Thanks to Frank Bradley, Elaine Rogers, Lena Cole, Betina and Catherine Connors for their creative writing expertsie.
Here’s the final version of our Christmas story; kick back and enjoy!
Deep in the heart of the valley, a man walked alone. His head was bent over his towering 6ft 4in frame and his face betrayed no hint of emotion He walked with a purposeful stride, gliding through the thick white piped icing beneath his feet. His destination was a long way off, but he wasn’t one to tire.
It was December, three weeks and two days until Christmas. He kept hold of the memories from the Christmas the year before and shivered. The picture could not have been more different.
He held a number of items in a backpack; a pick axe, a notebook, twenty crisp notes in a currency he was unfamilar with, a sweet-smelling box that he was forbidden to open and a ragged teddy bear.
He came upon a cliff edge and paused to sip from his water bottle. A noise from close by caught his attention. He looked up…..and in the distance he could see a large fire crackling by the edge of lake and what appeared to be children dancing around the flames. He thought of the ragged teddy bear in his backpack and the small child who had loved it and wondered ‘what if I find my answers here’, and with that memory burning a light of hope deep in his soul he slowly stumbled his way through the undergrowth and bushes down towards the light of the fire which now burned brightly in the late dusk.
As he drew near he could hear the faint sounds of music, almost as if the trees and grass were singing and the wind was carrying the sweet sounds of panpipes. He came into the clearing and slowly crept closer to the fire which was sending big clouds of sparks up into the darkening sky…… suddenly the dancers stopped and turned towards him, it was now that he realized they weren’t children at all but in fact ……..were in fact…….fully grown adults, naked adults! He was stunned for a moment then embarassed , one of the men called out to him, ‘ Hey hey you there ,what are you doing?’ ‘ oh my good God ‘ he thought, the man that had called out to him started walking towards him , He turned as if to walk away but the man called out again’ no hang on its ok, i’ll explain’………
…”We dance to appease Winter, to ask him not to claim the lives of our livestock and our loved ones. He asks us to dance to the limits of our consciousness, our ability to stay alive ourselves. We must dance – we have no choice.” The traveller stared into the fire, thinking of what he hoped to find at his destination, and nodded. He understood the need these men had to keep their families safe from Winter, he had the same need himself. But had he succeeded? The only way he would know would be to continue his journey. He smiled at the dancers, then turned and walked away.
He walked until he felt as if his feet were like lead – the same weight as the burden on his heart. He came to a cave and lay down in its mouth, his backpack now a pillow and his coat a blanket. As he fell asleep, he heard a distant sound – a faint rumbling. The sound formed part of his dreams, which grew more and more unsettling until a loud noise woke him. The mouth of the cave had collapsed, he was trapped! ……
But it was not completely dark inside. Even though the entrance was blocked he could see a faint light in the back of the cave. There was also a noise coming from that direction. He wondered what to do. Should he try and see if he could free up the entrance he came through, or venture further into the unknown. His predicament reminded him how hungry he was. But this was a different hunger. Was he perhaps thirsty? He was not familiar with the sensation. Upon reflection, he realised it was like a hunger of the heart. Yes, that was it, his heart felt it was pining.
What could he possibly be pining for? The cave now felt like it had the answer for him. It was evident to him that he must explore the cave further. Gathering his belongings, he tentatively edged towards the faint light. The noise grew louder, and became the noise of running water. He was feeling a sense of urgency, and found himself running through the cavern, down, down, down, deeper into the cave system, when suddenly the cave opened up into a huge opening, full of stalagmites and beautiful rock formations of the most wonderful colours.
His heart was quickening, he felt a sense of untold warmth, and quickly turned in the direction of the now rushing water. It was a huge waterfall, and he was just in time to notice a figure disappear behind the waterfall. He instinctively knew to follow, but when he ran through the waterfall…When he ran through the waterfall he was shocked to see nothing but blue sky and a great plain of grass stretching into the horizon. As he scanned his new surroundings his attention was caught by a sudden movement in the grass. Was it the strange figure that he had followed through the waterfall?
He called out, but he could see the figure continue to move forward. The Man climbed down from his elevated position and started to give chase. After a few hundred yards he saw the figure ahead suddenly drop out of sight. As he moved forward he saw a hole in the ground with a rope ladder leading down. For a brief second he thought that he should turn back, however curiosity once again got the better of him.
He descended the ladder quickly at first, but as it got darker he began to move more slowly. Eventually the light from the opening at the top disappeared and he was in complete darkness. After descending a few more feet, he suddenly felt a hand grab his left leg. He struggled to wrestle free from the firm grip, but another hand reached out from the dark and grabbed him around the waist. He started losing his grip and feared that he was being pulled into the abyss below. Eventually his hold on the ladder was broken, and he began his plunge to certain death. However within a matter of seconds he had hit solid ground. Winded, it took him a few seconds to come around. It was still pitch black, however he could hear a number if voices whispering quietly to each other. Everything went quiet.
After what seemed like an eternity, the silence was broken by the striking of a match. The match lit a torch, and slowly he began to make out the shape of several figures standing around him. One of them moved closer and reached out their hand. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he could make out the face of the figure that approached him. To his astonishment it was a person that he thought long gone. It was . . . . .