Candy’s Dream

Candy screamed as a torrent of pink sugary syrup soaked her from head to toe. It coated the rocks she was climbing over, making them treacherously wet, yet sticky.

The wind smelled of frosting, butter heavy and bitingly sweet. She wished she could stop to throw up, but she had to find Almond. She didn’t know how she knew, but her child was in trouble. The syrup formed a crust over everything it touched.

Another splash caught her foot as she risked a jump to a large semi flat bolder just to the right. The strange liquid swirled down the crevices between the large stones. It just wasn’t right. Pink syrup coated rocks.

The shell forming over her skin and clothes crackled as she moved. Sharp edges of solidified sugar pricking her as she tried to sweep it off her arms.

“Who thought up this nightmare?”

The rock wall now at her back confined what looked like a large pink lake. Ahead of her, the boulders fused and formed solid ground. Here and there she could see green tufts growing. What looked like grass stood straight up, like spikes. Or had fallen to the side and lay shattered on the ground. It wasn’t grass, but dried shards of sugar, sculpted in to deadly sharp greenery.

“Hello.”
The sound made her jump.
“Who are you?”

Panicked pounded behind her rib cage, and she thought she caught Almond’s high-pitched voice floating in the air.
Candy spun in circles as she pawed at the sugar on her face and hands

“A human? You don’t belong here.”
“Is this your nightmare? Where is my daughter?”

There was no answer. But a strange sound caught her attention. Again she spun. Tears stung her eyes and dissolved the sugar crystals clutching her lashes.

A strange horse wandered in to view. It eyed her warily, then bent its neck to lick the green spikes growing out of the rock.

“This is so wrong.”
“Judgy are we?”

The horse lifted its head and glared at her, pointing with a long, bright horn protruding from its forehead.

“I’m dreaming.”
“Yes, you might be.”
“Where’s Almond?”
“I don’t know.”

Candy turned and walk away. The creature’s unnaturally bright eyes sent shivers down her spine. She broke into a run, the sugar flaking from her shoes and crunching underfoot. Or was it? She looked down to see the rocks themselves crumpling beneath her feet, as if her weight had broken a candy coating. Her soles sank into thick mud.

“Mommy!”
“Almond! Baby, where are you?”

Her throat was dry and her call fell at her feet instead of carrying on the air blocked by the butter heavy scent.
She felt her shoes sink farther. A disgusting sucking sound followed when she lifted a foot and a nasty squish came when she pressed a foot down looking for solid grown.
She tripped in the muck, dropping her hands into the mud, but it wasn’t mud. With her face so close she knew it for what it was, thick dark chocolate. A thin brown candy coating crunched beneath her hands as it broke beneath her. She was being sucked in.

“Humans don’t belong in Candy Land,” said the unicorn. It had trotted up behind her as she thrashed in the dark, liquefying chocolate. “Their bodies emit too much heat, melting our chocolate hills.”
“Help, please!”
“Why should I?”
It stood stark still, pure white main and tail sweeping the confection ground.
“You should go home, human.”
“Please, my daughter!”
But it was too late. The chocolate melting around her body bubbled up. Candy felt the air bubbles bursting behind her head and next, she slid completely under the thick pool.
“What a pity,” the unicorn mumbled.

Chocolate filled her mouth before she could remember to close it. She was drowning as it burned her throat and nostrils. Her body tried to take in air, unaware it was killing itself faster. Down, down, it sucked her. The sensation, along with air deprivation, made her head spin.

The chocolate earth spat her out. She had fallen all the way through its sweet and bitter layers. There was the sound of crunching and a steady dripping from overhead as she landed hard on something not quite firm, but flaky.

“Mommy!”
Almond was close. She had to keep moving. But Candy’s oxygen deprived brain held her back.
“I’m coming, baby…”

She cried, her tears mixing with the chocolate on her dipped face.

It was dark, but not pitch black. A strange glow warmed the walls of this strange pastry like prison. The ceiling was solidifying above her and the dripping slowed. Crunch, crunch. The crackly and sliding layers under foot were unnerving.

“Almond, where are you!”

“Here Mommy! Here! I’m stuck.”
“I’m coming!”

The warm glow of the walls broke in places, revealing dark tunnels that ran throughout this strange place. She followed one, Almonds hiccuping cries driving her forward.

