Author’s note 1:to read the first part, go here: https://frog101.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/an-endless-summer-the-christmas-advent-prequel-1101-words-all/
Author’s note 2: The character Nurgle is a recurring one in my advent stories. You might want to check out the 2013 Christmas Brussel caper to see what I’m talking about…
“Well it’s another sunny day here – and in fact everywhere; temperatures are still in the high 80s and this heatwave is breaking all records! The government is working closely with the various environmental agencies dealing with drought and flood conditions up and down the country and that hosepipe ban remains in place – even in the low lying counties that are underwater right now. Now on KYZ54 radio – ‘Nowhere to run’ by Martha and the Vandellas!!!”
“Billy – put your blazer back on!”
“But miss, it’s just too hot in here! Can I just take it off whilst I’m in class?”
Miss Fruncham looked at the children, sat there visibly sweltering in the heat. She realised that she was wearing a very light short sleeve blouse – so that wasn’t right, or fair. Although the boys, being boys, were emitting an odour that she knew would get worse once those jackets came off.
“Ok, as long as you’re in my class you can take your coats and jumpers off. I’ll talk to the Headmaster to see if we can do something about that more permanently.”
In the Headmaster’s study, the headmaster along with his deputy and the janitor were in deep conversation about school business.
“But do the boilers have to be on now?” asked the Deputy “I’m sure we don’t need to heat the school right now!”
“Do you have any idea how long it takes to get those old things up and running? If this heatwave ends you’ll be having a go at me for not getting the place warm enough – like you did last Christmas!”
“But you were late by three weeks and we had children in class wearing enough winter clothing to survive being dropped in the Artic!” the Deputy replied. “Can’t we just switch them off for a while?”
“Oh sure – and then when I’m dealing with all the fallen leaves you’ll be back on me for the boiler AND having a go that the playground is slippery!”
The headmaster looked out the window. The trees that surrounded the playground were now a cautious mixture of leaves about to fall because of the drought and of their age – and yet there were still a great number of very green leaves. He turned to face the two colleagues, both bristling over past grievances.
“Ok you two listen; Mack, please turn the boilers down to their lowest setting. We’ll consider next week if we just turn them off. John, can you send a message to all teachers and heads to say that we will have an open discussion about school rules around clothing – Now we’re into November the children should be in their winter uniform but somehow that seems inappropriate. Finally, Mack, can you have a look at the crack on the east block – I’m starting to think that the drought may be causing subsidence.”
Once the end of day bell rang, Billy met Kylie and they started to walk home. They both lived in the same street just a couple of doors away from each other so walking home from school was a regular thing for them. Their summer holidays were now a thing of the past and what was front and centre in their minds now was homework – and Christmas. The shops had already started to put out the decorations for sale, the main street had the lights switched on and everything was starting to get ready. Except that the winter didn’t seem to want to arrive – but for Billy and Kylie that hadn’t registered.
“Have you written your letter yet?” asked Billy.
“But it’s only November” replied Kylie, “there’s plenty of time yet.”
“I want to ask Santa for the Megatron2000” said Billy. “I asked last year for the Megatron500 but didn’t get it – my dad said that Santa didn’t get the letter early enough; so this year I’m making sure that it’s right at the top of the list.”
“That seems quite sensible… for you” smiled Kylie. “Besides, you might get the letters to join up if you start early enough!”
Billy smiled and Kylie ran off, Billie chasing whilst desperately trying to think of a reply that wasn’t just “well girls smell” as he’d already used that three times this week.
Two figures sat in the swirl of the mists between time.
“You could’ve turned the heating down.”
“I thought it could be a little warmer. I’d say things were frosty between us – but you’d like that, wouldn’t you?!”
“Well I could certainly do without the heat and friction” the ice queen replied. “Shall we discuss what’s going on?”
The Summer King and Ice Queen sat at either end of a long table; the practicalities of heating a space (even with magic) meant that there needed to be space between them to allow for their individual requirements.
The Ice Queen started. “How are you enjoying this summer? Have you seen what’s happening down there?”
The Summer King paused before speaking. “Well, it’s certainly been quite nice to make the summer last a little longer – but I hadn’t realised that it would quite as much damage as it has done.”
“So shall we end this and get back to some form of normality? After all, I think you get a little more time with it all before you hand it over these days.”
“I’d be happy to hand it over… but there’s a problem.”
“Yes – you see this summer was generated by children’s wishes and not by us.”
“But they would have forgotten about their wishes – even if they had realised the impact of what they had wished for!”
“Exactly – so we can’t just change it back.”
“Can’t you get your helpers to just go out and get the kids to unmake their wishes?”
