Alone. This is how Gavin Peterson found himself when he awoke atop a barren skyscraper in an unfamiliar city. He had no memory of how he had arrived here. Then, the sound of a door opening.
“Mr Peterson,” called a voice from out of Gavin’s view.
Turning towards the noise sources, Gavin spotted an ordinary looking woman. He squinted in an attempt to better see the speaker but she was unfamiliar to his eyes.
“Who are you?” he asked, with a mildly aggressive tone appropriate to the situation from his perspective. Having all the facts, however, he would have realised his tone was entirely inappropriate.
“I’m doing good things here, Gav. Don’t you worry.”
If there were two things Gavin hated it was being called “Gav” and being patronised to. Again, with full knowledge of the situation he would have realised that she was in the right to speak to him like that.
“You see,” she continued, “we used to have a society in this world. In this city.”
She gestured over the urban vista while pausing for dramatic effect.
“What?” Gavin was puzzled by the non-sequitur.
“Biscuits were the foundation of our civilisation. We never realised it until they were taken from us. I remember as a child I hated rich tea. I didn’t just dislike them or prefer other biscuits to them. I hated them.”
She seemed to seethe with rage as she discussed her childhood flour-based nemesis. Gavin took the opportunity to slowly rise to his feet as she paced back and forth monologuing.
“I hated them so much that I claimed to have an allergy to them. I’m sure my parents didn’t believe me, but they put up with it.”
She stopped and a shed a tear.
“I would give everything I have right now, even this opportunity, for a solitary rich tea biscuit.”
“The fuck are you talking about biscuits for?” Gavin’s puzzlement was not subsiding. In fact it was growing. He looked out at the city again. Upon closer inspection he saw that the streets resembled more of a war-zone than a modern metropolis. He could see dozens of small fires. Many buildings were barricaded and some were visibly structurally unsound.
He looked back at the woman and asked her what was transpiring.
“Simply put, Gav,” she replied, “you were the Biscuit Baron.”
“The Biscuit Baron? What’s that? Like a mascot for McVitie’s?”
“You were no mascot, Gav. You were an unseen force for many years, pulling the strings of the world’s biscuit companies from your crumb-laden fortress. Once you had set the pieces just the way you wanted, you enacted your endgame. Within three months of the world finding out who you were you had control of most of our biscuit supplies and demanded that we refer to you as the Biscuit Baron.
“With tight controls of their much needed bourbon creams and jammie dodgers, the press were easily bought. The world’s governments were not far behind. After the first year you had set up your own policing force and established a strict caste system worldwide.
“The lowest caste were forbidden from owning or consuming any biscuits that were coated or filled with additional ingredients. They lived a meager life of digestives and ginger snaps. One level up from them were the people who were allowed to eat custard creams. In some ways I think they were the luckiest of all.
“The best biscuits were of course reserved for the elite top caste, hand picked by you. They could indulge in as many millionaire’s shortbreads and Marks & Spencer cookies as their stomachs could handle, before they forced themselves to throw up and begin the biscuit consumption anew.
“A resistance grew. Cut off from all legal sources of biscuits we survived on nothing but cream crackers. Think about that Gav, cream crackers. For five years I longed for a simple rich tea or café noir. Five long years. Longing. That’s a long time Gav.
“Eventually we settled on the only sensible course of action. To stop the Biscuit Baron we had to remove the source of his power: the biscuits.
“We looked to the old gods and their magic. It cannot be explained by modern science, though that is perhaps because you had directed all research towards advancing the biscuit sciences. Our master cracker mage performed the ritual, giving his life in the process, but it was successful. All the biscuits in the world disappeared.
“We’re on the same playing field now, Gav. This is what has happened to your empire in the face of utter biscuit loss. Was it a mistake?”
Gavin wasn’t sure if she was pausing for effect or if she was actually asking him the question. He pondered, but missed his window.
“I don’t think so, but only history can judge us now. You certainly cannot anyway. An unforeseen side-effect of our mage’s spell is that you seem to have lost all memory of being the Biscuit Baron.”
“Yes, I clearly have.” Gavin finally got some words out. “What in the name of god have you been talking about? You’ve been talking about biscuits for about three minutes and I genuinely don’t know what’s going on. You’re right about me not remembering though. I haven’t a clue how I got up here.”
“We took you from your biscuit fortress in the middle of the night. Your security staff were quick to sell you out once they could no longer get their fig roll fix. The resistance has examined the case and deemed you guilty of crimes against humanity. You have been taken atop this building for execution.”
“What? What?” Gavin started blathering in his now very panicked state. “Wait, wait. What? Hang on here. I didn’t do anything. You know? You said it sure. You said I don’t remember being this Biscuit guy. So then I didn’t do anything. You can’t kill me. Please don’t kill me!”
He started looking around for help. There was nobody else up there. He started to back away from his self-proclaimed executioner.
“The sentence has been passed with due consideration for your current state. The crimes were immense enough to warrant this course of action.”
Gavin backed away until he was a foot or two from the building’s edge. The woman moved slowly towards him and he, in turn, started to move laterally along the edge.
“Think about what you’re doing here for just one minute,” he pleaded. “Now, I don’t know anything about your resistance. Have you killed anyone before? I know I haven’t. I mean, I don’t remember killing anyone that is. You could suffer trauma from this for years. It might haunt you forever!”
He sidled his way to the corner of the building and was now trapped. The woman continued to approach him slowly.
“Well, you’re definitely wrong about that,” she simply said.
Suddenly she leapt at Gavin, tackling his mid-section. The pair cast off the building’s roof and with the appropriate amount of acceleration for a world without biscuits they plummeted towards the ruined street below.
“I’m sorry!” Gavin cried out.
He found himself atop the building again. Noticing that he was no longer falling to his death he opened his eyes. His heart’s beating gradually slowed. He spotted the woman lying on the roof next to him. Then he felt something hit his head from above. He looked down to see a jaffa cake. Then next to it fell a chocolate kimberley. A second later, a second jaffa cake.
It was raining biscuits.
The woman awoke. Realising what was happening she teared up with joy. The biscuits were back. There were more than ever. More than enough for a just and equitable society across the face of the planet. She looked at Gavin and he smiled.
“The Biscuit Baron is dead, long live the Biscuit Baron!”