Grandpa Joe flew deeper in the forest, looking for Phoebe.
As he flew around he spotted a group of little danifiles. The danifiles were tightly together and zipping around as if they were afraid and trying to find a hiding place.
Grandpa Joe flew to them to see what was happening, asking any of them if they saw a little girl. The danifiles explained to him that they witness something terrible by the river. Hearing that, Joe quickly flies to the river. He looked around and the bridge but sees nothing threatening. He was about to leave when he heard a loud moan and a creature rose up from the waters.
“Big Guy! What on earth happened to you?”
Big Guy was all covered with bruises.
“BAD MAN TOOK THE GIRL. BEAT ME UP REAL GOOD” he said.
Joe could see that the poor creature did try to protect Phoebe, “Wait a minute, you mean Jasper was here!?”
Big Guy nodded, “HE’S BEAST ATTACK ME, MASK GIRL HERE TOO BUT HELP BAD MAN.”
The dragonfly’s eyes widened. “This is bad, I have to tell the others.”
Big Guy returned in the river while Grandpa Joe flew back to town to warn his friends.
All the spirits began to clean up what was left of their homes. Benny couldn’t stop thinking about Phoebe, hoping that she was okay. He looked up to see Matthew sitting very still, he hasn’t moved.
Matthew had stopped crying but kept his face hidden in his folded arms. He felt really pathetic, he didn’t like to cry, the only time he does is if he was physically hurt but not about his feelings. Matthew was angry at himself for losing his temper but he felt that it wasn’t his fault, it was his sister’s fault. He had to blame someone.
He looked up with dull eyes staring at the burned down building in front of him. Matthew could see the instruments melted, all the doors were broken in half and the ladder looked like its melted away.
Matthew caught a glimpse of something he wasn’t expecting, he saw an arm sticking out of the burned wood. It was the dead wolf that attacked him. It’s fleshed cooked with the bone sticking out. He looked away to get the image out of his head. Then at the back of his mind, he suddenly thought about his sister.
It came to his realization, he could have lost Phoebe.
She could have died and all he could think about was being angry with her. All he thought about was himself. With all the danger, the monsters, and escaping from the fire, he should have been more concerned about her safety. Matthew knew he had been selfish and only thinking about his own safety. The more he thought about it, the more empty he felt.
He now knows what he has to do next; he stood up and walked back to the group.
Benny looked up again only to see Matthew coming up to them. The boy stopped in front of him and Olivia. Matthew glazed up to them with a sad smile.
“Sorry for what I said it was totally uncalled for,” said Matthew, “I was just scared but I know that’s not an excuse. I should have protected Phoebe better.”
He sighed, “I’ve been, going through a lot…and I don’t do well with a change as my sister does. But now I want to make it up to her.”
Benny turned to Olivia who simply smiles to him. He walked over to Matthew and patted him on the head.
“I knew you didn’t mean what you said,” Benny then bent down to give a reassuring hug to the boy, “You are still a child Matthew, you have every right to be scared but you have your sister on your side.”
This statement made Matthew teared up again, but he tried to hold them in. Before Matthew could say anything the three of them could hear panic yelling.
They see Grandpa Joe zipping back to town talking at a fast pace. The spirits gathered together to see what the commotion was all about. Benny and Matthew gently pushed through the crowd to talk to Joe.
“It’s terrible! You would not believe what I just found out!” cried Grandpa Joe.
Benny came up to Joe waving his arms to him, “Grandpa Joe calm down. What’s the problem?”
“It’s him!” Joe exclaimed, “Big Guy said he saw Jasper and he took the little girl away.”
Everyone gasp, they could not believe what they’re hearing. Matthew was shocked, a man kidnapped his sister and he wasn’t there to stop it.
Grandpa Joe continued, “But that’s not all, he also said that Juju helped him captured her.”
“What!” yelled Olivia when she heard the last part, “That can’t be right, she would never do something like that.”
“She could be under a spell or being held against her will,” said Gilbert.
Matthew thought about the situation with a serious face until he had an idea. He pushed through the crowd to grab his backpack and called for Zoom-Zoom. The fox heard his named called and climbed out of Phoebe’s backpack. Matthew told Zoom-Zoom to find and pick up his sister’s scent. He and the fox were about to leave the town but were stopped by Benny.
“Where do think you’re going?”
“I’m going save my sister,” said Matthew, “I’m going to set things right and you can’t stop me.”
“Who said I was going to stop you,” said Benny with a knowing smile and a raised brow, “I’m coming with you. Jasper is a very dangerous man and my magic is strong enough to withstand him.”
“Hey wherever my buddy goes I go,” said Gilbert.
“Can I come too, please please pleaseeee!” cried Toodles.
“Now hold on,” said Olivia, “No one is going anywhere especially to the Fire Lands, we need to plan this out carefully.”
