The Muffin Man Part 2.
The round little boy and his friends waited down the street from the little bakery on Drury Lane. The baker had long since closed the shop up for the day, dampened the fires in the stone ovens, and prepared his dough for the next day. A single candle remained lit in the window on the upper floor of the baker’s shop where he kept his bed. They ducked out of sight in a nearby alleyway as the older man’s face appeared in the window. He looked younger, more youthful, seeming to glow in the light wash of candle light through the window panes. The baker paused for a moment and peered out of the window, scanning the street with sharp eyes, before blowing out the candle and tiredly turning back towards his bed.
The boys waited an hour longer, making sure that all the residents of Drury Lane would be fast asleep. Then, under the thick blanket of darkness, they crept up to the window of the bakery and threw a cobble through it. Giggling with devious glee as it shattered and tinkled to the ground, they ran back to their hiding spot and waited for a sign of their discovery. They waited for the bark of a dog, flicker of light through a window, or the call of a peeler to alert others to their crime. When no call echoed through the thick darkness, when no dog howled, and no candles illuminated the windows facing the streets, the boys raced back across the street towards the shattered window that lay like millions of neglected sugar crystals upon the walkway.
The boys stuffed their pockets with sweet bread and sticky buns, and threw the cooling trays of gingerbread men to the floor before turning to the display of perfect gingerbread children in the window. Together they tore apart the gingerbread children, eating hands, feet, and heads. The little round boy’s greedy fingers found the last gingerbread child, the newest addition to the Muffin Man’s collection, the sweet honey haired gingerbread girl, with a baby blue icing dress. The round little boy took a large bite out of her dress and wiped his sticky mouth with the back of his sleeve.
In the dim light the faces of his friends were dark and sunken, glints of light sparked off of their eyes as they turned their heads towards him. The round little boy suddenly realized that his stomach was tied up in knots, flipping and twisting, as if something very wrong was about to happen, or was happening. He ignored the feeling deep in his gut, and bit the head off of the gingerbread girl, her syrupy sweet hair filled his mouth. The gingerbread children were truly the Muffin Man’s best creations, their sweetness seemed different, magical almost. Something syrupy coated the mouth of the little round boy, it ran down the back of his throat in tiny streams. He swallowed and wiped his mouth again, smearing dark stains across the neatly pressed fabric. The other boys looked at him with still hungry eyes as he finished the last bites of the sweet gingerbread girl. They brushed their shirts off and sticky bits of the gingerbread children covered the floor, together they descended upon the remaining sweets in the store until they felt so full they could burst at any moment. With full bellies and tired eyes they fell into a deep slumber on the bakery floor.
When the peelers had made their rounds in the morning through the dimly lit streets of London, they were greeted by screaming that came from Drury Lane. Racing towards the growing crowd they pushed their way through wailing families, still in their night gowns and caps, to the broken window of the bakery where the boys still lay sprawled on the floor, a floor coated in a layer of thick sweet blood. The discarded limbs and trunks of the gingerbread children had broken their illusion in the night while the sweet unsuspecting thieves slept, revealing the Muffin Man’s sinister enchantments that had trapped the children within his sweet dough. All that remained of some was their sweet sugary clothing or their still icing painted faces.
The Muffin Man himself was nowhere to be seen. As the peelers swarmed the dark scene, the bakery kitchen was opened with a swift kick, its fragile lock clattered to the floor. There was nothing suspicious to be found in the kitchen, only flour, sugars, spices, and various mixing bowls of different sizes. Below the kitchen was a clean and tidy cellar which also offered no clues. But perhaps the most perplexing to them all was the second floor of the house. The upper level of the house, where the Muffin Man kept his bed, seemed barren. A neatly made bed was pushed into the corner, his trunks were empty under the bed and sparse shelves covered the walls. A half melted candle still sat in the window of the room. If not for the street full of witnesses, and the gruesome scene directly below the bedroom, it would be impossible to tell that someone had ever lived there. He seemed to have disappeared in the early hours of the morning, slipping away without anyone being the wiser even as his crimes were being discovered.
Throughout the years since, Drury Lane has never been the same quaint street, and through the horrors of that day have since passed the minds of those who had lived there, the memory of the Muffin Man and his sweet gingerbread children remains. And all the children who live on Drury Lane know the rhyming phrases,
“Oh, do you know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Do you know the muffin man,
Who lives on Drury Lane?
Oh, yes I know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Yes, I know the muffin man,
Who’ll bake you up my friend.”