The Cook Book
Not everything is as it seems, at least that’s what my grandmother used to tell me before her death a few years back.
She was the most interesting person I had ever met. She was the best at everything, and she even had various awards and trophies to prove it. She was the fastest runner on her school cross country team, the fastest swimmer on her old highschool swim team, and the best cook I ever knew. On Top of all this, she knew things and understood things that no one else, especially my parents, did.
She had some strange quirks, and some beliefs that my parents didn’t want to influence me, so they tried to stop me from seeing her, but no one could keep us apart. I used to tell my mother that I was sleeping over at a friends house, and then go and see my grandma. We would stay up all night eating candy and talking about our lives. She used to tell me the stories of things that had happened to her, people she had met, things she had done. It was the best time of my life, but like all good things this too came to an end.
The day I found her I went over to her house, like I always did, and found her laying on the floor, blood surrounding her body. The police said it was suicide. I knew different.
My grandmother used to tell me that there was magic in everything. She explained that just because we knew the science behind something didn’t make it any less magical. “Things that we see everyday were once considered magical because us humans didn’t know the ‘why.’ The things that we find magical right now, things like eternal life are just things that we don’t understand yet. The unknown is scary for people, so they try and shut it out. Nothing is impossible. Give anything time and it will come to pass.”
I am reminded of the last day I saw my grandmother alive. I was seven, and I had came to her house for a visit, like I did every Saturday. She was sitting in the backyard in her lawn chair. “Hello, sweetie.” She said with a big smile as I approached.
“Hello grandma!” I said, hugging her before sitting down.
She reached out to me, cupped my hand in hers. They were warm – welcoming – I can feel them gripping me now, holding me whenever I feel unsure. She had such strong hands for a lady that was nearly ninety. Not once do I remember her ever seeming fragile. “I have something important to show you.”
“What is it?” I asked giddily jumping to my feet. My grandmother smiled, but it was a sly smile. There was something behind it that was different. I didn’t pick up on it at the time, but now, looking back I see what I didn’t then. She was worried.
“It’s somewhat of a secrete…” she said, her voice trailing off as she stood up from her spot.
I put my fingers to my lips and winked, “I’m good at keeping secrets.”
She smiled, “I know what, my lovely.” She walked forward and opened the back door to her house, ushering me in. We went down to the basement. It was dark and the air was moist and heavy. “Here.” She said, clapping her hands and candles all around us lite up.
“Wow!” I exclaimed.
The candles were all around us in a circle and in the middle of the circle was a book. The book looked old and warn. My grandmother smiled, picking it up and handing it to me, “this book has been in our family for generations, and now it’s yours.”
I smiled wide, taking the book from her and hugging her. “Thank you grandma!”
“No problem, my darling.” She said, patting me on the back.
The two of us went back upstairs and started to flip through the book. The pages were thick, and upon examination I realized that they were leather. The whole book was pitures of various animals with ingredients listed under them.
“What is this, grandma?” I asked, flipping to a page with a rabbit on it.
My grandmother smiled, “all in due time, my darling. You have much to learn.”
She pulled out a lock box and opened it using a rustic looking key. Within the box was a necklace. It was old, like the box, but it was gorgeous. It was some kind of locket, but when I went to open it my grandmother held my hands closed, “open this in your time of need. Never let it go. Hold onto it.” I smiled, clipping the necklace around my neck.
“I’ll never take it off.” I said, hugging her goodbye.
I went home that night with the book. The next day I walked to my grandmothers, but when I went into the backyard she wasn’t there. I shrugged, walking to the front door to knock. I knocked once, then twice, then three times, but there was no answer. This was unlike her, I thought, then tried the doorknob…it was open. “Hello?” I called, walking in. “Hello?” I called again, there was still no answer. That was when my eyes zoomed in on something laying on the floor. My eyes slowly began to focus and I realized that it wasn’t ‘something’ laying on the floor, it was a ‘someone.’ It was my grandmother – her body lay in a hump on the floor, blood seeping into the already red carpet, staining it darker, more ominous. More deadly. I screamed, and then fainted.
