From the author: Happy Thanksgiving! As you dig into dessert, how about a cake filled-horror story? Delilah hates her birthday, so she will be spending it alone in a beautiful suite. But there is something out there that won’t let that happen...
It was Delilah’s 29th birthday, and she just wanted to be alone.
She’d booked a hotel room downtown (nothing fancy, just something functional) to spend the night in complete solitude. She needed time away. Delilah had spent the last year and a half living with her older sister Tabitha and her two kids, doing everything in her power to ignore the fact that her life was in complete shambles. Since her boyfriend had dumped her and thrown her out, things had continued to degrade. She’d been laid off due to what her boss had termed ‘necessary down-sizing during a recession’. The logical wording did nothing to alleviate the sting; she was homeless and jobless.
Tabitha tolerated her, but Delilah wondered if it was out of familial obligation. Tabitha abided the family rule; don’t harass Delilah about her life. As they always said; she’d get there in time.
Delilah didn’t believe that. Not anymore. Years ago, she’d had plans to open a bakery. Even with her savings and hard work, the money had never come together and she’d never fought to change that. She’d eventually just given up. So; homeless and jobless at 29. It appeared she’d never ‘get there’, no matter how much time was given.
In the taxi on the way to her hotel, Delilah dug out Tabitha’s birthday gift to her. It was a long skinny box, wrapped in brightly colored paper. Delilah unwrapped it and popped the lid off.
Inside was a cake knife with an alabaster handle. It was about 12 or 13 inches long and serrated. She’d owned one like this as a teenager, but she’d thrown it away years ago.
Delilah dropped the box and closed her eyes. Tears crept up and Delilah blinked them away. She understood what Tabitha meant by this gift. But looking at it was just a reminder of all the things she’d never do. And it wasn’t just the bakery or her good job. It was everything. Delilah crammed the box into her bag and zipped it back up again. She turned her attention to the city outside the window, looking to get lost in all the formless blur.
After Delilah checked in, she wheeled her bag over to the elevator doors. A man stood there already, his hands deep in the pockets of his brown khakis. Delilah walked over and stood beside him, examining him as she did.
He had a medium build and was dressed in a salmon-colored button shirt. The man was looking back at her, a vacant smile curling up his thin lips. Delilah felt a flicker of attraction toward him. He even smelled good. Like sugar, like—
“Isn’t there something exciting about hotels?”
Delilah looked to her right. The man was smiling at her.
“They’re an escape, a moment to be anonymous in our strange little world.”
Delilah forced a smile. She didn’t intend to socialize today, but it looked like there was no getting away from it.“I think escape might be the perfect word.”
“What’s your reason for escape?” The man said, touching his cheek absentmindedly, “If I’m not being too nosy.”
The elevator dinged and they went inside together, standing side by side once again. The door closed and they were off.
“Nothing in particular,” she said.
“Just life then?”
Delilah pinched her lips together. “Yeah. Especially today. I just want to hide from the world on my birthday.”
The man gasped, his face visibly flushing. “I love birthdays! Congratulations!”
Delilah made a face. “Thanks, I was born with it.”
The door opened and they went out together. Same floor? What are the odds of that?
The man stopped after a couple of doors and gave her an awkward wave.
“This is where I get off. But it was nice talking to you, birthday girl,” He paused as he took out his room key, “I’m Brian, by the way.”
“Happy birthday, Delilah,” Brian said, smiling. He gave her a wink and pushed into his room, leaving her alone in the hallway.
Once Delilah was in her room, she threw her suitcase on the neatly made bed and surveyed the space. It was the perfect place to drink her birthday away for the second year in a row. She’d have to make this forever tradition. Her family didn’t have many of those, so it was time to create one herself.
She unzipped her suitcase, aiming for the wine inside. On top of her clothes sat Tabitha’s gift. Delilah sighed and carefully placed it on the long dresser to the right of her bed. She didn’t have the mental capacity to deal with it right now.
Maybe some wine could help with that? Delilah dug past the clothes in her suitcase and withdrew the bottle of wine she’d brought.
“Here we go.”
As she went to uncork it, a knock came at her door. Delilah looked at it, confused. Was it the hotel staff? Was there something wrong with her payment information?
She walked across the room and swung the door open. Delilah peeked out and caught sight of Brian down the hallway by his room.
Her new hotel friend was smiling. He pointed at her feet and went back into his room. Delilah followed Brian’s motion.
There, where he’d pointed, was a single piece of cake. It was a corner piece, with bright blue frosting. A plastic fork had been stabbed into the top of it. He left me a piece of birthday cake.
Delilah scooped it up and went back into her room. It was a cute gesture, but something felt off. He likely meant well, but the idea of eating food provided by a stranger didn’t sit well. As Tabitha had always told her, she had to be more careful. With a heavy mind, Delilah dropped the cake into the trash.
