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Fantasy Fiction Teens & Young Adult

The sign said Magic Mystery Tour Bakery. Jed and Mary had heard about it from some college friends. For two weeks that was all they could talk about.

“You’ve got to try their baked goods, man. They were truly magical. After a few bites, I felt I was on an acid trip, just like my folks described. The host insisted their goods were drug free. There were a few cops in the shop buying muffins so I gotta believe, they’re on the up and up. Try their Magic Mystery chocolate cake. It will transport you to a different world.” Jake was rapturous in his description, but the couple took it with a grain of salt since he was always over the top. Besides, wasn’t he the president of the Fantasy and Magic club? He had a vivid imagination. Still, a little shop off Wooster street in Soho intrigued them. They liked walking through Soho and the Village over the weekends. Discovering new shops and cafes was always fun. Mary used to listen to her mom’s copy of the Beatles’ Magic Mystery Tour album on vinyl. So, the name had an extra attraction for her. She loved all things quirky. As an English major at Cornell, she loved adventure and fantasy. That’s what attracted her to Jed. He had a sense of adventure and was definitely quirky. With his long hair and a beard, he looked like a lumberjack or like some of those old pictures of John Lennon on later Beatles’ albums. At six foot-seven, he really stood out. He stood apart from most of the East coast Cornell students. After all, he was from Oregon. It wasn’t just his appearance. He had a dark dry sense of humor and a vivid imagination. In fact, it was his membership of the Magic and Fantasy club that first brought him to her attention. She was a first-year inductee, and he was on the membership committee. During her initiation interview, he stood in the back of the room towering over the rest of the members. His presence alone made her feel she belonged. She had always been an outlier. Her bright red hair, freckles and height made her stand out in any crowd. Yet she felt strangely comfortable in this group. She finally felt she belonged. Many of the club members were in her English classes but she had never seen this tall guy before. That changed the next day when he appeared in her Restoration period English class. To her surprise he was the new teaching assistant, a PHD candidate in English literature. Despite some dubious ethical questions, they started dating and within a few months were living together.


As Jake had described, the bakery was housed in a quaint Edwardian building. The aroma of baked goods wafted through the narrow alleyway drawing the couple to its entrance. There was no window or large sign indicating its existence, just a plaque on a tall wooden door that read M.M.T. bakery by appointment only. An old-fashioned bell with a pull chain hung over the door. Jake had instructed Mary and Jed to ring the bell and tell the owner he had made them a noon time reservation. Mary pulled the chain enthusiastically. She was intrigued by the mystery and old school quaintness of the bakery. A wooden slot in the middle of door slid open and two bespectacled eyes appeared.

“Yes?” The voice was tremulous but seemed welcoming.

“Jake from Cornell’s Fantasy and magic club made an appointment for us.” Mary answered.

“Names, please.” The eyes squinted as the bodyless guardian of the bakery spoke.

“Jed and Mary.” Jed stepped in front of Mary and answered.

“Yes, yes. Come in.”

Mary and Jed could hear the sound of several latches being unfastened and the door swung open. Suddenly they were overwhelmed by the sweet aroma of baked goods. As their eyes adjusted to the dim candle lighting of the shop, they were bedazzled by the trays of colorful pastries and sweets on round tables scattered along a long dark hallway. The depth of the hallway was surprising. No one could have imagined its length based on the exterior of the building. Their host was a pixie of a man with thin gray hair, wire spectacles and a stooped posture. He wore a tattered gray sweater, black pants and pointed red house slippers. When the couple entered, he gestured down the hallway and said:

“Welcome to the Magic Mystery Tour bakery. All the baked goods and sweets are for sale. They are labeled and are sure to give you experience of a lifetime or moneyback guaranteed. Feel free to peruse the shop’s delights before making your choices.”

Mary and Ted looked at each other with delight and both acknowledged the little man’s invitation with a “thanks, we will.”

They slowly walked from table to table, reading the cards set before each platter and matching them to the delicacies. On the first table sat a tray with several slices of a multilayered dark chocolate cake labeled Let Them Eat chocolate cake. Next to it was a trayful of The Apple Crumble in the Jungle apple crumble. The aroma from both trays was enticing but they had to see the other selections. On the next table sat a tray of Custard’s Last Stand tarts. They looked delectable. Next to them sat a trayful of slices of Newton’s apple pie and another trayful of Boston Tea Party cream pie. Each table had a different assortment of themed pastries or sweets.

Mary kept looking back at the chocolate cake and Jed could not resist the apple crumble. They had made their choices and registered them with their host who was always hovering behind them. He wrapped the pastries in some special nonstick paper, placed them on colorful paper plates and then carefully in a large paper bag.

“How much do we owe you?” Jed asked as he took the bag from the host.

