Edward And The Christmas GrumpsOpening Sample

Edward And The Christmas Grumps

It’s All Perfectly Wonderful

Meet Archie

Archie the Advent Calendar

  When children dream of Christmas, it’s usually about the wonderful things like Santa, his elves and Rudolph, but for some children their dream of Christmas can turn surprisingly grumpy.

This is just what happened to Edward and his big sister, Jill. When their Christmas dream began they were lost and alone in dark mysterious woods on a cold winter’s evening. 

Luckily, the moon helped light their way as they followed winding paths lined by tall spindly trees and weird little bushes. Stumpy wooden arrow signs of ‘This Way’ and ‘That Way’ were there to guide them, but only led them in circles.

   “Where are we?” asked Edward, looking about nervously.

   “We’re lost,” replied Jill.

   “I know that, but why are we lost… and how did we get here?”

   “Oh really Edward, if I knew that then we wouldn’t be lost now, would we?” snapped Jill in frustration.

  Edward had chocolate brown eyes and dark wavy hair hidden under a green woolly hat. He was a little short and thin for a boy of eight, though his scruffy coat disguised that perfectly. Curiously, for someone of that age, he was carrying a teddy bear with a torn ear.

  Jill was two years older than her brother and quite a bit taller. She had brown eyes too, but her face was rounder with a sprinkle of freckles.  Her mother had told her that the freckles were caused by a cheeky elf who flicked paint at her face while she slept on Christmas Eve. Jill believed it once, but no longer. Like Edward, Jill’s hair was also dark, but straight with a fringe and reached her shoulders. She wore a bobble hat and jacket that was a golden colour similar to Edward’s teddy.

  Jill was getting worried, “Now come on, we have to keep going,” she said.

 “But I’m getting tired,” muttered Edward, dragging his feet.

 “I can tell. I’m doing my best to get us out of here.” replied Jill.

 “And now my tummy’s rumbling. Do we have any shortbread left?” he asked.

Jill was losing her patience. “No, my pockets are empty… and stop being a grump. I can’t magic salvation from thin air, can I?”

  Edward shook his head furiously and said, “I’m not being a grump and stop using big words. I don’t like it and I don’t like being lost… and Teddy doesn’t either. He’s scared.”

  “Nonsense, Teddy’s a very brave bear. And salvation isn’t a big word. It means rescue Edward. Now let’s keep to this path. The sign said ‘This Way’ and that bright light up ahead has to lead somewhere,” said Jill.  

  “But the light’s in the tree tops. I’m not climbing any trees, not in the dark,” he said, anxiously scratching his chin.

  “But, but, but Edward. It’s always but with you,” she replied, shaking her head. “And no, they’ll be no tree climbing Edward. We’ll be home by morning, you’ll see.”

   Edward secretly whispered to his teddy, “Don’t worry, we’ll be home by morning.”

  They followed the light and came across a sign that read, ‘Cottage Ahead’.

Jill’s mood perked up. “Look there’s the cottage with a light on and smoke coming out of the chimney. We’ll go there,” she said, and began to walk faster.

  “But that’s not our house and smoke means there’s a fire,” Edward replied, doing his best to keep up, “And I don’t like fire.”

  Jill tapped the back of her brother’s head. “Don’t be ridiculous Edward. It’s all there is, now come on,” she said firmly.

The house was a delightful little cottage crafted from logs of wood harvested from nearby trees. It had a small front garden with a simple white picket fence. The front gate was open. They walked through it and up a paved grey path lined with pretty white snowdrops. The path led to a crooked sparkly number six hung on a shiny red door with a big bizarre sign that read, ‘Knock Here Quietly’.

“Stand behind me. I’ll do the talking,” Jill demanded.

   So, when Jill knocked ‘unquietly’, Edward hid behind his sister. A clock chimed within the cottage. The children fidgeted as they waited. Eventually, the door opened. A slinky black cat appeared next to a pair of feet wearing gigantic reindeer-faced slippers.  The door opened wider.

  The children were greeted by a very tall woman in a red dressing gown with a white fur collar and cuffs. The letter A was embroidered in gold on each of its three pockets.  She had big rollers in her mousy brown hair and a gloopy green beauty mask on her face.

