An Edible House

Edible House

 

We all know the story of Hansel & Gretel and the Gingerbread House, but what kind of foods would you use if you could live comfortably in that is made entirely of edible materials?

An edible house … my first thought was, unsurprisingly, chocolate. Big bars of dairy milk for the walls, and a thatched roof made of inter-connected Twirly Wirlies. But, then, I thought that wouldn’t work because it would melt under the sun. So, I’m changing it up a little. 

The walls would be made of American-style, crispy streaky bacon. They would be a few layers thick, for sturdiness. The outside layers would be glazed in maple syrup, which would protect the bacon from rain and the elements. The roof would be made entirely of toffee. It would have been heated, to make it malleable. That way, it could be moulded into the right shape and fixed to the bacon. It would then become hard, and it would be rain-resistant. So, already, we have a safe, tasty exterior. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

Inside there would be a floor made of rolls of seaside rock. The rolls would be laid out side by side, and liquid icing sugar would be poured over them, filling the gaps in between. This would set as hard, making it easy to walk on. The scent of mint would work wonderfully well at making the house’s inhabitants feel happy. Nausea could be combatted by kneeling down and sniffing the rolls of rock. It would be a single storey house, as anyone would be crazy to try to find a food suitable to make ceiling and second floor!

The chairs would be Twinkies and Mini Rolls, with a lollipop dining table. The main door into the house would be French toast. Like the outside walls, it would be coated in maple syrup for weathering reasons. Mmm. I want to visit this house. Although, it probably wouldn’t be too healthy for a diabetic! Ah well. We can dream, can’t we!

Have You Lost Your Mind?

I wrote this in response to a flash fiction prompt to use the title ‘Have You Lost Your Mind?’

 

Brain

 

Have You Lost Your Mind?

A I creep around the side of the building, I’m surprised at how little security there is. One guard. Marcus said he has a penchant for hard liquor. I just need to wait until he’s asleep.

It doesn’t take long. I creep towards the old metal door and dig into my pocket to pull out the instructions. There are no lights surrounding the doorway itself, only a large, menacing security camera.

I tug at my hood, pulling it over my head and re-read the door code. My breaths stall as I wait to gain entry. Almost instantly, the door welcomes me in. I pull the bandana over my mouth and nose, and claustrophobia overwhelms me. But I have no choice. The consequence of being caught is death. That’s what Marcus said.

The building smells of chemicals. It makes me gag as it penetrates my scarf. I glance once more at the instructions.

Even though I have learnt them verbatim, I can’t unscramble the tangle of words inside my head. I need to read from the paper. The building is a mass of corridors that threaten to hold me hostage. I mustn’t get lost in here. When I’m certain I’ve found the right direction, I start jogging.

Sweat covers my body, and I’m not sure whether it’s from exertion or fear. It must be a couple of miles of corridor before I reach my destination.

I’m in. I gasp at all the jars on the shelves. Each one is labelled with the names of the unfortunate souls they once inhabited. I’ll never find my mother’s. I search the labels, repulsed by the grey walnuts of humankind. The door creaks, and I spin around.

“What you doing here?” the tipsy security guard says.

I gulp, unable to answer. He speaks again, “Have you lost your mind? Is it in one of these jars?”

“No,” I say. “I—I’m looking for my mother’s.”

“Your mother’s? Oh, I see. We can’t let her down, now, can we? What’s her name?”

Stunned by his response, I grapple for the name I’ve spoken with love for the last forty-two years. “Marian Gilmore,” I say and wait.

“Gilmore,” he says, rubbing his chin like a wise old sage. “I’ll take the far side; you start from here.” He motions to a stack of jars at least ten high. He must see the panic on m face because he adds, “Don’t worry, Missy. We’ll get her back.”

The Curse of King Khaba

pharoah

 

The Curse of King Khaba

Nighttime cast long shadows over the Pyramids of Giza. Panya and Ramla stood in the shelter of the smallest structure. Pressing her hands to the cool stone, Ramla shook her head. “No. This is the wrong place.”

