I first saw Jack Abel in a hotel bathroom mirror. It was the hottest day of the year. The city was a surreal inferno. As I made my way down the scorching sidewalk, I noticed the slow slackened pace of the people that passed me. Vacant expressions covered their faces. The city was a parade of sleepwalkers.

Sweat rings had formed around my neck and the pits of my sports jacket. I was exhausted and dizzy. I could feel my reason abandoning me as I ducked into a hotel bathroom to cool off. I was washing my hands when I looked up and saw him in the mirror.

“Hot enough for you?” he asked.

He was studying his handsome reflection. His eyes surveyed the delicate lines in his face. He ran his hand over his smooth prominent jaw and tilted his head towards me for a response. 

“Yeah, sure,” was my offhanded reply.

“Pretty hot,” I followed up, throwing him a quick glance.

Jack Abel was an entity that existed in reputation only. No one had ever seen or met the man but his name was an industry standard. He was an icon of mass media and the legacy of his accomplishments set the bar for all the other stations. 

Heat Wave

By: Adam C Smith

At thirty-seven, Abel was already the head of one the most influential television stations in the city. In three years, Jack had single handedly transformed a dying public access news channel into an after school special juggernaut. And at this year’s association of broadcast media conference it was announced that TrueComm had now acquired our little station as well. 

He gave a small smile at this and went back to admiring himself. With outstretched fingers he pushed back his regal mane of hair. Then he paused for a second and admired his work. My hands basked in the cold water. A cool reprieve worked its way along my extremities.

I noticed him watching me as I washed my hands. His stared at me absently at first but then seemed to scrutinize me with uncanny interest. He studied me closely and seemed to track the progress of my movements. I grew uncomfortable and looked up. Our eyes met and I noticed that he seemed to conclude something at that moment. He reaffirmed this approval with a slow nod of his head. 

I was about to ask about this conclusion when his expression changed to one of mock embarrassment. He quickly regained his eminent stature and gave himself one more once over. He smoothed the lapels of his jacket and straitened his shirt cuffs. He took a large confident breath and sauntered from the bathroom. I stood frozen except for my hands that still mechanically washed each other in the sink. I took my own deep breath as I prepared to plunge back into the boiling city streets.

Sitting in my in my tiny office with my head leaned against the wheezing window unit, eagerly awaiting the next gust of cold air. Beyond the small comfort zone in front of my archaic air unit, was the oppressive wasteland that was the rest of my office. The phone and everything else I needed for work was positioned in front of me. As I welcomed the next Arctic Blast, signaled by a deafening rattle, the phone rang.

I answered the phone on the third ring trying to sound as cheerful as one can in these oppressive conditions. “KTRN studios.” I answered.

“Yes, this is Jack Abel of TrueComm media, whom I am speaking with?”

It was the same voice from the hotel bathroom. Was it possible that I had actually met the allusive Jack Abel earlier that day? I hesitated a moment and then in my best station manager voice replied, “this is Lyle Lynd, station manager, how can I help you?”

“Mmm, yes, Mr. Lynd,” he said in an almost condescending tone. “As you are aware, TrueComm has recently purchased your, umm, hmm, station,” he seemed amused with using the word station. “Well Mr. Lynd, let me get right down to it, normally with a station, of your um, hmm, size, TrueComm finds the most lucrative option is to liquidate and then sell off the property.”

“Well Mr. Abel this station was started by…,” I started.

“However,” he interrupted, “I have taken a special interest in KTRN. Yes Mr. Lynn, I think there is something we can work with, mmm, yes, something special.”

Was he kidding? Something, “special?” There had not been anything special about KTRN since its coverage of missing girl-scout troop #23, eight years ago. Since then the station was mainly responsible for reporting on fires in the area, usually as the firemen were leaving the scene. TrueComm should have swallowed us up years ago. The only people that still worked at KTRN were myself, a couple of reporters and the janitor, who I think came with the building. 

“Well,” I started to say.

