The Advent Adventure – The Black and White Christmas (1st-3rd December)(all)(1703 words)

Authors note: welcome to another advent story!  Back in 2012 I started to write an annual story, using the presents from the LEGO City advent calendar as “seeds” for the stories, where the daily story had to feature the present in some way.  Due to a whole number of things (see my earlier post) this year will be a weekly story but will feature all the items for that week.  I hope you enjoy the story.

 

December 1 – December 3

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Come in, please sit down and warm yourself by the fire.  Yes, it is a bit chilly out, isn’t it?  I’ll get one of my colleagues to go and get us some hot chocolates – you’re OK if we put little marshmallows on the top? It’s a bit of a seasonal treat for me, you see.

So, now you’re nice and settled, I’ll begin, and I don’t think we’ve met before.  My name is Edgar Lance Taylor Boothready – but I’m only ever called that by my mother when I’ve been a little naughty – most people just call me Wodge. The room that we are in is a very important part of Father Christmas’ Records Office; this is commonly called SH5 by the elves. Now you may have heard of the British spy departments of MI5 and MI6 and we’re a little like that.  You see, whilst the popular song says that Santa will check the Naughty List twice the truth is that he doesn’t really have time to go through the whole list – and certainly not enough to maintain it.  So, he has these “Santa Helper” departments who will look into everybody’s records and determine whether they will appear on the Naughty or Nice list.  Some are easy, others are more complicated, and these may get passed onto special SH departments, such as SH5, to investigate.  With our experience we can check, investigate and… sorry – I do tend to ramble a bit.  What you need is an example from our archives and I’ll tell you that in a moment; but I guess it’s worth knowing that we have many of these departments for things such as “politicians”, “liking Marmite and not liking Timbits”, “colouring outside the lines when drawing”, “stepping on the cracks in the pavement” and the like.

But let’s get down to the story.  It happened in one of the loveliest places to visit, Heartlake in Legoland.  I got to hear about it when an investigation form was put on my desk. It said:

Location: Heartlake, Legoland

Person(s) to be investigated:  Cameo; Doodlefig

Reason: Possible transfer to the Naughty List

 

And that was it.  No further explanation of who they were, where I would find them, or if they had been bad before (we don’t rollover people onto the Naughty List; everyone starts on the Nice List at the start of the year and then the SH departments will then get alerts and take the appropriate actions.  Of course, some might get moved across instantly the clock chimes midnight – but that’s the responsibility of SH1)

With nothing else to go on, I decided to go to Heartlake.  Besides, I needed some mini-marshmallows for my hot chocolate…

 

William was out in the snow.  He loved this time of year – it was the perfect opportunity to get out his snowboard and head to the slopes.  Fortunately, the Heartlake hills were a short walk from his house, and even better the ski lift was close too, so he could finish school, get home and be on the slopes before his dad got home from work and they had tea.  Last Christmas he had been given a new board – it was a lovely colourful board and it stood out on the snow as he carved his way down the slope.  He made his way up to the top of the slope and clipped his boots into the board.  He was about to push off and start to slide down when a man just skied straight over the end of his board.

“Hey” said William.

“I was here first, you pushed in” said the man.

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William didn’t realise that there was a queue and as he looked round, he could see that everyone else hadn’t realised there was a queue either.  They all shrugged their shoulders and carried on.  William enjoyed this slope – about a third of the way down there was a section that allowed him to do some very simple tricks – and get a little air too, which was always fun.  As he headed down, he carefully made sure that he kept out of the way of anyone else, especially those who were still learning or going slowly, so that everyone could enjoy the slope.  Because he knew the slope so well, he also knew the little dog leg through the trees that would bring him out close by the entrance to the ski lift – something that those who followed the marked path would be away from. He came to a stop and started to walk towards the lift.

“Hey, get behind me – I was here first!” This was shouted from a way behind William.  It was that man again.

“I finished by following the proper route.  You took a short cut.  You should get the lift after me.”

William was now very confused – and a little worried as this man was definitely strange.  He looked at his watch and decided that it would just be easier to go home.  With a cheeky bow, he waved the man through and onto the lift.  The stranger got onto the ski lift without a word of thanks.

By the time William had got home, he had forgotten all about it.  At the top of the lift, the man got off.  He had not forgotten – and for him it was another reason for what he had planned.

