Contest #229 winner 🏆

55 comments

Horror

The Gingerbread Cookies

Let’s go downstairs and bake some cookies, like mother used to make. The warm smell sits right at home in your nostrils, invading them like wild ax-murderers hacking and slashing their way through endless miles of human bodies that stand in the way of their inhumane, carnal desires. Shhh, shhh, but that’s too dark. It’s Christmas after all. So let’s go downstairs and bake some cookies, like mother used to make.

One step… then two… Ooooohhhh, isn’t this great? You’ve never baked gingerbread cookies before, oh no, because you always thought that you would never be able to make them oh so good like mother used to. What did she say she made them with? Some kind of special ingredient. What was it? Was it sugar and spice and everything nice? Was it…love? That special ingredient that every mother cooks with because you are their extra special little kid?

Oh my, this is exciting! Your heart hammers against your ribcage as you set the oven to… Oh, you don’t know what to set the oven to, you’ve never made these before. Probably 300º will be good. You bend down, spin the dial. But what’s that? What the heck? There’s already a baking tray in there. You take it out, confused. On it, there’s a set of perfectly cut gingerbread men. They wear little black tuxedos with white buttons, their smiles expose endless rows of sharpened, white teeth, and their wide green eyes watch you intently with their white pupils. In the center, one of them stares right at you, holding a folded up note in its tiny dough hand. You snatch it from him, not caring about the little man’s feelings.

“To my little boy,

My oh my, I can’t believe how the years have passed! It seems like just yesterday that whatever secret deity governs this universe sent me to my untimely punishment beneath the Earth’s soil. I know, I was always so poetic, right? Now enjoy these cookies, I hope they taste just like how mommy used to make.

Love,

Mother”

Ding! Apparently ten minutes pass while you read that short letter, but to be fair you don’t read it once, do you now, you read it time after time until the words start doing tangos in your head as they spin spiderwebs around one another. 

Now after it dings, you’re supposed to put the cookies back in and start the baking, Mother said.

How hot do you bake them? you asked.

Hot, very hot, Mother said.

But don’t they not like being so hot?

Oh, these little guys won’t mind at all, Mother said, She slid the tiny men into the three hundred degree heat chamber. She smiled. There was really nothing to it.

Nothing to it.

Well, there’s nothing to it, you think as you slide the baking tray in.

And as the minutes tick by, their faces change. No more are the artificial smiles plastered on by a woman who would ruthlessly murder them. Now are the faces of men who know their deaths are coming, smiles that slowly flatten in the corners as three minutes turn to four, five minutes to six, until the red frosting of their mouths fall clean off, and they can’t shout for help, just as you couldn’t call the ambulance when your – their? – mother started clutching her heart and breathing heavily minutes after she slid the baking tray filled with small people into the oven for the final time, yelling for you to get the phone, to get up, to do something and not just sit there as the people cooked in their torture chamber. 

And then they come alive. One of them pokes its head up, its blank eyes staring into your heart. It’s lifeless, dull, unknowing of the infernal fire around it, like you on that fateful night, not knowing that mother will soon be gone for good. It looks at you, and then it stands on its two stubby legs, stumbling as it gets up. It walks to the edge of the baking tray, carefully navigating around its still dead – unconscious? – friends as they lie down, their backs against the aluminum’s sun-hot surface. It looks its friends in the eyes, and maybe it thinks “I’m sorry that I’m here and you’re not,” and then steps over the edge, falling down into the oven’s fiery, incomprehensible bottom. 

Clunk.

Mother? you asked, your body shaking all over. Why was she on the ground? Why were her eyes closed? She may have been asleep for all you knew. Maybe she was. Maybe–

And then they all stand up. They look like an army, all dressed in their uniform suits. One of them peers down and looks at its friend, all dismembered and burned on the oven’s floor. It looks more like charcoal than a body. They form a single file line in the middle of the tray, a gingerbread snake if you will. And one by one, each of them takes turns taking suicidal leaps off the edge, and one by one you catch their faces as they take their fatefull falls. 

“Stop crying, kid,” they all say. “Mother will be okay.”

Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.

The gingerbread charcoal pile grows and grows until it is a small mountain. In it, you see a face. Mother. And she smiles the gingerbread smile, looking at you, and you can’t tell if it is a smile of relief or a smile of scorn. But it doesn’t matter. Your mother’s smile is the thing you have always wanted the most, and if this was the way you got it then so be it. But that smile rang hollow, now devoid of any meaning, any life. An eternal reminder that mother is gone. 

