Fast Food Fairy Tale, Chapter 11: Pan-Ex

It was a lucky break for Popeye that he was able to find another career after the loss of his ship. Many other sailors residing in Port Plees-Comagin were not so fortunate. This was what Wendy, Baskin, and Robin discovered as they roamed the streets, hearing snippets of conversation and passing by the many worried faces of men forced out of their livelihoods by pirates. One name above all seemed to be on everyone’s lips: Silver, Silver, Silver.

“Who are these people talking about?” Wendy asked.

“They must mean Long John Silver,” replied Baskin. “I’ve heard his name mentioned before, but I hadn’t realized just how much havoc he was wrecking. We need to report this to the King immediately.”

“How can we do that?” Wendy piped. “We’re two days from the White Castle.”

“Simple,” returned Baskin. “We use Pan-Ex.”

After asking various townspeople for directions, the travelers found the Pan-Ex building, an impressive structure topped with a large sign depicting a rampant panda. While Baskin was composing her message, Wendy wandered about the lobby, looking at the rows of neatly stacked boxes. Each set of boxes were made of different materials depending on the distance and importance of the item being sent. There were stacks of cloth, ribbon and heavy parchment for local deliveries, leather containers and wooden boxes for further destinations, and crates wrapped in water-proofed animal hides for over-seas travel. Peering into an open barrel, Wendy saw a large quantity of arrows with little tubes attached to each. These were meant to contain short, informal messages, which were then fired off by-hopefully- an accurate bowman. Incidentally, this mode of message delivery was often fraught with peril. More than once, a romantic young man or woman would shoot a message to their lover, only to have that endearing arrow embed itself into the intended recipient’s arm.

“All right,” said Baskin, returning from the customer service counter, “the message is on its way.”

“But I still don’t understand how,” Wendy said. “I mean, how do they get a message delivered so quickly?”

“I’ll show you,” said Baskin with a smile, gesturing for the red-head to follow. Along with Robin, they exited the building and walked around it to the back where the loading docks were located. Wendy saw several large wagons, each gaudily painted in red, white, and black. The now-familiar panda logo adorned the sides of the wagons.

“They look like ordinary wagons to me,” said Wendy.

“They are,” admitted Baskin, “but it’s what pulls them that makes them unique.” No sooner had she finish speaking when Wendy heard large snuffling sounds coming from behind her. She turned to see Pan-Ex workers leading out two very large panda bears which were then hitched to one of the waiting wagons. Before Wendy had time to say anything, a man hopped onto the wagon’s driver’s bench, snapped the reins, and the vehicle took off at a rate of speed that Wendy never would have believed was possible. The pandas pulled the wagon with ease as they flew down the road in a cloud of dust.

“What…?” was all that Wendy could mutter. Both Baskin and Robin grinned.

“That,” said Baskin, “is how our message will be delivered; through the courtesy of the Panda Express.”