By that, I mean I have been working in black and sometimes very dark grey.
You see this week I had to consider what I was packing in my suitcase – as well as the strike on the underground on Monday I was also staying in a different hotel this week, so I had to be a lot more strict about what I could actually carry. I didn’t include any running kit, cut down on the number of toys I carried… and only took the line art pigment pens and not the usual collection of colours, coptic felts and other interesting pens I usually have to hand. I did take my protactor, compass and ruler which gave me some flexibility.
By the end of the week I had started to work with what I had, but at the start I created a couple of art items that I knew I would have to colour at a later point 🙂
“Ummm… because…” started Torch, who really didn’t know why.
“Because We have been asked to reconvene the Tribunal” said a familiar voice. Torch and the Chief spun round, and saw Nurgle standing there.
“I have been asked, by that Most Very Important Person, to get you to get the following people to be in this room within… ooh, hang on, I’m working in Lapland Santa Time… so I need to add 4, carry the two, divide by 3, subtract 4, multiply by 7, take away the number I first thought of… an hour.”
Nurgle handed Torch a list of names.
“I have an hour” confirmed Torch. “That’s not much time. Chief – you contact this person, this person and this person – they’ll come because you phoned that one… and I’ll phone the rest.”
Torch and Chief made the calls quickly. Years of experience of calling firemen and policemen in for urgent tasks meant that they phoned the furthest away first before working closer.
In 54 minutes, everyone was assembled.
“What’s going on?” asked Gail.
Nurgle appeared and clapped his hands. He puffed out his chest and started.
“I have been instructed by the Most Very Important Person to gather you persons here. The Tribunal has met once more to discuss the incidents and trials that have happened in this town and the manner in which they were dealt with. There were… observations.”
“Is that good?” asked Gail. “It doesn’t sound good. Or is it? I don’t know!!”
“Shh” said Nurgle. “I’m getting to a good bit. By the powers given to me by the Tribunal, I hereby summon the Arbitrator of all things… Tribunalary… and Nice-or-Naughtifically and ask that he passes Judgement.”
There was a WHOOOOSHHH!!! and a very familiar figure appeared.
“… so then the Elf says… well you won’t get it started from down there! Ho Ho … Oh! Nurgle, you could have warned me!”
“Santa!” everyone cried.
“No, I’m the Arbitrator of things and things and stuff. I do not know who this Santa person is you are talking of.”
“I think they know it’s you” said Nurgle.
“Oh… oh, alright then. Let me put my coffee down. Now then… after we had our special Tribunal, I took particular interest in watching what you all did next. Not just Trevor there, but all of you as it needed a team to save the city. Consequently, The Tribunal has given me special powers to give you these things a day early. You will find your second choice items tomorrow… it is that time of year you know – and we all felt that you had worked to earn them. Now, let me look at my list. Ah yes, Chuck. Can you step forward please?”
“Now as you used your initiative and skills to fly your drones, it seems fitting that you would ask for the XTC750 model – the top of the range. However, here’s a toolkit as I’d like you to help my team work on the Santa sled. Oh, and the drone’s outside as well.”
“Santa, I would be honoured to help you. Thank you!” said Chuck.
“Ho Ho, very good” said Santa. “Who’s next? Ah, yes, Gail.”
“We heard your singing and music skills and we felt that your wish, to be able to pursue a music career, was an easy gift. So here is a recording contract with Simon Cowtail and we wish you all the very best luck.”
“Wow! Thank you Santa, so much!” said Gail.
“It is, as always, my pleasure” replied Santa. “Now, Chief, can you step forward.”
The Chief stepped forward.
“Your wish was… imaginative” Santa said. “So much so, I had to wrap it myself.”
The Chief smiled and took the parcel. “Thank you Santa” he said “I’m sure Mrs Chief will be very happy with it.”
Santa leaned forward and whispered. “I’ve also put a receipt in here if she decides it’s the wrong colour.”
He leaned back. “Oh, Betty?!”
Betty stepped forward and performed a curtsy. Santa smiled.
“Your wish was an unusual one too, wasn’t it?” he asked.
“To some, perhaps” she replied. “But not to me.”
Santa’s eyes twinkled.
“Enjoy your first edition Hello Kitty doll!”
“Oh… that’s even more wonderful than I had hoped for!” said Betty, happily. “Thank you ever so much!”
Santa’s eyes flicked to the list. “Scurrier? Do I have a Scurrier here?”
The Scurrier waddled up to Santa as fast as his legs could work.
“You’ve been a very busy person over the last few weeks… have you had fun?”
“Was that shrug because you had hoped that your parents would have come for Christmas?”
Scurrier shrugged, then nodded.
“Well, let me fix that….”
“Your dad’s here, but your mum and your fifteen brothers are at home. Enjoy the holidays!”