Matthew didn’t want to plan anything he just wanted his sister back, say he was sorry and just go home. Seeing the boy’s gloomy face Benny walked over to Olivia.
“Olivia, if we don’t act right now we could lose Phoebe. Jasper won’t hesitate on hurting her.”
She looked up to Benny, meeting his eyes, thinking about what he said she had to admit he was right. With a quiet sigh, she said all right and then Benny thanks her.
“But I’m going with you.”
Benny shook his head, “No it’s too dangers, I can’t afford to risk your life. Besides the others still, need your help here.”
“I can take care of myself and you know you can’t do this on your own,” she said.
Benny didn’t want to argue with her anymore, he doesn’t want Olivia to come whether she can take care of herself or not. Without thinking Benny lean in and quickly kissed her. Stunned, Olivia just looked up and stared at him, not saying a word. Benny took one step away to bow his head to her.
“Sorry”, he said with a sad smile, “I made a promise I would keep Phoebe safe and I promise we’ll be back.”
She stood behind watching Benny, Toodles, Gilbert, and Matthew head off as Zoom-Zoom sniffs for Phoebe’s scent. As they left Grandpa Joe was hovering next to her and he gently lands on her shoulder.
“Love does strange things to ya,” he said.
Olivia glanced to him and looked back up, seeing that the boys were no longer there. She just smiled and hoped that Phoebe is still alive.
She walked over to the backpack and picked it up, inside was a very crooked-looking stuff rabbit. She remembered seeing it before. Juju worked hard sewing it together, the masked girl wanted to be friends with Phoebe.
Olivia frowned and held the rabbit close to her. She looked up into the clouded ceiling, thinking and praying that everything would be alright.
“Please, don’t let her die” she whispered to herself.
The glopper moved slowly, following its master while holding Phoebe. Chains were holding her; she couldn’t run for her life if she wanted to, the chains were too heavy. Phoebe had been crying but stopped because she became so tired from crying. She looked over to Juju who was following them.
“Why would you do this?” she muttered angrily, “I thought we were friends Juju.”
Juju doesn’t even bother looking back at her, she just continued to walk next to Jasper.
Jasper turned his face to the girl, grinning at her. His face looked rotten and wrinkled. His cheekbones were visible like they were coming out his face. His nose was pointy; teeth look rotten like fungus growing in his mouth. He was bald and had small hairs growing on the sides of his head. There were small bumps on his head that looked like horns.
“I should be congratulating her” Jasper spoke. His voice deep like his throat was rusty, “Do you have any idea how long I’ve been trying to nab you?”
Phoebe tried to avoid his gaze at her; he was so ugly and frightening that she couldn’t look at him. Seeing the girl wasn’t answering he frowned with brows narrowed but continues to speak.
“It isn’t my fault that all of this happened,” he said but it seems he was only talking to himself, “The spell didn’t go as plan. I tried to do good things but you people were so ignorant to understand what magic can do for us.”
Phoebe looked up glaring, “You did no good. Grandpa Joe told me you’re an evil man, you hurt my friends and turn them into-.”
“YOU don’t think I know that!” exclaimed Jasper facing her again.
Phoebe now frightened by his outburst twisted her head away.
“Thanks to that imbecile Edgar I can’t leave or do anything in this bloody hell hole. But now I have you, I can finally finish what I started and get my revenge on those who shamed me.”
The group went downhill, walking closer to their destination. Where they were walking to was no ordinary place.
As they walked closer to the field the grass started to fade and the air seemed to get warmer. They walked to a huge bridge made of steel and rock. In front of them was a structure that looked like a castle but looking at it more closely it was a very messed up version of a Disney castle. Garbage stuck out, mostly it’s just plain bricks and rocks holding the castle together. Big Pipes that are pointing up released smoke and rise up to the underground ceiling. Phoebe looked up and noticed that there were tiny cracks with light coming through. She then heard rumbling noises and looked down at the edge of the bridge. She sees pipes at the very bottom of the castle, pouring out what looks like burning lava from the earth itself.
“I used all the magic I know to collect the entire town’s garbage and build this as my home” explained Jasper as he saw the curiosity on the girl’s face.
As they entered through the wooden doorway, Phoebe saw more wolf creatures roaming around the castle. Inside the castle, the hallways formed a circular formation. In the middle of the giant room was a slim catwalk that led to a boiling pot and a book in front of it. Phoebe was pulled by the blob monster to follow them. The hallway they walked through was very loud and frightening. On the right side of the wall, there were jail cells with unknown monsters inside, the cell was so dark that Phoebe couldn’t see them. Some of them were screaming or growling, one of them actually tried to grab Phoebe but couldn’t reach her. The poor girl screamed and Jasper seemed amused.
