“Adee?” Ceedee poked her head into the doorframe, trailing her Chomby-patterned blanket behind her. Adee’s room was too dark; the little Chia couldn’t see her big sister.
Ceedee gulped. She slowly edged one foot around the wall and into the room. Though she listened intently for signs of monster habitation, she could only hear her own heart beating. She was sure that the monster could hear it, too.
She took a deep breath and stepped into her big sister’s room, pulling her blanket around her shoulders like a cloak. Her breath rasped in her throat as memories of her nightmare bounced around her head. She just had to reach Adee, she had to! Adee would tell her it was all okay, that she’d been imagining it...
She nearly bolted out of the room; she had heard something. It sounded like something that was eating something - the monster had Adee! Ceedee’s heart flew into her throat; what if Adee died?
Ceedee settled herself, told herself that she could do it. Mustering all her courage and love for Adee, she pounced forward, grabbing the monster around the throat. The monster gurgled and tried to shake her off, but she didn’t relent, she kept her grip, she kept trying to pull it away from her sister!
“Ceedee... let go... can’t... breathe!” the monster gasped out.
Ceedee flushed and released, falling onto the bed. The monster sounded like Adee. In fact, the monster was Adee.
Ceedee pulled the blanket over her head, hiding from her big sister. The light flickered on.
“Take the blanket off.”
“Come on, Ceedee.”
She peeked out from underneath the blanket. Adee was sitting directly in front of her so that she could see her big sister’s stubby legs sticking out awkwardly on either side. But behind her...
Ceedee whipped the blanket off. “Adee, is that ice cream?”
Adee shifted, blocking the chocolate-dripping gallon from Ceedee’s view. “No.”
“Adee! Dad said to stop eating that! He said that it’ll make you sick! He said that you could wind up in jail if you kept sneaking into the factory! He said -”
“I said that it’s too good to give up. Now, tell me about your nightmare. That is why you’re here, isn’t it?”
Right after school, Ceedee made a beeline straight to the Ice Cream Factory, her backpack loaded with tools and mechanical parts. Not only was she a child prodigy, but she was also good with her hands. On top of all that, she was far too creative for her own good.
“Goodnight, Mommy,” Ceedee wished her mother as she closed the door. She closed her eyes, pretending to sleep for a few moments. She was just so tired, so ready to board the train that led to dreamland.
She shook herself out of it. She was never going to convince Adee out of her bad habit unless she stayed awake. She sat up, pressing a glass cup stolen from the kitchen against the wall. Mom and Dad were still awake; it was too early. She knew Adee wouldn’t leave until well after everyone else was asleep.
Oh, well. That gave her time to pack. She slipped off of her bed and turned the nightlight up. She drew her backpack from underneath her bed, dumping out the tools. Selecting a careful few, she put them back in her backpack in case her little invention needed maintenance or tuning. The tools were followed by a juice box and a bag of animal crackers; no sense in going hungry on her little escapade. Of course, after that came her special monster-scaring flashlight. The last thing she needed was to get jumped on the way to the Ice Cream Factory.
She checked the wall with the cup again; no noise whatsoever, not even the turn of a page. Good. She swung the backpack onto her shoulders and crept outside her room, carefully putting the door back into its closed position. Walking on tiptoes, she stopped outside Adee’s room. She tested the door with the cup; no sound. That meant that she had probably already left.
Ceedee went downstairs, carefully skipping the step that creaked. She opened the front door and stepped outside. She used the light from the porch to dig through her bag and find the flashlight. She switched it on, zipping the pack back up and putting it on. Now she was ready.
The night was cold and dark, Ceedee’s two least favorite sensations. Nonetheless, she continued on her walk to the Ice Cream Factory, keeping the goal in sight. Down the block, past the yellow house, turning left at the blue one... and there it was, looming into the night like a monster. She shivered at the metaphor.
Ceedee walked around to the back door, testing the doorknob. Unlocked. She stepped inside.
The lights were on, a relief to the tiny Chia girl. She switched her flashlight off and stuffed it back into her backpack. The shelves and boxes surrounding her gave the illusion of a room, but Ceedee knew that she was actually standing in the gigantic room that made up most of the factory - manufacturing and storage. And just outside the opening between the boxes was the manufacturing machine, now rigged for special functions.
From the noise coming from behind the boxes and shelves, the special functions were doing their magic.
Grinning from ear to ear, she stepped into the large empty space, her shoulders brushing each side of the box tower. The towers waved dangerously, but didn’t fall over. Ceedee didn’t notice. She was too transfixed on the messy scene in front of her.
Adee was dancing in the middle of the room, sweat running down from her hairline. Giant scoops of strawberry ice cream were flying from the manufacturing machine, zooming at top speed towards Adee. Ceedee’s big sister was covered in melting ice cream.
“Adee! How do you like ice cream now?” Ceedee called, taunting her.
Adee gave her a sour look, pausing just long enough for a scoop to hit her in the face. “I don’t suppose... you had anything... to do with this!” she yelled.
Ceedee grinned, proud of herself. “I’ll call it off if you promise to stop sneaking out at night!”
Adee raised an eyebrow, dancing out of the way of a particularly large scoop. “Anything! How do... you do it?”
