“It’s really nice of you girls to take me out shopping, but what are we shopping for?”
It was an obvious question that was lingering upon Bianca’s mind. She didn’t mind going out shopping time and again, but this time her daughters seemed to be in an eager mind to get her out of the house. She thought she could guess why, but she didn’t want to read their minds, just in case it was a surprise, and it wouldn’t be a surprise then if she knew it.
April, Raven and Crystal had been wondering what to tell her when she would ask a question like this, so they had put it into deep thought. April had been thinking of asking Bianca’s opinion on a new charm bracelet to present the Grand Duke of Owls with on their anniversary, while Raven was looking out for the new cherry flavour of ‘Cotton-O’s’, her favourite breakfast cereal, and Crystal was…well, looking for fancy crystals.
Obviously, Bianca liked to see people happy, including her own family, so she was happy to go along with it. Together, they disappeared into the shopping mall to meet their desired objectives.
But an even bigger objective was being staged back at Bianca’s house.
The rest of the family happened to be planning a surprise birthday party for when Bianca would return home. They had already decorated the entire house with lots of party lights and decorations, both inside and outside. It hadn’t taken them very long to do it, because they were very good at it.
Then came something a little harder…their choices for presents. First off, the most important thing was to get a birthday cake. Ravennie and Rose decided to go and fetch it, while the others would meet up with them later to help them with their presents for Bianca.
Eventually, Ravennie and Rose came to a bakery in the town. They stepped in through the open door, and they were greeted instantly by the assistant baker. “Hello, girls. I’m Wanda. How may I be of service today?” she asked.
“Please, miss Wanda ma’am,” Ravennie asked. “May we please have a carrot cake for someone’s special birthday?”
“Certainly,” Wanda nodded, and called out to the back. “Carrot cake for a special birthday!”
“Comin’ up, Wanda,” a male voice called back.
“It will be ready soon, girls. Take a seat and wait a while,” Wanda told them, and while Ravennie and Rose went to sit down on the nearby chairs, Wanda went into the back to help the baker prepare the cake.
But unbeknownst to Ravennie and Rose, Wanda Torn could easily guess who the cake was for, especially since she knew Ravennie looked similar to Raven, Bianca’s doll, and she also knew Bianca had a liking for carrot cake.
Wanda had unfortunately been Bianca’s rival at witch school, and she had developed a pure hatred for Bianca, clearly because during the big exams, Wanda had been outsmarted, and she was jealous because Bianca was better than her.
Wanda had someday hoped for revenge against her, and now it seemed, this was the perfect opportunity. She had heard recently about the Nightmare Snake incident involving a net that caught him in Bianca’s dreams, so she had secretly whisked him out of prison and had blanked the video tape showing the evidence of what he had done.
Now that the Nightmare Snake was free again, Wanda just had to get Bianca to fall into his clutches again so that Wanda could personally crush Bianca when she was at her weakest. Now it seemed, she had the perfect remedy: to slip a sleeping potion into Bianca’s birthday cake.
A short while later, when the baker had finally finished making the cake, he brought it out so that Wanda could do the finishing touches. Wanda prepared a layer of icing to put on the cake. But before she put it on, she carefully sprayed the sleeping potion over the cake, and then placed the icing over it so nobody could smell it and guess something was wrong.
She grinned evilly as she placed the cake in a box and wrapped it up, and then resuming her normal face, she walked back to the counter. “Here you are,” she presented it to them. As Rose took the cake, Ravennie happily paid for it and they quickly hurried back to the house.
Wanda simply snickered to herself. Now it was just a matter of time…
Bianca’s husband, Ken, was waiting for Ravennie and Rose when they finally arrived with the cake. “Good girls,” he patted their heads fondly as he took the cake. “Now hurry out and get those presents. She’ll be back fairly soon.”
Ravennie and Rose bolted to join up with the others. In no time they had caught up, and the others were happy to help them out with their lost time to buy presents. They scattered in all directions, each one getting different ideas on what to get for Bianca.
Eventually, they all joined back up together and showed what they had bought.
Kiki had bought a book involving a time machine.
Nag had bought a red jacket.
Timmy had bought some new red shoes.
The twins had bought a ‘Phantom of the Opera’ book.
Ravennie had bought a book of poems.
Rose had bought a ‘Pocahontas’ book.
