Dark Chocolate Dreams

by Sarah E. Kiko


Stacy let the empty heart-shaped box slide from her slack hand to land with a dull thud on the ugly beige carpet.

I can’t believe I ate the whole thing! she thought. I feel sick.

She’d bought the box of all-dark chocolates for herself, as she did every year. Just because she didn’t have a boyfriend didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy Valentine’s candy as much as the next girl.

With an effort, she pulled herself upright on the sofa, and then struggled to her feet as a wave of nausea struck her.

Ugh! I need to sleep this off.

She set off down the hallway toward her apartment’s single bedroom, rebounding between the walls like an over-inflated helium balloon.

I probably look like a float from the Macy’s parade, she thought caustically.

When she reached her sparsely furnished room, she struggled out of her stained, worn sweatpants and oversized flannel shirt, letting them drop to the floor to add to the accumulated debris already burying the carpeting. Groaning, she pulled back the sheet and ratty quilt and crawled into her twin-sized bed like an overstuffed caterpillar curling into its cocoon. The analogy made her groan again.

If only I’d wake up as the butterfly, she thought as she drifted into fitful slumber.

* * *

Bright colors swirled in a kaleidoscope around her, resolving into a field of bright flowers. The sun shone on her like a welcoming friend. She stretched her wings and launched herself from the petals of the daisy she had been examining, gliding to a nearby lilac bush. She heard the burble of a nearby stream and thought what a perfect day it was to be a chocolate-brown butterfly.

As she flew from flower to flower, drinking the sweet nectar they gladly offered her, she became aware of a low droning buzz. The sound was familiar, but she just couldn’t seem to place it. She began to feel a tingle of apprehension run through her thorax. Then she saw him.

His two sets of iridescent wings beat out of synch, allowing him to hover like a helicopter. He was quite a bit larger than she, and the bright sun glinting off his long abdomen and wings made him seem quite beautiful, until she realized her danger. Dragonflies sometimes hunt butterflies! The instant the thought crossed her mind, he turned in her direction and caught sight of her.

She launched herself from the delicate Queen Anne’s Lace from which she’d been feeding and fled for her life. Twisting and turning low among the stems and stalks with frantic wing beats, she soon lost him. She began to relax a bit.

She flew around a thick dandelion stem and there he was! She tried to halt her forward motion, forgetting butterflies can only fly forward, and collided with him in mid-air. As they tumbled toward the ground, his six legs grappled for her small body. He latched on and his head loomed close as he prepared to bite her.

“Dark chocolate, my favorite!” he said.

She struggled to free herself, but his grip was firm. She closed her eyes and waited for the pain...

She sat on a blanket by a quietly burbling stream, reading a book. The shade felt great on such an unseasonably warm April afternoon, and kept her from melting. She paused and marked her spot with a finger.

This feels wrong. Wasn’t I just somewhere else a second ago? she thought. She shook herself and returned to her book. Just as she found her spot, she heard something large crashing through the underbrush. She dropped her book as a very strange man appeared across the small clearing from her.

“There you are, my delectable dark darling!” he said with a strange glint in his eyes. “Come over here and give me a bittersweet kiss!”

She was very frightened. This man did not appear to be formed of chocolate. Where had he come from? How had he gotten here? She scrambled to her feet, turned away from this apparition, and ran for her life.

Again? Haven’t I done this already?

She heard the bizarre man lumbering after her through the dense sweet vegetation. She nimbly dodged around licorice tree trunks until she no longer heard the sounds of pursuit. She slowed her steps as her heart rate began to return to normal. She had lost him.

She made her way around a large marshmallow bush, and there he was! She tried to turn and flee back the way she had come, but he was too quick. His strange, pale hands grasped her dark arms and pulled her to him. His face loomed close as he prepared to sink his teeth into her neck.

“Dark chocolate, my favorite!” he said.

She struggled to free herself, but his grip was firm. She closed her eyes and waited for the pain...

She sat behind the anchor desk in front of the camera, preparing for the day’s broadcast. The cooling unit under the desk was running full-blast, to keep the hot studio lights from melting her. She began vocalizations to warm up her tongue, then paused.

This feels wrong. Wasn’t I just somewhere else a second ago? she thought. She shook herself and returned to her work. The sugar paste clock on the wall read 5:41. She had nineteen minutes until she went on air. She looked around the strangely quiet studio.

Where is everyone? she thought. The cameramen should be here, checking their equipment.

As the thought finished registering to her brain, the side door opened. A strangely pale man stuck his head through, apparently looking for someone. When he spotted her, a smile appeared on his face; a smile that chilled her to her fluffy center.

“There you are, my delectable dark darling!” he said with a strange glint in his eyes. “Come over here and give me a bittersweet kiss!”

She leaped to her feet, overturning her chair, and ran for her life.

Again? Haven’t I done this already?

She ran through the door in the opposite wall from the man and ducked into the next-door studio. She dodged around camera cranes, lighting stands, and microphone booms until she no longer heard the sounds of pursuit. She had lost that awful light-toned man.

Her breathing slowed as she opened the door to the dressing-room corridor. There he was! She tried to turn and flee back the way she had come, but he was too quick. He grabbed her dark arms and pulled her close. His face loomed above her as he prepared to bite.

“Dark chocolate, my favorite!” he said.

She struggled to free herself, but his grip was firm. She closed her eyes and waited for the pain...

She woke in her twin bed with the sheet and ratty quilt tangled around her arms, drenched in sweat. After unwinding the damp bedclothes, her shaking hands flew all over herself, checking for bites. She was intact. She was safe.

She rolled from the bed and made her way in the dark to her tiny bathroom. Leaving the light off, she splashed some cool water on her face and neck. As she reached for the towel with her left hand, her right felt something on her neck. In panic, she fumbled for the light switch, certain that the 60 watts would reveal a chunk of flesh missing. As light flooded the small space, her worried eyes quickly scanned her startled reflection. Nothing there, nothing missing. She was safe.

She walked with weary steps into her living room and saw the red foil box lying on the floor. As she bent to pick it up, she noticed that there was one last chocolate hiding among the crumpled paper cups. She picked it out, contemplating this greatest of all temptations. Slowly a grin spread across her face.

“Dark chocolate, my favorite!” she said, popping it into her mouth.


Copyright © 2007 by Sarah E. Kiko

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