I reach into the cupboard, and take out my last box. Flavored rice, cilantro lime. My mouth starts watering instantly at the words, I can’t wait any longer. Food is all I think about. I have daydreams and nightmares and they all involve the hunger.
I put a pot on the stove and set it to boil. I don’t have any butter, ate it long ago, but I have water. I stand and stare as it heats. Who says a watched pot won’t boil? It will. And it does.
I add the rice and open the seasoning. The smells of the flavored powder as it hits the boiling water is orgasmic. The nostalgic scent takes me back to happier times, when everyone had everything we could ever need.
I try to hold onto that feeling when I hear a sloppy thump outside my apartment.
I look at the vent in my kitchen, I hadn’t covered it up. The smell. Lost in lust for food, I hadn’t noticed the building come alive around me. I could hear the frantic pacing of my neighbor Dave above me, erratic yells and sputters about “tasty, tasty.” The slow sobs from the woman next door who’s children had long grown silent.
The thump in the hallway became a slow steady knock on my door, down near the bottom. I covered my precious rice, and went to check my locks. The bolt was secure as was the extra chain I’d added. I could hear strained whimpers coming from the other side.
I knelt down to listen. It was my neighbor Gary, he lived below me. We used to be friends. He must have dragged himself up the stairs.
He scratched up the door, and the knob gave a feeble wiggle.
I got up and went back to my rice. As I stirred and smelled, I heard Dave stomping down from upstairs. He yelled at Gary and then threw him against my door. He had a bit more strength to him! I ignored it. My locks would hold. I blocked out his mad ramblings and loud bangs. It sounded like he was beating himself against my door.
It would hold.
I stirred and smelled, waiting to take a sip. It wasn’t ready yet. The anticipation was tantalizing. After one final loud crack, the hallway fell silent. I grabbed my utensils and carefully listened at my door. It was dead quiet.
Unlocking the bolt, the chain, and the lock, I opened my door. Dave had knocked himself out, and was splayed before me. I started to kneel, but was interrupted.
Gary was crumpled in the corner, the flesh on his legs stripped and flayed. His eyes stared out of his skin wrapped skull, an emaciated hand reaching out. I smile at him.
“Cilantro lime rice is just a side dish, Gary, I need my protein. You’re all out of meat, but just look how much Dave has!”