The bus rattled away through leafy suburbia, carrying only three passengers, not uncommon for a late Wednesday evening. A mother and her infant child sat four rows from the front, while the third passenger, an unkempt looking man with a kind expression, sat further toward the back. He had been stealing glances at the young mother since she boarded the bus fifteen minutes earlier. A pretty thing she was, provocatively dressed for summer, with a dark, bobbed hairdo and sporting a generous tan. If there had been anyone else on the bus, he would have kept his seat for fear of being seen as some dirty old perv. She was clearly a lot younger than him and certainly out of his league - They would have been grossly mismatched.
It took him a further five minutes to gather up the nerve before he finally stood and made his way down the aisle, seating himself directly across from mother and child.
“Beautiful,” he said with an air of sincerity. “Boy or girl?” The woman turned to him with a glare, which softened instantly as she saw the kind look in his eyes.
“Thank you,” she replied with a smile. “Her name is Natalie.”
“She looks positively delicious,” the man replied.
“Delicious?” Her brow creased at the apparent compliment, but only for a moment. Surely, he meant nothing by it; just a strange way to remark on the appearance of her precious child. She turned her gaze to Natalie, who slept comfortably in her arms, lulled to sleep by the drone of the bus engine. She smiled. “Delicious…well, I guess you could say that,” she replied with a laugh in her voice. “Thank you.” She looked back to the man, the smile still showing.
“You’re welcome,” said the man. “Do you have any more, or is Natalie your first? A pretty young thing like yourself, you don’t look old enough to have a litter of the little darlings…if you don’t mind me saying?”
“Oh, no. She’s my only one. My little pride and joy. Thank you again. You are too kind.” Her smile grew into a proud beam as she looked back down at her daughter.
“Not at all,” he said. “The name’s Joe.” He extended a hand across the aisle in greeting. The woman carefully slid a hand from beneath the baby and returned the gesture, surprised by the roughness of his skin.
“Deborah,” she replied. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Oh, the pleasure is all mine, I assure you.” The handshake bordered on uncomfortable and Deborah withdrew politely. She seemed to have run out of small talk and began to wonder if Joe was attempting to come onto her. She absently ran her forefinger lightly across Natalie’s forehead and the child stirred, her eyes blinking rapidly several times before opening wide to give her mother a cute smile and a content little gurgle. Joe watched the pair bonding and smiled.
He had sensed the awkwardness in that last little exchange and turned his head to look out the window, trying to come up with something to say that might defuse the tension he created. Deborah continued to coddle her child who had now woken fully and was giggling at her mother. Joe turned back but instead of interrupting the moment they were having, just continued to watch and smile until he could be presented with a window of opportunity.
“Delicious,” he repeated softly. Deborah’s skin rose in gooseflesh at his comment. Joe noticed her body tense slightly and instantly regretted saying it. He felt his face flush and looked once again out the window as the bus continued along its route. Natalie was getting unsettled; she must have sensed her mother’s agitation and gave a few short sobs. Deborah shushed her gently and bounced her in her arms, in an attempt to settle her.
“I apologise…Deborah, was it? I’m sorry if I have upset you and the little one,” Joe said.
“No, it’s not your fault,” Deborah lied, avoiding eye contact with the man and continuing to comfort Natalie. “This little lady is due for a feed is all.” At that statement, Joe’s eyes flicked quickly at the source of young Natalie’s nourishment. Deborah had perky, small, but finely shaped breasts which he hadn’t paid much attention to until now, and now that he had taken notice, he felt a stirring in his loins, as he unconsciously leered at her tits pressing against the fabric of her shirt. Luckily for Joe, Deborah’s attention remained on her baby. He looked away as soon as he realised he was gawking and casually glanced down to be sure his growing erection wasn’t blatantly obvious. It wasn’t.
“I’m glad,” he said. “I wouldn’t want you to think I’m some kind of creep or something. I was just admiring your beautiful baby. You’re a good mother.”
“Thank you, Joe. No, you’re not a creep. At least, I don’t think you’re a creep.” She flashed him a forced smile. Joe mentally took note.
“You’re welcome, Deborah…and thank you.”
