This is a fairy tale of greed and love and hope and… oh all the usual.
Nowhere wasn’t much of a place before a peripatetic alchemist and part-time prosthetic embalmer came by. This in and of itself was a surprise because few people visited Nowhere. Oh sure, potential visitors said they had Nowhere to go to but they never did. Some even indicated they were on the road to Nowhere but something must have distracted them because they never came even if they admitted that when they set out, were going to Nowhere fast.
This was perfect for the Alchemist and his beautiful but deaf daughter (it’s a fairytale, come on what do you expect). He took a room and began alchemying. Nothing much happened. For a long time.
One day the Alchemist took a walk.
‘Morning Alchemist.’ The old woman looked up from her digging.
The Alchemist stopped and asked, ‘What are you extracting, old hag.’ His social skills could do with some chemistry.
‘Getting breakfast, Alchemist.’ She showed him the black goo that she had troweled into her bucket. She offered him a spoon.
‘Seriously? What is it?’
The old woman dipped her finger in the muck and licked it. Instantly her expression transformed and ecstasy crossed her wrinkled visage. It was as if she had entered a trance. While her eyes crossed and she purred a strange purr she handed the fascinated scientist a small jar and filled it for him. As he turned to go she repeated ‘breakfast’. It was even written on the jar, handily for this story.
Back in his small smelly laboratory he took some of the goo and began testing it. Meanwhile his daughter came in to see what he wanted to eat. Because she didn’t hear him but saw the label she dipped in her finger and before he could stop her, she tasted it. Like the wizened crone she went into a trance and purred.
The Alchemist watched. Oh well he thought and he tasted it too. He couldn’t believe what he was experiencing. It was the most disgusting dreadful diabolical taste he had experienced. He spat it out. Meanwhile his daughter reached for the pot, desperate for more.
He held her back. ‘I need to test this, find out what it is.’
She nodded but ate it anyway. ‘Maybe it will cure my deafness.’
But he wasn’t listening.
It didn’t take the clever man long. This magic mineral had extraordinary properties. He asked his neighbours and obtained mixed results. Still he reasoned if you can fool half the people all the time you can still make a fortune.
He persuaded the good Burghers of Nowhere to let him bottle and sell it.
‘You’ll need a name,’ one said.
‘Something minerally,’ opined a second.
‘Like bauxite or calcite,’ proffered a third.
‘But consistent with something that you can put on your toast for breakfast,’ offered the fourth.
‘Like marmalade,’ suggested a fifth.
‘But minerally,’ the second one reminded them.
And he called it Marmite. With the money, he built himself and his daughter a Keep because previously he’d built a Give Away and he’d come to realise all loss-leaders are just losses with better PR.
And when the customers came to see the Home of the Famous and Infamous Marmite he built a wall and a cross window in it. Children asked why it was cross and were told it was because they forgot about the glass and the window hated draughts.
And half the people lived happily ever after and the other half just took the money. Like life really.
This is this week’s response to the #writephoto prompt