You wander down a street in a foreign town, aimlessly. It’s a bright, hot morning and the street feels lazy, barely awake to face the day of chores and business, romance and tourists.
You hear the creak of a door and see it opening across the road. A massive black dog almost the size of a pony jumps out and sets off down the street with determination. There’s a sign above the door, but you can’t quite make it out… Pears? You step closer, intrigued. A car honks at you, making you startle and jump back. The driver stares at you with daggers in her eyes, but her nose wrinkles with the effort that she looks more bizarre than dangerous. She speeds off and you check the street for more cars. It’s clear.
As you cross, you read the sign again. ‘Fears’. Fears? Curious, you peek through the display window. There’s a portly salesman with a top-hat and a shirt that looks like someone had vomited on it. Who would wear this voluntarily? The odd man moves some boxes in what looks like a small gelato stand and his mouth is moving.
You check with your sense of adventure. Does it feel like ice cream?
Welcome! Come in! Is this your first time in ‘Fears’? Excellent! Always excited to see new customers. You’re not from around here, are you? Travelling is so much fun, isn’t it? Until it isn’t! Haha! Ouch! Watch your head for the sign! Yes, ‘Beware the DOG!’ Oh you saw him?! Lucky you were on the other side of the street. Terror has earned his name and not just for the looks. You might want to leave before he returns. Those letters aren’t just decoration.
To business! Do you know what you’re looking for? No? Excellent! Come up here! I’ll help you choose.
Hot day out there? An excellent time to try our frozen section, great for low energy entertainment. Our newest inventions, state-of-the-art treats with different flavours of fears. You’re in luck, because the selection today has some of our frequent favourites. Would you like to try? Of course you would! Come closer! Closer!
We’ll begin with Doubt. So simple, it works every time! You can never go wrong with Doubt which, ironically, represents the fear of being wrong. You’re welcome to add sprinkles and jams for specific tastes of wrongness to your order, or enjoy it plain and simple. As the vanilla of fears, Doubt naturally complements everything else we have on display today.
Here we’ve enhanced Doubt to make it feel like Guilt. You get to experience Guilt whenever you fear you have done wrong. Try them side by side! Do you taste the difference? The first invokes fear of being wrong, but Guilt is about doing wrong. This one’s especially popular among parents and people in long-term relationships. Yes, you’re right – it tastes just like coffee.
Ready for the next one? We’ve taken another swing with the formula of Doubt and supercharged it! This one’s Shame. Tell me, how does that taste? Bitter?! Now try again? Sweet and shy, right?! Isn’t that incredible?! Shame comes from the fear of not meeting expectations. No two bites are ever the same, leaving each consumer perpetually chasing and guessing what will happen next. Quite an adventure for a small investment on your part. Would you like another bite?! No? No worries, there is always time for Shame later.
The next two are a special set. One for adults and one for kids. Do you have kids?
The adult version here is Blame and this box is always half-empty. Honestly, the popularity of Blame has been growing so fast that we’re constantly having to re-fill it with fear of running out. A small pun here, forgive me. Anyhow, whenever you feel you’re missing out on anything, Blame is your go-to flavour. I’ll swear on my mothers’ bible, it will make you feel better. Instant gratification guaranteed. Unfortunately Blame is so highly addictive that legally we can’t sell it to minors. Still, some parents buy it for their kids. We don’t complain. Money is money.
Now, if you sign here, I can give you a little taste. Yes, just initials and signature will do. Just so you agree that ‘Fears’ will not be held responsible if you choose to consume our product and crave more. You can eat Blame, but can’t blame us! Haha! Thank you! Keep the pen.
Sad to hear you don’t have kids yet. You better get to it soon. Time’s a ticking! Scary little monsters, kids.
See this unappetising mush right here? We call this one Mad/Sad, and it’s the fear of not having or getting enough. Usually enjoyed by children of all ages. Of course it looks absolutely disgusting naked, but we’ve a special serving to spruce it up. Each order comes in double-portions and is fully covered with popping candy and tiny sword sticks. I recommend extra napkins when you try to eat it, even if you think yourself an adult.
Now the last of todays’ specials. One of our newest flavours is Loneliness, a simple fear of being unloved. Clearly a ridiculous notion, but customers seem to want it and we serve what they buy. You didn’t hear it from me, but I think people are weird to order this. The taste is sour and unpalatable, like eating a mix of unripe lemons and raw onions. Do you––? Oh, you want a taste, really? Fine, it’s your mouth, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Are those tears in your eyes now?! Wait, I have something to dull the pain. Not an official flavour yet, we’re still in the process of licensing. Yes, the texture is different. Do you feel those sharp ice crystals? Nice, yes?
The working title for this magnificence is The Freeze. It’s a mix of ice and alcohol that will simultaneously freeze your bones and turn your mind into mush. An excellent combination for the fear of failure, don’t you think? I don’t recommend eating a full portion in public, but should you purchase something today, I’ll give you another sample to take with you.
So what will it be today? Have you made your choice? No rush, take your time. Time’s short, but keeps us fear-mongers in business.
Oh…you think we missed one? How clever! But no, the Fear of Death doesn’t really freeze that well. More heat and action, blood and gore, you know? Running away, punching things, spilling guts and so on… Our dog Terror might have stories to tell if you’d live long enough to hear them.
For the big D, we’ve built this pick’n’mix candy wall behind you. It looks overwhelming, but that won’t kill you. Just grab a bag on your left, and see what grabs your fancy. Don’t worry about the taste, it’s mostly sugar and food colouring.
Start with the lower levels for simple stuff like spiders, snakes, darkness, loud noises, bright lights. Oh careful! That one’s about grumpy old people. All the skull-marked boxes all contain both chocolate and alcohol and are filled with human-interaction stuff. Crowds, the police, gangsters, smart women…you get the gist of it. If you’re still thinking about time running out, that’s somewhere at the middle. Look for small clock-shaped gummies.
For doomsday scenarios – alien invasions, climate catastrophes, nuclear or biological warfare – you need to use the ladder. They contain hallucinogens and we keep those out of reach of children. No need to give them more ideas. Ugh, even thinking of kids gives me the chills, see that?! That’s why I got the dog. Sure, he’s a beast, but at least he feeds himself.
While you choose, I’ll pack up a small tasting menu from the chilly section. It really is a hot day. Don’t worry, on the house for a new customer! We appreciate if you shared it with your friends.
The phobias? No-no, that stuff ain’t free. You can’t even imagine the cost of making this up and don’t get me started on the outrageous expense of marketing. Just pick your poisons and pay at the back. You may want to hurry, for I imagine Terror will be back soon. A big bully, that one, with many good hearts in him. A strict diet, you see. If I had such willpower…
… and here’s your receipt. Thank you for your business and your signature! We’ve signed you up for our weekly newsletter, free of charge of course. On that note, you may wish to blame us for the malfunctioning unsubscribe button, but you’ve already waived your rights to do so. ‘Fears’ is extremely loyal to all customers. Until death do us part.
Did you hear that?! Was that a bark? There he comes! Quickly, go-go! Enjoy your fears!
As I’ve been exploring flavours of fearful layers, I somehow ended up in this quirky candy shop with a clownish salesman. I imagined him with a top-hat hiding a bald spot, a sinister large nose between a pair of exceptionally friendly eyes and a mouth that never stops smiling. Hope you enjoyed him as much as I did.
To alleviate my fear-of-not-posting-frequently-enough (damn that’s a lot of ice cream), I’ll throw this here and and keep on working on the piece on the Nature of Fear itself. Fear is our friend. Fear is our enemy. We decide.