Last Week’s FFF: Fireworks
Cassy ran after Tom quick as her awkward legs could carry her. At eleven, she had sprouted taller him, even though Tom was already twelve. She had developed more advanced in other areas, as well. Her interest in the same games he liked began to wane. No more did she really desire to play guns or dinosaurs.
No, what she interested in was what she was doing now, chasing Tom around, trying to kiss him, like she had when they were in elementary school. Just like then, Tom thought girls had some imaginary diseases. But for Cassy, the game had taken on a more serious element. She didn’t want to torment Tom. She wanted to kiss him. She longed for not a playful peck, but for a real first kiss. But she feared what would happen if Tom knew the truth. So games were all that worked.
“You’ll never catch me and eat me you undead zombie!” Tom screamed.
So that’s what this is, Cassy thought, realizing that Tom didn’t even understand the game. Still, it was the closest she could come to touching him without revealing her true intentions, so she played along, making undead groans. She walked, stiff legged, looking at nothing in particular, trying to act like a zombie. It was this lack of attention that caused her to trip.
“Ow!” she said.
Tom stopped his fleeing and turned to her.
“That’s not a zombie noise,” he said.
“I know. I tripped on something.”
She looked at the ground around her feet and saw a broken brick.
“What’s this doing in the middle of the yard?” she asked.
Tom came closer to inspect the object. He bent down next to her, moved a limp weed out of the way, picked up the chunk of brick.
“I don’t know,” he said, tossing it to the side.
“Look. There’s something under it,” Cassy said.
“It looks buried. I’ll dig it up,” Tom said, diving his hands deep into the dirt.
Tom hauled up a bag hidden below the dirt. He opened it and found a map, a can of spray, a silver ornament, and a brass lantern.
“Why was that buried here?” Cassy asked.
Tom opened the map and looked at it.
“It looks like a treasure map. We should go on an adventure!” Tom said.
Cassy resisted the urge to roll her eyes. She didn’t want to go on an adventure. It was such a boy thing to do. But, if Tom was going, maybe she could find a reason.
“Okay, sure,” she said.
Tom picked up the broken brick and the weed that had covered it and added them to the bag.
“Why are you bringing those?” Cassy asked.
“Might need them. You never know.”
It was mid-afternoon when they set out. A thick forest lay just two blocks behind their suburban houses. That was where the map began. The two chatted as they walked, joking, and following the map directions via the compass on Cassy’s smart phone.
The canopy overhead grew thick, allowing for less and less sunlight to break through. The path became darker, and Cassy realized that they had gone a long way.
“I think I want to go home,” Cassy said.
“You’re not getting scared are you?” Tom asked.
“No. I’m just getting hungry is all,” she lied.
“I put some snacks in the bag. I’ll grab you one.”
He poked around the bag as he walked, and stumbled into a very dim patch of path. Hand in bag, he looked up as he heard a deep grumble.
“What was that?” Cassy asked.
The grumble roared louder, turning into a snarl. Something moved in the shadows. Tom could feel the presence of a beast. The hair on his arms rose to attention. He began to search the bag again, this time, for a weapon. The sound of quick motion echoed through the forest. The shadow looked liquid as it rushed towards him. Tom grabbed the brick and threw it at the beast, but had no luck.
The monster was closing in fast. He reached in the bag, grabbed the spray, and let the pressurized contents loose. The beast stopped in his tracks, choked, and turned tail, running away faster then he had come at them.
Tom turned the can over in his hand, studying it.
“What was that thing?” Cassy asked.
“I don’t know. But this says it’s a can of ‘grue repellent’. Do you know what this means?”
Cassy, still startled, shook her head.
“That means this is real. We have to keep going.”
Cassy didn’t move. Fear had a grip on her, and she wanted to abandon the adventure. Tom came to her and put his arm around her shoulder, squeezing her.
“I’ll keep you save. Me and my can of repellent.”
Cassy’s fright melted, and a new tension took it’s place. But she enjoyed his embrace, and took small steps forward.
Soon, they arrived at a cave. The map told them that this was the place they were looking for. Tom lit the brass lantern, and they entered the cave.
“Do you think there’s more of those beasts in there?”
They heard a grumble, confirming that there were. Tom placed the bottle before them and depressed the tip, but nothing happened.
“Uh, I think it’s empty,” Tom said.
They waited, certain they’d be killed. But the monsters didn’t attack. They could see them, circling around at the edges of the light.
“They must not like the light,” Cassy said.
As they went deeper into the cave, the grues stopped following. They reached a solid wall.
“It’s a dead end,” Tom said.
Cassy studied the stone, and noticed a small circular imprint at it’s core. She removed the silver ornament from the backpack, and placed it in the hole. Light shone through the crack, and the wall opened.
Behind the wall was a basket filled with treasure. It had gold, jewels, and a glittery orb. Tom set down the lantern and loaded up his backpack with the jewels, while Cassy held the orb.
The bag became heavy, and as Tom attempted to sling it back over his shoulder, he knocked the lantern over, and the flame extinguished.
Howls erupted from behind them. The grues were closing in, and they had their backs against a wall. Tom held tightly onto Cassy, placing himself between her and the beasts. She held the orb closely and thought of her backyard, where all this trouble had started. She squinted her eyes tight just as she felt the hot breath from the snapping jaws of the beast.
Suddenly, everything was silent.
She dared a peak through her shut eyes. She was in her backyard. Tom was standing in front of her, out of breath and white with fright, but unharmed. He had lost the backpack full of treasure, but she still clutched the orb.
The glittery orb.
“What happened?” Tom asked.
“I think that the orb did this. I think it bent to my will,” she said.
“Woah, that’s cool. Better then gold. Can I use it, beautiful?” he asked.
Cassy was stunned by his demeanor. She held the orb tighter, looked down at it, then back at Tom, and smiled.
“Maybe later,” she said.
He smiled back and took her by the hand.
“Hey, didn’t you say you were hungry? Let’s go get you a snack,” he said.