Chapter 6


So JC, Zombi, and Wolfey started down the path to Mum-Z’s home. But Zombi could tell that Wolfey was nervous about walking through the woods, so he said, “Look, Wolfey, don’t worry about TCM. If it were going to eat creatures, it would have eaten Witchie while she was still in her house, right? Instead, it waited until she went away. So maybe it’s afraid of other living creatures.”

“Besides,” added JC, “none of us is made of candy, so why would it want to eat us?”

“That is a good point,” Wolfey had to agree. “But--”

“Plus,” continued JC, “there are three of us and only one of it. AND I have a magic wand. So I think we have a good chance of fighting it off if it does attack."

All this made Wolfey feel better, although he still said, “Well, let’s hope it doesn’t mistake us for candy.”

Zombi laughed, “I’ve been mistaken for a lot of things before, like a corpse, or a goblin, or even an ogre, but never a piece of candy! So I don’t think we have anything to worry about there. Besides, we’ll be at Mum-Z’s before we know it.”

And no sooner had he said that when JC saw the top of a black, triangular building sticking out of a patch of some nearby trees. As they got closer, JC saw that it was a small black pyramid. It was about the size of a normal-sized house – which was still very small for a pyramid. JC remembered learning in school about the pyramids of the ancient Mayans and Egyptians, but those pyramids were super-big, massive, colossal, gigantic, huge structures. Again, JC felt very smart for knowing these things. But he was also very curious to see what this black pyramid looked like on the inside.

Outside, the pointy building looked like it was made of black mud bricks. There were no windows on any of its four pointed sides. JC remembered that Wolfey’s cave didn’t have any windows either. And someone said something about Vam Pea’s "castle" not having many windows. JC’s bedroom at home had a nice big window that overlooked a nearby lake. JC really liked looking out that window sometimes, especially in winter when it snowed and the lake froze over, or sometimes in the autumn when all the trees turned different colors like red and orange and yellow. But JC figured that different creatures liked doing different things and living in different places, so these guys must like the houses they lived in. And if they didn’t want windows in their homes, who was he to criticize?

Mum-Z’s front door looked like a normal, rectangular front door, except that it was made of solid gold – or at least it looked that way. Zombi rang the doorbell, and a haunting, sad tune echoed inside the building. It sounded like one of those old records from about a hundred years ago. JC was trying to remember how old the different pyramids were: Thousands of years old? Millions? When did the ancient Egyptians rule? What about the Mayans? Didn't they have different kinds of pyramids? Also, did they have old musical records back in those olden times? JC wasn’t feeling so smart anymore since this was all a blur to him. But just then, the front door opened. And there stood Mum-Z.

Mum-Z looked a lot like JC had expected him to look – just like a mummy. He was skinny and had orangey bandages wrapped all around him, including on each of his hands and each individual finger. Some of the bandages were loose on his body, but it didn’t seem like any of them were going to come off any time soon.

Mum-Z was also wearing thick black-rimmed glasses that made him look very smart. But then JC remembered: a lot of hipsters in his neighborhood also wore those same types of glasses, and his Uncle Emile had said that most of those hipsters were pretentious morons. JC had to look up what “pretentious” meant in the dictionary. His Uncle Emile spelled the word out for him and said they'd probably see a picture of “some loser at a coffee shop.” But they didn’t. There wasn’t any picture at all next to the definition. But JC learned that the word “pretentious” meant that you were pretending to be something better than what you actually were. His Uncle Emile told him that you shouldn’t try to pretend to be anything you weren’t; to just be real and be the best version of yourself that you could be. And that sounded like good advice to JC.

In any event, Mum-Z didn’t look like he was a pretender. He looked really smart, like a real book-lover – or maybe like a scroll-lover, because when he came to the door, he was carrying an ancient scroll and reading from it. He barely looked up and said, “Oh, hey guys. C’mon in.”

“It’s good to see you too,” laughed Zombi.

Mum-Z looked up, almost - but not very - startled to see his old friend after so long. “Oh, hey, Zombi. When did you get back?”

“Just a little while ago,” he replied.

 “Well, welcome back,” said Mum-Z. “We were hoping you’d return soon.”

“Wolfey was telling me that you guys put out the vibe for me to return, and here I am!” said Zombi. “Oh, and this is my human friend, JC.”