Panya kicked the ground and a puff of red sand sprayed his sister. “It was a long shot,” he said. “Professor Naguib told us not to waste our time.”

“Hey,” said Ramla, nudging her brother’s shoulder, “Khaba may not be buried here, but he isn’t far. I saw it in my dreams, remember? And my dreams are always right.”

When Panya smiled, his teeth shone white in the moonlight. He brushed his dark hair from his eyes and made eye contact. “I know, Ramla. I just really need this, you know? I’m tired of being the mouse of the family. I’m an archeologist. I have to discover something.”

“And you will, brother. I predict it.” Taking his hand, she said, “Come. The Layer Pyramid is about eight miles southwest of here. The sun has only just set, so we can get there in time to investigate.”

The heater in Panya’s car had stopped working a few months ago, and his lack of significant discoveries meant he didn’t have the money to repair it. Shivering, Ramla grabbed her jumper from the back seat.

The eight mile journey didn’t take long. They had to park the car about a five minute walk from the pyramid. As soon as it came into sight, Ramla shouted, “This is it!” Turning to her brother, she continued, “He’s here, Panya. It’s exactly like it was in my dream.”

Panya’s dark eyes widened. “Really? Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. We need to get to the east side. There will be a hidden entrance there.”

Running ahead, leaving a trail of footprints in the compacted sand, Panya made it to the east side of the pyramid. “Okay, so where do I need to look?”

Standing with her hand on her chin, she surveyed the mound of rubble that she was told used to be a pyramid. She walked around, trailing her hand on the stone. Panya tutted and muttered under his breath.

“Here!” she exclaimed. “We need to moved these rocks away. There will be a small hole, just large enough for you to climb into. But you must be careful. No one has entered this part of the pyramid. The structure could be unsafe.”

“Yeah yeah. I hear you. Now, come on, let’s clear the way.”

Quickly, they tore the stones away from the groundwork. When a small hole revealed itself, they both took a step back, lost for words.

After a minute, Panya said, “Okay. Well, I guess this is it. Wish me luck.” As he knelt and prepared to climb into the tomb, he turned to his sister and said, “Ramla, if I’m not out in an hour, maybe you should get help.”

Nodding, she said, “Oh, you’ll be out. Don’t fear. I will see your face again.”

As Panya disappeared inside the Layer Pyramid, Ramla sat on the desert floor and leaned against the rough stonework. Closing her eyes, pictures from her dream danced in front of her. She hadn’t lied to Panya. He would resurface from this pyramid, and his discovery would be hailed the greatest of the new millennium. It was only the tiniest detail she had left out: the price her brother would pay.

Inside the tomb, sounds of screaming, then two voices, fading to one. A shuffling from the entrance forced Ramla to her feet. When Panya’s head emerged first, she smiled and breathed out her relief. There were no signs of a struggle about his person. His dark eyes were still the ones she knew and loved. “Panya,” she said and rushed to help him stand.

“He’s there, Ramla. I found him. Look, I took photos on my phone. I shall be world-famous.”

As he spoke, his eyes shone with excitement. Slowly, their dark chocolate melted into yellow, then green. A sharp intake of breath, and Ramla stumbled backwards. “No.” Taking the phone from her brother, her mouth fell open as she studied the photos of the great Pharaoh.

The first showed the sarcophagus, still in tact. But the following photos terrified her. At first, it looked like a blur; like her brother had moved as he took the photo. But the blur quickly morphed into the face of a man she didn’t recognise. Finally, the selfie. Panya had turned the phone on himself. Only, it wasn’t his face. It belonged to another, older man with long, raven hair.

“Panya,” she said, looking up at her brother. Her mouth fell open, and she shook her head. “The curse,” she whispered.

When he spoke, his voice was too low. “Ramla, you have been most helpful in achieving my goal. I knew all I had to do was wait for you to unlock my body from this dark tomb. You were always my destiny.”

