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That Takes the Cake

by Michael Barnett


It was morning. Roger opened his eyes and saw the purplish sky. He shut them again.

Three hours later, he reopened them to find the same purple sky with red and orange streaks across it. It was afternoon. Getting up off the ground, Roger pinched himself and blinked in astonishment. He felt alone, lost. Where was he?

Roger surveyed his surroundings. It was a flat landscape, with golden sands going off in all directions. Roger looked himself over. He felt an ache in one of his arms. Lifting the sleeve of his tee-shirt, he found a small cluster of needle marks near his shoulder. Maybe some drugs that attempted to enhance the virtual experience backfired, causing his disorientation and all this? Roger ran his hands through his hair and tried to understand. He did not know what to do.

He started walking and walking and walking. The horizon did not change. When he tired, Roger sat down on the warm sand to rest. He was hungry and thirsty. He remembered that he had not eaten since the night before, real reality. Then he had had a piece of his mom's chocolate cake. Looking up from his musing, Roger suddenly saw an object in the distant horizon. The object, which appeared to be a mile high, shrunk rapidly as he ran. He arrived to find what appeared to be a cake! Roger, without thinking, devoured the tasty substance. It was mom's cake. Was this another manifestation of his mind?

Roger's primitive instinct for thirst overcame him, as he pictured a sparkling waterfall in his mind and longed for a drink. In the distance, he spotted many reflections of sunlight bouncing off an object. When he crawled to the spot, he found the waterfall just as he had imagined it. Letting the water spout spill over his body, Roger drank for a few minutes. When his thirst was totally quenched, the waterfall disappeared as mysteriously as it had come. Roger collapsed with fatigue.

* * *


When he came to, it was blackness that surrounded him. Two blue moons shimmered in the sky above him. Roger wished for food and drink and light. The sky lit up and a banquet table appeared, overloaded with foods of all types. Roger laughed maniacally and ordered the butler to bring him more filet mignon. Then the birthday cake came. As he sipped his brandy, the houris fanned him and fed him grapes. Performers played musical instruments and danced around Roger. His father and mother appeared; the rest of his family and friends enjoyed the fun with him.

After several long hours of partying, Roger was drunk and happy. He scampered over the table and punched his father in the mouth. He jumped up and down like a monkey as he conjured up a prehistoric monster which devoured his mother. He created mountains of diamonds and other precious stones. He formed and ran with abandon through forests, reveling in his power. He gutted his father and the girls with a butcher knife. Screaming as his arose from the golden surface of the planet, Roger created huge hands of earth and pulled down the moons. He melted the moons and covered the world in them. Roger watched the goo change colors and pulsate. He finally made the substance disappear and landed on the planet again. Roger dropped off to sleep.

* * *


Roger awoke after a long slumber to blackness. He willed it to become light. Nothing happened. He tried again. Roger started to laugh and jump around. He pulled out clumps of his hair and reshaped his face. He laughed until he dropped. Roger just stared up at the blackness. He unsuccessfully tried to make it light once more. Roger, mad as he was, grew frightened. He screamed and started running. For hours he ran across the flat expanse. He blacked out from the exertion.

It was still dark. A light appeared around Roger's shaking form. Around him, grotesque faces were illuminated. Indescribable faces, alien, maddening, yet somehow reminiscent of his family and friends, morphed in macabre ways. A musical note pierced the air --

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Roger,
Happy Birthday, to you. . . *


Story copyright 1999 by Michael Barnett <>

Artwork "Desserted" © copyright 1999 by Thomas Miller of Liquid Digital Illustrations <>




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