Raveo had bought an orange heart necklace.
Sarah had bought a ‘Treasure Island’ book.
Sally had bought a ‘Wind in the Willows’ book.
Nick Jr. had bought a lovely red hat.
And M1 had bought a ‘Sleepy Hollow’ book.
Racing back to the house, they immediately wrapped up their presents and prepared for when Bianca would finally arrive home. A short while later, the phone rang and Ken answered it. It was Raven. She was whispering over the phone that they would be back soon with Bianca, and that Raven, April and Crystal had put their money together to buy a three-wheeled bike. They had teleported it to the house without Bianca seeing it, and asked for the others to wrap that up too.
Soon, everything was ready. While they were waiting for them to return, they played together and kept themselves occupied.
Soon enough, Bianca finally returned with the three girls.
All of a sudden, “SURPRISE!!!” a great echo shot throughout the house, and Bianca put her hands to her cheeks in great excitement. “Happy Birthday!” Then from behind her, her parents Rob and Liz came out of hiding and embraced Bianca in a great hug.
“Oh, thank you all so much!” Bianca thanked them all, her face full of happy tears. Everybody took turns in giving her a special birthday hug.
Then they were greeted at the door by Bianca’s sister, Alex, along with Ben, who was Alex’s husband and Ken’s brother, and their son Jimmy. They apologized for being late as their plane had been delayed due to a snowstorm.
Nevertheless, Bianca was happy to see them, and she hugged them too.
Night soon fell upon the house as they all played games together, and watched Bianca opening up her presents, one by one, amazed at what everybody had gotten her. They had put so much thought into it that it made her feel very special.
Then Ken finally went to the fridge to get the box containing her favourite carrot cake. Once it was placed on the table, they lit the candles and sung the Happy Birthday song to Bianca. Bianca secretly made a wish and then blew out the candles.
“Go on, Bianca,” Ken handed her the carving knife. “You should have the first piece.”
“Thanks,” Bianca smiled as she carved out a slice and placed it on her plate. Then she passed the knife back to Ken, who started to carve out more slices for everybody. But as he did, Bianca bit into her portion and licked her lips at its taste. “Mmmmm,” she muttered as she ate the rest of it up. “It’s lovely, just the way…I…eh………oooohhhh…”
But suddenly, Bianca felt her mind beginning to falter, and the room started to spin around her.
“Bianca, are you alright?” her mom, Liz, asked.
But Bianca couldn’t answer her. She was getting dizzier, and dizzier, and…
Suddenly, Rob jumped up and caught her daughter as she suddenly lost consciousness and nearly fell. He carefully lay her down on the nearby couch.
Ken looked up from carving the cake, dropped the knife and rushed over, worried. “Bianca! Bianca!” he tried to wake her up, but she seemed to be sleeping very heavily.
He stood back up, and then glanced over at the cake. He carefully sniffed it, and then jolted. “Nobody touch the cake!” he warned the others. “Somebody’s drugged it with a sleeping potion!”
“But who would dare do this to Bianca?” everybody began asking, aside from two of them, Ravennie and Rose.
Their thoughts had immediately turned to the bakery. “Wanda,” they nodded. Who else could they think of that had been involved with making the cake?
But as they began thinking of what they could do to wake Bianca up, a sudden shadow flickered through the living room. The lights dimmed badly, and a ghastly noise echoed through the room.
Ken and Ben immediately recognized it. “Oh no…not him again!”
* * *
Bianca found herself standing on a small island surrounded by a huge, deep lake. Trees stretched out from the waters and towered over her, blotting out any signs of the sun, although the deep, dark clouds were already doing that.
She was trapped. And her magic had become useless. She couldn’t teleport to safety. It looked like all she could do was swim...well, it might have seemed like the only option, if only she could at least see the edge of the lake. It seemed to stretch out for miles beyond the trees.
But just as she was about to try and dive in, she suddenly saw a creepy form slinking under the water and she recoiled, frightened. That form…it couldn’t be! It just couldn’t!
The water burst and the horrible serpent known as the Nightmare Snake rose up and towered over her, glaring evilly. “Greetings once again, Bianca,” he cackled.
“It can’t be!” Bianca trembled. “I had you put in prison.”
