“Three cups of flour, two teaspoons of ginger, one teaspoon of cinnamon…” Marsha’s eyes scanned the recipe book intently, going over the ingredients for the umpteenth time. Sugars, spices, eggs, flour, a cutting board, a pan, cookie sheets and cookie cutters. For the umpteenth time she checked the oven, 350 degrees exactly. Yep, everything was present, accounted for and ready to go. Giving herself a pleased nod, she wasted no time in going about placing the ingredients in her pre-prepared bowl.
Marsha couldn’t help but chuckle at what a picture perfect mother she had become. Her face, once a splendid and youthful thing of beauty, now with the faintest creeping signs of age. Soft, plush lips that were seeming set into an ever present smile. Short, brown hair done up into wavy curls. Curves that, while still nice, were now balanced out by the chub of age. All topped off with an apron that said in big, bold letters on her waist “Mom”. Oh if she could’ve seen herself like this even a mere ten years ago, she would have laughed like it was some absurd prank.
Just in the other room she could hear the playful laughter of the children as they eagerly decorated the festive Christmas tree. Holiday music blared and filled the air with the feelings of the season. Just outside a light drizzle of snow fell upon the house, and if she listened closely Marsha could hear the gentle crackle of the fireplace. It simply felt right. It felt like Christmas.
Right now her son Chris was arguing with his sister Robin about who got to put the star up on the tree. The young little ten year old cited age, whereas his eight year old sister argued that he got to do it last year. With their squabbles only growing louder, Marsha was half tempted to intervene, ultimately deciding against it. Let the kids be kids. Right now her attention was more on stirring this bowl of ingredients anyway. If she looked away for even a second there was no telling what the little rascals would do with it.
The potent smell of cinnamon and ginger blending together twisted the woman’s lips into a light smile. As she stirred away with her wooden spoon the flour slowly began to overtake its fellow ingredients. The sugar, the ginger, the cinnamon, the baking soda, soon it all became a clumped mess of beige cookie mix. Once she was satisfied stirring, Marsha set the bowl aside, sliding another before her in its stead.
She grabbed the egg beater and held it at the ready. Inside the second bowl sat a full stick of butter and a cup of brown sugar, which she proceeded to mix. As they slowly mixed together she eased on the trigger, taking the moment to add in the extra bits of flavoring: the molasses, the egg, some more sugar, and a touch of vanilla. One by one they were carefully spread into the bowl only to be beat and stirred by the egg beater. It all blended together nice and easy. In no time all the ingredients seemingly vanished, replaced by a swathe of cocoa brown mix. The dutiful brunette gave it one last look over before nodding in approval, readying herself to mix the two bowls together.
It took all of her motherly willpower not to sneak a spoonful of the combined batter into her mouth as she stirred. What had already been a sweet smell intensified into a painfully mouthwatering scent of pure dessert greatness. Marsha could almost taste those sugary gingerbread cookies already. Her imagination ran wild envisioning the taste, only making her salivate all the more. It was a long, torturous period before the mix was finally ready and she spread it along the cutting board. Now came one of her favorite parts.
Normally she liked to make a variety of shapes out of the batter, but the kids were very adamant about gingerbread men. Marsha recollected their vehement demands with a chuckle. “Gingerbread men! It’s not Christmas without gingerbread men!” Well, they weren’t wrong. That was why Marsha only grabbed one of her many cookie cutters, one specifically in the ambiguous shape of a man. The human-shaped blade easily cut into the batter she laid out, cutting out a perfect shape of a person for easy removal. Marsha took great care as she plucked the cutout, setting it aside in the empty pan nearby.
Such was the case for all the gingerbread men she carved out from the batter. Ultimately, a perfect dozen were removed and set into the pan, leaving at best a couple spoonfuls of leftover batter. With that, all the tedious work had been done, all that remained now was to add her secret ingredient and the cookies would be ready for the oven.
After stepping over to one of the many kitchen cabinets Marsha gently pulled the wooden door open. Within, her eyes briefly scanned the interior before they lingered on a seemingly innocuous Tupperware box. The container itself was trivial; it was what was inside the box that was important.
