Soda Bread by Jacob Armstrong

I peered anxiously into the looming crater of the mixing bowl, glancing at the congealed mixture which lay, lethargically oozing across the smooth, waxy surface. It didn’t look as if my attempt at baking was going especially well. The flour and milk was an otherworldly combination, an alien landscape as fatty, translucent lakes bubbled and spat their contents onto the surrounded fine powder.

 

‘Alright, let’s think about this. Look at the recipe. Yes, look at the recipe.’

“Mix well until it just holds together. DO NOT mix further.” I wasn’t especially sure what that meant, so retrieved a spoon from the cluttered cutlery drawer and began to stir.

 

After ten minutes, I slumped onto the table. The mixture was perhaps a little smoother, but still a white, gloopy mess. ‘More flour! That’ll hold it together!’

 

Another five minutes and I’m beginning to lose hope. Half the packet of bread flour is now in powdery white heaps, dotted across the chopping board. Kneading! Kneading might bring this otherworldly substance together!

Pouring out the viscous blob onto a breaded surface, I can see that that was a serious error of judgment. A few minutes in, my hands are caked in this glutinous concoction, as is the entire workbench. There is not an area within my vision that is not doused in this sluggish gloop. It’s in my hair… it’s smudged into my eyebrow. Several spots have found themselves on the shiny surface of the kitchen floor, and are slowly but surely expanding. I step back, horrified at the sight of this monstrous dough.

 

ABORT MISSION! ABORT MISSION!

 

Where on earth are my parents? Great. The car’s gone. They’ve gone and left me all alone with only this extra-terrestrial gloop for company. That’s all I need in my struggle to save the world from this ever-expanding floury, milky essence of pure evil.

 

Okay, first I need to wash my hands. I turn on the tap and hold out my hands, desperately pleading with the universe to let it die. It doesn’t. So now I’m stuck with this immortal, inedible, incredible lake of glop.

 

‘Maybe if the water’s hot, it will manage to obliterate some of this putrid plasma’ I think to myself, unsure if the terror of this awful, awful experience has sent me delirious. I fill a tub with soapy water and search desperately for a scourer.

 

WHERE is the scourer? Where on earth has it gone? Just in my hour of need, this yellow-and-green entity had fled the cupboard-under-the-sink. Maybe it knew how much of an epic fail my romanticised attempt at a Sunday afternoon’s baking would be and fled, not wanting to face the satanic splodge which now had half the house in its grip.

 

I slouch down onto the floor, despairing for humankind at this, this, this SODA BREAD MIXTURE! Will I be able to prevent the invasion of this abhorrent goo?

The door opens. A look of sheer, unadulterated horror clouds my mother’s face.

 

“Help?” comes the exhausted whimper of a failed baker, slumped across the tiles.