Baker’s Dozen (Unlucky for Some)

Submitted into Contest #153 in response to: Write a story about a character learning to stand up for themselves.... view prompt

8 comments

Suspense Thriller

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

The highest point of Laurie’s day was hearing the clunk of the latch as she pressed the front door shut. She’d wait until her husband pulled out of the driveway. She didn’t dare to close the door before then. He would make her pay for that later; seeming too eager to be shot of him. Today, that prized moment was yet to happen. Laurie hovered in the hallway, adjusting the turtle neck of her sweater, waiting for Nathan to finish fixing his tie in the mirror. She pictured herself garrotting him with his own Windsor knot; his face bloating and turning puce.

Nathan turned, ‘What?’

Laurie veiled her thoughts with a hesitant smile and without waiting for an answer, Nathan picked up his laptop case and stepped towards her. He unpeeled the turtle neck and eyed the jaundicing, plum-coloured marks on her neck. Then he leant in and kissed them.

‘Be good today.’ The words surfed his out-breath, hot on her throat. She resisted the urge to shudder. Then he straightened up and restored her collar. ‘And answer your phone.’

As Nathan turned towards the front door, Laurie’s heart started to skip. The moment was almost here. Soon she would have her back to the door and would be letting out the breath she was holding. But then he stopped, turned and said, ‘Is that skirt tighter than it used to be?’

Laurie squinted at the sun, her eyes smarting as she watched him pull away, and she quietly thanked the seagulls for shitting on the car’s paintwork. She shut the door and then stood sideways in front of the hall mirror. She breathed in, flattening the round of her belly with her palm. The verbal blows hit home as surely as the physical, and they were no less bruising to her resolve. She let go of both her breath and her stomach muscles. Slouch jeans it is, then.

 


Sasha waved at Laurie, who dashed breathlessly into the café at the back of the Brighton Bookshop. Her friend was already tucking into a generous slice of chocolate cake, so Laurie joined the short queue at the counter. It offered a mouth-watering array of Danish pastries, savoury slices and decadent cakes, but with Nathan’s barbed comment still making her bristle, she opted for a fruit smoothie.

‘Sorry I’m late,’ Laurie said, raising her eyebrows. ‘Nathan called just as I was leaving.’

‘Missing you already, is he?’ Sasha’s tone prickled with sarcasm. ‘Bit warm for a polo neck, honey.’

Laurie pulled up her collar.

Sasha’s expression hardened. ‘He hasn’t…?’ She leant in and tugged the neckline of Laurie’s top. ‘Fucking bastard.’ Sasha dropped her fork, its chime against the plate causing heads to turn. ‘Laurie. This is serious. He tried to throttle you?’

Laurie shifted in her seat. ‘It looks worse than it is, I bruise easily.’

‘For Christ’s sake. How long are you going to let him do this? You should give him a taste of his own medicine,’ Sasha said, picking up her fork and shovelling another mouthful of cake, ‘Want some?’

Laurie shook her head and stated to peel the label from her smoothie bottle. It read: ‘Best served cold.’ She wilted into her seat under Sasha’s gaze. ‘I don’t know how to,’ she said, keeping her eyes down.

Laurie’s trilling phone pierced the loaded silence. She turned it over and sighed.

‘That’s him, isn’t it?’ Sasha swiped at the handset. ‘Let me speak to the cowardly shite.’

Laurie twisted way. ‘Hi Nathan… yes, at the bookshop… I said I’d be popping out… just Sasha… no, I won’t be long… love you too.’ She tapped to end the call and looked up.

‘It’s shithead’s birthday next week, isn’t it? Why don’t you surprise him with a big fat cake?’ Sasha slid a book across the table.

Celebration cakes? I don’t really bake—’

‘Open it.’

Laurie shot her friend a quizzical look as she peeled open the front cover. Inside was a black business card embossed with a red, vintage-style font.

Battered & Whipped

Putting the Torte into Torture

‘What on earth…?’ Laurie picked up the card and turned it over. The reverse was violet, on which Sasha had scrawled: ‘Ask for the Baker’s Dozen menu.’

‘Her name is Milady. She’s a dominatrix. And a cake maker.’ Sasha grinned. ‘She helps people.’

‘With cake?’

‘To give someone a taste of their own medicine.’ Sasha leant back and folded her arms. ‘You place the order, she delivers.’

Laurie’s phone vibrated on the table. Their eyes flicked to it, just in time to see Nathan’s message dying on its face: ‘You’re not home yet.’

‘He tracks your location?’

‘Texts me every fifteen minutes and if I don’t reply right away, he phones.’ Laurie picked up her mobile and hurriedly tapped a response. ‘And he calls every hour whether I answer his texts or not.’

‘Why have I not noticed this before?’ Sasha reached across the table and took Laurie’s hand.

