a tale in weekly parts
This story is open for suggested continuations. I will publish here, with links to your own blog, all I receive. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) the next episode of this collaborative tale.
You can see the full story so far at this link.
“Mother wants to know how many to cook Christmas dinner for tomorrow. Who’s coming?”
Jarvis, Albert, Kr’veth’neq’is and Xander were, individually and collectively, surprised when Al’s voice popped up in their heads. Jarvis, unhindered by the delaying effects of a human corporeal presence, was first to respond.
Well done, Al,” he sent, “I didn’t expect you to master mindspeak so quickly. And well done on sending a clear, concise and coherent message at your first attempt.”
“So,” Al sent, “who’s coming?”
“No-one,” Albert said. “I have a plan. Tell Madge not to start on Christmas dinner.”
“Why ever not?” Al wanted to know.
“We’re going away for the day,” Albert replied.
“Going away? On Christmas Day?” Al was flabbergasted. “Never heard of such a thing. I’m flabbergasted. Where do you propose taking us?”
“That’ll be up to Madge. Ask her where, on the entire planet, she would most like to spend Christmas Day.”
“Stand by,” Al sent, before going silent.
Some minutes later, he was back. “Veliky Novgorod,” he said.
“Where?” four assorted biteks asked.
“Veliky Novgorod,” Al repeated.
“Where on Earth is that?” Xander asked.
“Never mind that,” his sister said, “we know where it is. The question, father dear, is why?”
“When she saw it on the map, she said there might be some snow there.”
“I still don’t know where it is,” Xander complained. His father, never averse to being in the position of having at his disposal information denied, albeit temporarily, to either of his genius children, responded with an air of intolerable smugness.
“Veliky Novgorod,” he said, “is, according to Wikipedia, one of the most important historic cities in Russia. At its peak during the 14th century, the city was the capital of Novgorod Republic and one of Europe’s largest cities.”
“I’m surprised I’ve never heard of it,” Xander said. “How many people live there now?”
“About two hundred thousand,” Al replied.
“Hardly the biggest now, is it?” Xander said, dismissively.
“Well,” Al said, “are we going there, or what?”
“I vote for ‘or what’,” Xander said.
“Don’t be such a stick-in-the-mud,” Albert chastised, “it’ll be fun. Wrap warm, everyone; we’ll provide traditional Russian Christmas food. Be aware, though, that it won’t be Christmas in Veliky Novgorod.”
“It won’t?” Al asked.
It was Xander’s turn to be smug. “The eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas a week later than the western churches do.”
“That must bugger Santa up a bit,” Al suggested, “although I suppose it means he can spread his work over two days.”
“Don’t worry about Santa,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, “he’s magical, isn’t he?”
The next morning, being Christmas Day (at least, in the parts of the world that follow the western Church’s dates and those that are not of the Christian tradition but follow the American date to swell the coffers of those retail businesses that specialise in the appropriate seasonal tat) Al, Madge and Chav joined Albert, Kr’veth’neq’is and Xander inside Jarvis, and they set off. Madge came armed with various small treats on which they could all munch during their journey, and Al had thoughtfully brought with him a quantity of wines, beers and spirits, as well as his favourite tipple, Amarula Cream, made from the fruit of the South African marula tree.
“I’ve brought you all some drinks,” he said, “a range of beers, wines and spirits.”
“I’d love to try that Amarula Cream,” Kr’veth’neq’is said.
“Buy your bloody own,” Al replied with an abundance of Christmas charity, “that’s mine.”
They arrived at their destination and found that, like so many other places this year, there was no snow.
“No good,” Madge said, “I want snow. I want, for the first time in my life, a properly white Christmas.”
“Didn’t you check the weather before you suggested it?” Al asked her accusingly.
“No I didn’t. I have the ideas; I leave you to work out the details. I wouldn’t even know where to start looking for the weather in some out-of-the-way Russian city.”
“Bloody useless, the lot of you. Here I am, surrounded by the brains trust; and Madge; and not one of you thinks to check the weather forecast.”
Kr’veth’neq’is winked at Xander and muttered something unintelligible. Al found a bed and slept.
“Jarvis, find us snow,” Albert asked.
“Okey-diddley-dokey,” Jarvis responded and set off again.
“This Amarula Cream is really nice,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, “anyone want to try some?”
“Don’t touch your dad’s special drink,” Madge counselled, “he’ll go mental.”
“Worry not, Mother dear. Dad’ll think he drank it himself. He’ll never know.”
“Okay,” Madge replied, “I’ve always wanted to try it, but never been allowed.”
“Me too,” Xander said.
“I think not, bro,” Kr’veth’neq’is replied, “not for a year or three, anyway. I’ll let you sniff the bottle, but that’s all.”
Having opened the bottle, by the time they had made sure they liked it, the two had consumed about a third of its contents.
“Feel better after your sleep?” Kr’veth’neq’is asked when Al awoke again.
“Much, ta. I think might have had too much of my Amarula Cream too early in the day.” He looked at the bottle, whose seal, if he did but know it, was unbroken last time he saw it, and said, “I didn’t realise I’d had that much. I’d better hold off for a while. What you sniggering at, woman?” This last remark directed at his wife.
“Nothing, dear,” she replied, “nothing at all.”
“Messieurs et mesdames,” Jarvis announced with great formality and an excess of Frenchness, “nous sommes arrivés.”
“What’s he say?” Al asked.
“He says we’ve arrived,” Xander replied.
“Since when could you speak French?”
“I didn’t know I could. Perhaps I’m a linguist.”
“Aye, and a cunning one at that, I’ll be bound.”
Madge and Kr’veth’neq’is squirmed in their seats and said nothing.
Jarvis opened his door with a flourish, and the party gazed out over a uniform snowfield stretching as far as they eye could see.
“So where are we?” Al asked.
“We, messieurs et mesdames, are at the geographic south pole,” Jarvis intoned with great circumstance.
“We’ll not be seeing Santa then,” Al joked, “he lives at the North Pole.”
“Santa’s not real, Dad,” Xander said.
“Says who?” Santa asked.
“Wh-wh-wh-what?” Madge stuttered.
“Who called me out from my rounds? And make it quick, I’ve still a lot more presents to deliver to good children.”
“B-b-but where is your sleigh, and the reindeer?” Madge asked.
“That’s just a story for kids,” Santa replied, “and before you ask, I don’t climb up and down chimneys, either.”
“So how do you deliver the presents?”
“Ask my brother, he has time to explain. I have to get back to work. Bye.” And with that, Santa disappeared again.
“What just happened?” Madge asked, “And who is Santa’s brother?”
“I am,” Jarvis replied.
A metaphorical light-bulb symbolically appeared and illuminated above Al’s head.
“What’s that bulb doing there?” Al asked.
“Sorry; dramatic effect,” Kr’veth’neq’is replied, and promptly removed it.
“So Santa is a bitek construct.”
“Of course,” Jarvis replied, “have you only just worked that out? The whole traditional story is just so implausible, I’m surprised anyone over the age of three believes it.”
“And the light bulb was a demonstration of telekinesis?”
“Doing lots of them at once.”
“So no chimneys?”
“And no reindeer?”
“Or sleigh, or big bag of presents.”
“Then… how long does it take him to do all the world’s kids?”
“Duh! Twenty-four hours!”
“I don’t know what to say,” Al said.
“Try ‘Happy Christmas, everybody’,” Jarvis suggested.
“HAPPY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY,” Al said, joined by Madge, Albert, Kr’veth’neq’is and Xander.
This story was started in response to Kreative Kue 18, issued on this site on 30 March 2015.