Mandarin Orange and the Bakery Surprise Part III

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All the Bushel shuffled forward together as he plunked down on the tree trunk, his fox tail twitching.

“Where did you come from? We’ve never seen you on the island before!” Watermelon asked.

“You don’t eat meat like a fox, do you?” Lemon asked.

“I come from everywhere!” Vulpes answered. “Here and there and near and far. I travel, you see. It’s why I have a bag. And a hat. Not proper to go traveling without a hat!” He looked at Lemon. “And no worries, little Fruit, I do not eat other animals, though I do eat lots of things! It’s one of the best things about traveling!”

This caught Mandarin Bat’s attention.

“Come sit by the fire with us,” Blueberry Bat offered.

They all hopped down to the sand beside the fire and Vulpes leaned on his bag. The flames had almost gone out from neglect, but DragonFruit threw on some more sticks and breathed fire on it to get it going again. The FoxBat lifted a log that would have been too heavy for them and pushed it up against the side of the flames so it could catch.

Mandarin Orange asked what sort of things Vulpes ate on his travels.

“All sorts,” he told him. “There’s different fruits and veggies all over the place! And then there’s all the stuff people make!”

“What are people?” Grape asked.

“You mean, you’ve never met a people before?” he replied, shocked. “They’re almost everywhere. Some are scary, but most are magic, even if they don’t know it! They make all sorts of fun and wonderful things!” he pulled his bag out from behind him and opened it. “It doesn’t look that big, but I swear it’s bigger on the inside,” he told them as he stuck his upper half down into the mysterious thing. “Aha!” came a muffled sound and he came back up with a strange metal object with a handle and a spout. He stuck his head back down inside again and came back once more with a white bag filled with broken up dry leaves and a jar of thick amber liquid.

“Honey!” Mandarin squealed with joy. He’s rather a fan. “The BuzzBees trade that to us sometimes when Apple and Pear give them a song to sing as they work!”

The FoxBat nodded and held up the honey to the light of the fire. The sun had set now and the light made it look like it was glowing. Batnana cooed at how pretty it was.

“I am going to make you something tasty, right now!” he told them. “Back in a sec!” he flew off in the direction of the stream that came down the mountain to the bay to fill the kettle.

The Bushel talked excitedly together all at the same time while he was gone. Mandarin just knew that this new friend could give him an idea of what to make with his flour!

A minute later, Vulpes returned, water sloshing in the kettle. He plopped it onto the big log right beside the fire.

“When the kettle -that’s the thing with the water in it- when it screeches, it will be almost ready. We’re making the water hot.” he looked around. “Do you guys have cups?”

Mandarin had brought the emptied flour sack with them to hold their hollow acorn shell cups that morning so they could drink from the stream or for if they found a citrus tree to squeeze. He scrambled over to where he had stashed it under the bent over palm trunk and retrieved them.

“Excellent!”

“This drink was invented by people in the east part of the world. They take special plants and dry them and grind them up. Then they add spices. There’s all different kinds, but this is my favorite! Smell!” He passed the bag around the fire and they all took turns sniffing.

“I smell Cinnamon!” Mandarin claimed. “Lots of other things too, but I don’t know what it all is.”

“That would be the cardamom, cloves and ginger!”

Just then, the kettle started to whistle. Vulpes pulled it away from the fire, opened a latch on top, and stuffed the bag into it. He took their acorn cups and nestled them in the sand so they wouldn’t tip over, and put a big dollop of honey in each one.

“Now, normally there’s milk, but I assume that would be hard to get at the moment, so it can wait” Another minute and he poured the hot water, which now smelled like the spicy bag, into each cup and passed them out.

“I give you: Chai Tea!”

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Mandarin Orange and the Bakery Surprise

IMGOne warm evening in the Fruit Grove, as Apple Bat and Pear Bat sang songs from the lower branches of the apple tree and Batnana painted a portrait of Lemon and Lime, Mandarin Orange was nowhere to be found. That’s because he was over on the far side of the island, getting a sack of flour for his latest baking effort. He still wasn’t sure what it would be, but he was determined to try something new what would surprise and astound his friends! The flour was the last ingredient he thought he would need.

Not being the fittest of the FruitBats, hauling a sack of flour half his size across the island was quite an effort. The mill, which was nestled on a stream that came down out of the higher part of the island as it rushed to the sea, took wheat from a small farm nearby. There were no humans on the island, but the mill was left over from when their had been, and the creatures of Willowyk were unusually industrious. The millers were a pair of potbelly pigs, and they were happy to trade their flour to Mandarin Bat for a nice pile of cinnamon rolls.

The flour was poured into a muslin sack, and Mandarin was off, his wings beating fast, his toes gripping the top of the sack. It wasn’t long before he was huffing and puffing and wishing he’d brought Strawberry or Watermelon with him to help. He knew in the end it would be worth it though, this would be his masterpiece!

The moon was high in the sky by the time he plopped onto the ground. For a minute, he just used the flour sack as a beanbag chair and snuggled on top for a quick nap. When he awoke, the dawn was creeping into the dark sky. With haste, he located one of the glass jars he had found on the beach in Crescent Cove and dumped the flour in, sealing it with the cork so no moisture would soak into his baking supply. Looking at his glassware collection, he saw he finally had gathered everything he would need to bake something grand, huge, and impressive!

The Mystery of Willowyck Castle Part1

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“…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!

The Search for BlackBerry Bat Part5 Finale

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All the Bushel came fluttering and tumbling into the open, keeping their wide eyes on the looming figure.

