A Cook's Nightmare
The Haunted Mess Hall

by Thomas H. Hunter

(Fort Riley, Kansas - 1965)

The end is near.

There is no use fighting it any longer. I will try to set down the events of the past hour as accurately as I can for those who may try to stop the relentless advance of the cursed adrovdgas.

For me it is no longer any use to resist. I am hopelessly trapped in this storeroom with nothing but a butcher knife and this typewriter with which to defend myself. I have pushed the empty shelves against the door but, even as I type, I can hear the frenzied grinding as they try to break through.

But I must stay calm and record the details of this horrible night...

It all started at 20:15, or at least that's when I became involved. As I was walking past the mess hall, not suspecting the horror that lurked within its walls, I happened to try the door in the hope of getting a late snack. To my surprise the door was unlocked and I entered, closing it quietly behind me.

I wish to heaven that I had immediately noticed the uncanny silence, the lack of the normal whirring of fans and humming of refrigeration units; or that I had not been so careful as to avoid turning on the lights, an act which would have brought the lack of electric power to my attention.

But, unfortunately, my overwhelming desire for a late salami sandwich blinded me to the obvious signs that something was gravely amiss.

As I waited for my eyes to become accustomed to the dark, I frequently thought I saw dimly silhouetted forms moving about the deep black cavern of the kitchen. I assumed these to be others who, like myself, knew the value of a good salami sandwich. Still, in all this time, I failed to notice the profound silence that blasted me from all sides.

Slowly and carefully I advanced into the terror filled depths of the kitchen. It was deserted. I fumbled along the refrigerator until I found a handle. Jerking the door open, I reached inside for a salami, ignoring the rush of green, leafy things that slithered to the floor and past my feet into the darkness. After a moment of blind groping, I located my prize and placed it carefully on a worktable.

It wasn't until I located a knife with which to perform appropriate rites on the salami that I realized things were not as they should be. The salami was threateningly waving the sharp blade at my midsection!

I immediately made a strategic advance to ther rear, tripping over a cabbage that had not been there a moment before and falling flat on my back into the refrigerator. The force of the blow must have knocked me unconsious for a moment, for the next thing I knew was that a warm, greasy protoplasm coming from a pot on the stove was trying to slowly digest my legs. At the same time several cabbages led by an unusually large head of lettuce were trying to close the refrigerator door on me.

I stumbled to my feet, my burning legs sliding uncontrollably on the grease- plasm. It was then that I saw the final horror that sent me slipping and sliding to the temporary safety of the storeroom. Amassed at the center of the kitchen were great hordes of carrots, potatoes and onions. They were quickley grouping themselves into numberless columns, each with a cabbage at its head. Surveying the proceedings from vantage points on the worktables were several hoary and intelligent looking adrovdgas.

Yet it wasn't the meaningful actions of the formerly inert vegetables nor the belligerant attitude of the old adrovdgas as they surveyed the hellish assembly that snapped the final thread of sanity and sent me screaming to the dark shelter of the storeroom.

The terrible image that is burned indelibly into my memory is that of the detached kitchen sink hurtling at fantastic speed directly at me out of the hazy blackness, crushing and scattering potatoes, carrots and onions into a slimy stew in its wake. There was an unbelievably old and distinquished looking adrovdga riding jauntily on the rushing sink's arched back.

So stunned was I by the extreme horror of the fantastic scene that I barely had presence of mind to hurl myself into the confines of the storeroom as metal bit into onrushing metal when the vicious sink collided with the innocent refrigerator in front of which I had been standing.

I supposed that both machines were a total loss. Of the fate of the adrovdga I had no knowledge. It either leaped to safety prior to the impact or it must have been thrown violently into space at the moment of thundrous collision.

But I had little time to worry about the fate of that murderous adrovdga for I soon saw a trickle of milk curling under the door. I grabbed a handy mop and tried to dry it up when the milk closed its icy fingers around the mop and tried to drag it back under the door. While the milk beat the mop about in demonic frenzy, I began to pile empty shelves as a barricade against further intrusion. All the canned and dry goods must have left earlier to join the fiendish assembly in the loathsome blackness of the kitchen.

It was as I fumbled in the darkness for anything that might be of use to block the door that my hand closed around the soft, squishy, but still pulsating, form of an adrovdga, undoubtedly the one that had been thrown from the speeding sink through the, then open, door.

My heart froze as the prodded adrovdga came to life and slipped from my grasp, scuttling into the darkness. I am convinced that this is the adrovdga that masterminded this whole unnamable plot. The others are running about in confusion outside, pounding futilely on the barricaded door.

Occasionaly I hear a weak attempt at answer from inside but, when I lunge at the source of the sound, I grab only a handful of empty space where the master adrovdga had been only a split second before.

I believe it is up to the two of us now - the adrovdga and me.

Anyone, pardon, any "thing" that has the power to bring inanimate foodstuffs to murderous life and send kitchen sinks hurtling with unbelievable fury has the power to conquer the world. But when that "thing" is locked in a room with a man, that man has in his hands the only possible chance of saving the world from unimaginable madness.

If the fruit and meats and vegetables that we have long been cultivating and devouring come to life and begin a massive attempt to take over our world is it not obvious what they intend to use for sustenance?

We stand at the brink of disaster for all mankind. The adrovdga and I now face(?) each other in the darkness. Neither can get help from his kind outside. We must fight alone. To the finish. Either I eat it or it eats me.

Whatever the result, this manuscript should explain the situation to whomever or whatever may find it.

But now I must devote my entire attention to the task at hand for adrovdgas can see in the dark. And while I have been fumbling with this accursed typewriter, the adrovdga has stolen my butcher knife!