A man is offered the opportunity to partake in an exclusive, subscription-based eating club for those who wish to dine on human flesh. But he may have bitten off a little more than he can chew.
Apologies for waiting on your doorstep, but you weren’t in when I first called, and I wanted to catch you when you got home. If I could have but a moment of your time to—pardon, come again? Oh no! No, good God, I’m not a Mormon, nor a car salesman. Nothing like that. This is about a purchase you tried to make on the twenty-eighth of June, this year, from Neil’s Delicatessen on Cumberly Row—
Ah, that’s got your attention. Now sir, don’t panic, don’t get so pale. I’m not with the police. Take a breath and put on a smile, there’s a gentleman. You’ve forgotten to unlock your door, by the way. Better turn that key and we can take this conversation inside, don’t you think?
What a lovely house you have, sir. Flawless Georgian fireplace, and enough paintings for a museum. Beautiful, tasteful. I’m particularly fond of this living room wallpaper. Adore these hand-painted cranes, a stunning colour. Is this a Graham & Brown design, by any chance? Ah, Milton & King. Of course. Must admit, I do approve of that choice. And these sofas—earn a fair bit, do you, sir?
Quite right, none of my business indeed. I hold my hands up to being a nosy fella. But no need for insults, sir. I’m not here to blackmail you, if that’s what you fear. I suppose I’d best address the matter at hand, before you up and have a heart attack.
Now then. On the twenty-eighth of June, you made enquiries of the good Neil Gazers, Esq., owner of Neil’s Delicatessen on Cumberly Row, about the prospect of acquiring exotic meat. Is that, or is that not, accurate and correct?
Struck dumb, eh? Never mind, sir, never mind; your face tells it all. And we heard it from Neil himself—he’s one of us—that you’d been round. Which is why I’m here.
I suppose you must have heard the rumors, the little whispers in those elite clubs you’re so fond of, about Neil’s Delicatessen. For a man like yourself, wealthy and widely travelled, purveyor of exquisite dining and unusual culinary experiences, it’s only natural to feel that guilty curiosity, that questing after the ultimate experience . . . human flesh. Especially in this day and age, when other kinds of meat are so increasingly rare.
Trust me, sir, I know all about it. You’re a man after my own heart. In fact, you might say there are a few other men who share your interests, your craving for the exotic. Enough of us that we have formed a little subscription-based club. One which I am here, today, to formally invite you to.
If you’ll permit me sir, I’d like to offer you this information leaflet, it’s quick enough to read.
THE COLD SHOULDER CLUB
“Did you hear about the cannibal who was late for dinner? He got the cold shoulder!”
WHO WE ARE
- An anonymous group of individuals, singularly united by our quest to push the boundaries of culinary arts, even in these lean and difficult times.
- Membership by invitation only. Invitations given out based on group consensus.
- All club activities require utmost secrecy and discretion.
HOW THIS WORKS
- All members must contribute an initial joining fee of £3,000, and a further subscription of £500, payable each month.
- Every month, you will be sent a deluxe recipe box straight to your door, containing recipe suggestions, choice cuts of exotic meat, and carefully curated ingredients. Home-cooked delights in the privacy of your own kitchen means discretion is guaranteed.
- If you are still a member in six months’ time, you’ll be invited to a highly discreet dinner party, location TBC one day prior.
- Attendance is encouraged but not mandatory. This will be a truly gourmet experience!
- Menu selection will be sent out via text, also one day prior.
- £5,000 for the dinner party will be payable on the door, cash only
- Bon appétit, monsieur!
The CSC cannot be held responsible for any legal difficulties that its members incur as a result of careless activities. We ask that you exercise discretion and intelligence, and any member seen to be behaving in a risky or problematic manner will be expelled.
A joke, sir? I should think not, this is serious business. You did not seem to find it so funny a topic when standing in Neil’s Delicatessen, hat crushed in your hand and sweating out every word. Why should it be funny now?
