Twenty-Seven

So the coupon fairies, Mimbleshaw, Spot, and Brian, took the egg in a carriage to the mill.

"...oh, groan," said the phantom. "Who dares to trespass this haunted mill? Oh, groan..."

"Yoo hoo," said Jadis Belle. "We're here again."

"Hidy," said Blanche.

"Oh," said the phantom. "You. What do you want this time?"

"Now, what makes you think all we want is to ask you for anything?" said Jadis Belle.

"We're, uh, visiting," said Blanche.

"No you aren't," said the phantom. "I've haunted this mill for more than three hundred fifty years. The only time you fairies ever visit is when you want a favor from me."

"The ghost is right," said Jadis Belle. "If we don't need nothing from him, he won't never see us again."

"He knows we're lying?" said Blanche. "That ain't fair."

"Speaking of favors," said Mimbleshaw. "We wonder if you could please change this egg back into a baby again."

"Change it back?" said the phantom. "I only changed it in the first place because no one had visited me in so long. People don't have the sense nowadays to go to a haunted mill so I can scare them away. I decided to be generous and change the baby into an egg like you asked. Now you think you can show up out of the blue, give orders, and lie to me whenever you feel like it? Well I refuse. Being incorporeal doesn't mean I have to tolerate getting treated like a ghost. You can take your egg and return to where you're from."

"No don't hate us Mr. Ghost," said Jadis Belle. "We'll be good from now on. We'll visit you everyday."

"No you won't," said the phantom. "You're lying again."

"He still knows we're lying?" said Blanche.

"Ghosts must know how to read minds or something," said Jadis Belle.

"I miss the bear," said Brian.

"I won't hear complaints from you, boy with mass," said the phantom.

"This ghost has to be the most pathetic and needy monster we've met so far," said Brian.

"Don't talk about me like I'm not here," said the phantom. "If you ever want to see that baby again, you better cut it out because I hate that."

"Oh, hush," said Jadis Belle. "As if we even need you to change that egg back. All we need is to borrow your magic cloak you keep in the mill."

"Is that all?" said Brian.

"Confiscating the cloak is a bad idea, human," said Mimbleshaw.

"You should have listened to your friend, boy with mass," said the phantom. "Wearing the cloak of changing will leave you open to possession."

"What do you mean by possession?" said Brian. "Ohhh, colors are kind of pretty today..."

"I haven't had a human body in three hundred fifty years," said the phantom. "Three hundred fifty years is a long time to not get a haircut. And to not take a bath."

"Can't see," said Brian. "And disgusting burns my eyes."

"The hair and the perspiration carry now the egg to the sea," said Spot. "We must forsake not the baby."

"Bears," said Brian. "So free. And such good swimmers. And climbers. I wonder if Arthur still thinks of me." Brian crawled long and heavy to resist possession, stay afloat, reach the carriage, and change the egg he plucked from its upholstery back into a baby. He removed the cloak, which stopped the cascade from Brian of the quagmire of his hair, and the tidal discharge from his pores. Seeking to flabbergast, the phantom was himself helpless again.

"—phew," said Spot. "The three hundred fifty years without the bath makes a strong odor. Even for the little boys, no?"