He’s a Roger, by name. He’s staring out the window where the rain is spattering, disguising his display of cupcakes and fat bread rolls. A curly calendar on the wall reveals the date he’s been working towards, the days leading up to Friday 13th obliterated with huge Xs and random scribbles.
He’s a victim of his own profession, is Roger. Standing large and pink behind the evil till he surveys the thing, blinking in green at him. He had to use it himself these days, the assistants only lasted a few weeks, tired of the machine snapping at their fingers. ‘Tired of your leering, and your fiddling hands,’ his wife had said. She was gone now too.
The spitting rain turns hard outside and throws itself in squalls at the shop. Intermittent gusts whistle through the door, the door which has never closed properly. It bangs with every blow.
Roger’s thoughts are black. He is tipping back and forth on shoes wrapped in blue plastic bags. He could be a coroner, he thinks, or a forensic scientist. But he is a confectioner.
Everything’s a weapon. Roger hungers to use one. He spots the sharp corners of this morning’s loaf tins, sitting clean and stacked on the shelves in the back. They’d puncture nicely; he daydreams about the holes they’d make.
The counter overlooks the day’s deli selection of egg mayonnaise, tuna and sweetcorn, and grated cheese and onion – all ready to fill the crispy baguettes for the office workers – who never come in any more, most of them made redundant, those left opting for fancy coffee shop chain creations or home-made cheapies with sub-quality bread. Roger remembered his customers; if they came in now, looking down at him the way they always did, they’d find their heads slammed against the counter, tasting the hard shafts of glass that would shatter prettily into their clever city mouths.
Passing cars have their headlamps on, glaring as they speed past, making the gold and silver balls on his wedding cakes sparkle and glimmer. You can overdose on those balls, Roger thought, or choke, if they are rammed down your throat by the thousand.
He looks around. A knife for cutting. A knife for slicing. A knife for carving, ripping, gutting. Even pie-crust pastry spouts could put someone’s eye out.
Roger’s breath is laboured now. His chest and heart strain as he contemplates death, considers murder. He shuts up shop.
Ovens – crematoria. Big enough for a doubled-up body, squashed in tight.
Flip. He kneads the dough. Flip. He needs the dough. His business has failed beyond help, fucking supermarkets. The Financial Advisor who visited him at six this evening is now a very poorly bunny. The man lingers in the corner, bound and splayed across the floor – almost unconscious but not enough to miss the plastic bag that is pulled over his face. Roger is fascinated how the man seems to suck the bag into his eyes and up his nostrils as Roger pulls the handles tight around the man’s throat; aided and abetted by the ties of Roger’s apron strings which are knotted at the back of the man’s neck. Roger tugs until the face bloats blue to match the bags at his feet, and lets his hands fall. Quickly, he steps back as the body defecates across the floor.
There is death on every surface, say the authorities. Roger cleans up the filthy spillage, creating a cocktail of bleach and disinfectant, a recipe for a future kill – a blend to corrode a gut, poured into a throat, forced open. He adds this latest method to his repertoire; it comes in as runner-up to the tongue-swelling peanuts added to ‘safe’ chocolate for allergics – as his wife would testify, if she’d lived.
Roger opens the oven door – there she lies. Yeast and flour and milk and salt and butter and sugar coat her tiny frame. She’s been cooking for days now. She’s the icing on her own cake. It didn’t take long to build up the collection. A few cats, a handful of stray dogs, an elderly but very strong tramp. That made nine. Then Mary their Monday assistant retired – permanently. Ten. Vicky, the afternoon girl – always talking, never shutting her stupid mouth. Eleven. The insurance man. Twelve.
Roger stares at his wife on the baking sheet. He’s never stopped loving her. He is so sorry to have let her down. He bends over her – she smells so good; good enough to eat. He bites off her ears, gnaws at her ribs, nibbles at her fingers. Thirteen lives in thirteen days, culminating in his beloved Patricia. The perfect baker’s dozen.
Lily Childs is a writer of dark fiction, horror and chilling mysteries. Recently published in Caught By Darkness (available on Amazon) many more of her short gothic horrors, ghost stories and nerve-janglers are currently touring the blogosphere. Lily is the author of forthcoming urban series ‘Magenta Shaman’ and has a novel or three on the way - all set in the south of England where she lives - a stone’s throw from the sea. She blogs at http://lilychildsfeardom.blogspot.com where you can read some of her work, reviews and interviews.