MM2022 Day 5: Holly and the Harrisons

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“Glitter! We miss you! How is your new job?” asked Pixie as Glitter cantered up to them outside the toy shop.

“Yeah, what have you been up to?” added Figgy.

Glitter shuffled her hooves and looked somewhere above Figgy’s pointed hat. “Oh, you know. A little of this, a little of that.”

Pixie and Figgy, brows raised, exchanged glances.

“There is so much to do for Mrs. Claus’ Special Pro—er, assistant, you know.”

“No, actually, we don’t kno–.”

“What’s that?” asked Glitter cocking an ear.

“What’s what?” asked Figgy, bewildered.

“Oh, yes. I think I hear Mrs. Claus calling about Cookie, poor dear keeps burning the curtains when he cleans. Well, you two have fun!” And with that, Glitter galloped off toward the Claus’ house without a backward glance.

“That was odd,” said Pixie.

“Yeah,” said Figgy. “Since when does Cookie clean?”

Pixie looked at Figgy in exasperation and shook her head. “Ok, let’s get going. Holly was going to meet us there.”

***

“It’s not that they’re bad,” said Holly as she paced across the kitchen, wringing her hands and frowning. “They’re actually quite polite and listen well.”

“Then…why are we here?” asked Figgy, confused.

“They’re just not excited about anything,” said Holly. “They’re…they’re bored.”

Holly bowed her head, looking ashamed that her assigned children were bored. Feeling as though she wasn’t doing a good enough job.

“Did you try the zipline from the Christmas tree?” asked Pixie. “That’s always a good one.”

“Yep, didn’t even crack a smile.”

“How about stuffing yourself in a mason jar with a ‘HELP! I’m trapped’ sign?” suggested Figgy.

“I did that one a few days ago. I thought I maybe saw the start of a smile, but it turned out to be a very long, loud yawn.”

Did you think to—,.”

“Look,” interrupted Holly. “I’m telling you I have tried everything I can think of. Nothing works. Nothing.”

Holly let out a small, squeaky sob and wiped her eyes. Pixie and Figgy felt awful for her. There must be something they could do to pull her out of this slump.

After a long pause Figgy asked, “What do they get excited about?”

“Alex, Steve, Creepers, Zombies, Skeletons, blocks, Piglins…and all of that.”

“Er,” said Pixie. “What?”

“Minecraft,” Figgy said knowledgably.

“Oh!” said Pixie. “Oh.”

Holly nodded solemnly.

“Well, that’s an easy fix!” exclaimed Figgy.

“It is?” Pixie and Holly asked in unison.

“Sure! We’ll just make the rest of the days full of Minecraft.”

Holly looked both hopeful and hesitant. Pixie, puzzled and perplexed.

Figgy shook his head and smiled. “I’ll make a list of fun Minecraft activities, crafts, and challenges for you to use the rest of the year.”

“Ok,” said Holly with a glimmer of excitement in her voice. “What do we do tonight?”

“Tonight, we LARP!”

“LARP?” asked Holly. “What is that?”

Figgy smiled. “Live Action Role Play! Now, who wants to be a Creeper?”

MM2022 Day 4: Snowflake and the Stewarts

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“Oh Snowflake,” said Pixie. “Please calm down. We can’t help if we don’t know what’s wrong.”

“I-I-know, it’s just, just I have failed as an elf!”

“Is that possible?” Figgy asked Pixie in alarm. “To fail…as an elf?”

“No,” said Pixie firmly. “Of course not. Snowflake, calm down right now and tell us what your charge is up to that has you so upset.”

Snowflake took a deep, calming breath and began. “M-Marcus, m-my assigned child. He, well, he hates Christmas!” A wail like a siren erupted from the tiny elf while Pixie and Figgy stared in shock.

Now do you think it’s possible to fail as an elf?” whispered Figgy.

After a moment’s pause, Pixie shook her head resolutely. “No. It is absolutely not possible to fail. Snowflake, tell us everything.”

Snowflake began her tale.

“This year is my first year with Marcus. My first year as a Mischief Maker. I was so excited that first night. I had so many plans for the season. But, when Marcus woke up on that first day, he didn’t even look for me. Just went straight to the TV with his bowl of cereal.”

Snowflake paused to blow her nose. She took another deep breath. “I decided to try harder to get his attention the next day so I used the old standby.”

“Ah,” said Figgy knowingly. “The old dye the milk green trick.”

