The Advent Adventure – the Black and White Christmas (11 – 17 December)(All) (1711 words)

2017-12-03 08.44.05

“I don’t know” said WPC Sandra Slang, “It just seems a little quiet compared to previous years. OK, we seem to be only working in black and white, but at least we have all the Brussel Sprouts and no-one seems to be stealing…”

She didn’t finish her sentence because the police station was filled with the sound of an alarm.

“Blast!” cried Sandra “I jinxed it, didn’t I?”

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Across the town, the manager of the Heartlake Bank was just standing, staring at the bank’s vault.  Or rather, staring at the half-empty contents of the bank’s vault.

“I don’t understand” he said. “I opened the bank at 9 o’clock as I always do, and apart from Granny Smith depositing her collection of pennies nobody has come into – or left – the bank.  And yet, in the space of twenty three minutes, half of the cash has now left the bank vault!”

“Can you confirm what has been stolen?” asked WPC Sandra.

“Yes, I can – the thieves have stolen half the bank’s cash, which amounts to about 250,000. They left the gold bars, and indeed anything that will be easily traceable.”

“So they’ve only taken cash then?”

“Yes – but fortunately they were all new, so the numbers run in order.  That means that if they try to spend them we’ll be able to catch them in the act!”

“That’s great” said Sandra. “If you can give me those numbers, I’ll tell all the shop keepers, especially the jewellers and the posh shops; I reckon the thieves will try and spend the money on expensive things.”

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In a small, run down house on the edge of Heartlake, Steven sat in his room surrounded by cash.  He had drawn a hole with his pen, and reached through into the bank and helped himself.  He had learned that once he destroyed his drawing of a hole the other end would immediately disappear – he had also lost a model train when he found this out too.

He loaded several large packets of bills onto his sled and headed out into the street.

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His first stop was the supermarket, where he bought plenty of food that he could stock all the shelves back at home.  He made sure that it was also useful items, such as rice and beans, rather than just chocolates and sweets (although he bought some of those too).  He also bought a sled and a couple of toys from the local toyshop – a toy ride-on firetruck, a radio controlled helicopter and a toy race car as well as a few board games (and a new model train); but rather than take most of these home he walked down to the local orphanage, where he left the toys and a couple of packets of money before heading back to town.  On his return, he stopped by the charity bench, where the local church were making hot tea and chocolate for anyone, raising money for worthy causes.  He bought a hot chocolate and when no-one was looking stuffed some more money packets into the collection bucket.

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I was standing by the charity stand when I saw Steven.  I thought it was more than a little unusual – he seemed somehow suspicious.  I pulled out my pocket computer from my jacket as I felt it vibrate; apparently I was close to one of the two people I was asked to look into. I decided that I needed to follow him.

Steven returned to his house.  I looked through the window and saw that he was putting some packets of money into his rucksack. When he left his house once more, I followed him – and watched as he secretly left packets of money by homeless people, or in collection buckets.  Given the way he was dressed I was very surprised that he had so much money to give; but I know from the Naughty and Nice lists the way people dress isn’t always an indicator of anything.

But something caught my attention and made me turn round.  A policewoman was shouting “STOP THIEF!!” and pointed at Steven.  I turned back, to see that Steven had pulled out a very large piece of paper and was trying to draw something… a hole! He was drawing a hole… he was the Doodlefig!

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Unfortunately, I realised that he wasn’t going to escape because of two reasons.  Firstly, his pen was running out of ink and he was having to go over the same piece of paper time and time again; it was also starting to tear as it got wet in the cold, snowy air.  He decided a change of plan was in order – perhaps he could escape by creating a fire!  He got out another piece of paper and pulled out two more pens.  I could see what he was trying to draw, but because everything was in a shade of grey the flames didn’t come to life… and soon WPC Sandra had Steven in handcuffs.

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Back at the police station, Sandra was questioning Steven on what he had done.  She told him that nearly all the money had been recovered – the toy shop had felt something was amiss when he had bought all these toys as they had never had someone almost buy the complete shop stock before and all the money looked new. As she had been leaving the toy shop she heard a squeal from the charity stand and had gone over, to find that more of the money had been put into the bucket.  It hadn’t taken her long to realise that the money was being distributed around those less fortunate – and it was by chance that she had seen Steven put a packet of money by the side of Homeless Joe that she made the connection.

