“How the Cookie Crumbles” by Anonymous Student

Anonymous

In a dark and distant future, a man, his wife, and their son lived under the iron grip of an oppressive government, and inhabited the space above their bakery.  They did not live there: no one lived at that time.  They moved about, had thoughts, had lives, but they did not live.  They were not free-willed, no; their will was under taxation.  They could do what they pleased, but they only pleased what their government wanted.  Herein a discrepancy lied.  Government employees gradually were chosen less for their skills and more for their genes, as the general population truly became less and less fit to rule.

Here we have a man named Bäcker, his wife, and their child, sitting through their lives in front of an oven or in front of a screen.  As bakers, their societal duty was not to create things that people enjoyed; no, their function was to provide people with carbohydrate or sugar based sustenance.  Some people put a little bit of spice into baking; others bake with love.  The Bäcker’s confections were filled with societal obligation; a bitter, unfair ingredient that deflates rising bread and crushes puff pastry.

Every day was the same, including Sundays.  Days off came in the form of holidays, though the word holiday no longer meant a happy day without work and full of merriment or respective reflection and cookouts.  Holidays continued to be days without work, but they were not retrospective, happy days.  They were full of government tests and checks.  Today was just such a day.  The Bäckers did not get the day off, but they were still required to have government tests and their shop inspected.  With all the lack of free will and pressures of responsibility, the Bäckers had been required—commanded—to cut corners.  The weekly kitchen cleanings and monthly scrubs and the yearly chimney cleanings had first been reduced, then all but completely done away with.  After all, a bakery can still function without cleanliness.  All germs are killed in the oven at such a high heat, right?  This was their reasoning.  They could sell more bread this way, help more people have more food on their plates, and they in turn could have more food on theirs.  

At first, holiday inspections had been terrifying—until the Bäckers realized bribes were more cost-effective than cleaning services.  The inspectors looked one way, looked another way, then looked the other way while accepting the money.  As long as there wasn’t mold growing from the walls, bribes seemed to work.  There was not mold growing on the walls, but unbeknownst to the Bäckers, there was something growing in the walls.  In the furthest back oven, to be precise. It wasn’t mold, but something different entirely.  One day, that thing decided it wanted to be a cookie.

When the masses don’t have free will and they find out after years of not being able to make decisions for themselves, something must be done to appease them.  Every holiday, in a feeble attempt to bring back some semblance of cheer to a dreary world, every bakery on earth would churn out millions of cookies.  The types of cookies varied by region, a testament to dying culture roots.  In this city, gingerbread was produced on holidays, cut into the shape of figures with dresses or trousers, stars, trees and snowflakes.

Inside the back room at the Bäcker’s bakery, dough was being mixed, rolled out, cut out, stuck on sheets, baked, and frosted.  Mr. Bäcker and Mrs. Bäcker and little James Bäcker all worked industriously, distributing sugary happiness hour after hour.  Until an oven door blew open.  In the back of the shop, Mr. Bäcker let out a terrified yelp.  In front of him stood a cookie as tall as his son, with perfect icing on both sides of it’s perfect visage.  It was wearing trousers, so presumably it was male, but gender of cookies is difficult to determine on sight.  

Mr. Bäcker, having regained his senses, realized that a living cookie was exactly what he didn’t need.  Today could not be the day.  Nor could tomorrow.  He wouldn’t be found out as a dirty, lying baker; he had too much to live for, and so did his family.  

The gingerbread man opened its mouth, as if to speak.  Instead of speaking, it heaved its baked body and spit a plume of flour in the baker’s face.  Quickly, the gingerbread man spun around.  With a mighty leap, it launched itself from the floor to the counter, over the heads of customers and out the door into the street.  The baker gave chase, smacking into the doorway in disorientation, fiercely rubbing his eyes with one hand while flailing a rolling pin with the other.

Soon, the gingerbread man came to a busy road.  The role of drivers had been expanded from in the twenty-first century.  Now, instead of avoiding pedestrians and animals, drivers were encouraged to ignore jaywalkers and stray animals as a way to more efficiently enforce the jaywalking law, which had grown laxed and caused many a slowdown and traffic jam on a daily basis.  The gingerbread man did not know any of this.  The gingerbread man was simply a petulant thing that decided a cookie would make for a suitable body.  Avoiding puddles in the road, the gingerbread man dodged cars, swerving trucks, and cyclists who tried to grab him with outstretched hands.  When he crossed the street, he swiveled his head.  The baker had attempted to follow him into traffic, but to lessen the risk to life and limb, the baker had decided to follow him by way of an elevated walkway. Unfazed, the gingerbread man continued on his way.

The gingerbread man took a sharp right into an alley, attempting to lose the baker. Too busy looking back over his shoulder, he did not notice a man standing in the middle of his path, sweeping the street with a broom.  The gingerbread man paused, and the man pulled back in shock.  Clad in a white apron with bloodstains, the gingerbread man assumed he was a butcher.

“Now that you’ve butchered sweeping the street, why don’t you go do your job and carve up a pig or something?” the gingerbread man steamed at the butcher.

“Why you little–” the butcher shouted at the gingerbread man, swinging his broom.  “I’ll get you!”

“I’ve outrun a baker, his wife and son.  What makes you think you can catch me?” The gingerbread man snarled.  He reared his head back and spit a puff of flour in the butcher’s face and continued on his way.

The butcher threw his broom to the ground and went into his shop, returning with a large knife.  “Let’s see what a cut of cookie looks like,” he breathed as he sprinted after the sarcastic snickerdoodle.

The gingerbread skidded around the corner of a building and dashed into the center of an empty street.  “Strange,” he thought. “No cars here.”  A faint combination of whirring and humming could be heard in the distance.  “Could those be cars?” the gingerbread man wondered aloud.

No, the thunderous noise was not created by cars.  Appearing over the curve of a hill a block away, three street sweepers moved in a line

“Who needs street sweeper operators when you could have butchers doing it too?” the gingerbread man remarked snidely.

“You asked for it!” the middle street sweeper shrieked at the gingerbread man, revving his truck.  “I’ll get you!”

“I’ve outrun a butcher, a baker, his wife and son.  What makes you think you can sweep me up?”

The gingerbread man sped away towards a sporting complex.  Busting through the doors, he ran into a flailing mascot, which slowly removed it’s head.  Seeing the gingerbread man, the mascot attempted to trap the gingerbread man under his mask.

“I’ve outrun three street sweepers, a butcher, a baker, his wife and son.  What makes you think you can trap me so easily?”

At that moment a loud screech came from the parking lot outside.  Doors slammed, and the gingerbread man took this as a cue to flee.  Before he left the room, he sprayed flour into the mascot’s eyes, temporarily blinding him and ruining his costume.

The gingerbread man ran into the lobby.  A security guard swiftly snatched him by the hand and splashed a glass of water in his face.  As the frosting on his face began to melt, he groaned:

“You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!”

The security guard called the police station, which forwarded her call to the health department.  The gingerbread man had left a trail of crumbs leading back to the bakery, and the health department soon caught wind of the origin of the gingerbread man.  The Bäckers were not evicted from their shop; no, they were asked to leave by law enforcement.  Their shop, house above, and possessions were not incinerated; no, they were kept for safe keeping if any heirs could be found.