Snowflake nodded. “But he just told his mom that the milk must have gone bad and poured the whole gallon down the drain!”

“Yikes,” said Pixie.

Snowflake nodded. “I thought maybe he didn’t understand, so I left The StoryBook on his bed for him to read.”

“That was a good idea,” said Figgy encouragingly.

I thought so,” said Snowflake, her voice shaking. “But as soon as he read it, he-he put it on his night stand and used it as a coaster! Water rings ruined the cover and chocolate milk made the pages sticky!”

Pixie gasped. “Doesn’t he know how to treat a book!? Water rings never come out!”

“This is serious indeed!” said Figgy.

Snowflake took a deep, stuttering breath and went on. “Then, I made the biggest, most unforgiveable mistake.

Pixie and Figgy leaned forward, straining to hear the poor elf. “What did you do?”

“I noticed how much he enjoyed watching TV. Movies, shows, infomercials…anything really. He’d sit in front of the TV for hours. So…I thought that I could get his attention by hiding in front of the TV.”

“Uh-oh,” said Pixie.

Snowflake nodded. “As you can imagine, that did not go over well. Now, not only does Marcus hate Christmas, he’s very, very angry with m-m-m-meeeee!”

Snowflake fell to the ground, sobbing and wailing. Nothing Pixie and Figgy tried could calm her down, so they let her cry it out while they brainstormed what to do for Snowflake and Marcus.

“Snowflake,” Pixie said after she had calmed down a bit. “What is Marcus’ favorite thing to watch?”

Figgy looked sideways at Pixie. “What do you have in mind?”

“I’m just thinking, maybe we can somehow incorporate his love of TV into the Christmas season. Add some holiday dazzle to his favorite show.”

“Ooo, good idea Pixie!”

“I’m willing to try anything at this point,” said Snowflake.

“His favorite show?” prompted Pixie.

“I’m not sure what the name of it is…but there is a big, gross, ugly plant in it.”

Pixie’s brow wrinkled. “A plant?”

Figgy spun up in the air. “Does he have a friend named Seymour?”

Snowflake nodded. “And he always seems to be hungry.”

“Do you know it, Figgy?” asked Pixie.

“Oh yes I do! And I know just the scene we will re-enact! All we need are some big, ugly, sharp teeth and–Snowflake? Can you sing?”

Christmas tree, little tree a horrors
Christmas tree, comin’ out to get ya
Merry time. Little tree of horrors
No, oh, oh, no oh!

Ornaments, fallin’ down around you
Christmas lights, tangled all around you
Tinsel town. Little tree of horrors
No, oh, oh, no oh!

MM22 Day 3: Buster and the Bakers

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“And then, they made me a giant chocolate chip cookie with extra chocolate chips, sprinkles, honey and an entire bottle of Grade A maple syrup!” Winky was breathless with excitement. Her house was finally in order thanks to Pixie and Figgy’s hard work.

“That’s great, Winky!” said Figgy.

“We are so happy we could help!” said Pixie.

With a high five, Winky soared back into the night. Pixie and Figgy watched her sparkly trail loop through the sky with satisfied smiles.

Pixie turned at the sound of shuffling feet behind her. “Oh, hi there, Buster, Glitter. Are you ready to go?”

A tall, thin and rather bedraggled elf leaned heavily on Glitter. His exhausted face wore an uneasy expression.

Pixie and Figgy looked at Glitter, a question in their eyes.

“Buster is tired,” said Glitter, staggering a bit under the dead weight. “He’s been through a lot with his family.”

“What have they done to you, Buster?” asked Pixie, her eyes wide and sympathetic.

Figgy nodded, unable to speak at the site of this exhausted elf. They needed to hear what they were walking into. The file didn’t say much. In fact, it was empty save for a few illegible scribbles and what looked like dried on drool.

Quietly, barely above a whisper, Buster began his tale.

“For a few days last season, things were going very well. The three boys seemed to enjoy my tricks and gifts. They looked forward to them every day. But then, I guess they got—yawn—bored. Or something.”

For a moment, it appeared as though Buster had fallen asleep. Glitter stomped a hoof, waking him out of his slumber.

“Oh, yes. Where was I?” Buster asked, confused.

Figgy glanced at Pixie who shook her head in befuddlement.

“What happened next?” asked Figgy.

“Well, they started behaving very badly to their parents. Small things at first. A glass of spilled milk here. A messy room there. You know, kid stuff. But then…”.