“Well that’s the thing – it’s easy to get people to make wishes when they are enjoying themselves and living in the moment; but we are asking for small children to think beyond that and wish for those cold days which mean they can’t go out and play; the time they are likely to get a cold and when it gets dark early. Let’s face it – that doesn’t sound like fun at all.”
“You’ve outdone yourself this time, haven’t you? I can only think of one person who could help us.”
“Do you think he could do it?”
“Well, Mr Sunny-side-up, do you have a better plan?”
“Well we have one shot at this – we need to bring the seasons back into balance.”
“See if he will help.”
“No – you can call him; after all, you know what a cheerful, friendly person he is…”
Santa was in the garage, polishing his motorcycle to get the road grime of the chrome. He’d finally got the engine humming sweetly – the additional summer days had meant that he was able to spend way more time on the bike than ever before – and secretly he was enjoying the warmth. But he did have some concerns… The door opened quietly and Mrs Claus poked her head round the door.
“Honey, have you packed yet for fat camp?”
Santa muttered under his breath. Normally he really enjoyed the fat camp – weeks of minimal (but careful) exercise, loads of rich, yummy food and plenty of Mead and Sherry – training to be able to drop all those presents, scoff all the gifts that the parents leave out without ending up wheezing at the top of the chimney desperately catching his breath. Now he had a special trainer these camps were brilliant – he thought back to when he recruited James to help; the whole coming-to-terms with his client and who he was and the knowing that James desperately wanted to pass on his Santa Letter … but what made Santa really smile was when James was introduced to the Sleigh team and was asked to develop a training regime for them! Of course, being a personal (human) trainer James knew that he couldn’t train Rudolph – but luckily he did now a horse racing trainer and before anyone knew it TEAM SANTA had its own support team. Of course, everyone realised that you couldn’t just have a truck with TEAM SANTA sprawled down the side… but James had an idea and after a closed door conversation with the executives at a Cola company (with the marketing agreements in place) Santa had a huge truck that he could transport everyone to their various camps – and the cool thing was that NO-ONE would expect a truck with more lights and TV presence to contain what it actually did!
But Santa was not looking forward to fat camp this time. As he got bigger his metabolism changed in readiness for the cold –and with this heat he knew that he would be sweating out as much as he was putting in. If the weather didn’t change soon, by the time Christmas arrived he would be absolutely sick of milk, sherry and cookies.
He heard the phone ring and he picked it up on the third ring. He listened to the Summer King as he spluttered his apologies (even the Summer King remembered what happened last time when he had been on Santa’s naughty list – and he knew he would be back on it, written in gold). Santa remained silent throughout the call.
“… so… so… can you help? Please?”
“I don’t know – getting children to want presents is easy. Getting children to want the cold of winter is something else entirely. Let me think about it.”
The Summer King thanked Santa and put the phone down. He thought a moment, and then dialled a number.
“I’ve just had a call from the Summer King – did you put him up to it? I thought so – and yes, he did sound genuinely apologetic. But we’ve got our work cut out now. My elves are beginning to gear up for production; I’ve already got a good idea of what a lot of children will want, so we can get a head start on the Megatrons. Don’t want to run out like we did last time. But I reckon I could spare about a hundred if you could use them.”
Santa put the phone down and thought of Nurgle – and within an instance the little elf appeared.
“Nurgle, we have a problem and I reckon you are absolutely the right person to help.”
Nurgle puffed out his chest. Santa pretended not to notice and continued.
“Get 100 of the elves together and get 80 of them to report to the Ice Queen. They’re going to need warm jackets and hats as they’ll be there for a while. Oh, and they’ll need their black brushes. Wait… I haven’t finished yet!”
Nurgle was turning ready to show Santa he could find 100 elves. He stopped and turned back.
“I haven’t told you what you and the remaining 20 elves need to do! Your job is much harder – you need to get children to believe in winter… hang on, wait I’ve got an idea; find the 100 elves and get the 80 up to the Ice Queen. The rest of the elves will be coming to fat camp with me.”
Yesterday Sue and I went up to the NEC to Brick2015, a celebration of all things LEGO. Being a Saturday and being LEGO the place was of course heaving with excitable children – and throughout the throng of people there was a constant sound of millions of bricks being sorted through – courtesy of the ten or so LEGO pits that occupied the floor. There were a number of model displays from both small scale through to HUGE (such as a Woolly Mammoth or a life size caravan. In addition to the brick pits there were also opportunities to contribute to larger projects – I built a little house that was added to the “Build Britain” floorscape. Given the speed in which the map was filled I suspect that the whole thing was cleared down at the end of the day ready for the next round of people.
It was a great day out. Yes, I did buy stuff – and as I sort of knew, none was a boxed product but accessories, such as two 3D base plates which I will probably use for the advent story or three bicycles…