The Cabinet of Curiosities
Jar of eyes

The Cake Made Out of Teeth

Henry Higginbotham was generally considered to be the worst child in the world, but even then, it’s hard to say if he deserved what happened to him.

Do note the use of the word “generally” rather than “universally,” for Henry’s parents, as is often the case with horrible children, believed their son to be remarkable, precocious, and even darling.

For example, when Henry would not eat his supper of chicken and green beans, instead choosing to sit at the table hurling insults at his parents for a solid quarter of an hour, and then proceeding to throw the green beans at their heads like darts, Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham praised his stubborn spirit and fixed him a heaping platter of cookies instead.

When Henry was called to the principal’s office for bullying the third-graders—pinning them to the blacktop during recess and pummeling them until he was satisfied; calling them nasty names that would have made even hardened criminals cover their ears—Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham gave the school board a heap of money in exchange for “putting this punishment business behind us.” They then congratulated Henry all the way home, for inspiring the younger students with his physical prowess.

And when Henry threw an absolute raging fit the day of his 11th birthday, declaring the birthday cake his mother had worked so hard to make “an ugly heap of eyeball pus,” Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham sent home the partygoers at once (who were only too glad to leave, having been bullied by Henry into attending) and took Henry into town for a new cake.

Of course—and this should not be surprising—not just any bakery would do. Not the bakery in the supermarket, and not the fancy bakery with all the cupcakes in the windows—but the little bakery far on the outskirts of town, in a neighborhood the Higginbothams did not normally frequent . . . ah. Henry pressed his face against the car window and smiled at the sight of the tiny rundown building with the faded lettering: MR. HONEY’S HAPPY DELITES.

Henry began thinking of all the ways he could make fun of the unimpressive shop’s proprietor, and his shriveled black heart leapt with glee.

“What a dump,” said Henry. “We’ll go here.”

“But Henry,” protested Mrs. Higginbotham, “don’t you think it looks a bit shabby?”

Henry whirled on his mother, smiling when she shrank back from him. “What, do you think I’m blind, you idiot? I said we’ll go here and we’ll go here. I know what I want.”

“Of course you do, son,” said Mr. Higginbotham, glaring pointedly at his wife. “You know what’s best.”

Henry marched up to MR. HONEY’S HAPPY DELITES and let himself in, his parents hurrying to catch up. Inside the bakery, Henry stopped short, for the inside of the bakery and the outside of the bakery were, in a word, incongruous. Bright white tile covered the floor, warm lights blinked overhead, and displays of cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and pies sat behind pristine glass windows. Bright posters of laughing children at birthday parties and picnics and bowling alleys covered the walls. Some sort of cheery old-fashioned music came from a radio in the corner.

Henry scoffed, to cover his surprise. “Wow. This place is so . . . cheesy. What is this, 1950?”

At that moment, a man came out from the kitchen through a set of swinging doors, and said, “Hello there. I’m Mr. Honey. How can I help you today?”

Now, Mr. Honey was a man so exceptionally handsome that even Henry felt a bit discombobulated. He had fair skin and fair hair and fair eyes, and a wonderful smile that made Mrs. Higginbotham say to herself, “Well, my heavens,” and blush a bright pink.

Henry saw the blush, and felt furious. His mother was not supposed to think anyone handsome but Henry himself. So he marched up to Mr. Honey and slammed his fist against the cake displays with every screamed word:

“Give us a cake. Now.”

Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham rushed forward to gush about how delightfully outspokentheir son was—and, perhaps, to more closely inspect Mr. Honey’s handsome smile—but Mr. Honey ignored them. He had eyes only for Henry. You could say, in fact, that they were staring each other down, Henry with a fearsome scowl on his face (his most typical expression) and Mr. Honey with a broad smile.

“It’s for his birthday,” Mrs. Higginbotham explained. “The cake we gave him wasn’t good enough.”

“The cake you gave him,” Mr. Higginbotham added sourly, eager to get back into Henry’s good graces. “I told you we should have gone with a store-bought cake. Didn’t I, Henry?”

“Oh, shut up, both of you.” Henry was in top form. “Do you see what I have to put up with?”

Mr. Honey nodded, his smile a bit smaller now, and his eyes a bit less kind. “Oh, yes. I see quite a lot. If you’ll excuse me for one moment, I think I have just the thing.”

When Mr. Honey returned from the kitchen, he held in his arms an astonishing cake. Not only was it enormous, but it looked just like Henry. Yes, a boy-shaped cake, from head to toe—from Henry’s brown hair to his red hi-top sneakers. His exact sneakers! In fact, the only thing about the cake Henry that was different from the real Henry was that cake Henry was . . . smiling.

Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham found it unsettling to look at, and stepped away.

Henry, however, was enamored. A cake, an entire cake, that looked just like him! It was, he decided, the perfect tribute. He wouldn’t have to sit and look at stupid balloons or animals or other meaningless icing decorations while he ate. No, he would be able to look at himself, and was there anything in the world he liked to look at more than his own reflection? (There wasn’t.)

“We’ll take it,” he said, looking up at Mr. Honey.

Mr. Honey smiled, but it did not reach his eyes. “Yes. I thought you might.”

*

At first, everything seemed marvelous. As soon as the Higginbothams arrived back at home, Henry commanded his parents to set up a fresh table setting. They were, he told them, to sit there and watch while he ate a piece of cake, surrounded by his piles of presents.

“Maybe,” Henry said, “if you’re good, if I feel like it, I’ll let you have some cake too.”

Mr. Higginbotham smiled gratefully. “Oh, isn’t that generous of you, Henry?”

“So generous,” Mrs. Higginbotham agreed, though she wasn’t sure she actually wanted any of that cake. It was, she thought, too disturbingly lifelike to be trusted.

She wasn’t wrong.

“Where shall I start?” Henry lovingly inspected his cake, admiring the shape of his own arms and legs. “I suppose I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up. Father, cut off the left foot. And hurry. I’m hungry.”

Mr. Higginbotham sliced off cake Henry’s left foot and slid it onto real Henry’s plate, and the latter began to eat, and . . . oh. Oh. It was, without doubt, the best cake Henry had ever eaten. The icing melted on his tongue; the cake was moist and rich. But as Henry put the last bite of foot into his mouth, he noticed something strange; he paused mid-bite. His eyes went wide, and his face went green. He swallowed, and began to scream.

“Something’s eating me! Help me! Help, make it stop!”

For a moment, Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham watched in stunned silence as their son fell to the floor, writhing and sobbing and clutchingteeth his left foot. What they did not yet know was that, though, technically, nothing was eating their son, he certainly felt like it was. All over his left foot, he felt the nibbling of teeth; they tore at his flesh, chomping, swallowing, grinding his foot bones into little bone granules. And Henry knew, instinctively, that the teeth he felt were his own.

“Make it stop!” Henry clawed at his own flesh, drawing bloody red marks across his skin, which, as you can imagine, did nothing to help the pain. “MAKE IT STOP MAKE THEM STOP MOMMY DADDY MAKE IT STOP!”

Now, Henry Higginbotham had not called his parents anything but their first names, scornfully, since the moment he was able to speak. So hearing him scream Mommy and Daddy like that shocked Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham into action. They did everything they could to help Henry; they bandaged his foot, they forced medicine down his throat between his screams, they took him to the hospital to have him examined. But the bandages, of course, did nothing; and Henry just threw the medicine right back up, in this sour, evil-smelling puddle; and the doctors could find nothing wrong with him.

“He’s having a tantrum,” they said. “Just let him cry it out.” (The doctors were not, as most people in Berryton were not, the biggest fans of Henry Higginbotham.)

Helplessly, Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham returned home, and watched Henry scream and sob and bang his fists against his foot until he passed out, in a drooling puddle on the floor. His left foot was a quite abused shade of red. Mr. Higginbotham picked Henry up and put him to bed; Mrs. Higginbotham cleaned up in the kitchen. Together, as Henry slept upstairs, they sat at the kitchen table in silence, and stared at the one-footed cake.

*

The next day, Henry limped downstairs in a terrible temper.

“I’m hungry,” he announced, with his usual haughtiness (but he did eye the cake, wrapped up innocently on the countertop, with no small amount of suspicion).

Mrs. Higginbotham offered him a plate of eggs, and though Henry complained about their consistency, he gobbled them up. Perhaps he was eager to get the sugary aftertaste out of his mouth? But no sooner had he swallowed the last bite did it all come back up, in a most unsettling and foul-smelling puddle of steaming black goop.

The Higginbothams looked at the black goop in dismay. Henry blinked. “But I’m hungry,” he said, and Mrs. Higginbotham quickly toasted some bread, while Henry banged on the kitchen table with his knife and fork. But the toast was no good either; and neither was the waffle, the bowl of strawberries, the bowl of cereal. Every bit of food came back up stinking like rotten eggs, and each time, Henry became hungrier, and, worst of all, he began to crave a piece of cake. Yes, his foot still stung with the memory of all those invisible teeth eating him, and yes, he had had nightmares too unspeakable to write about, but he was hungry. And he knew only the cake would satisfy him.