 

At the other end of Heartlake, in a house that had definitely seen better days, Steven laid out the train track for his model toy train.  Like the house, the train was old, made from old tin and bent roughly into the shape of a train.  The paint on the train was chipped and faded and the train tracks were a dark stained brown from years of use.  This was a train set that had been passed down through generations.  Steven wound up the train and the clockwork motor started to pull the train round.  In his mind, Steven was on board the train.  For him, the track didn’t go around in a loop – it went off and away from here.  Whilst the train went around the tracks taking Steven’s mind off to faraway places, he doodled absent-mindedly on his sketch pad. The clockwork soon ran out, bringing him back to that worn out living room and the threadbare carpet.  He looked at the sketch pad and saw he’d drawn a tunnel.  “Wouldn’t it be fun if it worked” he thought.  He wound the train up and it started round the track.  With a mischievous smile, Steven stood the sketch pad on the tracks.  The train got closer to the sketch paper… the clockwork motor already sounding like it was running out of power… closer… slower… closer… slower… and… then… It went into the tunnel!  Or rather, it HALF went into the tunnel – the clockwork motor stopped with the last of the train still sticking out.  Steven’s mouth dropped open.  He looked at the paper – and the train – and then looked at the other side of the paper, which was just a blank piece of paper!  Steven carefully pulled the train out and then carefully put his hand up to… into… the tunnel.  Then his arm – right up to the shoulder.  He pulled his hand out and looked inside.  It was pitch black.

“Of course – I’ve not drawn the other end of the tunnel!” he exclaimed.  A few minutes later he had drawn the entrance to a second tunnel on another piece of paper.  He propped the paper up on the train tracks, then carefully propped the first one up.  He looked down the tunnel – he could see a light at the other end!  He wound up the train and let it run.  It went into the tunnel… there was a pause… and then it came out of the other entrance!

For the next few hours, Steven tried various railway set ups – he even broke the loop of the train tracks but made sure the tunnel was on the lines.  He worked out that it was always just three seconds from something going in to the tunnel to coming out.

The next day Steven could not think of anything else except for this new-found trick.  He started to think about all the things he could do with this – but as he thought about this, he started to wonder; how big could he make the hole?  Where did it go – and did it always need a tunnel at the other end?  That evening was going to be exciting!

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For me, I had arrived at Heartlake.  We had a standard agreement with the hotel and always had a room on standby – every year something seems to happen around here that requires one of us to come and visit.  We’ve often thought about opening a little shop here rather than relying on the post delivering the Santa Wish lists.  I decided to take the opportunity to do a little skiing – whilst we do have snow in Lapland, it is quite flat where we are and it’s quite nice to let the slope do the work.  I watched a strange man tell a boy off for something – I didn’t pay too much attention as that was the sort of thing that SH8 would be told about and investigate.  But about an hour later I received a Santatext from SH8 that the incident may be linked to my own investigation.  Could one of them be somehow connected to my two persons of interest?  Something to investigate I thought… but first, time for hot chocolate.

 

Advent Toys

This week we only had three days – and those were the Toy Train, William the Snowboarding boy and this lovely brick fireplace.

See you next week!

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Vote for me! (Short Story: 1021 words)(all)

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Peter entered the burrow looking quite pleased with himself.

“I’ve decided that we should have an election!” he said. “I’ve got a rosette and everything! Vote for me!!”

Jessica looked at Peter.

“Firstly, that’s my rosette” she said. “secondly, what are we voting for?”

“What?” asked Peter. “You’re voting for me!  Vote for me!”

“No, you misunderstand” she replied “If we vote for you, what do we get?”

“More carrots!” said Peter happily.

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At this point, Colin entered the small room.  He listened for a little while, then spoke.

“Peter, it is good that you are taking an interest in these things, but there are a couple of problems with your approach.  First, you are the only person people can vote for – we need a choice.  Secondly, you can’t say that if we vote for you we’ll get something we will already have.”

“Unless”.. Peter added, “there was a plan to stop you from getting that.”

“Is there?” asked Jessica worriedly. “Are they going to ration carrots?”

“No” said Colin. “There is no plan. Peter is being silly.”

“Well that’s alright” said Jessica. “I like carrots.”

“So do I” said Peter. “That’s why if you vote for me I’ll make sure that there are more carrots!”

“That will do with the talk about carrots” said Colin. “It’s making me hungry.  I know, let’s have an election; Jessica, would you agree to be the other voting choice against Peter?”

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“Oh, I don’t know” said Jessica, “I’m not sure what I can offer.”

Colin thought for a moment, then said

“If you could, what would you like to see more of?”

“Well, I always find that I don’t have enough brightly coloured crayons for my pictures.  So I guess I could stand for that.”

“Excellent” encouraged Colin. “Now Peter, forgetting carrots for the moment, what would you like to see more of?”

