Tag Archives: Baking

The Misty-Eyed Stormtrooper (Episode III)

Photo of sliced bread. Misty-Eyed Stormtrooper.
Photo by Marcel Fiedler on Pexels.com

The Life Stopper Challenge

Karl the stormtrooper carefully balanced the board on which rested his hazelnut 12-grain bread as he made his way through a hypnotic corridor at Outpost 9 on the planet Placitas in the galaxy of Fresh.

When he arrived at the quarters of Commander Altiar, he nervously pressed the call button and waited.

 “Yes, what is it?” came the voice of the commander from the other side of somewhere.

“It’s Karl, sir. The stormtrooper. I’ve come with the bread you requested.

The door quickly slid open with a swoosh, and Karl stepped inside. The commander’s quarters were opulent compared to the simple, crowded barracks that the young stormtrooper was accustomed to. He looked around at the elaborate furnishings, the decorated walls, the large windows looking out upon the rutty, desert-like landscape of the planet Placitas and all the dots of light in the night sky that roared above it. The commander was out of uniform and was wearing a shiny robe of red and black that went down to his shins. His feet were bare, and it all struck Karl as very odd for he had never seen a commanding officer in a robe and with bare feet before. Those two worlds rarely mixed, if ever.

The commander took notice of the young stormtrooper’s obvious discomfort and chuckled. “You don’t believe that I’m always in uniform, do you Karl? I do take time to unwind and relax. I have to shower and change clothes like everyone else. Please, come in. You can set your bread down over here. I’ll grab a knife.”

Karl set the bread board down as ordered and waited. The commander returned with a large, silver bread knife with a glinting, gently serrated edge. He waved it around recklessly as he spoke. “I must tell you, Karl. I’ve really been looking forward to this. I know it may seem strange to you that I’m so excited about bread, but sometimes being a commander in the Evil Empire doesn’t allow a proper balance between work and a personal life. I’m afraid having hobbies and other interests outside my official duties are often frowned upon by the higher ups, so it’s nice to be able to indulge when one can… Now, let’ see what we have here.” The commander diligently looked the loaf over. “The color is good,” he said. He picked it up and rapped a knuckle against the bottom. A hollow sound would indicate to him that it had been baked long enough. “Seems done,” he said with a pleased smile.

Karl nervously looked on as the commander worked the knife into the center of the loaf with a precise sawing motion. Once cut through, the commander picked up one half and studied the interior. “Hmm, looks like you have a good dough structure, it’s not over or under proofed so the rise is nearly perfect.” He flipped the half loaf around to look at the underside again. “No soggy bottom here.” He poked at the inside with a finger and was happy with the spring back. He looked up at Karl and smiled. “That’s an excellent bake. You really nailed it. But let’s hope it tastes just as good as it looks.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

The commander kept his eyes on Karl as he tore a piece from the loaf and put it into his mouth. He chewed slowly. Then he closed his eyes and bowed his head like he was saying a prayer as he continued chewing and thinking deeply. That worried Karl. A sick nervousness began to rise in his guts, and he thought that at any moment the commander was going to spit the bread out of his mouth and order Karl to be executed. When the commander opened his eyes and looked at him, Karl feared the worst.

“That’s fantastic,” the commander said. “I love the flavor you’ve achieved. It holds in the mouth superbly. It’s got an amazing chew. Absolutely fantastic.”

Karl released a great sigh of relief. “Thank you, sir. Thank you so much.”

“I mean it. Well done. That’s an excellent loaf of bread. You should be proud of yourself,” and Commander Altiar reached out his hand to congratulate the stormtrooper with a firm grip and shake. “Congratulations, you blew my balls off as requested.”

“Wonderful. I’m glad my bread blew your balls off, sir. I was really worried you were going to hate it.”

Commander Altiar beamed at him. “Take some advice, Karl. Don’t ever reveal your doubts when you’re up against a challenge. It only robs you of confidence.” The commander slapped his hands together to clear away any breadcrumbs. “Now, I suppose you’re eager to get on with your life. As I am a man of my word, I’m relieving you of your duty to the Evil Empire. I of course will handle all the authoritative nuances that are bound to creep up. But I would be quick to say your goodbyes and leave this place and be off to France.”

Karl’s head drooped for a moment.

“Is there a problem, Karl?” the commander wanted to know. “I thought you would be ecstatic.”

“Of course, sir. I am, sir. It’s just that…”

“What is it?”

“Well, I’ve never been much of a traveler, and I don’t have too many connections… Anywhere. I’m not sure where to begin.”

“You begin at the beginning, Karl. I’m sure you’ll do what needs to be done to reach your destination,” the commander instructed. “I wish you the best of luck.” The commander proceeded to cut another slice of the bread. He raised it to his face and inhaled the aroma. “I think I’ll make some toast. Would you care for a slice, Karl?”