‘It’s got worse recently. Anyway,’ Laurie let out a deep sigh, ‘I couldn’t go to this place without him knowing.’

‘Say you’re planning a surprise for his birthday. That being able to track you would give it away.’

‘He’d never buy it.’ Laurie dropped the card into the book and slapped it shut. ‘Thanks anyway.’

‘I’ll come to your place. Leave your phone with me and I’ll reply every time he messages. You can be there and back within the hour.’

Laurie chewed the inside of her cheek, contemplating the half-stripped label on her bottle. ‘Best served cold,’ she said, allowing herself to smile.

 


The frontage of ‘Battered and Whipped’ was a homage to all things gothic. Luxurious black jacquard curtains masked the interior of the shop from its window display; an array of cakes rendered in pewter-effect frosting, with accent colours of purple and crimson, decorated with roses and grapes, winged skulls and gargoyles. Leather-look straps trimmed the tiers, fastened with buckles and padlocks. And each cake delicately finished with a carved fondant lace. One creation had a portion cut away to reveal three layers of red velvet sponge with black syrup oozing from the centre. At the foot of the display was an aluminium plaque engraved with the words ‘Revenge is sweet’.

Laurie hesitated, her hand hovering over the handle. She was about to turn back the way she had come when the door flew open, causing its antique bell to jingle. No one was standing at the threshold, as if the door had opened of its own volition. She edged forward into the dimly lit store.

The walls were daubed in thick, blood-red gloss, viscous and glistening. From the chiffon draped ceiling to polished concrete floor it was decked out as a Mistress’s dungeon. One corner boasted a set of stocks, another a spiked chair with thumb screws. An array of torture instruments adorned the walls; a cattle prod, spiked wheels, limb restraints, whips, ball gags and nipple clamps. The paraphernalia of punishment.

A brass, Victorian cash register sat on the counter at the back of the shop. Behind that there was a door and it was from this that Milady silently emerged as Laurie cautiously took in her surroundings.

‘May I help you?’

Laurie started, letting out a nervous laugh. She edged towards her host.

‘Are you Milady?’

‘Guilty as charged,’ she said, raising one black, neatly pencilled eyebrow.

‘I wanted to place an order.’ Laurie swallowed. ‘From the Baker’s Dozen menu?’

‘Ah, yes. Unlucky for some. I trust you have a score to settle?’ Milady leant on the doorframe with her hands resting on her synched-in waist. She was wearing a black, patent leather bodice. Her fulsome hips were squeezed into a skin tight, black satin pencil skirt with mesh for seams. She wore knee-high biker boots, wielding spiked harnesses around the ankle. Her hair was blue-black and fashioned into a 1940s victory roll, which perfectly complemented her alabaster skin and roughed lips. Laurie thought she could make out two bumps that looked like horns just beneath her hairline.

‘Come through,’ Milady said, pulling aside a beaded curtain that twinkled with amethyst crystals.

Gesturing to an empty chair by a round, lace covered table, Milady took her seat opposite Laurie. She took a slim cigar from its packet and lit it with a Clipper lighter that she lifted from her cleavage. ‘The Baker’s Dozen menu is very specialist. Once an order is placed, I always deliver.’

Laurie’s neck jittered with nerves, ‘I understand,’ she said, trying not to let the smoke that had drifted towards her catch in her throat. ‘Well, actually, I don’t. Could I please see the menu?’

‘The recipient of a Baker’s Dozen cake,’ Milady continued, ignoring Laurie’s question, ‘will be punished in accordance with the ingredients you select. Some ingredients are more difficult to stomach than others, if you take my meaning.’ A blue smoke ring rose from her mouth and hovered between them.

Laurie sat wide-eyed, subconsciously putting her fingers to her neck, where she had attempted to cover the marks left by Nathan with flesh-tinted make-up. Milady stared at the open collar of her shirt with a dark intensity that bored right through her breastbone.

‘Your make-up has faded,’ Milady said, tapping ash into a black glass ashtray. ‘He or she is the recipient?’

Laurie nodded, ‘He.’

‘I’m sure he makes a very worthy target.’ Milady inhaled sharply and then reached under the table. She slipped a leather-bound menu across the lace, as she blew a stream of smoke over her shoulder.

Laurie took it and opened it. She perused the list, scanning the names of Milady’s creations; ‘Cake my day’, ‘Clot it coming’, ‘Don’t get mad, get beatin’, ‘A pie for a pie’, ‘Just desserts’, ‘Gluten your own back.’ Milady had rendered in sponge, ganache and frosting every vengeful thought that Laurie had allowed herself to have. She couldn’t help but smile.

‘Why is it called Baker’s Dozen?’

