Cratersville is an Icon Town. This means that it is a town constructed to represent the hopes and dreams of not only a certain era but of a certain land. Cratersville smacks of small town Americana circa 1950s with a touch of retro-futuristic built in.
Needless to say, the calendar of celebrations tends to follow the same flow as the ones observed in that ancient country. The main difference is that Cratersville is mostly secular, thus the ancient holidays are imbued with more frivolity than they would have been in days of yore.
I offer this long preamble as a way to explain why Easter isn’t called Easter in Cratersville. Instead, this spring holiday is known as Fancy Hats and Baby Animals Day.
You have to go back in history to know that the fancy hats part of the holiday’s name refers to the glorious confections that ladies used to wear for religious services of that time period, especially during the spring when they wore their newest and most decorative attire.
The baby animals part of the holiday’s name is pretty self explanatory. Spring is spring, even in the techno-magical town of Cratersville, and spring always brought forth baby animals—birds and bunnies being the most fondly remembered. In ancient times, chicks and bunnies symbolized not only the return of spring, but rebirth.
The only thing that confused us in Cratersville was how rabbits ended up being the creature destined to deliver the colorful eggs. We just figured that it was an error of the Historians who had set up our town.
Nevertheless, the bunny/egg symbology always played a significant role in the highlight of our spring holiday season: the Eggstravaganza Festival where colorful eggs are hidden all over town. To participate in the Eggstravaganza, one was required by tradition (ie decorum) to wear bunny ears. This went a long way in sorting the die-hard egg hunters from the novices, as well as the kids from the adults.
Teens were naturally excluded because they tended to play puck during the festivities and either stole the trinkets from inside the eggs outright or, if they were feeling particularly mischievous, they would leave age inappropriate items in the trinkets stead.
I never participated in such high jinks mind you, though I can’t vouch for my friend Blue. This didn’t stop me—along with my sister Poppy—from being implicated in the great egg heist during my tenth grade year of high school.
I don’t blame the townspeople for looking to us for answers when the cache of colorful eggs that were supposed to appear overnight somehow vanished before the first light of day. Any strange occurrences in our town ended up being laid on our doorstep, if we were guilty or not.
Since the missing eggs seriously threatened to dampen the whole spring celebration, my sister Poppy and I decided to do a little sleuth work to see if we could track down the colorful loot.
We started our investigations with our friend Blueberry, not that we suspected that he had anything to do with the disappearance of said eggs, but he would know if something broke in the clockwork that prevented the eggs from showing up in the first place.
Blueberry was working on a starcar in the garage of his family’s futuristic sprawling home, when we appeared via a portal near a formidable collection of cacti. It was the outskirts of town. Cacti were a well established trope in the desert town of Cratersville, as were modern retro sculptures and pink flamingoes.
“Hi Pops, haven’t seen you in a while,” Blueberry gave my sister, known as “Pops” for her quick reaction to any offensive remarks, a big hug. My sister was dressed in Wanderlore attire which, combined with her striking red hair, made her look practically feral. She had spent the last few years apprenticing in our mom’s traditions and magic in the Wanderlore Grove, so Poppy sightings were indeed rare around town. “What’s up?”
“We’re playing inspector today,” she said.
“Ah, the eggs,” Blueberry said, no doubt hearing about it from his sister, Bluesy, “I didn’t do it, just so you know.”
“We know that, Blue,” Poppy replied, “but that doesn’t mean the clockwork didn’t fail to function as planned.”
“Not possible,” Blueberry motioned. “The clockwork may be effed up, but it’s not that effed up. I always do a quick maintenance check before major holidays. Wouldn’t want the kiddies to be disappointed.”
“What about your friends,” I asked.
“Come on, Jel,” Blueberry protested. “They may be miscreants but they wouldn’t participate in egg thievery. That’s amateur behavior.”
“Does Bluesy know anything?” I asked.
Blueberry chuckled. “Doubt it. She played Inquisitioner with me before you arrived.” He paused, then said, “But, I know who might know.”
“Who?” I said.
“Grandma Fields,” he said.
My eyes went big.
“Don’t let her fool you,” Blueberry said, “Bluesy doesn’t get her social connections from nowhere.”
Poppy gave a knowing nod to Blueberry as we left. I always wondered why she seemed to know more about what was going on than me.
We used our magic portal to attain our next destination. Poppy conjured the requisite charm. Long ago we had used our magical abilities to create shortcuts throughout the icon town of Cratersville and beyond into the Wanderlore Groves and nearby icon worlds. Each shortcut was accessed via a charm activated by a short travel spell.
Mrs. and Mr. Fields lived even further out than Blueberry’s family. In fact, they were the last stop before you took the Interstellar-Interstate out of town and headed for the next icon world. Mrs. Fields ran a small motel. This went part the way in explaining their remote location. Mr. Field’s vast collection of classic starcars and tinkering ways explained the other half.
The lobby of the Desert Oasis Motel was small, but fitting for the amount of rooms it had to offer. Poppy rang the bell at the front desk.
After a few moments, we were astonished to see a comical turkey come trundling out of the back living quarters. The turkey hopped up on a fruit crate behind the desk and greeted us with a loud gobble, gobble.
“Tom!” we exclaimed in a rare simultaneous reaction. Tom* had made an impromptu appearance at Thanksgiving a couple of years previous. Mrs. Fields had taken an immediate liking to the turkey, bestowing upon him his name. Apparently, he had become more than just a companion.
The turkey looked alarmed at our excited reaction and darted off.
