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 part 5

singing bats

“I’ll go help her!” DragonFruit Bat said, as he seemed to have an inkling as to what she would do. The egg continued to shake, but it look like could be getting tired.

Apple and Pear flew up to it and latched on.

“You can do it!” Apple said.

“Don’t give up!” cheered Pear

A minute later Batnana emerged back through the roof hole with a chisel gripped in her toes. DragonFruit followed a second later with the heavier hammer.

Watermelon did a loop. “Batnana is going to be a sculptor!” he announced.

Everybat gathered around the egg and held it still. Since it was weak from all its bouncing, it wasn’t too hard. They watched in silence as Batnana expertly placed with a squinted eye and her tongue stuck out in concentration. Strawberry Bat flew up to help DragonFruit with the heavy hammer. After all, she wouldn’t want him to miss and hit Batnana by mistake!

“Flip, pop, blip!” Batnana said. She looked back at them when the hammer didn’t strike the back of the chisel.

Strawberry poked DragonFruit.“That means 1,2,3,” she whispered. “She wants us to strike on ‘blip.’”


Batnana turned back to the stone egg “Flip, pop, BLIP!”

They swung the hammer. WHACK!

The crack she had targeted split a little wider!

“Go! Release it, Batnana!”

They struck it again WHACK!

Another crack deepened.

Batnana worked for several minutes, and everybat cheered when the first big chunk fell off. Soon, several pieces of stone sat on the roof around them. Batnana flew off the rock. It gave a bounce, as if testing that it was once again free. Then, it began to wiggle, then bounce, then as if releasing that the big chunkes were gone and it was time for the fine work, it started to vibrate! The tiny chips flew as it bounced faster and faster, and all the Bushel took off to watch from a safe distance.

It didn’t take more than ten minutes for the rock to completely turn into a puppy. It gave a final bounce and spin and yipped with joy!

The stars were out now and the big yellow moon lit everything as it hung huge above the horizon. The other puppies came to wiggle their tails and sniff and lick each other. They were all different shades of grey. Some had moss spots and some had no moss. The one they had helped was a little smaller than the others and had a chip on his left ear so he was easy to pick out in the crowd.

Suddenly, a strong breeze began to blow. Some of the puppies lifted their little pug noses to sniff. Pretty soon, they had all walked to the edge of the wall and climbed onto the crenulations where the castle guard used to look out over the island.

The puppies began to flap their wings and yip and yap, bouncing with their faces in the wind and their ears flipping about. Then, all at ounce they rushed off the side! The FruitBats gasped and flew to the edge in fright!

WHOOSH! The puppies rose from their dive, paws stretched ahead and behind, wings spread wide!

“WOW!” the Bushel cheered! They spun in the air, reminded of the joy of first flight!

Then a sound distracted them from their glee. A whimper. Their little pugoyle friend had not jumped with his brothers, sisters and cousins. His litter mates had taken to the air, be he still sat watching them, all alone on the wall.

They flew to him.

“What’s wrong?” Apple Bat asked.

The puppy flapped his little wings hard and rapidly, but his tail stayed on the stone below it.

“His wings are too small yet,” Pear pointed out. “He doesn’t know if he can fly like the others.”

Lemon stepped forward to pet the whining pup on the head despite how much taller the puppy was compared to him. “He’s scared.”

“We can help! I know we can!” Apple said, looking to the others.

“First, I propose we name him,” Watermelon said. “I think we should call him Chip for his distinctive chipped ear. All in favor?”

“YAY” the Bushel responded unanimously.

“Ok, Chip, we’re gonna help you use your wings!”

“That’s right!” insisted Apple. She started to sing:

“Just keep flying,

Just keep flying,

Just keep flying,

Up! Up ! Up!

“Just keep flying,

Just keep flying,

Just keep flying,

Little Pup!”

All the bats hovered over the pugoyle’s back, gently grabbing his wrinkles with their toes and lifted him just a little off the wall. Chip began to flap his wings with determination.

Pear sang:

“When the world seems

big and scary

that’s just cause it’s


Lift your wings and

learn to fly

You’ll see it better

from the sky!”

All the bats joined in:

“Just keep flying,

Just keep flying,

Just keep flying,

Up! Up ! Up!

“Just keep flying,

Just keep flying,

Just keep flying,

Little Pup!”

One by one the bats let go of Chip while Apple continued:

“If you’re feeling

down and lonely,

call your friends

and call your family!

When your sick

or if you’re hurting,

they’ll lift you up

with all their loving!”


“Just keep flying,

Just keep flying,

Just keep flying,

Up! Up ! Up!”

“Just keep flying,

Just keep flying,

Just keep flying,

Little Pup!”

Soon only DragonFruit and Strawberry were still holding him up, the rest was all him!