Perhaps you think the worldwide food shortage a joke, too. I assure you it is not, having once had agricultural shares myself. The Livestock Pandemic grows worse every day, and that’s not even counting the aggressive grain-hoarding going on by certain organisations.
You may not be aware, since such things are beneath men like us, but a majority of the population has been unable to afford meat for almost four years. Yes, sir, that’s right, it has been that long. Four whole years! Bread and vegetables are quickly going the same way, and unless some of those embargos lift in short order, it’ll be nothing but nutrition gruel for the masses. I dare speculate that in a year or two, even we shall be raising our eyebrows at the cost of beef.
Of course, the funny thing—and this is a joke, of sorts—is that human life remains as cheap and accessible as ever. Your average human has as little worth as a cow, while being in better nick than those poor, diseased animals. Ironic, since they are little better than cattle themselves, most of them; stupid, greedy, always reaching for handouts. And at least cattle have a purpose, to feed their keepers, whereas such folk give nothing back to society.
I see by the glint in your eye that you agree. I suppose you must, or you’d never have sought out Neil’s Delicatessen in the first place. Life goes on, eh? Those who can afford dining experiences must continue to have them. Those who cannot are a part of the problem. Social waste, you might say.
Tell you what, sir. I’ll leave you with this complimentary Welcome Box, which includes recipes and a sample of our finest kidneys. Flavour like you’ve never had—you’ll be licking the pan!
Say again? Oh, no worries. You don’t have to stress about any of that, sir. We might dine on the poor, but we don’t dine poorly, if you take my meaning. Only non-smoking, non-drinking, vegetarian specimens, for utmost flavour and toxin-free flesh.
Anyhow, the time is getting along, and I’m sure we’re both busy men. How about I leave this Welcome Box right here on your couch, along with the leaflet, and you can have a think about whether the Cold Shoulder Club is right for you. No need to make any commitment! At this stage, it’s all free of cost.
I’ll give you my number and you can let me know if you want anything set up. No, no, don’t rise. I shall see myself out.
Bon appétit, monsieur!
Welcome Box: Sample Recipe
Baker Beans on Toast
This delightful dish blends two classics—baked beans on toast, and cooked kidney on toast—to bring you kidney (beans) on toast. Combine staple cupboard goods, quality human flesh, and rationing ingredients you can legally obtain yourself to create this authentic, filling, and delicious meal!
Bakers are a tasty, nutrient-rich member of the commoner class, who often enjoy good diets and are typically found in hygienic environments, making them a quality meal.
- 6 baker kidneys, about 375g/13oz, skinned
- 50g/2oz of hutter (human butter)
- 2 tbsp sifted roach flour
- Salt and pepper, to season
- 1 lab-grown onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp synthesised tomato powder
- 1 tbsp Apocalypse Mustard™
- 300 ml sterilised water
- Slices of bee bread
- More hutter, for spreading
- A handful of wild parsley, thyme, and rosemary (optional, dependent on local growing restrictions)
See overleaf for cooking method.
Welcome, sir! Terrifically pleased to see you, I must say. The location can be quite difficult to access, but I promise it will be well worth your trip. We do have such a wonderful treat for you tonight.
Speaking of, have you enjoyed your exotic food boxes, these past six months? We are always open to feedback, improving the service as we go.
Heh, that’s what we like to hear, sir! No complaints indeed. I think other customers would agree with you, if I might say so without sounding braggartly. We’re nearing fifty subscribers, between you and me. Which is not a bad number at all for a niche little start-up.
What’s that? Ah, now sir, I can’t tell you where we source our meat from. Top secret information, that is. Rest assured that our quality never suffers, and there’s no shortage of supply.
Do step this way, sir, and watch your noggin. The ceiling beams are a little low, I’m afraid. Just down this hallway. Shall I take your coat? Ah—here we are. You’ll be dining as our only client tonight; we consider it too risky for subscription members to meet in the flesh. Hope that does not disappoint too much, sir.
