(This excerpt from “The Cookie” is the intellectual property of Forgotten Lore Publishing, llc) – continued from A Word About A Story.
The dogs were still licking up crumbs, when the witch pointed to another sorter and said, “That one.”
The beasts attacked as rapidly as before, and soon dragged the frightened cookie in front of her. This gingerbread man was much more willing to talk however; and soon told the witch about a plot that some of the supervisors, and sorters, were planning against her.
They had decided to keep the magical Wizin Stones from her, in an effort to limit her power; the sorter confessed. Some of them also hoped to learn the secret of the powerful yellow gems; so they might find a way to use them against her. The talkative sorter assured her that he was not one of the plotters however, but had just been too afraid to say anything.
By this time, the worker who’d earlier been moving closer to the witch; was now quietly easing away. He moved backwards awkwardly, down the path he’d just come until he reached his cart. Then he turned and began running away down the tunnel; as he did he overheard the witch say, in a loud voice, “I think it’s about time for me to bake a fresh batch of cookies!”
The worker didn’t wait to hear more. He was not aware of any plot against – what had the supervisor called her, Strelia? But it was likely that she would believe that they were all in on any plan together, and punish everyone. He for one, wasn’t looking forward to being torn apart, and gobbled up, by her savage dogs. What he needed to do was find a good place to hide.
Maybe if he worked on a lower level, he would not be suspected. Maybe if he found the yellow crystal, and returned it to her, she might spare him. He wasn’t sure what a Wizin Stone looked like however; since he’d never seen one. Though maybe, if he found the stone; he could be the one to learn the secret of its’ power. Or maybe he should just stay out of sight.
He moved farther into the mine, while he decided what to do. He was just a worker; too little, and too weak to plot against the witch. But if she caught him wandering through her mine, and not working; she might just eat him herself. Such things did happen, from time to time; and he shivered as he remembered stories of the witch’s “surprise” inspections.
He passed several branching tunnels; always choosing the ones he guessed took him deeper into the mine. He also passed several other workers with carts, but none of them took any notice of him. Along the way he found a pick someone dropped, and decided to take it with him. In time, he saw a tunnel which led to a lower level, and decided to go that way.
His travels continued until he he’d gone done three more levels. He noticed that even though he moved deeper, and deeper, into the mine; the amount of light stayed the same. No doubt due to Strelia’s magic. He saw many more groups of workers as he wandered through different levels of the mine; but they all were busy with their own tasks to even look his way.
As he made his way down to yet another level, he was stopped by a supervisor.
“Where is your cart?” He demanded.
“It’s wheel is broken,” the worker said.
“I should report you to the witch,” the supervisor told him. “You slackers will get us all killed.”
“No! My cart really is broken!” The worker pleaded. “I’m looking for another one!”
“Well you’re in luck, runt,” the supervisor told him. “I’ve got a cart for you! Come with me.”
The supervisor took him to a place where a team of workers were starting a new tunnel, with their picks. There were several empty carts nearby; and the entire area was littered with many piles of rocks, and scrapings from their digging.
“Fill these carts, with those rocks,” the supervisor told him, “And if I catch you loafing again, I’ll make sure the witch invites you to lunch!”
The larger cookie moved off to oversee the digging; but looked back, from time to time, to make sure his instructions were being followed. Realizing that he was being watched, the worker slowly cleared the area for several hours. By then he’d filled three carts with rock, and rubble. Then he noticed a worker approaching from the level above.
The worker saw this cookie had a bite missing from his left shoulder. The damaged worker rushed quickly to the supervisor, and told him, “The witch is coming!”
“She Is?” The supervisor seemed surprised.
“Yes,” the messenger said, “And she is not happy!”
“I can see that,” the supervisor said, looking at his shoulder. “What is she upset about now?”
“She knows!” He answered.
The supervisor looked around nervously, and then said in a whisper, “What does she know?”
“She knows!” The messenger said again. “Everything! And she’s looking for you!”
“Oh!” The supervisor gasped. “She’ll kill us all!”
To read more of the story, follow this link A Further Word About A Story.
J. A. Stubbs, Editor-In-Chief
Forgotten Lore Publishing, llc