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Because of my connection with the town, I had been allowed to listen to the interview from behind the mirrored glass; so I had heard Steven’s confession.  He wanted everyone to have a wonderful Christmas, and finding that he had suddenly got these magical powers he wanted to help everyone.  However, as he wasn’t rich, he knew he had to do something and he reckoned that the Heartlake Bank was probably insured anyway.  I had a dilemma.  Steven had obviously been bad – he had stolen money – but it was for the benefit of those who were unfortunate, which was a very nice thing.  Which list should I put him on?  I had an idea.  I spoke with WPC Sandra – it took a little persuading for her to realise that SH5 – and Santa Claus – were real; but I explained how Steven could help the town and she agreed that he could be useful.

“But he’s not to leave town” she added.

“Don’t worry, we know where everyone is… sort of” I replied.

I entered the interview room.  Steven looked very scared and confused.

“Who are you?” he asked “I was asked to wait here… I’ve been bad, haven’t I?”

I told him what I thought – and that he really needed to help me catch Cameo.  I pointed out that he could still be in trouble for taking the money from the bank; but that the decision would be made by WPC Sandra.

“So you’re not out of the woods yet… even though I need you to help us get into them.”

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Sandra had contacted the bank manager and arranged to go over to the bank. She sat down opposite the manager in his office and explained that she had found most of the money. She explained what Steven had done and where he had put the money. “There are still a few bills floating around” she said. “The problem is that they have been given to needy people, so they might not surface just yet.  What I can do is arrange to return the recovered money by the end of the day.”

The Bank Manager sat back in his chair.  “Obviously, we can’t just let this go – but also I am aware that Faceblock and the news websites are all running the story of what has happened in the town; the Heartlake press has been particularly efficient.  I’ve had to speak to my manager, and the bank’s press office – and they have mixed opinions too; the Bank want all the money back because they see it as theirs, the Bank’s press office and some of the senior partners want to keep a good news story alive and show the bank has a heart.  We have a plan.  I’m going to – quietly – go to the orphanage and tell them that they can keep the toys – we’ll pay the money to the toy shop.  That one will be a ‘secret santa’.  As for the other people, we will arrange for them to receive some money.  Certainly not what they had been given originally, but something to help them at this time.  I will then speak with Heartlake press to make sure that the good news is mentioned.”

“That’s all very good” said Sandra, “but what about Steven?  Once the money is handed back out to the people it will be very difficult to proceed with a trial in this town; Steven will be seen as the initiator of a Christmas goodwill gesture!”

The Bank manager flexed his fingers. “That certainly is a problem.” He picked up his calculator and tapped away at the keypad. He then turned the calculator to Sandra.  “That is the amount that we will have given away – lost – from all this. How can Steven help me get that back?”

Sandra smiled “I’m sure he could draw it for you… actually, perhaps that’s the answer – and again, everyone can benefit.  I know that the orphanage and the hospital could do with a lick of paint, perhaps we get Steven to do the painting for free – and again from the Bank’s perspective, you can spin that you are giving to the community; I’m sure you can come up with the right words and we can coach Steven.”

“That sounds like an excellent idea.”

Sandra returned to the police station and told Steven.  He looked very relieved and wanted to start instantly… but Sandra said that they still needed to buy the paint – and reminded him that he still had to help me.

 

 

Advent Toys

So this week we had:

Snowman

Outdoor bench with mug

Policewoman on Skis

Police sled with colour blocks

Toy Fire Truck

Toy Race Car

Radio Helicopter

 

See you next week!

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The Advent Adventure – the Black and White Christmas (4 – 10 December)(All) (1928 words)

2017-12-02 07.45.42

The man who had had the argument with William had reached his house.  It was a wooden cabin, deep in the woods – or rather, it looked like it was a wooden cabin. The stranger walked up the wooden steps and across the front porch to the door.  He pressed 07734 onto the keypad, and the door opened outwards. As he stepped in, the door closed behind him.  If you had a very keen sense of hearing, you would have heard the sound of lift motors coming into life as the false floor dropped to the sub basement and a false floor covered the hole where the platform had been.

Cameo stepped from the lift platform.  He was furious that yet again people had shown themselves to not follow clear rules.  They were so straightforward, weren’t they?  You queue to get on the ski lift and you wait for the same people to ski down if they were ahead of you (no matter how long they took to clip into their skis) and they certainly did not take shortcuts at the end of the ski run.  Just another example of the breakdown of society.  And what was it with the pastel colours of Heartlake?  Colours should be red, blue, black, white, green – not “puce” or “Tarragon Glory 4”… and certainly not “Pantone 306C”.  He grumbled all the way down the corridor until a small robotic dog click-clacked out from a side room.

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“Hello K9” said Cameo. “At least you understand that things are better when they are clear cut.  But not to worry, I have a machine that will sort all that out.”  He eventually arrived at the end of a long corridor and slid the doors open, which revealed a giant hangar-sized enclosed room.  All around the edges the computers whirred, whizzed and pinged and the monitors all gave out varying information.