  The woman spoke in a surprisingly squeaky voice, “Ah children, you’ve arrived.  How wonderful. We’ve been expecting you.” She took a second glance, “There are two of you, aren’t there?”

  Edward bravely popped his head out from behind his sister’s back. The woman saw him, “Ah, there you are.”

  Jill was puzzled, “I’m sorry but we’re very lost and this is the only…” she said, before being rudely interrupted.

  “Oh there’s no need to explain, really. Come in out of the cold. There are two mugs of hot chocolate and some scrumptious shortbread biscuits waiting,” said the woman, cheerfully.

  The children hesitated, so the woman encouraged them inside. “They’re your favourite. We just baked them especially for you,” she said and smiled widely, causing her beauty mask to make a strange squishy sound. The children couldn’t help but snigger.

  Jill was very tempted by the offer, “We do love shortbread and we are so very hungry, aren’t we Edward?”

 He nodded eagerly, rubbing his hungry tummy.

“Fabulous. That’s settled. In you come,” said the woman. She immediately popped her head out of the door and looked around, “Quickly now, before the Christmas grumps grab you.” She leered down at Edward, blinked hard twice and said, “Does the boy speak or has Kat got his tongue?”

  Neither child answered. The cat seemed unimpressed. It meowed, turned up its nose, and wandered back into the cottage. They watched it settle by a log fire. Edward was highly amused by the woman’s beauty mask and rollers. He whispered something in his sister’s ear. They giggled as they went inside, much to the woman’s delight, “Whispering, sneaky! Giggling, cheeky!” she said cheerfully. 

  The woman closed the front door, taking extra care to lock it.  They stood in a small hall with garish pink and grey stripy wallpaper which led to a lounge painted in pale mustard yellow. As she walked, the woman had to duck sometimes to avoid banging her head on low wooden beams.  Apart from the log fire, the lounge was lit by several scented candles. An old, out of time, clock ticked now and again above the fireplace. There was a worn out floral sofa and two matching wingback armchairs, a few small tables, shelves where more candles sat and two large framed paintings of a robin and the black cat. A faded patchwork rug lay in front of the fireplace. Beside the rug was an unusual painted wooden Christmas tree. There were no other decorations.

  “Children, shall I take your hats and coats?”

  Jill politely refused, “No thank you. We won’t be staying long. We just need…” But once again she was interrupted. “Oh dear sweet Jill, you’re both hungry and thirsty and in need of forty winks,” said the woman. She gestured to the sofa, “Here, please sit.” The children did so. Two mugs of delicious smelling hot chocolate and a plate of shortbread were on a table right in front of them. Edward put his teddy on his lap and hugged it tightly. He stared uneasily at the log fire. He didn’t much like it.

   Jill was bemused. “How did you know my name? I didn’t tell you that,” she said frowning.

  The woman sat heavily in her armchair. Boing! A spring popped. “Did you not?” she replied, then leant forward and looked under the chair. A broken spring was poking out.    “Maybe it was just a good guess,” she mumbled as a bit of her beauty mask dripped from her nose on to the rug. Plop! She straightened up and rubbed it in with her slipper, smiling widely and making her mask squelch.

Surprised, the children screwed up their faces. The amused woman copied them. She scrunched up her face, causing the squidgy noise again. “Oh, I must apologise for my appearance children. You were a little early and I’m getting ready for my big day! It won’t be long now,” she said, rubbing her hands together.

  Jill smiled and took a sip of the best hot chocolate she’d ever tasted, while Edward tucked into the amazing shortbread. The cat just sat and stared at them through squinting golden eyes. 

“Your beds are made,” said the woman. “There are two pairs of jim-jams neatly folded, dressing gowns and slippers. I won’t be lighting the fire anymore, but you’ll find plenty of Christmas jumpers to keep you warm.”

  Bemused, the children looked at each other, unsure what to do. The woman added, “Oh, and to turn the candles on, just click your fingers once. It’s twice for off.” She did just that. The children gasped when they saw the candles turn on and off by themselves. Edward desperately tried to click his fingers but couldn’t manage it. “Oh fiddlesticks,” he whispered ever so quietly. Oddly, a small flame on a candle didn’t trouble him like the log fire did. Jill said nothing about the candles. She was too busy thinking.

