Panic in the Mushroom Patch

An excerpt from MISCHIEF IN THE MUSHROOM PATCH an Early Reader Chapter Book series for Girls & Boys The sound of fluttering filled the corridor as the monitor made her way to the dormitory. She had a clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other. Her glasses hung around her neck, attached to a very fragile gold chain. Her hair was braided and placed neatly on top of her head, and her pearl-gray tunic was neatly pressed. It glittered as she fluttered along the corridor, a sure sign that she had been very busy that day. It was hard to tell how much fairy dust she had actually used during her tasks, but everyone knew by the way her tunic glistened that she must have filled her pockets with dust several times to complete them. Madame Louise was in a hurry. She was tired and looking forward to settling in for the evening. She had been assigned to dormitory duty, a task she enjoyed. Once everyone was accounted for and lights were out, she could relax, read her scrolls, and have a pleasant, peaceful evening. As she approached the dorm she heard a peculiar sound. It was very unusual indeed. Hovering in place for a moment, her ears perked up as she listened very intently. “What on Earth is that?” she asked herself. “This chatter is odd!” The sound became clear as she entered the dorm; it was the anxious sound of whispering. This particular whispering was unlike the chitchat that usually accompanied the fairies during their nightly routine. These whispers seemed nervous, worried, and anxious; definitely, a feeling of concern was in the air. Without question, something was not right. Madame Louise quickly glanced around the room; everything appeared to be in order, but she could tell almost immediately something was wrong. There was worry written all over the faces of the young fairlings. Suddenly Rosie ran out of the bathing room. She had no idea that Madame Louise had already entered the building as she blurted out, “She’s not in there; I looked in every corner, behind every door, and in every tub, but there is no sign of her.” The room quickly fell silent, as Madame Louise’s eyes grew huge. Almost instantly she appeared right in front of Rosie. Lowering herself to the ground, she bent at the waist, put her glasses on the tip of her nose, folded her arms around the clipboard, and looked Rosie straight in the eye. She hesitated for just a moment before asking, “Who, Rosie? Who isn’t in the bathing room? Is there something wrong, dear?” Rosie’s eyes danced around the room as she searched the faces of the fairies that had gathered around them. To her dismay, everyone seemed to have the same look on their tiny, beautiful faces—fear and worry, all rolled up into one tiny twisted look of concern. Rosie stalled; she could barely breathe but finally managed to squeak. “Well, with all due respect, Madame, could you please define ‘wrong’?” Rosie asked. Her voice quivered and her cheeks turned bright red. Madame Louise stood up straight and looked around the room. The fairies didn’t dare move for fear that she would address them. They had no idea where Lilly was and didn’t want to be the one to say so. Madame Louise cleared her throat and stroked Rosie’s long, golden hair. She was under the distinct impression that someone was missing, and she was very worried. A missing fairy was not good at all. “Well, I’d be happy to dear,” Madame Louise, said softly trying very hard not to alarm the fairies. “To define wrong, that is, though I’m more than certain you know what it is.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “Wrong, Rosie, as in out of the ordinary, suspicious, not right.” She paused for a moment, “Or missing, as in a missing fairy, a very, very dangerous situation indeed.” Rosie was shaking; she didn’t want anyone to be missing. Once again she searched the room for help. Thankfully Ivy spoke up. “Madame Louise, may I speak?” she asked politely. Madame nodded, and Ivy knew this was her cue to speak. “Well, it seems we can’t find Lilly, Madame.” Madame stared at Ivy. “Can’t find Lilly?” she repeated. “Well, Madame,” Ivy continued, “Rosie noticed Lilly wasn’t in front of her bed for roll call, you see.” Madame Louise nodded her head and waved her hand for Ivy to continue. “So, well, we called out to her, and she didn’t answer.” Ivy noticed that everyone was nodding their head in agreement. “We even searched the dorm, but unfortunately, we can’t seem to find her anywhere.” She smiled nervously as she continued. “That’s about the time you appeared, Madame.”  Ivy had nothing else to say, so she took two steps backward and stood with the other fairies. Madame Louise looked into the faces of each fairy. “Does anybody, anybody at all have anything to add?” she asked. No one did. Madame instructed the fairies to line up at the ends of their beds. She quickly confirmed that everyone else in the dorm, except for Lilly, was accounted for. She told the fairies that Lilly was probably in the infirmary, that she probably wasn’t feeling well, and that she would go and check on her to be sure. She hovered a few inches off the floor, excused herself, and within seconds was gone. Madame Louise’s explanation seemed to put the fairies minds at ease, except for Rosie’s. Rosie knew Lilly well and had even been with her earlier that day. During lunch Lilly hadn’t mentioned that she wasn’t feeling well. Rosie sat on the edge of her bed and thought as hard as she possibly could. “We ate lunch, we cleared our plates, and we went for a walk.” Rosie tried very hard to retrace their steps, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. “We climbed the tallest mushroom in the patch and sunned ourselves for a while.” Rosie grabbed Ivy’s hands and pulled her onto the bed. “The last time I saw Lilly, we were sunbathing