“Yes?” asked Pixie.

“Then—yawn—they started to…escalate their bad behavior.” Buster looked at them meaningfully. They looked at him in confusion.

“You know, doing really bad things.”

Like what?” whispered Figgy.

“First, they stuffed a bunch of animals in the dryer.”

“WHAT?!” Figgy and Pixie exclaimed at once.

“Yes, I know,” Buster nodded. “The lint trap was such a mess.”

Figgy and Pixie stared open-mouthed at Buster. How could he be so calm about this?

Glitter cleared her throat. “Buster, you left out an important point. The animals were stuffed animals. Toys, not actual pets.”

Pixie and Figgy sagged against each other, relieved.

“Oh, yes. Sorry. I should have led with that.”

“Yes, you should have,” said Pixie, shaking her head.

“What else, Buster?” asked Figgy.

“This season, they’ve started to pick me up and play with me,” said Buster. “I know it’s early in the season, but it took me all year to recover from their treatment, and three days of this has really taken its toll. I’m exhausted.”

Pixie and Figgy could tell that by his slumped posture, baggy eyes and glazed expression. He couldn’t take much more of this and they knew it.

“Ok, Buster.” Pixie stood. “I have a plan.”

Hauling Buster on her back, Glitter followed Pixie and Figgy through the sky and landed on the Baker’s lawn. Buster tumbled to the snowy ground and promptly started to snore.

“Well,” said Figgy. “I guess he won’t be much help tonight. What’s the plan, Pixie?”

“Let’s get him inside first. Then I’ll fill you in.”

“Flibberty gibbit? Hessle-torp fish-fash,” Buster mumbled as Glitter once again hauled him through the air.

Once the elves and Glitter had settled Buster on the couch, Pixie pulled “The Tin” out.

“Oh,” said Figgy. “The Emergency Googly Eyes. Are you sure this is wise? Once we googly, there’s no going back.”

Glitter huffed and looked at the sky. “If we are going to do this, we should get a move on. I need to get back to Mrs. C.”

“Glitter,” said Figgy suspiciously. “What are you and Mrs. C. up to?”

Buster sat up suddenly and shouted. “Froshty mer moman!”

“Never mind that,” said Pixie. “Let’s get all the eyes in place.”

Whirling around the room, Pixie, Figgy and Glitter put googly eyes on anything with a face. Pictures, stuffed animals, bananas, oranges, the microwave, and finally, themselves.

“And, we’ll wear these as well as a finishing touch.” Pixie pasted angry eyebrows on Figgy and Buster. “There! Places everyone!”

Oh you’d better watch out
You’d better not cry
You’d better not step a toe out of line
Angry elves are coming to you

We’ll watch you when you’re sleeping
We’ll stare at you for days
We’ll pop up where you least expect
So mend your naughty ways

So listen up now
Your chances are few
Touch Buster again and he will be through
Angry elves are coming to you

MM 2022: Day 2: Messy Mayhem

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“Come on, Winky,” urged Pixie. “We have to go right now, or we’ll be too late.”

Winky stubbornly clung to the candy cane post at the North Pole Launch Pad.

Exasperated, Figgy pulled on her arm, tired of trying to cajole her into complying. “If we don’t fix this problem tonight, they will be permanently placed on the Naughty List.”

Winky took a deep breath and slowly let go of the post. “Ok, I’m ready.”

Figgy and Pixie both sighed in relief. The season was not getting off to a good start. If their plan didn’t work tonight, they would be hard pressed to get to all the houses on their B.R.A.T.T. list.

Pulling on a still reluctant Winky, they zipped and zoomed through the stars straight do the Walters’s home. They landed deep in the egress window and peered inside, looking for any traps.

“I don’t see anything,” murmured Figgy.

“Well you wouldn’t would you?” said Winky. “They’re tricky, sneaky little–.”

“Yes, yes,” interrupted Pixie. “We know your feelings on the matter, Winky.”

Carefully, quietly, they snuck through the glass, listening hard for any sound. Once completely inside, they landed gently on the cold floor next to the furnace and sighed in relief.

So far, so good.

“How did you know there wouldn’t be any death traps down here?” asked Winky incredulously.

Figgy smiled at Pixie. “We heard the kids talking while we sat in sticky goo all day. They’re afraid of the basement so we figured it was worth a try.”

