All was now quiet in the dim-glowing forest as they continued walking on the rocky and grassy path. Phoebe’s feet ached and her legs were getting tired but she kept walking with her new friends.
There were times where Toodles would randomly break into song whenever he saw something or if he was bored.
“Small bugs, crawling on trees all day!
Trees growing all day, and then glows at night!
I like trees and I like bugs cuz’ they are my friends!”
The puppet stopped when he heard Gilbert snap at him, “You been singing for almost ten minutes. Cut it out!”
“But Gilbert I’m so happy!” said Toodles with a wide grin.
Gilbert just rolled his eyes at him and said, “You’re always happy but your singing is hurting my ears and hers too.”
Phoebe giggled at the strange duo as they continued to argue but then stopped when the group saw something in the distance. There were lights coming from down the hills but it wasn’t Daniflies, it was more like a burning candle. Phoebe could see pointy towers and small huts, surrounded by protective walls. The only opening to the small village was a tall gate. Phoebe was amazed and couldn’t wait to what else was waiting for her down there.
Toodles and Gilbert ran ahead to open the gates for Phoebe to enter their city. As she stepped closer to the gates she felt as though she was entering a fairy tale. Everything around her was unbelievable.
Around her were strange shaped homes and buildings, each one was different. One house was entirely made of hard mud and roots from the ground, other houses looked like they have been recycled. There was one building that was tall in a zigzag shape, made out of rocks and green material like glass rocks. Its roof was made of out of cardboard and wood sticking up instead down. Phoebe saw one house that was made out of soda cans and wine bottles, each had different soda labels. Not all the cans stood together, there’s some sticking out of the house and on each can be glowing blue and red mushrooms. Some houses had chimneys that blew out grey smoke that rose up to the ceiling of the underground as if to create an illusion of skies.
In the middle of the town were thin pipes sticking out and pointing in different directions with water squirting from them, it looked like an unfinished fountain. Phoebe felt even more welcomed when she was greeted by other creatures walking by. Some were big and some were small. Some were people, animals, bugs, even toys.
Phoebe couldn’t hold her excitement much longer. She started to ask Gilbert and Toodles many questions.
“Did you guys build this place?”
“We had some help, but yeah,” said Gilbert.
“How did you do it?”
“We found some trashed stuff,” said Toodles.
“So are you all fairy tale creatures?”
“Not exactly, dear,” said Gilbert.
“Which one do guys live in?”
“That one” they both said.
They stood in front of a tall building. This building was made by doors, many different sizes, and colors. There weren’t just doors they were bedroom doors, kitchen doors, outdoors closet doors, even swinging doors. The roof looked like it was part of a boat, the front stick was holding a sign that said: ‘Golden Peach’.
What’s the Golden Peach?” asked Phoebe.
“Oh it’s where you can find the best food, drinks, and folk music, and we own the place!” said a cheerful Toodles.
The three went inside the restaurant and saw a few creatures sitting at tables or standing in groups. Two young waiters were walking around taking everyone’s orders. When they saw Gilbert and Toodles they quickly rushed to them.
“Where have you guys been? It was really busy here when you left,” said the girl with long black ponytails.
“Yeah and who’s that little girl with you?” said the other girl with brown curly ponytails.
“Girls, this is our new friend Phoebe,” said Gilbert who showed Phoebe to the girls.
Now the girls looked almost like twins, they wore the same dark dress and the same stripes stockings. One girl was wearing blue boots and the other was wearing red boots. The two didn’t look like any of the creatures that Phoebe saw but that didn’t mean they were humans. The two girls were pale-looking with a glow around them and they had sparkling dust on their hands.
“Hi, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Well hi I’m Roxy!” said the straight ponytailed girl.
“And I’m Loxy!” said the curly ponytailed girl.
“Are you guys’ twins?” asked Phoebe.
“Why yes, we are twins.”
“No, we aren’t Loxy.”
Loxy turned to Roxy with a blank face but you can tell she was indeed confused. “We aren’t? Are you sure about that?”
“I think so. We don’t look the same.”
“But we do dress the same.”