People. Shrunken, tiny, naked people were gathered within the container. As the cabinet opened and light billowed in after however many hours they cowered at Marsha’s looming person. Hers was not a face that inspired fear to anyone, but to them Marsha’s motherly face was one of the most horrifying things they could've seen. They had long since grown to dread the days they saw her, and today was no exception as the woman's fingers grabbed hold of their plastic prison. Their diminutive voices quickly entered into a panicked frenzy, no doubt asking what was going to happen or something of the like. Only the giant mother knew what awaited them now.
Using people in baking was unconventional to say the least. Nobody Marsha knew had ever tried it. Heck, she couldn’t even remember what possessed her to try it the first time around. But damn if it didn’t somehow work. There was just something it added. Some kind of flavor, something that made the cookies more…hearty. If that made any sense. Or perhaps she was just the sort of girl who got titillated by the idea of eating shrunken people in her sweets. Whatever it was it just worked, and if it could put these tinier people to use then why not?
Sure, when people first started shrinking all those years ago there was a huge uproar about it and she felt bad if she so much as accidentally stepped on one. But now? Who cares? It wasn’t a big deal. There were people who still made a fuss about their rights as people and all that, but whenever Marsha happened upon them people was the last word that came to mind. They were something sure, but not people. Definitely not.
Honestly, it was hard for her to think of them as anything but pathetic. Tiny, barely a couple inches tall, helpless, blubbering shams in the shape of humans. Just a look from her would always have them cowering, huddling together in fear; knowing that her whims decided their fate. Each of her slightest movements always made them jump without fail. Every noise Marsha made, even the light pop of the container’s lid as she removed it, was likely deafening to them and brought pained cries as the group collectively covered their ears. It wasn’t that Marsha had any particular dislike for these tinier people. It was just that there was such a gap between their existences that the idea of seeing them as people was just kinda silly really.
Marsha barely paid their miniscule whimpers any mind as she brought the container near the gingerbread men. She looked down, reaching inside with a casual familiarity that said she’d done this many times before. Her fingers plucked a single woman from the captured crowd, and in one smooth motion the woman was dropped into the heart of one of the gingerbread cutouts, her pleas to be let go and freed falling upon deaf ears.
The image always amused the brunette every time she cooked people like this. The cookies were little more than four or five inches long, maybe two or three wide, but even they completely dwarfed these little people. The woman she dropped steadily sank into the cookie batter. As Marsha found out when she first tried this, the batter was just sticky enough to keep these people in place and stop them from breaking free. The more a person would fight it the more engrossed in the mix they would become. Her shrunken ingredient struggled to no end, but all those struggles only succeeded in trapping the tiny woman deeper into the batter. It was almost like watching a person sink in quicksand. The more they struggled the faster they sank into the tan-colored mass, until finally the girl found herself trapped under a thick layer of cookie batter. Bubbles erupted from beneath the batter's surface whilst Marsha watched calmly. Before long the bubbling came to a stop.
“Whew.” Marsha exhaled in relief. If she’d messed up the batter even a little bit a person could escape, and that would’ve made this much harder than it needed to be. Thankfully, that didn't seem to be the case.
The next couple people she placed into the cookies went much the same way. They pleaded, they struggled, they sank, they died. Business as usual with nothing of note, but the fourth person…Well...
At first he went just like the others, helpless between Marsha’s fingers as she set him inside of the cookie and allowed the batter to do the rest of the work. He sank no problem, but then...he...stopped. He continued to struggle, but he no longer sake. His entire body was submerged in the batter, save for his head. Through sheer luck he was just tall enough to spare himself from suffocation.
“Ha!” The tiny man laughed at the his captor, as if this small moment amounted to anything. Or perhaps it was laughter born of relief. Either way, the annoying sounds came to a screeching halt as a giant finger hovered over him. “N-No please! Don’t! I have a famil-”
The finger came down, hard. Marsha’s digit, deceptively soft and powdered with some of the cookie batter, forcefully pressed him beneath the batter’s surface. At first there was a small moment of resistance, a flailing arm here, a crack there, but all that came to an end as Marsha felt a slight snap beneath her pad, most likely his neck. Though to be safe her finger continued to hold the body in place for another couple minutes. She’d made the mistake of letting someone keep their head free as she cooked once, easily one of her biggest mistakes as a cook. Just thinking about that day made her shudder. Five minutes or so of solid screaming in agony from her oven, barely audible, but just loud enough to be annoying. And then she pulled the cookies out only to find that the bastard’s head exploded all over the cookies. Thank God she managed to bury it in frosting but still, she almost had to get rid of the whole batch
At Marsha’s cold display towards their peers, the remaining people in the Tupperware lost it, screaming and begging for their families in mass. All that noise only made her roll her eyes and grab another from their group. “Hush. You guys are ruining the Christmas mood.” She grumbled under her breath. If the kids in the other room heard the cries it might bother them, then she'd have to deal with it.