“Welcome,” she replied and looked out her window for a few moments. “Well, this is my stop. It was nice meeting you, Joe,” she said, reaching for her carry bag and getting up from her seat.
“It’s dark out. If you’ll allow me, I could walk you home. My stop is only a few blocks away. I don’t mind walking the rest.” Joe tried not to ogle Deborah while he spoke. As she stood, he couldn’t help but glance at her shapely bare legs, ending in an alluring pair of cut off denim shorts. He forced his eyes upwards to look her in the eyes as he spoke.
“No, thank you, Joe. It’s fine. I live directly across the road from the bus stop… just a hop, skip and a jump away. It’s really not necessary, but I appreciate the offer.”
“No problem at all,” Joe replied. “As long as you and the baby are safe. Goodbye, Deborah. It was a pleasure talking with you.”
“Goodbye.” As Deborah pulled her bag from the seat, Joe reached over and gave Natalie a little tickle on the nose with his forefinger.
“So long, sweet babycakes. You be good to Mummy now.”
Deborah felt that gooseflesh raising again at this stranger touching her baby. Delicious? Sweet babycakes? Unless I’m mistaken, this weirdo wants to eat my baby! Deborah slung the bag over her shoulder and hurried to the front of the bus, just as it was pulling up at the stop. Upon disembarking, she muttered to herself, “Correction, Joe. I do think you’re a creep…”
The driver waited as Deborah and Natalie crossed the road in front of the bus. Joe gazed after them through the window, watching as Deborah walked up the path to her front door, while the bus moved slowly away from the kerb and off into the night. Joe leaned back in his seat and stretched his legs out in front of him, eyes closed and a lecherous grin spread across his face; the bulge in his pants slowly subsiding. “Delicious,” he whispered to himself.
When he arrived home, Joe tossed his work bag on the floor by the door and went through his evening ritual of shower, coffee, dinner and a few hours of relaxing in front of the TV before retiring for the night. He enjoyed cooking. He found it meditative, and the many different recipes he created always were a joy to eat. He lived alone and had done for several years since his wife left him for a work colleague of hers. While at first, he had been devastated by the betrayal and the hole it had left in his life, in time, that hole was filled with a new-found passion for creating meals to die for. He was more than happy now with his solitary living arrangement. Nobody would’ve understood his unorthodox habits anyway.
On the menu tonight was an exotic dish of his own creation. Baby potatoes, cut in half and sautéed then dug out and stuffed with minced pork, which he seasoned with fresh crushed garlic, fresh parsley and tarragon, as well as a spicy sweet sauce made from tomatoes, capers, freshly chopped jalapenos and of all things - a dollop of raspberry preserve. On the side; steamed carrots and cauliflower, drizzled with a blend of olive oil, lemon juice and lime-freshly squeezed, a teaspoon of manuka honey and a generous shake of sea salt.
As he sat down to his meal in front of the TV, he hovered his face above the plate and closed his eyes, savouring the delicious aroma for some moments before digging in. He was quite hungry and enjoyed the different flavours immensely as he slowly chewed, but there was something on his mind. It had been a while – quite a while in fact, since he had cooked something that would turn the stomachs of most anyone other than him…human flesh. Specifically, the sweet and tender flesh of a newborn – Joe’s guilty pleasure.
He had wanted to try cannibalism ever since he was a teen and had watched a documentary about some obscure tribe in the Amazon who ate the flesh and various organs of their enemies. It was believed that by eating them, they absorbed their spirit and strength. He had been fascinated ever since. Over the years, his fascination crossed over into obsession until finally, Joe took the life of a transient, sliced off a generous portion of thigh flesh, took it home and ate it. Not that he was likely to gain much in the sense of spirit or strength from his chosen victim, but the simple – or not so simple – act of cannibalism had finally been achieved.
Then, there was the time when Joe had just left the casino after losing most of his week’s wages in a dismal run of bad luck. He was walking through the quiet underground carpark when he spotted a baby in one of the cars. Joe was at first appalled that some parents would be so negligent and cruel as to abandon their baby while they feed their gambling addiction, but then his thoughts turned to darker musing. The parents would be hesitant to report that their child had been stolen from a casino carpark. Surely, they would face charges themselves, of neglect at the very least. He decided he would take matters into his own hands and relieve the undeserving wretches of their apparent burden.
