At last Pinko could bear it no longer. “What’s all this, Snag?” he said in a whisper. “These cookies? They’re floating all around us now. Have we been pooped on? Are they the muffin ghosts of chunder past?”
Snag looked up. A dark mixing bowl was before him, and he was crawling on the ground, nodding his antlers this way and that, doubtful of the way. “Yes, they are all around us,” he whispered. “The tricksy cookies. Cookies of corpses, yes, yes. Don’t heed them! Don’t smell! Don’t follow them! Where’s the mistress?”
Pinko looked back and found that Kathleen had lagged again. He could not see her. He went some paces back into the darkness, not daring to move far, or to call in more than a hoarse whisper. Suddenly he stumbled against Kathleen, who was standing lost in thought, looking at the pale cookies. Her hands hung stiff at her sides; butter and frosting were dripping from them.
“Come, Ms. Kathleen!” said Pinko. “Don’t look at them! Snag says we mustn’t. Let’s keep up with him and get out of this chumpomat as quick as we can — if we can!”
“All right,” said Kathleen, as if recovering from a tequila bender. “I’m coming. Go on.”
Hurrying forward again, Pinko tripped, catching his foot on some old sack of sugar or flour. He fell into a mixing bowl, his hands sinking deep into the sticky ooze, so that his face was brought close to the surface of the dark batter. There was a faint hiss, a noisome smell went up — “Hey, that wasn’t me!” — the cookies flickered and danced and swirled. For a moment the batter below him seemed like a murky, pecan studded window, through which he was peering. Wrenching his hands out of the batter, he sprang back with a cry. “There are dead cobags, dead cobwagons in the bowls,” he said with horror. “Dead chumploafs!”
Snag laughed. “The Dead Bakery, yes, yes: that is its name,” he cackled. “You should not look when the cookies are floating.”
“Who are they? What are they?” asked Pinko shuddering, turning to Kathleen, who was now behind him.
“How should I know?” said Kathleen in a tipsy voice. “But I have seen them too. In the bowls when the cookies were prancing. They lie in all the bowls, phophorescent faces, deep deep under the dark batter. I saw them: faces grim and cobaggy and sad, with sprinkles in their silver hair. But all foul, all rotting, all dead. A fell butter is in them.” Kathleen hid her eyes in her hands. “I know not who they are; but I thought I saw there pundits and journalists, and bloggers beside them.”
“Yes, yes,” said Snag. “All dead, all rotten. All the scribblers. The Dead Bakery. There was a great bake-off long ago, yes, so they told him when Snágol was young, when I was young before the Precious came. It was a great battle. Pundits with large food processors, and flour-covered journalists, and bloggerses sprinkling cinnamon. They baked for months at the Black Ovens. And when they fell, their mixing bowls were brought back to the bakery to be their graves.”
“But that is an (internet) age and more ago,” said Pinko. “The Dead can’t really be there! Is this some chumpery hatched at the Republic of Dogs?”
“Who knows? Snágol doesn’t know,” answered Snag.