As promised, dear Invisible Friends, here is Marie's choice for a Friday post! As the winner of the Culinary Artist Appreciation Day contest, she requested another installment of Miss Pickles. Not only that, but she drew the lovely illustration you see before you! Like what you see? Visit her Etsy shop for more artwork like it! For more information, visit her blog at A Year From Oak Cottage. And now, without further ado.....
Mason's body twisted in the air as he pummeled to the lava below. The heat scorched his back and sweat dripped off his body. He screamed when he heard the sizzle as the drops plopped into the red mass below.
"Miss Pickles!" he screamed, clawing at the air above him. The worried faces of his classmates and Jasper grew farther and farther away. "Miss Pickles! Jasper! Someone please help me!"
Someone shouted down to him, but only the rushing air roared in his ears. Suddenly, black powder filled the air. Mason squeezed his eyes shut and closed his mouth as it sprinkled over him. The heat was painful now. He could feel his skin blazing and felt blisters form on his fingers and toes. The hiss of the lava grew closer and louder. In a moment, it would all be over. Keeping his eyes shut tight, he clamped his hands over his face and hoped it would be fast.
Then he smacked onto something hard and bounced into the air.
Mason's eyes flew open as his feet flipped towards the sky. The river of lava was now black and solid. Screaming, he threw his arms over his face and cringed. The ground was inches from his face. With a thud, he smacked against the warm black, spongy surface and was flung back into the sky. As his body twisted in mid-air, Mason stared at the former river of lava. It felt strangely familiar. Forcing his feet over his head, he braced himself for the impact as he dropped down. Once again, the second his feet touched the black surface he bounced into the air.
"It's rubber!" he cried. "It's like a trampoline!" Whopping with glee, he leaped off the surface and punched the air.
"Isn't it great?" Mason turned to see Ralph and Don bouncing next to him. Jasper and Miss Pickles had floated down with a enormous pink parachute. His classmates were leaping into the air and trying to imitate the slow-action flying moves they had seen in the movies.
"It's fantastic!" Mason beamed. "I thought I was going to be frying like bacon! What happened?"
"Bacon..." Ralph's eyes glazed over. "I love bacon." A trickle of drool ran down his chin.
"Miss Pickles sprinkled some kind of powder over the lava," Don said, answering his question. "Right before you hit the surface it turned black and you just bounced into the air!"
"It really was wonderful, duckie," Miss Pickles said, bouncing towards them on her pogo stick. "I'm so glad it worked. I've had that powder in my purse a long time. You never know when you'll need E-Z Rubber, no sir!"
"Thank you so much," Mason said, relief spreading across his face. "I really appreciate it."
"Any time duckie," Miss Pickles said, patting him on the head in between bounces on her pogo stick. "What fun is an adventure without a little danger?"
"If the ground is essentially a trampoline, then why are you still on your pogo stick?" Don asked, scratching his head as she circled around them.
"Because, duckie, you can never have too much bouncing in life," Miss Pickles said simply. Don looked even more puzzled and she laughed at his expression. As Ralph inquired about the culinary hidden treasures of Miss Pickles' bag, Mason looked around. The formerly lava river snaked through high stone cliffs and dropped off behind them. There were only two ways out of here, and Mason knew he didn't want to go down. Before he could talk to Miss Pickles about it, he was distracted by a flashing green light. Jasper was flailing his curved arms in the air and hopping up and down in excitement at the other end of the rubber river.
"Who wants to play tag?" he bellowed.
"I do, I do!" the children cried, rushing towards him. Mason promptly forgot about his escape plans and trailed behind him, dragging Ralph and Don with him. Miss Pickles remained where she was, a worried look spreading across her face as she bounced up and down on her pogo stick.
"Jasper," she called, "I don't think this is a good idea!"
"Oh bother," Jasper shouted back at her as the children hopped around his feet. "You're the one that always wants an adventure."
"Who wants to be it?" Jasper asked the children, ignoring Miss Pickles' concern.
"I will!" Beatrice raised her hand with a prim smirk on her face. The other children groaned. Even on an adventure, Beatrice had to be a show-off.
"So be it!" Jasper shouted. "I'll even give you a ten second head start. One, two, three, go!" Beatrice dashed toward Miss Pickles. The other children followed, giggling as they tried to run after her. With every step, they flew into the air only to smack down again. As they hobbled towards Beatrice, Jasper counted to ten behind them. "One, two, three..." he cried, his voice echoing between the tall cliffs.
"We look like a bunch of kangaroos!" Mason laughed. He sprung into the air, reaching out to grab Beatrice's pigtails. He loved to play tag.
"This is incredibly dangerous," Don said, giggling as a little girl flew over his head. "I saw her underwear," he informed his friends proudly.
"You know, all this bouncing makes me hungry," Ralph said, rubbing his large stomach as he bolted into the air. "Where did I put my pies at?" He looked around and licked his lips. "I'm in the mood for apple pie right now. And my mom may have packed me some biscuits. I love biscuits."
"Six, seven, eight, nine, ten! That was ten seconds! Here I come!" Jasper whooped with joy as he barreled towards them.
"No, Jasper, wait!" Miss Pickles cried as Beatrice hid behind her. "Don't!"
It was too late. Jasper rushed towards them, his lips stretched wide in a smile. The second his foot pounded into the rubber, the black surface bowed in the middle. Miss Pickles, the children, Jasper and Ralph's apple pie were flicked into the air off the edge of the cliff.
"Opps!" Jasper cried, plucking children to him as they descended. Mason looked down and grinned.
"It's like a slide," he shouted, pointing to the black rubber that stretched from the edge of the cliff to the ground. "It must have been a waterfall of lava!"
"Hang on, duckies!" Miss Pickles whooped. She slid on her aviator glasses and grasped the handle bars of her pogo stick. Ralph snatched his pie up and clutched it to his chest, cooing comforting sentiments. Don was yelling about injury lawsuits, but no one paid attention. The slick black rubber draped between cliffs was fast approaching. Mason grimaced as he watched the black surface rushing toward him. "What comes up..." he began.
The group pounded into the rubber slid down, shrieking with delight as they flew down the slick surface. They smacked into the soft dirt at the bottom one by one, like rain drops hitting the earth. Mason grunted as he hit the ground.
"..Must come down," he finished as Don and Ralph landed next to him. He stood up and turned to his right as he stretched. Gasping, his mouth dropped in awe.
"I told you not to do that, duckie," Miss Pickles chirped to Jasper, brushing off her pink dress as she stood. "You almost bent my pogo stick!"
"I'm sorry," Jasper said, hanging his head. The green laser flickered across Miss Pickles' pink shoes. "I always wanted to play tag. People don't play it down here. They're too busy digging."
"No harm, duckie," Miss Pickles said, giving his curved scythe-like hands a friendly pat. She turned around and her eyes widened. "Oh my."
Everyone turned to look what Mason had already seen.
They were standing on the banks of an ocean of lava. White birds streaked across the sky, their wings gleaming with pure light and shimmering with deep blues and brilliant reds. Black boats carved thick rock floated across the surface of the molten sea as red pixie like creatures peered at them. Their eyes were yellow and a single flame flickered from their head, like a living candle. On the cliffs behind them, other creatures scurried about with strange animals that looked like--were those dinosaurs? Mason beamed, barely able to contain his joy at the sight. Ralph took a nervous bite of his pie.
"Now, this is an adventure," Mason breathed. Miss Pickles just smiled.