Daisy shrieked as Paul pushed her closer to the gazebo.
“If you can last five minutes without screaming, you can have all my chocolate for the month,” Paul said.
Daisy clamped her mouth shut, balled her fists and nodded. The gazeo was scary, but she loved candy.
“Time starts now.”
Paul’s final shove sent Daisy running forward through the curtain of vines into the cool interior of the gazebo.
It was dark inside, the trees and creeping plants blocking out most of the light. The vines tickled her arms and neck, so she moved away from them, deeper into the heart of the building.
The grooved pillars were cloaked in furry grey jellybeans that pulsed with a heartbeat. They coated the stone, hiding in the recesses of the ceiling arches, even under the bench. Daisy didn’t want to touch them; looking at them made her skin crawl. They were the most horrible things she’d ever seen. She was afraid if she accidently brushed against one, it would grow over her skin and cover her like it had the red sandstone.
She picked up a stick and prodded the nearest patch of grey. It fell to the ground with a squelch, quivering by her patent leather shoe until she stood on it, where it exploded under her foot with a satisfying splat.
Disgusted, Daisy poked and pried at the other grey patches, knocking them to the ground and stomping on them with delicious abandon.
Finally, only one grey jellybean remained. It shivered as if it was frightened, as it awaited the same fate as the others. Daisy watched it with a mixture of revulsion and curiosity, stick poised in momentary leniency. As the sac bulged and shook, it split, and a miniature white leg slipped out, followed by another, then a tiny tapered muzzle. Dark eyes looked up at Daisy; pricked ears flicking forward towards her.
The sac convulsed again, and a graceful arched neck with powerful shoulders emerged. Daisy held her palms cupped together, and a little horse fell out of the cocoon into her waiting hands.
Its hooves tickled her skin. It was so fine and delicate; it could have been made from glass. Four damp wings hung limply from its shoulders.
Daisy hardly dared breathe, in case her breath damaged the little creature.
It stamped its hooves, and then it shook its body and spread its wings. They were beautiful; wafer thin and pieced together like stained glass, the light falling through them cast coloured patterns on Daisy’s arms.
The horse rose into the air, rearing and dancing, its exquisite wings whirring in a flurry of crazy motion. It circled once around Daisy’s head and then disappeared through the creepers.
Daisy looked down at the goo that coated the ground and stole the shine from her shoes. Tears welled in her eyes. She pushed through the vines and ran screaming from the gazebo.
“I knew you couldn’t do it,” Paul crowed triumphantly.