's 2019 Horror Write-off:

The Culinary Dadpocalypse

Submitted by Monita R.

October 20th, 2019 - My dad does not realize the horror he unleashes on us all because we are all too polite to directly criticize his cooking. 

I don’t think either of my parents have adjusted well to having disposable income. We are a comfortably middle class family, but that was a massive step up from their childhoods in rural Bangladesh. Of course, it’s done wonders for them in many ways, and it is likely that I, who has never lived in the middle of nowhere as a dirt poor farmer, am not able to appreciate it as much as they do. 

That does not, however, excuse inviting the forces of darkness into our home. 

My dad is technically speaking, a competent cook. When following a recipe, he makes good food, and he runs a barbecue like a true suburban dad. The problem is when he starts making his own recipes. 

This evening, I entered the living room to see him casually tossing french fries and ketchup in with his Greek salad. I’m still not sure if that’s a lesser sin or if I’m simply too jaded to realize how horrible it is, but either way it was enough to attract the attention of Chef-hood. 

Chef-hood is what I call the figure quite literally cloaked in shadow except for the paper chef’s hat with two eye holes poked in the bottom that makes up its head, and occasionally a clawed hand that reached out of the cloak. It likes to sit on the kitchen counter by the stove and watch while my dad places full hot dogs in a casserole dish on top of pasta sheets, or crouch and peer into the oven at the sight of poutine cheese curds melting over pierogies. 

The maddening thing is that no-one else in the house sees it. I thought maybe for whatever reason I started hallucinating, until The Onion Incident. The scar on my left hand I excused as accidentally cutting myself to my parents, but that is forever the proof (to myself, at least) that Chef-hood is real- and that it’s a vile, vile creature. 

I keep this journal to record my experience with this creature, my observations, and- eventually- my attempts to end it. 

October 26th, 2019 - It had been almost a week. In my infinite wisdom, I had nearly forgotten about my mission, as dad had thankfully mostly stuck to ordinary recipes for dinner, and Chef-hood did not rear its head in our kitchen. But I should have known better than to let my senses dull like a knife gone unsharpened! 

I had turned off the television and idly turned to the hall leading to the dining room, when I saw the chef hat with holes poked in the base. It turned around quickly, and seemed to vanish into thin air. I jumped to my feet immediately, half out of surprise, and had to root my feet into the ground to avoid running after it. There was sound in there- a timer ringing its signal. The mundanity permitted that I relax, and I did, as I walked into the hall.

Through the hall, and into the dining room, where my little brother was already seated with a smile plastered on his face. Dad arrived from the kitchen shortly after, holding the glass dish, which I had not seen in a long time. 

The hairs on my neck stood straight again. From the corner of my eye, I could see chef-hood in the corner of the dining room, leaning its head towards the object in dad’s hands. Simultaneously, the greatest and worst thing about that dish was how see-through it was. In it, I could see baked fish stacked on tomato sauce, stacked on pasta sheets, stacked on cheddar cheese, stacked on fries. The first horseman, that heralded more doom to come. 

Fish and chips lasagna. 

One of the first of its kind of abomination I had encountered, and I had almost forgotten about its existence. I quickly put on a smile and told my dad I needed to finish an essay. I was not lying, but as you can see, I am not currently writing an essay. 

October 28th, 2019 - The forces of darkness give no quarter. I had to return to the dining room eventually, and Chef-hood was still very still in his corner, peering through the holes in his hat at the abomination on the table, that my brother was happily lapping up. 

When I sat down, I was careful to separate the fish from the rest, and clean the cheddar off of it. I told dad I had eaten on the way home from school, which was a lie, but a lie that I deemed acceptable in the face of such horrors. I noticed as I was leaving the dining room, Chef-hood seemed to appear under the table, in front of the chair I had been sitting on. 

Today, eldritch forces continued their assault on sanity. I saw Chef-hood in the hall the moment I opened the door when I got back from school. For a moment, I squinted and gazed at the cold, dead holes in the hat that passed for eyes, but alas. I blinked, and it vanished when I did. 

Cautiously, I entered the hall, making sure my footsteps did not disturb mom, who was sleeping on the couch. The dining room lights were on, and I leaned my head into it, just to peek. Dad was at the table, a bowl in his hands. A glass bowl. At that moment, a clawed hand rested beside it on the table, almost distracting me from the contents. 

The second horseman, fries and ketchup tossed into a Caesar salad. 

Dad looked up and smiled, asking me to take a snack, motioning to the counter that acted as a border between dining and cooking spaces. With a nervous smile and a nod, I shuffled along the wall furthest from the dining table and Chef-hood that I could, and though I tried to keep my eyes towards the kitchen cabinet I was shuffling towards, I could feel whatever was behind the holes in that chef hat’s eyes staring through me. Barely even looking in the cabinet, I grabbed a granola bar and hurried out, and to the living room, and up the stairs, where I write this account. 