Then, as happened before in the sculptor’s room, a big shadow passed over them. It was time to meet Mama!

The Mystery of Willowyck Castle prt 4


“I donno if it was such a great idea to release THAT from the stone!” Mandarin Orange said after recovering from the fright.

“That shadow!” Lime Bat spouted, turning to the window. “What was it?”

Lemon peeked out from behind him. “It was HUGE, that’s what it was.”

“It must have been one of the things flying around the top of the castle.” Kiwi guessed.

Grape nodded. “Indeed. We better proceed with caution.”

“DragonFruit, can you show us a covered rout to the roof?” asked Watermelon.

“Sure! Follow me!”

They did just that, back out through the cracked door into the narrow hallway then through another door to the room across from the sculptor’s workshop. A section of the roof had collapsed long ago. The hole let in the pink light of the evening sky and the warm summer breeze. The sun was close to setting. The Bushel flapped up to the hole and peered out; a rainbow of little bat faces with twitching ears.

High above, soaring in and out of the clouds were big, dark creatures! Grape glanced down at the walkways on the walls between the towers. There were rocks in clusters here and there all over the walls.

“How incredibly odd,” he said to nobat in particular. Taking another glance up to make sure the dark animals were happily flying high above and not interested in them, he climbed onto the roof, scampered to the ledge, then fluttered over to the wall.

Watermelon noticed a moment later. “Come on everyone, lets stay together!” he said, following suit. They reassembled on the wall of the castle by a pile of the rocks. The rocks were bigger than them, and the same color as the flying creatures.

Grape climbed on of the rocks. “Wow, you know, these kinda look like-”

“Eggs!” Blueberry finished.

Just then, the sun began to fall over the edge of the world and the sky grew darker. The moon, which had barely been noticeable in the full daylight, began to glow yellow as it rose over the opposite horizon. When its light hit the castle, the rocks began to bounce! Grape flew off the rock he was on and eveybat retreated in surprise.

“What’s happening!” Lemon yelled over the noise of fifty bouncing rock-eggs.

“I donno, just don’t get bounced on!” DragonFruit told them. They took to the air just over the eggs to watch. As the eggs bounced, little pieces of them were chipping off! At first they bounced hard, bigger pieces breaking and crumbling away. Then, when the big pieces were gone, they started bouncing softer, almost vibrating against the stone walkway on the top of the wall. This caused smaller chips to come loose. As parts fell away, it became more obvious that they weren’t just breaking off at random. The eggs were becoming something! DragonFruit suddenly looked up at the flying animals above them.

“I think I know what they are!” he called to the rest. “There were stone creatures like the one we saw in the sculptor’s room on the turrets of the wall before! Maybe they became alive! Maybe they were just hibernating or something! I think they are Gargoyles!”

Sure enough, one of the eggs had bounced and chipped until it resembled a grey puppy with horns and bat wings, but also wrinkles and a little pug nose!

“Gargoyle?” Blueberry Bat said, “He looks more like a Pugoyle!” Blueberry noticed one of the eggs was far behind the others. She watched it, and it wasn’t bouncing quite as fast. “What’s wrong with this one? It looks like this one isn’t going to make it!”

The Bushel flew to it, the egg beside it had already become a puppy, and it was jumping and trying to play with it’s sibling. They could see where the little curl of a tail would be, and where its nose was, but it couldn’t bounce hard enough to break off some of the bigger pieces it needed to before working on the details. The Bushel held their breath then cheered it on, but nothing was happening.

“I don’t think it can free itself on its own!” Blueberry said with a frown. “The poor little guy is stuck!” Tears beaded at the corners of her eyes, “What do we do!”

“Released. It needs to be released!” Grape Bat announced. “Batnana!”

Batnana flew up. “Skibbity do dwop!” she said with a little salute, then shot off in the most linear flight any of them had ever seen her achieve (usually he liked to do loops) back through the hole in the roof.

“Where did you send her?” Pear asked.

“She’s an artist. She’ll know what to do.” Was all he would say.

The Mystery of Willowyck Castle part2

They decided it would best to leave first thing in the morning. Though they usually spent the first half of the day napping and woke in the afternoon, Watermelon pointed out that it would take a while to fly across the island and up the side of the mountain. Since they didn’t have have the best night vision (except for BlackBerry), and the echolocation of FruitBats is not up to the standards of other night dwelling bats, Grape Bat added that the light in the castle would be brighter if they still had the sun high in the sky when they arrived there.

So off they flew the very next morning! Swooping off the edge of the cliff and diving down, spread their wings to catch the wind! The whole Bushel streaked out over the gentle waves of Crescent Bay. For fun, they touched the tops of the little waves with the tips of their wings. When they looked down into the clear water, they could see several Mola Mola sunfish that had come up from the deep ocean to bask in the sun. Their cheeks were pink from the warmth of the light. There were also cuttlefish darting around in the reef, changing colors to blend in with the colorful corals. They were so funny with their wiggly tentacles and ripping ruffle fins.

