Chapter 22

“Wait!” called Fay as the pirate band made ready to stampede down the basement stairway. “We’ve got a few more boxes here in the kitchen!” She tossed an armful toward the mob, and soon the empty-handed pirates were growling at their shipmates who’d made a catch.

“Don’t worry,” said Fay. “There’s plenty for everyone downstairs.”

“Okay LaFarge,” said Barnaby, with a little less of his usual pesky confidence. “What happens when they scarf it all and are still grumpy?”

“Maybe,” she replied mysteriously, “this will be our last pit stop. Just wait and see.”

“Arrrrrr,” came Yellow Tooth’s satisfied growl from the basement. “I likes me little prize!”

“I want a prize!” whined Scratchy, as Fay and Barnaby crept halfway down the basement stairs.

“I’m sorry to say,” said Skipper, who was now backing slowly up the stairs, “that the special boxes are here for flavor improvement experiments and they don’t have prizes.”

“No prize?” said Larko, squinting at the kids on the stairs. “I don’t get me own Flippin’ Eights?”

“No Eights?” said Hanky. He scooped a large handful from his box, and tried, unsuccessfully, to get it all in his mouth at once. “Pleehhhh!” Hanky spat, spewing Jolly Rogers everywhere. “Plehhh! Plehhh! Me cereal tastes like deer food! Horse poo! Cow paddies!”

“Goose doodoo!” added Scratchy, who also had one of the test boxes.

Hanky glared around at his comrades. “I’ll be having YOURS,” he said, snatching an upstairs box of cereal from Lizard.

“Hey!” protested Lizard, but he hardly had time to react before Scratchy lunged at Buttercup and wrested the cereal box prize from his grasp.

“Them’s my Flippin’ Eights!” hollered Buttercup. “Give me back my Flippin’ Eights!”

“If you like horsey-doo eat it yourself!” shouted Jimbo, shoving a handful of bad experimental cereal into Hatch’s mouth.

Fay led the quiet retreat up the basement steps.

“Nice job making those boxes extra tasty, Skip,” she whispered to Skipper. “Now, while they’re busy killing each other we lock the door…”

“Get the heck outa’ here,” added Barnaby.

“And call the cops,” said Skipper.

“Tilly, grab Lynette and let’s go!” said Fay. She opened the front door right into the knee-high boots of Mr. Arg.

“Let’s step back inside Missy,” said Mr. Arg fixing her with his most withering glare. “It seems I need to have a word with your Poppa about his light-fingered young’un.”

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