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Archive: Curiosities

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A curiously delightful take on the traditional caramel apple! Various types of caramelized sugars, brown sugar and salted butter blend to form the thick creamy salted caramel coating for a crunchy apple with a sprinkle of pecans and a base of warm smooth sweet amber.

 

CARAMELIZED AND BROWN SUGARS ~ Attracts love, luck, sweetness and riches. Lust inducing, wishes granted.
SALT ~ protection, purification, grounding, feminine energy. Resurrection, baptism.
BUTTER ~ Nurturing, soothing, eases troubled relationships. Goddess energy.
APPLE ~ Love, healing, fertility, good luck , happiness, immortality, fortelling spells.
PECAN ~ Money, employment, mental acuity.
AMBER ~ Fertility, creativity, love, luck, riches.

 

Created by: Mara Fox

Description: Julie (luna65)

Label art: vintage

October 2014

 

Following the carefully-printed instructions, Sarah made her way to the east side of the city where the neighborhoods were older, and appeared mysterious in their timeworn structures and largely quiet streets. She saw her destination long before she reached it: a three-story Victorian which clearly needed a new coat of paint and loving attention, contained within a high wrought-iron fence of Gothic design. The house dominated the street much as a dowager aunt kept in the attic, wearing black and scowling silently at the world. A brass plate adjacent to the doorbell informed visitors: "Dr. Aloysius Cumberland’s Cabinet of Curiosities, by appointment only."  She rang the bell and it was answered by an elderly gentleman, stooped and dusty and dour as the house itself.

"What’s all this then," he blared at her in an accent heavily informed by a time when the sun never set upon the British Empire.  "Blast it, girl, a man needs his rest you know!"

"Excuse me," she replied, in a cool, calm and clipped tone.  "I have an appointment with Dr. Cumberland, I am Professor Sarah Middletaugh."

"You, an academic?!" he exclaimed, gesturing at her incredulously.  "Mere slip of a girl, barely strength enough to turn the pages of the O.E.D. -"

"Sir, I beg your pardon," she broke in, now thoroughly exasperated, "are you Doctor Cumberland? We spoke on the phone two days ago."

"Dash it all, no I’m not that blighted fool, chasing fairy stories in every dark corner, good heavens!"

"Then you will you please inform Doctor Cumberland of my arrival. I have an appointment!"

The man seemed to deflate at that moment, perhaps exhausted by his harangue.

"Well of course you do, don’t just stand there letting the cold in, God’s bodkin!"

Sarah sighed heavily and stepped inside. The man - presumably the majordomo of Dr. Cumberland - stomped away down a hallway, leaving her in a foyer dominated by stuffed animal heads and primitive statuary. But it was very gloomy, and as she peeked into the room immediately beyond the foyer she beheld black velvet curtains drawn against the afternoon. Eying the furnishings and assorted bric-a-brac, it appeared that perhaps the entire house served as the aforementioned Cabinet of Curiosities for the good doctor. But Sarah was interested in one item only.

A plummy cultured voice greeted her as she pondered the contents of the room. "My dear Professor, I do hope Bumbershoot didn’t put you off, the man is rather -"

"Old-fashioned?" she replied as she turned around, attempting diplomacy.

"Yes, rather," he said with a warm smile.  "Please, come into my study. I’ve tea ready and we can chat by the fire, ever so cozy."

"Thank you, Doctor, I appreciate you agreeing to see me."

She followed Dr. Cumberland into his study down the hall, a large room wherein nearly every wall was lined with books and more of his vast collection of various arcana. An enormous rolltop desk squatted in a corner, covered in yet more books and papers plus the odd fossil and geode. An intricately-carved table and chairs were placed near the hearth, radiating warmth from the crackling fire. Cumberland poured tea and sliced a small cake with what appeared to be a ceremonial dagger. Sarah found the china fascinating: instead of a pattern of flowering vines or fruit or creatures of the forest it contained exquisitely-painted images of poisonous mushrooms. He used a small caliper to deposit a sugar cube in her tea and she wondered what tiny skull it had previously been used to measure. He handed her the cup and she sipped cautiously, expecting some smoky exotic blend, but it was only the same Earl Grey she also enjoyed daily.

"So my dear, you seek the Apple."

"Yes sir, as I explained I’ve spent the majority of my academic career studying the legends and superstitions associated with the object and attempting to construct a coherent historical narrative of its origin and provenance."

He chuckled, but in an endearing sort of way.  "Professor, I surely hope you don’t mean to say you can fix the Apple in one specific time and place."