Grape and Watermelon Bat flew ahead of the Bushel. Grape was feeling more confident in his adventuring capabilities since he had been right about BlackBerry.

“What do you think it is?” Watermelon asked him, referring to the cloud over the castle.

“I’m not sure, it’s really too far away to make an informed guess. Through the spyglass the shape certainly looks like individual creatures though, not a cloud of some sort.”

“I wonder if they are dangerous.” Watermelon pondered allowed. “I think it would be best for us to go up through the castle so we won’t be seen, at least until we can determine if they are safe to approach or not.”

Grape nodded appoval. “Good plan.”

It took over an hour for the bats to make it to the waterfalls that came down the mountain that Willowyck Castle perched on. It was far up, almost to the summit. After a rest in some trees, they started again.

“Whew! If I’d known this was gonna be such long fly, I’d have brought some snacks!” Mandarin Orange said.

Pear and Apple decided to sing some songs and the rest joined in to keep their spirits up.

Finally, they reached the foot of the castle! Watermelon made sure everyone quieted down, and told them they would be going inside and sneaking up to spy on the creatures over the castle.

“If it gets dark inside, BlackBerry can help guide us since he’s so good in the dark.”

BlackBerry puffed up with pride. “Of course I will!”

They waited a few minutes looking up at the old castle. The grey stone walls were covered in patches of moss, and vines crawled up between the weathered stones. Some of the wall had crumbled a little at the corners, and there was a thin window where the wall met one of the cylindrical towers. It was far to narrow for a person to fit through, but the FruitBats were so much smaller than a human, so they were able to pop right through, no problem!
The light inside the tower was weak. They had come in above a slab stone staircase that wound up the inside of the tower in a tight curve. There were narrow windows like the one they came through around each bend and dust floated like little specks of gold in the shafts of yellow sun light they let in.

“It’s actually quite pretty here,” Blueberry pointed out.

“Yeah, I thought it was gonna be scary,” Lemon admitted, “but I like it!”

“We have plenty of daylight left, I vote we do some exploring before going up to the roof!” Strawberry said.

“Indeed,” replied Grape. “How’s everyone feel about this idea?”

“Yea or nay?” Watermelon put it to a vote.

“Yea!” the Bushel agreed unanimously.

First they found an arched doorway a little way down the stairs. It opened into a hall, that then had pillars between the edge of the hall and a gigantic room with a tall ceiling and a huge round window at one end. A long, rough hewn table filled the center of the floor.

“Maybe this is where they had feasts and parties!” Lime Bat suggested, flapping in to the center of the room and spinning around. The light from the round window cast his shadow on the opposite wall. The others joined him and they played in the light, picking up splinters of wood from the old table and pretended to sword fight in their silhouette knight army. Grape landed on the table, wondering how long it had been there. Kiwi dropped her pretend sword and flew over to the circular window to examine the way the stones were cut to frame it, in case she wanted to make a round window from stone one day. Most of the glass was gone, so she could look out over the whole island and bay.

“Wow! We’re so high up! Look, I can see the fruit grove! It’s such a little dot!”

Pear and Apple went over and looked too. Soon, every bat was there looking at the view. All except one.

“Hey,” asked Strawberry, “Where’s Batnana?”

The Bushel looked around for their smallest member, but she wasn’t with the group.

“Search the room! Batnana, where are you!” Watermelon told them.

Everyone began to fly in all different directions around the room, calling for her. Then, there came a squeak from one of the darker corners across from there they had come in. There were more pillars on that side and so it was more shadow-filled.

“I hear her!” called BlackBerry, flying toward the darkness.

Another squeak echoed around the room. The others followed BlackBerry to the shadowy side.

He looked around with his glowing purple eyes and spotted her. “She’s in the corner!”

“What’s wrong, Batnana?” they called as they flew toward her. Her wings were open, but not flapping! She looked like she was floating in thin air! Strawberry got there first. She quinted in the dim light. BlackBerry came up behind her.

“It’s some sort of net!” he exclaimed.

The more Batnana struggled, the more tangled she became.

“Skibbity-jibbet! Be-da-bo-bap!” She said. She was scared, but also frustrated.

The others tried to pull her off, but she was stuck fast. Mandarin tried to grab the net, but he stuck too. It was sticky!

“Ah! What evil magic is this?” he yelled, trying to free his toes and wings.

“Uh oh,” gasped Grape. “This must be a spider web! Nobody touch it! You’ll get stuck, this one is too big for us to break. We’re gonna have to work together!”