  The woman spoke again. “Oh, and my toothbrush is sparkly red. Yours are gold and green. It’s important we look after our teeth.”

  Wary of strangers, Jill was unsure what to do. “It’s terribly kind of you but we can’t possibly stay here,” she said, clicking her fingers twice. They were all in the dark, apart from the firelight. She gave in to her curiosity and asked, “How do the candles do that?”

  “You’ll find out soon enough,” said the woman.

  Jill was troubled by that answer. “Oh, do you have a phone? I’d like to ring my mother,” she asked.

  “No, we don’t have a phone,” said the woman quickly, before clicking her fingers again to relight the candles. Edward smiled. He was beginning to like it here.

  “A laptop or tablet?” asked Jill.

  “No. Sorry,” said the woman, adding slowly, “The cottage has no electricity.” 

  “No electricity?” replied Jill with a gulp. “Could we possibly speak to your neighbours? They can’t be far as your cottage has number six on the door.”

  “We don’t have any real neighbours. And there’s a good reason why this cottage is number six. May I suggest we worry about all this in the morning? You’ve been wandering about for far too long to remember.”

  “But I do remember the odd sign on your door, ‘Knock Here Quietly’?”

“It’s not odd, it’s essential. Unexpected loud noises can scare young fairies and attract the Christmas grumps,” she said, taking a mouthful of shortbread.

  Jill was grinning. “The Christmas grumps? That’s ridiculous and there’s no such thing as fairies,” she said firmly.

  The woman mumbled a reply with a mouthful of biscuit, “Better safe than sorry. Now tell me, does the teddy have a name?”

  “He’s just called Teddy. He’s extremely special. It was a present from Santa for Edward’s First Christmas.”

  The woman crossed her legs and tapped her nose, “Hmm. Eddie’s teddy… a teddy for Edward, Ted and Ed, Ed’s Ted, Tedward for short.” She took another mouthful of biscuit.

Edward finally spoke, “But Daddy says I’m too old for Teddy. He says I need to grow up fast.”

  Taken completely by surprise, the woman jumped up and spluttered crumbs all over the rug. Some landed on the cat, causing it to leap into the air. Jill giggled.

  The woman came over to Edward, “I’m sorry child! I was sure Kat had your tongue.” She looked at her cat and it flapped its ears. She continued, “Teddy is very welcome here. Oh, look at his ear, it’s all unstitched. We’ll have to put that right.”

  Jill spoke for her brother, “That’s kind of you. Err… I’m sorry but you didn’t tell us your name.”

  “Did I not? You can call me Aphrodite!”  She gave a little twirl, almost stumbling because of her giant slippers and only just avoided banging her head on a wooden beam.

  “Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty?” said Jill giggling.

  “Yes! Obviously!” said Aphrodite firmly, adding, “You’ve already met Kat. Now it’s time to meet Archie.”

  She pointed enthusiastically at the wooden Christmas tree. It was about three feet tall with a star on top and numbers painted on doors with small handles.  

  “Archie, where?” asked Jill.

  “Here, my Christmas tree. May I present Archie the Advent calendar? Take good care of him. He’s very special. It’s the first of December tomorrow.” She rubbed her hands together gleefully. “And you have been invited as our special guests to open door number one in the morning.”

  In celebration, Kat raised a paw at the children, but Edward wasn’t at all impressed.    “But I don’t like Christmas,” he said coldly.

  “Edward, how can you say such a thing? You always loved Christmas.”

  “Not anymore. I don’t like Christmas, not one bit.”

  Startled, Aphrodite blurted out, “Oooohh, the Grump Grumble! We don’t want that, especially not in this house. It’s why you’re here Edward. Let’s see if Archie can fill your heart with love for Christmas again, shall we?”

Edward shook his head, “No. It won’t happen. Some things are just impossible.” He put Teddy to one side, stood, and removed his hat and coat.  He was wearing scuffed trainers, jeans and a T-shirt with a picture of a fist-punching, green-skinned man.  Aphrodite didn’t much like the strange green man. She said nothing about it as she sat down again but very gently this time.

  “Okay. I’ve decided we’ll stay. But just for tonight,” said Jill. She took off her hat and used her fingers to tidy her fringe. 