She worked quickly, throwing person after person into the cookies with the same sort of dutiful gusto a cook would in adding ingredients. Fitting considering that was all these people really were at this point, glorified supplements for her cooking. Once upon a time they might’ve had jobs or lives of their own, but now they were going to be cookies. The fact that each person she threw into a cookie lessened the noise the remaining live ones could make was only an added bonus.
One by one the cookies received their special ingredient, until only one gingerbread man remained. By this point adding the people in was almost a subconscious movement. Marsha reached into the container and pulled the last required person without any problems. Like all the others they squirmed, and like all the others who were helpless before her the squirms went ignored. But then…
“OW!” Marsha’s hand jerked back, releasing the person she had held. The little fucker bit her! Her neutral, motherly visage contorted into bitter rage. Hazel eyes scanned around the kitchen wildly. Where was this shrunken idiot? He was going to pay.
It took almost no time before her eyes set upon the lone red splotch on the kitchen floor. On the golden linoleum it stood out as much as it possibly could have. Marsha’s eyes narrowed, gazing mirthfully upon the crimson mess. “Dumbass.” She whispered, low enough that her children couldn’t have a chance of hearing it. The poor fool bit her finger so he could make a run for freedom, but in all his foolhardy wisdom it seemed he had no plan for how to survive the ten story drop to the floor. Now he was just a blemish she’d have to clean up. Bah. Even in death he was an unnecessary nuisance.
Hmm? The more she gazed on the spot the more it seemed like it was…moving? Marsha leaned closer. What she saw brought her hands over her lips, barely stifling a gasp. He was still alive! The impact shattered his legs, but the little escapee was still breathing!
Good. Marsha’s lips curled into a delighted smile. Now that she was focused on him she could just barely hear his pained wheezes for air. Broken as he was and even with his legs fractured to shreds he crawled away from her, ever defiant to escape this hellish kitchen. If she so chose she could’ve just let him be and the problem would have resolved itself. He would’ve bled out long before he would make any headway to freedom, but where was the fun in that? This shrunken person, this insect, attacked her and tried to escape. More than that, now he was making a mess on the floors that she had just cleaned! He was a pest in the brunette’s kitchen, and there was only one way to deal with pests as far as she was concerned.
Anticipation washed over the young mother, excitement coursing through her veins as her foot raised itself over the diminutive man. Her bare foot, worn from many years of life, hovered just over him. She couldn’t help but imagine what it was like for him. The fall crippled him at the very least; it definitely crushed his legs. The pain he was bearing must have been otherworldly, and yet he pushed on, only conscious through sheer willpower. Determination kept him alive and going. She wondered where such feelings went when he looked up to the sight of her bare sole wrinkling above him. Whatever was running through his microscopic brain, it brought his crawls to a standstill.
Maybe he found it to be a beautiful foot? Or maybe he found it was appallingly, stunningly disgusting. Regardless, Marsha kept it in place so that the man could see his inevitable fate. It wasn’t often she took the time to do this sort of thing so meticulously. Marsha drank the sight in. All she saw was the top of her foot, but hidden just out of view beneath it was a person awaiting her judgement. She flexed her toes in anticipation, one sounding off with a pop in the joint. She eagerly bit her lip. This self-imposed wait was quickly becoming unbearable.
From between her toes she could barely, just barely, make out the man as he resumed his futile escape attempt. Barely a minute had passed since Marsha first propped her foot up, and all he had to show for it was a blood trail that was maybe an inch long if that. Even from on high the giant woman could tell he was beginning to slow down. It was time. She was going to enjoy this.
