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The Shrinking Christmas is a magical tale about an elf called Isabella, a boy called Nathan and a large jolly chap with a white beard and a red and white coat. I wonder who that can be?
This story is a shorter, slightly different version of the book.
The Shrinking Christmas
It was Christmas night, and Isabella leapt over the side of the miniature sleigh along with four hundred and ninety-nine other elves. Their magic went with them, encircling their colourful tiny bodies with a golden glow which ensured they remained only two millimetres tall and a hundred times faster than any human.
She only had two presents to deliver in this town and the first was easy; straight through an open bedroom window and then under a gap below a door where she found the stocking hanging on a door handle. She checked the name on the tag of the present and dropped it in. As soon as it was released from the sparkling glow of her spell, it exploded to normal size and poked out of the top.
Her second delivery was a farm on the edge of town. A little boy was looking out of the window with his elbows on the window ledge but that was no problem for Isabella. She knew he would not be able to see her – not while she was so small and so fast.
A vent in the bathroom was her way in and out this time and, before going back to the sleigh, she noticed that the people of this house had left a mince pie for Father Christmas and a saucer of milk for the reindeer on the doorstep.
She landed at the side of them. The pie towered over her like an upside down mountain, and the saucer of milk looked like a vast white ocean. But with a touch of her finger, she quickly enchanted them both and her spell shrunk them to match her size.
On a belt around her middle was a bag containing a plastic bottle and, most important of all, her mobile phone – something which every elf had in case they got into trouble. She picked up the pie, placed it in the bag, and then poured the milk into the bottle. There was a place for them on the sleigh when she got back.
Again she soured into the night sky but, due to the glare of a nearby streetlight, she did not see the telephone wire strung across the street. She crashed into it head first and lost control as she tumbled over the top of it.
With a blinding flash, a vast amount of her spell broke away from her body; it headed back towards the sleigh without her, leaving her unable to fly.
Down and down she fell and, as she continued to spin; the mince pie, the milk container and her emergency phone all fell from her bag and exploded to normal size as they broke away from the remaining part of her spell.
As they hit the ground, the pie splattered everywhere; the top of the milk bottle flipped open and a large split opened up along the side causing the milk to spread out over the icy ground. She could only watch in horror as the cover flew from the back of her phone. The battery bounced out, and the screen cracked from top to bottom.
A breeze blew her into a bush and, as she dropped from branch to branch, she twisted her ankle before ending up in a tuft of long icy grass. And then, just to add to all of her problems, the front door opened and the little boy she had seen in the window stepped out wearing a green dressing gown and slippers.
She was in real trouble now because, even though she was still small, she wasn’t as small as she was. She had grown to about three centimetres and, not only that, she had lost her speed spell which meant she was not a hundred times faster than humans any more. She was now in normal time at the same speed as the boy.
The branches of the bush still moved from where she had fallen and the boy spotted her right away. She hurried into the undergrowth, but the pain from her ankle shot up her leg causing her to fall in agony. A hand descended towards her.
She put out her arms. “No! Don’t pick me up!”
It was too late. Huge finger tips closed around her and then, just as she feared, her remaining spell shrunk the boy to the same size as her. The boy’s yell hurt her ears but fortunately, he was now too small for anyone to hear.
She was in a right old mess now. She knew that Father Christmas would not hang around before going to the next town, and it was unlikely that her fellow elves would realise she was missing because they would be getting the presents ready for the next stop.
“Whoa!” cried the boy, backing away as fast as he could as soon as he realised what had happened to him.
Isabella got to her feet and hobbled towards him. She had never spoken to a human before so she tried to sound as calm as she could. “It’s okay… don’t panic, there’s nothing to be afraid of. I’ve just had a little accident and we’ll soon get it all sorted out, okay?”
The boy looked her up and down from the top of her jangling hat to the curled up toes of her shoes.
“Are you an elf?” he said eventually.
“I am yes. I’m Isabella; you must be Nathan.” She slowly hobbled forward and offered her hand in friendship.