“The first purchases are free. We only request that you follow the instructions I included in the bag and wait until you return home.”

Ted and Mary looked at each other and shrugged. They agreed to the terms and left after thanking the little man for his generosity.

“What do you think that was about?” Ted asked Mary as they strolled home.

“I’m not sure. It’s weird but I’m sort of excited to find out.


Jed and Mary sat at their kitchen table silently staring at the two pastries in front of them. They were both slightly anxious about the effects their chosen pastries would have on them. Would it be psychedelic like Jake implied? Is that why the instructions indicated that they should be in a safe and comfortable place before tasting them? Why did it say to wear warm clean clothes? Although they were intrigued and amused by the secrecy and mystery shrouding the bakery and its goods, they were a little fearful.

“Maybe one of us should eat their pastry first while the other watches over them. I’d feel safer that way.” Mary suggested.

Jed laughed as she nodded and replied: “I think we’re being ridiculous but okay. If a wimpy guy like Jake survived the experience, I’m sure we will. Besides, I’m beginning to think our only experience will be gastronomic. I hope we’re not disappointed.”

“But Jake…”

“Yeah, yeah Jake said he had an almost mystical experience. He also says he’s a wizard. Do you believe him? I’m sorry to be a skeptic. I love all things magical as much as anyone else. Alice in Wonderland is one of my faves…. Okay, let’s do it! You go first.”


Mary rose, poured herself a glass of milk, took a fork out of a drawer and returned to her seat. She paused for a few seconds and then ate several pieces of her Let Them Eat chocolate cake. At first, she just savored the richness of the chocolate and was impressed by its richness. Then she felt herself falling into a deep sleep. When she awoke, she was overcome by the putrid smell of body odor and sewage. She was standing in a large crowd in front of a platform. There was a large man on the platform standing over a woman whose head was in what looked like a guillotine.

Mary looked around her and realized the people were dressed like eighteenth century French peasants. Fortunately, since her mother was French, Mary spoke and understood the language and had studied French history. She had read a recent biography of Marie Antoinette and realized she was witnessing her beheading. It had to be a dream. The people around her were chanting and shouting encouragement to the executioner.

“Kill the filthy whore!” shouted the tall peasant next to her while shaking his fist.

The young woman behind her, dressed in a shawl and ragged dress shouted: “Let her see if there’s any cake in hell. The gall of that woman. My wee ones are starving, and she says: ‘let them eat cake’.

Several peasants took that as a cue and started to chant: “Let her eat cake!”

Mary couldn’t help herself. She had to correct the misconception. She turned and addressed in perfect Parisian French the crowd surrounding her. “You know she really didn’t say those words.”

The tall peasant next to her looked her up and down and smiled threateningly.

“Pardon mademoiselle, you speak the King’s French and dress like a foreigner. I’m sure Robespierre would love to debate whether the whore said those words or not. Let me introduce you to him.”

The man grabbed her arm, Mary screamed and blacked out. She awoke in her kitchen chair with Jed hovering over her.

“Are you okay? I thought I lost you for a minute. It was as if you were in a trance for several minutes and then you were screaming. What happened?”

“You wouldn’t believe it. I was in Paris in a crowd watching Marie Antoinette be beheaded. It felt so real, but it probably was a nightmare or a bad acid trip. Not what I bargained for. I’m not sure you should try your scone.”

“Are you sure you’re, okay?” Jed had his arm around Mary’s shoulders.

“Yes, but I would hesitate to try another piece of cake.”

Jed nodded and felt reassured. The adventurer in him drew him towards the apple crumble. He couldn’t resist. He had minored in history and was a big boxing fan. Could the Apple Crumble in the Jungle take him ringside to one of the greatest fights in history? He couldn’t resist and took several bites of the scone. He fell into a deep sleep and awoke to loud cheering and the smell of sweat. George Foreman was sitting on a stool next to him and his trainer was encouraging him to keep punching. He was falling into the rope a dope trap. Nobody seemed to notice Jed standing there until he spoke.

“It’s a trap. Ali wants you to keep punching until you’re exhausted and then he’ll knock you out.”

Foreman and his trainer looked up. George ominously pointed at Jed with a glove and asked:

“Who the fuck is this guy and what is he doing here?”

George rose and Jed backed out of the ring while saying: “just trying to help.” He could see security running towards him and he didn’t get far. It was hard to hide his six foot-seven frame. He didn’t resist the two massive men who grabbed his arms. In a few seconds, he blacked out and awoke in the kitchen chair. Mary held both of his hands in hers and had a furrowed brow.

“You had me worried there for a few minutes. You were muttering something like ‘it’s a mistake’. Tell me all about it.”