Milady twisted her cigar into the black glass. ‘The number thirteen, unlucky for some. Baker’s Dozen is a medieval tradition. Bakers gave an extra loaf when selling one dozen in order to avoid being punished. Those who gave short measure could be pilloried or flogged. A little irony, you might say. We give a Baker’s Dozen, he gets flogged.’ The corner of her red lips curled. ‘It was known as the in-bread, the extra loaf, don’t you just love that? In our case the in-bread is a small cupcake that is delivered with the main cake. It contains a powerful sedative.’

‘How do I choose?’

‘You choose according to methods of discipline that you wish to have meted out on your target, to make them atone. As our motto says, we put the torte into torture.’ Milady gave a throaty chuckle.

Laurie stared at her, vacant.

‘At the bottom of the page, darling,’ Milady gestured, ‘the glossary explains it all.’

Laurie’s jaw dropped as she took it in:

Brandy = branding

Batter = beating

Caramelised = applying a blow torch to the skin

Crushed nuts = applying a vice to the genitals

Frosting = putting on ice

Toasted nuts = applying a blow torch to the genitals

Whipped cream = whipping

‘I recommend the frosting. You can’t imagine how painful it is to have your extremities plunged into a bucket of ice. Excruciating.’

‘I’ll take the “Cake my day”, please.’ Laurie said, bristling with expectation.

‘Excellent choice. One of my personal favourites. I shall enjoy delivering this.’ Milady teased a card from her cigar packet. ‘Take this, darling. Go to the website, input the delivery details. You can to leave a video message for him. Something for him to reflect on whilst his cake is… dispensed.’

‘Thank you, Milady.’

‘It’s my absolute pleasure.’ She extended her palm. ‘Cash only.’

 


Fresh from the shower, Nathan edged barefoot down the stairs to the chiming of the front door bell. He towel dried his hair and adjusted the belt on his bathrobe. ‘Laurie?’ he shouted, ‘You there?’ When there was no reply he stepped onto the hall carpet, eyeing the shadow that was bobbing up and down behind the frosted glass of the front door. He draped the towel around his neck, twisted the latch, and pulled the door open.

‘Happy Birthday, Nathan!’ A petite young woman with pink hair tied in bunches, wearing a rubber bikini top and rubber hot pants, with a dog collar around her neck and a love heart pencilled onto her left, pale cheek, jiggled excitedly in her hi-tops on the doorstep. She was holding a large, white cake box.

‘Oh,’ Nathan said, taking a step back. ‘For me?’ He pointed to his chest with an air of false humility. ‘Laurie, is this you?’ he hollered over his shoulder.

‘Someone has arranged a birthday surprise for you. It will be delivered by Mistress Milady.’ The girl said with breathy, high pitched delight.

‘But you’re delivering it now?’ Nathan nodded at the cake box, wondering that perhaps Laurie had made herself scarce so that she wouldn’t give the surprise away.

‘Oh, this. Of course.’ She opened the box and tilted it towards him. It was empty but for a small red cupcake. ‘Milady says you are to eat this now.’ She picked up the cupcake and offered it.

‘Ah, I get it,’ Nathan grinned, ‘This from the lads in the footie team, right? Some kind of stripogram? OK, sweetheart, let me have it.’ Relieved now that Laurie wasn't there, he stepped back and waved her in.

The girl didn’t move. She stood still, presenting the cupcake. ‘Milady says you are to eat this now.’

Nathan shrugged. ‘OK, if this is part of the show, you’re the boss.’ He took the cupcake, peeled back the paper case and took a large bite, wincing at its bitter taste.

‘Oh… ’ the girl said, smiling.

Nathan swallowed hard, eager to get the show on the road. Then he took another bite.

‘… I’m not the boss.’

He started to feel lightheaded and faintly sick, unable to stop himself from flopping against the wall. ‘What’s…?’ He slid down and slumped on the hall carpet, legs splayed, his bathrobe falling open. Unable to move his neck, he urged his eyeballs towards the girl. Her features warped, as if she were still behind the frosted pane. Dark stains bled into the edges of his vision, as a light voice that sounded as if it might evaporate said:

‘Milady is the boss.’

 


Before his flickering lids could open, Nathan could feel the sensation of cold rods across his back. He couldn’t move his arms. He shook his head to clear it, but for a moment it scattered the scene like flakes in a snow globe. He closed his eyes, took in a deep breath, and then opened them again.

‘Ah, you’re with us, Nathan.’ Milady tugged at the finger of a lace glove with her teeth.

As he watched her slowly skin her hand of the glove, it dawned on Nathan that he was completely naked. And he was strapped to a steel frame by his wrists and ankles. He thrashed side to side.

‘Oh, I wish Laurie could see you now.’ Milady laughed. ‘Not such the bully boy now, are we?’ As she said this, she sauntered over to a bench displaying a set of instruments that looked to Nathan like a perverse surgeon’s trolley. Milady picked up a horse crop, gripped it at each end and flexed it. Then she strode over to Nathan and she struck hard him across the ribs.