“Of course Mr. Lynd as station manager you will have an important position with TrueComm. Yes Mr. Lynd, these are indeed exciting times for television, and more importantly for TrueComm. I think you will find that working for TrueComm is very, um, hmm, special.” 

“Ah, ok?” I mean what else could I say? KTRN was pretty much the only place I was going to be the manager of anything. Yeah, for me this was pretty much it. 

“I am pleased to hear it Mr. Lynd. Now, I will need you come out to TrueComm as soon as possible to go over the details. See you in, let's say, an hour?”

“Ok, I mean, ya sure, see you in an hour.”

“Take care in this heat Mr. Lynd,” he said, “there have been reports of people going crazy.”

As I hung up the phone, I noticed that the plastic receiver was hot and malleable in my hand. It seemed to have melted during my conversation. “Whew,” it was going be a long trip to TrueComm.

Opening the door to my car was like opening an oven. I was hit with an intense blast of heat that send me staggering backwards. I crept into my car and slowly lowered myself into the seat. The dashboard had melted into mosaic of metal and vinyl. The steering wheel was graphed to my seat. I jerked the wheel free and headed for TrueComm.

When the tall, metallic, capsule like doors to TrueComm opened, I was greeted by a blast of Arctic Breeze. I bathed in its glory for a few seconds before entering the giant corridor. The size of the lobby was at least twenty times the size of my office. I got on the elevator with an armed guard and rode to the thirty-third floor. 

After I stepped off the elevator, I was in a long hallway covered in advertisements for TrueComm and more importantly its commitment to after school specials. Thousands of posters covered every square inch of the long hall. TrueComm apparently owned every station in the city. At the end of the hall was a giant flat screen television that covered the entire wall. In front of the wall was the silhouette of woman at a desk.

I skulked up to the desk and hoisted up my eyes to meet her face.

“Umm, yes, I’m Lyle, oh I mean, Mr…”

“Yes Mr. Lynd, you’re expected. Please have a seat.” She gestured over to some chairs without looking up.

“Ok then, I’ll just wait over…” she wasn’t listening.

I took a moment to soak up the splendor of it all, the magnificence. This was the center of the information world, the beehive. I still couldn’t get over it all, me, a station manager for TrueComm. I smiled at my good fortune and sunk back in my chair to watch some television. 

The big story on the news was, of course, the heat wave. The screen was split between four different experts. The one speaking now was a doctor from the city hospital.

“Well Cathy what we are seeing now are a lot of cases of what experts are calling, ‘Acute Heat Exhaustion Delusion’ or ‘AHED.’

“Oh my doctor, that sounds pretty serious, what are some of the symptoms?” Cathy asks with a forced expression of concern.

“Well Cathy,” the doctor adjusts his glasses, “in most cases extreme perspiration, followed by dizziness, and then a loss of memory and consciousness, temporarily leaving the victim in an altered state of awareness. In other words the patient may suffer acute hallucinations or delusions without being aware of them.”

“That sounds pretty serious doctor, what can one do to prevent this onset?”

“Well,” the doctor straitens up and looks directly into the camera, “get out of the heat.”

He gives a chuckle as does Cathy and the other experts.

“Well you heard it folks,” Cathy says, “stay out of that heat.”

“Mr. Abel will see you now,” says the woman at the desk.

I’m lead into giant office with large television monitors and what looks like a command center where a desk should be.

“Mrrrr. Lynnnd,” Abel comes towards me with his hand outstretched. “Ha, yes, very nice to see you again Mr. Lynd. Please.” He me motions over to a large couch at the opposite side of the room. 

“Can I get something for you Mr. Lynd? Coffee? Ice water perhaps?”

“Ah, yeah” I said, “water would be great.”

Abel whispers something into an inconspicuous box and within seconds the girl from the front desk enters the room. She passes the glass to me like a baton and disappears. I drink from it as if it were a communion and unconsciously nod my head in approval. It was a great glass of water.

“So,” Abel breaks me from my water trance, “Mr. Lynd, tell me, how do you feel about after school specials?” 

