You suddenly find yourself walking down the street and you have absolutely no idea how you got there. As a matter of fact, you have no memory of going into town at all! You’re confused, disoriented, and hungry. You’re not even sure what day it is. You glance down at your watch, but it appears to have stopped. Surely they are missing you at the office! You begin to panic! A woman walks by, pushing a stroller. You are oddly drawn to her. “Excuse me ma’am, would you happen to know the time?” She stares at you openmouthed, then whirls the stroller around and races off!
“I wonder what got into her?” you say, scratching your head in puzzlement.
Nearby there’s a man sitting on a park bench. Something attracts you to him; you’re not sure what. Your sense of hunger increases. You tap him on the shoulder. “Sir, if I could trouble you for a moment?” The man glances up at you, lets out a yelp, and takes to his heels. Without knowing why, you begin to chase him. Your teeth lock on his arm but he shakes you off, leaving you with a piece of his jacket hanging from your mouth. Yes, you’re definitely acting a little strange. You feel ill with hunger. You have the weirdest craving you can’t quite put your finger on it. What could it be? What is it you are hungry for?
A dessert! Not store-bought. You want something homemade. Something moist, light, and flaky, but not difficult to make. Something that was a hit at the office Christmas party last year! Something so good that, not to brag, people are still asking for the recipe. Something chocolately but not overpoweringly fudgy. You walk into a grocery store. The clerk takes one look at you then flees screaming into the back. You follow him, grab him in your arms and the world goes black.
You wake up and next to you is the clerk lying very still. You don’t know what has happened, but you’re still sick with hunger. You pick up some simple ingredients: 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 1 cup cocoa, 4 cups of cake flour, 2 sticks butter, 1 1/2 cups of milk, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 3/4 cups of sugar, and 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt. For frosting, you decide on Duncan’s. You are not going to get too fancy here. No one will know the difference! As an afterthought, you also take the clerk’s leg.
You call your wife, hoping to get a ride. The phone rings and rings but no one answers. You feel on the verge of collapse! But you are comforted by the fact you are going to bake a dessert so scrumptious people are going to say “Wow, did you get that at Monticiello’s?” But no! You made it yourself! From scratch! Well, mostly, if you don’t count the frosting.
Eventually you stagger home and find the place filled with flowers. What on earth could be going on? You call a friend of your wife’s. “Is Edith there?” You say, your hands shaking so badly you are barely able to tie on your apron, which isn’t a necessity but it gets you into the mental headspace for good baking. “No, she isn’t. She’s at her husband’s funeral; he died several days ago in a car crash,” the woman paused. “Who IS this? Your voice sounds familiar. Hello? Hello?”
You don’t answer because you’ve dropped the phone in shock. Feeling very ill now, you race to the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. You sift together flour, salt, cocoa, and baking powder in a large bowl, then set them aside. You then quickly butter two eight-inch cake pans and set them aside. Barely able to stand, you frantically cream the butter until it becomes fluffy; then, adding the sugar gradually, you beat the mixture until it too is fluffy. You add the egg yolks and then the vanilla, and then beat until well-combined. Finally, you add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, and stir them until smooth. You want to look in the mirror, but you fear what you know to be the horrible truth!
You pour the batter into the two cake pans two-thirds full and set them in the oven to bake for forty-five minutes. You will know they are done when you stick a toothpick into them and it comes out cleanly. You brush your floury hands on your pants, quickly do some dishes, then stagger upstairs to the bathroom mirror. You must see it for yourself!
Staring back at you is the face of a putrid, rotting corpse! You’re a zombie! A hideous zombie with a cake to frost! You are forever condemned to walk the earth and consume the flesh of the living! The cake will serve six to eight! You resume feeding on the leg of the hapless grocery clerk. An unearthly “ding” fills the empty house. It’s the timer on the oven sounding. A delicious smell begins to waft through the air.
Your cake is ready.