Having called for an early recess after escaping from a truly boring and useless math assignment, we find our band of heroes enjoying the great outdoors in the form of the school’s playground…
Once outside, the children were greeted with exactly the kind of weather Ada had imagined back in the classroom. It was a cool Fall day, the leaves left clinging to the branches of the big oak and maple trees were a fluttering explosion of orange, red and yellow, against a sparkling blue sky. The wind was just chilly enough to need a sweater, and maybe a hat if you were a hat person.
Ada, who was not a hat person but a scarf person, was playing freeze tag with Paul, Lyle, Leela, and a few of the other kids on the grass field which was bordered by bungalows that housed the third, fourth, and fifth grade classes. Suddenly, the cafeteria doors on the main, brick building flew open with a loud bang.
Ada and her friends all froze at once, except for the kids who were already freeze-tag frozen, they just stayed in place because you can’t double freeze. That would reverse the original freeze, which would be cheating and get you thrown out of the game for the rest of recess. Moving on.
An older woman appeared in the doorway. It was Mrs. Barr, the lunch lady. She looked a little older than she was, mostly owing to her fondness for ill-fitting floral print dresses, sensible shoes, and horn-rimmed glasses that were popular with the over-60 crowd. She was holding open the door to the cafeteria, letting a delicious aroma escape. The scent that wafted towards Ada and her friends was warm and comforting, with hints of melted butter and vanilla…it smelled good.
It smelled like the irresistible smell of freshly baked cookies.
Let’s take a minute to imagine your favorite cookie. The one that your mom or your dad or maybe one of your grandparents makes. Now, close your eyes. Imagine how good they smell wafting from the warm oven on a cold fall day, promising sweetness. Imagine a tall glass of milk on the table standing at the ready, to wash down the chewy sweetness with cold, creamy, wholesome goodness. Once you start thinking about cookies it is nearly impossible to stop, right? This is exactly why the children found the aroma of cookies filling the playground impossible to resist. If you, the reader, need to take a break to go bake some cookies right now I completely understand. I’ll be waiting right here.
With an audible belly gurgle, Paul was already moving towards the open door, drooling little bit, mumbling, “Oatmeal…raisin…”
Lyle and Leela turned to each other and spoke at the same time, Leela saying “Snickerdoodle,” and Lyle saying, “Peanut butter.”
Ada, who had been smelling chocolate chocolate chip cookies, caught this anomaly, which meant something that did not quite make sense because of conflicting evidence. And it was a good thing she did. Everyone was smelling cookies, but everyone was smelling a different kind of cookie…
She shook her head. She knew something was wrong, but the smell of cookies was too strong, she couldn’t focus on anything else. Her feet kept moving towards the cafeteria even though her brain was telling them to stop. Ada, Paul, Lyle and Leela had already left the grassy area, crossed the blacktop through the basketball courts, and were entering the cafeteria through the double doors in the brick wall. As they walked through the doors, Ada was hit with a wave of heat and for the briefest moment she found herself uncomfortably warm in her sweater and scarf. In that tiny window of time where she was distracted by the inside heat and not thinking about cookies, Ada noticed a half dozen kids disappear behind the cafeteria’s lunch counter. This is an area no kid is supposed to go unless they have lunch duty, and Ada noted that none of the kids who gone behind the counter had been assigned to lunch duty. Ada had checked the lunch duty schedule earlier that morning, because, of course she had. She was Ada Burke.
Ada, despite her intuition, which was telling her to NOT join the cookie line with a group of kids who were looking like a herd of sheep following a suspiciously tantalizing smell, Ada was held captive by her cookie craving and joined the line anyway. The line of children was moving quickly. Closer and closer Ada, Paul, Lyle and Leela approached the counter. They indeed might have all met their end that day leaving no more story to tell you, had Paul not been made to eat cauliflower for dinner the previous night.
Cauliflower made Paul fart. And fart he did.
A funny thing that happens when you become a grown up is that you somehow learn to ignore someone farting in public. It could be said that this is because you learn how to be “polite,” but it could also be a very serious indicator that you have lost your sense of “funny.”
Be that as it may, at that moment, Paul’s fart was a fart that even the most un-funny adult could not have ignored.
It was loud.
It was long.
It completely replaced the wonderful smell of cookies.