“After school specials, hmm, yeah well I think they’re, umm, well, I they’re great sir.” 

What can anyone say about after school specials? Is there anything to say? I had never really given it any thought. I didn’t think anyone did until now.

“Great?” Abel looks offended at first and then shakes it off. 

“Mr. Lynd, may show you something?” He looked over at a television in the center of the room. 

The monitor sprang to life and the room brightened. There was an after school special on about the dangers of cough syrup. We had come in at the momnet when the mother finds her teen-age daughter unconscious on the floor. Lying next to her was a nondescript liquid pharmacy bottle with an ominous red syrupy substance dripping out of it.

There were two smaller view boxes at the bottom of the screen. One of the boxes showed the temperature reading outside and the other was a chart that showed the number viewers tuning in. The temperature and viewer chart seemed to rise together in slow synchronicity. 

“You see, Mr. Lynd, three years ago when I started TrueComm, I had one mission, to save our civilization from the brink of destruction. I knew that it was up to me to inform the world of all the moral pitfalls that accompany bad choices in life. Bulimia, drugs, and unwanted pregnancies are the destructive decisions that tear apart the fabric of every family. It was up to me to get this message into every home Mr. Lynd. And what better vehicle than television? What better medium that the after school special?”

I stood there speechless. I mean what can you about a conspiracy to flood the world with after school specials? I asked the next question, regretting it the moment the words left me lips.

“So where does the temperature come in?”

His smile broadened like a mad scientist who has just been asked to explain his theory of the universe. This was the question he was waiting for.

“Well, Mr. Lynd, a very good question indeed.” He took a seat on the other end of the couch and leaned forward. “You see Mr. Lynd, with all the other, um, hmm, distractions…out there, it’s hard to get people focused on what is really important. It is difficult to get people to come home after school and watch our educational programming. Well, I should say that it was difficult, that is until TrueComm and several 

other, umm, hmm, concerned institutions, I am not at liberty to name, came up with a solution.”

I winced, knowing what was coming next.

“Yes Mr. Lynd, I can see from your face you have already put some of this together. Allow me to fill in the gaps. You see Mr. Lynd, TrueComm is totally committed to its cause. We have scientists, engineers, politicians, and, of course, many experts working for us. We have studied every angle and developed every idea. We have meet every obstacle with intense determination and now we have an answer that will save our civilization!”

Civilization, ok, sure. “Is this guy for real?” I thought. As he went into his next sermon I noticed that the temperature gage on the television screen had gone up significantly. The cough syrup after school special was interrupted an emergency news report. 

“This is Cathy Grace coming to you live from the scene where just moments ago, in this spot behind me,” she gestures wildly behind her to indicate a large smoldering pile “a warehouse spontaneously burst into flames. Fire experts believe the heat was the cause for this and several other fires that have broken out today across the city. Back to you Tom.”

Abel hasn’t seen any of this. He is looking strait through me, climbing toward the crescendo of his “answer to all” philosophy. I tune back into his conversation and he is explaining how he uses a network of solar panel stations disguised as television stations to operate the “heating phase.”

The heating phase the most important step of the process, as this is when the brain is “rebooted”, if you will, and ready to receive our quality television programming. This is where you come in Mr. Lynd, yes, you will man one of the most important panel stations in the network. Your position is key for its proximity to the university. Can you imagine it, Mr.Lynd? An entire campus of impressionable young students tuning in to watch decent wholesome material?”

Through the window the sky glowed red. The buildings shimmered in the gaseous waves of heat. The television flickered through images of the city on fire.

  “Mr. Abel, don’t you think that…,” I start to say. 

“I assure you Mr. Lynd, we are quite safe here. This building has been reinforced to handle the heating phase of the process. It’s quite amazing don’t you think Mr. Lynd? Here we are standing at the forefront of a whole new world of decency.”

Just then there was a loud buzzing sound from somewhere. Abel strolled over to a wall and pressed a button.

