"You three are in big trouble," said Reba.
She was currently holding the trunk of another tree she had uprooted. Byron couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor tree. It hadn't done anything wrong. He promised to say a prayer for it and all the other trees he knew his mom was going to be tearing out of the ground after she calmed down.
Mandy pointed a finger at the three of them. "Don't even start you three! Do you know how worried sick we were?"
Andy, Byron, and Cylde held up their hands in surrender. They hadn't moved a single inch since their moms showed up and weren't even thinking of trying anything. It was better to let their mothers do their thing and wait until they were no longer raging because they wouldn't listen to a single thing they said. The question was what the strangers were going to do.
"Who are they?" demanded Lisa.
Ethel narrowed her eyes and asked, "So you kidnapped our children without realizing who we are?"
"Kidnap?" She was hysterical. "We haven't kidnapped anyone."
"Don't you lie. Our kids are right there," said Reba, pointing at the children again.
"We were minding our own business. They're the ones who came to us."
"Shut up," said Mandy as she slithered towards them. "I refuse to hear any more of your excuses. You'll pay for laying a hand on our children."
Daniel slammed a fist into his open clam. "You want a fight. You got it."
"Don't provoke them!"
Lisa was ignored as Daniel rushed at Mandy. The naga swerved out of the way of the incoming fist and wrapped her tail around his outstretched arm. He used his free hand to grab the tail and tug on it. She was a lot stronger than she looked because she wasn't moved at his strength even though he was a giant. The both of them were stuck in a standstill.
Reba and Ethel charged at them to help her. Carl, Lisa, and Patricia moved to intercept them. On Lisa's part, it was unwilling. With her ankle still hurting, she was being carried in Carl's arms and had no way to protest her involvement. She could only hold on tight and hope Carl didn't drop her.
Carl sidestepped the metal bat and aimed a kick at Ethel's side. His foot made contact with a clang. He stumbled back. She took the opportunity to swing her bat again, but he dodged her attack again. Seeing the smirk on her way, he barely avoided the swinging tree trunk by ducking to the ground. Reba scowled as she missed.
Patricia pointed her wand at her, and small fireball formed at the tip. Flinging it at her opponent, she watched as it was blocked with the tree. Flames ate at it, but they weren't enough to completely consume it. Reba swung it her way, and she jumped out of the way, but had to put out the fire that caught onto her clothes. Apparently, Reba decided taking advantage of the fire.
Andy, Byron, and Cylde couldn't believe their eyes. These people were strong enough to fight their moms. That never happened before. The fights were always one-sided. This something new and exciting. They couldn't tear their eyes away.
That quickly changed when lightning shot out of the witch's wand. Reba used the tree to protect herself again, but the lightning bolt tore right through. It barely missed her head as it sent pieces of woods flying in all direction. The lightning bolt didn't stop there. It kept going and headed in their direction.
All the adults stopped fighting and watched in horror as they saw what the attack was going to hit. They scrambled to save them from the attack. The children moved to get out of the way, but they weren't fast enough. There was an explosion, and dust and smoke filled the air.
When the dust cleared, they were relieved to see a stone wall had protected the kids. Nancy released the collection of rocks she had pulled from the surrounding area, and they fell to the ground with a loud thud.
"Now that I got your attention I believe we should talk this out peacefully," she said with a smile.
Andy, Byron, and Cylde watched with wide eyes as the adults agreed to stop fighting. That definitely never happened before. Who were these people, and where had they been their whole life? They were almost cooler than their moms.
Unfortunately, their awe didn't last long as they were forced to explain what happened. Their mothers weren't happy once the whole story came out. Byron and Clyde groaned when their respective mothers told them that they were grounded when they got home. That meant no play dates until they said so. At least it wasn't bad as the treatment Andy got.
He screeched and hissed as his mother held him by the tail so his head pointed straight down. She swung him side to side as she chewed him out for what he did wrong. Daniel nodded approvingly while Carl, Nancy, and Patricia were busy talking to each other. Only Lisa looked like she was going to be sick.