  “Oh goody, goody gumdrops,” cried Aphrodite, clapping her hands.  She shook her head in excitement. Her hair rollers wobbled and some of her beauty mask splashed over her armchair. A green dollop landed on the clock with a plop and sprinkled the cat. 

  “Oh look, Kat has got the cream!”

  The children giggled.

*

  Aphrodite showed the children to their bedrooms, but didn’t dare enter because they both had ‘No Grown-Ups Allowed’ signs on the doors. The children took a look around. Each room had a creaking old bed with a thin mattress, a small wardrobe, a chest of drawers packed with Christmas jumpers and curtains with robin patterns. Alarmingly, the rooms had no heating, just hot water bottles. 

  “Hot water bottles!” gasped Edward.

  “Wonderful, isn’t it? Things are warming up very nicely,” replied Aphrodite from the corridor.

  The only games the children could find were chess, draughts, and snakes and ladders. There was also a pack of playing cards, colouring pencils and paper and a handful of bedtime story books.

  “There are no toys!” said Jill.

  “Isn’t it stupendous? We’ll make our own entertainment,” replied Aphrodite, and left the children alone for a while to settle in.  When she returned, she found Edward stood on a low wobbly stool leaning over a tiny basin in a pokey bathroom holding the green toothbrush.

  “You chose the green one,” Aphrodite said.

  “Green’s my favourite colour,” he replied, yawning.

  “Yes, I guessed as much,” she said, then waited for Edward to return to his room. When the children were comfortable in their beds, she cried, “Good night children. Let’s hope it’s not a grumpy one.” She double-clicked her fingers to turn off scented candles labelled, ‘Sweet Dreams’, but poor Edward couldn’t sleep at all, not one wink.  Even cuddling Teddy made no difference.

*

  In the morning the cottage was eerily quiet. When they got up the children left their beds unmade and put on their dressing gowns and slippers.  Kat was waiting for them at the top of the stairs. She followed them down, listening as the children continued to complain about the cottage.

  “Sheets and blankets, and a lumpy pillow? That won’t do at all!” said Jill.

  “And the games are awful! What shall we do all day? We can’t just draw and colour in.”

Kat flapped her ears.

  “Well, it doesn’t really matter because once we’ve had breakfast, we’re leaving,” said Jill.

  “Shush,” Edward whispered, “Aphrodite might hear you.”

  “I very much doubt that’s her real name. And I’ll do the shushing if you don’t mind. Besides I think she’s gone out.”

  Edward doubted that, “We’re just children. Do you really think she’d leave us alone in her house?”

  “Yes Edward, I do. But it’s fine. I’ll look after you. I always do.”

  Jill was right.  They were totally alone in the cottage, apart from Kat. They went in search of breakfast and found a small kitchen. It had a few pale blue cupboards with some handles missing, a tiny sink with an annoying dripping tap, a scruffy old fridge and a wood burning cooker. There was a wonky wooden table and three worn out chairs. 

They were pleasantly surprised to find the table laid for breakfast. There was toast, orange juice, porridge, fruit and cereal, all served on a jumble of different plates, bowls and cutlery.  Edward sat Teddy on one of the chairs and they happily tucked in. It was all extremely tasty but afterwards they didn’t think to wash the dishes or clear the table. In fact, they left Kat licking at the butter dish.

   “I wonder where Aphrodite could be?” asked Edward.

  “Polishing her broomstick, I’d guess.”

  “Well if she’s a witch, why did she make us such a lovely breakfast?”

  Jill was convinced of it. She blurted out, “Because it’s a trick! She knew we were coming didn’t she? She knew my name! She knew we loved shortbread and she lights candles by clicking her fingers. She also has a black cat. Let’s get dressed and leave, while we still can.”

  Edward simply shrugged his shoulders and sighed, mumbling, “Okay.”

  They went into the lounge. Jill noticed their coats and hats were hung up by the front door, above Aphrodite’s reindeer slippers. 

  “I wish I could click my fingers. It’s very annoying,” said Edward.

  “And so are you!” replied Jill.

  “No I’m not! I like the magic candles and I don’t think Aphrodite’s a witch. Anyway, if we leave where will we go?”

  Kat meowed to get their attention. She rubbed up against the Advent calendar, purring loudly.

  Edward noticed her. “Look, door number one, I think Kat wants you to open it and Aphrodite said we should.”

