The Third Fragment:
“Oh,” the other marshmallow shouted suddenly. “I found it!”
“Where?!” the urinal demanded, “Where is he?!”
I jumped back to attention and nearly gave myself away. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded.
“I found the castle!” the marshmallow continued. “It’s right there!” The urinal gurgled angrily and flushed, then all was silent for a minute or two.
“You know what?” the urinal started, “I’m going back to find another mark. You two scout the area and see if you can’t find our… friend, eh?” Before either of the marshmallows could answer it, there was a flash of light and (presumably) the urinal had gone back to entrap another helpless soul. In that moment, I pitied my successor, fearing he would not have my luck, and in my soul I entombed these words of sorrow:
One leaf falls
and feeds the earth
in its own time.
It will be devoured
by an onslaught of steps,
fodder for shoes, but
we will remember.
Caught within my inner-monologue of composition, I failed to notice the marshmallow beings, now standing on either side of me. Frightened though I was, and though in truth I leapt near ten-feet up in the air when I noticed them on account of my startlement, I can now look back on them fondly. Though the endless barren snow of their faces seemed to me as horrid as the most terrible ghost in the moment, it must be said that neither thence nor hence have I encountered beings of such untrampled purity and good-hearted belief. Though, as mentioned previously, their faces lacked the spark of middling intelligence, their eyes did instead shine with the very stuff of dreams and fancy, limitless in quantity and eager enough to find direction under whichever creature, fair or foul, first claimed these marshmallic men of well-meaning, these albumen angels, these sugary saints.
“We found him!” one cried happily. Perhaps unconsciously I realized that there was no quavering thread of malevolence in its timbre.
“We found him!” the other echoed with equal mirth.
Dumbfounded and fearful, my tongue took charge of its own command and hollered, “We found him!”
“Where is he?” the second shrieked excitedly in reply.
“He’s here?!” the first responded quickly, craning its wiry hand over its brow to shield its now-squinting beady eyes from the sun. Dumb luck be praised! or, perhaps, luck be praised for the dumb-being. Unwittingly, I was entrusted with an upper hand.
“Right there, between the trees!” I shouted, my brain beginning to settle and pull together the disparate aspects of my situation. “Look, there! There!”
They strained together, leaning forward far as they could without risking another good toppling, their wide mouths frowning—not in frustration but in sorrow, like a twenty-something realizing his would-be love had just walked out of his life forever.
“There,” I said again, and “there, there! Don’t you see—oh! Damn. You’ve just missed him.” Their arms dangled by their sides in shame. One of the marshmallows was quietly muttering but, but, but… and in that moment I knew what I had here were not enemies, but allies—nay, friends.
“There, there,” I said, this time comfortingly, trying to get as much use out of the word as possible. I said this softly, a genuine and pitying smile upon my lips, and wondered to myself how long these gentle souls, these genteel candymen, had been thrall to that bathroom devil and misleader of fools, of whose number I must count myself amongst, given the circumstances that lead me here.
“Maybe we can still catch him,” one of the beings said, sadly but with earnest optimism.
“Maybe we can,” the other nodded. Nodding, for these creatures, was less a gesture involving the neck and head, as we know it, but more a gentle bobbing of their whole being, given that their heads and bodies are one and the same.
“Maybe,” I said in agreement, staring out where I’d said I’d disappeared from. I must admit that in that moment I was nearly taken in by my own fabrications. “But why?”
“Why what?” the second asked, shuffling ‘round to look at me.
“Why doesn’t the castle serve ice-cream?” I asked, disappointed in my mediocre improvisation skills, over which I tend to be—amongst friends—something of a braggart. The truth, hurts—but lies lose limbs daily.
“It doesn’t?” the first asked, now also turning to face me. It furrowed its brow in heavy concentration and scratched under where its lower lip might’ve been had the creature lips. “That’s silly.”
“What’s silly?” I asked.
“It’s silly,” the second piped up happily, “that the castle doesn’t serve ice-cream.”
“It doesn’t?” I asked.
“Nope,” the first answered, shaking itself slowly to signify no. “Sure doesn’t.”
“How do you know?” I asked. “How do you know that the castle doesn’t have ice-cream.”
“Heard it somewhere,” the first responded, concentrating with all its strength once again.
“Not sure where,” the other one shrugged.
“Well, maybe they DO serve ice-cream,” I suggested, smiling. The trap was set, and was set almost too easily.
“Really?” they asked together, their unified excitement nearly knocking me from my feet.
“Well, I’d go check, but I don’t know the way there,” I sighed.
“We do, we do!” the cheered in unison.
“Follow us,” the first cheered, beckoning me with its wiry arm before charging off into the woods.
“It’s an adventure,” the second cheered, disappearing after the first.
“I suppose so,” I laughed. “I suppose so.
And with that I took after them into the woods toward the wondrous castle that loomed beyond.