"Isn't that child abuse?" whispered Lisa.
Mandy snapped her head in her direction. "Did you say something?"
She glared at her for a few more minutes before screaming at Andy a little more. Then she dropped him. Byron and Cylde settled down beside him while his mother slithered towards the strangers.
Mandy burst out into laughter, causing only Lisa to jerk in surprise. "So it was all just a big misunderstanding. Sorry about that."
Andy moaned from his place on the ground with his face buried in the dirt. Byron and Cylde each gave him a comforting pat on the back. After being hanged upside down, he didn't even have the strength to even scream at his mother.
"Apology accepted," said Nancy.
"What are you doing way out here anyway?" asked Reba. "It is highly suspicious."
"It is a park," said Patricia. "It's open to everyone."
Byron felt like he was missing something. The two of them were smiling, but Carl was backing away from them. Lisa looked pale. He looked at Cylde to see if he had any idea, but he just shrugged his shoulders. Andy was still out of it so he couldn't ask him.
"By the way, your kids seem pretty smart for their age and size," said Nancy.
Said children except for Andy beamed in response. Of course they were smart. They worked very hard in school even though they didn't like the homework and stuff because it was so boring.
"Of course they are," said Mandy as she puffed out her chest. "They're our brats."
"Should you really be calling them brats?" asked Lisa.
"Huh? Do you have a problem with that, punk?"
"N...no? I mean," she said before her face hardened. "Shouldn't you treat your kids better?"
"You have a problem with how I raise my kid?" She stabbed a finger in Lisa's direction. "Did you have kids of your own? No? Then butt out."
"I happen to have a son and daughter back home."
"So you decided to ditch your brats. How responsible."
"They're with their father I have you know."
"Now you're dumping your duties onto your husband. You're certainly a role model."
"How dare you! I'll have you know that I don't have to resort to violence as punishment." Someone coughed, and she glared at her companions. "Shut up." Then, as an afterthought, she said, "And Phrynosoma's not my husband."
Byron was confused. He knew husband meant daddy so how can a daddy not be a husband? Andy and Cylde looked just as confused. They looked to their respective mothers for answers. Reba was not pleased.
"Look at what you're teaching the kids. Be more responsible."
"I need to be more responsible?" Lisa struggled in Carl's arms to get her feet back on the ground despite her ankle still hurting. "You're a hypocrite."
Carl sent pleading eyes to Patricia who said, "Lisa, I think you should stop."
"Stop?" She glared at Patricia after she managed to stand on her own two feet. "You're telling me to stop? None of this is funny you know. Child abuse isn't funny."
Reba, Ethel, and Mandy snarled at her. Their hands brought their children closer to themselves. Byron didn't understand why Lisa thought their moms were bad. He didn't know what abuse meant, but it could tell it was bad. Ethel's and Andy's face darkened. They must have known what the word meant.
"Calm down, Lisa," said Nancy as she held her hands up in surrender. "I'm sure they aren't abusing their children. If they were, I highly doubt child services would let them keep the kids."
"The system isn't always perfect! They could have fallen through the cracks or child services was threatened or bribed."
"How dare you!"
Their mothers launched themselves at Lisa. The others joined in to break up the fight. Well, one person didn't. Nancy knelt down beside them as they watched Byron's mom throw a punch at Lisa. It was blocked by Daniel's palm. Lisa aimed a kick at Mandy who retaliated by wrapped her injured leg with her tail. Lisa fell with a cry as the pressure sent waves up pain up her leg.
Patricia sent ice onto Mandy's tail, and she pulled away with a scream. Carl blocked the metal bat before bending down to see how her leg was. It was now swollen, and she couldn't even move her leg without whimpering in pain.
While this was happening, Byron asked Nancy, "Why is she so upset?"
"Her two kids are adopted. Their first parents weren't very good and hurt them."
