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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Home for Christmas—Wherever That Is

As a Christmas Gift for my blog readers, I'm offering this free 1922 word Christmas story from the Realities' world. What happens when you mix an ogre and Christmas together? You'll never guess. Read on to find out. And have a Merry Christmas!

Sikso held out a gift. He hoped Josh would like it.

Josh smiled and lifted the gift from Sisko's palm. A couple of children passed by on the road in front of his house as Josh ripped the wrapping off.

They had decided to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. Sisko wished he could have found something prettier than green leaves stitched together, but he had nothing else to wrap it in. He put such thoughts aside. He knew his best friend Josh wouldn't mind. The excitement of the Christmas celebration forgave many minor trespasses.

Josh pulled it out of the wrapping. A polished wooden stick. Josh smiled. "A wand."

Sisko nodded. "I carved, sanded, and stained it myself. Should be useful in your wizard training."

Josh waved it around. "I like it. Thanks." He glanced at Sisko and back to his new wand. "Did your ring add anything to it?"

"No, why would it?" The ring he'd received allowed him to do miracles, heal people mostly, help them in general. He'd been charged to be his brother's keeper, helping whoever God led him to.

"Just wondering." Josh examined the wand close up. "As a matter of fact, this will help me to give you a gift."

Sisko raised an eyebrow. "Josh, tell me what you're planning."

He smiled. "That would spoil the surprise." He twirled the wand through the air over his head and mumbled some words.

"Josh, hold on!" Sisko jumped from the porch. He felt a wave of distortion pass over him. Combined with the movement, it caused his stomach to lurch. His front yard vanished and a forest of trees took their place.

Josh scanned the area as if searching. Sisko followed his eyes to see a house nestled among the trees. Josh pointed at the house. "Does that look familiar?"

Sisko shook his head. "Never seen this place before."

Josh sighed. "I thought I had the transport spell down better."

Sisko frowned. "Where are we?"

Josh stared at the ground. "I don't know."

"But you sent us here."

"I thought I had a better picture of your Uncle Seth's house."

Sisko slapped his forehead. "So that's why you kept asking me all those questions about my uncle's house."

"Milnore said a transport spell worked if you had a clear image of where you needed to transport to."

Sisko leaned against a tree. "So why didn't it work? I think I painted a clear enough picture of my uncle's house."

Josh thought for a second. "Milnore must have meant I needed to be there. To have a complete visual picture in my mind, I have to experience the place."

"Do me a favor? When you're experimenting with spells, leave me out of it?"

Josh hung his head. "Sorry. I only wanted to let you visit with your Uncle for Christmas."

Sisko placed a hand on Josh's shoulder. "You had good intentions. No harm done. Just send us back. You do have a mental image of our village, don't you?"

He smiled. "Of course."

The door to the house flung open and then a young boy flew from it. A man wielding an ax chased after him. "Get back here, you thief!"

Sisko's heart leaped within him. He glanced at Josh. "I'm supposed to help someone here."

"Are you serious? Who, that boy?"

Sisko shrugged. "That's the only one I can see in trouble at the moment."

Josh shook his head. "You can't go running between that boy and an ax-wielding man."

Sisko jogged toward them. "Someone has to."

Josh huffed. "And of course it has to be you. Some Christmas present this turned out to be." He ran after Sisko.

As Sisko drew closer, the man's features grew clearer. Despite his size, he appeared hunched over, and big warts protruded on his forehead and cheeks. The young boy fled too fast. His black hair, shoulder length, flapped behind him as he ran.

"It's an ogre," Josh huffed from behind Sisko.

An ogre! Sisko had never met a live ogre before. The stories he'd heard weren't too flattering either. And this one's face, jaw locked as he chased after the boy, didn't dispel those impressions.

The boy tripped and tumbled to a stop in the grass. The ogre caught up with him and held the ax over his head. "Give it back!"

Sisko drew close enough to attract their attention. They both watched as Sisko and Josh slowed to a stop before them.

The ogre growled. "Stay out. This is none of your business."

Sisko stepped beside the boy. "When I see bullies chasing someone with an ax, it becomes my business."

The ogre pointed at the boy. "He stole from me. I have a right to get it back."

The boy shook his head. "He wants to eat me."

The ogre laughed. "I don't want to eat him."

Josh cleared his throat. "I heard ogres like to eat people."

The ogre shrugged. "Some do." He raised his ax higher. "I don't have to explain myself to you two. Step aside. I have no reason to cut you down, but I will if I have to."

Sisko nodded his head. "Sorry. You'll have to kill me first."

Josh's eyes widened. "Sisko, what are you doing?"

The ogre nodded. "He's right. Why would you want to die for someone you don't even know? Why protect a criminal?"

"Because he's worth as much in God's eyes as you or me. All I know is you're chasing him with an ax."

The ogre sighed. "Have it your way." He pulled the ax back.