The boy stared at her for a few seconds before gingerly shaking her hand. “But… I don’t understand… what have you done to me? Why am I so small? And how do you know my name?”
“I’m afraid that some of my magic has transferred to you, but don’t worry, it’s nothing to worry about.”
“Father Christmas’s magic of course. He enchants all of us with a shrinking and time spell so we can deliver all the presents without being seen. I’ve just delivered your present… that’s how I know your name.”
The boy shook his head disbelievingly. “You work for Father Christmas?”
“Yes, me and four hundred and ninety-nine other elves.”
“But how did you get in if you are so small?”
Isabella explained how she flew through the vent in the bathroom and how his present was shrunk until it was released from her spell.
“You can fly as well?”
“Normally I can, but while I was on the way back to Father Christmas’s supersleigh, I crashed into your telephone wire and now I’ve lost my magic.”
“A supersleigh?” said Nathan, “what’s that? Is it faster? Does it have reindeer? Does Father Christmas drive it?”
Isabella laughed. “That’s an awful lot of questions all in one go, but yes, it is faster… and very tiny when it’s enchanted; it looks more like a techno paper aeroplane than the usual carriage. We don’t use reindeer for big journeys anymore, and yes, Father Christmas drives it using his magic.”
“Wow! How small is it?”
“Oh, really small… only seven centimetres long when it’s enchanted; and it’s a hundred times faster than normal time, as is everyone on it, which is why you will never see an elf deliver your present.”
“But I can see you.”
“Well, you can now… but that’s because I’ve lost my speed spell after flying into that wire… and I’ve grown too. Normally I’m only two millimetres tall.”
Nathan shivered in the cool air. “So what are we going to do? Can’t you make us big again?”
“No, the magic doesn’t work like that. Only Father Christmas can control the spell. Once it is attached to you you’re stuck with it.”
“But surely someone will come to help us?”
Isabella shrugged her shoulders. “Someone would if I could raise the alarm, but my phone is smashed.”
Nathan looked at all the pieces. “I could help you to get the battery back in if you like.”
“But the screen is cracked.”
“So… my mum dropped hers once and it still worked with a broken screen.”
A scraping sound came from the direction of an empty plant pot. It wobbled slightly, and whiskers appeared to one side of it – followed by a huge furry head, a pointed ear and an eye.
Nathan gasped. “Argh! It’s Tom!”
Isabella didn’t need to ask who Tom was. The cat appeared in full. It towered above them, its grey and white striped tail slowly swishing from side to side.
Ignoring the pain from her ankle, Isabella edged backwards towards the milk bottle, taking Nathan by the hand on the way.
Tom closed the gap, one slow paw at a time. Isabella knew that making a run for it would trigger the chase game and they would become a tasty treat within seconds.
Nathan was trembling, and it wasn’t just because of the cold. “We’ll be okay,” said Isabella, “we just need to get inside the bottle.”
Tom took a few more steps and stopped. His back arched up on powerful back legs.
Nathan began to panic. “He’s going to pounce!”
With lighting speed, Isabella grabbed Nathan and pushed him head first through the open top of the bottle. Tom leapt, and his paws and claws appeared overhead as Isabella leapt through the opening just in the nick of time.
Whack! Whack! Whack!
Tom’s paw swiped the bottle again and again. Isabella and Nathan bounced around inside, and the last remains of freezing cold milk soaked them from head to toe.
Nathan sounded frozen. “W…what are we going to do now?”
“I think that depends on how long your cat is going use us as a toy!”
Tom stopped whacking them as the milk on the ground suddenly became more interesting. He began to lap it up.
Isabella began to feel the cold too through her own milk soaked clothes. “Well, I suppose all we can do is wait,” she said. “If we keep still long enough he’ll hopefully get bored and leave us alone.”
