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Baking shows! Be they war over cupcakes or beautifully British bunting-bundles, we cannot get enough of them. There’s just something scintillating about watching folks mix their ingredients as best they can, only to leave their concoction to the capricious whims of an oven’s heat. But what if there was an added challenge to all of this rolled-dough rigmarole? What if one of the judges was famed fictional foodie and cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter?

 

NARRATOR: Welcome back to the Great Baltimore Bake-Off, where we’re midway through the meat pie challenge! Before the break, Audrey was concerned about her pastry not being up to the exacting standards of our local celebrity guest judge, noted psychiatrist and gourmand Hannibal Lecter.

 

AUDREY: I just don’t know if it’s going to stand up to the moisture of the filling.

 

HANNIBAL: The last thing you want is a bloody bottom. It would be…unfortunate.

 

AUDREY: I think I’m gonna blind-bake it, first.

 

HANNIBAL: Is that something you have experience with?

 

AUDREY: Not really? I don’t have a lot of experience with pastry. I’ve always wanted to…

 

HANNIBAL: If you followed the urges you kept down for so long, cultivated them as the inspirations they are, you would have become someone other than yourself.

 

AUDREY: So, I shouldn’t? Or…?

 

HANNIBAL: Your path is where it always has been, ahead of you. I am merely going to be waiting at the end. Chad. That’s quite an interesting pile of game you’ve collected.

 

CHAD: Yeah, I thought the rabbit, duck and the quail would really bring out the flavors in the venison and the boar cheeks.

 

HANNIBAL: That remains to be tasted. Did you slaughter these animals yourself?

 

CHAD: Nah. What kind of weirdo does that in this day and age?

 

HANNIBAL: I am. I'm afraid I insist on it, no need for unnecessary suffering. Human emotions are a gift from our animal ancestors. Cruelty is a gift humanity has given itself.

 

CHAD: Whatever, it's just meat.

 

HANNIBAL: So are we all, in the end.

 

CHAD: I mean, I’m just going to eat it.

 

HANNIBAL: Indeed. That is what I meant as well. I see your selection of boar is altogether appropriate for a chef of your character. I would advise to take small bites. We are, after all, what we eat. Lashondra, I see you have already assembled your pie and placed in the oven.

 

LASHONDRA: This is an old family recipe. I’ve made it so many times for my children. I hope you like the taste.

 

HANNIBAL: Children have far from refined palettes. And taste is housed in parts of the mind that perceive pity. Pity has no place at the table.

 

LASHONDA: Is this how you talk to your patients, Dr. Lecter?

 

HANNIBAL: I’ve been known to. But that is between my patients and I. Must I denounce myself as a monster while you still refuse to see the one baking inside your oven?

 

LASHONDA: What?

 

HANNIBAL: The smell of death hangs upon you. Or perhaps it is just Robert over here. Robert, what are you doing?

 

ROBERT: I…I’m not sure. I’m really more of a dessert guy.

 

HANNIBAL: And now dessert has followed you home, come to live in your house. You will never have a home to savory while you feed it.

 

ROBERT: I know, I know, but…

 

HANNIBAL: You delight in wickedness and then berate yourself for the delight. Your values and decency are present yet shocked at your associations, appalled at your dreams. No forts in the bone arena of your skull for things you love.

 

ROBERT: So I should start over?

 

HANNIBAL: First you have to grieve for what is lost and what has changed.

 

ROBERT: I…um, okay…

 

HANNIBAL: One hour left on the clock, contestants. Each of you have put yourself into your creations, and so I eagerly anticipate tasting each and every one of you. (looks at Chad) Some, more than others. But any of you would be welcome at my table for dinner. (leaves the tent)

 

LOSHANDA: Okay, was that creepy for anyone else?


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Jared Axelrod

Jared Axelrod is an author, an illustrator, and a world changer. Throughout her eventful life she has also been a circus performer, a puppeteer, a graphic designer, a sculptor, a costume designer, a podcaster and quite a few other things that she’s lost track of but will no doubt remember when the situation calls for it. She is the writer and producer of “The Voice Of Free Planet X” podcast, were she interviews stranded time-travelers, low-rent superheroes, unrepentant monsters and other such creature of sci-fi and fantasy, as well as the podcasts “Aliens You Will Meet” and “Fables Of The Flying City.” The story started in “Fables Of The Flying City” is concluded in The Battle Of Blood & Ink, a graphic novel published by Tor. She is not domestic, she is a luxury, and in that sense, necessary.