I awoke sometime later. As it turns out no one found me, or my grandmother’s body in the time I had been unconscious. I pulled myself to my feet, walking over to my grandmother’s body. Suddenly I felt empty – like all the life had been drained from me. Everything I had was dead and gone, and I was here so alone. Suddenly I knew what had to be done as I gazed upon her body, her throat slit, blood curdling in a pool around her. Emptiness. Suddenly I knew that I needed to get out of town – I needed to run away and never come back. I don’t know how to explain it – it was as if everything became clear in that moment, as if I had aged in the moments I had been unconscious. Someone had killed my grandmother – and the only reason I could think of was the book. Someone wanted the book, and that meant that they would come for me.
I left town. I took the book and the clothes on my back and hopped on the back of a train heading as far away from Hamilton as possible. I ended up in Calgary, and soon after was thrown into a foster home. I claimed to have no memory of who I was, which worked until I was eighteen. That was when I moved out on my own.
In the time I was in foster care I didn’t pay much attention to the book, but while moving I found it again. I touched the leather cover and suddenly was taken back to the day I had received it. My grandmother’s warm hands wrapped around mine all over again. The feelings hit me all at once and suddenly I was in tears.
I opened the book and started to look at the pictures over again, this time seeing them in a new light. The writing under the pitures of animals was ingredients. Slowly I began to understand what the book was…it was a cooking book. Why was my grandmother killed over a cooking book? I asked myself as I read the ingredients over.
“Strange…” I said. One of the ingredients under the picture of the rabbit was…”a thimble of blood.” I put the book down, suddenly being taken back to that night in the basement with my grandmother.
I remembered that the walls were covered with animal pelts…but I couldn’t remember my grandmother cooking any meat for me. Was she a hunter? All these questions flooded my mind, and yet there was no one that could answer them. No one except this book, I thought as I opened it again. “Maybe…” I thought, and then I knew what I needed to do. “I need to cook.”
It wasn’t until a week later that I had all the ingredients together. It turned out that many of the ingredients needed to be shipped in from various other countries, but soon enough I had collected them all.
The recipe called for a fresh, live, rabbit. I read the sentence over again incase I had read it incorrectly, but I hadn’t. I shrugged, hoping in my car and heading to the pet store. I came home and started to boil the water. I put a thimble of my blood into the water along with some different spices.
Finally the recipe called for me to pick the rabbit up and place him in the pan of boiling water. No skinning, no killing. Just alive. I was hesitant as I picked up the rabbit, but I needed to know the answers to these questions I had been asking myself my whole life. This was the moment of truth, and I wasn’t turning back now. I put the rabbit in the water, but it didn’t jump out. It didn’t scream, it just let me lower him into the water as if he was paralyzed.
I closed the lid and let it boil for the required hour. Then I opened the lid and poured the water into the sink, taking out the rabbit and placing it on a plate. I read the next step in the book over a few times to be sure I was reading it correctly, “eat the ears?” I said allowed. “I cooked a whole rabbit so I could eat it’s ears?” I shrugged, taking my knife and gently separating the ears from the skull.
I had never learned to cook, but I had never heard of anyone eating the ears of a rabbit, and I was pretty sure that rabbits were never cooked with their fur still on them. What kind of cookbook was this anyways?
I shrugged, sticking the fork into the ear and lifting it to my mouth. It was chewy, like a hard gum, but it didn’t taste ‘bad.’ I swallowed and then ate the other ear. When I was done I felt no different then when I had started, and the meal wasn’t particularly good. “What was it about this book, grandma that was so special?” I asked allowed, knowing an answer wouldn’t come.
Suddenly I heard a high pitched screeching sound. I covered my ears, falling to my knees, but the sound didn’t stop, it just got louder. I screamed, my ears feeling as if they were bleeding and about to fall off. That was when the screeching stopped, the pain stopped and then there was echoes, like I was hearing footsteps, “Kendra!” I heard, my head whirling around. It sounded like the voice was coming from right in front of me, but noone was there.
I stood up, my feet feeling wobbly under me. There was a window in my living room, and across the street I could see into the neighbor’s house. There was a man in there, “Kendra?” I heard again, but this time I realized who the disembodied voice belonged to. It was the man’s voice, but how was I hearing him from so far away? Unless….no that’s impossible…I thought, but then I was reminded of my grandmother, “nothing is impossible.” The rabbit’s ears had given me especially good hearing, like that of a rabbit.
Finally I understood everything. This book was why my grandmother was good at everything she put her mind to – the reason she was the fastest swimmer, and the fastest runner….this was what my grandmother wanted to show me the night before she was killed. She wanted me to use this book like she had. I smiled, “what else can this book do?”
