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Horse Flesh and Pain

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“Down that trail is the lake, Jake has himself a hammock somewhere in that general direction- he won’t show anyone where- and that path leads to the ice cream stand.” Ace said as he showed Cheryl around the campfire. As friendly and easygoing as he was, Ace had been made the de facto welcome committee for new survivors, since he was best at putting new people at ease and answering their questions.

“I’m sorry, an ice cream stand?” asked Cheryl.

“Oh yeah, nobody ever goes down there though. We’ve picked it clean of anything useful.”

“But why? Why would there be an ice cream stand out here?”

“Our best guess is it’s The Entity’s sick version of a joke, or else it’s from some trial grounds that it’s stopped using for some reason.”

“Well now I’m curious about this thing.”

“Just follow me then!” said Ace cheerily.

As the pair began down the trail to the ice cream stand a curious Nea and Meg joined them.

“Ol’ Ace is showing you the ice cream stand, huh?” asked Meg.

“Yup. I just… why? It seems so incongruous.” replied Cheryl.

“I think it’s a trap or a joke or something.” said Nea. “When I was new here, I found it without any of the others warning me and I was so happy to see actual ice cream that I dug in without really thinking about what a terrible idea it was. Although I would’ve eaten a kilo of spinach if I’d found it. Just not another damn cake.”

Ace stopped and looked at Nea in horror. “You actually ate Entity Brand Ice Cream?”

“Look, I was young and stupid, okay? I regretted it. Immediately.”

“Hey, we don’t age in here, thank the Entity.” said Meg. “It would suck if I missed out on my 20’s just because some freaky spider demon kidnapped me.”

“Fine, I was emotionally young. You know I’ve had some personal growth in here.”

“Ain’t that the truth!” declared Meg before elbowing Cheryl and whispering “remind me later and I’ll tell you about the time Nea peed on a gen.”

Cheryl choked back a burst of laughter while Nea shot Meg a dirty look. Then, she saw a flash of faded yellow in the distance. “Is that it?” 

“Sure is!” said Ace. “Now remember: don’t touch anything. And absolutely do not eat anything.”

Cheryl looked closer at the small building as they neared it. The building was small, maybe the size of an RV, and had a faded yellow and blue striped canvas roof. Most of one wall was a countertop. At one end was a cash register, opened and empty. At the other end, under a dirty glass casing, were two tubs of ice cream embedded into the counter. One she saw was labeled “Hot Fudge”, but was a sickly pink streaked with red and white. The other was labelled “Pecan” and was a pristine white.

“It looks weird, but Hot Fudge and Pecan don’t sound that bad.” commented Cheryl cautiously.

“Yeah, except it’s not Hot Fudge and Pecan.” replied Nea. “I took a bite of Hot Fudge and it tasted like raw meat. Absolutely disgusting. There’s a reason we cook our meat and it’s that shit right there.”

“And Pecan?”

“Dwight was the one who found this.” said Meg softly. “He made the same mistake Nea did, except he took Pecan. Don’t ask him about it, it’ll freak him out and he never talks about it, but I was there with Claudette and Jake when he came running back to the campfire. It was awful. The inside of his mouth was filled with cuts and stabs. His cheeks got punctured clean through in a few places. I’ve been through a lot, but I think seeing Dwight sprinting towards us with blood gushing from his mouth and panic in his eyes is one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen.”

Cheryl shuddered as she imagined the gruesome scene. “So no ice cream then?”

“No ice cream. Only cake.” Ace confirmed dejectedly.

“Never gonna go within 30 meters of a bakery when we get out of here…” muttered Nea as the group walked back towards the campfire.