  “Let’s ignore her. It’s probably another trick! Anyway, yesterday you said you hated Christmas!”

  “I still do.”

Jill wagged her finger furiously at her brother. “Maybe Aphrodite was right, you’re getting the grumps.”

  “I’m happy being a grump,” said Edward defiantly.

*

  Putting on their coats and hats they headed for the front door, which was unlocked. Once outside they remembered that the cottage was surrounded by woods and those mesmerising meandering paths with arrowed signposts reading, ‘This Way’ or ‘That Way’ and ‘Try Here’ or ‘Try There’.  Once again, the children did as they suggested, but once again every path led to the sign, ‘Cottage Ahead’ and took them back to the start.  

  Jill wasn’t ready to give up easily. “If she got out, so can we!” she said.

  “Maybe she left us alone because today is her big day.”

  “Edward can you please be quiet. I’m trying to remember which way we’ve been.” 

  “Going round in circles, that’s where. Now I’m really tired and my arm hurts from carrying Teddy. Can we go back, please?” he urged.

  “No. Not yet. I’m in charge, remember? Here, give me Ted! I’ll hold him for you,” she said firmly as she snatched hold of the bear.

  “But I didn’t get my forty winks last night.”

  “ ‘Forty winks’, that’s just what she said! Why do you keep talking about her? You actually like her, don’t you?”

  Edward was getting tearful, “Stop picking on me.”

  “I’m not picking on you Edward. I’m just cross with you.” She wagged her finger at Edward again, more furiously than ever. “Why did you tell her first that you hate Christmas? I’m your sister, you should have told me.”

  “I didn’t get the chance. Anyway, I can’t tell you why I hate Christmas. You’re not ready yet,” he said walking away. “Nonsense! What do you mean, I’m not ready? I’m much bigger than you are Edward! Now I’m really cross. I’m done with this. I’m going back to the cottage.”

  Jill deliberately dropped the teddy and stomped off.  A bold robin landed on Teddy then quickly flew away again, perhaps because of the cat that had been secretly following them all. It rubbed against Teddy, purring. Edward stroked Kat.

  “I’m sorry Teddy. I never said I liked her, did I?” whispered Edward, “But I don’t think she’s a witch.”

  Suddenly, he heard a strange shuffling noise in the woods. For a moment he thought he saw a pair of glowing orange eyes looking back at him from amongst some bushes.

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  Startled, Edward quickly grabbed his teddy and found the energy to race with Kat back to the cottage. He called to his sister, “Jill, I’m really sorry. Wait for me!”

  When they reached the cottage, Jill deliberately disobeyed the ‘Knock Here Quietly’ sign. Instead, she knocked loudly. There was no answer. She tried the handle and the door was still unlocked. Edward caught her up and they went inside.

  “You knocked loudly. You’re not supposed to do that because of the fairies,” he said, catching his breath.

  “Fairies aren’t real Edward and if they were, do you think for one minute they’d choose to live in a horrid little cottage in the middle of nowhere?”

  “I was just saying because it says so on the sign.” 

  “Mmm,” she replied, then called, “Hello Aphrodite. It’s us. Eh… we’ve been for a little walk in the woods.”

But there was no reply.

  “That’s a fib. We were trying to escape. You always told me to tell the truth.”

Jill whispered, “Shush. She might hear you. Anyway, it’s not a lie. I’m just pretending that’s all. There’s a difference.”

  “So it’s alright to pretend then, is it?”

Jill cupped a hand to an ear, and said, “Be quiet Edward. I’m listening out for her.”

  But they heard nothing other than the cat flapping her ears. They took off their coats and hung them back up on the pegs by the door. They were still dressed in yesterday’s clothes. Jill wore a purple jumper, jeans and matching purple boots. They went into the kitchen and were astonished to find all the breakfast dishes put away. They had been replaced by plates of sandwiches, crisps and warm, freshly baked brownies. There was a bowl of food on the floor for Kat.

  “Now she’s made us lunch. See, I told you she’s not a witch,” said Edward smugly.

  “She must have come in and gone back out again.” 

  The children ate their lunch then settled on the sofa. The splashed beauty cream mask and biscuit crumbs from the day before had been cleared away. Kat pawed eagerly at the Advent calendar.

  “Do you think Aphrodite will come back soon?” Edward asked.

