From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Like a Box of Chocolates

You may pick one, says the goblin chocolatier.

The box is a vibrant garden of sweets neatly arranged.

A sugar rose so real it seems grown, stolen from some witch bramble of candy thorns and gum drop hips. A truffle banded white and blue that smells of fresh cut grass and rain.

The chocolatier grins.

His mouth is a vibrant garden of teeth neatly arranged.

He waves you closer.

All of them enchanted, of course, he whispers in your ear.

One will teach a language, though you won’t know which. Perhaps the language of a nearly extinct tortoise, or of a civilization long buried under dust. Or it could be French.

One will grant a skill. Perhaps being a great painter, or dancer, or a brilliant athlete in a sport no longer played.

One will grant you safety for everyone for whom you care. None of your family will ever starve or sicken. None of your friends will ever be stung by violence or poverty. Everyone you ever love will die safe of old age in their beds.

One, ah, one will kill you, and not just kill you, but slowly, painfully, stripping you of all hope and dignity, and you will die alone.

But oh, alas, the goblin chocolatier sighs. I have lost the little paper guide. I cannot remember which is which.

Perhaps that caramel snail crackling with salt and scales of gold will give you grace. Perhaps the marshmallow mouse covered in shimmering sigils will grant you wit.

That is the price, that makes the magic work. And that is the spice, that makes the candy sweet. You cannot know. Not until you taste one, and probably not even then.

Of course, I could be lying, and they could each and all be poison.

Or worse . . .

. . . They could all be ordinary sweets. You could wait and wish your whole life hoping for a miracle that never comes, or dreading disaster that will not arrive.

But then, says the chocolatier, that’s not so different from how you lived already.

The goblin chocolatier waves his wares under your nose. Sugar. Danger. Possibilities. Rain.

He smiles.

Will you eat?

Dani Atkinson

Dani Atkinson is a writer and artist in Alberta, Canada. She’s bounced around doing day jobs ranging from English teacher in Japan to ice cream parlour clerk in the Canadian rockies. Between day jobs she writes stories, comics, plays, poetry, and a sign that says “I R DISAPPOINT” which she holds up during tabletop gaming sessions to indicate when her paladin has been made Very Sad about the party’s life choices. Her short fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Cast of Wonders, and the It Came from Miskatonic University anthology from Broken Eye Books. She blogs occasionally at https://dejadrew.dreamwidth.org/