Tom’s massive nose zig-zagged across the ground towards the remains of the mince pie. His tongue probed around the fruit and sugar before he finally decided on the pastry. Then he sat and scratched his neck with his back leg. Then he licked his bum.
Isabella looked horrified. “Ugh… your cat is disgusting.”
“But all cats do that, and dogs. Don’t you have any where you come from?”
“None like that, the ones we have are sort of… well… more refined and kind of half human.”
Nathan raised a tiny eyebrow. “Half human?”
“You know… like a very hairy person with a cat-like head.”
Nathan looked at her as though she was bonkers. “You have cats… that look like humans?”
“Yes, we have talking dogs too.”
“I don’t believe you. You’re just making it up.”
“Well I can’t prove it to you because you are never going to see them, so you can believe it or not believe it; it makes no difference to me.”
Tom, clearly bored by the mince pie and milk, sauntered off and disappeared around the corner of the house.
“Come on,” said Isabella. “Let’s get out of here before we freeze to death.”
Because the phone battery was normal size, its length was as long as they were tall. They had to use all their strength to carry and insert it into the phone which was twice as big as the battery.
They turned the phone over to see that half of the screen was lit up as it went through its startup routine, but it just displayed random zig-zags of colours and shapes.
“Oh,” said Isabella miserably. “Things aren’t looking good are they? I’ll never get the rescue app to work now.”
“But if the touch screen still works you might. Do you know where the app should be?”
Isabella nodded. “Oh that’s easy… there’s only one and it’s normally in the middle of the screen.”
“Well touch it then.”
She did as he said and the screen changed to a different mish-mash of colours. A few seconds later, a loud, booming voice came out of its earpiece.
“Hello? Isabella, is that you?”
Nathan could not contain his excitement and whispered. “Is that Father Christmas!?”
Isabella nodded and shouted rapidly. “Yes, F.C. I’m afraid I’ve had a bit of an accident!”
“Hello, Isabella? Are you there?”
Nathan suddenly realised why Father Christmas could not hear her. “You need to talk into the microphone at the other end of the phone!”
Isabella did as he said and spoke again.
“Ah… Isabella,” came the voice from the earpiece again. “I’ve been waiting for your call, a couple of your friends told me you were missing but I was certain that all spells were accounted for.”
Isabella quickly explained about her accident and how the main part of her spell returned to the sleigh without her.
“Oh I see. Right… well I have your location, Isabella, but we are in America at the moment. Will you be okay to wait until we are finished? We shouldn’t be too long.”
Isabella looked at Nathan who was shivering more than ever. “I will, but I am in normal time and I have a human with me who looks like he is going to freeze to death any minute.”
“A human? Oh dear, this isn’t good news Isabella. Don’t tell him too many of our secrets otherwise we’ll have to take him back to Myth and get the trolls to suck out his memory.”
Nathan took a sharp breath and his jaw dropped open like a floppy sandwich.
“Erm… he can hear you, F.C.” said Isabella.
“Oh… he can can he? Oh dear, what a pickle. Right, don’t panic, young man, I was only joking, I say that to all humans. Anyway, Isabella, keep your phone switched on so I can locate you; and try to find somewhere to keep warm. I’ll be with you as soon as I can.”
There was a click and Father Christmas was gone.
“You have trolls as well as weird cats and dogs?” asked Nathan.
“Yes… and all kinds of other creatures but, you heard him, I’m not allowed to say too much. Come on, it looks like we have some time to wait so let’s get inside.”
The front door had swung closed but thankfully it had not clicked shut. Nathan led the way into the warmth of the hall where the pendulum of a huge Grandfather clock clunked away the time towards Christmas morning.
The carpet was thick and spongy and it felt like they were walking through a knee-deep field of blue, woollen grass. The heating was on so they settled under a radiator.
“I’d like to know more about this Myth place,” said Nathan. “Is it at the North Pole?”
Isabella shook her head. “No.”
“I can’t tell you… it’s top secret.”
“Oh. So what other creatures live there?”
“You heard F.C, I can’t tell you.”
