A sweet story of peril and redemption: Chapter 6
Relieved as she was to have been rescued from the marauding bears, Maltose was still not entirely at ease. She was exhausted, Dextrose was still leaking fluff, and they were now surrounded by staring Purple Peeps.
“Ow,” whimpered Dextrose, as one Purple Peep stepped forward and hauled him up from the ground.
“Peeps: Home!” someone shouted, and the group began to march away from the thick forest. A few steps behind shambled the Purple Peeple Eaters.
“Where are we going?” Maltose asked the nearest Purple Peep.
He gave her a stern look. “You will go before the Great Bilby. He will tell us what to do with you.”
“Look,” the Peep said earnestly, “we’re very grateful to you for saving us, but we need to get back to our Basket and find some Eggs. Our Council is waiting for us.”
The Purple Peep did not answer.
“Does anyone have a Band-Aid?” Dextrose asked tearfully. One was produced, and Maltose stuck it firmly over her friend’s bottom. They marched on.
Just when Maltose thought she would actually fall over with exhaustion, she noticed a tall, sharpened pole at the edge of the path. A severed bear’s head was stuck on the top. Dextrose, stumbling behind, followed her gaze, and all the color drained from his face.
A Purple Peep noticed her stare. “A warning.”
There was another such warning a little farther along, and then another. As they approached their destination, the grisly messages appeared closer and closer together. The path ended in a clearing, surrounded by a wide ring of bear heads. At the far end, on a high platform, sat the one they had been brought to meet.
Maltose and Dextrose cringed before the terrifying creature. The Bilby gnashed his sharp teeth and wiggled his massive ears , then asked in a calm and gentle voice, “So, who are you?”
“I am Maltose, and this is Dextrose. We were on a quest to find Eggs when we were attacked by the bears. These Purple Peeps rescued us.”
The Great Bilby shook his head and rolled his limpid eyes sorrowfully. “Ah, the bears. They are mad for s’mores, you know. Their insane desire drives them to commit terrible crimes against our Purple Peeps, and that is why our patrols are always on duty. I’m afraid we must deal with them rather harshly.” He gestured to the severed heads around him. “We feed the bodies to our Purple Peeple Eaters.”
Maltose understood. Their own Council had once had a terrible ant infestation, and chaos had reigned for months before the pests were finally stamped out.
“But you say you seek Eggs?” the Great Bilby went on, and the two Peeps nodded earnestly. “Well, I suppose we can spare a few,” he shrugged.
Dextrose and Maltose looked at each other, astounded. Could the end of their quest be near?
The Bilby waved his tail, gnashed his teeth again, and pointed. “Bring them to the Eggs!” he commanded the Purple Peep patrol.
Maltose and Dextrose gazed upon the shining heap of eggs in wonder.
“I’ve never seen anything . . . so . . . perfect.” Dextrose burst into tears.
Maltose was similarly choked up, but being of a more practical mind, she immediately saw a problem.
“How are we going to get them home?” She frowned. “For that matter, how are we going to get us home? We left the Basket on the other side of the forest.”
Dextrose’s tears of joy stopped. He looked at her, appalled.
A Purple Peep piped up. “Oh, is that yours? One of our Patrols found it and brought it in a few minutes ago.”
“Oh, goody!” cried Dextrose.
“That is good, but even so, we can’t possibly carry all our Eggs in one Basket!”
“Oh, no!” Dextrose moaned.
“We could always take the truck,” suggested a Purple Peep.
Dextrose looked at Maltose uncertainly.
She thought for a moment. “That’ll work.”
“Yay!” Dextrose gave a little hop. “Ow.”
A Purple Peep patrol, with military organization, pulled the truck around and began loading Eggs. They moved quickly and efficiently, and were generous with their donation to the Peep Council. Six other Purple Peeps arrived soon after, towing the Basket behind them.
While they were working, Maltose turned to one of the Purple Peeps. “How did you get so many Eggs?”
“Oh,” the Purple Peep shrugged, “Our Purple Peeple Eaters pluck them from the trees before they fall, and we ripen them in our cave. If you wait for them to fall off, they get snatched up by shrill-voiced Giants with grubby hands.” He shivered.
“Just about done!” another Purple Peep called out.
Dextrose turned to Maltose. “Does this mean we can go home now?”
Maltose had another unnerving thought. “Only if we can find the way. I have no idea where we are right now.”
“Don’t worry about it,” a Purple Peep assured her. “The truck has GPS.”
“Global Peep Spotter.” He opened the door of the truck, leaned in, and punched a few buttons on the dashboard.
Beep! Boop! Blort!
A slot opened under the buttons, and out slid a small sheet of paper. The Purple Peep handed it to Maltose.
There was a small arrow on the page, and below it was written:
Maltose pointed. “That way!” she shouted.
And so off they went.