Sarah blinked, setting down her cup. A large marmalade tabby entered the room and meowed, rubbing against Sarah’s legs. Cumberland poured a small amount of cream into a saucer and set it down on the floor.

"Lucy," he said by way of introduction.  "S’pose he’s rather peeved I didn’t call him for tea."

Sarah bent down to scratch the cat’s head, wondering why a male cat would have a female name.  "Doctor, you can fix the Apple in time and space. It is here, in your own home."

"Is it now? Well, we shall soon see if that is the case, my dear. Please try the cake; Bumbershoot is a terrible butler but the chap has a way with pastry."
She took a bite and smiled to realize the tea cake had a faint taste of apple.

"Doctor, I don’t believe I’ve ever ingested a culinary pun before."

His bright eyes narrowed, but otherwise Cumberland gave no reply. Sarah inquired as to his many travels and he entertained her with a few stories of jungle exploration as they finished their tea.

"So tell me, Professor Middletaugh, what is your unified theory of the origin of the Apple?"

"There are many myths containing the Apple of Discord from just about every ancient culture. But I have ascertained that it likely first appeared around 2700 BCE. There appears to be no earlier documentation."

"Oh but there is," he told her, and produced a file of photographs from the drawer of a sidetable. The images were of cave paintings from around the time of the appearance of Homo sapiens, over 40,000 years prior. She gasped as she examined them.

"Doctor Cumberland, where -"

"I cannot disclose the location of the cave. I was allowed to photograph the painting for my own collection."

"But if you can’t tell me where it is, then how I can authenticate it?"

"You can’t, my dear. But I knew you’d want to see. Seeing is believing, as they say."

The photos all contained, from different angles, a tree - perhaps bearer of the Axis mundi, the point of origin - standing so high, covering an entire wall of the unknown cave. Its branches numerous and tangled, its trunk wide and its roots deep and twisting. And among those dark sinuous limbs, a single round spot of red.

"Do you, dear Sarah, believe it?"

A fathoms-deep atavistic whisper sounded from what she thought must be her very soul. She replied, not much louder, "Yes."

"The tree which sprouts from the Hole in the World, its only fruit the Apple of Discord. Which may lay waste to all before the one who succumbs. For the world will not be enough for the one who has tasted it."

"And there is no denying its temptation, for it will claim the soul who looks upon it when it is ripe."

The cat leaped into Cumberland’s lap and he stroked the golden fur.  "Do you truly wish to risk it, Sarah?"

"But it’s not real. If it were, you would have already fallen victim to it."

"It has not revealed itself to me, no. But that doesn’t make it any less real."

"A representation, only. Inorganic."

"Yes, but composed of what substance, dear girl? It has confounded all who sought to study it. But that doesn’t mean -"

"Doctor Cumberland, do you actually believe the myths?"

He sighed and gently set the cat upon the floor, produced a key from his pants pocket, rose and motioned her to follow. In another corner of the study stood a large armoire, which he unlocked to reveal many shelves bearing wonders. Jewels and fossils and objets d’art the likes of which she could have never imagined.

"I present to you, the Cabinet. And…"  He waved a hand at an object upon a square of what looked to be a very old piece of cloth, embossed or embroidered with a variety of talismanic symbols.

For just a moment it seemed an ordinary rock, though ancient, but Sarah blinked and then it was there, not merely a piece of red amber - as had been theorized for hundreds of years - nor marble, ruby, or even petrified wood. It was...an apple, just an apple. She laughed and picked it up.

"Doctor, I appreciate a good joke as much as the next person, but -"

Her host gaped at her, eyes wide with shock.  "You touched it!" he exclaimed, but his voice was barely above a whisper. At their feet the cat meowed, startling them both. Cumberland looked down.

"No, you can’t, she didn’t know, but -"  He looked at her again with the same dumbfounded expression.  "You had to know, didn’t you, what happens when you touch it?!"

It was Sarah’s turn to be shocked as the man standing before her crumbled to dust. Her hold on the apple went slack but another hand snatched it out of the air before it could hit the floor. Her face took on the same shocked and frightened expression to behold a tall beautiful man standing before her, his features just on the edge of voluptuous corruption framed by long dark hair. His long-fingered hand held the apple easily balanced in his palm.

"I am Luci," he said, and smiled.  "And you are mine now."

He took a bite of the apple, brilliant teeth flashing as he crunched loudly, and all the world melted away, became as a roaring flame.

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