That was when I heard footsteps coming up the front porch of my house, and then before I could react the door burst open and in walked something that I couldn’t explain: it was big, the size of a lion to be exact with legs of a cheetah, but the head of a human and the wings of a bat. I fell backwards onto the floor, crawling on my hands away from the creature. It smiled, walking forward, “what…what are you?” I asked, my voice stammering.
“I’m the one who killed your grandmother.” It said, it’s voice sounded more animalistic than human, but yet I could understand what it said.
“Why? Why did you do it?” I cried, pulling myself further away from the monster.
It smiled, lunging forward. I blacked out.
My eyes fluttered open. At first all I saw was shapes, and then the shapes shifted into creatures. Then everything that happened came back to me, the cook book, the rabbits ears and the monster. My eyes shifted around the room, landing on twenty creatures like the one that attacked me. They were standing in a circle around me, all of them looked different – different animals stitched together in a frankenstein-like way.
“You’re awake.” The same creature that had taken me said from across from me. I tried to move my hands, but I was tied to a pole, my hands behind my back.
“What do you want from me!” I cried, my body shaking with the anticipation of an answer.
“We want what your grandmother gave you.” The creature said in the same animalistic grunting fashion.
“The cookbook? Take it!” I cried, “let me go!”
The animal smiled again, his smile curling up to touch his ears, “if only it was that easy. We have been using the cookbook for quite some time…what we need is for you to kill yourself.” He said, putting a knife by my side and pacing back and forth as he spoke.
I squinted, “why?”
The monster grinned, “you really don’t know do you?” He laughed, then continued, “your grandmother’s blood-line has had the power to use this cookbook for generations. She achieved many powers this way…lightning speed, great hearing, and various other things by consuming different parts of animals. We have been using the cookbook for a similar purpose…but with drastically different results. Our clan’s bloodline is able to use the book, but after consuming the part of the animal we wish to attain, we also develope the corresponding feature. As you can see by the deformities that all of us are afflicted with.” He gestured around the room, “ You have the same power your grandmother did. You can attain these powers without also receiving the feature.”
“But what can killing myself help you with? Why did you kill my grandmother?”
“I’m getting to that.” The monster said, pacing back and forth in front of me some more, “the power that your family processes is in your blood, but like the cookbook in order to pass on the gift it demands sacrifice. I found your grandmother, but she heard me coming and killed herself before I could use her. I went after your parents next, but the gift skipped your mothers generation. That left you…the last remaining heir…but you, little one, proved to be hard to find.”
“So…let me get this straight…you want me to kill myself so your clane can acquire my powers?”
“Yes.” The monster said, “then we each consume a part of your body.”
“What if I refuse to kill myself?”
“We kill you, against your will. If you do it…it will be cleaner, more civil. It’s better than us ripping your body limb from limb and eating you alive.” He sneered, his malevolent grin widening to consume his entire face. He wanted to rip me limb from limb, I could tell by the glare in his eyes. He just didn’t want to look bad to the rest of his clane. If he gave me the option, he looked like a better person.
I sighed, my eyes shifting to the knife that lay at my side. The handle was black. It was sharp, like your regular old kitchen knife that I used each and every day, but it wasn’t your regular old kitchen knife because it was the knife that was going to end my life. It was that, or to get ripped limb from limb.
My hand shifted to my necklace, the one that my grandmother gave me as a child and suddenly the words she told me that last day slipped back into my head, her calming voice playing over and over, “open this in your time of need. Never let it go. Hold onto it.” My hand hovered over it for a moment.
“What’s it going to be?” The monster asked me. And at that moment I opened the necklace, and inside was a small piece of what looked like jerky…and then I realized what it was…it was one of the cook books super powers. It was worth a shot. I opened my mouth, chewed and swallowed. The monster gave me a strange look, and then began to yell into the open, “where did she go?” He screamed, then louder, “where did she go?!”
That was when I realized that what was in the necklace was Camelean. It had given me the power to blend in with my surroundings! I was invisible. I could escape!
I picked up the knife and cut my ropes, and then walked out of the room. I could hear the creatures looking for me, sniffing me out, but they couldn’t see me. I was free!
I ran out of the building and down the street. I saw the headlights only a few inches before the truck hit me, and then it was blackness. Not everything is as it seems.