He moved toward her, with outstretched arms. The red dust pounded under her feet as she ran back to the car. Once inside, she locked the doors and turned the ignition key. She knew how the curse ended, and it wasn’t well for her beloved Egypt. I should never have led my brother to this place, she thought as she revved the engine. When the figure who was no longer her brother came into sight, she reversed, then accelerated forwards as fast as she could.

The thud when she hit him jolted her backward, and pain shot through her neck. Peering over the bonnet, she saw the lifeless body of her brother. There was no sign of King Khaba. Her brother’s olive skin, tainted with red, forced her to let out a cry.

The curse had been broken. King Khaba remained dead. Egypt is safe. Cradling her brother’s limp body, she wept. But my heart is broken.

Pink Fluffy Unicorns

Unicorns seemed to be everywhere at Christmas last year. In fact, all year they grew and grew in popularity. And so, for today I am posting something a little different to my usual dark and gloomy writing.

Unicorn1

Shaun, The Pink, Fluffy Unicorn

Shaun was a pink, fluffy unicorn
who lived on a cotton cloud,
as cute as a coot, one day he was born
and his parents shrieked out loud.

“He’s pink!” cried his Mum with eyes so wide,
his Dad backed away on his hooves:
“How can it be that you and me
such a creature could produce?”

When Shaun opened his eyes and they shone bright green,
his mother’s heart did melt,
for he stared at her and uttered a word:
“Mumma.” It was heartfelt.

On trembling legs, baby Shaun stood up,
encouraged by his mother’s nose.
He shook his hair, and it sprung to life,
“Oh my God,” said his Dad, “it glows!”

His brothers and sisters gathered round,
all perfectly white, pristine,
guffaws from each one and sneers and snides,
poor Shaun felt so unclean.

“Don’t you worry, my son, for in my heart,
beautiful is how you’ll stay,
they are only jealous of how unique
you were born. When they’re wet, they look grey!”

Shaun kicked his heels and squealed in glee,
his confidence was restored,
with a wiggle and a shake and a slice of cake,
he spread his wings and soared.

A Christmas Miracle

This is a short story I wrote this time last year. Bear that in mind when you read it: I wrote it in a different political time. This is story is a fantasy story, so I appreciate there is no chance of any of it ever happening (I did actually get a couple of people telling me the story doesn’t work because it’s not possible!), but I thought it was a cool idea for a story. I’m a bit of a dreamer, at heart.

A Christmas Miracle

For most of the year a small, round table stood in the centre of the Blue Room. Made of the finest mahogany, it sat underneath the two-hundred year old crystal chandelier. Barack lost count of the amount of awestruck gasps he had witnessed over the previous eight years.

With Christmas two days away, the chandelier had been removed in order to make way for a twenty foot high Norwegian pine. This year, Michelle and the girls had insisted on decorating it themselves. In keeping with the decor of the room, Michelle chose a colour scheme of silver and baby blue.

As he stood before the towering Christmas tree, the scent of pine needles filled his senses. He reached out and touched his fingers to the needles; jabs of pain shooting through his hand. Memories of Christmases from another lifetime, when happiness came easily, danced before his eyes.

“Sir, there’s a telephone call on your private line.” He spun around to see his personal assistant, Kiara, standing in the doorway. His cheeks flushed, as he took a moment to recover his thoughts.

“Who is it, Kiara?”

This time, it was she who blushed. “She says her name is Sophia Claus. She . . . ugh . . . she says she needs to you speak about her husband, and that you know who he is.”

“What? That’s a little cryptic. Can’t you get rid of her?” He pinched the bridge of his nose and turned back to the tree.

“I can’t, sir. I mean, I tried. I hung up the phone and cut off the line, like, twenty times. But she’s still there. She said she can’t go until she’s spoken with you.”

A shiver tickled the president’s spine. Sophia Claus? On the private line? About her husband? No way. A rash of adrenalin spread across his chest. “Okay. Thank you, Kiara. I’ll take it in the Oval Office.”

