We last left Ada, Paul, Lyle, Leela, and The Eagle in the cafeteria kitchen avoiding Mark’s “splash zone” where he was busy getting violently ill from smelling Paul’s colossal, spell-breaking fart. What will our gang discover now that they are on the other side of the lunch counter, behind enemy lines?
“Look!” said Leela pointing her finger. As usual, Leela was the first to see it.
Ada, Lyle, Paul, and The Eagle looked in the direction she was pointing and saw, to their horror, the kids who had been a little too eager to get their cookies. Nestled together in an enormous pie tin were five of their classmates, hogtied and carefully fit together like a human jigsaw puzzle. They were prepped to be cooked.
Mrs. Barr stood over the captured classmates, shoulders slumped, with her skinny arms and legs sticking out of her pear shaped apron. Her too-pointy glasses shone over her eyes, glinting as she cackled maniacally, showing off her coffee-stained teeth. Ada, Paul, Lyle, Leela, and The Eagle quietly watched as Mrs. Barr pulled out an enormous piece of dough from a giant metal bowl and tossed it in the air, as if she were making the world’s biggest pizza. Ada, who did all of the cooking at home couldn’t help but be impressed with Mrs. Barr as she watched her toss a piece of dough bigger than her whole body with relative ease.
Each time Mrs Barr rolled the dough ball in the giant metal bowl, then threw the giant disc into the air, a large cloud of flour puffed out. Ada noted how quickly the air was filling with the airborne particles. Tiny motes of flour caught rays of sunlight streaming into the cafeteria kitchen through the high frosted windows above the ovens, like magic beams of the prettiest kind. Ada’s attention was pulled away by a gentle yet forceful tickle in her throat. Too much flour thought Ada as she suppressed a cough.
When the dough was big enough to cover the pie tin, Mrs Barr let it fall gently over the children, tucking them into their newly formed dough-blanket.
“Nap time dearies!” She said, in a voice that was far too sweet.
As she said this, the no-longer-puking Mark stumbled behind the counter. Mark was holding his stomach when he looked up and saw Mrs. Barr tucking in his classmates under the enormous dough-blanket.
“Wh–” he started to say when The Eagle reached over, covered Mark’s mouth and pulled him down next to the gang. Ada couldn’t help but be a little impressed with him, since everyone but The Eagle backed away from Mark ever so slightly, Mark’s vomit still fresh in everyone else’s mind.
“Are you okay?” The Eagle asked in a whisper.
Mark nodded his head, looking a little worn out from being sick but no longer the ashy gray/green color he had been a few minutes ago. The kids looked at each other.
“What do we do now?” asked Lyle, looking uncertain.
They all looked at Ada, who was usually their chief strategist in times of crisis. But, this time, it was The Eagle who had a plan.
“You three,” he whispered urgently, pointing to Ada, Lyle, and Leela, “try to get those kids out of the pie and make sure you ruin the dough while you’re at it. We don’t want that dough to get used in tomorrow’s calzones…”
“Paul, you and Mark are going to serve as the diversion…”
“Wait, what?” said Mark, his thoughts and fears coming more into focus.
“Shhhh!” The Eagle said, “it means you have to distract her.”
“I know what diversion means– what are you gonna do?” whispered Mark.
“I’m gonna do the dirty work.”
Ada got the feeling The Eagle really enjoyed saying that.
They all looked to Ada. This was not her type of plan, but it was the only plan, and they should be counting their blessings Mrs. Barr was so fixed on baking her “kid pie” that she was still unaware of their presence in the kitchen. They could be discovered at any moment with no time to think of an alternate plan.
“Let’s do it,” Ada said, nodding her approval.
Paul and Mark ran out from behind their hiding spot. Paul charged towards Mrs Barr, rambling an incomprehensible stream of words that sounded like, “Cookiecookiegimmegimmegimmeneedcookie.”
Mark, doing his best to hide his nerves, sauntered up to Mrs. Barr and started to politely engage her in conversation, “Hey, I noticed this smell of cookies coming from here, and-uh, I really like cookies, sooooooo, uh, can I please have some cookies?
Mrs. Barr looked up with a gasp.
Ada, Lyle and Leela watched as Mrs. Barr moved backwards around the kitchen, as if she were going to burst into flames if the two boys actually touched her, sneering with revulsion and rage.
