“What is it, Telly Monster?” Maria found her red friend hiding behind Oscar’s trash pile. Oscar was nowhere to be seen. “What’s wrong?”
“He’s back.” Telly’s voice quavered with fear.
“Oh, Telly Monster, did you have a nightmare?” Maria picked him up and sat him next to her on the steps. “Well, it was just a dream. You remember how Big Bird made sure he’d never come back?”
“Yeah…” Telly Monster didn’t seem convinced. “But Oscar said he was back.”
“Oscar? That rat! Oscar! Oscaaaaar!” Maria called for him, but with no response.
“He left,” Telly Monster said. “Said Bruno was taking him to Bali until it’s safe.”
“Really?” Now Maria sounded concerned. “Have… have you seen Elmo?”
“Me already found Elmo.” The gravelly voice made them jump. “Elmo not very good hider.”
“Oh, God, I…” Maria backed away. “How long have you been back?”
“Not long.” The voice came closer.
“What… what about Big Bird?”
“Me admit, me bit off more than me could chew, that time.”
Maria and Telly Monster found their backs against a wall. “Um, do you, do you want a cookie?”
“No,” said Cookie Monster. “Cookies are a sometimes food.” His black maw opened wide.