“Stop it, Sandy,” the boy whined. Sticky fingers made a clumsy shuffle of the cards in his hand. “That’s my candy, you already ate yours.” The pudgy blond girl defiantly held onto the candy bar she had taken from her brother.
No less round, the boy continued to whine as he dealt out the cards for another game of old maid. He was tired of old maid, and he was tired of Sandy, and he was tired of the lake. He wanted to be back at home where he could walk down to the corner and get a candy bar any time he wanted. He didn’t like having to wait until his mother gave him one and now Sandy was taking the ones that were his.
“Paul, you’re doing it wrong,” The younger girl admonished through a mouthful of chocolate.
“Am not,” Paul replied. “I gave us each the same number of cards.”
“No, you did it wrong,” Sandy insisted, “You deal one for me and then one for you, then one for me,” She kept on until her brother relented and reshuffled the cards and began dealing again.
Their parents had gone out on the lake for a ride on a paddle boat, and Paul was bored. He was more than bored, he was ready to lose his mind.
“Look, let’s go outside,” the boy suggested. “We can go to the lake, or the boat house, or see if there are any tree houses out in the forest.”
Sandy shook her head full of blond curls.
“Finish dealing the cards, Paul,” her voice hit a note that was bordering on too high for bats to hear. Her brother gave in.
It seemed like an awfully long time for their parents to be gone and the sky was starting to look dark like a storm. Maybe staying inside was a better idea any way.
Trays rattled in the steamers in the dining room. Maybe they could get something to eat.
“Come on Sandy, let’s go in there,” he pointed to the dining room. “Maybe we can get a snack since Mom and Dad have been gone so long.”
He wasn’t really hungry, but at home, whenever he was bored his mother made a snack for them and put a movie in the machine. There were no movies here, so food was the only other option.
Looking like a pair of cherubs with chocolate covered fingers, the pair pushed the swinging doors of the dining room open and crept in. The staff hurried around like ants, loading trays in the warming tables, or pouring ice into the salad bar. One woman was busy arranging a bed of ice cubes to put the tray of small cheesecakes onto.
Another black and white clad woman stopped beside the cheese cake lady and said something very quickly in a language Paul did not understand. The pair turned to go into the kitchen, and before the door swung shut all the way, Paul saw what he wanted.
Just inside the door was a huge cooler, full of deserts. In the brief moment he had been able to see he could see rows of dark chocolate cake, creamy cheese cakes, coconut cake, and bowls of pudding.
He grabbed Sandy’s sticky fingers and pulled her along behind him. All they had to do was slip in the swinging door and dart into the open cooler, and all the desserts would be theirs.
He held his finger to his lips to let his little sister know that they were being sneaky like Elmer Fudd when he was hunting “wabbits”. He heard a clatter from deeper in the kitchen and knew now was their chance while everyone hurried to see what the noise was about.
The two children quickly pushed open the door, saw no one in the immediate area and lunged for the cooler. Inside was everything he had imagined. Pudding, cake, pie, cheesecake, bread pudding . . . Paul was still staring open mouthed at the vast array of sweets when the light went out. The door had been shut.
Sandy let out a quick squeak of fear as the light vanished, but never got to a full scream because the sound of snarling dogs froze the sound in her throat. They were surrounded not by a sugary dream land but by terrifying beasts.
They barked once.