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
“Nothing is more important to me than you and your…,” her voice trailed off
To say I was shocked would be an understatement. Dread for the words to follow now enveloped me.
He, I mean Santa, never hinted at what I would find, nor why he chose to let me go.
Spoke Sonja once again, wiping tear from her eye.
“Not since you left have I ever had hope for happy end to this story. A dream it seemed but now possible. Word of caution to you, my boy, about what you must do.”
But before she could say any more, the entire house shook.
Went us all ducking for cover as pieces of the ceiling crumbled all around us.
“Straight to the cellar,” Clark yelled, leading the way. “To the cellar.”
His words caused all to follow but Jedidiah and me.
“Work to do, my friend,” I said, pushing Jedidiah out the front door.
And I knew what I had to do.
Filled with the certainty of my insight, I ran for the sleigh. All sorts of Harpies and Demons circled above, certain we were there but still unable to see us in the protection of the shaking but still standing cottage.
The sleigh came alive, the reindeer ready to go, and I waited for an opening in the tumult above.
Stockings scattered behind us, confusing the beasts, and we took the sky putting miles behind us before they could follow.
Then, feeling a tap on my shoulder, I looked at Jedidiah. Turned to face me, arms folded, he glared at me.
“With who’s authority have you taken my place as pilot?” he asked. “A momentary blip I hope. Jerk the lines back and hand them to me if you want to survive this flight.”
And with those words, I did as he asked. Laying my hands on my lap, I nodded my head toward the dark mountain. Mount Moriah, ahead.
His skill as a pilot was clear as we flew among the trees to keep the Harpies at bay. Finger poised on the Red Button should the need arise, Jedidiah steered us toward the peak.
Aside the precipice at the top of the mountain, a small cave entrance appeared. Of this being the way we must go, I was certain. His landing again perfect, we hid the sleigh and moved slowly toward the entrance.
“Nose knows,” Jedidiah said, pointing at his rather impressive nose. “And my nose can smell danger.”
Giving me a do we really have to do this look, he shrugged when he saw me enter the cave.
A moment or two in the darkness and our eyes adjusted. “Nod when your ready,” I whispered. Up ahead I could see flickering lights like flames from a fire.
The lure of an adventure overcame his fear, and Jedidiah nodded for me to lead on.
Chimney smoke soon revealed itself as we drew farther down the tunnel.
“He must be in here somewhere,” I said, as we took cautious steps forward.
“Rose my curiosity you did, Sash,” Jedidiah said, “but I wish you hadn’t.” He smiled and pushed me on.
Sprang for all sides, now ghosts surrounded us. To run was useless as they pushed us along. His army’s work done; the demon rose in front of us holding a small boy by the back of his neck.
“Sleigh ride over, I see. To the real matters at hand we go.” His hand waved over the boy a fog enveloped him, unable to move.
“Team Sssssanta sssseemssss to be lossssing today,” he hissed. “Gave me a moment when I thought you might not be up to the challenge.”
A long look at the boy I took, and there was something familiar.
“Whistle for they sleigh and reindeer to come here, and you can take your brother.”
And as his words hit me, it all came bubbling up. Away in the past, this demon had stolen my twin brother and tried to take me. They, the Moores, managed to save me hoping I would come back to save my brother.
“All I’m going to do is take my brother back, and there is nothing you can do to stop me,” I said.
Flew in a flash, the demon was on me. Like a madman he dragged my deeper into the cave. The fear I’d seen before was till there. Down and down, deeper we went until I pulled away.
“Of this purpose you will succeed. A memory of what once was I know recall. Thistle down and hope once you loved and once will love again.”
But the demon resisted, fighting against my words. I knew there was something else here to do but I couldn’t remember.
Heard behind me, Jedidiah and the small boy now both were covered in the fog.
“Him and the boy for the sssleigh, or they both will become demonssss with me,” said the demon.
“Exclaim the truth from your past, you were once good until the darkness took you,” I said. Ere all these moments that have passed since this moment so long ago, I still recall the change in the demon’s eyes
He hesitated a moment, then the darkness fled from him. Drove by my words of hope, not anger or hate, the curse of the darkness left him.
Part XII The Final Chapter Tomorrow!