“Does everyone call him F.C?”
“It’s what he likes to be called, so yes… just like the Easter rabbit likes to be called Bunny.”
“There’s an Easter bunny too?!”
Isabella thumped herself on the forehead. “Yes… but I haven’t told you that, okay?”
“Okay. But if you haven’t told me that then you can tell me lots of other things which you can pretend you haven’t told me.”
“What?” said Isabella, “I didn’t understand any of that.”
“You know, just tell me anyway and I won’t tell anyone.”
“No, I’ve told you I can’t. And besides, no one would believe you anyway.”
She watched the swinging pendulum of the Grandfather clock as it tick-tocked from left to right and right to left. It was half-past four.
“So will I meet all your elf friends when we are rescued?”
“Maybe,” replied Isabella while rubbing her ankle which seemed to be getting better in the heat. “But F.C. may drop them off in Myth before he comes here, it will save anymore complications.”
Ten minutes tick-tocked by.
Nathan twiddled with the belt of his milk soaked dressing gown. “So, is there a tooth fairy?”
Isabella sighed, not even bothering to look at him. “I can’t say.”
“So there is then.”
“I told you, I can’t say.”
“What about Jack Frost? Is he out tonight freezing the ground?”
She opened her eyes and glared at him. “Do you want to go to the trolls and have your memory erased?”
“Well then, stop asking questions.”
Another ten minutes went by. She so wished the clock would tick faster. It was so hard to not answer awkward questions about Myth when there was plenty of time to spare.
Suddenly, a sparkle flashed through the glass window of the front door. Isabella got to her feet and Nathan followed her outside.
Father Christmas’s, spell powered, triangular sleigh silently came in to land in front of them on golden skis, leaving a trail of sparkling stars behind it. Its length was not much longer than they were tall. Its colours shone in the moonlight; red, black, green and gold.
Two very tiny people, one dressed in black and the other in red and white sat near the front in what appeared to be matching tiny armchairs. There wasn’t a roof or a cover of any kind.
The man wearing red and white stood up and raised an arm. Nathan stooped down for a closer look.
“Is that really Father Christmas?”
“Of course it is.” said Isabella, “nobody else has a magical sleigh like this.”
“But he’s so small… even smaller than we are!”
Suddenly, the sleigh began to grow, but Nathan soon realised that it was he and Isabella who were shrinking.
Within moments the machine towered over them; a circular hatch opened on the undercarriage and a platform dropped down to the ground.
The first thing to appear was a pair of black boots, followed by the legs and body of a white-bearded rolly-polly shaped man holding onto a centre pole. The white fur on his red coat fluttered in the breeze.
“Well there you are, Isabella!” boomed Father Christmas. His jolly eyes focused on Nathan. “And who do we have here? An impostor?”
Nathan marvelled at the sight of him. “I’m Nathan, sir.”
“Well, Nathan, I’ve no idea how you became part of my shrinking spell but no doubt Isabella will tell me later. The most important thing we have to do is get you back to normal size and tucked up in bed.”
Nathan looked worried. “You’re not going to get trolls to erase my memory are you?”
Father Christmas laughed so loud he would have woken everyone in the neighbourhood if he was normal size. “Of course not, my dear boy. That’s just something I say when humans get too nosy. Now… come along.”
Nathan and Isabella joined him on the platform and they ascended into a huge, cave-like, empty space.
Isabella whispered into Nathan’s ear. “This is the lower level where most of the presents are stored; any what’s left go on the open upper deck. Huge isn’t it?”
The word huge wasn’t good enough for Nathan. Whopping, colossal or mega-humongous was more like it.
The platform took them higher and higher – twenty, thirty, maybe forty feet above the floor. At the rear of the sleigh at the widest point was a large opening. Isabella saw him looking at it.
“That’s were we all jump out with the presents,” she said.
Nathan whistled. “There must be room for millions of presents in here!”