If it’s any consolation, you will not be alone. Unless you desire to dine in private, which is of course your privilege. But in case you care for company, I thought I would introduce you these lovely folks here, who help run the Cold Shoulder Club. This man to your right, giving you the shy wave, is Neil himself, owner of the fantabulous Neil’s Delicatessen. He sources ingredients for the boxes, does the packing and postage, and keeps the show running. In fact, these exotic subscription boxes were Neil’s idea entirely!
Ah, he’s bashful now, don’t mind his blushes. Neil took his inspiration from the glorious past, you see. Back in the day, when food was a trifle more plentiful, regular folk could get all sorts of subscription services to their door. Exotic veg, fruit, regular meat, coffee, beer, on and on. I suppose we shan’t soon see days like that again.
But on with the introductions. This gentleman to your left is Todd. Not his Christian name, just a bit of an in-joke, there; he’s our butcher, you see. Oh, is sir unfamiliar with Sweeney Todd, the fictional character? Well, never mind, it’s a rather old-school story. I daresay they don’t teach it much in schools anymore. Might give folks ideas.
Penny, at the far end of the table, is our resident chef and recipe genius. Brilliant woman, endlessly creative, got a good mind for puns. We do love a recipe pun in this club. She’s careful with pennies, too, like her namesake, and looks after our accounts.
And then there’s me, but naturally you already know me, here to bring in fresh customers and be a face for the friendly folk in this room. Do take a seat, we’ll be serving soon. The finest haggis, neeps, and tatties you’ll ever have eaten, if I can make so bold a claim. And while you’re waiting, might I recommend a glass of Spätburgunder with your meal? Genuine stuff, bottled thirty years ago before the grapes all died. Or possibly a dram of Lagavulin whisky? Even older and rarer, that one!
Quite agree sir, it simply has to be the wine. I shall go an open a bottle at once.
Bon appétit, monsieur!
This quintessential Scottish classic has been missing from menus for almost twenty years, following the large-scale sheep culls in the early days of the Livestock Pandemic. For a while, various eateries served a lacklustre vegetarian alternative, until skyrocketing prices of grain, including oats, put paid to the recipe entirely.
Fortunately, here in the Cold Shoulder Club, we have been developing and adapting a version of this underrated dish to showcase the unique and complex flavours of human flesh. Try hu-mutton, and you’ll never go back to regular mutton ever again! (Not that you have a choice, since the lambs are all silent.)
The trick with human meat, as always, is to select a specimen free from toxic lifestyle choices. This is particularly relevant given that haggis involves eating offal. Almost every human these days is vegetarian through necessity, but unfortunately, smoking and drinking rates have quintupled in recent decades.
If you cannot find a single human individual who is teetotal, non-smoking, and gets regular cardio exercise, you may have to source your ingredients from multiple specimens.
- 1 human stomach (young)
- 1 human liver (teetotal)
- 1 human heart (runner)
- ½ lb human kidneys
- ¼ lb hutter
- 3 lab-grown onions, peeled
- 1 tsp synthesised coriander powder
- ½ tsp synthesised mace
- 1 tbsp Apocalypse Mustard™
- 1 lb cloned oatmeal
- Salt & pepper
- Assorted herb collection (provided)
See overleaf for cooking method.
Going somewhere, were you? No need for haste, sir, do sit down. Yes, I know your meal is finished, but our business with you is not yet complete. I’m afraid I have been a little conservative with the truth. My deepest apologies. This club is not quite what you think it is.
Earlier this evening, you asked me where we source the meat for our subscription boxes. The answer is quite simple, sir: we source them from our clients. Neil finds new clients through his delicatessen and word-of-mouth rumors, we get them hooked on our delicious subscription service, and after six months we invite them a private meal where we humanely end their life, and send them out in little packages to other subscribers.
Such a quaint look of confusion! Such an endearing stutter! Sir has a flare for the dramatic, I do think.
