From: (Gomi no Sensei)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: FTS: Give Us This Day
Date: 2 Dec 1997 00:10:18 -0800
Organization: Pollywog Pond
Lines: 116
Message-ID: <660fpa$je1$>
X-Trace: 881050221 24557 gomi
Keywords: fail to suck

Gray flannel, stalking down the street.  Young.  Purposeful.  
Briefcase-laden.  His head turns and his nostrils flare; abruptly 
he is no longer a suit but a young man not yet twenty-five with 
an uncomfortable collar and an expression of puzzled delight.  As 
he turns around in bewilderment, it seems to him that the world 
has suddenly turned to freshly baked bread.  Gingerbread oxfords.  
Pumpernickel streets.  Whitebread stationery and blackcurrant 

He tries to follow his nose to the source of the oven's sweet 
exhalation, but the bread-scent is so pervasive (and yet not 
cloying, rather delightful in its enthusiasm) that he can find no 
direction, but lurches this way and that down the street, 
avoiding black leather purses and smart red ties until accident 
leads him to a storefront with unusually thick glass and a 
painted wooden door that says:

                   Order of the Herb

The door closes behind him, but the smell decides to stay outside 
a while and play.

	- * - * - * -

"Where is he?"

"I don't know, sir."  The office didn't smell of anything in 
particular.  It was Trim, Efficient, and above all Professional.  
Leather and shiny brass and glowing wood paneling, but no smells 
of cow or stone under soil or forest, not even from the people, 
of which there were two: the thin man behind the desk and the 
thin man in front of it.  The man in front of the desk resembled 
the one behind it in every way except that the pressures of 
shuffling numbers from paper to wires and from wires to papers 
hadn't quite yet ruined his health, and so he was not considered 
to be ready for advancement.

"We need his briefcase.  The papers in it.  They have important 
numbers.  Where is he, or at least his briefcase?"

"I don't know.  Shall I find out, sir?"  The room was so sterile 
that even the least subtle of implications died unheeded, beating 
senselessly against the paneling like exotic mouth-moths.


	- * - * - * -

Inside the bakery, the smell was muted.  A thin floury haze 
softened every edge, and the scent itself was muted, as if in 
reverence.  Behind the counter was a man of fifty, or perhaps 
forty -- the flour in his hair made it difficult to tell how many 
follicles had been convinced by the years to abandon their 
forefathers' dark faith and indulge in the heathenish worship of 
white.  His well-muscled forearms propelled his shockingly long 
fingers into, over, and around a dark fetal lump of dough.

"Hey, g'morning.  Get you anything?"  His voice was low and 

"Yes!  I mean, I don't know yet.  Ah, gimme a couple of minutes."  
The young man, coming out of his daze but still less than 
coherent, spun around, looking at the bread that covered the 
racks that covered the walls.  Rye, wheat, sorghum, barley, and 
oat; baguettes, buns, loaves, slices, and rolls.  A special 
corner just for cookies.

"Take y'r time."  The baker went back to his kneading.  The young 
fellow collected his wits and a lemon tart and headed for the 
register.  Before he could reach for his wallet, however, a 
familiar bony face came up to the window.  Thin hands opened the 
door.  Reached for his shoulder.

"You are shirking!  We need your papers, your numbers.  Our 
supervisor is distraught, and you are wasting time.  Come."  The 
fleshless hand left his shoulder, reached for the briefcase.

But he didn't want to leave, or at least not so soon.  The bakery 
was warm, smelled pleasant, and had an atmosphere of casual 
courtesy wholly unlike the brittle, demanding etiquette of his 
workplace.  Perhaps it was (as some might have it) an 
undisciplined, escapist act, a dangerous subversion.  Or perhaps 
he was just getting comfortable, and didn't want to leave.

Whatever the reason, he turned to the baker as the emissary's 
hand descended towards the briefcase, and very softly whispered, 
"Help me."

And the dough rose from the kneading table and wrapped itself 
around the thin fleshless head, kneading the skull in a strange 
reversal of its usual role.  As if suddenly and ruthlessly 
leavened, it expanded, covering the pinstriped lapels, the loud 
tie, the black wingtips.  Yet the dough was not in a man-sized 
lump when the man, the briefcase, the papers in it, and the 
numbers on the papers had all been consumed; rather, it was 
merely as long as the baker's arm, although that itself was a 
considerable weight.

The baker sighed.  "Well, get over here and help me knead, then.  
I expect it'll take all day to get this batch done."

		- * - * - * -

He sleeps on the cot in the storeroom, next to the flour sacks 
and the boxes of yeast.  He has weekends off, and takes long 
train rides into the countryside, where he climbs trees.  The 
bread still smells wonderful.  Every so often a black purse or a 
red tie will come into the store, and when he gives them their 
change he makes sure to smile very politely and not knead the 
dough until they've left the store.  Sometimes it seems to him 
that his fingers are getting longer, but it is probably all in 
his mind.
kono sora wo daite kagayaku,
shounen yo shinwa ni nare.