“Yes?” he paused for a second and then nodded, “Ok I understand, send through the call. Ok, yes, thank you.” He walked over to the command center and picked up the phone. He spoke in a harsh whisper that was inaudible. He hung up the phone, ran his hand through his hair, adjusted his pants, and marched towards me. He looked like a general who had just suffered a set back.

He put his hands on my shoulders and looked at with a stern expression. 

“I’m afraid to report that we have a slight, umm, hmm, obstacle, Mr. Lynd. I assure you it’s nothing to be concerned about. The after school special program is still going on as scheduled. We just need to umm, hmm, view it from a different location. Also, we, umm, hmm, will no longer be doing any re-organizing at your station as it has burned to the ground. Therefore I am afraid we will not be able to offer you the station manager position. But please know Mr. Lynd that we will certainly keep you on file as a consideration. Now if you will excuse me, I am in a bit of a rush. Take care Mr. Lynd. Oh, and, umm, hmm, stay out of the heat,” he said as he exited through an unseen opening between two of the televisions.

“What? What…do I do…,” before I could finish the room burst into flame. I ran through the secret door and discovered a latter that led to the roof. I scurried up the latter as flames leaped out at me from every direction. The soles of my shoes were melting and my hands were searing on the hot metal. With all my strength, I pushed open the red hot metal hatch. I pulled myself out, into a pool of hot liquid tar that was once the roof. I got to my feet and trudged toward the edge. In the distance I could see the helicopter that had rescued Abel. 

“Damn after school specials!’ I screamed. I shook my fist at it for dramatic effect and stumbled the last two feet to the edge. I looked for the miracle scaffold that was going to save me from this nightmare. Nothing, only more flames. I took one last opportunity to survey the city. I guess it what things look like after a nuclear explosion. Every building in the city stood alight. The sky throbbed an iridescent red. 

The flames finally found their way to the roof, forcing me onto the knife’s edge of the ledge. “Damn,” I thought as I fell backward into the ocean of flames below. I could feel my body disintegrate as I fell to the ground. I assumed I would pretty much be ash on impact. I thought about how insane the last few moments of my life were and chuckled at their absurdity. I face planted into the cement and when I lifted up my head……

I was standing in front of the hotel bathroom mirror washing my hands. I was feeling a little dazed. Wasn’t I ash by now? “Did I just imagine that?” I said out loud. “Ok, ok, ok, wait a minute, I’m ok, still alive!” The whole thing was a dream, a sensory exper…, no wait, was it? What was that called, afed, amed? 

I concluded that no matter what the explanation, heat was the main factor. I turned off the sink and reached for a towel. I had my face in the towel when I heard a voice behind me say,

“Hot enough for you?”

Mark Jarivs leaned back in his chair, sipped his coffee smartly, and scrutinized the last of the autumn light fading from the city skyline. Mark savored the hot sugary mixture with warm affection as the quiet office workday entered its final moments. His computer screen grew brighter with each passing minute as the last streaks of twilight surrendered themselves to the ebony of night.

Pudgy fingertips fell gracefully from the arm of his chair to his desk where they wondered absently across its surface. After a couple of seconds of searching, they found what they we looking for. Two large cookies coated in thick orange and black frosting sat auspiciously on a paper plate at the edge of the desk. He let out a slight sigh of relief and felt a rush of excitement as he brought the first cookie to his expecting lips.

The first bite was quick and painless. He sank his teeth deep and mercilessly into the yielding delectable. “Ah,” he moaned, overwhelmed by an ecstasy of supernatural proportions. The chemical reaction was instantaneous at the point of ingestion, as sugar burrowed into every cell in his body.

His every sense was heightened all at once. He held on to this high for several more moments before consuming the rest of the cookie in two large unrelenting bites. He chewed these bites slowly and methodically enjoying a new sensation with each transfer of the sweet doughy pulp from one side of his mouth to the other. After the last of the cookie dissipated, he licked his lips with one great sweep of his sweetly thickened tongue and turned his attention to the lone cookie sitting placidly and unsuspecting on the paper plate.

