“Hey Peanut,” Whiskers said, nudging the sleepy elephant awake, “did you feel that?”
Peanut wiped the crusty goop out of the corner of her eyes with her ears and sat up, still held afloat by the peanut butter layer above the lake. “No, what are you talking about?”
Then a loud thud boomed but neither Peanut or Whiskers knew where it was coming from. Whiskers jumped up and scurried off of the lake and to the shore, but when Peanut stood up, she sank down and her feet poked through the surface.
“Whiskers! Help! I’m stuck!” She yelled. She could feel that the peanut butter wouldn’t be able to hold her much longer.
“I’ll try to find something to pull you out!” Another large thud echoed and the hair on Whiskers’ back stood up. He ran to the woods and pulled out the biggest stick he could hold and pushed it to Peanut. “Grab hold! I’ll pull you to safety.”
As Peanut’s trunk wrapped around the dainty stick. Another thud, this one louder than the last, rang through the forest. This one sounded like it was right underneath Peanut. “We need to be quick about this,” Peanut mumbled. A bead of sweat formed on her trunk and rolled down to her face.
Before Peanut or Whiskers could do anything, a massive bubble rose to the surface of the lake – and popped. Peanut butter flew everywhere, covering the trees, treehouse, grass and anything else that could be seen.
“What is the meaning of all this darkness?” a voice yelled from what they could now tell was the bottom of the lake. “Where did all of my sunlight go? You should know that it’s not right to take from your elders.” Peanut and Whiskers’ faces changed from confusion to dread. “What? Have I scared you? Oh, come on now. Why don’t you come and talk with me?” A large hand of seaweed and mud reached out of the bubble-shaped hole in the water and yanked Peanut, Whiskers and the stick that they were holding, into the large body of water.
Peanut reached her trunk straight up and filled her lungs with air. Her and Whiskers looked at each other as they were pulled deeper and deeper, without knowing what was doing it. As the bottom of the lake got closer, the strange thing holding them became clearer. It was large and looked like a bunch of differently shaped things put together. The main body looked like an old boat, but the limbs looked like whatever it could find: downed trees, seaweed, an oar, and even some living fish that seemed to willingly help the being.
The two were held above the sandy floor and a group of fish swam large clam shells over to them. They opened up and the tongues stretched to look like little, slimy chairs. As Peanut and Whiskers sat down, the clams blew a bubble from below their tongues and it wrapped around the entire shell, giving the elephant and mouse a way to breathe.
“Did you think I was going to drown you?” the shape asked. “I’m not heartless. I was merely asking why you had taken away the sunlight. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Carl, but that doesn’t even begin to explain what I am!” It laughed. “I am everything in the lake, but I guess I’m mostly this boat. It was covered in coral hundreds of years ago, and since then, the ecosystem of this lake has thrived to create a mutually beneficial family. You took away the sunlight, and no ecosystem can have that. Don’t you know anything about biology? Sunlight is where all life starts! You were trying to replace that with peanut butter, and that’s unacceptable madness!”
“We’re sorry, Carl,” Peanut said, regaining her breath. We weren’t trying to take away your light. We were just trying to get to our treehouse when a bunch of peanut butter bunnies attacked us. When we were defending the house, it got a little messy.”
“Yeah, what she said! We were going to clean it up, too. I promise!” Whiskers said. “We were just tired. You don’t know what it feels like to def-eat that many peanut butter bunnies.”
“You’re right,” Carl said, clearing his throat. The duo still didn’t know where the words were coming from, but bubbles kept floating through the ship so that’s where they looked. “I don’t know what it’s like to defeat that many bunnies, but that’s no excuse. Another day without light and we would have been done for.”
Peanut looked to the ground, feeling bad about it all. “We’re sorry. What can we do to make it up to you?”
“You know, I was going to just make you clean up the peanut butter, but I basically already did that… at least for me that is. I could actually use some help with a project that I’ve been dreaming up for a while but haven’t been able to start.”
“I love new projects! What is it?” Whiskers asked.
“You see, I can’t be having anymore issues like this. I don’t want to be deprived of sunlight again, and the way that I can prevent that is by creating a shield that covers the entire lake. It could circle around the whole thing! The surface and underground. What I need from you is the hyglycerim delta. It’s a rare fruit found high in the treetops. Clearly, I can’t get it myself, but with your help, I might have a chance. If you need help reaching those heights, you can talk to my friend. You may already know him. His name is Dr. Winklevoss.”
“Oh!” Whiskers exclaimed. “You mean Wink? Of course, we know Wink! Believe it or not, we were going to our treehouse to make an object that he helped us make blueprints for. It’s a flying machine!”
“Well, then we’re already on our way to making this thing a reality! I’ll work on the machine down here. Hopefully by the time you get back, I’ll have that ready and all we’ll need to do is put the hyglcerim delta in to power it up.”
“That sounds easy enough,” Peanut said. “We’ll get it to you as soon as we can.”
“Well hold on, this might not be as easy as you think. The forest is full of enemies. The only reason that I’m trusting you with this is because I saw the amount of peanut butter up there… you two did some real damage to that peanut butter bunny army. You might find a lot of dastardly villains in there. Stay safe and wary of everyone. I’ll be around if you need anything. Just jump into the lake and I’ll pull you down. If you see the good Doctor up there, tell him I say hello.”
Peanut nodded, and Whiskers gave what would have been a thumbs up if he had a thumb, then looked at the missing finger and let out an audible sigh. The bubbles left the clams and floated to the surface with Peanut and Whiskers still inside. They popped and left the two laying on the shore in peanut butter covered grass.
“Whiskers, tell me that you think that was as weird as I do.”
“It was weird, sure, but it also seemed like a lot of fun! How many people are going to tell us to go find a mystical fruit that can power a defense bubble? No one! That seems like it would even be too much for Wink.”
“Doesn’t that make you feel a little suspicious? We’ve known Wink for years and he’s never told us about Carl.”
“Maybe they’re not close. Think about it this way. We just defeated a whole army. Soon we’ll have a flying machine and then maybe we’ll need to defeat even more people. Worst case scenario, this Carl guy is evil, and we have to defeat him too. Best case scenario, we have this new friend that can give us little bubbles that are basically like free scuba diving gear! That seems like a fair trade to me.”
“Has anyone ever told you that you’re the most optimistic person in the world?”
“Yeah. My mom, dad, brother, sister, sister, sister, sister, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, you, Wink and a guy I ran into once named Jacob have all said that. I’m beginning to think it might be true.”
“It’s definitely true,” Peanut laughed.
“Well let’s start cleaning this peanut butter up. We need to get to the treehouse to start building this thing.”
“How are we going to get rid of it all?”
“We should do what we did to the bunnies!” Whiskers dipped his hand into the peanut butter, pulled it out and licked it. “Let’s dig in!”