Story Time ~ Death By Chocolate

Story Time ~ Death By Chocolate

Death By Chocolate


She was swimming in chocolate, thick and heavy, her arms barely moving through the congealing sauce. She struggled, and sank deeper into the brown mire. Kicking her legs furiously, she kept her chin above the undulating surface, slow waves lapping at her neck and ears. This was how she would die, she thought. Drowning in a river of chocolate, like Augustus Gloop in the chocolate factory. What a way for a food critic to go, she moaned into her slick and slippery grave.


Suddenly awake, her sheets wrapped around her neck like it was an escape route out a window, Matilda laughed at her nightmare, fading from memory before it was remembered. “Fucking chocolate, if I never see another piece of chocolate cake it will be too soon.” Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, she reached for her phone. A string of notifications rang out as she turned off airplane mode. 


“Yes yes yes”, she growled at her phone, “I KNOW”. She was late with her submission to the paper, and the chocolate festival had really done her in. How does one become drunk on chocolate? Easy, attend as a food critic and taste every booth's award winning samples. Which she did, with gusto. Her stomach ached, her head buzzed, her face felt swollen and puffy. “Just like a hangover”, she mumbled.


Without brushing her teeth or hair, she threw on a set of clothes, white linen everything, nothing could remind her of the colour of chocolate without gagging. Rushing out her hotel room, she passed the housekeeper with her cart. “Would you care for extra pillow chocolates today, miss?” the Housekeeper kindly held out a handful of green silver wrapped chocolate mints. “NO” she barked, catching herself, she repeated “no thank you” and scurried down the hallway towards the elevator. The housekeeper smiled with a crooked smile, and popped a minty chocolate into her mouth.


Safe in the elevator, Matilda clutched her briefcase to her chest. One more day, just one more day, and this hellish work trip would be over. She could return to her husband and kids, and none of them would torture her with chocolate, they loved her too much to do a thing like that. The elevator dinged, announcing her arrival at the lobby floor. Taking a deep breath, she stepped out into a glistening brown world. 


The World's Largest Chocolate Festival, held in New York every year, was the talk of the town. She couldn't escape, and nor should she want to, this was her way out of food writing. After this, the newspaper Editor had promised a new job for Matilda, where she could use her reporting skills to better serve the planet. All she had ever wanted was to be an investigative reporter, this food critic thing was ridiculous. She had gained 35 pounds this last year. Her skin had broken out numerous times, and she was always full. Uncomfortable in her skin, she longed to be on the ground, chasing big name stories with glamour and glitz. Instead, she wiped chocolate off her cheek as her friend Esther kissed her warmly.


Esther took her hand and yanked her behind her. “Follow me!” she called over her shoulder. All vendors with their wares displayed proudly, knew Matilda worked for the paper, and they wanted her approval. Shouting her name, tossing small tinfoil wrapped pieces of chocolate at her, they were like a fudge paparazzi. She raced after Esther towards the doors. Stepping outside, the roar of the city hit her square in the face. The scent of exhaust and human piss was a relief after the sweet stench of cocoa beans and sugar. 


“I fucking hate my life” she said to Esther as they came to the crosswalk. Without looking for cars, Esther jumped into the street, and not turning her head she shouted in reply, “My wife is waiting for us at the meeting!” She had obviously not heard Matildas lament, and the two women were swept into the crowd crossing the bustling New York street.


Arriving at the Cafè, the editing team was already seated, with drinks. The Editor in Chief glared at Matilda, and patted the empty seat beside him. “We’ve already ordered” he grumbled at her. She sat, anxious and impatient. 


”Hello everyone. Thanks for meeting today, I am thankful that SOME of you were on time. Let’s get right to it.” Pulling out his notebook, he handed out pamphlets to everyone at the table. Esther was giggling into a beautiful woman's ear, blushing and bright. The people at the table were a good team, and they worked for a good newspaper. One that the general public actually continued to read, even with the advance of internet news sites. Apparently some people still liked the tactile feel of ink on their fingers.


A waitress came along and set a coffee down beside Matilda, and she asked for heavy cream instead of half and half. “I’ll bring that out with your cake,” the waitress replied. 


CAKE.


She felt her throat tighten, and she looked at her boss. He smiled, and said “I know it's your favourite” and went back to going over the pamphlet everyone held in their hands. How would any of them know, she thought to herself. How would they know that if she put even one bite of that cake into her mouth she would go into cardiac arrest and die right there on the spot. She was a food critic, specializing in desserts. This was her life, and that, was exactly why it would be her death.


The waitress brought plates to everyone, club sandwiches, burgers, fries, fish and chips. Standard cafè fare. Matilda was last. The plate was set in front of her. A tall four layer chocolate cake. Frosted impeccably, it shone with a glow like only the purest chocolate can. She picked up her fork with a trembling hand, poked at the cake, leaving four small holes from the tines.


“What’s the matter…” her boss feigned interest. “Nothing” she replied, and took a bite. 


Swallowing, she gulped, and it caught in her throat. She reached for her water, and with a big sip, it turned into a river of chocolate, and she felt like she was drowning. This is how I die, she thought, as the room turned brown. Falling to the ground, she saw her team's faces gathered around her, all with a sparkling brown aura. She had seen her death in her dream, and here she was. Dying, all from a slice of chocolate cake. 


She was lifted up by two strong arms, crushing her abdomen in the heimlich maneuver, she flailed and choked, nothing coming up. The river of chocolate too slick to dislodge, or give her air. Esther was there, panic in her face, shouting at Matilda to BREATHE JUST BREATHE, and suddenly there was nothing. Nothing but a brown, shining river of chocolate. 


Sailing down the river, on a sugared sail boat, she laughed. Maybe death by chocolate wasn’t so bad after all.


In the years after Matilda's death, The World's Largest Chocolate Festival held a memorial event in her honour. Esther was the lead director, and it drew more attendees than the actual festival itself. To honour the victim of Death By Chocolate, the fascination with the macabre story went past the addiction to cocoa beans. Humans all love a good story, and the story of Matilda and the chocolate cake was a winner. Tragedy in truth, and glamour and glitz, she was the center of attention, once a year every year.


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