This was at a point in his life when the cannibalism he’d fantasised about for so long had only recently become a reality, and Joe was jumping at every opportunity to satiate his morbid desires. The door was locked, so Joe wound up and smashed an elbow through the front passenger window, unlocked the car and pulled the startled infant from the back seat.
The baby’s cries echoed loudly as Joe rushed to his car, hoping nobody would hear and come to investigate. It seemed his luck had turned around, and losing so much money at the casino didn’t seem so troublesome to him now. All Joe could think about was getting home and turning this screaming piece of flesh into a culinary delight.
He hadn’t yet achieved a great level of skill with his cooking at that time, nor had he developed much tact in the sordid art of kidnapping and murder. Looking away, he’d quickly smashed the baby’s skull on the kitchen counter with three solid strikes of a meat tenderiser. The act sickened him somewhat and he hesitantly turned to inspect his handiwork. He tried to just think of it as simply that…an it. Not human and certainly not somebody’s baby. If Joe were to continue in his obsession with cannibalism, it would be necessary for him to dehumanise his victims and regard them as any other source of meat, like lamb or beef.
Taking a cleaver, he severed the crushed head at the neck, split it from sternum to groin and gutted it, being careful to remove all the organs and innards, then he tied string to both big toes and hung it above his kitchen sink to let it bleed out. He basted the flesh in olive oil and honey, tucked and tied the limbs like a turkey, then baked it in the oven with potatoes and pumpkin. A simple meal, but it was delicious. Joe knew he would have to get another…and another. The taste was like nothing he had experienced before and he craved more.
Joe went on to kill, cook and eat twenty-seven more people over the next several years. Eight of them were babies. As he finished tonight’s dinner, Joe reclined back in his chair, closed his eyes and allowed the image of Deborah and delicious Natalie to dance around in his sick mind. Tomorrow night, he would pay them a visit. He drifted off in his chair and slept soundly until five thirty A.M., woken by his body clock. He stiffly got up and ready for work. The mother and child the first thing on his mind and they stayed with him throughout the tedium of the day at the auto repair shop where he worked.
Night couldn’t come fast enough and Joe watched the clock all day at work, getting progressively more apprehensive, frustrated and jittery as time slowed to a crawl. Eventually, the boss called time and Joe quickly gathered his tools into his bag, practically running out the door. He passed the house on the bus, straining to see if they were home. He couldn’t tell. He got home and went straight for the shower. He wanted to look a little presentable when he went knocking on Deborah’s door. He hoped she would make it easy and invite him in but he seriously doubted that would be the case. He was a stranger and despite what she said to him on the bus, Joe knew she did think he was a creep. The bitch was just being polite and lied to him. She would pay for that tonight.
All showered and spruced up, Joe looked at himself in the bathroom mirror and pondered on what he might say when Deborah answered her door. It was still a bit early; there would be people out and about, not to mention the dwindling remnants of traffic on the road her house was on. He had to time this right. Not too early and not too late. He didn’t want to alarm her by arriving on her doorstep at an unreasonable hour. She may not even open the door past a certain time. He decided to make a coffee and sit down to watch the evening news for a bit.
He stared blankly at the screen as the newsreader droned on about something completely inconsequential to Joe. He didn’t even make out the words. His eyes fixed on the moving picture in front of him but his entire attention was drawn within to the treacherous task he was about to undertake. It wasn’t until he reached for his coffee and took a sip – cold – he realised it was beginning to get late. He left his cup on the little side table by his recliner and went to the kitchen, rifling through the cutlery drawer and pulling out the cleaver.
“Delicious,” he said to the intimidating blade with a smile and headed for the door, grabbing a roll of duct tape and an empty sports bag on the way out.
Deborah herself had just settled down to watch some television. She had finally gotten Natalie off to sleep after a long struggle; the little darling was being especially unsettled this night, but after a good half hour of walking in circles around the bedroom with her in her mother’s arms and Deborah exhausting her repertoire of lullabies on the baby, Natalie’s eyes finally closed and stayed closed. Deborah flicked the TV on and dropped onto the couch with a relieved sigh. Hopefully, she thought, tonight Natalie would sleep through; it did happen on occasion.
