CRACKED! A Christmas Tale (Part II)
Dressed in multicolored outfits with white-cotton trim, gold lacing and striped scarfs, the three tiny elves laid upon the floor—their speckled cheeks reflecting the tree’s brilliant lights.
The elf in blue woke first. His eyes, big, bright and brown. Standing to look around at barely three inches tall, he brushed fragments of the shattered ornament from his clothing.
“As I live and breathe,” said the boy. “He…Hello there.”
The elf looked at the boy with frightened expression, then turned and darted behind a cluster of presents towards the back of the tree—leaving his unconscious friends among the shattered glass of the ornament.
Tommy giggled quietly. “It’s OK, I won’t harm you.”
The elf peeked around the corner of a gift, the top of his head barely visible.
Reggie the dog walked up and sat alongside Tommy. He lowered himself to the ground, striving for a better view of their new-found friends.
“Don’t worry, he won’t harm you, either,” said the boy, placing his arm around Reggie.
The elf stuck his head out a little further.
“Really, it’s OK,” said Tommy.
“Ughhhh, what got into that guy,” a tiny voice said.
Tommy snapped his head round. The two other elves were now sitting—rubbing their necks and working out kinks.
“Did you say something?”
They froze. Startled by the boy’s unexpected voice.
“Hmm. I could swear I heard you speak,” said Tommy.
The elves remained still. Using their eyes, they search the area for their missing friend.
The boy reached under the tree, and touched the nearest elf.
“Hey, watch it,” the elf shouted in his tiny voice.
“Ohhhh, so you do talk,” Tommy said, grinning.
“Yeah, we talk. Are you surprised?”
“Yeah, I kind of am. I didn’t realize ornaments could talk,” the boy replied in defense. “I mean, your friend hiding back in the corner,still hasn’t said a word.”
The two elves turned and looked over their shoulders, then back to the boy.
“Our friend? You mean Sparky?” the elf in purple asked.
“If he’s the one wearing blue, then yes,” answered Tommy.
“Hey, Sparks, it’s OK, you can come out.”
Reluctant to step out from behind the present, Sparky did not move. But that was about to change.
Curious to get a closer look, the Finkleton’s pet cat, Fritz, had managed to sneak up behind the elf. Rolling onto his back, Fritz began to bat at the elf’s coat tails, meowing in a playful manner.
Sparky screamed the tiniest of screams, then darted out to join his two friends.
Tommy giggled again.
“Calm down, Sparky, it’s just a boy and his pets,” said the elf in red.”We’ll get what we came for and be out of here before you can say, Jack Frost.”
“What you came for?” the boy questioned.
“Yeah, we’re here for you.”
“What? But why? What did I do?” asked Tommy.
“We’re not sure, but the king wants to see you.”
“See me? For what? And who’s this ‘king’ you speak of?”
The elf in purple held out his right hand. Magically, a scroll appeared within his grasp. He opened it and read its contents aloud: “By the King’s decree, the receiver of the nutcracker ornament upon this eve is to be brought before the royal court on the charges of doubt.”
“Really? Charges?” said Tommy. Why…I, I don’t even know who you are.”
“We’re Needles, Cookie and Sparky,” said the elf in red, “and we work for his royal majesty, the king.”
“King? The king of what?” asked the boy.
“The king of this tree and all that hangs upon it,” said Cookie.
“And if I were you, I wouldn’t be asking so many questions,” added Sparky.
“Yeah, the king doesn’t like to be questioned,” said Needles.
“It appears to me you have one big problem. Actually...three big problems,” said Tommy—looking to his pets.
“You’re absolutely right,” said Cookie.
The three elves reached into their right pockets and pulled out a handful of illuminated, glitter. Each took aim and tossed the silvery dust at their intended target. Needle’s glitter struck the cat, Cookie’s struck Tommy, and Sparky’s struck the dog.
Instantly, all three shrunk down to the scale of tiny. The tree now appeared enormous, as were the ornaments dangling from its branches, and everything else that could be seen in the soft glow of the room.
Tommy and his pets were suddenly powerless, no longer able to use size to their advantage. They tried to get away, but the elves were too agile and quick. Leaping and bounding over presents, they easily restrained the boy with silver tinsel handcuffs and his pets with leashes made of the same.
Suddenly, a rugged stairway made of wood, and woven into the branches of the tree, magically appeared. The three elves led the captives up the stairway. Round and round they went, through a forest-like environment filled with bright-colored tree lights, which reflected off the giant, glass ornaments. The fresh pine smell was overwhelming, as giant pine needles fell through the branches, clicking and clacking until they reached the floor, far below.
Halfway up the tree, Needles stopped and turned back to say, “We’re getting close.” Stepping off the stairway, he tip-toed along a branch towards the trunk of the enormous tree. Tommy and the others carefully followed. The branch was partly sticky from sap, while other spots were smooth and slippery—making one’s footing quite challenging.
Upon reaching the trunk, Needles knocked a secret code. A door magically appeared. As it slowly opened, bright, golden light shot out in every direction—highlighting every detail of the tree’s mystical core.
“Follow me,” said Needles.
As they approached the doorway, their faces were welcomed by the majestic light generated beyond the open doorway.
Tommy took his first step through the door—his blinded vision instantly replaced by a throne room filled with thousands of tiny tree lights—magically suspended in air. The ceiling, walls and floor were intricately carved out of dark, mossy wood, and flanked with squirrel-soldier ornaments made of glass. A long, red carpet, bordered with white fleece, led up to the king’s magnificent wooden throne.
Carefully monitored by the royal soldiers, the elves escorted the captives towards the ornately-detailed throne.
Along the way, Reggie, being the impulsive canine he was, attempted to chase one of the squirrel soldiers, before quickly being pulled back into line by Cookie.
“All kneel before the king,” a soldier called out.
The elves, boy and his pets knelt—bowing their heads in respect for the king.
“I present to you, ruler of this tree and all ornaments that hang upon it. His royal majesty, King Frederick III.
Their heads remained lowered, as the king approached the throne. Only his elf-like shoes could be seen by the boy. Those certainly are not human feet, Tommy thought to himself.
“All rise,” the soldier commanded.
Tommy and the others stood and raised their heads with great anticipation.
The royal figure standing before them was not at all what Tommy had expected. Nor would he ever have dreamed such a thing.
Standing before them, larger than life and made of painted glass, was the Frog King ornament from their family tree.
TO BE CONTINUED...