She lowered her heel, slowly, carefully. It met with the beginning of the red pool, creating an audible squelching noise as her heel twisted into the blood splotch. Her foot was pointed at almost a perfect 45 degrees. Although he still remained hidden beneath her foot she knew he was somewhere beneath its shadow, crawling desperately to escape it. Life and freedom were just a mere few inches away for him. Marsha entertained his escape attempt for a few additional seconds. This whole affair was his fault. He could’ve just gone in peace in the gingerbread man like the others, but instead he tried to escape. The second he crossed the vindictive mother was the second he doomed himself to this. Carefully and with methodical slowness, Marsha lowered her sole. Her foot fell gently onto the linoleum. There, perfectly beneath the ball of her foot, she felt him pinned between her and her floor.
Marsha didn’t crush him, not immediately. The moment had to sink in first. Not just for her, or for he who tried to escape, but for those remaining people in the container. They had to see what would happen if they didn’t cooperate, and hey, she was having fun. He struggled beneath her, pounding his fists with what little vigor he had left against her bare sole. His desperation brought his tormentor pure bliss. She bit into her index finger, reveling in the feeling of power as the pressure her foot applied slowly built up. It took but a moment before she felt the pop and saw the pool of red begin to flow from beneath her foot.
It was times like this that Marsha could understand why so many people were into the idea of crushing these littler people for fun. There was definitely a strong appeal TO it. Still, fun time was over and she still had cookies to make. The mother walked back to the counter, taking care not to plant her bloodied foot on the floor. After grabbing a couple paper towels she raised her foot back and glanced over her shoulder. Blood traced the bottom of her foot, highlighting every single print line, and right under the ball of her foot...there he was. The man was unrecognizable. A gory mess of red that looked too broken and meaty to resemble anything. Marsha groaned at the mess and wiped it off. Nice as it felt, the aftermath was too messy for her liking.
By the time she’d finally returned, barely five minutes had gone by since the man had first bitten her. Before, the people in her Tupperware cried out in terror. Now they were deathly silent. Not a single person in the container dared to cry out against her this time around.
Thus, the final gingerbread man was finally granted its shrunken person and Marsha was finally able to slide the pan into the oven. The timer was set. The oven was preheated. Now all that was left was clean up. Her eyes turned to the remaining people. Less than a handful, nowhere near enough for any recipes and likely to spoil before she could get more. What to do. What to do…
She gazed at the bowls again, in particular the leftover batter. Seeing the remnants of her cooking gave the woman a marvelous idea. Marsha reached for the bowl, still with the mixing spoon inside. She’d never done this raw before so truthfully she was a little nervous. All the same, she grabbed a spoonful of batter and reached into the Tupperware. Her fingers grabbed two people without care and dropped them into the gooey, sugary mass.
Marsha licked her lips. Up close the delicious smell of freshly made gingerbread was more enticing than ever. The human ingredients weren’t even an afterthought. Their pleas remained unheard, only growing louder as Marsha’s tongue poked from between her lips.
It danced around the spoon and smashed against the poor people in it, too busy lapping away at the gingerbread batter to pay them any mind. Marsha let out a rumbling hum of delight. It was just too delicious! She had to have more. Her kids were almost certainly going to destroy those cookies when they were done. That left only this little bit of batter for her. Before she even realized it, excitement got the better of the brunette and her mouth quickly opened. Screams assaulted her ears. Each of the tiny people in her spoon got a long, good look at the interior of her mouth in all its slimy glory. Marsha's eager tongue guided the spoon and its passengers deeper within, where Marsha’s taste buds were assaulted with pure, sugary, Christmas bliss. The taste had such an overwhelming presence that she remained still, savoring it.
Her tongue batted at the people within. Even as the saliva withered the batter away to a tasteless mush these people still carried the delicious flavor. She could feel their terrified screams vibrate against her tongue and their little fists punching at it. As if such weak little creatures could do a thing to stop her. It nearly made her spit her food out in laughter. Almost without realizing it Marsha deposited one of the people along her teeth. It was only when the crunch came did she realize what had happened. Sighing, Marsha rolled her tongue for a few more moments and swallowed. If she let the blood linger too long the metallic taste would overpower the cookie's sweetness. That was the problem with raw people.