He couldn't imagine his mom ever hurting him. She would always cry and panic if she even thought he had a scratch. If bad people bothered him, his mom would come and beat them up. His mom would never abuse him. Andy and Cylde were of the same mind.
"Do you know the first thing about caring for a naga?" spat Mandy.
Lisa had tears in her eyes. "No, I don't."
"Then how would you know the right way of raising my son?"
"So shaking him around until he's sick is perfectly reasonable?"
"It's to prepare him for a situation where he's being hanged upside down. Nagas don't do well upside down. If he somehow gets stuck upside, he needs to be able to remain calm until he can get unstuck or someone helps him."
Andy nodded his head. Byron didn't know that. He thought it was Aunt Mandy's way of playing around. The only people who didn't look surprised were their moms, Daniel, and Nancy. Lisa still didn't look convinced. He didn't understand why she didn't believe Aunt Mandy. She would never lie.
Nancy answered that question by saying, "Lisa doesn't know your moms very well. To her, your moms could be bad people pretending to be your moms or just bad moms."
He frowned. He didn't like how Lisa was assuming their moms were bad people. He didn't understand where she even got the idea they were bad. They didn't do anything strange. They acted exactly like they usually did. They would would get worried if they were gone for too long. Then their moms would grab something to fight with and come to save the day.
Well, today was a little different. The strangers that he, Andy, and Cylde met weren't bad people either. They were weird and stuff, but they didn't try to hurt them or anything. He wanted to tell them that no one here was bad except no one was paying attention to him, Andy, and Cylde except for Nancy.
Lisa glared at Mandy as Carl and Patricia helped her to her feet. Aunt Mandy glared right back. Her tail was thumping against the ground, sending dust everywhere. She must be still angry.
Before they could continue fighting, Nancy stepped in again. "Anyway, it was a pleasure to meet you, but we need to get going." She turned to Lisa and said, "Phrynosoma and the kids are probably worried about you."
Lisa and Mandy frowned. They weren't happy to have their conversation cut short, but they allowed it to end. Saying their farewells, they watched as the group of strangers walked away. Byron wondered if they would see them again. He hoped so. They were so cool.
As if reading his thoughts, his mother said, "I don't want you talking to them. If you see them again, I want you to tell me and stay away from them."
He wasn't the only one upset at the news. Andy wanted to spend more time with Lisa and Daniel. He had thought Lisa was spineless and uncool, but she had guts talking to his mom like that. No one, not even Byron's and Cylde's moms, could rile her up like that. It was awesome. He was still a little upset that she said his mom was bad. Even if she annoyed him a lot, she was his mom.
Daniel, on the other hand, was the embodiment of awesome. He managed to fight his mom head on. Everyone except for Aunt Reba couldn't compete with her tail's strength. She had crashed whole cars with it before. When he asked to learn how to do that, she had told him later. Later didn't come. Well, now he had someone he wanted to learn how to fight from.
Cylde was quite curious about Lisa and Carl. Lisa smelled strange compared to everyone else. She smelled human, but she also smelled not human. It wasn't a smell he encountered before. The closest person he could think of that smelled similar was Byron. He wanted to ask her what she was, but hadn't found the right moment to ask. Not to mention he had been offended the moment she said his mom abused him. His mom would never do that.
Next time he was going to give her a piece of his mind for talking bad about his mom. He'll make sure she understood that his mom was a good person, and that she needed to apologize to his mom. Then he'll demand her to tell him what she was exactly.
Then there was Carl who smelled nasty. He couldn't figure out what he was either, but he knew that he would taste nasty to eat. Not that his mom would give him a chance to take a bite even if he smelled good anyway. She said it scared people to see a ghoul chase after people to have a taste. He didn't understand what was wrong with them. Smelling good was a good thing. It was better than smelling stinky.
Once they were back at the playground, they had to say their goodbyes. Apparently, their punishment was starting now so the play date was over. They parted ways, and Byron followed his mom back home.