And who’s to blame for that?

And yet you bake those cookies every year, forgetting that you tried the year before because the waves of memory forces their dark underbellies to recede. And every year you hope that they taste like how mother used to make.

December 23, 2023 04:05

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55 comments

Alice Brooks
16:51 Dec 29, 2023

I gotta say, I don't really understand what's going on - are we hallucinating? Are these actual people being tortured? It's confusing - and I like that. It's deliciously creepy, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation, and I like the way you use your words. You had me hooked immediatly with the first few sentences. Well done on your win - you deserve it.

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Aaron Chin
00:04 Dec 30, 2023

Thank you, I always like to add in some disorientation whenever I can!

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J. I. MumfoRD
06:52 Dec 28, 2023

I like the rhythm to your writing, it makes for a solid, clear piece. Well done.

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Aaron Chin
04:39 Dec 29, 2023

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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Rose Winters
20:03 Dec 29, 2023

From one horror writer to another, congrats, your story is as "well done" as the cookies!

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Aaron Chin
00:03 Dec 30, 2023

Thank you, fellow horror writer!

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Rose Winters
05:59 Dec 30, 2023

:)

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Michele Duess
16:44 Dec 29, 2023

Great horror story. You captured the hopelessness of the whole endeavor. Congrats on the win!

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Chelsea Therrien
14:15 Jan 05, 2024

i totally agree with you on that

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20:16 Dec 29, 2023

Congratulations Aaron! Creepy AF but I love it! :)

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Aaron Chin
00:03 Dec 30, 2023

Thank you!

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Hazel Guzman
18:37 Dec 29, 2023

This was a really interesting piece! I can't wait to hear more from you! Welcome to Reedsy and keep up with the good work!

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Aaron Chin
00:05 Dec 30, 2023

Thank you! Can't wait to post on here some more

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Erika Darling
17:37 Dec 29, 2023

This story grabs your attention from the very beginning when it compares the smell of baking cookies to axe murderers. Love it!

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AnneMarie Miles
17:17 Dec 29, 2023

Welcome to Reedsy and congratulations on the win, Aaron! I love the voice in this piece. It really enhances the horror feel, and the writing itself is excellent and smooth. I always thought gingerbread cookies were a bit creepy, putting little people into the oven. Love how you rolled with that. Thanks for sharing!

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16:44 Dec 29, 2023

Congratulations- first submission, first win!

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Mary Bendickson
16:27 Dec 29, 2023

Congrats on the win. And welcome to Reedsy.

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Mish D
11:00 Dec 31, 2023

This story made me sad, I wanted to change it so badly to make it happy. Which obviously means you did what every writer sets out to do. I was engaged, completely enveloped by the story, your characters, the atmosphere, unknowing what would happen and wondering if I would have opened the door for them - only to think back to those teeth **shiver**. Awesome win! My husband is going to love this one!

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Annie Blackwell
19:37 Dec 30, 2023

I'm not fond of horror stories. They give me nightmares. But I had to keep reading once I started. I had to know what was going to happen. That's the mark of great writing. Very well done, Aaron. I think you already did the nightmare for me!

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Anne Owano
13:12 Dec 30, 2023

Yes...I was disoriented...but got the gist of the story...Yeah. mystery indeed.

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J. D. Lair
16:31 Dec 29, 2023

Very enjoyable horror story Aaron! Congrats on the win and welcome to Reedsy. :)

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Tim Vester
07:33 Jun 24, 2024

Hello Aaron- Like a few others, I have really enjoyed this story and I would like to ask your permission to narrate it on our storytelling YT channel. Here is a link. If you are game, you can reply here - reply via email. http://www.youtube.com/@AlternateRealityReading AlternateRealityReading@gmail.com Thank you- and great work on the story!

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12:21 May 25, 2024

Just wonderful. What a perfect way to display what goes on in a child mind from the loss of a parent. This story is full of inspiration and humor. But yet as playful as the story takes . You will also find yourself falling in to the emotional pit of sadness for this child loss.

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Allison Badker
19:16 May 21, 2024

I like it

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Dario Florestal
07:56 May 08, 2024

I have to say; a great congradulation to this i agree whit it

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01:49 Apr 17, 2024

OKAY YOU ARE AMAZING I COULD READ THIS ALL DAY EVEN THO IT'S 2024!

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Mariana Aguirre
01:21 Mar 09, 2024

Love it 👏👏👏

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