It was five a.m. and The Pie Hole was all but silent.
There weren’t any people there except for Ned, but the clatter of bowls and ingredients and spoons and measuring cups was enough to keep any neighborhood awake, had there been any such neighborhood around.
Ned was shuffling through the hallways, arms loaded with bowls of rotten fruit that was sure to spring back to life once he took them in his hands.
He was covered in flour. He liked being covered in flour – it’s why he was always wearing a black shirt.
This one fit a little tighter than usual. He’d actually started eating some of the pies and… well, he’d put on a few.
He’d told Emerson that he’d get fat, but he’d said that in jest. He didn’t think he’d actually do it. Not that he minded – it was freeing, in a way.
He set the bowls down, rotten strawberries and blueberries and blackberries filling the room with a tangy, sickeningly sweet smell. The ovens were on and pre-heated to the perfect temperature.
The only thing left to grab was a bowl of peaches. They were on the top shelf and required some reaching. Ned was tall, but he wasn’t that tall.
He went back into the closet full of nothing but expired goods and stood on his tip toes and reached for the silver mixing bowl full of dead peaches. His flour-covered shirt pulled up just a little bit at the waist, exposing his pudgy belly. He blushed for a moment, then realized that no one was around to see this small and endearing embarrassment. He began to laugh, filling the closet and the entirety of The Pie Hole with the deep, melodious laugh that people tended to find infectious.
He laughed for a few minutes, only stopping to slide the peaches from the shelf and into his arms, where they shook in the bowl with his remaining, shuddering chuckles.