With Mrs. Barr’s back turned to Ada, Lyle, and Leela, they quickly moved towards the pie tin to start untying their captive classmates. Meanwhile, The Eagle sprang from his hiding spot underneath the stainless steel table, grabbed a handful of “hydrogenated corn oil butter-style food product” from a five-gallon bucket and threw it on the ground in Mrs. Barr’s path. He looked at the little splotch of “butter” on the floor and was unconvinced that it would do the trick. He picked up the entire bucket of “butter” and threw it hard on to the ground, upside down, causing most of the “butter-style food product” to splatter across a good-sized section of the red tile floor. This caught Mrs. Barr’s attention.
Mrs. Barr turned from Mark and Paul to face The Eagle. Like a bull gathering its strength to charge, Mrs. Barr pulled back slightly then lunged at him with all her force. As she lunged, her foot landed on the first patch of “butter” and it slipped out from beneath her. As she somersaulted backwards, The Eagle moved himself and the bucket out of the way just in time to avoid being crushed under the body of Mrs. Barr sliding into the yellow, greasy pile of butter-style food product on the floor.
Ada looked up from untying her last knot and cringed at the sight of Mrs. Barr’s airborne backward somersault into the “butter” grease. That was apparently where The Eagle’s dirty work came in.
“Oh, be careful dear, there’s something on the floor over there,” Mark said, apparently unable to resist.
Ada rolled her eyes and glared at Mark. Mark always had to add insult to injury.
Enraged and covered in butter-style food product, Mrs. Barr was struggling to get up from the floor. The more she struggled, the more she unwittingly covered herself and the surrounding surfaces with grease.
All the while, Mark, in typical Mark fashion was running his mouth nonstop at Mrs. Barr. “Have you done something different with your hair? I couldn’t help but notice there was something different about you. Are those new glasses? They look great! Hey, so about those cookies…”
Paul, who seemed to have convinced himself that Mrs. Barr actually did have cookies, was still moving towards her, pestering her to hand over the goods. Dropping to his knees, Paul reached to search her apron pockets. As Paul leaned over, The Eagle, spotting a 20lb bag of flour stored on a high shelf above the stainless steel sink, ran forward, stepped onto Paul’s back, and then onto the shoulders and head of Mark, who was still talking to Mrs. Barr wriggling on the ground like an upturned bug. The Eagle then jumped from Mark’s head and shoulders, soaring through the air towards the high shelf, reaching out and grabbing the large sack of flour. He flung his legs over the shelf’s ledge, pulled a pencil from his pocket and ripped a hole in the bag.
“Bombs away!” He shouted.
“We’ll talk later,” Mark said to Mrs. Barr, then grabbed Paul and together they dove under the stainless steel kitchen table.
Flour rained all over Mrs. Barr, making it hard for her to see, which was fortunate. Unfortunately the shelf that The Eagle was perched on was not built to hold children, and it collapsed, sending flour, pots, pans, and a screaming Eagle tumbling to the floor.
There was so much flour in the air, hardly anyone could see. Mrs. Barr was coughing and screaming, “Horrible little brats! I’ll make you into a pie the coven will never forget! I’ll be the new town witch! Oh yes, I’ll be the worst town witch you’ve ever seen! I mean the best! I mean…I mean the worst for you but the best in terms of being a witch and…”
Ada, Lyle, and Leela had just pulled their last classmate out of the pie tin when The Eagle called out, “Stash Mrs. Barr in the refrigerator!” and gestured loosely to the large metal door of the cold-storage room in which all the food was kept before diving out of sight.
Ada, opened the heavy steel refrigerator door. Without any hesitation, Lyle and Leela, moving as one, ran behind Mrs. Barr and shoved her slippery, flailing body straight into the cold storage room. Ada slammed the door behind Mrs. Barr and Leela locked it tight.
Out of breath, the gang all paused to take in the moment. They had just locked Mrs. Barr in the cold-storage fridge. Mrs. Barr was screaming and cursing, but, they were, at that moment, safe. Then all of a sudden, Mrs. Barr’s screaming changed into a different kind of scream. A horrible, banshee wail, an unearthly scream, and then the screaming stopped altogether. There was nothing. Complete silence.
