The five of them sat around the huge dining room table in the darkness. Keely had turned off the lights and lit candles to create a mood. “The mood of murder!” she’d said, giggling. She kept laughing about everything. Except none of this felt funny to anyone else.
Parker looked around the table at the faces of Cooking Club. Brooke looked humorless, as always. In the kitchen, she’d been annoyingly serious about carrying out the recipe precicely. That’s how Brooke did everything—with precision. And Sophat just followed whatever Brooke did. And who knew what was going on in Karl’s head.
That annoying precision was what gave Brooke an edge over Parker. Parker was just as smart and capable, but he lacked that total, robotic control over himself. He’d been reckless, first typing out that damn title on the recipe he’d created—“How to Kill K,” ugh, how could he be so stupid—and then accidentally including it in the recipe folder for everyone to see. It was a dumb, reckless error. The kind you can’t afford to make when you’re trying to kill someone.
Calm down, he ordered himself. No one’s going to die tonight. The third-to-last step in the deadly lobster-spheres recipe called for injecting coconut cream from a siphon directly into the center of each crustaceous ball. Parker’s original plan had been to doctor one of the siphons—K’s—with a poisonous compound he’d create by combining two of the other ingredients: prickly pair cactus and wine. But that plan had gone to shit after everyone saw the words “How to Kill K” at the top of the recipe, so he’d had to spend the rest of the night doing whatever he could not to poison anyone.
He’d turned the heat up way too hot on the stove to cook off as much of the alcohol as he could. Then he’d done his best to get as much of the remaining alcohol mixture out of the siphons before their contents were injected into the food—though this last task was aborted when Brooke spotted him pouring liquid from the siphons into the sink and yanked them from his hands. (“Jesus,” she’d said, “do I have to do everything?”) But he was pretty sure he’d gotten rid of enough of the alcohol to render their dinner safe for consumption. They might all hallucinate, but it was unlikely that anyone would die. He was 99 percent sure of it.
The thing that really bugged him, though, was Brooke thinking she was a better cook than him. He’d had to spend the last hour feigning utter ineptitude in order to sabotage his own recipe. He knew he’d looked like an idiot, and he knew Brooke had probably loved every minute of it.
But it was worth it, Parker reminded himself. They’d eat their lobster, no would die, and they’d all go home. Then he would lay low for a few months, after which time he could devise an entirely new plan to kill K. A foolproof plan, this time. A plan so airtight not even he could screw it up.
“Everyone raise your forks,” Keely ordered. “We should all take a bite at the same time.”
Keely, Sophat, Brooke, Karl and Parker all raised their forks.
“To ze Cooking Club,” Karl toasted.
“To murder,” said Sophat. Only Keely laughed.
They brought the forks to their mouths. In unison, they each took a bite, chewed and swallowed.
“Mmmm, good!” Keely said. “So…what now?”
“Zer is fish in my bowl.” Karl announced, staring at his plate.
“Lobster isn’t a fish, it’s a crustacean,” Brooke said.
Parker glared at her. Fucking know-it-all.
“No, a fish…” Karl insisted. Then he pointed to the ceiling. “Fish. Glowing, lovely fish. Iz all around us.”
Keely snickered. “Okaaay, Karl. Whatever you say.”
“I think everything tastes perfect,” Brooke said.
Then there was the unmistakable thud of a human body dropping to the floor.
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Look at the second paragraph of this article by Rachael. The first letter of the first six lines spell a word. What word is that?