“There it is K9, my solution” Cameo explained. “Soon, this machine will make everything straightforward – life will be simple, just Black and White.” He walked over to each of the monitors, looked at them, nodded and went “hmm, uh-huh” a few times, the said “good, it’s ready.”

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He walked back to K9 and picked it up. “You need to be somewhere safe” he explained. “I don’t want you getting caught up when I set this machine off.”  He carefully put K9 back into the side room that it had originally came from and closed the door.  Then he walked back to the hangar and up to the machine.  He pressed the big red button and the white screen flashed briefly, before it started to display its start up code.  Cameo watched for a short while, before walking over to a small console and flicking the switch on the panel.  The platform that the machine was on started to rise up towards the ceiling, which opened up to allow the machine to rise up into the woodland near to the wooden cabin – in full view of Heartlake.  There was a small click when the platform stopped rising, and a faint hum.  The white screen of the machine went black briefly, before the display showed the message “WHAM!”

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Outside the Heartlake cinema, William’s older sister Stephanie was talking with Mike from the “Capes and Cowls” café.  “That film was brilliant” she said, “thank you for suggesting we go and see it.”  Mike smiled. “No problem” he said. “What bloke doesn’t like seeing a romantic comedy that has no action scenes and leaves most of the audience in tears?  By the way, that’s a lovely top you’re wearing – it’s so … grey?”  Stephanie looked down.  It was definitely a pink top earlier – but Mike was right, it was definitely now a grey colour.  As was her shoes.  As was the Cinema!

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“What’s happening Mike?” she asked “If I didn’t know better I’d say we’ve slipped into an old black and white movie!”  “Well as long we don’t get visited by Clarence Odbody* we’ll be fine!”

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William was also equally confused.  He’d gone round to see how Granny Smith was – he always tried to get round to see her once a week and she made lovely cakes and cookies. This time of year he would also go round and clear Granny’s path of snow.  He was talking to her about her garden and she offered freshly baked cookies.  William had smelled that lovely smell as soon as he had entered the house – and had been waiting for what felt like ages before she had offered them.  As he picked one off the tray, the smell seemed to go.  He looked at the cookies, which had just gone a grey colour and took a bite.  They tasted of… well, nothing really.  He finished the first and tried another – it tasted the same, that was, it tasted of nothing!  Granny Smith was equally confused.  “Perhaps I didn’t put enough sugar in them” she said “but that’s the first time I’ve ever made such disappointing cookies.  I’ll have to make some more fresh tomorrow – come round on your way home from school.”  William agreed that he would; after all it was likely that he would have to clear the snow again from the drive and pavement anyway.

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As William left the house, he went to push off on his sledge (much more fun than just walking) and it just made a horrible scraping sound – the sound when metal is scrapped across concrete paving slabs.  It certainly didn’t glide.  William realised that he couldn’t tell if there was ice or not – it was all the same shade of grey.  Which meant it was equally likely that he wouldn’t spot the ice on the ground either.  It was going to take a long time to get home.

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Obviously, I was alerted to the fact that something was wrong when my little marshmallows went grey, as did my hot chocolate.  Sitting in the café, I couldn’t tell what it was I ordered – and neither could any of the other customers either.  “Is this an Americano, or a Flat White?” they asked.  I had to do something, so I carefully made my way back to the hotel and got out the drone plane from my case.  I then headed back to the playing field and set the camera up and launched the plane.

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Once I got the little plane up to the right height I could see that something was up – although Heartlake was a fairly standard grey, to the distance I could still see colour of greens, browns.  This was obviously caused by some very complicated and clever machinery.  I turned the plane and took it higher into the sky.  Once at the right height, I could see that the grey colour was slowly expanding out where it could –  it stopped when it got to mountains or hills.  I took a couple of images before the warning light flashed on my controls. Low battery! Because I’d taken the plane so high it was using more power than usual, so I needed to act quickly.  I pushed the little lever forward to get the plane to descend to a lower level, all the while looking for somewhere I could land almost safely (or at least with minimal damage to the plane)… when I saw a road, winding its way through the trees.  There was a clearing that I could aim for, which I did.  If I could get the plane to land on the road, I could try and taxi it to one side, then get a taxi to go and pick it up.

The battery light was now flashing rapidly – I didn’t have long, but I was nearly there now.  From my monitor I could see that I was running just a metre above the road, so slowly lower it, nearly, nearly, careful for touch down… and… what?!!!  The plane landed on the road, but there was a spray and then nothing. My controls flashed the message “LOST CONNECTION”.  Well, I knew roughly where it was, so I would see if I could get a lift.  As I walked back across the field, I saw Stephanie and Mike. Much as we SH5 operatives try to keep to ourselves, in this little town everyone knows everyone – there are very few secrets.

