|Up a tree without a ladder
October 21 2001 at 2:54 PM
|Harbinger of Death
|Circe frowned. “We’re almost broke,
gang,” she said. “Our petty cash fund is nearly nonexistent.”
“You’re kidding!” Cleya exclaimed. “What happened to the profits from our last fundraiser?”
“It got taxed heavily by the chancellors,” Lorel said.
“We need to sell a few things off,” Circe decided. “Red Storm, go into town with these toaster cozies and see if you can sell them at the craft fair.”
“Aw, man!” Red Storm said. “I hate the craft fair. It’s boring. Why can’t you send Cleya?”
“I outrank you,” said Cleya.
“Then send Lorel!”
“I’m bigger than you. I could beat you up.”
Storm sighed. These Treehouse Club politics were getting out of hand. “Fine, fine, give me the cozies. I’ll go.”
She kicked the dirt on the path to town, walking as slowly as she could. Maybe if she went slowly enough, she’d miss it altogether. She encountered an old woman whose cart full of goods was stopped by the side of the road with a broken wheel.
“Young lady, would you mind helping me?” the woman asked when she saw Red Storm coming. “I’m too old to put this new wheel on.”
“Sure,” said Storm, happy for the delay. “I’d be glad to.” She went to work on it, and soon had the cart ready to go.
“Let me repay you for your kindness,” the old woman said.
“No, I should be thanking you,” said Storm. “Now I don’t have to spend as much time at the craft fair.”
”Why, that’s just where I’m headed!” the woman exclaimed. “I have all my creations to sell. What are you selling?”
“Why don’t I pay you for them, and I’ll put them with the wares at my booth. Then you won’t have to go, and I’ll be doing you a favor in return for helping me.”
“You’ve got a deal!” Storm said, mighty relieved. “How much can you give me for them?”
“I haven’t got any money, but I’ve got something much more precious.” The woman pulled out a little cloth, and opened it to reveal a few glittering stones.
“Oh my goodness! Those will bring a fortune at the university! Thank you!” Storm took the package and went back home. The woman just smiled and looked up at the sky.
Back at the university, Red Storm showed the other girls what she had, telling them the story. “And then she gave me these and took the cozies to the fair!” She displayed her reward. “Aren’t they lovely?”
“What are they?” Circe asked, curious.
“Let me see those.” Lorel looked at them closely. She shook her head. “They’re not like any gem they’ve ever seen. I’m not even sure they ARE gems.”
Cleya inspected them next. “Hmmmm.” She turned them over, trying to discern their origins. Finally she took one and tapped it with a little hammer. It cracked and fell in two. “Red Storm, you dummy! These aren’t jewels! They’re seeds!”
“You traded all our toaster cozies for a bunch of seeds?” Lorel was angry.
“We can’t even plant them now. It’s harvest season, for crying out loud!” Circe groaned.
“Way to go, kid,” Cleya said, tossing the seeds out the window of the treehouse. “All in favor of booting Storm from the club, raise your hand.” The other two raised their hands. “It’s unanimous. Take a hike.”
“You people are so rotten!” Red Storm raged. “All I did was try to help! Who needs your silly old club anyway!” She climbed down the ladder, grumbling all the way.
The next morning, Red Storm decided she would forgive and forget. She made her way to the treehouse, but it was gone. In its place was a huge, thick vine that went up in the sky so far, she couldn’t even see its end. “Uh-oh,” she said. “I suppose I’m going to have to go after them.”
It took her a long time, but she climbed up the vine, up and up and up, until she found the treehouse. It was resting on a branch of the vine, but the girls weren’t there. She squinted through the haze, and realized she was in some strange plane where she was in miniature. The others must have gone exploring. She would have to follow.
There was a huge house of some kind ahead, and she smelled food. Her stomach growled. She was sure they would have gone there. She found a small opening and went inside. Sure enough, there were Lorel, Circe and Cleya. They had found a slice of bread as big as a card table and were feasting on it.
“Well, look who showed up!” said Cleya. “How did you find us?”
“There’s a huge plant where the treehouse was,” Storm said. “It’s kind of hard to miss.”
“Well, pull up a chair,” said Circe. “There’s plenty of bread.”
They ate for a few minutes, and then suddenly the ground started to shake.
”Earthquake!” said Lorel. “Run!” They were scrambling around when the door swung open, and a giant walked in. He spotted them.
“What’s this?” he said, and grabbed them. “You’re not mice.”
“We most certainly are not!”
“Good. I don’t eat mice.”
“Too late. I’ve seen your kind here before. Time for lunch.” The giant then very unceremoniously dumped them in a pot while he found some skewers and started up a fire.
“People kabobs!” he said. “My favorite appetizer.” One by one, he grabbed a girl and ran her through before placing her over the fire, where she was roasted to a nice golden brown. Then he gobbled them all up and licked their bones clean