“Simon,” Janet said, “Stop eating pieces of that candy house. You know better. Who knows what they put in it to preserve it?”
Simon brushed the gingerbread crumbs off his shirt. “It’s dad’s fault. What was with his ‘you take the high road and I’ll take the low road’ nonsense? If he didn’t know the way home, we should have stuck together,” Simon said.
“I hate hiking.” Janet sat on a rock. “Stop it now, Simon. A candy house that big is unnatural.”
Simon bit the top off a candy cane and grinned. “Witches aren’t real, Janet. You won’t need to push anyone into an oven.”
“Maybe not, but something bad always happens in movies when the group splits up,” Janet said.
“That’s true.” Simon dropped the candy cane and backed away from the house. “Let’s get going again before it gets dark.”
An old woman, dressed in black, appeared in a cloud of smoke. “It’s too late children,” she said. “I have caught you eating my house and now you’ll have to work to pay for damages.”
“We’re still minors,” Janet said. She began to back away. “You’ll have to talk to our father first.”
Simon turned and started to run. Janet followed him. The old lady laughed and cages appeared and fell on the children, trapping them inside.
“If she has the materials to make giant metal cages, why is she building her house out of gingerbread?” Simon asked.
“That’s what you’re worried about?”
“No. But, wouldn’t it get sticky when it rains? And the effort to keep it all fresh…” Simon said.
“Silence!” The old lady said, smacking the metal bars with a black cane that she hadn’t had a moment before.
“But I babble when I’m nervous,” Simon said. “Ask anybody.”
“It’s true,” Janet said.
“Then I will leave you out in the cage, and your sister can help me with the housework,” The old lady said.
“That’s a terrible idea. Janet breaks dishes when she washes them, and she burns toast,” Simon said.
“Well, she’d better learn quickly, or else,” the old lady said.
A green mist filled the clearing. “I’ve found you, gingerbread fairy. Your partner, the potato chip fairy has already been captured and returned to his cell,” a voice said. The mist cleared. The old woman and her house had vanished.
In their place stood a tiny, half-eaten gingerbread house and a little person with wings dressed in a brown dress with embroidered candy accents. Obviously this was the gingerbread fairy.
A fairy in green with a poofy skirt was putting handcuffs on the gingerbread fairy. As they clicked into place, the gingerbread fairy, the candy house, and the cages all disappeared. The fairy in green fluttered over.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
“Who are you? Is your hair naturally green?” Simon asked.
“Simon!” Janet said. She turned. “Um, thank you for saving us, Ma’am.”
“Just doing my job. I’m the broccoli fairy. We food fairies get power when humans eat our totems. Always eat your broccoli, kids. And avoid junk food. It’s evil,” the tiny fairy said. Then she disappeared.
“Did that really happen?” Janet asked.
“She didn’t answer my question about her hair. Now I’ll never know,” Simon said. He frowned.
“Come on Simon, let’s go meet dad,” Janet said. “Did I mention I hate hiking?”