So, Henry made a dive for it, dragging it off the countertop and into his lap. Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham tried to stop him, but he flung them away with a hiss, and a terrible look in his eyes, and began scooping the right foot of cake Henry into his mouth.

Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham watched, horrified, as Henry finished eating his right foot and once again began to flail and thrash across the ground, shouting terrible things: “IT’S EATING MY FOOT, I’M EATING MY FOOT, I CAN FEEL THE TEETH, IT HURTS, IT HURTS!” He begged them to make it stop, but, of course, they could do nothing.

Nothing, but take him back to the place where the cake was made.

*

Mr. Honey was waiting for them, standing politely behind the counter of his shop in a fresh white apron.

“Now see here,” Mr. Higginbotham said, slamming the cake down on the countertop. “You’d better explain yourself, sir.”

“This cake is hurting our son,” Mrs. Higginbotham said tearfully. “I don’t understand it, but it is.”

Henry, chomping and slobbering to himself at his father’s side, made a wild-eyed leap for the cake, even though he was still crying.

“MORE CAKE,” he said, clambering up onto the countertop. “No no no no. YES. MORE CAKE. Make it stop, oh it hurts me!”

It was as though Henry was having a conversation with himself. Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham backed away from him, huddling in the corner by the refrigerated ice cream cakes.

Mr. Honey stood and watched. “It’s eating you alive,” he said, “isn’t it?”

Red-eyed, red-footed Henry looked up at Mr. Honey. “Yes. YES.”

“Good.” Mr. Honey’s eyes flashed. “Horrible children deserve horrible cakes.”

Then Mr. Honey smiled and turned to Henry’s parents, and despite the fact that her son was rolling around on the floor screaming like a demon, Mrs. Higginbotham patted her hair smooth and Mr. Higginbotham puffed up his chest impressively.

“You should take him home,” Mr. Honey said. “There isn’t anything to do now but finish it.”

“Now see here,” Mr. Higginbotham said once more, “I’ll call the police on you, I will. You can’t just—you can’t just poison someone and get away with it.”

Mr. Honey smiled; it was not a nice smile; it could, in fact, be described as bestial. “The only poison in Henry is his own.”

The Higginbothams left quickly after that, Mrs. Higginbotham wondering what she had ever seen in the handsome baker man, and Mr. Higginbotham sustaining a good number of bite marks from the wailing Henry.

Cake Henry stared at everyone, smiling, from the back seat.

*

To this day, the Higginbothams’ neighbors trade gossip about what happened to the Higginbotham family that terrible week in August, when all they could hear from the Higginbotham house was Henry’s unearthly screams.

“Maybe they’re finally teaching him a lesson,” said Mr. Bradhurst, on Monday. “Brat’s needed a good beating for years.”

“Maybe he’s decided he’s not getting enough attention,” suggested Mrs. White, on Tuesday, “so he’s moved on to constant screaming. You can’t ignore screaming.”

“Should someone call the police?” asked Mr. Rockwell, on Wednesday.

No one called the police.

Quite a few of them, they shamefully (but not too shamefully) confessed some time afterward, had hoped something awful was happening to Henry Higginbotham—though none of them could have guessed how awful that something was.

*

At the end of that week, when all that was left of cake Henry was its smiling, red-cheeked head, the Higginbotham family gathered around it on the floor of the kitchen, for Henry could no longer sit up properly.

His entire body was red with teeth marks and brown with bruises where he had punched himself to try to stop the pain. He had spent the week either miserable with hunger and craving cake, or devouring said cake and then feeling it, as it coursed through his body, devouring him. He had, like a wicked game of reverse Hangman, eaten his way through all of cake Henry . . . except for the head.

“This is it,” Mr. Higginbotham said, exhausted. “Just one last helping, Henry, and this will all go away.”

Mrs. Higginbotham was so tired, her head so filled with Henry’s screams, that she felt a bit mad. “Just . . . eat it, Henry. And hurry.”

Henry, on the floor, dragged himself closer to the cake and looked at his parents with bleary, wild eyes. “Help me,” he said, in a voice not entirely his own, and not entirely Mr. Honey’s, but an unnatural blend of the two. It was deep and horrible and eager. “Help me eat it.”

Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham shared an uncertain look.

“HELP ME EAT IT. THIS IS YOUR FAULT. YOU MADE ME. HELP ME EAT IT. IDIOTS. STUPID. STUPID IDIOTS STUPID IDIOTS.”