It had been a rough two months since Martin had walked out on her and Natalie. The arrival of their baby had put a great stress on their relationship and although she could be a bit of a bitch at times – she was suffering from a mild post-natal blues – Martin had treated her like absolute garbage ever since their child was born. He never lifted a finger to help look after Natalie. It was as if he just didn’t care. Deborah had every right to be a bitch. He was just a selfish prick and although Deborah was finding it hard raising Natalie on her own, she knew they were both better off with him gone. It was nights like tonight though, when Deborah wished she had someone to share the burden. She hated to think like that. Natalie may have been a bit of a handful, but she was the light in Deborah’s dark world, and she wouldn’t trade that for anything.
She thought she was hearing things at first but there it was again; a light tap tap tapping on the front door. She sat up on the couch and listened. Again, the tapping, this time just a little louder.
“Shit,” Deborah said with a groan, dragging herself to her feet and walking across the living room. “Who the hell could this be?”
Outside, Joe was extremely agitated. He considered knocking again even louder. Maybe she hadn’t heard him. Just as he was about to, he heard movement inside. Someone was coming to the door. Joe hoped it was Deborah and even more, hoped she was alone. The door opened several inches and Deborah’s weary but still pretty face peered out at him.
“Joe? What are you doing here? What do you want?”
“So sorry to disturb you at this hour, Deborah,” Joe replied. “I don’t normally do something like this but I was walking to the store and remembered you saying you lived here as I walked past. I know that you and the little one…Natalie, wasn’t it…? Well, I just figured maybe I would see if you needed anything while I’m there. It would really be no bother.”
“Ummm…” Deborah looked at the man suspiciously. “Nnno, I think we’ll be fine, thanks Joe. The baby’s asleep and I just want to relax before going to sleep myself. Goodnight, Joe.” Creep, she thought to herself and began to close the door but something prevented her from doing that. Joe had quickly placed his booted foot in the way. Deborah looked down at the obstruction and when she looked back up at him, her face showed a mix of annoyance and fear. Joe’s heart was pounding at this point and what she said next only registered as a muffled warble in his ears. He gave the door a solid shove, the edge smashing hard into Deborah’s forehead and sending her flat on her back on the floor.
Stunned, Deborah struggled to stay conscious as Joe entered and stood over her, pushing the door shut behind him with his foot and pulling something shiny out of the bag he was carrying. Her face throbbed painfully and her ears rang loudly, her vision shifting in and out of focus before she succumbed to the darkness.
Joe looked down at her and contemplated some pretty unsavoury things. She was laid out, unconscious, one leg bent up and her knee dropped to the side, revealing a sexy pair of hot pink knickers beneath her summer night shirt. Joe reached his hand down and slowly massaged his hard cock while he stared. The sudden, sharp sound of Natalie’s cry shook him from his perverted reverie and he remembered why he had come.
Deborah was still out cold, but he didn’t want her waking up and causing a ruckus. Needless to say, she wouldn’t be too agreeable if she roused to see Joe walking out of the bedroom with her baby under his arm. His hand still gripping his raging hard on, he squatted down beside her inert body and with a savage swing, brought the keen edge of the cleaver down on her throat.
Natalie’s cries were becoming more insistent. Joe stood up from Deborah’s corpse, her blood splashed all over his shirt and covering his blade arm, then walked steadily towards the bedroom. He stopped just outside the door for a moment and gathered his wits. He had just murdered, but that was almost trivial in his mind. What he was about to do was infinitely more heinous – unthinkable. He closed his eyes and took several deep breaths, inhaling the intoxicating scent of Deborah’s blood as he mentally prepared himself.
Natalie fell silent. She felt the presence outside the door and waited with anticipation for her mother to walk in and pick her up. A shadow loomed above her crib and she peered up to see, not her mother but a large, frightening looking stranger. Her first instinct was to scream, so she went with it. The man leaned down and placed a bloody hand over her mouth, silencing her while smearing her face with the life-giving fluid of her mother. Terrified and confused, Natalie was swiftly yanked from the sanctuary of her crib and carried out of the bedroom in powerful arms, so alien to the gentle touch of the one who gave her life.