  “See, you do like her, don’t you? That’s why you said she’s not a witch, isn’t it!” said Jill stiffly.

  “I never said that! Stop picking on me,” replied Edward. He got up and moved to one of the armchairs.

  “Now you’ve got the hump.”

  “I’m happy having the hump.”

  Jill looked at her brother harshly, “Tell me why you don’t like Christmas, Edward?”

  He shook his head. “No. I would if I could, but I can’t. I’ve already told you, you’re not ready.”

  “That’s ridiculous. Right! Like it or not, I’m going to open the first door on Archie the Advent Calendar and I’m going to do it on my own.”  She went over to the wooden tree and added, “Let’s see what you make of that then, shall we?”

  “Fine! Do it! I don’t care. I didn’t want to watch you anyway,” said Edward tearfully.

  “Grumpy, humpy, don’t like Christmas,” teased Jill. She poked out her tongue.

Edward stood up and said, “I’m happy being a grump. I’m happy having the hump. I don’t like Christmas, not one bit!”

  He stormed off upstairs with Teddy. Kat followed him.

Door One

  Jill knelt before the Advent calendar. As she closed her eyes and gently pulled on door one she had a wild thought, ‘This could be the best Christmas ever!’ The calendar door opened and she gazed inside. She was really excited to discover a small box with clowns painted on it.  On the back of the door was an identical picture of a jack-in-the-box. She reached in, took the box out and studied it. There were paintings of juggling clowns on all four sides and a tiny turning crank handle. Curious, she tipped the box upside down and was surprised to find her name scrawled in gold ink on the base.

  “How ridiculous, this can’t possibly be mine. It’s much too small anyway!” she said, talking to herself.

  She turned the box the right way up and put it on the rug. Suddenly, with a sparkle and flash it got much bigger.

  “Extraordinary,” she cried, “Maybe you really are mine!”

  Carefully, she turned the handle on the jack-in-the-box. It played the familiar tune ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’. On the word ‘pop’, the lid sprang open, but Jack didn’t pop out.

Jill sighed, “Ah, I remember now. Your spring was broken.”

  She reached inside to try to pull out the jack.

  “I say. Steady on there. You’re hurting me,” squealed Jack, as she pulled the jack free.

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  Jill shrieked and backed away. She watched in utter amazement as Jack wriggled the rest of the way out of the box and stretched out his arms. Jack was wearing a purple and yellow Harlequin suit and hat. He was a jester with a beaming face and smiling eyes.  

“Ah, freedom! I must say I’d forgotten what this felt like,” he said joyfully.

“You can talk?” uttered Jill in disbelief.

“Well observed Jill. That’s a promising start,” said Jack in a pompous and elegant voice. Every word was said precisely and accurately. 

“This is crazy,” claimed Jill.

“Isn’t it just? This is where you say, ‘Wake me up, I must be dreaming!’” said Jack ironically.

“Yes, that’s it!” She pinched her arm and said, “I must be dreaming. It explains absolutely everything.”

“Splendid. Now we have the incredulity… or shall I say disbelief… out of the way, shall we continue? Aphrodite could return any second and her enthusiasm is infuriatingly tiresome.” 

“‘Infuriatingly tiresome’? I like those words.”

“Yes. In my condition, I can’t much be doing with any of that. I’m kept in this dark box for months on end and when I finally pop up my spring’s broken. The last thing I need is to be told that everything’s perfectly wonderful.”

“You really are in a terrible muddle. I’m sorry about your spring Jack, but I’m here now.”

“You are and there’s much to say and do. Oh Jill, I remember when you were younger, you used to ask me about all of lives great mysteries. A particular favourite of mine was why Jack and Jill fell down the hill fetching a pail of water.”

“Jack and Jill, ha, you broke your crown and I came tumbling after!”

“I always liked that bit. Now listen, I’m not the only gift. There are twenty four of us to be precise and you can’t play at this game without imagination, so I’m glad you still have yours.” 

“Play?” asked Jill.

“Yes, play. Shall we begin?  There are important things I need to tell you. You must listen very carefully.”

“Listen carefully?”

“Yes, I need to tell you the rules to Archie’s Advent Adventure.”

“Rules?”

“Yes rules! I call them Santa’s clauses,” said Jack with a laugh.