“You did, my dear, but dear Wanda Torn bailed me out!” the Nightmare Snake grinned, seeing the look of horror in Bianca’s face the moment Wanda’s name was mentioned. Her old rival had gone as far as using him to get revenge on her, just because she had been jealous of Bianca’s witch power being better than hers.
“If I ever get out of this, Wanda’s going to be sorry!” Bianca growled in her throat.
“But you won’t get out of it now, dear Bianca,” the Nightmare Snake snickered. “The sleeping potion in that cake is going to keep you unconscious long enough for me to do my work. Now, at long last, Bianca, you are MINE!”
Bianca knew she couldn’t let this happen, but with her power all drained, and with nowhere to run, she was trapped for sure this time. All she could do was stand there, frightened, as the Nightmare Snake approached with his fangs bared evilly…
Then suddenly, FLASH!
The world suddenly dramatically changed in a flash of light…!
Bianca suddenly found herself sitting at a table, in a warm, lush jungle. It had suddenly become a very bright day. In front of her, lots of familiar faces around the table were staring right at her with happy expressions on their faces.
“Happy Birthday to you, Bianca,” Mowgli the man-cub cheered with his banana squash in his hand.
“Happy Birthday!” all the animals in the jungle cheered for her. There was Bagheera, Baloo, King Louie, the vultures, Colonel Hathi and his troops…even Shere Khan, grinning a fine grin with his family and relatives beside him!
Then Kaa the snake dropped down beside her. “Sssssssssso nicssssssse to sssssscelebrate your birthday again, my ssssssssssweet,” he hissed gently and kissed her on the cheek. Bianca blushed at the compliment, but she couldn’t understand what had just happened.
What about the Nightmare Snake…?
Then just at that moment, the said serpent suddenly appeared from under the table, confused as to what was going on, but the moment he saw Bianca, he immediately lunged at her, his fangs bared…
Then Bianca found herself in a different jungle, but this time it looked more like the open plains. The only thing was, there were other animals gathered around her, but she remembered them from somewhere else…
“Go on, Bianca,” Kimba the White Lion smiled at the birthday girl. “Open your presents.”
Bianca hesitated, but then picked up a present wrapped in tree-leaves and opened it. She was amazed when she saw it was a beautiful necklace decorated with a bright crystal on it.
She put it on. “It’s…so beautiful,” she said.
“I helped Kimba to choose it,” Kitty told her. “Since we have a friend who has a particular crystal of his own…”
But before Bianca could guess who their friend was, another present suddenly burst open and the Nightmare Snake emerged, shaken but now annoyed at not being able to get at Bianca straightaway. “Stay still, you little worm!” he snarled.
But then, once again…FLASH!
“Here’s to Bianca!” a familiar voice spoke up in front of the large table she was now sitting at. She saw Trinity the Adventurer raising a goblet towards her. Beside him, his feline counterpart double, Flarina Bengali, raised her goblet as well.
“CHEERS!” a mighty roar erupted around the table, and a clash of goblets echoed all around as they made contact with each other. Bianca could now recognize the other Flying Tigers gathered around, as well as the Grand Duke of Owls, and all the other peace-making slave-masters that had helped to reunite the world.
“What’s going on?” she began wondering. “Is this really some crazy dream?”
Then suddenly, the Nightmare Snake emerged once again from under the table, now getting very impatient. “I’m getting angry, Bianca! Stop what you’re doing and stay still!”
“What are you talking about?” Bianca yelled at him. “I’m not doing anything!”
The Nightmare Snake just hissed, and then moved to get at her…
And suddenly, Bianca was outside her house, and the Nightmare Snake was right in front of her, wrapped up in chains. Four blue-uniformed police officers were standing around him. He struggled under the chains, but he couldn’t get free.
“What monstrosity is this?” he shrieked at nothing in particular. “What are you?”
Bianca just stared for a moment, and then…
“Bianca! Come back! We’re here for you, Bianca…come back to us!”
The call, sounding familiar, made Bianca realize the real world was calling her back. She looked up into the sky, and while the Nightmare Snake screamed at her not to do it, she ignored him and stared at the world going white above her, as consciousness slowly drew her back to reality…
* * *
Bianca’s eyes snapped open. She gasped and saw all of her family gathered around her, looking very worried. But the moment she woke, a wave of relief washed over them and they sighed with a heap of “Thank goodness,” and “Whew!” and stuff like that.
Bianca carefully sat up, Ken helping her up on one side, and on the other…
She suddenly gasped. “Trinity!”