Something in the taste of the blood which seeped between her pressed lips soothed baby Natalie. Perhaps it was the final touch of her mother she would ever again experience, but whatever it was, Natalie ceased her struggling and attempts to cry out, becoming limp and compliant under the stranger’s arm. Nevertheless, Joe wasn’t prepared to take any chances. He dropped the bag and reached in, retrieving the duct tape while keeping his bloody hand over the baby’s mouth. He tore off a small strip in his teeth, removed his hand and replaced it with the tape. Instantly, Natalie began to struggle in renewed panic. Joe reacted by stuffing her unceremoniously into the sports bag and zipping it up.
Before he left, Joe stopped to look at Deborah’s corpse a moment. Such a waste, he thought. The night was still young, though easily late enough to assume nobody would come knocking. Joe decided he would take Natalie home and then return to remove some choice parts of Deborah to store in his freezer for his consumption at a later date. Joe turned around and made his way to the back door, leaving it unlocked on the way out.
He stole silently through the backyard and out the gate into the laneway behind, the bag on his shoulder wriggling violently; he ignored it and continued the back way home. He mentally catalogued the ingredients he had at home as he walked swiftly. One thing he knew he had was a shitload of rice. His first thought was a simple stir fry but that just sounded too boring and not worthy of such a delectable prize as baby Natalie. He thought some more on what he had handy in his kitchen pantry and fridge. He wanted something simple and quick to prepare, yet tasty and out of the ordinary. Savoury rice cakes sounded good to Joe. Yes, they would taste delicious, substituting chicken with the sweet, tender baby flesh. Joe’s mouth watered at the thought and he picked up his pace. He was determined to come back for some of Deborah before he got cooking.
When he arrived home and took Natalie from his bag, Joe deliberated on how he should go about this. He wasn’t going to let Deborah go to waste, that was a given. What concerned him was leaving the baby here while he left to collect the meat. He was afraid that if he took the duct tape off, her cries might alert someone, but if he left it on, she might suffocate and die before he got back. He wanted his main ingredient as fresh as could possibly be, so he made up his mind.
Far from the first brutal baby slaying, Joe disregarded the meat tenderiser and went for the cleaver for a quick, clean decapitation. Holding her over the kitchen sink, face down, he raised his arm above his head and brought it down hard. The head came off easily and rolled around in the sink, quickly turning red as Natalie’s blood gushed. He strung her up by the toes as he had done the first time, letting her body drain as he sliced open her little torso and proceeded to empty out her cavity.
The night was getting on a bit, but the heat from the summer’s day still hung thickly in Joe’s kitchen. Leaving Natalie hanging there while he went back to Deborah’s house may result in the meat spoiling. He waited a further ten minutes to be sure the corpse was completely drained of blood, then he cleared some room in the fridge before placing Natalie’s headless and empty carcass inside. All the while as he waited, Joe double-checked to make sure he had everything he needed for the meal. Satisfied with his efforts so far, Joe made a quick detour to the bathroom to get cleaned up and then rushed out the door with a carving knife and his sports bag. He returned within the hour with a generous supply of Deborah and deposited her bits into the freezer. Now it was time to prepare tonight’s special treat.
500 grams shredded chicken breast and/or thigh (substitute with fresh
2/3 cup Basmati Rice
2/3 cup semi-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 1/3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup basil leaves, finely shredded
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Step 1Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease an 8 x 2/3-cup capacity mini loaf pan. Line bases of holes with baking paper.
Step 2Cook rice, following absorption method on packet. Rinse. Set aside to cool.
Step 3Place rice, chicken (or baby flesh), tomatoes, 1 cup of cheese, onions, basil, eggs, and pepper into a large bowl. Mix well to combine.
Step 4Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until cakes are firm to the touch and light golden. Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Run a flat-edged knife around edges of cakes. Turn onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. Place into an airtight container. Eat now or refrigerate to eat later.