They did, fumbling for forks—as if forks mattered at such a time!—and when Henry—just Henry’s voice, this time—screamed, “No! Wait! DON’T!” it was too late, for Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham had already taken their first bites.

And Henry collapsed, mouth full of cake, screaming the loudest he had yet screamed. For now it was not only his teeth chomping through his skull and across his face, but also his parents’ teeth, and there was something infinitely worse about that.

When it was finished, however, when the last bites had been swallowed and the cake platter licked ravenously clean by Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham (who had, in the eating of cake Henry’s head, discovered how good this cake was, how irresistibly sweet), Henry lay stone still and cold on the floor, white as a sheet, his eyes open in shock.

And for a few minutes, Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham thought he was dead.

(But of course, he wasn’t dead. What a wasted effort that would have been.)

Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham realized, as they stared at their possibly-dead son, that they weren’t as beat up about it as they ought to have been, and this thought so completely disturbed them, that when Henry blinked awake at last, his parents vowed to make things different from that moment on. How they would make things different, they weren’t sure. (But life, they would soon find out, would be much easier for them now that Henry had apparently lost all will to speak and instead devoted himself to peaceful, solitary tasks like bird-watching and organizing the spice cabinet.)

Mr. Higginbotham, however, did know one thing he would do, now that the frightening week had passed and he could think clearly once more. He picked up the phone and called the police, describing the odd bakery on the outskirts of town, and how he suspected the proprietor, a “Mr. Honey,” had sold his family a poisoned cake.

“See that he’s put out of business, will you?” said Mr. Higginbotham authoritatively. “No man should be able to get away with something like that.”

“Of course, Mr. Higginbotham, we’ll start our investigation right away,” said Sergeant Moseley, who had been taking notes at the police station.

Both men hung up, Mr. Higginbotham feeling quite good about how effectively he could get things done. Sergeant Moseley, who didn’t care for the Higginbothams and their horrid son, begrudgingly started an investigation anyway, because the Higginbothams had recently helped financed the construction of the new city hall.

So, as Mr. and Mrs. Higginbotham carried their pale, speechless son to bed and tucked him in as they had always longed to do (and which he had never permitted them to do), Sergeant Moseley and his deputy drove to the outskirts of town and found the bakery, just as Mr. Higginbotham had described it . . . at least, on the outside.

Inside, however, the counter displays were crawling with moldy cakes, the kitchen was buzzing with flies, and the refrigerators held congealed, rotten pools of melted ice cream.

“There’s no one here!” said the deputy, pushing back his cap. “And it stinks to high heaven.”

“That Higginbotham’s an idiot,” muttered Sergeant Moseley, who had just found something odd on the floor behind the counter.“What is this, some kind of sick joke?

He picked it up and frowned at it—an old stained apron, obviously not worn for years. On the apron’s nametag, swirling blue letters read MR. HONEY. The fabric smelled rotten, like cake gone bad, and no matter how many times Sergeant Moseley washed his hands after that, he could never quite get out the stench.

~*~

13 Responses to “The Cake Made Out of Teeth”

  1. Fantastic creepy story with a classic feel. I love it! Reminds me of Roald Dahl, who I always loved to read as a kid (and adult).

  2. Deniz Bevan says:

    Love this. I love stories told like this. I hope you have a whole collection of them coming up!

  3. So strange yet so classic at the same time. It was a good read 🙂
    I hope that there will be more installments of it!!

    https://www.facebook.com/amabaduofficial
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  4. I think this story is what would happen if Roald Dahl kidnapped Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, spent a month or so doing unspeakable things to her, and then released her back into the wild.

    So, obviously, I *love* it.

  5. oh it DOES have a Dahl feel

  6. Nikki says:

    Oh, Claire. I want to eat your story up. Wonderful and wicked!!!

  7. Thanks, everyone, for reading and commenting! (Mrs. Silverstein, I love the Roald Dahl/Mrs. Piggle Wiggle comparison! That is basically my childhood.)

  8. Cynthia says:

    A voodoo cake…what a concept! Now I can’t help but to think about all those fancy sculpted cakes out there modeled for real people.

    Yes, I know my comment is very late…I just discovered this lovely blog after you’d recently told me about it!

    I look forward to reading more stories here. =)

  9. mindy says:

    This is a great story, even the second time around.

  10. alex says:

    what is the theme of this story and what is 3 topics

  11. nick says:

    i love it like cake

  12. Dylan Cooley says:

    AMAZING

  13. Donny Grote says:

    It was a great passage but i wish that is showed more at the end

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