Scurrier’s face just beamed to the point everyone thought he would just pass out. They hugged, then scampered out before anyone asked them to hold up any more stupid signs.
“Ok, carrying on. Trevor Frankiewiener, please step forward and bring the reverse-o-ray gun.”
Trevor walked forward slowly.
“Now, you know that we have been watching you. We saw what you did after the Tribunal and how you tried to make it all better again. The Tribunal has made a decision. Hand over the reverse-o-ray gun.”
Trevor handed it over. His hands were shaking.
“The Tribunal reviewed the case and realised that you had in fact asked for the wrong thing. Being a scientist, it is in your interests to push experiments to the limits, to check and test what can and can’t be done. We do ask that you consider what it is that you are doing before you do them, but we thought this may be of more use.”
“What is it?” asked Torch.
“It’s an Undo-o-ray gun!” exclaimed Trevor. “If I make a mistake, I can fire this and it will undo anything I did wrong!”
“Hopefully that will stop things for going wrong again” said Santa. “Now, Shawn next I think.”
Shawn stepped forward.
Santa gave him the box, and he rattled it. Shawn knew exactly what was inside – it was the one toy he had asked for ALL YEAR. But…
“Santa, thank you – but…”
“But you don’t think you deserve it? Well, Timmy and Pauline will wake up tomorrow with the presents they wished for. But the gift you gave them meant far more when you gave it.”
“What gift?” asked Shawn. “I didn’t give them a gift!”
“Yes you did – the gift of friendship. When they were big you didn’t stay away, you came round to see how they were and played with them – helping them to forget what problems they had for a few minutes. That gift is a very big gift – and you gave it freely. For that, you deserve this thank you from us.”
Santa looked at his list. “Constable Lodge… I have your name, but you didn’t send me a list. You… you do believe in Santa, don’t you?”
Lodge smiled. “Oh yes Santa, I do believe in you. It’s just… well I’m happy with everything that I’ve got. I’ve got good friends, have a wonderful job and live in a wonderful town. What more could I ask for?”
Santa smiled and nodded. “I think you have the best present anyone could wish for. However, I don’t think you have this. Can you step forward please?”
Lodge looked confused and stepped forward. Santa turned to everyone.
“You see, most people think that I just receive lists and wishes from boys and girls and occasionally the odd adult. But that’s not true. We also get lists from everyone – and in this case, a unicorn.”
“Bambi has asked that Constable Lodge looks after her. Constable Lodge?”
“Santa, Bambi, it would be my pleasure.”
Bambi rubbed her head against Constable Lodge’s leg. “Come on then” Lodge said.
Finally, it was just Santa and Torch.
“Here we are again” said Torch. “Thanks for helping out.”
“Torch, it was a pleasure. It was a great idea to give those gifts out and I’m glad we could help.”
Santa delved into his bag and pulled out a bottle.
“A gift from Mrs Claus. Your very good health.”
“Can you stay for a small sherry?” asked Torch.
“Of course!” said Santa happily. “Are you ready to help me deliver all the presents?”
“You have just got the usual reindeer pulling the sled, not giant ones?”
THE END. For this year 🙂
Thank you ever so much for reading this story – I hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed thinking, writing, photographing, editing and publishing each section. I didn’t know where the story would go and I think I managed to get it to one actual whole 24-day story!
I hope that Santa brings you the presents you wish for – and that he also brings you my gift to you – the gift of friendship and happiness.
With all good wishes of the season and hopes and dreams for 2017,
The next morning Betty, Chuck and Torch met in the Station House. Gail was already there.
“I was thinking” she said. “we need to make sure all the cats know that we want to feed them, so we needed a way of calling them all. I remembered I had this old sledge and figured that if I mounted the amplifier speaker I could call the cats!”
“let me check something” said Chuck. He walked up to the sled with the speaker on and gave it a tug. “I reckon that my small sled could pull you and that too. It’ll be a little slower, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
“We could follow behind, making a breadcrumb trail of biscuits – once the cats start to fall in line, we can use Deefer to move them in the direction we need.”
It didn’t take long for the sled to be coupled up – and with Torch manning the drone helicopter he could see where the giant cats were. He then told Chuck, who steered the sled round to that part of the town. Soon, the sled was leading with all the giant cats following behind. Deefer nudged the slower cats – there were a few moments when the cats hissed back, but Deefer beared his fangs and the cats forgot that they were twice his size and backed down. Carefully, they encouraged the cats into the alley round the back of the police station and put a high fence in place to hold them in one place.
“Right” said Torch “I’ve got the reverse-o-ray gun; it’s primed and firing in three… two…”
“Hold on a moment” said Gail. Torch put the ray gun down. “What is it?” he asked. Gail pointed to the fence, and Torch saw Shawn looking at the cats.