‘Jesus Christ!’

‘I’m afraid he won’t help you here, Nathan.’ She took a rolled up slip of paper from the cleavage of her bustier and made a show of reading it. ‘Whipped cream. That was one of the ingredients in your birthday cake. Just as Laurie ordered it. ‘Whipped.’ She lashed him again. ‘Cream.’ And again.

‘Stop, please. Whatever she’s paid you, I’ll double it. Treble. Name your price.’ A globule of salvia oozed onto Nathan’s chin, as three welts began to blaze across his chest and abdomen. ‘Please.’

‘Once an order is placed, Milady always delivers. Oh, but silly me. You must be so confused.’ Milady walked to a dark corner of the concrete room. She wheeled over a television set and positioned it in front of him. She tapped the spacebar on a laptop beneath it. Nathan stared, slack-jawed, as Laurie’s face filled the screen.

‘Happy Birthday Nathan. Or should I say Happy Birthday to me? Because today I am born anew. As you lie there, stand there, sit there? I don’t know, and I don’t care, as you lie there taking what’s coming to you, I want you to think about how much every blow hurts. I want you to think about how humiliated you feel right now, stark bollock naked and unable to do anything about what is being done to you. Not knowing whether there will be scars, broken bones, internal bleeding. And I want you to think about me. When -sorry, if - you get home, I will be gone. And you won’t ever try to find me. Goodbye, Nathan.’

He watched Laurie’s smiling face fade to black. It pained his lungs to sob, with his arms strapped wide apart. And as he lifted his head from his chest, Milady was there before him.

‘Now let me see, was it crushed nuts or toasted?’ She took out the slip of white paper and glanced at it. ‘Ooh.’ Milady’s smile bloomed as she twisted the ignition on the blow torch and its blue flame roared.

‘Both.’

July 08, 2022 17:34

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8 comments

R W Mack
23:49 Jul 13, 2022

I think you mean triple, rather than treble. I loved this story. Authors willing to go somewhere dark and push the envelope is what makes literature so engaging: readers get to experience a reality they wouldn't otherwise. The pacing was alright and it was a quick read. I admit, the story was a bit predictable and I felt you could've really leaned into his expressions in description or dialogue, but that's just me. Keep going places people aren't comfortable with. That's what writers exist for. We shine lights on the parts of humanity peop...

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K.T. Jayne
08:07 Jul 14, 2022

Thanks so much RW! I'm delighted that you enjoyed my story. I wholeheartedly agree with your comments - both the good and the constructive! I'm still learning to pace myself with writing and editing a story within a week but practice will hopefully make...well, better! I have always been drawn to the dark side of human nature, although I can't tell you why, but certainly I will continue to poke and prod those dark places. Thank you.

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Michał Przywara
20:51 Jul 20, 2022

An enjoyable revenge story :) It starts off strong, and Nathan really comes across as a creep. It's easy to sympathize with Laurie, and we desire some vigilante justice. We appreciate her friend encouraging her to stand up for herself. Milady and her establishment are well described, and I particularly liked the smoking. A minor detail, but it helped set the stage. "Battered and Whipped" This is a brilliant name. For a bakery, for a dominatrix, for revenge. It's just brilliant :)

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K.T. Jayne
09:55 Jul 21, 2022

Wow, thank you so much! Really appreciate your positive comments Michal. I admit that the kernel of the idea had been with me for some time, and when I saw this prompt I just knew I had to knuckle-down and write it. Despite its revenge theme, I was writing very much with my tongue in my cheek :) So pleased you enjoyed it.

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Amanda Fox
14:26 Jul 14, 2022

This was absolutely delightful, and oh how I wish such a service had been available for me back in the day. Aside from the plot being fun, you did a great job ratcheting up the tension, and your writing is very engaging.

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K.T. Jayne
18:59 Jul 14, 2022

Thank you so much Amanda! I’m so happy that you enjoyed this story! It is a very unconventional service, for sure. Your comments on my writing is so greatly appreciated, a sincere thank you.

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Betty Gilgoff
01:57 Jul 14, 2022

An interesting, though uncomfortable read which maybe bordered on almost too graphic for what was needed. That said, I think you've done it well and it is definitely a topic worth tackling. Great descriptions of the settings and the tension for Laurie, not just between her and Nathan, but also Laurie's reluctance to act. Very believable and creative.

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K.T. Jayne
08:02 Jul 14, 2022

Thanks so much for your feedback, Betty. I'm very appreciative of the time you have taken to read and respond to my story. I guess the story harks back to a horror series I used to watch as a youth back in the 80s, and whilst I didn't intend for it to be horror, perhaps that would account for the leaning towards the graphic. I will take your comments on board - thank you.

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