“Ok,” said Pixie. “Let’s put this plan into motion.”

“What do you two have in mind?” asked Winky, doubtful that anything would help straighten up the Walters kids.

“Well,” smiled Figgy. “We figured that since they like messes so much—“.

“And torture, and torment and—,” interrupted Winky.

“ANYWAY,” continued Figgy. “Since they like messes so much, we’d give them messes.”

Winky blinked. “A mess? You’re going to give them a mess?”

Figgy and Pixie both nodded.

Winky laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more.

“But,” she hiccuped. “They won’t care! They’ll just keep blaming me and—wait.” Winky then noticed the smiles on Pixie and Figgy’s faces. “What do you mean ‘give them a mess’?”

“Here’s the plan…,” Pixie whispered.

*            *            *

“But,” sputtered Winky after hearing the plan. “Will that work?”                  

“Yes,” said Figgy confidently.

Winky raised a brow.

Figgy faltered. “Well, we think so.”                     

Winky crossed her arms.

“It’s worth a try, right?” said Pixie.

Winky nodded and flew to the kitchen to get started on the baking. The plan was for Winky to clean the kitchen to sparkling and bake the Walters parents their favorite casserole for breakfast while Pixie and Figgy made messes of the kids’ rooms.

Not just your normal, everyday mess…absolute disasters. Clothes out of drawers. Underwear hanging from fans. Books pulled out of the cases. And down the hall to their parent’s room, a trail of underwear and socks with a large pile of dirty clothes right outside their door.

Once finished, they would head back to the North Pole, leaving Winky in a spic and span clean kitchen with a nice breakfast just for the parents and an innocent look on her face. The best part? With Winky cleaning and baking and no sign of Figgy and Pixie, the parents would have no choice but to conclude that the kids, themselves made messes of their rooms.

“All done!” said Pixie as she and Figgy plopped on the counter next to Winky.

“I still don’t see how this is going to work for the entire season,” said Winky. “It’s one night. They’ll just get revenge tomorrow.”

“As to that,” said Figgy. “We left this note in each bedroom.”

Don’t blame the elf for this mess
It’s time now for you to confess
We can still have some fun
Before the season is done
It’s never too late for redress!

“But,” began Winky.

“Relax, Winky,” said Pixie. “This plan will work! And, if it somehow doesn’t, we’ll keep coming back until they stop their shenanigans and just enjoy having a Mischief Maker.”

“We better go, Pixie,” said Figgy. “It’s almost morni—.”

A scream cut the air making the three elves jump and look at the ceiling.

“WAKE UP YOU TWO!”

“And that’s our cue,” said Pixie with a smile. “Good luck, Winky!”

And with a small chuckle, Pixie and Figgy flew back toward the North Pole, hoping their plan would work.

Day 1: Winky’s Woes

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“Where is Winky? She was supposed to meet us and show us around the house.”

Figgy fluttered to the window sill next to Pixie. “Winky decided she needed one more day at the Sugar Shake Spa to prepare herself for her return to the Walters.”

Pixie raised an eyebrow. “That bad, huh?”

“Must be,” said Figgy holding up roll of paper. “But, she sent these notes about last year’s events.”

“Whoa. That is a long list! What does is it say?”

“Let’s see…the first night seemed to go ok. The boys weren’t expecting her afterall. But…on the second night, they filled a bucket with slime and placed it above the window so that when Winky flew in…oh dear…”.

“What is it?” asked Pixie.

“Er…the bucket dumped all over her and she was covered in goo.”

“Well,” said Pixie brightly. “That doesn’t sound too bad.”

“Then,” continued Figgy. “When Winky got up to wipe the slime off, she hit a trip wire and a fan blew feathers all over her.”

Pixie’s eyes bulged. “Oh dear.”

“Yes,” said Figgy. “Exactly. From there, it just got worse and more dangerous. By the end of the season, Winky checked into the Sugar Shake Spa for ‘relaxation therapy.’ She’s not been the same since.”

“We’ll just have to go in through the door then. The front door. They’ll never suspect that.”

Figgy looked doubtfully at Pixie, shrugged, then headed for the door.

“Looks like we can fit through the mail slot,” he said as he flew up. Pixie followed close behind.

“Ok,” Figgy slowly lifted the slot. “I’ll go first to check the coast is clear. Then you foll—AGH!”