The Bushel hovered in front of their captured friends. “If we all grab it at once, we should be able to pull it off the wall.”

Mandarin stopped wiggling because he was only getting more tangled. He looked at the ceiling over his friends heads. Suddenly, his eyes grew round. “I am so doomed,” he said.

The Bushel exchanged confused glances, when Batnana emitted one of her fear squeaks, looking where Mandarin was staring. Everyone looked up.

“Ahhhh!!!!!” they all dove away from the ceiling. Having never seen a spider larger than the tiny garden spiders in the fruit grove before, starting with such a very big one was quite scary. They swooped in panic as the creature got closer and closer to their friends.

Then, a voice broke into their sounds of fear.

“INCOMING!” it screamed, and a big fuchsia pink and white blur blasted past, as a small burst of fire lit the dark corner. “ROAR!” the blur continued, “Better go away, spider, or I’ll have to resort to deadly moves!”

The Bushel looked up from the floor where they had landed. There was some other bat up there! Another little flame showed them it’s face and cast a big black shadow on the wall. This new bat was fuchsia with white under it’s wings. It’s ears were green, and it looked like it had a long tail with green spikes on it. The weirdest part was it seemed to have two green spikes on its head too, like horns!

The spider paused, facing this new bat like it was deciding whether it was worth taking the risk. In the end, it seemed like fire was a good reason to turn around and find a different meal.

The Bushel took to the air again and cheered their savior!

“That’s was so cool!” Apple said, “Who are you?”

“Good afternoon, fellow bats,” the new bat said, giving a bow. “My name, is DragonFruit!”


The Search for BlackBerry Bat Part 1


For several weeks the FruitBats stayed in their grove and played together under the protective leaves of their trees, bushes and vines. Watermelon led them in many games. Kiwi invented fun gadgets. Grape learned from other animals about the island. Mandarin created tasty treats. Pear and Apple sang songs. Batnana made art. Strawberry always lended a hand with building and Blueberry was sure to help if anyone got hurt. Lemon and Lime gathered the whole Bushel together to host fun parties whenever they found an excuse.

One late afternoon (for that is morning to a bat) Watermelon woke up and swooped out of his hollow watermelon house. Everyone was getting up, but Grape Bat, sitting in his favorite clump of grape vine leaves, looked awfully contemplative for having just awoke. Watermelon decided to go over and find out what’s up.

“Sure is early for thinkin’ so hard,” he said, landing on a leaf and having to scramble up to where his tiny toes could grab the vine. Grape didn’t appear to hear him, so Watermelon poked his ear. “Hello?”

Finally paying attention, Grape wiggled his ear. “Oh, hi, I’ve been thinking!”

“I can tell,” Watermelon replied, “But about what?”

“Well,” Grape looked out across the fruit grove, “About all of us.”

Watermelon tilted his head like a confused puppy.

“You see,” Grape explained, “When the shooting star spread it’s magic over the grove, every fruit plant grew one fruit that became a bat.”

“So we’ve come to learn, yup.”

“So, logically, there should be a BlackBerry Bat!”

Watermelon looked to where Grape was staring, and sure enough, on the edge of the cliff that overlooked the bay, there grew a blackberry bush.

Grape leapt into the air and started flapping his way toward the bush, so Watermelon came along. The other bats, now alert and following their conversation, began to stretch their wings and join them.

“Maybe the magic just missed it,” Lemon suggested shyly as they all gathered in front of the bush.  It’s dark, plump berries looked juicy in the low afternoon sun.

“But what if it didn’t? What if BlackBerry is out there somewhere all alone?” Blueberry chimed in. “That would just be awful!”

“Yes, I don’t think we should take the risk. If there is a BlackBerry Bat out there, then they should be a part of the Bushel!” Watermelon declared.

“Flippidy-piboppidy-wop,” Batnana said as she did a loop-de-loop and landed smack in the blackberry bush with her wings open for a hug. A second later she fell out, hopping around with her eyes crossed in pain. “Owowowowow!” Sticker thorns were all over her. Blueberry and Strawberry came to the rescue: Strawberry holding her still while Blueberry gently and expertly plucked the thorns form Batnana’s belly. Strawberry told them that Batnana was agreeing they needed to find their lost Bushelmate.

“Well that’s one exciting way to start an adventure,” Mandarin Orange Bat said as he joined the circle of on-lookers. “Haven’t even left the grove yet and we have our first accident. I’ve heard of a prickly pear, but a prickly banana is new to me!”

“What adventure?” Apple asked, checking Pear Bat for thorns. The Bushel turned expectantly toward Watermelon.

“We,” he said, lifting one wing into the air dramatically, “are going to find BlackBerry Bat!

“We are?” Grape asked, looking a little worried. “Oh my.”