Mason stared at the flame headed pixies that landed in front of him. Up close, the beauty of the Fireflies was even more terrifying. With incandescent skin and scarlet glowing eyes, they looked as though they had been sculpted of glass. The heat from their blazing heads made sweat run down his face in thick droplets, sizzling the second it dropped from his face into the air.
"Smoky, let me introduce you to the class of Ordinary Elementary. We went on an adventure and I fear I got a little too carried away. Any way you might be able to help us back?"
The grand Firefly tapped her chin, sending sparks chiming in the lantern. "The next volcano is scheduled to erupt in a few hours," she mused. "But it's in Hawaii.
You'd have to find someone to fly you back. What time do the children have to be back?"
"By three," Miss Pickles said.
"Well, that's a bit of a problem," the Firefly murmured. She tapped her chin and furrowed her brow. "I can't think of anything," she said finally. "I'm afraid we can't do anything."
Miss Pickles smiled, but Mason could tell she was getting worried. "That's all right duckie," she said. "Maybe next time."
"But your Flame, they have chocolate!" a tiny Firefly cried, running towards Smoky. The adult Fireflies gasped in fear and clutched at her, trying to silence her. "They have chocolate, ma'am!" she cried. "I've seen it with that boy there!"
She pointed at Ralph. Ralph squeaked and draped himself over his backpack.
"Chocolate?" Smoky licked her red lips. Greed filled her eyes. "Really? This changes things."
"That fat boy there has it!" the little Firefly called as Ralph howled in agony. "I've seen it."
"Bring it to me." The Firefly was drooling, the drops bursting into smoke as soon as they dropped from her lips.
"NOOO!" Ralph bellowed, clutching onto his backpack. "Not my pies! Not my candy! Not my eclairs!"
"Get up and show them the chocolate," Don muttered nudging Ralph.
"You idiot, we can go home," Beatrice snapped, kicking at his backside. "It's not like you can never see another pie again."
Ralph shook his head back and forth, clamping his lips so tightly his cheeks turned purple.
"Don't worry, duckie, we'll get you another pie," Miss Pickles said. "Would you mind sharing?"
"MINE!" Ralph howled. "They are my pies! My mother made them for me!" He looked desperately at Mason. "Tell them!"
Mason shook his head. "That's your pies, not mine," he pointed out. "It's your
"It's for the adventure," Miss Pickles added encouragingly.
Ralph stared at Mason and whimpered. He looked at Don, then Beatrice, then the rest of the children. He gave Jasper a pleading look, then fixed his watery eyes on Miss Pickles.
"You'll buy me more pie?" he asked accusingly.
"All the pie you can eat, duckie," she assured him.
"You'll go broke," Don muttered.
"And you'll buy me some chocolate bars," Ralph asked, his voice quivering. He ignored Don's exaggerated sigh. "And some cookies too, perhaps? Maybe some chocolate ice cream?"
"We'll have a sugarfest," Miss Pickles promised. "You have my word." Ralph stared at her with his reddened eyes, tears streaming down his face. He cast one last look towards his backpack.
"Ok," he murmured, climbing off his backpack. "You can have it." A giant chocolate stain remained on his shirt, and he held it to his face and licked it mournfully.
The Fireflies descended on his backpack, ripping it in shreds as they each grabbed handfuls of sweets. The chocolate cream pie was taken to Smoky, who devoured it in one bite.
"Mmm," the Firefly breathed, licking her fingers. "I love chocolate."
Ralph chocked back a sob, watching as she licked each finger slowly.
"Now," she said, fixing her eyes on Miss Pickles. Her mouth curved into a smile. "There may be something I can do..."
Picture by Marie Rayner