And here continues the Christmas Saga of 2020. Like the days of yore when newspapers published anxiously anticipated serialized stories, here is my annual version, Hidden within the words is a secret message. Find the secret and send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line, MAGIC. First five to discover the secret wins a copy of every book I publish this year.
This story is as old as the legend of St. Nicholas, handed down over years and years. Told to Christmas Elves as they rested from their work, there is magic within if you’ve the heart and eyes to see it.
But don’t look for it, feel it in your heart. Speak the words to learn the secret
“Sky, watch the sky, Jedidiah said, “that is where they might come from.”
So, I watched the sky as our band of three—a boy, an elf who looked like a boy, and a strange, but kindly old man—flew toward Mount Moriah.
“Up there?” I said when Jedidiah landed the sleigh. “To the top of that mountain you expect me to climb?”
The mountain towered over us, but the old man was already scampering up the trail. House-top high, he disappeared into the woods.
The trail grew steeper at first, then leveled off a bit before rising steeply as we neared the top.
“Coursers,” yelled Jedidiah, “why didn’t we fly up here?”
“They couldn’t make it, spotted they would be,” the old man said, his voice trailing off as he climbed
“Flew with all their speed they wouldn’t,” argued Jedidiah, taking on the man’s curious manner of speaking.
The old man ignored him and continued up.
“Sleigh,” I yelled, “there’s a sleigh up ahead.”
Full before our eyes, hidden in the dense underbrush, was a sleigh laden with toys.
“Of all the things I thought we’d see in the middle of nowhere…” Jedidiah said. “Toys in a hidden sleigh would be last on the list.”
“And why are they here? I asked.
“St. Nicholas, aka Santa, once told me about a time—just before you arrived— when someone stole his main sleigh on Christmas Eve just as he was finishing up his deliveries. Too much of a coincidence, Santa much have suspected we’d find this.”
“And how would he suspect that?” I asked.
Then, before Jedidiah could answer, the Harpies found us.
In a flash they were on us again, trying to smash through the think evergreens to get at us. A large one made it close enough the just snaggle my collar, before Jedidiah pulled me away.
Twinkling with satisfaction, he stuck his tongue out at the giant bird, causing the bird to screech in anger.
“I appreciate your help, but I don’t see how making fun of the angry giant bird that wants to capture us helps,” I said.
“Heard all the fuss,” the old man said, sliding just under the sharp talons of the Harpy. “On go we to the sleigh and hide we will, you know what to do, Sash.”
The words caught me by surprise, I had no idea what do to. “Roof,” I yelled, but I didn’t know why. The sleigh began to move and slid up in front of us.
Prancing around the screaming bird’s claws, we all dove aboard. And just like that, the sleigh flew off with a trail of sparks.
Pawing their way out of the brambles and branches, the Harpies tried to give chase, but the sleigh was like a rocket and off we flew out of reach.
Of all the things I’ve done since coming to the North Pole, this was one of the craziest. Each moment on this trip gets stranger and stranger. Little time to worry about it, though, there were birds trying to catch us.
“Hoof it, boys, we walk from here,” the old man said as the sleigh settled into a clearing.
As the climbed out, the sleigh seemed to vanish before or eyes
“I can’t believe this,” I said.
“Drew a picture, opened your eyes, the mystery about you has more to surprise,” the old man said. In a flash, he started toward a light flickering in the woods.
My mind was roiled in questions and wonder.
“Head that way,” Jedidiah said, “keep up with him.”
“And where are we going?” I asked. “Was he trying to get us killed by the harpies?”
Turning toward where the old man disappeared into the woods, Jedidiah dragged me along the rocky, leaf covered path.
Around ten minutes into our hike, the light grew brighter and a cottage materialized out of the wood, next to the door was a sign, The Cozy Home of C. Clark and Missus Moore.
Part VIII Tomorrow!