With that first spoonful finished her spoon dug back into the bowl for more. Her hand reached for her remaining people toppings. There was only one left of each, one spoonful and one person. So this one had to count.
After gathering what remained of the batter and setting her last person into the spoon, Marsha’s eyes met with the sole survivor of her baking: a middle-aged woman not unlike herself. She wasn't far off from Marsha's age, maybe in about five or ten more years or so. Bits of gingerbread cookie batter clung to her little body, holding her nice and tight and making her look oh so appetizing. The more she struggled the more she caked herself in the gooey mess. The woman said something or other, pleas for mercy no doubt. Marsha didn’t so much as hear a word of it. All that mattered was this last morsel of her snack. She licked her lips, finally bringing the spoon in once more.
Somewhere in the back of her mind Marsha laughed at how childish a simple bit of sugar had her acting, the rest delighted in how delicious the spoonful was. Her tongue rolled into the utensil, pushing the woman and batter against the smooth wooden surface. Marsha lost herself in the flavor, her shrunken plaything all but forgotten in lieu of this outstanding gingery taste. It was too much to resist; a spoonful of ginger with just the right degree of sweetness, only enhanced by the futile protests of the woman fighting against her overbearing tongue. Each lick took more of the batter with it, steadily chipping away at her food. The shrunken woman shuddered as Marsha’s slimy appendage casually violated her. Any rights this woman had as a person were stripped from her. In the end all that mattered was the taste Marsha was busy relishing with every slow wave of her tongue. The spoonful was steadily worn down lick by lick, until there was little more than a conglomerated clump of gingerbread batter. Somewhere in that clump sat her final tiny plaything.
Marsha opened her mouth once again. Her tongue retracted back to its den, followed by the rapidly incoming spoon. In one fluid motion she put the spoon in and pulled it right back out, smiling as she saw the wooden utensil was now pristine. Within her mouth her tongue delicately rolled the batter ball around and suckled it like a candy. Piece by piece the clump began to wither to a sugary residue, leaving nothing but a single, batter covered woman, and even the batter was soon removed from her. For all her protests the woman found herself pressed against Marsha’s tongue, smothered beneath its slimy embrace as the saliva threatened to drown her.
It was all too delicious for words, but alas, all good things had to come to an end. There was still a matter of cleanup to do after all. Much as it disappointed her, Marsha pulled her head back and finally allowed the woman she’d been savoring to fall back, swallowing her whole.
“Delicious.” The mother hummed to herself. Without even a moment’s reflection she turned back to the counter. All her ingredients and used bowls and the like were everywhere. Marsha sighed, now came her least favorite part of baking...Cleaning...
“Cookies are done~”
At her summons Marsha immediately heard the pitter patter of excited feet. In came Chris, followed swiftly by Robin. The pair nearly bowled their mother out of the way and hurried to the freshly removed cookie tray with glee. They were met with twelve little gingerbread men atop the pan, each decorated with gumdrop eyeballs and icing across their body. Their sweet smell had the kids bugging Marsha for the better part of twenty minutes now, but all that annoyance was worth it for the sincere look of joy on their young faces.
“Hey now.” Their Mother had to step in just as the two began to reach for their cookies. “What do you say?”
“Merry Christmas Mom!”
“Yeah, Merry Christmas!”
Marsha smiled and nodded. “And to you too. Dig in.” She stepped back and watched the both of them grab a cookie. They couldn’t resist taking a bite immediately, not paying any mind to the crunchy center of their respective cookies.
“Wow Mom. These are so good!” Chris exclaimed with a mouthful of gingerbread.
“Why I’m glad you like them, but don’t talk with your mouth full.” Marsha gently reminded.
“How do you make them?” Robin asked as she swallowed a mouthful.
Marsha thought for a moment. “With love.” She replied with a sincere smile.
“Oooooh~” Both children looked at her in awe.
“Next year I wanna make cookies with Momma!”
“Nuh-uh! I am!”
“Now now kids.” Marsha laughed. “Next year you both can help me. I’ll even let you make your own cookies. How’s that sound?”
“Good.” She nodded. “Now finish your cookies and we’ll do presents after okay?” Marsha said, running her hands through their heads. Her eyes turned to the cookie tray. Maybe come next year she could even tell them about her secret ingredient.