Night Of The Living Ice Cream

Ann Wortham & Leah Rosenthal

A Bizarro 7 Story

Kerr Avon suddenly spun, pointing at the table with an accusing gesture and a menacing glare. "I hate you," he hissed. "Your sickening sweet appearance has never fooled anyone, least of all me. You are a cold, unfeeling destroyer. I won't be a slave to you anymore! I will have nothing more to do with you. You've seduced me for the last time…betrayed me for the last time!"

I rather like that line, Avon thought, gazing at the innocent parfait glass of vanilla ice cream standing in the middle of the table. I think I'll remember it.

He was smug to notice that his approach to the problem was working. I'll show that fuzzy-brained crew of rebel dorks what willpower truly is. Accuse me of having no self-control, will they? Me? Particularly Blake, of all poultry-partial people. All right, I have been somewhat a slave to my attraction for ice cream, but it's nothing that I can't…lick. He chuckled inwardly at his own pun.

Of course, the fact that Cally had pointed out with typical alien tactlessness that his leathers seemed to be getting a bit snug lately had nothing at all to do with it. The truth was, a ruthless, intellectual pre-Hellhound such as himself couldn't afford any weaknesses. They were bad for the image. Bad for the self-discipline. Bad for the health.

Bad for the ego. He winced. Ever since Vila had become aware of Avon's weakness for ice cream, it had been impossible for Avon to keep up his usual scornful remarks about the Delta's drinking habits.

I mustn't give the little sot any more ammunition against me, he thought, remembering the scene in the mess room earlier that day. Vila had deliberately been taunting him, he just knew it. Why else would Vila have been "innocently" assembling a three-foot-high, intricate model of the Liberator out of pop sticks?

Yes, Avon was certain it had been spite. It was perfectly justifiable that I stomped the damn thing into splinters in front of him. Unfortunately, this had led to something of an argument with the rest of the crew regarding Avon's alleged insensitivity….

Well, I'll show them, he thought, forcefully confronting the frigid confection in the tall, crystal parfait glass once more.

It was the middle of night shift aboard Liberator. Avon had spent the last few hours and scoop after scoop of his favorite flavors of ice cream, methodically brainwashing himself into indifference for it. Even hatred of it. He had glared at it, snarled at it, insulted it, walked around it, even touched it and laughed at it. But he hadn't eaten a single drop. Now, he stared with a coldly victorious gaze at this last scoop.

It was time to abandon this childish weakness forever. Straightening his silver tunic with cool triumph, Avon turned and headed toward the door with a deliberate stride.

"Eat me." The voice was low-pitched and expressionless, just above a whisper.

But Avon heard it distinctly. He halted at the doorway and turned, glaring over his shoulder. "Who said that?" he snapped.

"I did. Eat me." Absurdly, the deep voice seemed to be coming from the area in the middle of the table. Or more specifically, from the very forlorn glass of ice cream itself. "Eeeeeat meee," it coaxed him as he stared.

"Oh, that's a very good trick," Avon snarled peevishly. "Where have you stashed the microphone, whoever-you-are? Have you had your childish laugh at my expense yet? I'm not the slightest bit fooled."

He strode back into the mess room and proceeded to search the table, the furnishings, the terminals…just about everywhere, without finding the tiny microphone he was expecting. Hidden microphones were old hat to Kerr Avon, who had encountered endless variations of them planted around his home while he was growing up—planted by his elder sibling, Terrick, who took great delight in torturing and terrorizing his smaller, darker brother.

Finally, with an exasperated breath, Avon straightened up and cast a glare around the room. "I'm impressed. I can't find it. Now you can call it a night and leave me in peace." He stalked angrily back toward the door.

"Eatme." The voice was sharper, more insistent now, and the words crowded together as a single, impatient command. "You know you want to."

Avon spun on the ice cream. "Well now, we are being particularly clever, are we? You're wasting your time. My brilliant mind has already deduced the only other possible hiding place!" With that, he pounced on the hapless scoop of vanilla ice cream and stabbed at it with a spoon, dissecting it. Four minutes of minute examination produced nothing, except for a really mushy mess in the parfait glass and the first alarming thoughts in Avon's deepest psyche that there were far more interesting things to do with a spoon and a scoop of ice cream….

Backing away in fury and self-disgust at the echo of the old craving, Avon glared at the object of his anger, panting. I can't let my unseen tormentor get the better of me, he thought. Worse yet, I can't let mere frozen milk defeat me!

Straightening up and restoring himself to a calm, unflustered exterior, Avon picked up the glass and dumped the mushy contents down the disposal. Then, as a gesture of defiance, he placed another scoop of vanilla in the glass and replaced it on the table. "Good night, and goodbye." He grinned triumphantly, turning to leave.

"You better eat me." The voice was back. This time it was mildly threatening.

For the first time, as he spun around, Avon began to consider that the late hour and his fatigue might be conspiring to make him hallucinate. He stared at the motionless dessert, silently contemplating it.

"Eat me NOW," the ice cream ordered, a no-nonsense sharpness in its drawl.

Despite himself, intent on the mystery, Avon was drawn toward the table and he bent over the ice cream with a mixture of suspicion and cautious fear. "Why certainly," he purred. "Will there be anything else you want?"