As he slid into his leather swivel-chair, he took three deep breaths, then hit the loud speaker button on his phone. “Mrs. Claus? It’s Barack here.” A line of sweat formed on his upper lip. There could only be one reason for this phone call.

“Barack? Mr. Obama? Hello, deary. You sound far away. Can you hear me?”

The old woman’s buttery voice reminded him of his Grandma. He smiled as he said, “Yes, I can. What can I do for you, Mrs. Claus?”

“Oh, wonderful. My husband asked me to speak to you. We’re in a bit of a bind. It’s my Fred, you see. The silly man had an accident on the chimney entry practice pad. Truth be told, he’s getting a little old to be shooting himself down chimneys. He could use the front doors, I tell him. But he prefers the traditional approach. Now he’s broken both his legs. He’s completely incapacitated. The most he can do is oversee the elves in the workshops from a wheelchair.”

Barack’s head buzzed as he tried to sort through the barrage of information. He turned and glanced at the Grandfather Clock behind him. The thought of what sat underneath, of the magnitude of this telephone call, sent shockwaves through his body.

“I’m so sorry. I hope he makes a speedy recovery.” Lifting the receiver from its cradle, Barack held the mouthpiece close and said, “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

A pause crackled through the airwaves. “Yes, deary, I am. Invoke Operation Rudolph.”

Before he could prevent it, a gasp escaped the president’s mouth. His hands trembled. This was the pinnacle of his career. “Okay. I will need you to give me the password, Ma’am.”

“Of course. The password is sprouts. Good luck, Mr. Obama.”

With that, the line fell silent. Barack stood and faced the Grandfather Clock. Never, in his wildest dreams, did he think he would be the president to push the Rudolph Button.

Every president, when they are sworn in, is told the location of the Rudolph Button. The clock is a replica. It’s made of cheap, light wood: easy to move on your own. As Barack stood before it, searching for a sign of its inauthenticity, he shook his head. This can’t be happening.

Throwing his arms around the clock, he heaved with all his might. He exclaimed as he stumbled backwards. Wow. That was easy. Cream carpet pooled where the clock once stood. You would never guess something so important could be concealed underneath it. Barack crouched down and peeled back the corner. There it is! A square cut into the wooden floor: two inches by three.

Three taps to the bottom, right-hand corner, and the president held his breath. His eyes widened as he watched the wood give way to a scarlet, shining button with the letter ‘R’ engraved above it in diamonds. The force of the movement sent him reeling backwards.

Eyes closed, he pressed the button before he could chicken out. He could only imagine the reactions of his fellow leaders as the Rudolph Alarm sounded in every corner of the world. The next move for him was to gather his own military and political colleagues in the Situation Room. First, though—for the next minute—he had to regain his breath.

“Sir, the switchboard is crazy. Every line is jammed up.” Kiara’s dark ponytail swished as she entered the room. “Are you all right, sir?”

“Yes. Can you patch each line through to the conference call system please? I need to speak with everyone.”

“But there’s at least twenty people on hold. I can’t put them all through.”

Barack exited the room, and said her his shoulder, “Normally . . . no, you couldn’t. But today is no normal day. Today, Kiara, I think you will be surprised at what is possible.”

Every screen in the Situation Room came to life as Barack entered the room. World leaders from Teresa May to Vladimir Putin, and from Angela Merkel to Xi Jinping, sat in squares on the five large wall screens. The Rudolph List had gathered as promptly as he ever thought possible.

As he began to speak, he steepled his fingers in front of him. “Thank you all for responding so quickly. Time is of the essence. I’ve just finished speaking with Mrs. Claus, and they need our help. We have two days to organise our countries’ aircraft. Christmas Eve deliveries must be carried out as usual.”

The room filled with voices muttering. Barack wasn’t clear whether it was excitement at the challenge, or annoyance at the enormity of the task. He scanned each face, and it occurred to him how foolish he had been. These people had one thing in common: a deep-seated hatred of one another. He pinched the bridge of his nose, and rested his hand on the black, leather chair in which he always sat with his government.