Sweet Tooth

By: Adam C Smith

He was about to reach for the orphaned baked good when he noticed the astounded expression of the face that looked down on him from the corner of his cubicle. Carol Simms, one of the women that worked in marketing and an excellent source for homemade pies stood watching Mark with the fascination of a child.

“You like those cookies I see,” Carol said, her eyes moving from Mark, gesturing to the plate.

“Oh yes,” Mark shifted in his chair awkwardly, noticing for the first time the crumbs spread wildly across the front of his shirt.

“I um, hmm, I ah,” he laughed nervously. He pulled his shirt out of the small fold that outlined his waist. He brushed the evidence away clumsily and straitened in his chair, trying to look as sober and professional as he could after his recent fix.

“So, ah, Carol, how are you?”

“Well,” said Carol a little more naturally now, “just finishing up here, getting ready to head out for the night. I think I am going to head over to Harry’s and meet up with everyone for a Halloween drink, you coming by Mark?”

“Harry’s, hmm,” Mark thought a minute. He really wasn’t a happy hour type of guy. Truth be told, he planned on going home to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters and then enjoy the spoils of whatever was leftover. Of all the holidays, Halloween was his favorite. Sure Christmas had its sweets and Easter had its chocolate, but Halloween, well there was a holiday that revolved around the sole raison d'être for every sugar junky.

“Come on Mark,” said Carol. “It’s going to be great fun, Harry’s has the best chocolate martinis,” she said in an almost sly and sultry voice.

That was what he needed to hear. In those words Mark reasoned that a drink at Harry’s might not be such a bad idea. After all he was one of the chief editors at J&R publishing. It would be uncouth to miss out on a chance to mix with his co-workers. And what about Carol with her talent to bake such amazing pies, couldn’t he see himself with her? Living a life of sweet affection for her and her culinary talents.

“Well, I guess I could stop over for a drink,” he said, a smile stretching the pasty corners of his mouth.

“Great,” Carol gasped a little too quickly. “Everyone will be so glad to see you out, it’s just been too long Mark.

Carol’s words dripped slowly into Mark, as thick with truth as the dense sweet plasma that dredged its way through Mark’s veins. When did it all start? How long had it been since Mark known any other satisfaction apart from the sweet narcotic high he felt with every dose of sugar? He could not remember a life before this one, nor did he want to. This was his love, his existence, and there could be no other pleasure as great.

“Well,” he chuckled, “just busy I guess.” His eyes fell back on the plate as reflexively as hearing his name called. Carol followed his gaze and took her cue to leave Mark to his final moments with the cookie.

“Ok then,” she said with a thoughtful expression, “I will see you in an hour or so?”

“Sure Carol, see you there,” Mark said without looking up.

Mark inhaled deeply and steadied himself. His pulse quickened at the prospect of devouring the next cookie. Without reservation, in one quick move, he snatched it up and submitted himself graciously to his desire.

The air was cold and sharp as Mark walked through the revolving door of the Plaza building on 17th avenue. One of the butterscotch disks he had procured from Jerry the night guard on his way out of the building and was slowly dissolving in its nest between his cheek and back right molars. He shivered as the wind picked up in a violent gust, funneled through the dense cityscape. He pulled up the lapels of his coat up to warm his ears and the soft flesh of his neck. His ruddy chubby cheeks became more crimson with each sweep of the cold night air.

Mark surveyed 17th avenue and all its grandeur. He observed the wide expanse of pulsating lights across the show marquees and the vivid greens and reds of the traffic signals, stark against the soft hue of the street lamps. All the brilliant lights reminded him of colored granules of sugar, blended together to create a world of sweet confectionery design. The city slowly came to life as people in costumes started filling up the 17th avenue sidewalks. The last of the butterscotch disk melted away in a bath of thick sweet saliva and Mark swallowed contentedly as he turned in the direction of Harry’s Bar.