Josh flipped his wand out and said some words. Mud flew from the ground and splatted over the ogre's eyes. The ogre dropped the ax and then wiped his eyes. "You idiots!"

The young boy leaped to his feet and fled into the forest.

Josh motioned for Sisko to leave. "You've done your helping thing, now let's go."

Sisko checked his heart. "No, I'm not done here."

Josh groaned. "Why not?" He watched as the ogre splashed water over his eyes from a basin by the side of the house.

"All I know is I still haven't helped the one I'm here for. The boy must not have been it."

Josh stared at the sky. "I would at least recommend we go to a nearby town to find the one you're supposed to help. I'd rather not still be here when the ogre comes back. He's not likely to be too happy with us."

Sisko ran fingers through his hair. "I feel this ogre is the one I'm supposed to help."

"You can't be serious."

Sisko watched the ogre wiping his face with cloth. "I'm afraid I am." But what the ogre needed help with, Sisko couldn't imagine. Finding out would be the tough part.

The ogre approached them. "You two! Why did you interfere?"

Sisko glanced at Josh before facing the ogre. "Like I said, it appeared you intended to hurt the boy."

"I wouldn't have hurt him. I only wanted to scare him." The ogre sat on a stump. "He's stole from me before. It's become a game with them. See who can steal from the fat, slow ogre." He stared into the forest.

Josh glanced toward Sisko, and then back to the ogre. "What did you do to deserve that?"

The ogre jerked his head up and glared at Josh. "Why do you think I deserve it? Because I'm an ogre!"

Josh stared at the ground. "Uh, no, that's not what I meant."

"Of course it's what you meant. Everyone assumes because I'm an ugly and lumbering hulk that I must be mean, dangerous, and deserve every bad treatment." He barred his teeth. "What are you two still doing here anyway. You've done your humiliate-the-ogre bit. Begone and leave me in peace."

Sisko wondered if the poor ogre's problems would be changed if he appeared more handsome, trim, and winsome. He could change that with one prayer and the power of his ring. He reached out a hand, but stopped. No, it didn't feel right. The creature had been created an ogre, and he shouldn't mess with it. But then what should he do with his healing ring to help this ogre with his problems?

Josh met Sisko's eyes. He motioned with his head to leave as the ogre suggested.

The ogre stood. "Go away. I've no patience for trouble makers." He stepped toward the house.

Go away? The words resounded in Sisko's mind. How lonely must this ogre be? Sisko froze. Orge. That's all he was to the boy, to those who lived in this area. To even Josh and himself.

Sisko stepped forward. "My name is Sisko and this is Josh. What's yours?"

The ogre stopped and paused. A few seconds passed, then he turned. "What did you say?"

"I asked, what's your name?"

The ogre's eyes softened and his mouth relaxed. "No one's ever asked me that before." For the first time, a hint of a smile creased his lips. "My name is Xilner. Glad to meet your acquaintance, Sisko and Josh."

Sisko bowed. "The honor is all mine, Xilner."

He sat back on the stump. "So tell me, how come you stayed?"

Sisko grinned. "Because God told me I needed to help you."

"Help me?" He shook his head. "That's a first. No one has ever helped me. Called me names, scream at me, beat on me, steal from me, yes. But help me? No."

An idea popped into Sisko's head. He'd likely get in big trouble for this. "Xilner, do you have any plans for Christmas."

"Plans? What I do every year. Sit in my house, munch on food, and watch the world drift by oblivious to me."

Sisko nodded. "Not this year. This year, I'm inviting you to my house for Christmas."

Josh's mouth fell open. "Your mother isn't going to like this."

Sisko smiled. "Probably not. But I have a feeling Xilner will grow on them pretty quick."

Xilner grinned. "I wouldn't be too much of a problem, would I?"

Sisko waved a hand. "No, no. You're my personal guest."

"And your mother isn't going to like it." Josh glanced at Sisko. "Just sayin'."

Sisko stared into the sky and nodded his head.

Xilner rose and headed toward his house. "I'll get ready. I need to change clothes." He stopped and turned around. "Sisko, thank you."

"For the invite?"

"Well, yes, for the invite. But mostly for treating me as a person." He grinned big before heading back to the house.

"What do you know, Josh. I didn't even need to use my ring to fix this one. He's just lonely. Needs someone to care about him." Sisko slapped Josh on the back. "You gave me the greatest Christmas present ever."

Josh watched Sisko from the corner of his eye. "Really? You're helping him. What are you getting out of it?"

"The satisfaction of being my brother's keeper. And for finding that brother in the most unlikely of beings."

Josh crossed his arms. "Well, glad I could help. I had this planned from the beginning. Just wanted it to be a surprise."

"Right. Now how about getting that transport spell back in gear. And please, please, get a good image in your mind of Raul before you do the spell? I don't want to end up in some strange place for Christmas."

He blew air from his mouth. "No problem. I'm ready." He watched as Xilner exited the door. "But I know your mother isn't going to like this."

The End

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