Before Figgy could blink, he slid down a very slippery slide, grabbed Pixie’s foot on the way down and landed in a glass vase. It teetered, tottered and tumbled down the few stairs in the entryway and continued rolling down the long, long hall.

“Figgy! How do we stop this thing???”

“I don’t know, Pixie!!!”

After careering a few more feet, the vase hit the wall and bounced back. Figgy and Pixie scrambled out, panting and checking for injuries.

“W-well,” gasped Pixie. “That was certainly a fine greeting.”

“Uh oh,” said Figgy, holding the end of a wire they’d plowed through on their way down the hall. Eyes widening in horror, he stared over Pixie’s head at a large bucket of thick, drippy, sticky, brown goo.

Pixie spun around, but it was already pouring down.

Glug, glug, GLUG!

“Mmm,” said Figgy as he licked his lips and smeared chocolate away from his eyes. “Dark chocolate. Nice taste.”

Pixie glared.

“You have to hand it to them,” continued Figgy, oblivious to the daggers coming from Pixie’s eyes. “They are consistent.” He nodded to the bucket.

Pixie glowered.

“At least it was chocolate this time,” Figgy added.

Pixie groaned.

They had a lot of work to do.

2022 Mischief Makers Prologue: B.R.A.T.T Correctional Crew

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Figgy Frost paced in front of a small crowd of red and green clad elves. The snow crunching under his tiny toes.

“Ok Crew, it’s game time!”

“Yes, Sir!” the elves chanted back.

“We’ve been training!”

“Sir!”

“We’ve been toiling!”

“Sir!”

“We’ve been trying our–.”

“I think,” Pixie Powder interrupted, “what Figgy is trying to say is…good luck to you all this season! He and I will be working in the trenches with you, but will meet back here each night to debrief and troubleshoot.”

The select group cheered, spun mid-air, and flew off into the night.

“Er, thanks Pixie,” Figgy said sheepishly. “Got a little carried away there.”

Pixie smiled. She and Figgy had been working hard training the new recruits of the B.R.A.T.T. Correctional Crew every day since Santa had assigned them the job as Co-Chiefs the previous year.

B.R.A.T.T., or, the Big Rowdy Association of Tiny Tyrants had increased in number over the last several years. Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the rest of the Care of Christmas Board decided that the B.R.A.T.T. Correctional Crew needed to be re-instated to combat the growing problem.

After the announcement, Mischief Makers across the globe had eagerly submitted complaints about their charges. Some were legitimate, some…not so much.

Lars, whose kid set up a mouse trap to capture him, among other dangerous stunts, definitely needed help. But then there was Spark, who had sent in complaints about her kid’s lack of excitement about the gifts she left. As if a kid could or would be excited about receiving plain white socks on the first night…and every night of the season.

Santa had put Pixie and Figgy in charge of the program after their turbulent year with the Malloy family, a longtime member of B.R.A.T.T. Over the past year, the duo had assembled a small strike team and run training exercises to get ready for the season. Every team had a list of kids who needed a little extra nudge in the good behavior department. Each one on their last chance before the Christmas Magic Reversal Squad paid a visit to their home, causing them to lose their assigned elf and be put on the Naughty List. Permanently.

“Great job guys!” Lil, Co-Chair of the Mischief Maker Program, fluttered to the ground beside Pixie and Figgy followed closely by her partner Nim.

“Yeah, you two are naturals!” Nim, added.

“You really think so?” asked Figgy, smiling.

“Absolutely!” said Nim.

“Are you guys ready?” asked Pixie.

“Yep,” said Lil. “We have just enough time to pay a quick visit before we have to get back for the Mischief Maker Launch Party.”

The four friends were headed to their original assignment for a pre-season pep talk from their first and favorite charges, Joe and Jake. They were just about to take off when the sound of galloping hooves thundered behind them.

“Wait!” Glitter, head of the Reindeer Program, skidded to a halt in front of the foursome. “Wait, huff-puff, huff-puff, just a minute.”

“Sorry Glitter! We almost forgot to get you!” exclaimed Pixie.

“No, no. That’s not it,” Glitter panted. “There’s been an emergency down at the toy shop. Santa needs all of you asap.”

Concerned, the elves and reindeer sped to the toy shop, breathless with worry.

“Surprise!”

Shouts and greetings, laughter and applause greeted them as they burst through the doors. Mischief Makers cheered, Santa chortled and two bewildered boys beamed at the foursome.

