A sweet story of peril and redemption: Chapter 4
Follow your beaks and your hearts. I have yoga in half an hour. Goodbye. The wizard’s last words still hung in the air as Maltose, Dextrose and Fructose steered the Basket silently out of the cave.
Dextrose was frowning as if in pain – a sure indication that he was thinking hard. “‘Follow your beaks and your hearts’,” he said slowly. “What if we’re facing different directions? Whose beak do we follow?”
Fructose covered his face with his wings and sighed. “It was a metaphor, sweetie.”
“A meta for what?”
“Never mind,” Maltose interjected, sensing the exchange was about to get ugly. “Let’s just go west for now, okay?” The group fell silent once more.
It was getting dark. The Basket drifted westward, over fields and parking lots. Suddenly, the Peeps felt a jolt, and their vehicle tipped slightly to the left.
“What was that?” shrieked Dextrose. But the question proved unneccessary, as the Basket righted itself and began to push its way through a scraggle of large vines. The Peeps hunkered down and shut their eyes tightly as the thick, gnarled tendrils slithered over them, tangling around the Basket and creaking as they were pushed aside.
Because their eyes were closed, the three did not realize immediately that they had reached the end of the hanging forest. Fructose was the first to open his eyes.
“Oh. My,” said he.
They had arrived at the edge of a city, lit everywhere with hot neon. The Peeps had never seen such a place. Even the familiar was strange here.
Then Maltose saw another Sign. “Look! Look over there!” She was grinning as she pointed. “That must be where the Eggs are.”
As everyone knows, Peeps are nearsighted; so it was that none of the trio realized their mistake until they were quite close to the Sign.
“Hey, sweet things,” a husky voice greeted them as they descended to the ledge. “How you doin’?”
The Peeps were so startled that they forgot they were landing, and the Basket hit the ground at an awkward angle. It tipped over onto its side, and the three passengers tumbled out. As they pulled themselves upright, they saw the person who had addressed them, and their jaws dropped.
Standing before them was the most flamboyant ‘Gator they had ever seen. The only ‘Gator they had ever seen, in fact. The naïve little Peeps were shocked. No one knew what to say.
“Sugar, you don’t close that mouth, you gonna get flies in it,” the ‘Gator snapped.
“Excuse my friends,” Fructose stepped forward hastily. “They’re not used to such . . . visions of beauty.” He looked the ‘Gator up and down. “I love your boots.”
The ‘Gator looked pleased. “Thank you, honey. They’re faux.”
The two quickly fell to discussing shoes and local designers. Maltose and Dextrose stood back.
“We have to find the Eggs!” Maltose said, her voice low and urgent. “We can’t stay out here forever.”
Dextrose looked panicked. “Forever? I want to go home now.”
“You know we can’t. Not until we have the Eggs.” She glared at Fructose, who was now trying on the ‘Gator’s lipstick.
“No way,” Fructose said happily, carefully combing mascara through his non-existent lashes. “I’m staying right here. I like this town.” He looked shyly up at the ‘Gator. “I’m following my heart, like the Wizard said.”
“‘Course you are, sweetie,” the ‘Gator wrapped a protective arm around his shoulders. “Y’all go on, now. Little Miss Candy, here, is staying with me.”
Maltose and Dextrose did not argue. Fructose – er, Candy – seemed happy, and they had a quest to complete. They climbed back into the Basket, which seemed oddly empty without their friend.
The ‘Gator waved as they flew away, and Candy shouted “Ciao, darlings!”
And off flew the two remaining Peeps, following their beaks, but leaving a piece of their hearts behind.