Mash, the loveable, but obscenely rotund monster, who hosted the most popular prime time show in Monsterville, MonsterChef, took his position at the front of the sold out auditorium. Running through his last minute throat warm ups, he rolled his shoulders and winked at the pretty pink monster in the front row. The lights flickered and they were ready to go.

His mouth was fast, but his wit was faster, he said, ‘Okay, Dale, this is it. The last dish you’re going to make in this competition. Will you dice, or will you rice?’ He flashed a smile at the audience who broke out into rapturous applause. ‘It comes down to you and Big Bob over there.’ He turned to the table beside him and nodded at his competition. Bob growled.

Dale shuddered. He was not your everyday monster, he was rather skinny and found pleasure in silence. If not for the horns on his head and the spikes on his back, he may well have been shunned by those around him, as it was, however, he was now one of the most recognisable faces in all the land. And tonight, on the biggest of all occasions he was going to go against the grain further and place his head on the chopping block.

‘What are you going to cook?’

He took a deep breath and waited. All eyes were on him, including Bob’s. Now is your time Dale, make it count. ‘Okay Mash, don’t skin me for this one.’ A joke, a well received one at that. The laughter filtered through the room and the host with the smile that sent the ladies scampering to be his mate, lit up like a beacon.

‘Ahh … I always knew there was something hissing in there. You’ve been holding out on us.’ His smile widened.

Timidly, Dale took in another deep breath. ‘Tonight I’m going to make a bile stew, accompanied with a toenail salad, dressed around a pile of monster mash.’

‘Sounds delicious. And what sort of human will you be serving with that?’

A gulp. Hold your nerve, hold your nerve. ‘No human.’ A gasp from the studio audience. ‘It will be vegetarian tonight.’

A contained chuckle. ‘I don’t think I heard you correctly,’ he said. ‘Did you say no human?’

‘I did.’ Again another gasp. A young female vampire in the front row fainted.

Outrage, it echoed through the hall with the ferocity of a freight train. The murmurs turned to mumbles, mumbles to chatter, chatter to yells of “eliminate him”.

But as was his way, Mash Starkladle, kept his cool. He took to the front of the room to calm the hoard of angry monsters. ‘My fellow monsters––calm down. I’m sure young Dale can explain his looniest dish so far. Who knows, maybe it will be,’ a choking sound, ‘delicious without a human.’ He turned to the contestant on his right and smiled. ‘Can you run us through your decision?’

He held his breath, unsure if he should not just pick up his salad and run. He turned to Bob, the meanest looking monster he’d ever come across, all black fur with slithering green eyes, and shrugged. His opponent stared at him, no sign of a smile. It had been that way for the whole competition. No one spoke to him, they were just too scared.

He turned back to the audience and began to speak. He said, ‘Why do we eat humans?’ A low chuckle reverberated throughout the room.

‘Because they are de-lic-ious.’ Mash winked and the audience and laughed.

‘No really, why? We put them in pens and treat them inhumanly, all so we can eat half of their flesh and throw the other half away. We cage them like rats then take them to the slaughterhouse to be turned into hamburgers.’

‘Take a note,’ Mash sang out, ‘hamburgers for dinner.’ The ringing of cruelty swam around the room. The cheeky host smirked.

But Dale continued. ‘You think they are stupid, no brains, but they are smart. Not monster smart, but definitely smart enough to understand that they are slowly being murdered.’ He let loose a heaving breath. ‘If we don’t start treating them better, all humans, not just the ones we eat, will be extinct. Then what will you do?’ A murmur sounded around the auditorium. It was the sound of contemplation. But the host with the mouth would not have it. He took to them again, this time with not such a friendly face.

‘Why do we do what we do to humans,’ he said, ‘because if we didn’t they would do it to us. Before we came along, you saw what they did to the poor animals of the world, they drove them to the point of non-existence. If we hadn’t come out of the shadows when we did, then who knows if the world would still be here today. Humans don’t deserve to run this world, not with the way they treat every little thing with disdain.’ A cough.

‘If we didn’t start eating them when we did, then they would have had such numbers, who would know what would have happen. Their weapons, their affinity for violence, it was not just affecting their race, it was killing our planet. Talk about defenceless, the animals that had no homes because of the deforestation, did they have a voice––no! So Dale, you may think they don’t deserve the treatment they are now receiving, but I say, perhaps they do.’

He’d never thought about it like that. Never contemplated that the would would be better without the cruelty of the human race. But were the monsters now any better? Were they just as destructive as the humans? The simple answer was no. The monsters treated the earth with respect, let the animals run free. The skies were clear and the forests and lands were flourishing. The monsters had brought life back to the earth. And all they had to do was put the human race into pens, tiny little pens so they couldn’t fight back. The monsters had caged them in their own stupidity. All they had to do was turn them against each other and make them believe in the lie of the placid monster. They controlled them, and now they ate them. Things were better, the humans had been reduced to the numbers they planned. The monsters of Monsterville ruled the planet while the humans simply waited out their lives in cages. Sure they had the perception of freedom, roaming in their little fields, conversing in packs. But it was all just a prelude to the inevitable: the day they would make their way to the slaughterhouse. The Monsters were the stronger race, so why not embrace it? 

It brought Dale full circle back to the original question. ‘Mash.’ The audience waited, scowls still plastered across their faces. ‘Mash I will be using a combination of humans in my dish today.’