“Let him through” he said to the policemen holding the fence.
They let Shawn through and he ran up to Max.
“I’m so sorry Max” he said, tears filling in his eyes, “I tried to look after you, but you’re too big for our house. I’ll see you when you’re smaller.”
Shawn walked towards Torch. “It doesn’t hurt them, does it?” he asked.
“No Shawn” said Torch. “When Robert De Niro grew again we asked him. he said it tickled a bit.”
Shawn stood behind Torch and Torch raised the ray gun and fired.
All the cats shrunk down to normal size. Betty carefully checked each one, making sure it was healthy before putting them into their own cage. She looked at Shawn.
“Some of these will go back to their owners, others will go to the rescue centre where hopefully they will find new owners. But that one… I think you’ll want that one.”
She pointed to a small cat. Shawn’s face lit up and he ran over to it.
“Max!” he cried. Betty strolled over to Shawn.
“I’ve spoken to your mum. She says they have space for a normal size cat, provided you promise to look after him.”
“Of course I will!” exclaimed Shawn. “Come on Max, you’re coming home with me!”
When the last cat was placed into the basket, and loaded onto the van, Torch smiled.
“Listen” he said. “Do you hear that?”
“No” replied Betty. “It’s all quiet!”
“I know” said Torch. “Mew-sic to my ears.”
There was a call from inside the police station.
“Torch…. come and see this.”
Torch stepped inside. The Chief pointed at the tree.
“Why is that glowing?” he asked.
It’s the sled! I think it’s Santa’s sled, and I suspect that I could put a present on the back. With no reindeers in previous advent boxes, I can only assume that it is expected that Deefer will pull it… certainly Bambi the Unicorn refused!
“Yes, I think it is” replied Chuck. “I had a sweep of the area and couldn’t see any.”
“But what if they were underground, or hiding behind a tree?”
“Frankiewiener had identified that all the mutant rabbits had a mutant element to them that meant that they would give off a trackable signal. I adapted my camera to pick up the signal – and that signal was readable to up to 50 metres underground, or half a finger depth into custard.”
“But why would custard prevent the signal from being picked up?”
“No idea – but if the rabbits learn this trick we’re in trouble.”
“Wouldn’t they also have to learn how to breath underwater?”
“No – they’d have to learn to breath under custard. I can still pick up the signal through water.”
“Betty – thank goodness you’re here. Tell me the rabbits are ok!”
“Hello chief! Yes, I’ve checked them over and they all seem fine.”
“But what about Scoop? Did you check him?”
“Yes – oddly, he was really happy about it; he couldn’t wait to get to his keyboard and start writing about it all!”
“That’s got to be an interesting thing to see! Is anyone taking him home – it’ll take him ages!”
“Yes that’s sorted” said Betty. “I’ve put him in one of my cup holders in the car so I don’t lose him and I’ll take him home. He tells me that a neighbour has got a spare key – which is going to be handy as Scoop’s is really small now!”
“So that’s all the rabbits sorted” said Torch. “But that’s not everything. We’ve still got the cats to deal with. Come on, let’s go back to the station and come up with some ideas.”
They hadn’t been in the station very long when Chuck arrived.
“I’ve had an idea” he said. “I don’t think the drone idea will work for the cats as it did for the rabbits, but perhaps we can recreate the Pied Piper of Hamelin.”
With that, he switched on his radio controller and flicked a switch. A small sled slid up to them.
“My neighbour has cats and tells me that they love special treat biscuits. So, if we can get some particularly good ones, perhaps the cats will follow them and we can trap them down an alley and repeat what we did!”
“Good idea!” said Torch.
“Yes…” said the Chief “but my experience is that cats don’t do everything as expected. Trying to get them together will be … well, it’ll be like herding cats!”
“Let me see if this works. I have a couple of dog biscuits here and I see Deefer* is over there. Let’s put the biscuits on here and test.”
“Should be interesting” said Torch. “Deefer is highly trained, so he shouldn’t… just… good grief!”
Chuck whizzed the little sled past Deefers nose. Deefer’s ears pricked up immediately and chased after the biscuits! Soon, Chuck was putting all his skills into swerving the sled this way and that as Deefer chased and barked happily.
“I’ve seen enough!” smiled Torch. “Let him have his rewards!”
Chuck stopped the sled and Deefer chomped the biscuits.
“Well done!” said Torch.
It’s Deefer and feeding bowl /trough thing (it’s in the background behind Torch). I do like the printing on Deefer and the curled tail on the back is really cute!
As a special bonus… here’s Scoop writing his chapter!
*I’m pretty sure that I used Deefer in an advent story line a few years back with Chuck, so it isn’t shoe horning the dog into the story. If you didn’t get it… D for Dog!