The late February wind. Arnold hated it. It always made him feel cold and old these days. But then he'd always felt old, even as a young man: always out of step with everyone around him.

He pulled his collar up and looked back at the big, ugly house. He'd intended to sell it when his last wife left, taking the two boys with her, but somehow he'd never got around to it. He disliked both the area and the people who lived here, but inaction had won out over his prejudices.

As he passed the street corner he noticed that there was a planning notice pinned to the lamp-post. Curious to find out what the interfering idiots at the local council were planning next, he stood and read it.

It said: 'Council Planning Notice: This is due notification that on March 15th of this year, Arnold Ernald will be torn down by court order. To be erected, in his place, will be a more noteworthy example of public-spirited humanity.

Arnold could hear the blood rushing through his ears as his initial disbelief was replaced by anger. He stormed back inside his house, slamming the door hard behind him.

After several minutes on the telephone to his solicitor it became clear that the notice was legally binding. There was nothing he could do but submit. His previous emotions were now rudely elbowed out of the way by a feeling of black despair. 

He couldn't understand what he'd done wrong. All he'd ever really wanted was to be left alone.

Arnold had come to the conclusion, too late, that there was no place in this world for someone as honest as him.

From his earliest years, his life had been a parade of bitterness, loss and betrayal. But he obviously wasn't allowed to show that outwardly; it wasn't what people wanted or expected. It more than likely upsets them, he thought.

Well, he had two weeks before he was to be 'torn down'. It was time enough to show them something they weren't expecting. If he had to go - and it seemed he did - then he would do it in his own way.


Pots boiled, vats bubbled, the sweetness started to seep and soon everything was changing.


On March 12th, everyone in the small community had an invitation, hand-delivered by courier, to a free 'Forgive And Forget Feast' at Arnold's house in three days' time.

At first people were suspicious - they didn't like Arnold and he'd made no secret of the fact that he hated them in turn. Many of them had smirked in satisfaction when the official notice announcing the old man's fate had been posted in the street. So why would he want to lay on a gastronomic extravaganza for them by way of a goodbye?

But concerned phone calls to Arnold's solicitor put their restless minds at ease. Yes, there was a specific clause in his will and, yes, the old man was already deceased (or soon would be).

Some stayed away out of petulance or fear, but most of those who had received the invitation turned up at the right time on the right day.

Even a casual observer passing by the line of people gathered in the long hallway of Arnold's house would have noticed a greedy glint in each and every eye, the occasional tongue run over eager lips.

"This is the first time he's given anything to anyone for free," muttered a voice from the back of the line.

When the solicitor's clerk opened the large doors to the dining room at exactly 11 A.M., those who had gathered were faced with a large notice on a wooden stand. It said: 'Here lie the mortal remains of Arnold Ernald. Enjoy!'

Mouths gaped open and faces twitched uncomfortably as they saw what lay on the large table in front of them. Laid out in the centre, surrounded by place settings was the naked body of their former neighbour Arnold Ernald. But it wasn't as they had known him in life; it had undergone an unsettling transformation.

"I'm going! Even for him this is a sick joke. We're not cannibals, for God's sake," wailed a voice at the back as it faded into the distance.

Two of the boldest of the small crowd edged forward and leaned across the table. The man from across the road sniffed speculatively before whispering to himself "Sugar."

A tall, thin woman behind pushed him aside, nostrils twitching, and speculatively dug two sharp nails into the skin of the old man's stomach. She raised the thinnest of scrapings to her nose, sniffed deeply and suspiciously. Slowly a pink, questing tongue reached forward and licked the scrap of skin.

She laughed softly and nodded before plunging her fingers into the body once more. Emboldened by their own hunger, the others pushed forward, ignoring the cutlery and place settings.

They were all delighted with Arnold's novel surprise. All his petty cruelties and acid comments were forgotten as they tucked into his butterscotch brains and candied kidneys. They were prepared to believe that, when faced with stark reality, he'd had a change of heart (which was now, incidentally, a raspberry mousse).

The old man had plundered the secrets of Tibetan mystics, Indian mithai moguls, Native American shamans and Belgian chocolatiers to effect his marvellous metamorphosis. The final stages of the process had been overseen by a Voudou priest of Arnold's long acquaintance.

And he'd spent the last of his money persuading a number of trained medical technicians that their scruples weren't as deeply held as they'd previously believed them to be.

He had passed away the previous evening when the last of his blood had been drained away, to be replaced by a succulent, thick strawberry jelly.

The final sheen of sweat that had covered his dying body had now been transformed into a light dusting of delicious icing sugar.

The skin on which the sweat had dried had become a thin, crisp layer of pale toffee.

The venal grocer who lived three doors down made an outrageous cracking noise with his teeth as he burst open one of the old man's candyglow eyeballs to suck out the liquor within.

Arnold's slicksweet spleen shot the length of the table as it slurped out of the hands of the vicar's wife, only to be caught by the hand of and immediately stuffed into the mouth of the local plumber, whose pipes gurgled in delight.

The praline liver was a favourite with the elderly sisters whose dyspeptic Dalmatian had plagued Arnold's last years.

Ribs were ripped free and cracked open to reveal a succulent sticky centre inside the hard white candy, which tongues probed avidly and mouths sucked at noisily in order to extract every last drop of sugariness.

One mother broke off from her greedy guzzling just long enough to scoop his gobstopper testicles and lollipop penis from her children's hands, secreting the salacious items stickily in her pocket for later.

By the time they'd finished feasting, there was little left of Arnold except parts of the rum-and-raisin fudge spine and some penny chew toenails.  Everyone drifted away with a full belly and a glad heart.

The bitter old man had ended his life in the sweetest way possible and would be remembered, at least for the next few minutes, with sticky, sugary lips and a series of soft belches.

It wasn't until the next day that the pains began ...