As he headed north on 17th avenue towards Harry’s, a new feeling welled up inside of Mark. An ominous feeling he could not quite understand. Was there something wrong or was he just coming down from the last burst of sugar? He felt like he was being watched, that the air had become stagnant. He felt that all those wonderful lights had become suddenly dulled and that the night had become darker, blacker some how. He quickened his pace weary of everything he passed, all of a sudden very afraid, and not sure why.

Every face he passed looked more and more gruesome and distorted. He felt terror rush through him with every step. What he needed was a nice sweet drink he thought. Harry’s would have a chocolate martini waiting for him. It would be his sanctuary from this impudent fear that was spreading menacingly throughout his body. Carol was right, he thought, she knew just what he needed. Perhaps he was just eager to get there, perhaps this fear was merely anticipation to get to Harry’s to see Carol and have his drink.

When he was within a block of Harry’s, Mark realized that he was almost running. He could feel something following close behind him. His heart was racing and he had broken out in a cold sweat. His face was hot and flush, and his hands trembled as he fumbled for the door to Harry’s. Once inside he stopped to catch his breath. He breathed so hard and fast he thought was going to pass out right there on the floor of the bar. He pulled a butterscotch disk from his pocket and grinded it madly between his teeth. He craved sugar like a diabetic whose blood sugar has just bottomed out. Slowly he regained his composure, his breathing slowing as he walked cautiously toward the bar.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Carol and a few others sitting at a table near the back, laughing boisterously with one another.

Mark could tell that they had been there a while by the ease they had with one another and the scattering of empty cocktail glasses that covered the table. He was not ready to approach the table just yet he thought. First he would need a drink to steady his nerves, a sweet delicate concoction to put things back in harmony. He approached the bar like a man who had wondered the desert for days without water.

He found a spot at the bar near the front window. He caught a glimpse of his flushed and flustered face in the window’s reflection. His eyes were wide and wild and his lips were pale. He unbuttoned his coat and sank heavily into the barstool.

The bartender was dressed as a wizard with a tall peaked had and a long white beard. He wore a thick purple robe covered with silver stars and moons. He looked Mark over with mock concern.

“Hey there, what did you do, sprint here?” he asked in a friendly tone. “What can I get ya?”

“Choc, chocolate martini,” Mark said catching his breath.

“You got it buddy,” said the bartender, “you know we have the best in town,” he said opening the mini-ridge behind the bar and retrieving the chocolate liquor.

As his drink was shaken and poured, Mark felt himself start to relax. The tall glass was placed before him and he thanked the bartender who gave him a friendly nod and a, “sure, enjoy.”

Mark took a moment to marvel at the work of art that stood before him. The sleek design of the martini glass stood before him as a reward for the brave quest he had taken in getting here. The thin stem that supported the weight of the rich chocolaty mixture that stood as a monument to his being here, safe and warm, here at Harry’s bar.

The first sip illuminated every light in the bar. All his internal switches we turned back on high. He felt his energy return with intense vigor. A smile returned and spread out across the vast expansion of his face. He was whole again, happy as he basked in the raw energy of the sugar that spread throughout him, numbing his fingertips and toes.

“Good drink, yes?” The voice came from his left where a minute ago there was no one sitting there.

“Sure,” said Mark, looking up slowly into the palest face he had ever seen. He had seen an albino’s face before, but this was different. This face was almost translucent and Mark could trace every blue vein that coursed its way into the nether regions of the silvery flesh.

Mark’s eyes followed one of the azure veins that stretched out from the man’s dark coat, along the pallid surface of his long thin neck, across his colorless lips, and up the sharp beaked nose only to meet the most fierce set of eyes ever to meet his own. They seemed to float independent of their sockets and burn brightly, mimicking each color that was reflected in them. A feeling of panic seized Mark and his heart pounded in his ears.

“I, ah, I, well, I like chocolate,” Mark stuttered. With each word, he struggled for more breath.