on the tall mushroom, the one in the middle of the patch.” “Well, did you leave together?” Ivy asked. “The mushroom, did you leave together?” Rosie shook her head. “No. I had an assignment due and left early to go by the study.” She suddenly had a worried look on her face. “Ivy, did you see her at supper?” she asked. “No, as a matter of fact I didn’t,” Ivy replied. “I’ll go and ask the others if they ate supper with her or saw her at all in the dining hall. I’ll be right back.” Madame Louise fluttered down the hall toward the elders’ ward. She was becoming flustered because no one had seen Lilly at all. Just as she turned the corner she bumped directly into Monsieur Claude. She noticed immediately that he was flustered himself. His face was beet red and his brow was perspiring. He had loosened his shirt collar, and his bow tie was dangling to one side. His pocket watch was in his tiny hand, his waistcoat was undone, and his jacket was practically falling off his shoulders due to the excessive hovering speed he had been doing down the hallway. Madame Louise gently pulled his jacket back onto his shoulders and discreetly pointed to his brow. Monsieur Claude smiled gratefully for her discretion and mopped his brow with a clean handkerchief. “Monsieur Claude, what on Earth is the matter?” Madame asked. Still gasping for air, Monsieur tried to speak but couldn’t. “Take your time, Monsieur; take a deep breath.” Monsieur Claude did just that. He took one, two, three, and one more for luck. Finally, he composed himself long enough to speak. “Oh dear, Madame,” he managed to say. “It’s Boris, one of my young fairlings. Well, I’m afraid I can’t find him.” Madame’s ears perked up immediately. She grabbed Monsieur Claude’s hands. “We must hurry, Monsieur, we have a problem.” Monsieur Claude knew that. He had searched everywhere and Boris was nowhere to be found. The other fairlings had looked everywhere too, but to no avail. Boris had simply disappeared. Monsieur suddenly noticed that Madame Louise looked unusual as well. Her cheeks were flushed, she was hovering too fast for indoor flight, and the normally neat bun on her head looked, well, crooked. “Forgive me, Madame, but are you all right?” he asked. Madame Louise shook her head. “No, I’m not, actually,” she said. “It’s Lilly, one of my fairlings. She’s gone.” Monsieur’s eyes grew huge. He grabbed Madame Louise’s arm. “Do you think by chance they’re together?” he asked hopefully. Without slowing down, Madame shrugged, and threw her hands into the air. She didn’t know for sure, but she was hopeful. Being away from the patch for any length of time, for any reason, was cause for concern, especially for a young fairy who wasn’t supposed to leave the patch without elder supervision. The world for any fairling was a dangerous place, but for a young, naïve, inexperienced fairy, danger seemingly loomed around every corner. “We must report this immediately,” Monsieur Claude said as he opened the door to the elders’ office for Madame. “After you,” he said nervously. “I’m right behind you.” Madame Louise rushed to the roll-top desk of the secretary. She gathered herself as best she could. “We have an emergency,” she blurted out to the secretary. “I’m pretty sure it’s an emergency.” Monsieur agreed. He had reason to believe that this truly was an emergency. Boris and Lilly were both missing and had been so for a while. It was already dark and was starting to get cold. They had a problem, a huge problem. Anger had turned into disappointment and disappointment had now given in to fear. Two of their fairies were missing, but where should their search start? It was imperative that they move quickly. They had to find Lilly and Boris. There was no telling how much danger they were in. What if they had been seen? What if they were hurt? Surely at the very least they were cold and hungry. A search party was quickly organized. A buzz ran through the patch. Something was wrong. What was going on? Whispers began in the dorms. “Someone is hurt.” “No, someone’s missing.” “No, I heard someone had been caught.” “Caught?” “Ahhhhhh,” everyone gasped. The gasp itself was terrifying, as fear struck each and every fairy in the ward. Another dorm monitor arrived and tried as best she could to appear calm and ease the minds of the little fairies. “All right, dears, everyone must calm down,” she instructed. “It’s true, we have a slight situation, but everything is under control.” She smiled softly at the fairies sitting in their beds. “It’s important,” she said, “that we all think positively.” Everyone agreed. Positive thinking brought about positive solutions and right now everyone wanted to find a positive, successful solution. The new monitor tried very hard to act as if nothing were out of the ordinary. She did roll call, poured, little glasses of water for the fairies, and tucked them into their cozy little beds. She didn’t really expect them to sleep, though; she hardly believed they’d even rest. She dimmed the lights, sat down at her station, and picked up Madame Louise’s scrolls. It was no use; she couldn’t possibly begin to focus on them. Reading was out of the question. She took a deep breath and looked at the tiny beds; every pair of eyes was on her. She stood up, smiled at the fairies, and spoke very softly. “Now, then, little ones, let’s get some rest, shall we? Everything is going to be just fine, just wait and see.” With that, the dorm monitor sat down at the monitor’s station and tried to settle herself for the evening. She couldn’t help but notice Lilly’s empty bed, and unfortunately, neither could anyone else. Each fairy wished Lilly was safe and sound, giggling in her bed, and getting into trouble for talking after lights out. Text©2013 Amanda M. Thrasher © 2021Amanda M. Thrasher Visit Amanda’s Website