"Gimme some hot fudge," the ice cream coaxed in its deep tone. "Wanna feel it a-drippin' down muh sides."

Avon swallowed hard. Apart from the distinctly eerie phenomenon of talking food, there was an irresistibly seductive timbre to that drawl. It had the same cadence, the same dialect, he realized, as an ancient rock-and-roll singer asking him to be his teddy bear or cautioning him not to step on his blue suede shoes. It was hard to resist, damn it.

"Where'sa fudge?" And then, absurdly, it added, "m'gettin cold, boy."

"One moment," Avon said hoarsely. Almost in a daze, he returned to the food unit and ordered a container of hot fudge from the dispenser. This he proceeded to pour carefully—and with much practiced skill—over the bare vanilla in the glass.

Hoping the speaking substance would be silenced by this weird ritual act, Avon backed cautiously away, almost mesmerized.

"Whoa, boy. I want a scoop o' strawberry. I'm lonely."

"Wh-why certainly. Of course you would be. How remiss of me," Avon said, attempting to sound light. His voice cracked awkwardly over an increasingly dry throat. Hastily, he returned to the wall unit and ordered an additional scoop of strawberry ice cream, which he added atop the vanilla.

"Whoa. Gentle-like," the ice cream commented testily. "Where'sa butterscotch? Lay it on me."

"Eh?" Avon's mind was beginning to reel at the increasingly seductive sight that now accompanied the voice.

"Butterscotch. Want it now. "

Avon swallowed hard again. "Yes, of course. Right." He ordered and brought the requested substance, adding it carefully to the parfait glass. "Will that be all? I really must be going. This has been—"

"Nuts."

"Eh?!"

"The nuts, boy. An' chocolate jimmies. Gimme them jimmies," the voice demanded greedily.

Avon wet his lips nervously. He scarcely realized that he was starting to tremble until he spilled half the jimmies as the food processor dispensed them. Increasingly dazed, he conveyed them to the ice cream and dumped them on. A fine sweat had broken out on his brow now and his breath was coming harshly.

There was a moment of blessed silence and Avon was almost certain his hallucination had run its weird course when the voice sounded again.

"Gonna make me wait all night for th' whipped cream?" Avon shook his head, his eyes widening. He hastened over to the dispenser and retrieved a small spray can of the desired stuff, gingerly topping off the motionless sugary concoction. By now the sweat was trickling down his face. He gritted his teeth and tried with little success to still the shaking of his hands and his knees. He knew what was coming next. He just knew.

"Cherry on top."

Like a nubile virgin marching toward the open mouth of a volcano in a trance, Kerr Avon ordered one perfect red maraschino cherry and placed it right at the very top of the peaked mound of whipped cream. His breath was now coming in near-sobs and his eyes were glazing over.

Even so, he wrenched himself away, and stumbled deliberately toward escape, toward the portal to the haven of the nearby corridor.

But the voice returned insistently. "Eat me! Eeeeeeat meeee...."

With a helpless, strangled sound, Kerr Avon spun and seized the abandoned spoon, advancing on the dessert he had constructed, wielding the utensil as if it was a twin-bladed, serrated, parabolic, chain-driven, nonsmoking knife. Desperately, he plunged it into the ice cream.

It screamed.

Avon fell backwards at the blood-curdling cry of agony. The spoon went flying, forgotten, and he backpedaled toward the door on his hands and heels, whimpering. Upon reaching the sanctuary of the doorway, he turned and staggered to his feet, stumbling down the corridor as fast as he could, the echo of his fearful moans following after him.

A long minute of silence prevailed in the abandoned mess room before another figure appeared in the doorway.

Vila Restal leaned there for a moment, still struggling to get his hysterical spasms of laughter under control and wiping at the tears in his eyes.

"Ohhhh, that was rich, " he punned to himself, swaggering into the room. "Worth every bit of time, waiting for the right moment. Imagine having all those prissy-pants brains and not being able to figure out a simple stunt like this one!"

With an air of triumph, Vila picked up the abandoned dessert and grinned at it. Of course the room wasn't wired, he thought gleefully. Nor was the table, the spoon, the fittings, not even the ice cream. There wasn't a single sophisticated microphone, in fact, in the entire room. But it was easy enough for even a Delta thief to rig and conceal a crystal receiver….

He turned the parfait glass around in his nimble fingers, admiring his own handiwork. Zen had helped him fabricate the clear plastic conducting components and set them into the elegant container. Worked better than I hoped. That'll teach the snooty Alpha a lesson or three about Delta abuse. Must hide the evidence before he figures it out and comes back, though.

Carrying the dessert to the kitchen unit, Vila dumped the sweet concoction into the open sink and carefully fed the parfait glass into the disposal unit, listening with satisfaction to the faint sounds of crunching as they gradually died away.

Then, dusting off his wily fingers, Vila turned toward the door, eager to return to his quarters where the simple transmitter and a lovely glass of soma awaited him.

A faint sound suddenly echoed forlornly from behind him. "Ah'm melllltinnnggg…."

It had scarcely died away before Vila had made it back to his room and slammed and locked the door…

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Ashton Press/Ann Wortham

Leah Rosenthal

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