“No. That’s okay. I should probably just get back to the barracks and get my things together. Thanks for all of this, sir. I greatly appreciate it.”

The commander studied him for a moment and sensed the unfinished business that sat upon the air. “You act as if there is something else on your mind, Karl. What is it?”


“Yes. Go ahead. Just say it.”

“Would you come with me?”

The commander froze and only his eyes moved, and they moved all over Karl trying to decipher his deepest intentions. The young stormtrooper was suddenly worried that his request was far too bold and that he just destroyed his only chance of ever getting away from the Evil Empire and fulfilling his dream to just bake.

“Did you just ask your commanding officer to run away with you?” Commander Altiar said in a somewhat bitter tone.

Karl stammered. “Sir. Yes, I did, sir. It’s just that you have a far greater knowledge of space travel, and I was hoping you could perhaps act as a guide. I know you have your own ship. You must be a good pilot. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I just wanted to ask anyways. My apologies if I overstepped my bounds. I’ll be on my way. Thank you, sir.”

Karl turned and made his way toward the exit.

“Wait,” Commander Altiar said.

Karl turned and looked at him. “Sir?”

“I suddenly find myself at that familiar crossroad of regret, Karl. I don’t know if it’s just the high I’m feeling from this delectable bread, but something tells me that I should say ‘yes.’”

Karl stepped forward. “I’m only asking for passage. Once on Earth I won’t be a burden to you any longer. I swear it. But I would be eternally grateful for your help.”

“All right, Karl. That sounds fair enough to me. But I will only do this on one condition.”

“What’s that, sir?”

“That you bake me some more bread.”

Keep an eye out for Episode IV

The Misty-Eyed Stormtrooper (Episode II)

The Unexpected Meeting

The Misty-Eyed Stormtrooper (Episode II). Photo shows man in white hat and white shirt holding a loaf of bread while he works in a bakery.

When things had quieted down and most of the other stormtroopers were settling into the barracks for the night, Karl retrieved his secret cookbook from its hiding place and snuck off to the communal kitchen to bake bread.

He rummaged through the cabinets to gather bowls and utensils and pans and all the ingredients he needed to make a hazelnut 12-grain bread. He joyfully busied himself in the quiet of the kitchen and he thought to himself how much better it was to be baking bread than blasting shit.

While he gave the dough time to rise, he sat down at one of the tables and retrieved his personal communication device. He searched for information on Paris and all the different patisseries there. He got lost in the pictures and the descriptions and he studied maps and he tried to remember the names of streets and the different arrondissements, or districts.

He fell so deep into a delightful trance of study and inspiration, that Karl the stormtrooper didn’t realize someone else had come into the communal kitchen. Suddenly there was someone menacing standing above him and looking down.

“What are you doing in here?” the intimidating figure asked with a hint of evil in his voice.

Karl suddenly shot up from his chair and stood at attention. “Commander Altiar. Sir. My apologies, I didn’t notice you had come in.”

Commander Altiar was dressed in a stiff gray uniform, and he wore black gloves and shiny black boots and his hair, the color of the planet Tatooine, was perfectly combed and lightly oiled against his head to ensure not a single strand would fall out of place. He slowly walked around the young stormtrooper and looked him up and down judgmentally. “I asked you what you are doing in here? It’s past curfew. Why aren’t you in your bunk?”

“Sir, I’m sorry sir. I’m baking bread and I’m afraid I lost track of time.”

Commander Altiar stood toe-to-toe with Karl and scowled menacingly into his eyes. “Did you say you’re baking bread?”

“That’s correct sir. Bread.”

Commander Altiar nodded as if he was overly suspicious of the young stormtrooper’s story. He walked around the kitchen looking over all the things Karl had laid out on the counter. The commander ran a black leather finger through a scattering of flour. He studied it intently for a moment, and then asked, “What kind of bread are you making?”

Karl cleared his throat. “Sir. Hazelnut 12-grain bread.”

Commander Altiar returned to where Karl was standing and got in his face again. “And what exactly do you plan on doing with this hazelnut 12-grain bread?”

“I plan on eating it, sir,” Karl nervously answered.

“You know,” the commander began, and he looked at the number tattooed on Karl’s neck like a black ink branding, “No. 14788. I’m also quite fond of bread.”

“You are, sir?”

“You seem surprised by that, No. 14788.”

“I didn’t realize commanders enjoyed bread, sir.”

Commander Altiar chuckled softly and looked young Karl the stormtrooper in the eyes again with great sincerity. He even smiled a bit. “Have you ever been to Mamiche on the Rue Condorcet?”