After a brief burst of gobbling in the other room, Mrs. Fields made her appearance. She had coiffed grey hair and dressed in a manner particular to the era that Cratersville embraced. Translated, this meant skirt, blouse, pearls and sensible pumps. She also wore hats, but only when shopping with her lady friends in town.
“Well, lookie here,” Mrs. Fields greeted us. “What brings you two girls** out in these parts?”
“We’re investigating,” I said.
“Ah, the eggs,” Mrs. Fields said. “The town is certainly in a lather. Come on back and talk a while.”
We obliged. There was a kitchen immediately off the lobby and a living room off of that where Tom could be seen watching a small black and white tv set. Tucked away at the back of their living quarters was a small office/workroom.
“You two want anything to drink? Tea, soda, coffee?” Mrs. Fields asked as she sat down.
“No, we’re fine, Mrs. Fields,” Poppy declined for both of us. We liked herbal teas and thick coffees that would make mere Cratervillians gasp. We detested anything fizzy or sickly sweet.
“Very well,” Mrs. Fields said. “Let Tom know if you change your mind. He’s very helpful.”
“If Tom’s that helpful, maybe he can help us figure out who stole all the eggs,” I said bluntly. Not that I believed a word that I had just said, but I knew a segue when I saw it.
“Perhaps he can. But, I believe that I can be more helpful in that department,” Mrs. Fields said. Apparently, she could identify a segue when she saw one too. “Have I shown you two my big idea?”
“Uh no,” I said, not really knowing how this had anything to do with the missing eggs.
“I’ve been thinking about the creatures like Tom. They seem to pop up out of nowhere. And, truth be told, they tend to be a bit stand-offish—until you get to know them.”
Poppy and I sat pinned like specimens. How much did Mrs. Fields know about the little creatures? How much did she know about us creating them?
“Now, I know you two tend to be in the middle of all the strange happenings around town,” she continued, seeming not to notice our discomfort. “You get blamed when the little creatures make their appearances and muddle things up,” she observed. “I believe it’s time for a different tack.”
“Go on,” I said, getting more confused by the minute.
“Instead of explaining away the creatures’ actions and unexpected appearances, I suggest we invite them to participate like everyone else.”
“No one likes the little creatures,” I said.
“Nonsense,” Mrs. Fields said. “The townspeople just don’t know the creatures, and I want to change that.” She reached for a stack of papers and slid them across her desk. “Don’t tell Mr. Fields yet, but this is my plan.”
We looked through the stack of papers. They were architectural mockups of what looked like a theme park. There were rides and event halls. There were also mockups for a much larger motel.”
“What are you shooting for, Mrs. Fields,” Poppy said. “This is like Disneyland only for little creatures!”
“Little creatures and humans,” Mrs. Fields clarified. “I believe that if you invite the fine folks of Cratersville to visit a theme park run by the little creatures that they would have such a great time that invites to events around town would be proffered to the little creatures in return.”
“Are you saying that the little creatures snatched all the eggs, Mrs. Fields?” I asked.
“I’m not saying I know one way or the other,” she replied. “All I know is that if I saw a bunch of colorful eggs laying around town and wasn’t invited to participate in the hunt, I might just snatch a few to see what all the fuss is about.” She gathered her secret mockups and placed them in a folio inside a drawer. “Now, you best be on your way. I believe the townsfolk are expecting an event. I’m sure you two are up for the challenge.”
Poppy and I said goodby to Mrs. Fields and Tom as we left the motel.
“Do you think she’s serious about the theme park?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” Poppy said. “She likes the little creatures.”
“Mr. Fields doesn’t,” I said.
“Having a successful theme park made entirely of clockwork might change his mind,” Poppy observed. “But, I also think she’s serious about us coming up with a solution. It doesn’t matter if we find the real eggs. We just need to come up with a new batch.”
As afternoon turned to night, Poppy and I holed up in a cave in one of the mountains surrounding Cratersville. We alerted Bluesy and Blueberry about our plan via a flurry of messenger bees.
We used our creation books to mimic the look of the eggs. We weren’t really sure exactly what the eggs would have been filled with that year so we let our memories guide us.
Back in the day, we were egg hunters extraordinaire. We found every variation there was for several years running.
We argued a bit over the wisdom of adding any of our own creations, but decided against pursuing any harebrained ideas. One egg fiasco was enough for the year.
Late that night, after we had finished our creating we let Bluesy, Blue and their friends deliver the eggs to town for hiding. There would be an egg hunt after all, though it would be a special after school event on Monday instead of the traditional afternoon event on Sunday.
Before we went our separate ways, Poppy and I gathered up the collection of eggs we had left over. We may have decided against messing with the eggs for the town’s egg hunt but that didn’t mean we hadn’t come up with a plan of our own.
No one really knew where the little creatures lived. Bluesy had given her opinion as to where they might be found, as did Blueberry.
Poppy decided the best way for our plan to work wasn’t to find the little creatures ourselves, but to create a creature to find them for us. We wrote a story for the creature we had in mind and scribed the script that would bring them to life.
We left the eggs in a fancy basket by a crater where we hoped our newly born creature would soon appear.
And, if by chance, the little creatures managed to snatch the basket before our egg delivering mascot arrived they would have a hopping mad bunny to deal with.
—Jellybean Reds, Creator of Little Creatures
*We don’t really know how Mrs. Fields knew that Tom was a he, especially since Poppy and I never assigned gender identity when creating our creatures.
**Having just announced my preferred pronouns a few months previous, Mrs. Fields still slipped into calling Poppy and I “girls” upon first seeing us. This wasn’t a slight. It was habit. She did try to get it right most of the time.