They all took a tiny step towards the fridge door and they paused.
They all jumped backwards.
The silence was broken by another huge pounding THUMP from the other side of the fridge’s giant steel door.
THUMP, THUMP, THUMP.
The heavy steel door was starting to buckle.
THUMP, THUMP, THUMP.
The door would give way any second. The gang and their classmates froze in their spots, not knowing what to do.
Ada racked her brain. They had executed The Eagle’s plan. It had been a surprisingly effective plan up until this point.
The plan would have been relatively flawless, except that The Eagle was about to learn a very important lesson in military tactics: Intelligence is the key to winning battles.
In military efforts, the phrase “intelligence” does not necessarily refer to being smart, but knowing what the enemy does not want you to know. Here are some examples of how this might work:
If you happened to be fighting an enemy who had more soldiers than they had food, you could just wait things out and eventually they would get hungry and give up. However, since they wouldn’t want you to know that they didn’t have enough food, they might make a show of how little they cared for their food, throwing it away as if they had all the food they could ever want. If you had spies gathering intelligence however, you might know that there were a dozen soldiers fighting over every crust of bread that they pretended not to care about.
If you knew that your enemy was terrified of clowns, you could dress your soldiers up as clowns. If your enemy had spies in your ranks however, this might be false information that the enemy wanted you to think was true, which is called counterintelligence. Then having dressed up all of your soldiers like clowns would be bad for a variety of reasons.
Finally, if you knew that your enemy, in this case, Mrs. Barr, had summoned a vortex of dark energy and was storing it in the school refrigerator, you might tell your soldiers not to open the refrigerator. You would have definitely not told your soldiers to store Mrs. Barr in the fridge where she would have access to the vortex of dark energy and where she could merge with it, willingly or not, turning herself into something even more horrible than an ambitious witch dabbling in local witch politics.
But, The Eagle did not have this information, this bit of intelligence, and now it was too late.
The fridge door burst open, revealing a giant unnaturally pulsing glob that appeared to be made of Mrs. Barr, hot dogs, pizza, powdered mashed potatoes, relish and other items from the refrigerator. Bursting bubbles of ketchup and mustard popped and oozed as the Mrs. Barr glob twitched, looking for something. It locked its gaze in the direction of the kids, lurching forward, flinging bits of food, leaving a trail of steaming grease in its wake. Ada had the distinct feeling that this new Mrs. Barr food monster was feeling hungry. Hungry and angry.
Ada, Lyle, Leela and their recently rescued classmates recoiled in horror as their former-lunch lady-turned-food monster was smashing everything in sight, laughing a low, rumbling, greasy laugh. Their eyes darted all over the kitchen, trying to see where they could run to safety. But, there was still so much flour in the air, the kids were having trouble spotting an escape route.
Then, Ada heard a sound even more dreadful than the food monster’s laugh. It was the small whoosh of the oven’s pilot light turning on…
A quick word about Ada and explosives.
Ada’s dad, Adam– the guy from chapter 1 with the big beard driving the party truck, was a brilliant and successful inventor. It was a good thing too, because he was as absent-minded as anyone has ever been. In his zeal for experimenting with various combustible chemical compounds, he had accidentally exploded four of his own houses in the past ten years. As a ten-year old, Ada knew more about explosives, flammable materials, chemical reactions and demolitions than most people. After the first four instances of Ada’s house exploding, Ada decided to take matters into her own hands. There was a reason there was not a fifth, sixth, or a tenth explosion at Ada’s house. Ada figured out at a young age how she could prevent explosions and other lab mishaps from occurring.
And here is one lesson she learned long ago that you too can now learn: flour is flammable. Lots of flour in the air means there is a lot of flammable material floating around. Flammable materials aren’t a problem of course, unless there is a source of fire.
You can now easily understand why Ada was so concerned when she heard the gentle whoosh of the school oven’s pilot light turning on…
The cafeteria exploded. Everything burst outwards like a high-speed blooming flower of destruction, instantly shattering every window, launching flames and debris in every direction.
The gang just blew up the school cafeteria! Did they destroy the Mrs. Barr food monster once and for all? Will Paul eventually find some cookies? Find out what happens next in Chapter 10, coming up in our July|August issue of Eat The Marshmallow!
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.