My vacation was sort of a bummer so far.
I was in Europe at the time, and was driving around to see what else I could do here. But it seemed like this was turning out to be a mundane effort, just like the rest of this vacation.
However, a sign soon caught the corner of my eye.
There was nothing special about it; a simple sign that read, “Sally Olster’s Sweets: A Family-Owned Bakery”. And yet, something about me was drawn to its humble charm. I decided to pull into the parking lot and see what this was all about.
The whiff of fresh bread and other sugary delights hit me as soon as I walked through the door. The bakery was oddly empty, with no one even working at the front counter, but I didn’t care. I hadn’t had a sweet tooth before, but now, having one of these pastries was all I could think about. I walked down the isle, taking a look at all the options, when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“Everything to your liking?”
I yelped and turned around. Behind me was a smiling young woman, seeming to be in her 20’s. I hadn’t even heard her come up behind me.
“I- uh, yeah, I guess so…?”
She nodded. “Good, good. Let me know if you’d like our special.” And with that, she walked away.
I blinked once, twice, before turning away and looking back at the baked goods. I admired the delicate work on each pastry. This Sally Olster seemed to put a lot of hard work into her craft.
I had always been a picky person, so I just went with a couple things: two vanilla cupcakes, and a concha. Conchas were some of my favorite desserts back home, and not many places outside of my country sold them. I was surprised to see them here, but nevertheless pleased.
I walked up to the cash register. I blinked, and that woman was there again.
“I take it you didn’t want the special?”
I paused. “Uhh… no, I think I’m alright. How much do I owe you?”
“Nothing. Enjoy your treats. And I’ll keep the special up here for you, in case you want it.”
I was surprised by this woman’s unexpected kind gesture, but I wasn’t about to deny it. I thanked her and went to go sit down at a table.
But as I walked away, I swear she whispered something, something to do with ingredients.
I sat down, and took a bite of one of the vanilla cupcakes. The flavor was nothing like I had ever tasted before. The cake was rich and moist, and the frosting melted in my mouth.
And yet, it was missing something. I kept on eating, finishing the first cupcake, then the second, then the concha. Yet nothing filled me up the way it should have. I had never had a sweet tooth, but the cravings were too much to handle. So I stumbled up to the counter, and looked the woman dead in her amber eyes. “Can I have the special?”
The woman smiled, almost unnaturally, and slid me a plate. On it was a cinnamon roll. I took it, thanked her again- and now that I think about it, I likely thanked her more than I should have- and returned to my seat, placing a bite of the treat in my mouth.
And oh, was it heavenly. It was warm, with the flavors exploding in my mouth. It satisfied every last craving, and for a moment, I was in sweet, sweet bliss. In fact, I almost didn’t notice the blood dripping out of my mouth, at least not until I felt a sharp pain in my chest. I collapsed to the ground, and the woman walked up to me.
“I do hope you enjoyed the special. It always makes things a bit sweeter, doesn’t it?”
I looked up at her, fear in my eyes. There was something wrong with her now. Her smile was wide, too wide, and her teeth were sharper than a normal person’s would be.
“What did you do..?” I choked out.
“I need fresh ingredients, don’t I? How do you think I can make these?”
My heart dropped. Ingredients? The horrible truth hit me like a truck; I was the ingredient. She dragged me by my shirt into the back, and I tried to scream, but all that was coming up was gargled blood. This can’t be the end, I thought, tears streaming down my face. And yet, it appeared that my fate had been set in stone.
“Yes, you’ll make a fine treat, my dear,” she spoke, voice sweet as sugar, as everything faded away. “A fine treat indeed.”