“I appreciate this is a tall order, folks. But we all signed up to be part of the Rudolph List. We can’t back out now just because the button has been pushed.” A silence settled in the air. “Okay. Y’all know where your warehouses are. You all have your bombers on standby at this time of year. The warehouses have lists and addresses. For those of you who finish early, check the main computer log—details will be sent in the next ten minutes—and see if you can help anyone. You know what to do.”

One by one, the screens turned black; save for the solitary face of Ash Carter, the president’s Secretary of Defense. The older man cleaned his glasses without looking up. “You sure about this? You really think we can pull it off.”

“We have to pull it off, Ash. Christmas depends on it. We have our B-2s and Lancers ready to go. There’s even the old B-52s waiting for the signal.”

Ashton Carter shook his head, as he placed his spectacles back on his head. This time, he looked Barack in the eye. “Okay. Let’s do it. I’ll notify everyone from my end.”

Barack sat at the head of the empty mahogany table, with his hands behind his head. All he could do now was wait. His part of the deal was done. Whispers of world leaders pushed to their limits clung to the air around him. If this works, it will truly be a Christmas miracle.

As the day moved along, Michelle joined her husband in the conference room. He wasn’t supposed to speak of Operation Rudolph: it was top secret. But, heck, he had spoken to Mrs. Claus: wife of Santa! The farther away he moved from the enormity of the situation, the more filled with wonder he became.

“She sounded like Grandma Madelyn. You remember her voice, right? The way she always sounded like she was smiling. It was incredible, Michelle. I actually spoke to Mrs. Claus.” A grin spread from ear to ear, and he hiccuped with delight.

Once Kiara set up the data for each country on one of the large screens, it surprised Barack how quickly some of the boxes were checked. It helped that there were varying time zones around the world. It meant everyone could pitch in to help others.

The resulting friendliness and goodwill toward previous sworn enemies was a side effect of Santa’s broken legs no one could have foreseen. Barack felt his heart stop for a moment when he saw Putin video high five-ing Petro Poroshenko. Whoever would have thought delivering millions of presents to children at Christmas time could cast such a unifying spell over the world?

At four-thirty EST on Christmas morning, the last presents settled underneath the tree of Jackson McNally in Alaska. The Rudolph spreadsheet lit up, and an animated Santa danced across the screen. Barack glanced at the faces of each world leader. They had all thought this would be an exercise of great stress and pressure.

In fact, it had the opposite effect. Each leader smiled at him, and their smiles stretched all the way to their eyes. Contentment filled the room. When Barack spoke, he stood and steepled his fingers in front of him.

“That’s it: we’ve done it! Every child will receive their presents this Christmas, and it’s all thanks to us. We worked together, as a world at peace. We helped our neighbours, put our own needs aside. I know I am not speaking only for myself when I say the feeling that fills me is one of pride. Folks, let’s build on this pride. We’ve seen what we can achieve when we come together. Let’s not waste this opportunity.”

Barack moved to his end of the table and loosened his tie. “I propose we safeguard the goodwill that is in our hearts today. No more nuclear weapons. No more wars. No more bombs. These evils are not necessary. We have so much more in common than in opposition. Let’s make this world great. All those who are with me, check the final box on your section of the spreadsheet.”

Tension crackled in the air. Some countries took longer than others to reach their decisions. Barack looked at his wife who was stood in the doorway beaming at him.

The final yes came in twenty-three minutes after Barack’s speech. Every country agreed. Lightness washed over the president’s body, lifting him high into the air. Cheers rang out from every screen. World leaders he had known for twenty years looked happier than he had ever seen them.

“This is the best Christmas ever,” he shouted. “Everyone, pour yourself a drink to toast the occasion. Here’s to a Christmas when peace and goodwill has reached every corner of the world. May it last forever!”