“It’s a wonderful little shop in Paris, France. On Earth. They have the best damn bread in the universe. Have you ever been there?”

Karl felt a tingling sensation rise within him. He couldn’t believe what the commander was asking him. “No, sir. But I would love to. It’s one of the biggest dreams in my life.”

The commander moved his head back in attempt to further survey what the young stormtrooper exactly meant by that. “Are you not satisfied as a soldier in the Evil Empire, No. 14788?”

“Permission to speak freely, sir.” Karl announced.

The commander took a seat at the table, folded his hands as if about to pray and looked up at Karl. “By all means, No. 14788. I’d love to hear what you have to say.”


“Yes. I’m not a complete tyrant lacking passion for things in life. Go on. Speak to me about it.”

Karl sat down at the table with him. “I don’t believe I’m cut out for a life as a stormtrooper, sir. It’s just not me,” he began. “What I really want to do is bake bread and make pastries. I’ve done a lot of research and I know the city of Paris, on Earth, is the best place to be if I were to truly make my dreams come to fruition. I guess what I’m saying is, if I had an opportunity to not be a stormtrooper and I could travel to Earth to learn about making bread and pastries, just like they do on the Great Intergalactic Baking Show… I believe I would be very happy.”

The commander nodded his head silently for a moment. “And what if I told you, No. 14788…”

“You can call me Karl, sir.”

“All right then, Karl. What if I told you I could turn your dream into a reality.”

“Sir!? What? How? Why?”

“Calm down, soldier. I can see your passion is genuine, but I want you to prove it to me.”

“Absolutely, sir. How?”

The commander nodded toward the area of the kitchen where the ovens were. “I want you to bake me the best damn hazelnut 12-grain bread you ever made in your life. I want you to bring it to my quarters for me to taste it. I want you to utterly overwhelm me with your understanding of rise, flavor, and structure. I want a perfect bake, Karl. I want you to blow my balls off with this loaf of bread… And if you do, I will excuse you from your duty to the Evil Empire and allow you to leave this place, forever. What you do after that is entirely up to you.”

“Sir? I, I can’t believe it. Are you serious? You would do that for me?”

The commander got up from the table and adjusted his gloves for a moment. “I know that you and the other men talk shit about me behind my back, Karl. I’m not an ignorant man. I know you all consider me to be this growling, unfeeling brute of a commanding officer, and that’s fine. I expect that in my position, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a soul or a heart underneath it all.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I was a young stormtrooper once, just like you. And I had dreams as well, other dreams, dreams that didn’t include…” And he looked around the room at something invisible. “Didn’t include being on the side of evil. I, like yourself, Karl, had a passion for baking. I wanted to follow your exact dream. But I didn’t. I didn’t take the risk, Karl. And now I’m just an ill-fitted officer hated by the men serving beneath him. I regret that every single day. I don’t want that to happen to you, Karl. I don’t want you to have this same sickness of regret. It’s what a good leader should do for a soldier with real spirit, Karl. So, what I’m saying is, don’t disappoint me with a bad bake… And no soggy bottom. Carry on, soldier.”

Karl clicked himself to respectable attention and watched as Commander Altiar walked out of the communal kitchen with a swoosh. Karl felt himself all over to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. “I can’t believe this,” he whispered to himself. And then he smiled, and his guts roared with a feeling of ecstasy, and he jumped up and down like an excited child and cried out loudly, “Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m going to be a baker! I’m going to be a real baker!”

And then reality suddenly hit him, and he remembered what the commander had said: “I want you to bake me the best damn hazelnut 12-grain bread you ever made in your life… I want you to blow my balls off with this loaf of bread.”

Karl suddenly sunk down in his own self-doubt. “But what if it’s not the best damn hazelnut 12-grain bread I ever made in my life? What if I don’t blow his balls off? What if I just mess it up? I’ll be resigned to a life of just blasting shit.” He sighed. But then he brightened with determination, he slapped himself in the face, pulled himself together, he reiterated his dream in his head and heart. “Come on, Karl! You can do this!” he encouraged himself. “You’re a good baker, you’re an excellent baker, and you’re going to go far… Farther than you have ever been in your whole damn life.”

Keep an eye out for Episode III. You may read the previous part of this story here: The Misty-Eyed Stormtrooper (Episode I)

The Misty-Eyed Stormtrooper (Episode I)

Stormtrooper action figure looking out at the ocean.

A Longing for More

On the planet Placitas in the far away galaxy of Fresh, a young stormtrooper bemoaned his place in the endless universe from the comforts of his bunk in the barracks at Outpost 9.

His incessant sighs and puzzling mumbling caught the attention of his bunkmate who was just below him casually flipping through a dirty intergalactic magazine and saying “Oh, yeah,” with a boyish delight.