“Just shout the password!”
Adee did a funny kind of squat to get away from a high-aimed scoop. “Great! What’s the... password?”
“Uh...” The color drained away from Ceedee’s face. What was the password?
“Ceedee?” Adee said dangerously.
“I don’t remember!”
“Then what am I... supposed to do!?” Adee’s patience was fading away rapidly.
“Run this way! We can escape and let the factory workers take care of it!”
“Good idea!” Adee shouted back. She began running, the scoops following her movement. Ceedee beckoned to her, gesturing towards the twin box towers that framed the exit. When Adee got to where Ceedee stood, they both began racing towards the box towers.
The scoops got there first.
With one well-aimed scoop, the tower on the right fell over, knocking into the left and both toppling to the ground, completely blocking the exit. It was impossible to climb over them or move them without falling victim to countless scoops.
“Now what?” Ceedee gasped as an ice cream scoop hit her in the back. It was unimaginably cold.
“Over here!” Adee pulled her sister behind a box that had fallen well in front of the others. They both squatted behind it, listening to the ice cream splat against the front side.
“Adee... I’m sorry... I didn’t mean...” Ceedee felt tears begin to well up. She allowed them to fall unhindered.
“No, Ceedee, it’s okay. Don’t cry. We’ll get out of here.” Adee pointed to her sister’s backpack. “What’s in there?”
“A juice box, animal crackers, a monster-scaring flashlight, and some tools,” Ceedee managed between tears. She slipped her pack off her shoulders and zipped it open to show Adee.
“What kind of tools?”
“The useless kind.”
“Then why did you bring them?” Adee sounded exasperated.
“They would be useful for things like slowing and quickening the scoops, but that’s all. Can’t stop the flow with them.” She hiccuped.
Adee grasped Ceedee’s shoulders. “They’re good for slowing the scoops?”
“How slow can you get them to go?”
Ceedee looked up into her sister’s eyes. They were expressing devious joy. It slowly sunk in.
She peeked over the top of the box. The little control box was on the side facing them. At that moment, it looked even more beautiful than a Xweetok. If that’s even possible.
The two sisters looked at each other, what they were going to do obvious in their gaze.
“1...” Adee started.
“2...” Ceedee continued.
“3!” They both jumped up from behind the box, running straight for the control box. Ice cream scoops slapped into their stomachs and messed up their hair, but they didn’t care. They kept up their beeline for the control box, eventually making it into the lee, where the scoops couldn’t hit them. The sisters looked at each other and smiled. They had done it!
Ceedee lowered her shoulder to let her pack slip off. No weight left her back.
Dread spread through her. She looked back at the box. The backpack, still open, was just barely showing from behind it.
“Adee, I left it back there!”
The scoops got faster, zooming past them. It smashed into an unfortunate box, splitting it open and sending the splinters everywhere.
Ceedee gulped. This was much more real than any of her nightmares. Suddenly, monsters seemed much less of a threat.
Adee nodded and bolted out. The scoops followed her, but they couldn’t touch her; she was running in a zigzag pattern. She ran in a circle around the box, clutching the bag. Ceedee’s heart flew into her throat; what if Adee died?
In her rush to get back into the lee of the machine, Adee forgot to run in a zigzag. She was running straight for Ceedee, a big grin on her face.
Ceedee saw it coming before it hit her. A monstrous scoop came zooming from a cone-shaped launcher and flew at Adee, hitting her in the chest moments before she would have made it into the lee. The backpack flew from her arms, bumping against the machine and spreading its contents all over the floor. Adee fell, her face landing on the ground. She wasn’t moving.
Ceedee ran to her, pulling her by the hands into the lee just in case the machine chose to aim at the ground. She rolled her big sister over. She was still breathing.
A sense of heroism came over Ceedee. It was time to stop this machine. She grabbed the juice box and a wrench and flung open the control box. Pushing the wrench onto a screw, she twisted, taking it out easily. She tore the wrapper of the straw and jammed it into the juice box, taking a long sip to get some juice into it. Withdrawing the straw, she blew the juice into the hole that she had hastily covered with a screw so many hours ago. The juice made contact with tender, exposed wires that she had diverted to the launchers. The wires blew out. The scoops slowed, then stopped. A thin stream of smoke was billowing from the hole.
Ceedee flung herself onto Adee’s chest, crying. Why did these kinds of things have to happen to her? Even if most of them were in her dreams?
“Ceedee... get off... can’t... breathe...” Adee choked out.
Ceedee sat up, choking on her tears. Adee smiled. “It was too big. Size slowed it down.”
Ceedee laughed, pulling Adee up and giving her a tight hug.
Adee coughed. “Carefully! Still tender!”
They sat there silently, reflecting over what had just happened to them. Then Ceedee laughed tentatively. “I just remembered the password. It was ‘monster’.”
Both sisters laughed, venting their relief and trying to shake off the lateness of Ceedee’s memory. They hugged like the sisters that they were. After that day, Adee’s - and Ceedee’s - taste for ice cream was quenched, especially after the factory workers and their own parents made them clean up the mess that the manufacturing machine had made. It was the most boring thing they’d ever done in their lives.