Maggie and Tabby flew along in the saucer, down out of the mountains, over the plains and finally toward a deep canyon. Maggie felt her tummy flip-flop as the saucer dropped down into the canyon at full speed, but it came to a rest at the bottom as lightly as a cat landing on its paws.
Tabby jumped out of the saucer just as lightly. Maggie followed him into a nearby cave.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“To Lava City,” said Tabby. “It’s down here a ways. Just around the corner you can see the glow.”
Maggie thought that lava city sounded a little more dangerous than Snow City. She was already starting to feel very warm. The bottoms of her feet were burning a little. Then she turned the corner and her mouth dropped open. She was standing on the edge of a drop off, and at the bottom a river of lava was flowing. All along the cliffs on both sides of the river, stone houses, glowing with heat. It was beautiful. Scary, too. But even though at first she was afraid she might fall over the edge, she quickly saw that there was a tall guard rail all along the walkway where they were standing. Wide steps led down the side of the cliff, also bordered by a secure wall that reached almost to Maggie’s shoulder.
Maggie was just about to start down the stairs when Tabby stopped her. “First we put on shoes,” he said. “The ground is quite hot down there.” He turned and showed her a set of cubby holes in the wall to their right. Each little cubby held a pair of shoes made out of what looked like rock.
“I’m already wearing shoes,” said Maggie.
“Why, so you are!” exclaimed Tabby. “Extraordinary. Still, unless they are made of flint or something stronger, you will probably want to change them. Lava city can be very hard on the feet.”
Maggie changed her shoes for a pair of rock shoes. She thought they would be very heavy and hard to walk in, but surprisingly they were quite light. Just wearing them made Lava City seem more wonderful and not scary at all. She followed Tabby down the stairs smiling. About halfway down to the lava river, Tabby turned off the stairs and went into a little cafe built right into the cliff. There were no windows in the cafe, but it was all lit up with red light that came from its own mini river of lava running down one wall and along a groove in the floor. Tabby chose a stone table and ordered up two hot chocolates.
To say that the hot chocolate was hot didn’t begin to describe it. When the stone mugs arrived at their table, Maggie couldn’t even get close enough to blow on it. She leaned back and waited, watching the spirals of steam coming off of her hot chocolate. When she did finally taste it, though, she could see why Tabby brought her all this way. It was like drinking the most delicious chocolate bar she had ever eaten. It was not too sweet and perfectly creamy. When she was finished, she wanted another, but when Tabby asked her if she’d like to stay for dinner, she suddenly remembered that she was supposed to be home for dinner. She hoped it wasn’t already too late. Her mother hated it when she was late for dinner.
“I have to go!” said Maggie. “My mother expects me at home.”
“Of course!” said Tabby. “Right away.”
They both leaped up from the table and dashed back up the stairs. In just a matter of moments, they were both in the saucer and taking off for Maggie’s house. Maggie could see the sun going down, and she would have been worried if she hadn’t been so amazed at how fast the saucer was flying. They were going at least twice as fast as they had before, and the world whirled away below them. In no time at all they were back at the tree where Tabby had found Maggie.
“Thank you so much,” said Maggie as she climbed back onto the branches and down the tree. “I’ve never had so much fun in my life.”
“It was my pleasure,” called out Tabby. “We’ll do it again sometime!” The saucer was already soaring up and disappearing into the clouds as Maggie ran toward home.
She was just in time. Her mother was putting the plates on the table when Maggie dashed in. Without even looking, Maggie’s mother said, “Take your shoes off and go wash up, Maggie.”
Maggie looked down at her feet and gasped. She had been in such a hurry to get home…she had forgotten to change her shoes! As quickly as possible, Maggie slipped off the stone shoes and hurried to her room. Her mother never saw anything. With a grin, Maggie stashed them under her bed. It was just as well, she thought, as she went to wash her hands. She would be needing some more of that hot chocolate soon.