The girls continue to bicker about the subject, they already forgot that Gilbert, Phoebe, and Toodles were standing there. Then they went back to work after hearing someone ready to order.
After they left Phoebe looked up at Gilbert with a frown, “Are they really sisters?”
“Nobody really knows for sure, but they stay together like-”
“Like sticks and glue” Toodles blurred out.
They walked to the front table, Phoebe sat on a chair finally resting her feet while the boys headed to the counter. Gilbert ordered Toodles to make drinks for the customers while he made a sandwich and a glass of water for Phoebe. He could tell that the girl was tired and hungry.
“Wow this is good, I never had a veggie sandwich before.”
Gilbert chuckled, “Our veggies are grown in healthy soil, taste better than peanut butter.”
Toodles came back with a drink for his friend and a moment later Phoebe asked the cat and the puppet about something. “Guys, why did you ask about my last name?”
The duo stopped and thought about the question, they looked at each other and looked back at the girl.
“Well”, started Gilbert, “The reason you’re special Phoebe is that we have never seen other Hollows besides Edgar.”
“So you knew my great grandfather?”
“Oh yeah, we knew Edgar, he was one of the best friends we ever had” exclaimed Toodles, "even the others Edgars way before him.”
“Huh, what do you mean?”
Before anyone could answer, they heard glass break and all three turned to see a plant creature and a porcupine fighting. Loxy went up first to calm them down and Roxy called out. “Guys they’re at it again.”
“Oh-no, we’ll be back dear.”
They hurried and approached the creatures leaving Phoebe alone. She got up and hid behind the table, not wanting to see the fight or hear the yelling. Out of nowhere, she heard what sounded like music. Phoebe was curious to find out where the music was coming from. She sees a door not far from the kitchen and slowly goes to look behind the door. She opens the door which leads to a stairway leading to a second floor. She glances to see if anyone’s watching and figures that she will be back in a second. Phoebe goes up the stairs and opens a door leading to a living room.
The music is getting louder in the next room. Phoebe opens another door which leads to a thin hallway with pictures of people on both walls. Phoebe paced slowly looking at the pictures, they all picture of different men with different names but with the same last name, Hollow. She found that really weird. The music was now louder but Phoebe didn’t know what she may find so she opened the door slightly for a peak. She couldn’t believe what she saw.
There is music playing but no one was touching the instruments. The violins were stringing themselves, the trumpets and saxophones were blowing loud, the piano was playing every key, and the drums were beating around.
In the middle stood a tall man in a long coat and pants with black shoes and a top hat. He waves a stick to control the instruments. The song was very sweet and jazzy, something that Phoebe never heard. When the song played the last note, all the instruments put themselves away.
Phoebe hesitantly steps into the room, her hands close to her chest. She was really shy but she confidently said: “E-excuse me, mister, your music was um, very nice.”
When the man heard her small voice, he turns around and smiles at her.
“Why, Hello there little girl.”
The nine-year old took a step back when she looked at the man. He wasn’t a man but a skeleton.
He had no noise, no ears, and no eyeballs. His eyes were like dark orbs with tiny dots as his pupils. He had frizzy orange hair like a clown, even his fingers were bony. There was something about his smile that was familiar to Phoebe.
“Oh, you’re um, a-”
“Skeleton,” he answered, “Yes, I know. My name is Benny Benjamin Bones. It’s nice to finally meet you, Phoebe.”
Phoebe was not just surprised that his name was Benny but surprised that he knew who she was.
“How did you know my name?”
The skeleton smiled at her with a chuckle, “Let’s just say I been checking up on you.”
“You mean like a guardian angel?”
Phoebe felt comfortable with the skeleton man and she was happy to know that a guardian angel was watching over her. After they shook hands Benny lead Phoebe back downstairs. “So, what do think of our world?”
Phoebe looks up at him, “It’s very weird but I like wired, but why is it all here?”
Benny asked her if Gilbert or Toodles told her but she shook her head. His smile grew wider, “Well, looks like we need to hurry, so we can tell you everything you need to know.”
They went down back to the restaurant, it was almost closing time.