Let me spell it out unequivocally. You are here to be butchered, you scum, parasite, money pig, bank grubber, greedy bastard landlord, and useless pen pusher. For the first time in your worthless life, you’ll serve a higher purpose.
Is that clear enough? Shall I go on? I think I shall. Having feasted for six months upon other rich bastards, it’s your turn to fill the pot. So we will cut your throat and hang you by the ankles till the blood runs out, then parcel up your body into chunks and send you out to other monsters on our little list.
Your fellow subscribers will then receive you in their monthly box, with recipes to fillet your flesh into juicy steaks and crisp your skin until it’s golden and crunchy. They’ll stew you in your own juices and wring your intestines into sausages; they’ll turn your fat into a delicious spread for toast as they boil your bones for a luscious stock. Not a pound of you shall go to waste. Even the eyes shall have a use—delicious when pickled, I’m told, and medicinal to boot.
Eventually, they too shall come to us, and share your death.
This is what we do, sir, and the entire reason the club was formed. We catch reprehensible pigs like yourself and take you one by one by one to slaughter. We cook and feed the rich to the rich.
Oh, spare me your screeching moralisations! Yes, it’s a scam, but so what? The money we charge is nothing to your kind, mere pocket change, but it’s everything to us. It will pay for vegetables and honest foods to feed my children. My children, sir, who will grow up in a world that you ruined, unable to eat properly ever again because bastards like yourself have hoarded all the meat and embargoed all the grain and raised all the prices. All while squatting on your piles of money like dragons.
We may be peasants in comparison, but enough peasants can slay a dragon.
Really, sir, do stop running about and screaming. High cortisol levels will tinge the taste of your flesh. That door is locked; you won’t get through it. Those windows are reinforced, so don’t damage your hands trying to beat against them, there’s a fellow. One of my subscribers is fond of barbequed fingers, but only if they’re not bashed and bruised.
Besides, any minute now and the sedatives in that wine should kick in. These are your last moments, sir, and I suggest you spend them with dignity. It’s a better death than we ever gave cows, and it’s certainly no worse than whatever death you’d have given to your hypothetical victim.
For God’s sakes, stop the sniveling. No, you cannot have any bloody mercy! Wouldn’t you have killed and eaten one of us? Haven’t you eaten your fellow gentlemen, six boxes’ worth? Wasn’t this in your original purpose in going to Neil’s Delicatessen, in paying the joining fee, in coming here tonight? Can you tell me you’re a good person, sir, or that this is any worse than the fate you’d have given to another human being?
Where was your mercy, then?
Yes, that’s more like it. Kneel gently, as if in church, and let the wall support your weight. Rest your eyes, lean your head upon your chest. It’s nearly over, and you won’t feel a thing. That much I can promise. We are not total monsters, after all.
Bon appétit, monsieur.
Recipe 3: A Rich (Bastard) Stew
Method: First, catch yourself a rich bastard. Invite him to an elitist club where he is told that his “need” for meat will now be filled by consuming impoverished citizens, and once you have his trust and have taken several months’ worth of his money, butcher his corpse to feed the other bastards.
Let them eat themselves to death.
- 50g/2oz of hutter
- 4 oz human bacon strips
- 1 human leg, skinned and boned, cut into 1½” pieces
- 4 cups human bone broth (made from the leg you’ve deboned)
- 1/2 Tbsp sea salt for the meat, plus 1 tsp for stew
- 1 tsp black pepper for the meat, plus ½ tsp for stew
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour*
- 1 large lab-grown onion, diced
- 4 Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ lbs Pseudo Potatoes, halved or quartered into small pieces
- 4 Reconstituted Carrots, peeled and cut into thick pieces
- 1 lb farmed mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 1½ cups of Penfolds Grange wine (provided)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
See overleaf for cooking method.
Copyright © 2023 by Sunyi Dean
Art copyright © 2023 by David Habben