“Hi Wodge!” called Mike. “Do you know anything about all this?  One minute we’re in technicolour and now everything’s in Black and White!”

“Actually, it is a bit of a mystery – and probably why I’m here.  Actually Mike, can you help me?  I need to pick up my drone plane – it ran out of battery power so I had to make an emergency landing.  I need to get here.”  I pointed at the monitor that had a map of the plane’s last known location.  Stephanie looked over the monitor.

“That’s not a road” she said. “That’s the Brickville river!”  Mike smiled.  “It’s a fairly fast moving river too, with plenty of rocks in it. I’ve broken many kayaks paddling down that – I reckon your plane is lost now.”

“Blast” I said. “That was a really good plane with a really good camera on it. And I reckon I’ve got a pretty good idea where to look next to find where all this is coming from.”

“Do you have a spare camera?” asked Mike. “I’ve built a seaplane that you could use – because of its shape we can land it almost anywhere!”

Luckily I did have a spare camera, so I agreed to meet Mike back on the field in an hour.  I apologised to Stephanie for ruining her evening with Mike – she smiled and said that this sounded like fun, so she’d come along anyway if that was okay.

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We went off in our separate ways and returned to the field.  It took us a few moments to fix the camera to the plane and soon the plane was in the air.  I could point out everything that I could see – Stephanie could see that the colour fading wasn’t as strong at the edges.  She got out her tablet, opened up an app and started to make some calculations.  In a few moments, she was able to estimate where Mike should redirect the plane.

“It’s easy” she said. “I could see that on the flat the grey only went so far, so let’s assume that is the outer radius.  Now, this gives us a couple of edges to work with, but it’s not exact.  But look at the mountains – it only goes up the mountain so far, so I can calculate how far it would have gone if the mountains weren’t there.  So I reckon the centre is in the Heartlake forest, probably on a hill itself.  Looking at the map, best guess is this area here. And if I zoom in… look there’s a little cabin there.”

I looked at Stephanie. “I can see that the Christmas presents you got last year came in useful!”

Mike was studying the monitor.  “We’re nearly there” he said. “I can see the cabin… but what’s that machine?  That’s unusual, I can’t quite make out what it is.”  I looked at the monitor, then advised Mike to return the plane to us.  “No point in getting too close – but I think it’s where I’m going to find one of the people I need to look into.”

“who ever did this” said Stephanie “it’s like they want the world to be black and white… like a cameo.”

I nodded.  Definitely on the trail of one of the two characters.

 

 

 

Author note:

Clarence Odbody (played by Henry Travers) was the Angel (2nd class) in the 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life” also starring James Stewart.  No I didn’t expect you to get it, but Mike’s a bit of a film buff.

 

 

 

 

Advent Toys

So this week we had:

Chair and lamp

Toy Gingerbread house

Airplane

Sled

Granny Smith with her cookies

Snow Blower

Model Sea plane

 

See you next week!

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!

Carrotunalia! (all) (694 words)

Roger came running into the room.  He looked around then ran up to Jessica and Millicent. “Do you know what today is?” he asked.

Millicent knew what every day was. Today was Sunday. But this seemed like a trick question. “No Roger, what day is it?”

“It’s Carrotunalia Eve!”

Jessica looked at Roger. “It’s what? there’s no such thing – the big rabbits have been teasing you again, like they did when they told you it was Paint Your Head Green day and you looked like a furry brussel sprout for two weeks because you bought a permanent colour!”

Roger looked a little disheartened.  “But it seemed like such a brilliant day” he said.  “It’s the day that we give the gift of a carrot to someone that we felt deserved it.  I thought we could give Colin a carrot to say thank you.”

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Jessica felt a little bad for Roger.  Even if it was a made-up day, Roger’s idea of giving a thank you present to Colin was a lovely one – and one that she wanted to support.  She looked at Millicent, then at Roger, and said

“Oh, Carotunalia Day! It had slipped my mind!  Of course, and yes, Colin would be a wonderful person to give the present to. Do you have the carrot and any wrapping paper?”

Millicent went to spoke. “Carrotunalia Day isn’t….” but Jessica cut across her “… isn’t often celebrated here, so it will be nice to do this; that’s what you were going to say, wasn’t it Jessica?  Now Roger, go and get the paper, carrot and tape and we can wrap the present.”

