Last week, Papa joined me beside the tracing papers I’d laid end-to-end on the floor of our cave. when his magic fell on the papers, it created interesting patterns. I was just about to trace them when an eerie noise startled me. It startled Papa too, and he turned. His magic rushed toward the fiery violet hoop floating in the middle of our cave.
It’s a portal to your world, specifically to our scribe’s apartment where the growly screams and the shrieks of tortured metal were coming from. What on earth was our scribe up to?
Melinda doesn’t own any power tools because they’re dangerous, and we don’t allow anything dangerous near our scribe. So I dropped my graphite stick and ran through the portal. Today, it was hanging out over her couch, and I landed on several strategically placed throw pillows then scampered out of the way. Papa followed a heartbeat after me because I’m little, and I still need both adult and magical supervision.
“What’s that noise?” Papa asked.
“I don’t know, but it must be something bad. Get your magic out just in case, ” I said as I clamped both hands over my ears.
I charged after Melinda, my scribe, as she ran out the door of her apartment. Melinda’s a lot smaller than Papa, but she’s swift when she wants to be. Something was definitely up.
My sock-clad feet skidded on the cold tiles in the hallway as I hung a right into a big room with doors and loud machines all spinning and banging around. Somehow those machines cleaned and dried clothes, but I couldn’t understand how all that agitation managed to do anything except make a lot of noise.
When it was time to clean our clothes, Papa and I brought them to an underground lake. Submerged lumir crystals kept the water warm and made it all glowy and bright. It’s so pretty there. We even have waterfalls. While Papa does the actual laundry, I swim and play with the other kids.
Plus, Papa’s magic hates water. So while we’re splashing around doing laundry, his eyes don’t glow. He’s more talkative, which is good because I don’t like when he gets all quiet and shy.
In fact, I like our way of doing laundry much better than those clanking machines. They’re not as much fun to watch, but now wasn’t the time to point that out to Melinda because there was something very wrong in the next room. So wrong even I, a kid from a fictional world, could see it.
What to my wondering eyes should appear?
Well, obviously not this piece of flagrant self-promotion. Who does she think she is? This newsletter is *NOT* all about her:
That dragon! She’s gone too far this time. If she’s planning another takeover, she’s got another thing coming. I’m not giving up control of this newsletter.
And now back to me standing in the laundry room. What did I see? The Newsletter-Dragon snuggling up to the boiler system. I watched in horror as she curled around it and partially melted it. To add insult to injury, she had the nerve to smile at me!
I know, right? She’s got some nerve, and she’s only digital! Where did she even get a physical body from?
Melinda mumbled something about ‘The Matrix,’ but that was just a movie, right? We’re not living in a computer-generated world, right? Because I like sausages and muffins and hugs. Do they even have hugs in ‘The Matrix?’ 0_o
Papa patted me on the head, and his warm, magic-infused hand calmed me down. If we were in this ‘Matrix’ thingy, at least we were in it together. Nothing bad could happen to me as long as he was with me. But a snack would be great right now, so I checked his pockets for food.
Papa always has a snack for me in there unless Uncle Miren had it. Said Uncle didn’t follow us because passing through the portal hurts his leg. I vowed to take Uncle Miren a full report later. I didn’t find any food in Papa’s pockets just the usual stash of glowy rocks. I dropped them back into his pocket. We had plenty of light. It was heat we needed.
I shivered and noticed the cold creeping invisibly down the stairs to this level. I stepped into its path and stared up. Across from the staircase was a door to the outside, and sunlight knifed between the door and the jamb. Those gold rays stabbed the rapidly cooling lobby. I pointed at it.
“That’s not good.”
Papa nodded, but his attention was on the dragon messing with the heating system. We reentered the scene of her crime.
Heat is really important especially when it’s threatened by a bad dragon. It’s winter here in the Northern hemisphere, but does the digital dragon care? No.
I don’t see the attraction. The boiler system is just a big boxy thing with blinking lights and tubes running all over. What’s so exciting about that?
I don’t understand the appeal. I really don’t. The boiler is just standing there. It’s not even doing anything interesting, but it’s definitely not looking good. There are scorch marks and some gouges from the dragon’s claws. She’s rather hard on her playthings.
I don’t understand dragons especially the digital kind that have designs on *MY* newsletter even though my best friend *is* a baby dragon disguised as a human. (If you read Curse Breaker: Falls, you know who I mean. He returns in Curse Breaker: Hidden in his full dragonish glory.)
But can I believe the app? It’s digital, so the dragon might be affecting it. I see her eyeballing the phone in my hands. Don’t you even think about frying it. And, um, don’t tell Melinda I slipped it from her pocket. She might not have noticed yet.
Since Melinda’s the only nonfictional member of our crew, she’s on crowd control, and boy is there a crowd forming. Everyone wants to see the glowing dragon squeeze the life out of the wheezing boiler system.
If you’re on our list, your email address is safe. The Newsletter-Dragon got all concerned about the safety of her horde and moved it to a super-secret location before developing amorous feelings for the boiler system.
The Newsletter-Dragon might not care if our scribe and her neighbors freeze, but Papa and I care, so I pointed at the dragon again.
Papa looked from the dragon, whose 1s-and-0s-covered skin was turning red again, to me and sighed. Magic gathered around his hands in a shimmering green cloud.
So you can blame the Newsletter-Dragon for why the next part of Stealing Christmas isn’t ready. She attached herself to the boiler system last week disrupting the heat-flow for an entire apartment building for days.
Our poor scribe ended up with a cold/flu thing. Trekking to work every day didn’t help, but she has to do that until our books can pay the bills.
Stealing Christmas will return next week. I promise. We hope you enjoyed our tale of misbehaving dragons and battered boiler systems.
How did we get the dragon away from the boiler?
I’ll have to tell you next week because she’s still there, and I must go help Papa with that. If you have any advice about wrangling dragons, hit reply and tell us!
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Until next time, dear reader
This is Ran, son of Sarn, “Player of Reindeer Games,” wishing you a great week! 😉
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