Peter thought hard.  You could see he was thinking hard as he screwed up his face as you do when you think hard.  Then he said

“Paper.  I never have enough paper.  I always make mistakes when I’m drawing and have to start again.”

“Well that’s excellent” said Colin.  “Jessica, you are campaigning for people to vote for more coloured crayons and Peter you are campaigning for people to vote for more paper to draw on.  You go and get support for your campaigns and I’ll organise the voting part.  Oh and Peter; no talk about more carrots.”

Jessica and Peter ran off in different directions to start their campaigning.  Peter drew several posters saying “Vote for me”.  He only wanted to draw one, but he kept spelling things wrong and having to start again.  Colin also pointed out after the tenth attempt that he ought to also put his name on the poster so that people would know to vote for him and not Jessica… and that took another six tries.  Jessica only drew one poster, and in truth didn’t really finish it because… well, there weren’t enough colours.  Colin, spoke to Eldritch the elder bunny to be the official and make sure that the voting was conducted properly.

On the morning of the election, Colin explained to all the bunnies that they could only vote for either Jessica or Peter.  He gave Jessica and Peter a few moments to talk about why people should vote for them (with the warning that Peter was not to talk about carrots) and then declared the voting open.

As he walked away, Colin saw Millicent in the corner.

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“Hello Millicent” said Colin, “Are you going to vote?”

“I don’t know” said Millicent. “To be honest, I don’t really know which one to vote for.  I should vote for my friend Jessica, but I do make mistakes when I’m drawing, so I should vote for Peter.  It’s all very hard really.”

“Well” replied Colin. “It’s your vote and you should choose to vote for the person you think will help you most.  You don’t need to tell anyone who you voted for and  I don’t think you’re the only one that isn’t sure.”

Later that day, Colin said that the opportunity to vote had finished, and he and Eldritch counted the voting papers.  Once that was done, everyone gathered in the hall.  Eldritch stood up to address the warren.

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“This has been a very interesting affair” he said.  “I’m pleased to say that of the fourty five rabbits in the warren we received sixty two votes, so well done everyone.  There were only two voting papers that were marked spoiled; one had a carrot drawn on it…”

“That was me!” exclaimed Peter.  Everyone laughed.  Eldritch looked down at Peter and continued.

“….. and one had a half completed butterfly drawn across it.”

Eldritch then looked at Jessica, who looked back and smiled.

“So what was the final result?” asked Colin.

“So I counted 39 votes for Jessica…” started Eldritch.  Jessica smiled.

“… and 45 votes for Peter.  Peter wins!”

Colin looked carefully at Eldritch.  “Hang on” Colin said cautiously. “There are forty five rabbits in the warren and yet you got sixty two votes! Then, of the sixty votes, you counted 86 votes!”

Eldritch twitched his moustache.

“I guess I should have told you that my numbers aren’t very good” he said.  Colin smiled supportively.

“No, that’s fine Eldritch.  You helped me out and I’m thankful.  And as the official for this, you have the final vote… so Peter wins.”

Everybody clapped and cheered.

“Thank you everyone!” said Peter happily. “I would like to thank Jessica for running against me – and I too would like more crayons so I will look to make that happen.  In the meantime, carrots for everyone!”

everybody cheered again.

After, Colin approached Peter and asked, “so, where are you going to get the extra paper from?”

Peter pointed at the pile of paper in the corner of the room. “Over there” he said.

Colin looked quizzically at Peter. “But’s that’s where we get all the paper from now!” he exclaimed.  “Oh dear, you are going to be a good politician!”

 

 

Colin, Jessica and Millicent: Naughty Rabbits by fluffyhouse.com

Eldritch and Peter: Labbits by Kidrobot.

 

 

Adventures in Normal (all)

2017-03-12 08.10.08

“I wonder if I should dye my hair”

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“Bet I’ll have to go to the loo if I drink all that”

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“Oh, I should have turned left!”*

So there’s a story behind this.  I planned to go out and do about 9Km / 6 miles, but instead went straight on when I should have turned left at Victoria Station… and as there was no path by the Battersea Power Station I ended up adding another mile and a half onto the run.  On the plus side, I now know a 10Km route…

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Convent Entrance

2017-03-19 09.07.08

CCTV

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“You are in my powers”

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“I see you… Gotcha!”

The Vase (a short story: 983 words)(all)

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“You had better watch out” said Jessica. “Something or someone will get hurt.”

But Roger and Tom weren’t listening.  They were playing with the ball in the hall of the burrow, kicking it to and fro – and every so often sideways.  On more than one occasion the ball would head off and bounce off Jessica’s head.  Luckily she wasn’t drawing otherwise she would have been really angry with the two of them.