“Joe?!” gasped Nim and Lil. “Wha–???”

“Jake!?” shouted Figgy and Pixie. “How–???”

Santa’s eyes twinkled. “I made an exception to the rules. I am Santa after all. I wanted a special surprise to kick off this season and Figgy and Pixie’s new assignment.” Joe and Jake smiled broadly, eyes sparkling and cheeks splitting. “This is going to be the best Christmas ever!”

2021 Mischief Makers: Breaking News!

Here’s the set up from last year, first story for 2022 scheduled to post on 11/30!

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North Pole Gazette

Reported by Sparkly Sprinkles

December 25, 2021

After a turbulent year, Pixie Powder and Figgy Frost are happy for some downtime at the North Pole. But these two Mischief Makers are in for a real surprise. 

A source who is familiar with the matter told this reporter that Frost and Powder are going to head up a new task force in the Mischief Maker Program: The B.R.A.T.T. Correctional Crew! 

B.R.A.T.T., or, Big Rowdy Association of Tiny Tyrants is an old division of the North Pole that, due to a series of in-home kerfuffles, has recently come back into service. Frost and Powder’s mission: assemble a team to target Tiny Tyrants and whip them into shape.

And here they come just out of Santa’s office! While Frost’s smile seems a bit forced and Powder’s giggle a little nervous, Santa knows these Mischief Makers are up to the job. 

Where will they go next? 

This is a developing story. 

Mischief Makers Day 23: Shocking Secrets

It’s almost time! The elves are coming!!!

I’ll post the last few stories from 2021 as a refresher and intro to this year’s fun. Enjoy!

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“Figgy, Pixie!” Lil panted. “Don’t do it!”

Nim and Lil came streaming through the kitchen with Glitter hot on their heels. 

Pixie and Figgy frowned. “What’s wrong?”

Nim and Glitter looked around the room while Lil caught her breath. They saw the snack laden kitchen table and stack of games set up, ready to be played. 

“Oh,” sighed Glitter. “Good.”

Nim laughed nervously. “Whew! We thought for sure you were set to go out with a bang.”

“Well,” said Figgy. “We were just discussing livening this game day up a bit with some sparklers and fireworks.”

“NO!” Glitter, Nim and Lil all yelled at once.

“Jeez you three,” laughed Pixie. “Figgy is just kidding. We were only arguing about which game we should add to the pile. Quirkle or Mancala. Any votes?”

The new arrivals sighed in relief. 

“What’s going on?” asked Figgy. For the first time, he noticed the worried expressions on Nim and Lil’s faces and the serious set to Glitter’s head. 

Nim and Lil looked at eachother, communicating with eyebrows and head nods. 

“Wow you guys,” said Glitter. “Not too subtle, are you?”

Nim sighed. “We overheard Santa and The Director talking about you both.”

Figgy gasped. “The Director?” 

Lil nodded.

“What am I missing?” asked Pixie. “Who is ‘The Director’?”

“Sorry, Pixie,” said Lil. “I forget you were originally under the Birthday Beagle Brigade. The Director is the Head of Operations at the North Pole.”

“I thought Santa was the COO?”

“He is…sort of,” said Glitter. 

When Pixie still looked blank, Figgy filled her in. 

“The Director is in charge of the entire North Pole. All programs and events…even Santa.”

“And,” added Nim. “When there are problems that can’t be solved by traditional means, The Director sends a crew in to help.” 

“What problems have we caused?” asked Figgy. “We had a really rough start this season, but we managed to straighten out the Malloys ok.”

“Yeah,” added Pixie. “They’re absolute angels compared to the beginning of the year.”

“Righhhht,” said Glitter. “But it’s not just them. The Director had to re-enstate B.R.A.T.T. this season due to other…overzealous charges.”

“But that’s not our fault!” said Figgy. 

“I know,” said Lil. “We’re not exactly sure what is going on. We just overheard Santa and The Director talking and we heard your names and words like ‘too many messes’ and ‘re-assignment’.”

“Just who is The Director and why does he have so much power!?” spluttered Pixie.

She,” said Lil. “And she has so much power because she keeps the North Pole running smoothly. Santa would be lost without her help.”

Pixie’s eyes widened as realization dawned. “Mrs. Claus? She’s The Director?” 

Nim nodded while Figgy spluttered. “B-but does that mean…we won’t be coming back here next season?”

Lil gulped. “I’m afraid it may be worse than that.”