It took Jed a few seconds to gather his thoughts and reflect on his feelings about the experience. Suddenly he smiled broadly and shook his head as he answered.

“It was scary for a moment but what a rush! I was actually in the ring with George Foreman and Muhammad Ali in Manila. It was the quintessential boxing match. I tried to give George advice, but I guess you can’t change history. I got into a little trouble with the security guys.”

Mary looked at Jed and shook her head before saying: “I’m not sure what all that means but do you think you were dreaming or drugged?”

“It seemed pretty real to me. I’m not going to finish the scone, but I’d like another appointment at the bakery. I need to understand what just happened. Maybe we can find some pastry that gives us a more positive historical experience. I’ve always been intrigued by time travel. H.G. Wells’ Time Machine was one of my favorite novels when I was young.”


Several weeks passed and they finally obtained another reservation at the bakery. Jake assured them that not every pastry delivered a dark experience. It was variable but the time travel was real. He showed them some tablet he swore Moses gave him on Mount Sinai. Jed just smiled but chose not to challenge him. He just wanted another reservation.

During their walk through the streets of Soho, Mary and Jed compiled a list of questions they had for their host. Once they arrived at the wooden door and rang the bell, they decided not to buy any baked goods without certain assurances. The bespectacled eyes appeared at the little slot in the door, and they were welcomed in. To their surprise, the hall was brightly lit this time. The aroma was still enticing but strangely different. The tables were covered blue tablecloths and the selection of pastries had changed. The host was the same pixie-like man, but he was somehow different. He was dressed in a tuxedo and top hat, wore pointed black shoes and had a new twinkle in his eye.

“Welcome back young ones. Your friend told me that your gastronomic experiences were a little rough. The first tastes always are. Be assured that your next sampling will be different, usually more positive. As you can see, we have a whole new selection.”

Mary nodded and asked: “Sir, we both had unique experiences but were they drug free? Were we dreaming?”

The host shook his head vehemently and answered: “All our goods are drug-free. What you experienced was the magic of our sweets. I supervise their creation myself. If you insist you were dreaming, so be it. You may change your mind. Take a tour of our new selections. See if any of them draw you to them.” He then gestured to the hallway.

Jed and Mary couldn’t resist temptation and started their tour. The first table contained platters of Napoleons marked appropriately on the identifying card. Mary paused for a minute at the table and shook her head. “I’m not going back to eighteenth or nineteenth century France.”

Jed smiled, nodded, took her hand and moved on to the next table. It had a tray of lemon tarts marked Socratic Oratories. Jed looked puzzled but Mary explained:

“It makes sense. In my philosophy 101 class, I learned that Socrates compared oratories to pastries. They both produce gratification and pleasure. It might be interesting to meet the old guy.”

Jed agreed but persuaded her to look at some of the other options. The next table contained a platter of slices of upside-down cake labeled Kitty Hawk Upside-Down Cake. Jed’s eyes widened and he exclaimed:

“It would be cool to meet Orville and Wilbur. Let’s see the other options first.”

Next was a tableful of large chocolate brownies labeled Schmeling’s Brown Bomber Brownies. Jed became very animated and explained to Mary that it could mean another trip to a legendary boxing match. Joe Louis and Max Schmeling met in two epic matches during the nazi era in the thirties. The fighters were depicted as good versus evil. Jed was hooked but Mary urged him to look at other options. The next few tables were uninteresting but then a large tray of chocolate cheese tortes with fresh blueberry topping caught their eyes. Jed was puzzled by its label- Darrow’s Monkey Torts.  Mary smiled and nodded.

“Don’t you get it? First of all torte is misspelled, tort without an ‘e’ is a legal term. Darrow is Clarence Darrow, and it is referring to the Scopes Monkey trial. I saw the movie and read the book. It was one of the most riveting trials in the history of the U.S. It validated Darwin’s theory. I’d love to see it live.”

Jed was tempted. “Yeah, I know all about it. I’d love to be there with you. Let’s ask the host if we can time travel or dream together if we eat from the same slice. We’d have a lot of fun. Besides, if anything, dangerous happens I could protect you.”

They had made up their minds and gestured to the host. He hurried to their side and was delighted by their choice. He stroked his chin as they posed the possibility of tandem time travel.

“It’s been attempted and failed several times. However, I have made some adjustments to this recipe in particular and believe it’s possible. Twenty dollars and you’ll find out.”

Jed and Mary looked at each other and decided it was worth it. They paid the host and watched as he wrapped one slice and placed it in a special bag. They thought it significant that the bag was decorated with a picture of a boy and a girl holding hands as they flew through the sky. Would that be them? They were excited to find out.

December 12, 2023 21:21

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Mary Bendickson
21:54 Dec 12, 2023



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