THUNK! went the cage over the pile of berries on the banana leaf! All the leaves and moss they had stuck on it bounced onto the ground by the force of the landing. As planned, they drew their swords and flails in case the cage was not heavy enough.

“ROAR!” screamed the monster in the cage…but then it was silent.
Lemon Bat, standiong behind the rest of them, picked up the lantern and handed it to Lime, who passed it to Watermelon, who stepped out in front of them and lifted it high. The light was not very bright, and all they could see at first was a black lump on the banana leaf. How odd. Where had the monster gone?

“Hey, you in there,” Mandarin said, taking a step forward. “What’s the matter? You’re the one who likes to hop out of bushes at folks. Hellloooo.”

Just then, the sky showed signs of dawn. It started to glow pale, faint blue. They could see the lump in the cage shiver, and one ear with a tuft of fluff on the tip lifted up and wiggled. A moment later, a glowing purple eye appeared! They all took a cautious step back. Soon they could see from the new light in the sky that this ear and eye were peeking out from between two wings. Slowly, both the ear and the eye had a twin, and a purple nose emerged as well. To all of their surprise, this face looked a lot like the ones they saw in the mirror!

“Go away!” the face abruptly said, and immediately hid back behind the wings.

The Bushel all turned to look at each other. Everyone looked confused, except for Grape Bat.

“See,” he told them in a low voice. “This was my other idea. There wasn’t a monster at all, it’s BlackBerry!”

Lemon fanned himself, “Oh, good!”

“But why does he want us to leave?” Blueberry asked. “Does he hate us?”
Mandarin snorted “Why? He doesn’t even know us!”

Strawberry looked around and noticed Batnana was not beside her anymore.

“Batnana? Where did you go!”

They all turned back to the cage and there she was, her face up to the bars, her wings trying to lift the edge.

“Stop!” They all cautioned her.

“Are you fermented?” asked Mandarin

She looked at them funny. “Boop-de-doop?”

“Because,” Strawberry insisted, “We don’t know him yet.”

They gathered close to the cage, but pulled her back a few steps.

“BlackBerry Bat?” Watermelon asked.

The lump wiggled. “Go away,” it repeated.

“Yes, we got that part,” Mandrin Orange said. Watermelon waved for him to be quiet.

“We don’t want to go away, we want to meet you properly.”

BlackBerry Bat stuck his face out again and glanced them over, apparently seeing clearly in the dim light. “Why?” he asked with suspicion.

“Well, you are a FruitBat, and we are too, so we thought you might want to come live in the grove with us.” Blueberry told him with a smile.

His eyes went to their weapons. “Awefully funny way of showing it,” he said. “Trapping me, pointing pointy things at me. Why should I?”

They looked guiltily at their swords and flails.

“These things?” Mandarin said, poking the dirt with his tulip pistol sword and the tip broke off. “They’re just for games. They don’t do much, really. Besides, all that scaring us made us think there was a monster so that’s why we made the cage.” They dropped the weapons.

Blackberry sat up a little more. “Maybe I am a monster.”
Apple giggled.

“What’s so funny about that?”

“You don’t look like a monster, with those fulffy tufts on your ears,” she told him.

BlackBerry covered the tops of his ears with his wings and they all suddenly noticed that at each point of his wings there was a purple thorn!

“Ooooo,” Batnana said.

He saw them staring at his throns and his face contorted like he was going to cry. “Oh no, this is what it was scared of! You think I’m weird looking, don’t you! I have thorns! Thats why I have fluff on my ears, it hides them on my ear tips! And my eyes glow, too!” He curled back into a ball and covered his face again.

The bushel just blinked for a few seconds, then they all exchanged nods and grabbed the vine that attached to the op of the cage and lifted it up off of the scared trapped bat. When it was up high enough, they pushed it off to the side and let it bounce into the undergrowth. That finished, they all went back to BlackBerry and sat down around him.The sun was truly coming up now, warming the sky to pink and orange.

After a minute of quiet, BlackBerry peeked out again.

“Please come with us,” begged Blueberry.

“We are really sorry,” Watermelon told him. “We thought that whatever was trying to scare us off might have eaten you. We didn’t know you were scared of us!”

“I’m not scared of you,” he insisted. “I just, I thought you wouldn’t like me. It would be easier to scare you away.”

Batnana shook her head and laughed a squeeky laugh. She walked over and spread her wings in front of him.

“I think… she wants to hug you,” Strawberry told him.

“Oh, um…ok?” he replied, sitting up.”

Batnana gave a bounce of joy and swooped over, wrapping her wings around him.

His eyes got big from the tightness of her hug “Ack!” he managed to eek out.
The Bushel giggled. Luckily, Batnana didn’t get any thorn prickles this time.

“I’m thinking that means you should come with us,” Watermelon suggested when she let go. The others all looked at him with expectation.

“Pleeease,” Blueberry said, leaning in and smiling. “We don’t think you’re weird, or scarry. We want you to come to the grove. It’s so pretty, and the bush you came from is there and it has yummy berries to eat!”

“And you can see the ocean,” said Pear.

“And I will make a cake to celebrate!” Mandarin chimed in.

“And we can have a proper welcome party at my place!” Lime added.

“Yes! You have to come. And if you don’t like it, then you can come back here,” promised Watemelon.

Blackberry looked around at all of them He felt a little overwhelemed, but maybe it wasn’t in a bad way. “Well, I guess I could give it a try-”

“YAY!” the Bushel cheered all together. Batnana did loops as they all took off.

“Follow us, BlackBerry Bat! We’ll take you home!”

A big smile grew on BalckBerry’s face. “You know, that sounds great.”

THE END