Just Desserts | Lydia Trethewey

Even the villain’s got to eat sometime.


Just Desserts

By Lydia Trethewey

For the HAIRPIN TARPAULIN Award


The atmosphere of hostility in the dining room grows in the prolonged absence of food. I stand uncomfortably on the threshold, waiting for the ‘ding’ of the oven to release me.

‘How much longer Dart?’ Sniper asks, clutching knife and fork in each fist as if about to bang them on the table. ‘Those hors d’oeuvres were terrible.’

A general murmur of assent rises from the three assembled men. The back of my neck burns.

‘Yet it’s all been eaten,’ I say, indicating the empty plate.

‘That was Spectre. Man will eat anything if it stays still long enough. Now he’s disappeared, probably throwing up.’

Sniper is wearing all black, as per usual, but has removed his mask for the occasion. I feel his beady eyes on my chest and anger boils in my stomach.

Beside him sits Meltdown, sporting the classic mad-scientist look, in his formal lab coat with hair teased meticulously into an utter mess. His lips are moving as if he’s having a conversation inside his head. Opposite them Falcon idles with a plastic horse pulled from a cracker, his death-ray sitting casually on the table.

‘It was difficult cooking this year. My lab’s out of action and I’ve been using the kitchen to build my dooms-day device, so there was a lot of equipment I had to shift in order to make this meal.’

Sniper’s lip curls.

‘Perhaps you should have left it as a kitchen. After all, isn’t that where women are supposed to be?’

He and Falcon laugh raucously. I take a deep breath and steady my raging thoughts. Just picture them without their heads, inhale and exhale.

‘We’re just joking Dart. Can’t you take a joke?’

I give a pinched smile as a loud DING sounds from the kitchen.

The turkey is black, roasted beyond recognition. I dump it in front of Sniper’s incredulous face and turn back for the vegetables.

‘I thought Christmas was neutral ground! Are you trying to kill us Dart?’

Sniper’s voice follows me out of the room.

‘I’m going to check on Spectre, then we can start eating’ I call over my shoulder.

‘We can’t start eating this without a time machine love,’ says Falcon.

The bathroom door is closed. I knock, but there’s no answer.

‘Spectre?’

I ease it open.

Spectre’s dark form lies prone on the newly cleaned tiles, yellow froth spilling from his mouth. His cheek is cold to the touch.

Breathe deeply.

I lock the door behind me and head back to the kitchen. The empty hors d’oeuvres tray sits next to the sink. I sniff it.

Strychnine. Oops. Poor Spectre.

My eyes wander around the messy kitchen lab-annex, searching for the culprit. Brightly coloured chemicals sit in polished beakers like festive baubles.

‘Not gonna join us Dart?’ Sniper yells from the dining room. ‘We may need your doomsday device to cut through this meat.’

Strychnine. A smile flowers on my lips.

‘Give me ten minutes Sniper. I just need to prepare dessert.’

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