Chapter 1: The First Memory

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Thule Exchange

Reads: 564

He could hear heavy breathing. Then he realized he was the one doing it, and tried slowing his intake. It was quite the place he was in, from what he could tell. Sticky, but not really wet, and seemingly off the ground quite a ways. Presently, he tried moving and ended up just squirming around for a few minutes. As he heard someone coming, he wanted to cry out but realized something straight away. The footsteps weren’t really.. right sounding. As if the feet weren’t feet, but claws.

 

Memories flooded back to him, and he was caught in one particular vision.

 

“Oh, of course I’ll try the special. How could I not? You guys always have such amazing cake!” said Percival. Indra smiled wide. “I’m glad you’re a regular here! Usually we get so many repeat offenders, and some who try to steal the cakes. But you’re so honest, it’s very refreshing!” she cried. “Oh, it’s nothing.” said Percival, slightly embarrassed. “I just feel if someone’s nice enough to open up a Bake Shop to give the less well-off a chance at delicious eats, the least I can do is respect the people behind it.”

 

“You should see our new Head Baker! She’s so nice, and radiant! She always takes the extra step with how she bakes the goods we serve, and it’s helped with business lately.” said Indra. Percival looked around. Indeed, people were flocking to a single line just for a taste of the latest pie. “Flavor?” he asked, pointing at the line. “Lemon Meringue!” said Indra, immediately ready to rattle off the details. “Amazing!” cried Percival, immediately signalling to Indra that he’d take a small slice. “Alright, give me a second here…” whispered Indra, sneakily removing a small slice of Lemon Meringue pie.

 

“Oh, that’s just.. AH!” muttered Percival, salivating at how good the slice was. “Maybe later, I could get a whole one?!” he whispered fiercely, eyes aglow with sudden want. “Believe me,” whispered Indra, “the way our Head Baker cooks? You’ll have two to three if you have the money!” Percival put on his best confident smirk and used it on Indra. She sort of looked away, blushing. “Th-That isn’t going to work, so stop trying!” He sighed, giving up on how he usually got free things from poor Indra.

 

Later, he came back to take the pies home. But Indra wasn’t around, and neither were the pies. In fact, all of the baked goods were gone, save for a single wrapped slice of cake. The elegance of the wrap was suspicious to him, as he’d only ever seen this kind done with a special silk. “Indra..?” he called out quietly. “Indra, are you here..?” He thought he heard something from the kitchen, so he tip-toed his way through to the kitchen, and caught a glimpse of something. Something he dreaded above everything else, and he felt his mouth go dry.

 

‘Surely,’ he thought, ‘it’s just Indra playing a crappy trick on me. But if not.. I won’t hold back…’ Keeping his pocketknife ready, he stepped through the kitchen, listening so carefully his own footsteps startled him a few times. He felt he should break the silence with something besides his footsteps, but his tongue was sticking to the roof of his mouth again. It was maddening, this silence. As if something were watching him in plain sight. He couldn’t do it, he had to get something in his system to rehydrate his senses. Percival creeped over to the sink and grabbed a cup, filling it to the brim with water and chugging to the last drop.

 

The sound of footsteps behind him made his instinct take over, and he drew his readied pocketknife. The next few seconds were a blur of color and fear and maddening silence save for footsteps. Panting, he faced Indra, her somewhat pale look confusing him. Slowly, he realized that he had nearly stabbed her, pocketknife outstretched between the crook of her arm and her lower ribcage. “I.. I couldnt hear from the back.. what are you..?” Indra said, fearfully. “Why did you come into the kitchen with.. with a knife..?” Percival slowly lowered his hand and replaced the knife in his jacket. He had to be sure, however.

 

“Quoth the Raven…” he said.

“..Nevermore.” replied Indra.

“Doubtless, what it utters is its only stock and store, caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster followed fast…” he panted.

“Percival, what did you think you saw?” she asked, concern in her voice. “Surely you’re not still thinking about that day? We drove them out, and made sure they were wiped out!” He had nothing to say in reply, his body was trembling on its own and he couldn’t move. Indra drew him close, just as she’d always done when he got like this. Only, he wasn’t usually like this at all. Usually he would just have a bit of a sneaking suspicion and she could put him at ease. This time, he was sweating, hyperventilating, and from what she could tell his mouth was drier than a heating machine.

 

Presently he muttered some idle things here and there. “In there stepped a stately raven.. on the night’s plutonian shore.. perched above my chamber door and sat.. perched above the chamber door…” Indra tried shaking him out of it, but this made him fixate on the ceiling. “Perched above..” he began to repeat quickly, “perched above, perched above, perched above..!” She followed his gaze to a patch of shadow she was sure wasn’t there before. She found herself calming down, at least in his eyes she was. “Ohh, I see! Perch, it’s just one of the speakers that was put in by our head baker! It can move around the kitchen and keep us on our toes so we don’t slack on the baking! No need to be afraid.. watch.”

 

Indra, holding Percival closely still, made her way to the switch to operate the supposed speaker. Indeed, a large metal object grinded to a halt near them, and Indra flipped the lights on. “See? Just the speaker. A bit big, I know.. but if it’s any consolation, the Head Baker has to get her voice out to each and every one of us.” Percival began to calm, moisture gracing his tongue with taste and he retched at what he tasted. Thankfully he was near a sink and used that instead of the floor. “I thought.. I thought it was one of them.. it moved just like one, Indra. Like one of the-” he said before finding himself retching again at the taste in his mouth.

 

They both walked home together, Percival back to his usual state. They had yet to say a word to each other since the Bake Shop. It was his turn to be ashamed of something he hadn’t told her. “Look, Indra.. I never told you just how much that experience affected me. I should’ve been more open, I just wasn’t sure if you’d be able to get an idea.. please, understand that.” She looked over at him and put her fist against his shoulder. “It’s okay. I would’ve been scared too if it had been one. Say, do you have that slice of cake I put on the counter back at the Bake Shop?” Percival blinked, checked his satchel, and pulled out the slice he had kept in perfect condition.

 

“Oh, good! The Head Baker wanted to make sure you got something since you’re our best customer.” said Indra, lowering her arm. Percival had to ask. “Why just one slice? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it, and it looks good but why one?” Indra had to laugh a bit. “To be honest, I don’t know myself. She just told me to give it to you along with the Lemon Meringue pie. Told me to tell you to not eat the Lemon Meringue after that slice.” Percival heard her, but was staring at the wrapping of the cake again. It was bothering him more than it should, and he put it back in his satchel carefully.

 

After a few days, he finished the Lemon Meringue pie and sat back in his chair at home. He savored every last bite he took, and decided it was time to unwrap the cake slice. He kept staring at the wrapping trying to figure out how to open it without ripping it. Or, maybe it was to figure out how to unwrap it without touching it. He eventually decided to just try unwrapping it the regular way and found it came undone pretty easily. Percival got a piece on a fork, brought it to his mouth, and…

 

Never.

Never in all the pies, cookies, cakes, muffins or cupcakes.

Never never never in all the sweets he had ever tasted had he ever tasted something this breathtaking. As soon as his first taste bud made contact, he quivered. He quavered. He shivered in anticipation of the full bite. He almost lost control and started shovelling it down, but instead held fast and took his time. Enjoying every bite to its fullest, it took him a good ten minutes to finish that single slice. Not a single crumb was left, no food particle escaped his maw. Then he felt an overwhelming tiredness coming over him, so he sat down in his chair with the lights out. As he went to sleep, he realized something.


It wasn’t even past six-o’clock in the evening.


Submitted: February 14, 2016

© Copyright 2021 Hectorious Thule. All rights reserved.

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