The Adventurer helped her up on the other side. “Hi, Bianca. You okay now?” he asked.
“I-I think so,” Bianca checked herself out. “But what happened? Where did you come from?”
Trinity let out a sigh of his own. “I knew there was going to be trouble ever since the bakery,” he told her, getting a gasp of surprise from both Ravennie and Rose. “But let me explain.”
A day or so ago, Trinity had been passing by the bakery near the town, and had bought a couple of buns to eat for lunch. But as he stepped outside, he overheard voices near the back of the shop. Deciding to find out what was going on, he hid round the corner and listened.
He overheard Wanda Torn talking to somebody about her rival Bianca’s birthday coming up, and she was determined to get her revenge. When he saw that it was the Nightmare Snake that Wanda had freed from prison, Trinity knew it was going to be bad for Bianca on her birthday, unless he could do something about it.
So after the Nightmare Snake had left, Trinity disguised himself as a baker, and slipped in so that Wanda wouldn’t recognize him. Then he played along until he could see what Wanda was going to do. He eventually saw her preparing a sleeping potion in the back-room, and he knew then how she was going to trick Bianca into falling into the Nightmare Snake’s clutches.
Then the next day, the order came through. “Carrot cake for a special birthday!” Wanda called from over at the counter.
“Comin’ up, Wanda,” Trinity shouted back, and prepared to make the cake.
But as he was making it, he made sure that Wanda wasn’t looking, and then slipped in something of his own into the cake as well. It was a special cake mix that was known to stir a bit of restlessness in whoever ate it, and it would affect their dreams somewhat. While it wouldn’t stop the Nightmare Snake totally, it would at least disrupt him long enough for Bianca to eventually wake up from the sleeping potion’s effects.
“Trinity arrived in time to help us wake you up, Bianca,” Ken finished the story off. But then he glanced at the Adventurer. “But why didn’t you come earlier and warn us about the cake?”
“Because I was busy putting Wanda in prison,” Trinity replied. “While she was making her sleeping potion, I turned the surveillance camera on her while her back was turned. It caught every move she made, every word she said, including her involvement in breaking the Nightmare Snake out. After she sent out the cake, I called the police, and we caught her just as she was leaving the bakery. I had to help in stopping her witchcraft, and we escorted her to the cells together. I showed them the camera footage, and they sent out a dream escort to chain up the Nightmare Snake. I tried to get over here as fast as I could…I only hoped that the cake mix would really help Bianca to stay safe.”
“But thank goodness it did work,” Ken smiled at his wife. “We feared we lost you, Bianca.”
Bianca smiled and hugged him tightly. Then she turned to Trinity and hugged him too. “Thank you,” she whispered. Then she pulled back. “Why don’t you stay around for a while, Trinity? Have a rest…I think you deserve it.”
“Thanks, Bianca,” Trinity nodded, and as the kids all crowded around him, wanting him to tell them some of his amazing adventures, he grinned as he was taken over to the lounge, and he sat down upon the couch, ready to start with a story.
Bianca smiled, and then, looking over at Ken, she nodded. She turned to her parents, Rob and Liz, and her sister Alex with Ben. “We’ll be back in a minute,” she said. Then she and Ken teleported to the prison.
Sure enough, there in the cells, was Wanda Torn, scowling behind the bars, helpless as her powers had been restrained. Bianca frowned as she walked up to her. “I can’t believe you tried to do that to me, Wanda,” she said. “Just because you thought you were better than me in witch-craft…but you’ve been too careless to even deserve being a witch. And for you to use the Nightmare Snake to get at me…” she stopped speaking, as they both knew anyway just how terrible it was to do something like that.
“But thanks to a friend of mine, you got what was coming to you,” Bianca didn’t say Trinity’s name because she didn’t want him to become a target for the future. “And if you think your current state is enough of a nightmare, think again.”
Wanda turned as suddenly, she saw the Nightmare Snake being brought into the same cell with her. She gasped in fright as this could only mean one thing.
“Good luck in staying awake tonight, Wanda,” Bianca turned her back on her. “Because if you close your eyes even for a second, you’ll find that the nightmares made by him are much worse.”
Then she and Ken left, teleporting out of prison and back safely to their home, leaving Wanda to get ‘acquainted’ with her new cell-mate.