After a sharp turn, a cavern opened up before her. Its walls glowing a healthy pie pastry brown.
“Here Mama!”
Almond was wrapped in a ball of what looked like flour and sugar.
“Mommy, is this your dream or mine?”
“I don’t know baby.”
Almond’s head and hands protruded from the heavy ball and her tears had created a dark spot just under her chin. Candy sunk a finger in to that dark spot. It was softer than the rest, and she pulled chunks of compacted flour away and threw it to the ground.

“I love you Mamma.”
“I love you too.”
“How did you get in there, baby?”
“I don’t know. I just woke up like this.”

The ground grew littered with handfuls of white gloop. Candy didn’t care where she threw. It was slow, but gradually Almond’s shoulders and then torso appeared. Her little girl wiggled, trying to loosen the surrounding substance.

Finally, all but Almond’s feet and were free and both mother and daughter grabbed at it to be rid of the last few hand fulls.

“Breath baby.”
Almond just nodded as her chest heaved with anxiety and half released sobs.
“Mom!”

The scream pierced Candy’s eardrums as she gripped her daughter. Almond was staring at the ceiling as a bright light broke through the solid chocolate.

The unicorn cutter the solid chocolate rocks with its horn stomping on the edges to crumble them away.

“There you are. It’s time you both go home. What a mess!”

The creature jumped through the opening it made, landing effortlessly on the crusty surface. The light from the bubble gum blue sky made Candy blink.
“How do we get home? Just tell us the way and we’ll go.”
“There is only one way… What have you been doing? Tarring Candy Land to pieces?”
The unicorn pointed to the globs of white littering the floor.
“I had to free my daughter.”
“Well, she shouldn’t have dreamt herself into a half-baked ball.”

Unicorn eyes flashed rainbows around the cave and tried to bore a hole through mother and child.
“It wasn’t on purpose. Just tell us how to get home.”
“You won’t like it.”
“Tell us, and you will never have to see us again.”
Fear shiver over Candies skin as the unicorn stepped closer.
“Stay still.”
“Why? What are you going to do?”

Candy forced herself to stand her ground. But dropped Almond behind her. The child wrapped her arms around her mother’s legs and buried her face against denim fabric.
“Mommy?”
“It’s okay Almond.”
“How do you wake up from a dream human?”

The unicorn was close now, its eyes spinning rainbows as it lowered its horn slightly.
“I don’t know…”
The beast cut her off as it punched its horn through her chocolate-covered chest, stabbing her heart.

There was cold sweat soaking the collar of her shirt as she jolted awake. The room was dark. Candy found herself half laying on the cold floor, half on the low bed, Almond’s small hand curled against hers. She breathed a sigh of relief.
The small digital clock on the bedside table shone 12:42. She groaned with tired cold muscles, pushing herself up and tiptoeing from the room.

The kitchen lights had been turned down, leaving only the counter LEDs to guide her to the sink. They cast soft amber beams around the room.

“What a nightmare. I guess I shouldn’t lick the frosting bowl before bed next time.”

Joking about it pushed the dream to the edges of memory, a fussy shadow with bitter sprinkles at its heart.

She opened the fridge to check the cake and make sure that Greg hadn’t laid it on top of anything smooshable, and jumped when rainbow swirl eyes stairs back at her from the innocent unicorn face she had painted across the white birthday cake. Almost dropping the glass she still held, she slammed the fridge closed.

©2022 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Free

No one saw me
head to the ground,
feet to the sky,
pretending to fly.
It would have made you cry
hilarity.

A grown woman such as me
behaving as if three.
But just maybe,
you would have joined
the jocularity.
Felt free
to again be three.

Sometimes I take myself too seriously. This is just self reminder that it’s okay, and good to be ridiculously sometimes. Yes, the cover image is of my actual feet. I thought it was cute.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Lava Worm

Was it a shriek of delight or fear? She didn’t know as it forced its way from her chest to the cavity of her mouth. A little heart pounded the rhythm of it as it bubbled into an audible note.

“Stay back. You can’t catch me.”

The floor moved. The carpet rippling right before her eyes. Its colours swimming and shifted, a living thing.

“Hurry!” the others yelled at her as they bounced up and down in excitement. “Its rising!”

She stood on her pillow, feet sinking into its marshmallow softness.
She danced like a cat.

“Now, May!”

Her body moved before her mind, responding to the call. The marshmallow softness was her downfall. Toes slid, the truth of its betrayal apparent in a second that stretched to an hour in a single heartbeat.

“No.”

