The camel-person handed Florence a tourist pamphlet and trotted off. He’d spied someone else, rowing across the sea in an ugg boot.
His very important podium retracted into the sand.
“The first day of the rest of our lives? That sounded ominous,” said Fluffikins. “I was hoping to get back home… to ‘The Real World’ before tomorrow afternoon. I’ll miss Deep-frying With Celia.”
“Is that what you do all day now I’m at school and you get to stay home?” Florence asked. “Just sit around watching cooking shows?”
“I am learning how to cook,” Fluffikins replied. “Maybe one day I’ll be the boss of my own kitchen. I’m going to cook whatever I like in my own kitchen. I’ll rearrange the cupboards, stock my own pantry, choose the pattern of the tea towels—”
“This conversation is boring me to tears,” said Florence. “Who needs Real World chores when you can have all this?” She extended her arms like the conductor of an orchestra, closing a world class performance of something classical and moving.
Yeah, and then she spied a sandcastle.
“We can’t stay here,” whispered Fluffikins. “We don’t know if these creatures are goodies or baddies.”
Florence shrugged. “That camel guy seemed all right in the end.”
“Plus, we don’t know what’s beyond that row of trees.”
“For all we know,” Fluffikins continued, “we just landed on The Island of Violent Criminals. Death and destruction may lurk in every nook and cranny. That podium popped up out of nowhere, then disappeared without warning. Maybe this is the kind of place where the ground opens beneath you and gobbles you right up!”
“I’ve often wished the ground would open up,” Florence mused. “Mainly on behalf of others. Hey there!” she yelled, aiming for the BBQing rooster. “Do you got a sausage to spare?”
“You can’t just go around begging random picnickers for food,” Fluffikins shout-whispered into her ear. “It’s unseemly!”
Florence could be so embarrassing. Fluffikins hoped to disappear down his own hole in the sand but alas, none opened up.
“Dogs who beg together egg together,” said Florence, which sounded like a truism of yore but she’d only made it up on the spot.
Next, she clambered up the dunes and made herself at home on a yellow and white picnic rug.
“I don’t think these chicken picnickers like us,” whispered Fluffikins. “They’re throwing us some serious side eye.”
“They can’t help it with the side eye. Chickens got eyes on the far sides of their heads. You can’t see both eyes at once.”
The chicken-people had laid out quite a spread. Egg salad, carrot coleslaw, cheesy rolls, cakes, potato chips and MOST IMPORTANTLY those sizzling sausages.
Florence was doing the self-introductions, with lots of embellishments.
“You poor dears,” said one of the chicken-aunties, dishing up two towering piles of food onto paper plates, using arms which magically appeared from beneath her feathers. A fly-fly buzzed around Fluffy’s sausage, hoping to settle.
The chicken-auntie gulped and licked her beak-lips. “Don’t wait about,” she urged, handing Fluffikins a fork-shaped twig. “It’s first in, first served around here.” She goggle eyed at her chicks, fighting over a clump of rice salad.
Even after all those Halloween Meaty Morsels Florence still had an appetite. Florence was never short on appetites. She owned a never-ending supply of the things.
Fluffikins picked up his own knife and fork twigs and cut into the sausage, browned with grill stripes, juicy in the middle and piping hot. An uncomfortable thought crossed his mind.
But Florence was busy entertaining the chicken family with made-up tales from The Other Side. Florence was a shocker for that. Her classmates had long stopped believing anything she said about pirates, princesses and wicked witches but these chicken people seemed to be taking it all in. Or perhaps they were clucking to be polite.
“And then, as I was about to escape from the giant, my fairy godmother FLEW to the window and rescued me. By the way, this corn is delicious. What’s the secret recipe?”
Florence was enjoying her corn on the bone. She was not finished with the sausages, either. So she would not listen to Fluffikins, who kept going on about going on home.
Florence! Fluffikins shouted this time. But not in words, in smell. There was no getting away from the language of smell. Florence twitched her nostrils and turned to Fluffikins. She shot him a ‘Be Quiet’ kind of stink-eye. He didn’t listen.
Florence glanced around at the various animal-people enjoying an evening of family fun at the beach. They looked… meaty.
Have you noticed the sausages have a slight green tinge to them? piped Fluffikins, showing Florence the exact shade of green that he meant, leaving it to linger in the air before her.
Here’s why Florence was thinking of frogs. The froggy jogger. He came bounding down the beach, jump-jogging.
Florence looked like she’d seen The Green Ghost. She put her half-eaten sausage back onto the plate.
“More meat?” asked one of the chicken aunties. She didn’t wait before throwing another five sausages onto each of their paper plates.
“Uh, I’m a bit full,” said Fluffikins, making a balloon shape with his hand-paws around the general area of his belly.
“Nonsense!” said another chicken-auntie. “Eat for the hunger to come!”
“These sausages are delicious,” said Florence. “What kind of… what’s in them?”
“We grow our own,” said the rooster-man. The rooster in him loved scratching about in gardens. The human part of him loved to talk about gardens. “We grow three cultivars of sausage trees. He stood up to illustrate his seminar, etching the sand with his toe-claws.
Florence had never listened to anything so carefully in her entire life. Florence and the rooster were sausage mates!
But Florence wasn’t listening to anything further.
Sausages. Sausage trees. Sausages GROWING on TREES.