“…and then there are the ‘Mato Mons’ers,” Grape Bat was explaining to BlackBerry. Since BlackBerry had decided to stay with the Bushel in the fruit grove, Grape had taken upon himself to educate him in all the different things he would find there.
“Monsters?” asked BlackBerry, understandably worried.
“Well, sort of.”
“Are they scary?”
“Not so much. Here, follow me!”
Grape led BlackBerry from where they were hanging in the grape vine to the low wall of stacked stones that skirted one side of the grove, opposite the cliff. The stone had been stacked that way a long, long time. They were covered in patches of moss and had fallen in a couple places. It wasn’t that tall, just a few feet. In fact, a six-year-old human child could have climbed up and over it with little trouble at all.
The two FruitBats landed on a nice thick clump of moss and bounced over to the far side of the wall. They peeked down. There were several tomato plants there, using the stones like a ladder to stretch up and find the sunlight between the shade of the trees on the edge of the forest. On the plants grew plump red tomatoes!
“Do you see them?” asked Grape.
BlackBerry squinted for a moment, studying the green and red vegetation. Then, just as he was about to give up, he noticed some of the tomatoes on the ground under the plants were moving!
“Are those tomatoes alive?”
Grape laughed and began to climb down the vine. BlackBerry looked skeptical about this decision. “Don’t worry,” Grape insisted “They don’t bite! …well, they don’t bite bats, anyway.”
Shrugging, BlackBerry started to follow. As they got closer to the ground, he could hear something like little voices chanting! When they were almost to the bottom, they could make out what was being said:
“’Matoes, ‘matoes, ‘matoes!”
BlackBerry wrapped his toes around the nearest leaf and hung upside down to have a better look at the Mon’sers. They were about the size of beefsteak tomatoes. They walked on two feet and had two hands with 3 pointy fingers. They had big black eyes and a big mouth with a set of fangs. On the top of their heads they had a stem with green leaves around it like a hat, and there was a curl of vine growing from them like a tail. They also had two leaves coming out of their backs like wings, but they were too small to lift them off the ground. They weren’t really scary, they were actually kind of cute. They looked very happy as they rooted around in the grass.
Suddenly, one yelled “MATO!” and they all gathered around as it pulled a squishy tomato from where it had fallen and rolled under some leaves.
“The squishy ones are their favorites,” Grape pointed out.
The Mon’sers cheered, then passed the tomato around, gobbling messy bites from it until it was all gone. It didn’t take long. Afterword, they all went back to searching.
Grape and BlackBerry flew up into the air and back into the grove.
“So they used to be tomatoes before the shooting star that made us into bats?”
“As far as we know, yes. We don’t know whey they turned into little monsters instead of bats, but maybe one day we will find out.”
They came to rest in the BlackBerry bush beside the edge of the cliff and looked out over the bay.
“And the name of the bay is Crescent Bay, because it’s shaped like the moon when it is a crescent.
Mandarin Orange Bat came fluttering up next to the blackberry bush with a plate of cinnamon rolls he was passing out to all his friends.
“What are you two talking about now?” he asked as they came out and they all sat down on some rocks.
“I was explaining that the bay is named after the crescent moon.”
Mandarin looked at him and laughed. “The moon? No it’s not! It’s named after croissants!” He gave a bounce and beamed, “You know, the pastry!”
Grape rolled his eyes and opened his mouth to protest, but before a word came out, Mandarin popped a cinnamon roll in it!
The look of utter surprise on Grape’s face sent everybat nearby into a fit of the giggles. Grape wanted to be mad, but he had to admit that the roll was delicious and so he began to chew it up instead. When he was finished, he lifted his eyebrow at Mandarin and shook his head. “Maybe I shouldn’t have given you that magic talking box the FluffBats brought me from the beach. All those weird cooking shows from other worlds are giving you funny ideas!” He was talking about a radio they would sometimes listen to.
“Aaaanyway,” he said, turning to BlackBerry, “What should we learn about next?”
But BlackBerry wasn’t paying attention, he was looking out across the bay at the mountain on the other side of the island. There was a castle perched just above the treeline.
“Remember you told me about Willowyck castle?” he asked. The rest of the Bushel had stopped laughing at this point and started to look in the same direction as BlackBerry.
Grape went over and stood beside him. “Yeah, it’s abandoned.”
“Sure,” Pear said, coming up too. “We never see any lights there. The FluffBats say they never see anyone there either.”
BlackBerry pointed above the castle. “Then, what is that cloud over the castle now? It isn’t moving, it’s staying there.”
“Is it on fire?” Watermelon asked, as he joined them as well. “Hey Kiwi! Do you have your spyglass?”
Kiwi rushed over and lifted the glass. “Hm. I can’t really make it out. Looks a bit like birds though.”
“Birds?” the Bushel all asked from behind them.
“Why would there be birds flocking there?”
At that moment, Batnana, (who had been hanging on a root just over the edge of the cliff to observe the colors in the ocean) flew up and did several loops in the air in front of them spouting her usual unintelligible chatter. “Flibbity do-wa-ba-daba dop!”
Strawberry Bat translated: “She says ‘Well why don’t we go find out!’”
All the bats exchange looks with excitement. “An Adventure!” they cheered!