White sock stained brown on the bottom touched carpet. Hands held before her broke the fall, and she giggled with gleeful horror as the waves of colour splashed.

“She’s done for.” The pain in Carter’s voice rocked her back to reality. His terror was exaggerated, but real.

Another scream bubbled out as her ankles were grabbed and the friction of carpet on prone stomach threatened a burn.

“I’ve EATEN you May!”

The blanket muffled the voice, rainbow patterns shifting with movement.

“You have to join me.”
“I know, I know.”

Her breathless reply held only a mite of disapproval. Her chest still rose and fell with heavy adrenaline induced gasps. She grasped the offered corner of his blanket, eyes sparking.

“The worm GROWS!”

They yell the words together. The trumpet of doom.

“RUN!”

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Mud River Monster

I have been finding it difficult to write this week. So I will share a blast from the past with you this morning. I wrote Mud River Monster in either 2009 or 2010, my notes are sketchy on the date I finished. It’s the first piece of any length I completed. Though I have been writing since I was fourteen, I have always had dreams of finishing large projects that never quite work. It was a blessing to be able to look back and see how much I have grown in the last 2 years since taking my writing more seriously. I hope you enjoy the fun read. (I grew up in a family with 8 children and my early inspiration is pulled from those memories.)

Mud River Monster

Jay was Lord.
Nea was Queen.
Over the bank of
Mud River they leaned.


Nea had her staff
Jay had his bow
but little May cried,
“I don’t want to go!”


She sat in the grass
jeans stained green
thinking her brother
and sister QUITE mean.


“But we can not beat him here!”
They said again, and again,
Then through the sparse leaves
HE began to descend.


A grey gunny sack was
thrown over his large head,
and eyes darted wildly as
he passed the flowerbed.


As he stepped off the deck
May jumped up with a shriek,
and cleared the Mud River
in one quick, desperate leap.


Jay and Nea now
hot on her tail
splashed through the water
their faces ghostly pale.


Then he began howling as
he raced through the garden,
and the children knew he
would give them no pardon.


They reached the tree line
on the opposite shore,
but he gained ground while through
some piled leaves he tore.

As he charged the mud river
Jay turned to ready his bow,
Eyes shining brightly as he
prepared to meet his foe.


Nea stood behind Jay
her staff held so tight.
May hid behind a tree
overcome by the sight.


Jay loosed an arrow;
it flew straight through the air
to land in the muck,
missing by a hair!


While the monster’s great boots
splashed onto the shore
Jay and Nea hurried
to retreat once more.


They grabbed little May’s hand
as they passed by her tree,
but in one step she tripped
and grazed her tender knee.

Her small tears sounded
so loud through the air,
while up puffed the monster;
OH it was so…SO unfair!


Nea knelt down, took
May in her arms,
then turned her back
to shield her from harm.


But as Jay fumbled
to reload his bow
the monster’s advance
had begun to slow.


He huffed a great sigh,
and sat with a loud thump,
on the cool moist dirt
before the tree clump.


“I’m tired and hungry.
Is it dinner time yet?
Oh little May I would
never hurt you, don’t fret.”


At the sound of his voice
Jay’s bow just vanished,
Nea’s staff became a stick
May’s tears were banished.


The grey gunny sack he
now pulled off his head,
and in that moment, Jay’s
cheeks turned a bright red.


“The game can’t be over
until the monster’s dead!”
Jay exclaimed as
reality spread.


The monster shrunk
right before their eyes,
to their own brother Jo,
no longer in disguise.


His pants were muddy,
his hair stuck on end,
with a runny nose
to sum up the trend.


“My boots are full of water,
my socks go squish when I walk.
I think it’s about time
we started a peace talk.”


Jo looked up at Jay
Jay then looked to Nae;
they weren’t quite sure
now what they should say.


“I guess the monster
doesn’t have to die.
We could always say he
turned in to an ally.


Oh, he was just chasing us
to warn of an Evil King…
Who wants Nea for,
his brand new queen!”


“Then we better run home.”
Nea jumped to her feet.
“I KNOW I won’t marry HIM.”
And she led the retreat.


Back down to Mud River
just a ditch and a stream,
and up through the garden.
They made quite a good team.


For on the way home they
had to battle a bear
that once soundly defeated
turned into a lawn chair.


Little May sighed as
they reached the front door.
“I DO like Jo better this way,
always running is such a bore.”


So the four went inside
where was spread.
They ate like Kings,
and that’s all to be said.

©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020