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“It’s OK” said Roger, “the ball is soft and bouncy… see!” and with that he gave it a really hard kick towards Tom.  Only instead of heading towards Tom it went off with a curve and bounced off the vase that was sitting on the shelf.

“Uh oh” said Roger.

“Uh oh” said Tom.

Roger and Tom stood there, watching the vase rock back and forth.  The sudden quiet was too much for Jessica and she turned round to see what wasn’t happening – and saw the vase.

“Oh No!!” she cried out.

The vase wobbled just a little more then fell off the shelf and landed on the floor.

CRASH!!!!

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Before the last of the shards of the vase had settled Tom said “Bye!” and scampered off as fast as he could. Jessica and Roger look at the pot – and then at each other.

“What are we going to do?” asked Roger.

“We?” replied Jessica, “You broke it!”

“I know” said Roger, “But I don’t know what to do next.”

Jessica thought for a moment then said to Roger “go and get some glue.”

“Yes that will fix it – I’ll glue the bits back together!”

He scampered away as fast as he could.  Whilst he got the glue, Jessica carefully gathered up all the parts of the pot. Roger returned and as best as he could muster he stuck the pot back together again.  They put it on the shelf.

“Good as new” said Roger.

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Jessica didn’t know what to say. There were bits of the pot in places that they never used to be, both on the pot and on Roger – and bits of his fur were all over everything.  It didn’t help that he’d managed to stick the glue cap on the vase and leave a puddle of glue on the floor either.

Whilst they stood there, Colin entered the room.  He saw the two of them looking at the shelf and without looking at the vase said,

“You know that vase belongs to the Elder Rabbit.  He’s had it for years – it was his fathers and his father’s before him.  It’s irreplaceable you know…”

Colin then realised that the two rabbits weren’t just looking at the vase – they were staring at it, their eyes big and slowly Colin’s eyes scanned to what it was they were… oh no!

“What have you done?” Colin exclaimed.

Jessica couldn’t help herself.  She tried to say quiet, but it wasn’t in her nature.

“RogerandTomwhereplayingwiththeballandithitthevasewetriedtofixitbutweweren’tverygoodwereweit’srubbishIknowwe’resosorry” she blurted before following it with tears that would almost flood the hallway.

“Don’t cry” said Colin, looking at the vase, “We can fix it. But it’s certainly an interesting variation” he added.

Colin carefully picked up the vase and told the two rabbits that he would fix it – but they would need to clear away all the mess that was all around the floor.  He looked at Roger, with bits of pot sticking to his fur and realised that he would need cleaning down too. Jessica, pleased that Colin was coming to their help, offered to clear up the mess.

“After all” she said “Roger would probably end up wearing more of it.”

Roger smiled a little.  He owed Jessica for this help – and so did Tom.

Colin cleaned Roger down – if only to make sure that he had all the parts of the vase.  He then carefully unglued all the shards and cleaned them down whilst Roger watched carefully.  Then he carefully glued them all back in the right place.  Finally, the vase was ready.

Roger and Jessica watched as Colin carefully put the vase back on the shelf.  They didn’t hear the Elder Rabbit enter the room.

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“Are you cleaning the vase again, Colin?” asked the Elder Rabbit.  “I remember you telling me the vase needed a clean when you knocked it off the shelf when you were a small bunny.”

Jessica and Roger looked at Colin.

“I never said it hadn’t happened before.” He said.

“Mind you” added the Elder Rabbit, “At least you didn’t have to buy a new one like I did when I broke it.  I tried to glue it back together, but I couldn’t get all the bits to fit in the right order.”

He peered closely at the vase.

“That’s a very neat repair” he added, “Remembering how well Colin repaired it last time, I reckon this was done by you Jessica – well done.”

Jessica looked at Colin – who just winked.

“Thank you” said Jessica.

The Elder Rabbit walked off. Once out  of site, Colin added

“Actually, this is the seventh vase that I know of. You should have just told me when it got broken – we’ve got a stack of replacement vases out back.”

“So why did we have to repair it?” asked Roger.

“Because” smiled Colin, “How else would you remember not to play with the ball in the hallway?  Besides, what would you have done if there were no extra vases?”

Roger looked down.  “I’m sorry” he said.

“Roger, you need to thank Jessica for helping you.  While you do that, I’m going to find Tom – I’ve got a huge stack of plates that will need scrubbing clean for him to do.  He really should not have run off.”

Once Colin had left the room, Roger looked at Jessica. Before he could say anything she said,

“I know you’re sorry, but I’ll think of something I’ll need you to do.  But it won’t be gluing anything.”