“Ugh, that is foul,” said Ada, her nose wrinkled as she turned her head away.
Lyle pulled his sweatshirt up over his nose and mouth and said, “Paul, what’s wrong with you, man?”
Leela, in desperation to get the smell out of her nose, fished some gum out of her pocket and stuck her nose into the package. Unfortunately for her, it did NOT make the rotten cauliflower smell go away as much as it added some tropical fruitiness to it.
“Gross,” was all she said, turning the word into two syllables and closing her eyes in disgust.
Only after Leela’s reaction did Paul seem to snap out of his cookie-trance and turn bright red. “Sorry, my mom made—”
“Cauliflower. Yeah, we know,” Leela finished for him, which did nothing to help Paul turn down the fierce shade of crimson.
“With bacon,” Paul added.
“Ugh, why would you tell me that?” Leela asked, her nose pushed deeper into her pack of gum than before, “I can totally smell that now.”
Ada agreed completely with Leela, but decided not to give it anymore attention. Ada was pretty sure it wasn’t possible to actually die of embarrassment, but if it was, Paul was about to find out.
“I’m never going to be able to eat bacon again,” Leela continued, unable or unwilling to let it go.
Ada looked at Aaliyah and A’isha, who pulled magenta and turquoise scarves over their faces, which made them look like a pair of tropical ninjas standing next to Chris Eggels, The Eagle. The Eagle was looking at Mark, who was currently turning an ashy gray color Ada recognized from the unfortunate bus ride they took to the box factory for their class’s field trip. Ada watched The Eagle also recognize Mark’s gray coloring as an unfortunate sign of digestive events to come. The Eagle’s eyes went wide and he started looking around wildly. There wasn’t much space between the stainless steel lunch counter and the wall, and he was trapped between Mark and the rest of the line. The Eagle caught Ada’s eyes and yelled, “Take cover!”
He made a leap over the plexiglass that covered the top of the counter and Ada followed his lead, both landing on the other side of the long silver counter where hot lunch was served.
The Eagle and Ada turned to each other with a look of stunned relief to have narrowly missed wearing Mark’s breakfast. Ada coming back to her senses, remembered the anomaly that had struck her prior to the cookie-trance and was prompted to ask, “What did you smell just now?”
“Poorly digested remains of Paul’s dinner unfortunately,” The Eagle replied.
“No, before that, the cookie smell.”
“You just said it, I smelled cookies,” The Eagle looked confused. Ada sighed and clarified, “No, I mean, what kind of cookie did you smell?”
“Oh,” The Eagle thought for a second, then said, “Ginger snaps. Why?”
“I smelled chocolate chocolate chip. Paul smelled oatmeal raisin. Leela and Lyle smelled snickerdoodles and peanut butter.”
“That’s weird,” The Eagle began to say, when they were suddenly both knocked over by Lyle, Leela and Paul coming in from above, Paul nearly crushing everyone as he landed. As Ada pulled her arm out from under Paul’s butt, her gaze was pulled away from her pile of friends as she looked out into the expanse of the kitchen. She noticed the oven light was lit on the huge commercial ovens and heat was coming from them as if they were set to preheat. Makes sense, she thought, the ovens would be on if Mrs. Barr had just been making cookies… but wait. They were in the kitchen where the source of cookie smell had been coming from, so where were the cookies? No sign of cookies or even evidence of baking at all. And if there were no cookies, then why had everyone smelled cookies and even weirder, why had everyone smelled a different type of cookie? Why bring a classroom full of kids into the cafeteria kitchen with a promise of cookies…unless…
“It’s a trap.” Ada said, suddenly and firmly.
They all looked at Ada. The Eagle spoke up. “Guys!” He whispered loudly over the sounds of Mark’s hurling on the other side of the counter. They all looked at The Eagle, trying to ignore Mark’s retching. The Eagle’s browless eyes went wide. “Guys– if this is a trap, then we’re behind enemy lines!”
They were indeed.
Find out what happens next in our May | June, Chapter 9 is coming up!
Kelly Raine is an artist, writer, and educator. He teaches children and likes the idea that he is pitching in to make the world slightly better. He wears a lot of black and wakes up very, very early.
© Kelly Raine, 2018 All Rights Reserved.