I'll be Home for Christmas: Part One
Snow flurried hurriedly past the window as if it had some place very important to go. Every flake is unique, they say; completely different from every single snowflake that ever was or ever would be. But right now they all looked very much the same: angry, cold and threatening.
On the other side of the window sat a baby Eyrie, eyes wide with wonder and a bit of sorrow. She hadn't seen snow ever before in her life, and it was marvelously fantastic, but it also meant they wouldn't be going ice-skating today. Or be going up the mountain to go skiing. And Packy wouldn't be able to get there until the storm ended. And the Day of Giving on Terror Mountain wouldn't be the same without Packy or the rest of the family.
Jhinka slumped down into the window-seat's maroon cushion and sighed. It was supposed to be a simply smashing Day of Giving this year. Kale, a great Neopian and head of the Aslo family had planned it. All of them were going to go a nice cozy lodge on Terror Mountain and enjoy the snowy weather and exchange presents.
But now that "Snowy Weather" had gotten so bad that about half of the invited party was not present and wouldn't be present until perhaps only after the holiday had passed.
For now Jhin, her friends Komi the baby Aisha and Lille the baby Kau were here, along with Mekamuthull and Keyathra Aslo, sisters, skunk Mynci and ghost Korbat respectively. But there were still so many out there, fighting the weather, who had to be there for it to be a truly smashing vacation. Right now it was rather sad and morose, even with Meka and Key there.
"Jhin, why don't you come and make coffee filter snowflakes with us?" called Meka from the doorway. Jhin could hear Komi and Lille giggling in the next room as they played arts and crafts.
"No, I want to watch an' see an' be the first to know if they come," Jhin said, continuing to stare out into the swirling snow. "If I want to join, I will later."
Meka nodded sadly. "Okay, just don't get depressed there. It'll be a good Day of Giving no matter what. We just might have to postpone it for a few days until everyone is here." She turned and went back to help Key watch the other two babies. Jhin sniffed and blinked back tears as she watched the blizzard outside.
It'll be okay, it'll be okay, she told herself, hugging her knees and hiding behind her wings.
— — — — — —
All around Rati was snow.
It wasn't unusual to her, since she had spent the last few years of her life in freezing climates, but this was different that the snow from the Allori Mountain Range. It was biting, wet, angry snow. It seemed very determined to bury Rati and her friends alive in its frigid fury.
Behind Rati, holding onto the tail of the one before them for safety were three other Bori. There were the twins, Gwyor and Hex Aslo who had been separated from their family for the past few months and had been looking forward to seeing everyone again. And in-between those two was Arai Gloss, an orphaned Bori who had lived in Rati's little cottage for a while for safety from wild animals and weather. And at the tail end of the group was an Usul named Teveir, a good friend of Rati's.
Rati plunged on, barely able to see through the furious snow. But she pushed onwards. She had to get to the little cottage, she had to keep her comrades safe, and the safest thing to do now was keep moving.
"You okay back there?!" she shouted to her companions. She couldn't hear their responses in the wind. She reached behind her and tugged on her tail. She waited for a few moments, then felt four tugs on her tail in response. That meant all four were still traveling behind her.
Good, she said to herself, and grappled with the icy rocks before her to get up onto the next ledge of their climb.
— — — — — —
"So sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but the wires have been frozen and the car has to be stopped until we can fix the issue," said the voice over the loudspeaker. The passengers of the Happy Valley Express to Terror Mountain Cable Car #16 moaned in unison.
Kale, a frazzled Neopian near the back moaned the loudest. It was only twelve hours until the Day of Giving, and she had to get to the lodge to prepare the meal for everyone who would be coming.
Next to Kale sat a green Lutari, bundled up very tightly because she wasn't used to such cold climates. Next to her was a Christmas Gelert who looked worried and was holding a bag of groceries on his lap. And at the end of the bench they were seated on was a strawberry Poogle holding a petpet carrying case in which were four meepits.
The Lutari, Min, was a good friend of the Aslo clan and had no better plan for how to spend her holiday break, so they had invited her along.
The Gelert was named Julio, and he was the first born of the Aslo children, and felt very nervous that the groceries would either spoil or freeze before the trolley car's wires were unfrozen and they could get going again. At least the car had heating so the passengers wouldn't freeze. His Tyrannian Bearog whined in the seat next him, all three of its heads wearing its own personal hat in a different colour than the others.
And finally, the strawberry Poogle was named Nel. A middle child, Nel felt often ignored in her family so she had taken to caring for meepits. They were very good natured meepits; the type who felt out of place in "World Domination Rallies" and the like. Besides the meepits, she also owned a feepit, whom the meepits surprisingly liked quite a bit. All five of her petpets slept peacefully in a warm pig-pile inside the carrier.
The little group of four looked worriedly about, trying to convince themselves this would only be a minor delay, and that soon they'd be moving again. But somehow in their guts they knew this was going to take a very long while.
— — — — — —
"Beno, it's not going to move," Lightfoot, a silvery grey Kougra said, miserably. In the boat with him was a skunk Lupe, trying to get their vessel to move forward. "It's frozen."
"Oh come ONNN!" Beno shouted at the ice. "So, should we abandon ship and ice skate the rest of the way?"
"What if the ice isn't strong enough?" Lightfoot said miserably.
"Well, what if it is? We can't stay here anyways, we'll freeze to death."
The Kougra looked miserably out across the ice. "Yes, you're right."
The two friends climbed out of their boat, grabbed their rucksacks and slid carefully across the ice towards the mainland of Terror Mountain's base.
"I hope they're not waiting up for us," Beno said, his face knotted in worry.
— — — — — —
A small spaceship flew erratically through the blizzard. An alien Aisha inside fought the controls and steered it towards the small light in the window of a cottage. He braced himself for an emergency crash landing.
— — — — — —
"Jhin, it's bedtime. They're not coming tonight. They'll most likely be here sometime tomorrow," Key said, touching Jhin gently on her shoulder.
"Please, can I sleep here?" Jhin said, eyes large and filled with tears.
"It's too cold next to the window, come to bed–" Key began, but was interrupted by a large crash right outside of the window.
"Packy!" Jhin squealed, and ran to the door.
"Jhin! Don't go out there without your winter clothes! Oh rats." Key followed Jhin out the door, grabbing the baby's scarf and hat as she went.
Once outside Key found Jhin on top of Packy's smart little flying saucer, chattering at him through the glass. The hatch opened and Packy's six-eared head popped out. He picked Jhin up in one arm and his traveling bag in the other. He dashed inside and Key closed the door behind him.
"Oof! Is it cold out there or what!" he exclaimed, dropping his bag on the floor and hugging Jhin tightly.
"Did you see anyone on your way up?" Key asked desperately.
"It was so snowy I couldn't really. But I did see a stalled cable car. I think it might be the one Kale, Julio, Min and Nel are traveling in," he said, wincing as his freezing body was defrosted by the warmth of the lodge.
From the other room Komi and Lill rushed in in their pajamas.
"Packy!" they screamed, running up and hugging his legs.
"But where is everybody else?" asked Meka from the doorway. Everyone simultaneously turned and looked out of the window at the dark sky and the furious snow.
"I don't know," said Packy, swallowing a growing lump in his throat. "I don't know."
To be continued...