She settled onto the bed and poured herself a generous serving of wine into a plastic cup. Delilah took a sip and smiled. This is what she needed. Soon she’d be a little tipsy and she could make this day just go away…
Beside her on the bed, her phone dinged. Delilah finished her cup of wine and scooped her phone up, expecting a message from Tabitha or one of her old friends.
The message read: It’s not right for a beautiful birthday girl to spend her special day alone.
Delilah sat up and blinked at the text. Who was this!? It wasn’t from her ex unless he was using a burner. The phone dinged again and a second message appeared. How about some more cake?
On her right, the bathroom light kicked on. Delilah screamed and nearly leaped off the bed.
Was someone in her room!? Delilah ran her hand through her hair nervously. She shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Maybe the light was automated or something?
Delilah got up and pushed the bathroom door open with one shaking hand.
Thankfully, no one was inside. The toilet seat was down and the shower curtains were open, revealing an empty bathtub.
Then she saw it.
There was a piece of cake sitting on the sink-top. Delilah stared at it, each detail causing her stomach to sink further. The blue frosting. The chocolate interior.
Brian. He’d broken into her room. He’d somehow gotten her number and had texted her. She had no idea how. Brian must have a key or some other way to sneak around here. Delilah turned back to her room, ready to head to the hallway and back downstairs where she could be safe.
When Delilah saw her room, she gasped.
There was cake everywhere. Single pieces, sliced and waiting. Brian had spaced out dozens of pieces across the room, positioning them on every surface both high and low. Half a cake had been severed and left on her pillow, lording over the other pieces below it.
Delilah was speechless. It’s not possible. In the fifteen seconds she’d been in the bathroom, no one could have done this. If it was Brian, (in his salmon shirt and khakis) he was no ordinary creep.
It was time to go.
Delilah stepped forward and the lights in the room surged bright. She had just enough time to throw her hands up before every bulb in the room exploded in a cacophony of sparks and glass. The bedside lamp tipped over and suddenly the air was filled with cake. It flew from the ceiling and flung at her from every direction, splattering every surface in a heavy flurry.
Delilah dove for the bed, keeping her head down. She hit the edge of the mattress and collapsed just as the sweet poltergeist-storm of cake came to an end.
She looked around the room, fresh tears rolling down her cheeks. The room was destroyed. There was nothing that wasn’t covered, crushed, or squashed in blue frosting and dense chocolate.
Delilah struggled to suppress sobs. Was it finally over?
On the other side of the bed, the tall cabinet rattled. Its cake-splattered door jumped in its frame. Delilah gritted her teeth and stood up. It was Brian. It had to be. She should run, but she wouldn’t. She’d been running her whole life. From her dreams, her family, her responsibilities.
But no longer.
As Delilah went around the splattered bed, the cabinet door popped open.
From the half-shadowed cabinet space, Brian grinned his idiot grin. He had squeezed himself inside, his shoulders squashed in front of his torso, his head turned at a quizzical angle.
He jerked out one arm and Delilah dodged back. Her feet caught the edge of the bed, sending her tumbling to the cake-smeared floor.
“Here it is! Your final birthday surprise!” Brian grunted and surged from the cabinet space with maddening speed. Delilah struggled to find her feet, her terror making her slow.
“I wish I could do so much for you! SO much more! It’s your birthday and no one cares expect me!” Brian laughed, his skin shining beneath the room lights. Thick-looking sweat gleamed on his face.
Delilah had found her feet. “Stay away! I’ll claw your face off if you touch me!”
“Claw my face off?” Brian made a half-hearted tsk sound and gave an exaggerated frown. “I don’t want you to dirty your hands. Not on your most special of special oh so very special days!”
Brian was closing in. Delilah backed away until she hit the dresser. She reached one arm around, pawing the surface for what she hoped was still there. She found it right away.
Her birthday gift! Still in the box.
“Time to celebrate, birthday girl!” Brian slapped his open hand to his face and closed his fingers. His skin broke and squeezed into his fist wetly. It mashed and pulled away, revealing a wet crater of face-colored frosting and chocolate cake where his nose and cheek should have been.
Delilah stopped and stared, shock overtaking her. He’s cake. He’s made of CAKE!
Bits of his face (frosting) dropped to the ground, dripped from his chin. When he smiled again, the chocolate crater compressed into a messy crescent.
“See, Delilah? Come take a—“
Delilah howled and swung the cake knife into his face. The blade met at his right temple and sheared down, carving a crooked path into his soft cake-skull.
Brian found his breath as Delilah ripped the blade out. A chunk of his face splatted to the soiled ground and he began to scream. His hands turned outward for defense and she took them next, grunting and swinging her knife in wide arcs. The air singed with electric violence and rent sugar.
Brian stumbled and fell, groveling as she stood over him. What was he? Where had he come from? Delilah tightened her grip on the alabaster handle of the cake knife. It didn’t matter. It was time to cut this off.
She had a birthday to celebrate.