I chose cake over tractor for this week’s #writephoto. Is that cheating? I mean, we did a tractor story a couple of weeks back, so another tractor prompt was a bit much. Sorry KL Caley at new2writing.com. I hope you forgive me when you read it, though 🙂

I’d like to thank the people with the cakes who came through the Mynt Image Craft & Gift Fair at Lyndhurst on Saturday, and also the Girl Guiders, who gave me the idea. By the time the Girl Guides themselves came though, I’d written the first few paragraphs. I hope they all like the story – it’s just over 600 words.

a red tractor about to head into the early morning fog

The Great Cake Heist

Nobody would imagine that such a dull, innocuous, rainy day would become the date of the century.

Certainly not the baker who made the scones.

Nor the pastry chef who lovingly layered the strands of mille feuille in the custard slice.

Nor the assistant who selected several Chelsea buns from the window display, carefully inserted them in a brown bag, and handed them to the woman in the green raincoat.

The Girl Guides ambling through the streets might have guessed, had they recognised the pseudo-guides who occasionally crossed their paths. Sadly, they were too intent on their conversations, on planning the midnight feast, or just the delights in the shop windows.

As the day drew on, more and more people drove into Lyndhurst, intent on a little refreshment from a cafe or tea room, of which there were many lining the narrow main streets. The drizzle continued, making a dull day throughly depressing.

By four o’clock everyone was leaving. The one-way system was in its usual gridlock, and word filtered back that there were obstructions on both roads leaving for the motorway and the city. Slowly, slowly, the motorists edged forward, swollen by the cars leaving the craft and gift fair at the central community centre. After a mile, well inside the forest, but in an area of open lawn, grass either side of the unfenced road, there was a barrier.

The attendants might look like Guides, but they weren’t girls, and their uniforms looked just a little… off.  There was something odd about their faces too, but nobody who was interviewed afterwards could pinpoint what they mean by that description.  

What everybody concurred on, was what happened.

The pseudo-guides knocked on the drivers’ and the passengers’ windows, and demanded the occupants to surrender all cakes.

Everything that could possibly be described as a cake.

Scones, flapjacks, cupcakes, brownies, tiffin, croissants, Chelsea buns, custard tarts, lemon twists, jumblies, mince pies. All types of loaf cake. Fruit cake. Victoria or chocolate sponges. 

Even a wedding cake, still in three separate layers, destined for a wedding on Monday.

If there was any negative response, a weapon was pointed at the dissenter. A demonstration firing at the ground produced the desired effect. People scrambled to pull cakes from boxes, get them out of shopping bags, hampers, and trays.

One of the craft fair stallholders protested she didn’t have any cakes. A second guide pointed a weapon at the car, sent sparks flying all over it, then turned back and waved her through the barrier.

On the other side of the barrier, the cakes were being sorted into crates, and neatly stacked into large frameworks. One enterprising passenger took a vid of the racks as he passed. The cars crawled on, past the confiscated cakes, the occupants wondering what would happen.

Only the last few cars through knew.

The people watched in horror as they crawled forward. Two beams of light shone down on either side of them, completely enveloping the cakes, then suddenly the light went out. One driver got out of his car, and went over to where the cakes had been.

“Nothing!” he called back to his passenger.

The cakes had completely disappeared.

So had the pseudo-guides.

The barriers dissolved into nothingness.

The press had a field day. The Government called it mass hysteria. But the motorists knew what they’d seen, and they also knew they never saw their cakes again. Not a crumb of cheesecake, sponge cake, or walnut slice remained.

The only explanation anyone came up with was ‘aliens using a tractor beam to steal one of Britain’s best-known treasures: its cakes’.

© J M Pett 2022

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The Great Cake Heist | #writephoto Flash Fiction
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