They reached a cell that looked to be empty and opened it with a small skeleton key. As it opened the blob took the chains off of Phoebe and pushed her in.
“You won’t be in here for long,” said Jasper, “but just in case something comes up, make yourself at home.”
He and Juju walked off but for some reason, the glopper stayed staring at Phoebe. Its orb eyes stared into the little girl’s eyes as if it could see her soul. Phoebe wasn’t sure how to react and she thought she saw the sadness in the glowing eyes. Its odd shape hand reached through the bars and it drooped something before it left in a hurry.
Phoebe wasn’t sure what to make of what just happened but she stood up and walked to the cellar bars. She picked the object and took a closer look; it was a skeleton key. It didn’t make any sense to Phoebe. She wondered why would that blob monster go all the trouble kidnapping her if it was going to give her a chance to escape.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a sound of sniffing and movement. She quickly spun around but it was really dark in the cell and no source of light anywhere. Phoebe didn’t want to go deeper in the cell, if there was a monster in here she’s done. But something in her head told her not to be scared.
Following her guts, she slowly tiptoed to the whimpering sound. She called out, “Hello? Who’s in here?”
The sound stopped as she tipped toed to the source. As she got closer she saw not a monster put a person. This person was sitting with its head on its knees. Phoebe relaxed a little; she walked over and sat in front of the crying person.
“Are you okay?” she asked almost in a whisper, “I’m not going to hurt you or anything, but you’re not alone anymore.”
The person stopped crying and looked up. Phoebe studied the face seeing that this person is a boy. His skin was grey although his face had a stitch like lines. He had one across the cheek, his nose, and across his eye. He had brown hair and dark eyes and wore a brown shirt and dark pants. He didn’t look like her sprits friends but more like torn up toy that was stitched up together. She smiled at the boy.
“I’m Phoebe. What’s your name?”
The boy doesn’t say his name but he sniffed and replied, “I want to go home back where mother and father are.”
“What happened to you?” asked Phoebe.
“I was taken away by that evil man. He bought me back, he put me in this gooey stuff and it turned me into a monster. I fought back but the evil man put chains on me so he could control me.”
“He took you away from the village?”
The boy stared at Phoebe with a blank stare. “I’m sure not what you’re talking about but I did not come from a village. You see my family and I died a long time ago. We were buried together. The evil man took my body away and did the same thing to other bodies. He brought them back and did horrible things to them.”
Phoebe could see that the boy was shaking in fear. She sat down next to him and put her arms around him to relax him.
The boy hugged her back and started crying again, “Sorry I scared you. That evil man keeps ordering me to bring you here.”
Phoebe turned at the boy and said, “That was you? So then you weren’t trying to eat me.”
The boy giggled a little, “No, “I wasn’t trying to eat you. But I had to bring you or else that man would hurt me.”
Phoebe told him that things would be just fine and that Jasper won’t hurt him anymore. She opened her eyes wider as she came to a realization.
“Wait, if you use to be the glopper then who was that?”
Zoom-Zoom was running a little as the group got closer to Phoebe’s scent. He stopped near a bush sniffing and facing the direction in front of him. Matthew stopped as well looking to see how far the distance to what looked like a pile of rocks mash together with an eerie glow around it.
“This area is called the Fire Lands,” said Benny standing behind Matthew, “It’s one of the places we don’t dare to explore.”
Matthew glanced up to him, “So this is where that Jasper guy lives?”
“Yes. His monsters come in and out of that place but we never go that close,” said Gilbert.
Toodles was far behind the group; he jumped up and down giggling to himself.
“So what’s the plan!? What’s the plan!” he shouted in a singing tone.
Benny and Gilbert rushed to him to tell him to be quiet. “Keep it down, we don’t want to attract attention,” said Gilbert.
“Sorry, I’m just happy! I can’t wait to hear the plan!”
Benny put his hand to Toodles’s mouth and told him again to be quiet. Matthew rolls his eyes at them but walked towards them when Benny beckons him to come closer.
“So here is the plan, we’re going to use a wind spell to take us up and fly us towards the tall tower. Then we’ll open the window and sneak in and…”
While Benny explains more, the others were unaware of something hiding in the tall grass. Two tall figures were slowly approaching them with their hands reaching out for them. Their hands brushed Gilbert and Matthew’s shoulders but they felt it. They were taken aback as the startled boys screamed in surprised. The screaming scared Zoom-Zoom and the poor fox leaped on top of Matthew’s head causing the boy to fall backward. The other guys turned around to face the two figures that emerged out from the grass.
“Oh it’s Roxy and Loxy, HI!” said Toodles cheerfully.
“Good lord you twins, you almost gave us a heart attack,” said a startled Benny.
Roxy raised her brow at him and rest her hands on her hips. “Ok first off, I still don’t think we're really twins?”