November 1st, 2019 - The claw marks on the dining table remain, and for once I am not the only one who notices. Mom asked the family, the relatives that visited in the afternoon, and I am only half-certain she did not go and ask the tenants downstairs, interrogation for the purpose of finding who defaced her hard-earned furniture. 

That was Chef-hood’s mistake. It had not appeared for a few days, perhaps it thought it could lure me into a false sense of security like before. Not so, when its mark on the world had become even more evident. The scar on my hand may be fading, but the claw marks on the table are reminders that will last- and they may just be the key to exposing its existence. 

But perhaps it does not care about that anymore. 

When I entered the dining room at dinnertime, I saw burger buns on my plate. “A friend,” they whispered, “which has never harmed you.” But I knew better, for I could see the baked beans peeking out from the burger. Little did I know that would not be the end. 

Seated at the dining table, looking at my brother ravenously chowing down on the burger more than any nine year old ought to, I felt something wrap around my ankle. Instinctively, I shook it off and looked under the table, coming eye-to-holes with Chef-hood as it retracted a clawed hand into its shroud of shadows. 

I inched my chair away, and broke the gaze. Instead, I looked to my brother- his burger falling apart, where I could clearly see the anatomy of the third horseman. I thought the baked beans were the end of it, yet it seemed another old foe had come to haunt me. 

Chicken cheese dog pasta. With baked beans. In a burger bun. 

My brother stood up and scurried to the sink, leaving his plate a mess of beans, pasta, and cut-up hot dog sausage, all laced with stringy cheese. From the darkness under the table, a clawed hand emerged. Now I stood to, and went behind my chair, clutching at it. 

It felt around, running a finger along the chair back and tangling up strings of thread in its claws. Shaking it loose, the hand turned, and found the plate on the table, and pressed its fingers down on the edge, tipping it. 

Tipping it. 

The plate fell to Earth with a clatter, and my dad’s gaze shot over from the kitchen. Yet, it was obvious from the distance that it could not have been me. The hand was gone now, vanished back into darkness. 

But it will be back. I understand that much. But I will be ready.

November 2nd, 2019 - This morning, I was scolded for a drop of hot oil nearly scalding my younger brother as it dripped from the wooden spoon I carelessly held. However, as my mother went on, I noticed something - some distance away from where the drop fell, chef-hood hunched itself into a corner, gazing fearfully at the drop on the floor, which now had some dark-coloured matter surrounding it. 

So tonight, I ventured back down the stairs, with only my phone’s flashlight as company. I could see glowing dots and a silhouette at the bottom, which scurried away before the flashlight’s glow could rest on it. 

During the journey through the living room to the kitchen, I felt tendrils beginning to wrap around an ankle, so I pointed the light to it. For just a moment, I caught a glimpse of the white hat, beady dots for eyes, and a shadowy form, before it scuttled away into the darkness, towards the kitchen. 

In the kitchen, with careful, flashlight-scanned steps, I moved about, gathering a mug, some cocoa powder, a pot, the oil. Once I placed the pot on the stove and poured the oil into it, I fetched the bait. 

Powdered coffee creamer. 

The moment I pulled that out of the cabinet and turned to my left, I saw chef-hood staring right at it, watching from atop the dining table. Its posture was such like the time it perked up after hearing my dad’s harebrained scheme to get around our milk shortage to make hot chocolate. However, he did not go through with it in the end. 

I glanced at the pot of oil on the stove. 

Gently, I spooned some chocolate powder into the mug. 

The creature leaned closer. A clawed hand came out of the shadow, and grasped the edge of the table. It looked about ready to pounce on something. 

I placed a heaping of the powdered coffee creamer on the spoon, and held it over the mug. 

It blinked.

Then it leaped. 

My other hand dashed for the handle of pot of oil, and when chef-hood landed on the counter by the mug, the hand that held the spoon let go of it, the coffee creamer falling into the mug. Now with both hands grasping the pot’s handle, I lifted it up and tossed its contents at the counter. 

There was sizzling, and a shrill, bird-like screech. 

It put me in a daze, though I was just able to register thundering steps on the staircase. In a few blinks, the lights flickered on, and dad stood in the doorway. 

When I looked at the counter, I saw the white chef hat lying in a pool of oil and some sort of dark sludge, with a trail of it leading off the counter, then onto the floor, and into another cabinet. Opening that cabinet, all that greeted me was a row of cereal boxes, with streaks of black on a few of them. 

Dad demanded to know what happened, of course. I claimed that as I was making a midnight snack for myself, I discovered a raccoon in the kitchen and panicked. 

I believe he heard the “midnight snack” part more clearly than any other. Almost immediately, he offered to reheat the leftover chicken cheese dog pasta. 

And my immediate reaction was “No!”

He seemed alarmed, so my next words were far more gentle. “Sorry, but I don’t really like that dish,” I said. “I think I’ll just have warm milk.”