He looked up at the bottom of a mattress, which was his ceiling in sleep, and yelled out, “Can’t you ever be happy!? Your misery is making the rest of us miserable.”

The young stormtrooper looked over the side of his bunk. “Sorry, Toby. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“You didn’t disturb me. I just hate to hear you being so bummed about life. Why don’t you come down here and look at these pictures of great space tits. That’s sure to cheer you up.”


“What’s the matter? You don’t like space tits?”

“You don’t need to be so… So gross about it. Don’t you know anything about women? They don’t want to be treated like objects and spread open like a roasting chicken in a glossy magazine for your salacious appetites.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Toby climbed out of his bunk and stood so that he could see the weird young guy he was talking to. “What the hell is wrong with you?”


“You don’t go for chicks anymore?… Because if you don’t, I’m going to request a bunk transfer.”

“I like chicks just fine. But I want a real relationship with a real woman, not some picture in a magazine.”

Toby scoffed at his remark. “Good luck with that around here, space boy. Not much to choose from.” He waved the magazine in the air to show it off. “Sometimes you gotta take what you can get.”

The young stormtrooper rose and sat up on the edge of his bunk. “That’s just it. I want more than just what I can get. Can I tell you something in confidence?”

“Yeah, buddy. Sure.”

“I don’t want to be a stormtrooper anymore.”


“Would you be quiet.”

“What the hell do you mean you don’t want to be a stormtrooper anymore?”

“I’m sick of blasting shit. All we do is blast shit. And if we’re not blasting shit, we’re just standing around waiting to blast shit.”

That’s the life we chose, Karl. That’s what we do. You made an oath to the Evil Empire.”

“I know, I know. But I’m really struggling with this as a career choice. I can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake. I don’t want to be on the side of evil.”

Toby threw down his dirty intergalactic magazine on his bunk and put his hands on his hips. “I don’t know what to tell you, Karl. You’ll just have to wait until your service time is up.”

“But I can’t. I can’t wait 15 years. That’s like a prison sentence.”

“You have to. Otherwise, it’s considered desertion. Do you know what they do to deserters?”

“Put you in a cage with a hungry Wookie and no way to get out.”

“That’s right, Karl. Do you want to get your head ripped off by a Wookie?”

“Of course I don’t want to get my head ripped off by a Wookie. I’m not stupid.”

“Then you better watch yourself. Do your job and keep these wayward ideas to yourself. What the hell would you do anyways?”

The young stormtrooper named Karl, serial No. 14788, looked around the barracks to make sure no one was eavesdropping. “If I tell you, promise you won’t make fun of me?”

“All right.”

“Do you ever watch the Great Intergalactic Baking Show?”


“Oh man. It’s great. I stream it on SpaceFlix.”

“What the hell is it?”

“It’s this amateur baking competition but they take it very seriously. There’s like 12 contestants from all over the universe and they bake all kinds of different delicious things, and they get judged on it by this stodgy bastard and this old chick and the ones who do well move on to the next round and the ones who do bad get kicked off. Then at the end they announce the winner, the champion baker.”

Toby shrugged and made a silly, mocking noise. “A baking competition? You watch people bake? It sounds stupid to me.”

“It’s not stupid, it’s awesome. It’s relaxing and helps me take my mind off having to blast shit all the time. In fact, the show has totally inspired me to do greater things in my life.”

“What greater things has it inspired you to do?”

“I want to go to Earth and open my own patisserie.”

“Earth!? Earth sucks. Why on earth would you want to go to… Earth.”

“Keep your voice down. Yeah, I know Earth sucks…”

“That place is populated by a bunch of idiots. All they do is kill each other and destroy their environment.”

“Yes, yes. I’ve heard how ridiculous Earthlings can be, but they have the best pastry schools in the universe. I want to go to Paris, that’s a magnificent city in a place called France, and learn about something more than just how to use a blaster. It’s my dream, Toby. I have to follow my dream. I need more out of life.”

Toby scoffed and shook his head at the young stormtrooper. “Wowza. I don’t know man. Earth is pretty far away. And you have to have a lot of space bucks to travel, let alone go to school and open your own patisserie.”

“I’ve been saving up for a long time. I’m sure I could find a good pilot with a fast ship at a reasonable price. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and planning. But I need you to promise me that when it all goes down that you won’t rat me out.”

“Nah. I wouldn’t rat you out. But at least let me know when you’re about to fly the coop. You better not leave without saying goodbye.”

“I will… And I won’t.”

The barracks suddenly illuminated with a flashing red alert light and an alarm started yawning in and out. “Great. Another drill,” Toby said, looking around. “Looks like it’s time to suit up and get to work. And don’t forget your blaster this time.”

Keep an eye out for Episode II