Giftmas 2021

Welcome to the Giftmas Blog Train!

The Giftmas Blog Train is actually a fundraiser for the Food Bank that my friend Rhonda Parrish started years ago, and to which I’ve contributed for nearly as many years. This year, we’ve written a collaborative story, and you’ll only be able to get the whole story if you touch down at every blog, to catch the section that each writer wrote.

Rhonda came up with the idea of writing an Exquisite Corpse style story. Of course, most of us jammed on that, so we went the more traditional  collaborative story route. Each of us were sent the story in order, which we added to. (And we only had two days to do our parts!)  And then, the story was sent to the next writer, so they could add their piece. So it all hooked together, like the cars of a train. (Which finally explains the Blog Train thing. I knew I’d get to it, eventually!)

This was actually a lot of fun that started with an attic, a dead great aunt, and a doorknob that lead to another world…

Here’s where you can start. From here, you’ll be able to hop from blog to blog, and follow the story of Cherie and Great Aunt Agnes. Remember to check every day, so you get the whole story!

December 7th — Rhonda Parrish http://www.rhondaparrish.com/home/ 

You should be able to follow the train of blogs, so you can read all the pieces of the story. Pete Aldin https://petealdin.com/blog-and-podcasts/ wrote the section before mine. Make sure to read his, so you know what happened before. 

And now, here is my contribution:

…Glanced at each other, and then both of them stared at Cherie, pointedly.

“You’re not expecting me to go into the East Tower to get answers for you, are you?” Cherie asked incredulously. “You told me to stay away from it because it’s evil. Remember?”

“Yes,” Agnes said. “I remember. Though it is important—”

“Vital, even,” Clover added.

“Yes,” Agnes said. “It’s vital that we get the answers we need to stop the devastation.”

“But getting the answers would mean going in there,” Cherie said, pointing at the glowering stone hulk on the other side of the putrid water. “Into the evil East Tower that we’re supposed to  stay away from. Right?”

Agnes and Clover both nodded.

“Hey, I have a better idea,” Cherie said, frantically. “Why don’t we go back to your rooms and have lunch, or tea, like you talked about. After we eat, we can come up with next steps. Logical next steps that don’t involve the East Tower.”

“Unfortunately,” Agnes said, “I don’t think we have time for a meal. Clover and I have tried to get into the tower, repeatedly in spite of the danger,. But since Sir Eldrick disappeared inside, we’ve been locked out. No one can get in.” She shook her head mournfully. “No one, I fear, but you.”

Cherie sighed, feeling the noose tighten. “Does this have to be done now?”

“Look around,” Agnes said. Cherie could hear the horror in her aunt’s voice. It was real. “It’s so much worse than it was even days ago. You have to stop this.”

“Isn’t there anyone else?” Cherie whispered.

Agnes and Clover shook their heads.

“So it’s up to me,” Cherie said. “Because you think I can get the answers.”

“Yes,” Agnes said, relief in her voice. “And if you survive, the answers should help you, too.” She smiled. “If that helps.”

“Not really,” Cherie said. “Because I think I’m about to make the biggest mistake of my life.” Then she turned and blindly splashed through the putrid stream to the base of the East Tower before she changed her mind. 

She followed the soot blackened base of the tower, finding the entrance on the far side. It was locked, and she groaned in frustration, until she noticed a hand-sized rock lying on the yellowed grass next to the door. 

“Maybe I can smash the door open,” she muttered, picking up the rock and hefting it in her hand. 

She turned it over, and saw that a rectangular hole had been cut into the underside. Within the rectangle someone had wedged a key. She stared at the key for a long moment, then shrugged and tried it on the door, almost laughing when the lock clicked open. But the laughter died in her throat when she saw stone stairs rising into darkness.

“I really hate this,” she muttered, wishing she had a flashlight, or her cell phone. Even a match would have helped offset the gluey blackness. But she had nothing.

The small square of light from the door disappeared behind her as she began to climb, and she clung to the wall, feeling the dark settle on her like a weight. After what felt like an eternity, she crawled her way to the top of the stairs, and saw faint light gleaming around a wooden door set in the rough stone wall.

“Sir Eldrick,” she called, turning the handle. “Are you there?”…

Heh. A cliffhanger. My favourite thing.

You’ll find the next section of the story at JB Riley’s blog https://jbriley.com/

And don’t forget to follow along every day, to find out how the story ends!

Since this IS a fundraiser, here’s the link to donating for the Food Bank. It’s been a rough couple of years, so anything you can give will be greatly appreciated. And remember that, for every dollar the Food bank receives,  they somehow turn it into 3 meals. It’s like magic!

To all of you, a happy and prosperous Giftmas.