by Gautham Jayaraj
A ransom note trembled in Mark Schlissel’s hands, hardened through years of pastry consumption and tuition raises. These were a president’s hands, but they bore a peasant Knish’s words.
Schlissel felt betrayed. He needed to find the closest Knish producer to find the suspect, to pay $18+ for a stupid Reuben. He needed to go to Zingerman’s.
Arriving at Zingerman’s, Schlissel wooshed through the entrance like musty air and allowed the public to absorb his presence. Some frat kid shouted, “Knish! Knish!” while filming a TikTok. Everyone cheered big Schliss on as if expecting him to purchase a Knish right before them, but instead of approaching the cashier, Schlissel walked right into the kitchen. He didn’t know what the culprit Knish looked like, but his sniffer could recognize sentience wherever he went. He yelled a war cry as he ignored the chefs and rummaged through storage spaces for trays of his once-beloved snack.
The employees ran out in terror, and Schlissel approached an oven with a legion of Knishes inside. Unafraid of its scorching heat, he knew only the ice of vengeance could cool the burning flame within him. When he pulled a tray out, one Knish fell off. It throbbed in his vision and it said in a slithery voice, “Hi, Schlissy.”
Schlissel backed into the sink and muttered, “It was you who wrote the letter..”
“Indeed. Anyway, do you have water for me?”
“Of course not. Why the hell do you need it?”
The Knish’s layers furrowed like eyebrows lowering in anger. It hissed, “I want to be moist. Moist!”
“What?” Schlissel asked, puzzled.
“Look at my brethren. They're all stuffed with meat or potatoes. I wish to be a dessert, not a desert.”
“How dare you try to make me pity you,” Schlissel muttered and escalated, “You are a bad omen. You and your kind ruined my quest for late-in-life love.”
“Oh shut up, you’re just upset you have no game.”
Schlissel slid to the ground, knowing that it was true. A tear dropped from his eye, and the Knish spun like a Beyblade and hopped onto the boomer’s face. It sucked the lonely tear and sighed in rejuvenation.
The Knish screamed. “It’s not enough. Give me more! Cry more!”
Schlissel summoned a sliver of confidence and prepared for battle. He leaped without fear of breaking his knees and the snack spun once more and evaded the attack. The Knish hopped onto Schlissel’s nose when he landed, kicking the man’s head back. Schlissel swiped the butter off with a slow and menacing lick of the tongue. He reached for the Knish, catching it off guard.
“No, Schlissy! Not my potato!” The slithery Knish sputtered with oil. Schlissel brought the snack to his mouth and said, “Yes, the potato.”
Mark Schlissel ate half of the diabolical Knish. The revenge brought joy.
This joy lasted only a few seconds as Schlissel’s throat started to burn, and he grabbed it. As his throat increasingly scorched and convulsed, he speed-dialed 911 and noticed the Zingerman employees watching through the windows like kids at the zoo.
As the ex-president lost consciousness, he could hear his mother’s voice ringing in his ears. “Listen, little Schlissy. Don’t eat the Knish before letting it cool. It’ll do more than burn your mouth.” He set the remainder of the Knish aside and shakily dialed 911.
The last breaths of the prematurely eaten Knish were heavy and labored, but they mellowed out as the light in the sky grew. The glazing bulb of pastry heaven opened. Pastries partly eaten before they had time to rest on a pan lay in this haven where all ill-treated snacks are respected.
The pockets of the exquisitely toasted, diabolical Knish exited our material plane, but not without threatening one last, pathetic life.