“That’s right,” said Nim. “We think Santa is pulling you two from the program.”

Adventures in Homesteading Chapter 6: The Informant

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“You’d better come with us.” Pudgy turned and led the group back to the garden once again to discuss the new information. “I want Leo to hear it first hand.”

The small group of mice and not-quite-mice huddled outside the garden gate while waiting for Leo to come out. 

“Back again?” he asked through a mouthful of green beans. “Oh, hey Chipper.”

“Wait,” said Pipsqueak. “You know each other?”

“Sure.” Leo picked at his teeth. “We’ve met a time or two.”

“Of course you have,” Pudgy grumbled. “Chipper and his horde have information on the strawberry thief. They’ll share it with us if we let them in on our deal and share the garden.”

Leo looked shrewdly at Chipper. “You’ve got more brains than I gave you credit for Chipper.”

“Why you–!” 

“Enough!” Pudgy stomped his feet. “Let’s get on with it.”

“Well, what do you know?” Leo asked when Chipper was silent but for the twitch of a whisker.

“Not until you let us in on this deal,” said Chipper with nod at the garden. “How do we get in there without getting trapped?”

“Tell us what you know first, then we’ll tell you the secret,” said Pipsqueak.

Chipper looked from Leo to Pudgy to Pipsqueak. Gomer was chasing his tail. Again.

“Fine,” he said. “We were sniffing around the house, trying to find a way into the garage when we heard an odd sort of jingling sound. We scurried around the corner but all we saw was a shadow. A large shadow.”

The Three Tails and the chipmunks shared a frustrated look. This “new information” was not very helpful and here they’d agreed to share the secret of the garden. For one second, Pudgy considered not telling them how to get in, but his honor would not allow him to go back on his word. 

With a loud sigh, he shared the secret with their new allies and trudged back to the garage with Pipsqueak and Gomer.

Adventures in Homesteading: A Tale of Three Tails Chapter 5

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Chapter 5: The New Deal

“I cannot believe you agreed to their terms Pudgy!” Pipsqueak whispered angrily. “After we worked so hard to keep them away from the strawberries!”

The Three Tails wandered back to the garage only to find that more strawberries were missing. Since the chipmunks were occupied in the garden, they knew their culprit was still at large. 

“We have to work with them, Pipsqueak. Besides, they weren’t our strawberry thieves were they?”

“True,” sighed Pipsqueak. “So now we are back to square one.”

The trio huddled behind an old rusted coffee can watching the patch for trespassers. 

“I just don’t know who it could be,” murmured Pudgy. 

“Scoot over Gomer,” Pipsqueak whispered. “You’re hogging the coffee can.”

Gomer grunted but shuffled over.

“Shhh!” Pudgy squeaked. “I see movement behind the bushes!”

They peered around the side of the coffee can and watched as a few, very small, mice scurried around, digging around the strawberries.

“Uh…those don’t really look like mice. I mean, they do, but not really…you know what I mean Pudge?” said Gomer.

In surprise, Pipsqueak looked at Gomer and said, “Wow. You’re right Gomer.” He wasn’t normally so observant.

“What are you guys looking at?”

Pudgy, Pipsqueak and Gomer all jumped. One of the creatures had snuck up behind them. It had a mean look about it like it was ready to fight.

“We could ask you the same question,” said Pudgy, trying his best to sound menacing.

The not-mouse stared thoughtfully at them. “You must be the mice we’ve heard about. The ones who are living it up in the garage.”

“Yeah, so?” said Pipsqueak.

“Well, we all decided that we wanted in on that deal so we’re moving in.”

“What are you?” asked Pudgy. “You’re not regular mice.”

“That’s for sure,” it scoffed, looking offended. “We are field mice. I’m Chipper.”

Field mice, thought Pipsqueak. Burrowing under the ground, eating tubers and destroying gardens. Look at it with it’s short tail…mice are so much more civilized.

“Look, Chipper” said Pipsqueak. “This is our territory. We don’t have enough food to share with-with field mice so you’ll just have to scurry on to the next farm.”

“Ha! What a crock! We know you’ve made a deal with the chipmunks. We want in too.”

“No.” Pipsqueak twirled her tail aggressively around her paws.

Then, Chipper played his trump card. “Let us in on the deal you have with the chipmunks and I’ll tell you what I know about the strawberry thief. The real strawberry thief.”

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Illustration by Linda Kane