“Santa’s clauses? That’s confusing. It sounds like Santa Claus?” suggested Jill, scratching her head.

“Well, maybe he’s called Santa Claus because of the clauses in this game. Clause is another word for a rule.”

“Clause is another word for a rule?”

“Yes! No more interruptions, please. My memory isn’t what it once was and I don’t want to get anything wrong. Listen carefully. Now, rule one: Archie’s calendar doors must only be opened sequentially… that means in the right order. Rule two: Once you’ve opened the first door, which you just did, you can only succeed in this game by opening all the other doors on the correct day. For example, door two must be opened on December the second.” 

“Sequentially and on the right date?” she replied, “Hang on. We can’t stay here for twenty-five days. That’s ridiculous!”

“It’s not ridiculous at all. When children dream of Christmas the dream can sometimes seem to last for years and years, but when the dream ends it’s as though only one night has passed. It’s a very special night, Christmas Eve in fact.”

“So it is a dream and I’m having the dream on Christmas Eve?” said Jill with a twinkle in her eye. She rubbed her hands together in excitement.

“Please no more interruptions, I’m concentrating. It’s essential I get this right, Christmas depends upon it.”

“Christmas depends upon it?” she replied.

“Will you please stop copying me? You’re not a parrot.  Now, rule three: You must use Archie’s daily gifts wisely and do not lose any of the pieces. Oh, and if any are broken or damaged in some way, you mustn’t try to fix them.”

“That sounds like three rules rolled into one.”

“It is. You’re listening, excellent! Rule four: You must not under any circumstances eat anything that Archie gives you. Absolutely not! Rule six.”

“No, rule five?”

“Oh exactly, yes. I apologise. I did say I was forgetful, didn’t I? Did I?”

“I can’t remember,” replied Jill.

“Well I am.” Jack continued, “Now, rule five: Once the adventure has begun, and up until Christmas Day, you or any other players must never, ever, say the words, ‘I don’t believe in Father Christmas’.  Is that perfectly clear?”

“Perfectly clear.”

“Rule six. Yes, I’m sure there’s a rule six. It’ll come to me. There’s more, I know it. Now what was it?” Jack tapped on his box for a few seconds. “No, sorry it’s gone. I’ll come back to it. It’s my wonky spring. It makes me a little forgetful.”

“Don’t worry about it Jack. Just tell me when you remember.”

“I will. Provided I remember to tell you that I’ve remembered what it was I forgot.” He tapped his box again, “I think that’s right, is it?”

“Yes Jack. So, if I fail in Archie’s Advent Adventure what happens to Christmas?” asked Jill, worried by the responsibility.

“It’s all, me, myself and I with you, isn’t it?  Your brother is part of this adventure too. He just doesn’t know it yet. As for what happens if you fail in this game… Christmas will be cancelled!”

“Cancelled?” asked Jill, shocked.

“No Santa. No presents for any child, good, bad or otherwise! Not just this year… but every year… forever!

Forever? I’m sorry but that’s simply ridiculous. I cannot possibly allow that to happen. Wait here… I’ll get Edward.”

“Wait here she says! As if I can go anywhere?” mumbled Jack.

Jill dashed upstairs, almost falling over Kat who was sat on the middle step. 

“Edward, come quickly. I’ve something incredible to show you,” she urged.  

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  Edward was already on his way slowly down the stairs, with Teddy in hand. 

“What?” he asked, sulkily.

She grabbed her brother’s free hand and made him hurry. Kat followed.

“But we’re not supposed to run down stairs, remember?”  

When they reached the lounge, Jill pointed excitedly at the jack-in-the-box.

“Hello Edward, remember me? We need to talk. I trust you are well?” asked Jack.

But Edward said nothing.

“Well?” asked Jill.

“Well, what?” said Edward. He crossed his arms.

“Are you well? He asked you if you are well. Come now Edward, don’t be rude, answer him.”

Edward shook his head, “Who asked me?”

“Why he did,” insisted Jill. She led Edward closer to Jack and pointed right at him.

“Are you lying again? It’s just a toy. Toys can’t talk, everyone knows that.”

End of opening sample.

Those elves are ace crafters. They’ve come up with great ideas to enjoy the rest of the story🤩

Edward And The Christmas Grumps

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