“Are you sure about that Roxy?” asked Loxy.
“Second, you can’t have heart attacks you have no pulse,” continued Roxy.
“Some of us do” interrupted Gilbert.
“And third, we came to help you. If you boys are going to face Jasper you’ll need our most powerful spells.”
Matthew sat up but the fox was still hanging on his head, he reached up and put Zoom-Zoom back on the ground.
“But we didn’t ask for your help,” he said.
“We know”, said Loxy, “but Phoebe is our friend too and we girls need to stick together.”
“So you’re saying we need girl power?” he asked.
“Is that what children say in your time?” asked Loxy.
“Uh… never mind, so what is the plan again Benny?”
Before the skeleton can say, Toodles was suddenly jumping up and down in the bushes, “Oh lookie lookie!”
All six of them turned to see the gates opening, slowly raising up. A few wolf beasts came out guarding the bridge. Standing in the middle of the formation was a girl in a mask.
Matthew glared, becoming furious as he saw the girl standing on that bridge. He walked through the bush and walked towards the rock castle. The spirits notice this and stopped him.
“What are you doing?” asked Benny.
“That freak betrayed my sister; I’m not going to let her get away with that.”
“Now hold on,” said Gilbert, “We know Juju well enough and we know she wouldn’t do this.”
“Yeah, well that didn’t stop her,” said Matthew.
“Look let’s just stick with the plan everyone. As soon we get Phoebe, she and you are going back home-
A wolf creature with many eyes charged at them out of nowhere. The group jumped as more were coming. Soon they were surrounded by the flaming wolves, growling and staring down at them with hateful eyes.
They see some wolves’ step back letting Juju walk towards them.
“I knew I heard someone called me a freak,” she said.
“He said it!” cried Toodles pointing at Matthew.
Matthew, on the other hand, walked towards Juju with an angry looked.
“Now you listen,” he said, “I want my sister back so get out of my way.”
“Really, from what I heard you wished you didn’t have a sister” taunted Juju.
“Shut up”, Matthew yelled back, “I say stupid things but I never want to get rid of Phoebe. So I’m gonna say it again, get lost you, ugly witch!”
Juju did nothing but stared at him but after a moment she started giggling in an unpleasant tone. Matthew took note of this and noticed something else, the mask she was wearing was cracking. He could see some strange liquid leaking out from the cracks. Almost like bloody oil.
“You stupid little boy…” her voice echoed almost disembodied, “You’re just like this little girl. Always hiding behind the mask, hoping things will be better but they never do…”
Matthew backed away from a girl seeing something was happing. When half of the mask felled off it revealed half her face. Her face was deforming, oil-like liquid poured out from her eyes and her mouth. Her laughter was louder and crackling like a witch would laugh. As the final piece of the mask fell off the oil spreads on other parts of Juju’s body covering her from head to toe. Claws start forming and her body becomes taller and thinner, and her face forms into a gooey blob with sharp daggers teeth and glowing green eyes.
“You will feel real loneliness, once you die …”
The group stood terrified at the transformation before them. Zoom-Zoom growled at this monster. None of them dared say a word until Toodles broke the silence, “Well… at least it’s not her.”
The witch monster tore a neon tree off the ground and threw it at the group.
Benny shouted and the group dispersed as the tree smashes hard on the ground. The flame wolves then attack them, Matthew and Zoom-Zoom backed off as the spirits fight off the wolves. He tried to move away so he can run to the castle but one wolf blocked his way. Zoom-Zoom growled and charged at the beast, biting one of its ears.
While that was happening, the witch monster slammed another tree on Gilbert’s tail. The cat yelped in pain and Loxy tried to lift the tree up. Another wolf was behind her ready to attack but Roxy was there in time to use a wind spell, pushing it away. Toodles avoided the wolves by hopping on their heads one to the other. As for Benny he was using a spell to summons all the rocks and dirt and threw it at the witch monster, unfortunately, it didn’t do much but made it angrier. Benny dodged its attack and took a moment to take in the scene.
There are too many wolves, few of his friends are now hurt moaning in pain, and the human has no one to defend him but his pet fox. He could see that the fox was getting tired. Even the witch monster wasn’t giving them time to make their spells. He had to make a decision…
“We need to retreat” cried Benny.
Matthew snapped, “What!? No, what about Phoebe?”
“I know but this is too much. We need to think of a better plan.”
Matthew didn’t want to go, he didn’t want to listen but something told him that he was going to screw something up if went to save his sister alone. Swallowing the lump in his throat Matthew obeyed, picking up Zoom-Zoom and ran after Benny. The others also followed behind, the twins carrying Gilbert because of his injured tail.
The witch monster grunting its dagger teeth ordered three flame wolves to go after them.
“Get them!” it roared, “Tear them apart!”