The man threw back his head and laughed. It was a shrill high-pitched laugh that seemed to shatter every sound in the room. Mark was frozen by this laugh, locked in pure terror by the sound unable to move, unable to speak. He looked away toward the window and to his shocked amazement only saw his frightened expression. He turned back to find the man a mere few inches from his face.

He parted his lips to reveal a row of sharp yellow teeth, his breath was retched and hot and seemed to radiate the entire room. His eyes burrowed deep into Mark’s as his words came out slow and sinister. “A real sweet tooth, hmm?” he cackled. “Yes, you are, a real sweet tooth,” the man threw his head back and let out another loud shrill laugh.

Mark felt the floor drop out from under him. He sat weightless in his barstool. He had no response, no plan of action, no idea what to do next. He simply closed his eyes and wished it all away, he thought of the cookies at his desk, the color of the sky at dusk, he thought of the martini that sat before him. And reached out for it as if were a life preserver, the only thing to rescue him from this cold dark abyss. His fingertips touched the icy glass and he slowly opened his eyes. The seat next to him was empty. There was no sign of the man in the dark coat anywhere.

He sat dazed, lost in the depths of the rich velvety mixture on front of him. The fear began to slowly subside and he felt himself begin to thaw. Somewhere in the distance he could hear someone calling his name. The voice grew louder has he slowly regained his composure.

“Mark, hey Mark,” Carol was walking towards him. Moving languidly with an expression of buzzed giddiness.

“Hey you, you been here long?” she had a slight slur in her speech. “Jeez Mark, what’s with you?” she said a little surprised, “you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Mark was still reeling from his encounter. He had lost all concept of time and was not sure if any of this was real. “I, um, thought I, um saw something,” Mark said.

“Saw a goul, hungh?” she laughed. “Well that’s Halloween for you. Come on over to the table, we were wondering what happened to you,” she said taking his hand, “Come on a let me buy you another drink.”

Mark felt like he was underwater. The sound of the bar was dull and distant. The air was felt like thick cane syrup. The night had become like a dream moving in slow motion. A sickness washed over him as the thought of just one more gram of sugar would launch him into oblivion. Put him over the edge, past the point of no return.

Mark pulled his hand away and thrust it into the pocket of his coat. “I can’t tonight Carol, I just can’t, I’m sorry, I just don’t feel well.”

Before she could reply, he turned and moved quickly for the door. He bumped into a guy dressed as Frankenstein who asked him what the hell his problem was. The sugar coursed swiftly through the blood in his veins, twisting his thoughts into incoherent noise. The heavy thudding of his heart were pushing him quickly into a state of madness. When he stepped out into the cold night air, he felt the chocolate martini rise in his stomach and ran to the alley to expel it.

Mark leaned against the alley side of the bar and could taste the warm sweet liquid now infused with the bitter taste of bile leave his stomach. He heaved a couple of more times after the most of the fluid left him for good measure and then stood erect. He took long measured breaths and soon felt his body start to relax. He leaned back against the opposite wall and surveyed the large chocolaty puddle drifting towards him.

He placed his hand in his pocket in search of butterscotch disk. As he rooted around in his pocket, he heard the words reverberating faintly in the wind, “swweeet tooothhh.” He peered into the dense black of the alley. The darkness seemed to swallow him whole. The night was like a cloak that shrouded his vision. He was unable to move, unable to scream as the long white fingers floated towards him out of the darkness. He felt his throat start to close in the creature’s resolute grip. He struggled for his last breath as the vile stench of the creature’s breath hovered soft and hot near his ear.

“Sweeet tooooth,” whispered the demon. “I too have a sweeet toooooth.” Mark felt his head snap back sharply and felt the creature’s teeth pierce his soft flesh. His body tensed for a moment and then fell limp in the monster’s hands. He felt his life slowly seep away as heart pulsed its final beats. His pupils dilated as his heart stopped.

The creature dropped Mark’s lifeless body to the ground and fell backwards dizzily. “Oh,” the creature sighed, “so sweet, so very, very sweet!”