Candy Canes And Toothpaste

Candy Canes And Toothpaste

Once upon a time...

Chapter 7

Lookouts

The Diddle boy whined again. He walked slowly behind the others, dragging his feet along with him. “I’m tired,” he complained.

His sister turned back, sighing loudly in the process. She shot a desperate look at Gary who immediately blurted out, “We’re almost there.”

James, tired from walking for so long, threw himself on the ground. “I can’t walk anymore.” He turned, letting the others face his back. “Go on without me.”

Lizzy marched over to her brother and, after a minute’s effort and James’ protest, managed to pull him back to his feet. “Listen, you ninny, we are all tired here but you don’t see us complaining.” James sat back down and prepared himself for another protest but his sister continued. “Do you have any idea what I've been through in the past few days? I smell like a boy!” She held the hem of her tattered dress. “My dress looks like it’s been chewed on by a goat!” Her voice cracked as she held her hand up to her hair. “And my hair hasn't had a good comb in ages. Look at it, James! It’s scruffy! My hair has never been this scruffy before.” She paused, her eyes seeming to have lost all their rage. “Carmen…”

“Lizzy,” James whispered.

The girl glared at him. “Get up.” James scrambled to his feet, patting off the nonexistent dust.

“We’re here!” Gary’s voice called from afar. The Diddles exchanged glances before shooting off in the direction of his voice.

“That’s how we’ll find her.” He stood a few steps ahead of the two, his eyes focused on the seemingly endless tower in front of him. The building stood tall, its shadow creating absolute darkness wherever it was cast. Little clouds of smoke escaped from the very few windows it had. An ominous white glow escaped from cracks of the bricks on which nature had taken its toll.

“What is it?” asked Lizzy, maintaining her distance from the potential crash site.

Gary moved closer, feeling the roughness of the corroded walls. He ran his hand on the bricks, glad the building still had the feeling of long ago. He faced the siblings bearing a relaxed expression on his face. “It’s a lookout tower.” He sighed. “Or at least it was.”

“Come along now,” he said, his perkiness returning. “Let’s find the door and get ourselves cozy.”

“Do you mean enter that thing?” asked James, his voice shaking.

“That could crumble and bury us alive any second?” Lizzy added.

Gary gave the building a soft pat. “Don’t worry. This here has to be the sturdiest structure on the island.” He pushed a brick and stumbled forward when part of it gave away under him. “See?”

Lizzy and James shook their heads violently. “No, no, no, no, no!” they sang in unison.

“Well I guess we can bid Carmen goodbye then,” said James.

Lizzy shot him a warning look. Mustering up all the courage left in her, she said, “We’re going in.”

The colossal doors creaked open at the push of the children. "Whoa" was all that managed to escape from their mouths.

The tower was nothing like what it appeared outside. It stood tall and erect, not crooked like outside, with a spiral staircase leading as far as the eye could see. The walls weren’t moldy or old either but instead looked quite new. Colossal glass panes adorned with the loveliest lavender curtains the Diddles had ever seen, stood where t windows outside supposedly were.

“H-how?” Lizzy stammered.

Smiling, Gary patted her shoulder. “I told you not to worry.”

“But how?” she sputtered.

Gary shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“Isn't this all a bit too strange?” asked James.

“We’re on an island made entirely out of candy suspended on, um.” She stopped, trying to remember what she had forgotten.

“The Emerald Sea,” Gary said.

“Thank you,” she smiled. “We’re on a candy island floating aimlessly on an emerald sea. There can’t be anything stranger than that.”

James took a few seconds to re-think his suspicious thoughts. “I guess you’re right”

She slung her arm over his shoulder, pulling him closer. “Of course I am.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “And either way, I would never let anything happen to you.”

“Promise?” he whispered back.

Lizzy smiled then pushed him away. “Sure, silly. I’m your big sister. It’s part of my job.”

“You two come quickly,” Gary called, running up the staircase. He stopped on the third step then turned to face the Diddles, wearing the biggest smile he could muster. He held out the left side of his jacket, reached deep into one of the pockets and pulled out to candy canes. “Kneel on the second step, the same way knights do,” he said to them. “Hurry!”

The two did as they were told. “What now? James asked.

“Now,” the native began to say, putting a candy cane in the hair of each Diddle, “you are officially Cane clan lookouts.”

“Does this mean we’re a step closer to finding Carmen?” asked Lizzy, removing the piece of candy from her head, leaving a burning sensation where it once was. She scratched it. “What’s in these things?” Gary took it from her and placed it back in her hair. “Candy goes in your mouth not on your head,” she protested, attempting to remove it once more.

“Don’t remove it! Those are part of our game,” he explained.

“What game?” James asked.

“Ah, that’s the fun part.” He turned. “Come with me,” he said, running up the stairs.

The group stopped in front of a painting of a door. “That’s it,” he proclaimed, reaching for the doorknob.

“That’s just a door painted on the wall,” Lizzy pointed out.

“Or is it?” Gary pushed the door which, to the other’s surprise, led out onto a platform. “You, my friends, are standing at the exact center of Candy Island.”

“This isn't your first time here, is it?” asked James.

“Not really.”

“So what do we do now?”

Smiling, Gary sat on a rickety stool and looked through the telescope in front of it. “Now we find your sister.”

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