With a happy skip, Roger ran off.  Jessica explained to Millicent that she didn’t think it was a real day either, but for once this would be a nice thing that Roger was unlikely to be told off for.

Shortly, Roger returned and they set everything up.

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Millicent looked at the paper – and the carrot.  She wondered how they would wrap it – without thumbs it all looked very difficult.  As usual, Roger wasn’t deterred by such challenges.  “I can do it” he said.  He set to with his usual enthusiasm and soon the carrot was … well…

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“Oh dear” said Millicent, “Well the carrot is certainly well wrapped up”.

“So is Roger” said Jessica.

“MMMm-mm mm-mmm” said Roger, who had tape across his face.

“It’s going to hurt a bit” said Jessica “but we do need to take that bit off you.”

“But he’ll be able to talk again” said Millicent. “Do we have to?”

“As I said, it’s going to hurt a bit… for us and him” teased Jessica.

“Mmm mmmm mmm OWWWW!!” cried Roger. “I’m sure that’s taken whiskers off too!”

 

Colin walked into the room. “What are you children doing?” he asked.  “What’s that… and why is Roger… OK, I don’t need to know that and it’s probably best that I don’t!”.

“HAPPY CARROTUNALIA DAY!!” exclaimed Roger.

“Umm, isn’t that tomorrow?” asked Millicent. Jessica shrugged.  If it was a made up day, then it was a real one now.

“Carrotunalia Day?” asked Colin. “Don’t think I’ve heard of that one!”.  Roger explained the day and what it meant – and why they were giving the gift to Colin.

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Colin thought for a moment.  “Well, I think it’s a lovely day – and do you know what, I DO remember the older rabbits telling me about it once. I don’t think it is fixed to any particular date or time, so today can be Carrotunalia day!”

“Hurrah!” exclaimed Roger.  “Here’s your present!”

“Not sure how you’ll open it though” added Millicent.

Colin looked at the package.  “Actually, it’s quite simple” he said.  “If I unfold here…” The parcel unwrapped itself with no unsticking at all.  “Roger got so much tape on himself that he didn’t actually stick the tape to anything but itself!”

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Colin looked at the Carrot.  “It’s a lovely carrot though” he said “thank you all of you for this present.”  Everyone smiled.  “But”, Colin added, “I came down here for a particular reason.  I was going to ask why there was a large hole in the wallpaper in the living room…”

 

The End.

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.

 

 

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.”

 

 

The Puzzle (all)(short story: 455 words)

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“I don’t understand it” said Jessica. “Why would you want to do that?”

“It’s a puzzle” replied Colin. “Look, let me get some props.”

It was early morning and Colin was attempting to teach Jessica and Roger a logic puzzle. He rummaged around and pulled out an apple and a carrot.

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“So you have a boat and it can only carry two things at once. You have Roger, who’s hungry, an apple and a carrot.”

“I like the sound of this still” replied Roger. “And now I can see the goodies too!”

“Shh Roger” said Colin. “You can also be in the boat and you need to get all three things across the lake.  Every trip you make must have at least one of the things in the boat with you. How do you do it without Roger eating the apple or the carrot?”

Jessica looked at Colin, at Roger, at the carrot and then back at Colin.

“I don’t know!” she said. “This is hard!!”

“We could go down the lake and try this for real” said Roger. “I know there’s a boat down there – and it is a nice day.  We could even have the apple and carrot for lunch!”

Colin thought that was a lovely idea, so they set off.

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“Oh dear” said Jessica. “I don’t know how to swim and I’m worried I’ll fall out of the boat”.

“No matter” replied Colin “you can wear this and it will help you float; I’ll also teach you how to swim later in the year.”

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“So” said Colin “to the matter in hand.  How will you get the carrot, apple and Roger across the lake?”

Roger looked at the carrot.  It had been ages since breakfast.  He was hungry and looking at Jessica who was thinking hard he worried it would be ages until lunch as well.  What to do…

“ROGER!!” cried Colin.  But it was too late.  In one swift gulp, the carrot was gone.  Yum!

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“Well I can solve the problem now” said Jessica.  “I put Roger and the apple in the boat and we go across!”

“Not the answer I was looking for” replied Colin, “but it would seem Roger has helped you out.  For that, you can have the apple.  Roger – you get to wash up the dinner plates for a week!”

“But we solved the problem though” said Roger. “That must count for something!”

 

So how would you solve the puzzle?  I’ve put the answer below….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First, Colin rows across the lake with Roger and the apple.

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Colin then rows back with just the apple (Roger is now on the other side)

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Finally, Colin rows back with the apple and the carrot.  Everybody is now across the lake!2016-07-30 08.10.27