Shaine Edwards drank three bottles of Squirt™ while writing Snack Fantasy.
The apprentice had fallen asleep at the cauldron again.
This had happened on many occasions, and on another night it might have meant nothing. A recipe ruined, an ingredient lost, the wrath of his master. But not on this night, for tonight was the eve of the Imperial Tea Party. Tomorrow, the greatest confectioners in the kingdom would lay their wares before the Imperial Taster. One candy master would be named Royal Confiseur. The rest would be hanged. Such were the dangers of owning a candy shop in medieval times.
A smell woke him: a faint bouquet of burnt sugar and grenadine. He ran to the cauldron, cursing his laziness, and found it empty. The mixture had not boiled dry, for there was no hint of residue. It could not have evaporated— the syrup was much too heavy. It had simply vanished. It was as if the mixture of rare herbs, exotic sweeteners, holy nectars, and precious ambrosias had just congealed, stood up, and walked away.
Which, of course, is precisely what had happened. Sticky, fragrant footprints led away from the cauldron. Candle in hand, the apprentice followed them out of the workroom, down the dark stone stair, and into the unlit storefront of
A noise startled him. But it was only the familiar snoring of Lyla, the Chocolate Covered Anteater that Frank kept as a pet. All else was silence. A floorboard creaked behind him. He turned and peered into the back of the shop. What he saw was beautiful.
A woman, or a woman’s shape, towered above him. Her translucent skin was powdered with sugar. Peppermint eyes glistened above fondant cheeks. Candy floss hair hung in elegant braids. Licorice lips parted and spoke.
“Come closer,” she commanded, in a voice that was honey. He did not resist.
“I may have screwed up the recipe,” the apprentice thought aloud. Frank would never let him hear the end of this.
“You are my creator then?”
His chest swelled at the thought. The office of Royal Confiseur was surely his. Never again would he scrub a cauldron, or clean Lyla’s pen. The indignities of apprenticeship were behind him now.
“Yes,” he said. His stomach rumbled.
“Then let me thank you.” She said.
“Madame, I assure you, thanks are unnecessary” but as he spoke she pulled him toward her, and his protest died in a saccharine embrace. Sticky limbs enveloped him, much stronger than they appeared. Her head bent, her gummy lips found his, and the world disappeared in a candy kiss.
Stars exploded into confectionary constellations. Nougat nebulas blazed in his mind. Life’s sugarplum helix unfurled before him, revealing the appetizing whole of creation. Bonbon bodies spiraled forever in a delirious lollipop universe. This was emulsified infinity, Divinity’s secret recipe. The apprentice was gone. Only candy remained.
“BOY!” the Master’s anger broke sleep’s enchantment. “You’ve nodded off in the kitchen again!”
The apprentice awoke, and wondered if anything would ever taste the same.