JC nodded hello but was also a little overwhelmed because they had entered the pyramid, and the place was pretty awesome. As they walked down a long ramp, JC saw that a lot of the pyramid was actually underground and was therefore a lot larger than it appeared on the outside. On the walls were rows and rows of shelves, all with rolled-up scrolls, probably all made of papyrus, which was a kind of paper that the ancient Egyptians used. JC remembered that fact from a book he read at the library. (And that made him feel smart again.)

Torch lamps high up on the walls lit up the place, and the fires gave Mum-Z’s home a warm yellow glow. JC wondered for a moment about how those lamps got lit – they looked like they were awfully hard to reach. But then he shrugged it off and decided he liked the inside of this pyramid because it made him feel safe and secure, even though there were all types of scary-looking statues and relics all over the place. Some of the statues looked like spiders and some looked like big cats. Others looked like bulls and a few looked like snakes. But most were some kind of half-and-half type creature - like with the head of man and the body of a lion.

Mum-Z nodded absently to JC, “Nice to meet you.” But he kept walking, heading back to a large desk at the side of the room. The flat marble surface of the desk was covered with half-opened scrolls. “I was just researching the history of The Dead Tree Forest to see if I could find any mention of this so-called “Candy Monster--”

“Don’t say its name!” cried Wolfey.

“We’re now calling it TCM,” explained JC.

“It stands for--” started Zombi.

“Don’t say it!” warned Wolfey.

“That’s okay,” replied Mum-Z calmly. “I think I can figure it out... So anyway, I was just doing research to see if I could find any prior history of this so-called 'TCM', which supposedly ate Witchie’s house.”

“What do you mean, 'supposedly' and 'so-called'!?” cried Wolfey. “You saw what was left of the place yourself! Nothing!”

“Exactly,” said Mum-Z, as he held up a finger. “And that’s all anyone saw. Nothing. No one actually saw the beast. For all we know, a great tornado could have blown through and carried the house away. Or it could have been struck by lightning. Or maybe a bunch of hungry giant rabbits from The Enchanted Forest wandered through and ate it. No one knows what really happened. We were all at Franky and Vam Pea’s castle when it happened."

"I wasn't! I was on my way over when it happened! And who knows what that beast would have done to me – or to any of us if we'd been at Witchie’s when he attacked!” Wolfey retorted. “Besides, what about the footprints we found all around the place? Huh? They were big and round and flat and—”

“They were not that big, Wolfey. Not much bigger than JC’s, or even yours, for that matter,” sighed Mum-Z. “In any event, I was just looking through some old scrolls here to see if I could find any mention of such a beast in these parts, and so far, I have come up with nothing.”

“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” snorted Wolfey.

“True enough,” allowed Mum-Z. “But rather than jumping to conclusions, I prefer we march along the hard rock of evidence.”

Wolfey rolled his eyes and said, “Whatever that means.” He turned to JC. “Told ya. He’s worse than Witchie sometimes with his weird words and phrases.”

Mum-Z smiled, turning to the others. “May I offer you gentlemen something to drink? Bat-juice? Slime-ade? Blood soda?”

Zombi whispered to JC, “Don’t worry, it’s just dark-berry juice, lemon-lime-ade, and fizzy cherry soda.”

JC smiled. “Uh, nothing for me, thanks. I’m good.”

“Me neither. Besides,” added Wolfey, “we gotta get over to Franky and Vam Pea’s castle A.F.A.L.! – As Fast As Lightning!”

Mum-Z seemed surprised as he looked at the hourglass on his desk. “Oh, is it that time already?”

“Yes!” exclaimed Wolfey. “Plus, we gotta pick up Skellii and Gho-Stee on the way there.”

Now it was Mum-Z's turn to roll his eyes. “Ugh, must we?”

Wolfey and Zombi laughed as Wolfey turned to JC, explaining, “Skellii has a major crush on Mum-Z. And she’s always trying to get him to ask her out on a date.”

“Wow, she’s still at it?” chuckled Zombi.

“We’re just friends!” cried Mum-Z, who now showed true emotion for the first time.

Wolfey laughed, “YOU know that, and WE know that, but SHE doesn’t seem to know that!” And Wolfey and Zombi started cracking up again, even though it didn’t seem very funny to JC.

“Come on, let’s go if we’re going,” said Mum-Z.

So they all headed for the door. And while Wolfey and Zombi were still laughing it up about how much in love Skellii was with Mum-Z, Mum-Z “accidentally” stuck his leg out, and his two friends tripped over it and fell to the floor. Now Mum-Z smiled as well, but Wolfey and Zombi just laughed even harder.

(for Chapter 7, click here)