"Berserk" by Bob Joncas
The day that Lisa Crenshaw walked into Bea’s Antique and Curio Shop, the last thing on her mind was murder. Lisa slowly walked through the store, perusing each item. Rounding a corner of cluttered shelves, an unusual cast iron muffin pan caught her eye. It sat on the back of a shelf surrounded by objects once used by nameless people—certainly long dead.
The intricate pan held a mold of eight bears—all different and unique. The handles were scrolled and ornate. She rushed to the front of the store and waved her credit card in front of an elderly woman, anxious to pay for her prize.
Lisa felt giddy as she climbed inside the car. She drove straight home and rushed into her apartment. She unpacked the pan and noticed that there were small patches of rust. She got out a brush and cleaned off the rust. She whipped up a cornbread recipe, and poured batter into each of the eight bear forms, and put the pan in the oven.
Lisa went to put on her nightgown, and noticed in the mirror that her unruly hair could use a trip to the hairdresser. She cut her own hair and bought her clothes at the thrift store. She didn’t feel worthy of new clothes and expensive salons.
The phone rang, and Lisa flinched. That would be her mother. Lisa let the phone go on ringing. God, why couldn’t her mother just leave her alone!
Her father walked out on Lisa and her younger brother, Brian, when she was ten. Her alcoholic mother was the reason they constantly moved. Lisa and her brother never stayed in one place long enough to make friends. Brian inherited Mother’s bad traits. His addiction to drugs and alcohol eventually killed him.
She went to the kitchen and opened the oven door, pulling out the rack where eight little golden brown bears simmered in the pan. The sweet cornbread aroma permeated the room. Lisa took out a jar of honey, waiting for the muffins to cool…gazing at the pan.
Lisa carefully removed each bear from the pan and laid them out on a platter. Out of the pan the difference in the bear molds was even more evident. One bear had its arms crossed over its chest, and another had its legs bent up to the stomach. One had two hands over its mouth—speak no evil—the other, had its hands over both ears—hear no evil—another with two hands over its eyes—see no evil.
Frightened, she turned her attention to the five other bear muffins. They were also posed in different directions, one with its eyes closed, the other four with their eyes wide open. Animal molds were usually whimsical, not serious and surreal. A cold shiver ran down her spine.
Lisa carried the plate with the two bears to the table beside her chair and placed it next to the book she was reading. She picked up the book, and absently reached for a honey covered bear. She brought it to her lips and bit into the delicious morsel—and before she knew it—the two scrumptious bears had disappeared.
A loud crash startled Lisa and she jumped up off the chair. Her heart pounded as she raced into the kitchen. The bear pan had fallen on the floor. Lisa picked the pan up off the floor, and laid it on the counter. Feeling apprehensive, Lisa went back to the chair and picked up her book.
As she started reading, Lisa felt her stomach lurch. She rubbed her belly to soothe it and decided to get something from the medicine cabinet. She started coughing so hard that her ribs were burning. She tried to get out of the chair, but the fits were so severe that she became paralyzed. She couldn’t catch her breath. “Oh no!” Lisa rolled to her side in the chair gasping for a breath. Her body violently shuddered with spasms. Her lungs were on fire. She felt like something had crawled up inside her windpipe and blocked it. If she didn’t get help soon, she was going to die.
“BAM-BAM-BAM!!!” She rolled her head to the side, and through blurry eyes, focused on the platter sitting on the kitchen counter. The six remaining bears on the plate were standing up hunched over, facing her and screaming, “YOU ATE OUR BROTHERS! YOU ATE OUR BROTHERS! THEY ARE DEAD—AND NOW—YOU ARE DEAD!!!” Over and over—until she slipped into unconsciousness…
Lisa opened her eyes to a bright light. Her throat was raw. She slowly turned her head and looked into her mother’s stern face.
“What happened?” Lisa moaned.
“I drove over to your apartment when you didn’t answer the phone. I knew you weren’t on a date, or with friends, since you don’t have any. I pounded on the door and heard odd noises inside. I went to find the apartment manager, and he opened the door with his key. We found you unconscious. The manager gave you CPR while I called 911. Do you know what you put me through?” her mother screamed.
The next day, Lisa was discharged from the hospital. When she got home, she looked around the apartment at the carnage left from the night before. Did she really see the bears taunting her…or was it her imagination from the lack of oxygen in her brain?
The bear muffins were all over the counter. She picked up the pan to take to the sink and stopped short. There were six molds in the pan, but she knew that there were eight molds when she bought the pan—the rust was back—that’s odd. Lisa examined the remaining bears sprawled out on the counter. Six on the counter and the two she ate made eight!
The next morning, Lisa paid her mother a visit. Her mother was surprised.
“Well, you have finally come to your senses, and decided to visit your poor mother!”
“That’s right mother, I’ve come to my senses, and from now on things will be different between us.” Lisa said, handing her mother a plate of six frosted bears.
“This is for all your help. I hope you enjoy them Mother, I have to go.” She turned and walked to her car.
As Lisa drove away, she glanced into the rear-view mirror, and turned off her cell phone, without any sense of remorse. She eyed the muffin pan sitting in the passenger seat, then quickly looked away. She went about her errands to the grocery store, and to get her hair done at Trudy’s Salon.
Lisa walked out of Trudy’s with an air of confidence, looking stunning, with a new cut and color. She slid in the car, and glancing over at the pan on the seat, noticing that only four bear molds remained. Mother must have eaten her gift. Lisa wasn’t sorry for what she did. After all, her mother had killed Brian, as surely as if she murdered him in cold blood.
© 2017 Robert Joncas
Bob is a Real Estate Broker and active member of the Horror Writers Assoc. He is enrolled in UCLA’s Writers Program where he is working on his novel Changing Tide. He lives at 7,000 feet, near Flagstaff, AZ. The lack of oxygen at that altitude gives him his crazy ideas.