresh home? Power? Donuts in a huge box? I have everything you need.
Charlie mumbled, “My kitty.” The Devil arched a perfect brow. Please give me my kitty back.
The Devil thought about this. Are cats in Hell? Hell: Was there one? Could it save this terrified human by reclaiming a dead cat? Probably.
“Sure. At midnight, open the back door, the Devil said. He will show up then.
Although they had read fairytales and horror stories, they were aware that there was a catch, and Charlie’s heart seemed to expand with hope.
“Will he turn into a zombie? They questioned, “Is he going to be immortal, malevolent, or not my genuine cat? Do I now owe you my soul, or what?
The Devil tilted its head in confusion. Why would I desire your soul?
“Since you’re providing me with anything. Right, it’s always a trade.
The longer they talked, the more comfortable Charlie felt. They had taken an online occult class, and they were aware of their rights. Not today; they weren’t going to fall for Satan’s tricks.
The word reverberated throughout the kitchen. Charlie needed a few seconds to digest it.
“Soup. You handed me some tasty soup. Devil shook his head. Trade completed. At midnight, your cat comes back as a kitten once more. Take care of him. In fifteen years, I’ll return for more soup.
The rear door opened once more after that last declaration. They just had a brief glimpse of the Devil exiting through the shattered cat-flap as a little tornado of leaves and debris spun into the room and buffeted Charlie’s face.
The kitchen went back to being as it had been when the Devil left. The refrigerator was humming strangely, there was dead spider behind the cabinets, and there was old cat fur on the mat. Charlie took it all in, ensuring themselves that this was, in fact, their plane of existence and that they were still intact despite the Devil having been in their kitchen.
Repressing their trauma, Charlie put the last of the soup into a dish for themselves. The Devil had been drinking it hot, so it had only slightly cooled by this point.
After taking a hesitant first bite, Charlie realized why Satan had come to visit.
Oh, this soup is delicious.