The Baker’s Battle

3 minutes read

Franz worked at night, as did most bakers all across the world. Every night he stepped out of what was left of his house, saying goodnight to Otto and Gerd with a quick silent prayer that they would still be alive when he came back, and another quick prayer that his wife wouldn’t.

With that, he would trudge down to the cellar below his house on Kärnten Strasse to the bakery, from where he was fighting a war on many fronts.

His main battle was the one against the lack of materials. He was a baker and thus brave and not afraid of making do: glazing with whatever he could get his hands on, and thinning flour when he had to. It was war on that massive oak table, freshly dusted for his nightly assault.

It was then that he would often say to himself, “I dare you sodomite sons of whores! Dig into my bakery from your evil tunnels of sin and I’ll fuck you!” as he kneaded the dough to within an inch of its life. Franz found himself swearing more and more and with every press he crushed a hundred Turks, and with every roll he broke a Turk limb by limb. He would pile-drive the dough into the old, smooth-worn table, cursing with every flex of his triceps.

"Up yours, Mehmet … Up your fucking crescent and cannon, you … cunts,” hushing the trailing curse under his breath and looking furtively around the dim basement where he worked, embarrassed with what his speech had devolved to. This was war though he would tell himself, and with every push and flex the curses became louder and more violent and with every roll he remembered that soon the sun would rise and after prayers he would fall fast asleep, just as the siege batteries got started in the morning, and that soon he would dream.

Living not so far from the walls of his struggling city, and just a short walk to St Stephen’s Cathedral, the epicentre of Vienna, Franz’s other battle was just as important as feeding the city and the last hope for Europe: it was listening.

Nobody was sure why the Turks liked to dig tunnels at night. Some said it was because they worshipped the moon and ate worms, while others would say, depending if it was Tuesday or not, that it was because they were too busy kicking the Viennese ass during the day.

The fact was that the Turks dug their mines below the walls and fortifications at night, filling them with powder so they could blow them up the next day.

It was nighttime when the bakers of the city stood their watch. It was during the darkness that they were the life under the city, the blood that coursed through the veins and heart of the Christendom’s resistance.

So Franz stood and kneaded and listened. He listened for anything that seemed to come from the ground, but mainly listened for the clanking of pickaxe on stone, and Turkish swearing. He wasn’t sure what Turkish swearing actually sounded like, but his street’s defence unit commander had said that it was important, and that if they were swearing loudly it meant they were weary and could be taken more easily. Franz was also told to sniff for roasted lamb or yoghurt.

This made even less sense to him.


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