Wild Birthday Cake
Audrey jumped over the ship's railing and began the long fall to the jungle floor.
"No!!" Daniel shouted. He raced to follow Audrey, but the crew tackled him before he could take a single step. He struggled to break free, tossing sailors to and fro.
"You can't help her!" screamed the last sailor as Daniel flung him away.
"Yes I can," Daniel said as he stood up, his face grim with determination. He took a step toward the ship's railing.
"No, you can't," the Captain said, stepping in front of Daniel. "You're just too heavy. Even with an antigravity lifejacket you'll hit the crust so hard you'll smash through into the molten candy underneath."
"I have to try," Daniel said, putting his hands on the railing.
"I can't stop you," the Captain said. "But this is something Audrey has to do by herself."
Daniel looked glumly over the railing and sighed.
As she floated downward, Audrey sensed that Daniel was there. She looked up at Daniel as he leaned over the sky ship to look at her. "I guess he's not afraid of heights in fantastical stories," she said as she waved up at her husband.
Then Audrey looked downward again. She was nearly at the tree top level of the jungle, and here was her first challenge. The tops of the trees here had long branches with hair-brush leaves that would tangle her up. It would take her so long to extract herself that she risked attracting the attention of one of the jungle predators. It was with upmost care that she kicked her feet and blew to push herself through a small gap in the branches.
Once past the highest branches, she was safe from the trees. But here the air was growing stiflingly hot and smelled of molten sugar. Yet it was colder than it should have been, cold enough for the River Candybar to form a crust upon which she could land. That was the theory, anyway. There was always the chance that the crust would break and she would drop into molten sugar candy.
The last twenty feet of her descent Audrey kicked and blew to shift her landing spot to what looked like a very thick piece of crust. It even had a dusting of sprinkles on it. As her weight came down on her chosen target, the crust began to crack under her feet.
Audrey dropped onto her belly on the river crust. Spreading her weight out reduced the cracking of the crust, but didn't stop it entirely.
"Are you okay?" Daniel shouted from above in the sky ship.
"I'm all right but the crust is crackling like peanut brittle," Audrey shouted back.
"Do you see them?" the captain called down. "The silver dragees?"
Audrey tried to look around but couldn't see much from her vantage point on her belly on the crust of a candy river. So she leopard-crawled to the edge of the river and pulled herself to the safety of the shoreline. She stood up and looked around.
Audrey took in a blizzard of pastels. Trees, bushes, flowers, and garlands surrounded her in a wild riot of color. Even the ground was covered with a bright green dusting so green it almost hurt her eyes. The only relief she had from the cacophony of color was the chocolate and nougat-seeming crust of the River Candybar. "Not yet!" Audrey called back up.
"Hurry up, something's coming!" Daniel shouted.
Audrey didn't answer, the last thing she wanted to do was inform a predator of her precise location. Instead she focused on her attention on finding fresh silver dragees. She peered around trees, under bushes, at flowers, and ducked past garlands. All the while Audrey could hear the footsteps of something approaching. Something she knew in her heart was all about consumption.
There! On the other side of the river was what at first glance seemed to be a set of metallic mushrooms. But a second look told her in reality they were silver-coated candies.
"Look out behind you!" Daniel screamed in fear from above.
Audrey turned around and saw that a wild birthday cake was within pouncing distance of her. It was lovely, covered with vanilla buttercream icing, "Happy Birthday" spelled out in blue icing on the top, and with a full crest of lit candles. Fear filled Audrey's heart. For a long moment Audrey started at the birthday cake, hoping it would pass her by.
Then the cake roared, "Have just one slice!"
Audrey turned tail and ran. The cake was right on her heels. She knew that if she turned to admire it more, or stumbled, it would be upon her. Then it would hand her a slice of itself that she would be obliged to taste and eat. And how could she limit herself to one piece? It would be a delicious way to go, and she felt temptation creep into her heart...
"No!" Audrey shouted. "I love my husband!" She darted across the River Candybar breaking the crust as she ran. The cake followed her, but fell through the crust that she had broken.
Safe on the other side of River Candybar, Audrey stopped to catch her breath. She looked back over the River Candybar at the delicious site of a wild birthday cake covered in delectable molten candy. Her stomach rumbled in hungry sympathy as the cake descended into the depths. "If only I had tried a bite," Audrey said.
"Are you safe? Did you find them yet?" Daniel asked.
"Yes, I'm safe and I'm standing next to the silver dragees," Audrey said to the ship and crew above her. She pulled a bag from her belt and started to pick the silvered candy mushrooms. "Uma's going to love these on her pet cake."