“Millions and millions and millions,” confirmed Isabella. “Now you can see why we have to be tiny and fast, we’d never get the job done in one night otherwise.”
The platform passed through the ceiling and into the moonlight. Nathan looked at the pole, expecting it to be attached to some kind of lifting device but he could see nothing of the sort; it just came to an end.
His amazement didn’t stop there, for now he found himself standing on top of the sleigh, its deck bare and empty of presents just like the level below. But the most surprising thing was the warmth. There wasn’t even the faintest trace of a breeze.
Snow began to drift lazily from the sky and sparkles twinkled above their heads whenever a flake came into contact with what appeared to be an enchanted, invisible roof.
“Quickly please,” said Father Christmas, “come and sit down on the seat next to mine. I’m afraid you’ll have to squash into it together, but it’s plenty big enough.”
The man wearing black was sitting in the third seat. He didn’t say anything, but Isabella knew who he was and she had a very good idea why he was there.
“This is a friend of mine,” said Father Christmas, more to Nathan than anyone else. “He doesn’t say much, but I need him here because I have used nearly all of my magic tonight. He has kindly offered to use some of his magic to return you to normal size but, for him to do that, we need gravity to assist us. So are you ready for a brief ride on my sleigh?”
Nathan was so amazed he couldn’t speak.
“I think he’s ready,” said Isabella for him.
In front of Father Christmas’s chair, on the end of an extremely shiny and curved steel pole, was a red button the size of a large mushroom.
Eleven golden letters were printed on a green disk that went around it and Nathan could see they spelled two words.
Father Christmas gently pulled the button closer to him. He ran a finger over the letters while muttering something foreign – then he pushed it.
Isabella looked at Nathan as the sleigh lifted from the step. His face was a picture of excited emotion, the kind she had only ever seen when someone was about to ride over the edge of the highest point on a roller coaster.
The sleigh flew through the gap of the open front door, up the stairs and into his bedroom.
They stopped high above his bed and Father Christmas and the man in black stood up. “Right, Nathan,” said Father Christmas. “We need to shower you with some growing magic, but first, we need to clean you up. We can’t have you going home smelling of sour milk can we, my boy?”
He rubbed his hands together until he produced a tiny sparkling, white globe. He placed it on Nathan’s shoulder and the sparkles spread through his clothes causing all traces of milk and dirt to turn to powder and fall to the floor at his feet.
“How’s that for a washing machine?” asked Father Christmas.
Nathan was still stuck for words as he gazed at his spotlessly clean sleeves.
“Come on then, let’s get you tucked up.”
The platform, as if driven by its own magic, dropped through the lower level and stopped when their heads had cleared the sleigh’s undercarriage. Nathan’s crumpled bed covers lay far below.
The man in black raised a hand, and silver dust flowed from his finger tips and washed over Nathan’s face.
Nathan’s eyes slowly closed. He fell into a deep sleep while still standing. The man took a deep breath and exhaled a gentle breeze, causing Nathan to topple over the edge.
Isabella watched Nathan slowly fall towards his bed and, with every turn of his tumbling body, he grew in size until he gently touched the sheets.
“Thank you, Sandman,” said Father Christmas. “Once again, your dreams have saved the day.”
“And much better than sending him to the trolls,” added Isabella. “What dream did you give him by the way?”
The Sandman spoke for the first time. His voice was like the wind, soothing and peaceful. “That he met Father Christmas of course. Isn’t that what all children dream of on Christmas Eve?”
Father Christmas smiled and patted his enormous belly. “Marvellous. Well, I suppose we should all head back to Myth and tuck into mince pies.”
Back in their seats, the sleigh took them through the front door and, like a magical hand, its sparkling trail of stars pulled it closed behind them. They stopped briefly over Isabella’s phone and, in less than a split second, all traces that a Christmas delivery had ever been made, disappeared forever.
If you enjoyed that and would like to know more about magical creatures from Myth, then click on the book cover below and select 'look inside' to read the first chapter of 'The Land of Myth'.