IMG_9618Happy holidays, everyone! I wrote you another story with the help of the Benedict Cumberbatch name generator. Hope you enjoy it.

Once Upon A Time there was a lad of eight years who went by the name of Bonaparte Cuckooclock.

He lived in a hollowed out tree in an enchanted forest, but he didn’t see anything unusual in that for it was the only life he had ever known – and a very fine life it was too, dining on cherry blossom and morning dew and never having to go to school.

Note to any younger readers: do not try to subsist on a diet of cherry blossom and morning dew.  You’ll make yourself spectacularly unwell – Bonaparte was a character in a story, and as such his digestive tract was subject to the whims of the author.  You are, one assumes, a human child and as such you need to eat heartier foodstuffs like jam sandwiches and pickled eggs and all those other lovely things children like to eat. Feel free to leave a list in the comments.

Anyhoo, Bonaparte Cuckooclock lived in a hollow tree and was generally quite content to do so, although he was a little bit lonely sometimes on account of he had lived in said tree entirely on his lonesome for three years.  This was by accident rather than design, for one day his mother had popped him in there for safekeeping whilst she went to do battle with the ice witch, and she had never returned.

It never occurred to Bonaparte that she might not return, he merely assumed the fight with the witch was still ongoing.  Still, three years is a long time to wait about in a tree with only small woodland creatures for company.

On a frosty December morning, a man in a fine suit happened to stumble through Bonaparte’s neck of the enchanted forest.  The man was quite lost; having wandered off the path for a look at the starlight through the tree branches the evening before (he was a romantic sort) he had been unable to find it again in the gloom.  It so happened that when he came upon Bonaparte’s tree he found himself quite tuckered out, so he sat on his bottom underneath the gnarled branches to have a rest.

‘Hello,’ said Bonaparte Cuckooclock, sticking his head out of a hole in the trunk, ‘are you alright?’

‘Not really,’ the man replied, unsurprised to see a boy inside the tree after the night of enchanted forest strangeness he had just endured.  ‘Do you know how to get out of here?’

‘Not really,’ Bonaparte told him cheerfully, ‘I’m waiting for my mother to come back and show me the way.’

‘Oh,’ the man was cheered, ‘that’s alright then. When do you think she’ll be back?’

‘Any day now,’ Bonaparte told his new friend. ‘Would you like some cherry blossom?’

‘Any day now?’ the man frowned, waving the frozen petals away, ‘how long has she been gone?’

‘Three years, seven months and two days.’

‘That’s a long time,’ the man in the suit observed.

‘Is it?’ said Bonaparte, who had no real frame of reference for that sort of thing.

‘Yes.’

‘Oh.’

‘Where did she go, anyway?’

‘She went to battle the ice witch,’ Bonaparte explained. ‘Does that generally take less than three years, seven months and two days?’

The man in the nice suit considered this for a while.  He wasn’t sure that there were any set rules for how long it took to defeat an ice witch in battle – there were a lot of variables to factor in, and not very many people brave enough to try it in the first place.  Not that they really needed to, for the last ice witch stood frozen in battle with a nameless warrior on the crest of the moonlit mountain.

‘Oh,’ said the man in the nice suit.

‘What?’

‘I don’t know how to tell you this,’ he began, awkwardly getting to his feet (the better to develop some empathetic eye contact), ‘whether I’m supposed to coat it in sugar, on account of you being a child…’ He hesitated, trying to gauge Bonaparte’s reaction, but Bonaparte didn’t know what sugar was, and his face remained blank. ‘Thing is,’ the man continued, ‘I don’t think your mother is coming back. She is encased in ice at the top of a mountain, you see.’

‘Encased in ice, you say.’ Bonaparte looked thoughtful.

‘Yes.’

‘And that means she can’t come and get me?’

‘Well no, she’s frozen solid.  Legend has it the ice witch’s last spell went wrong.’

‘Well,’ Bonaparte said, ‘that would explain it.  Has anybody tried to thaw her out?’

The man in the nice suit blinked in surprise, as people so often do in stories but generally not in life.

‘I don’t know,’ he admitted, because he didn’t.

‘Well then,’ Bonaparte said, climbing out of the hollow tree that had been his home for three years, seven months and two days, ‘I think it’s about time someone did.  Which way to the moonlit mountain?’

‘I don’t know,’ said the man in the nice suit, ‘I’m lost.’

Bonaparte Cuckooclock thought privately that this was rather a defeatist attitude, but he didn’t say so because he was a polite young person.  Instead he busied himself looking for the path, using the tracking abilities he had just developed out of narrative necessity.

‘I thought you didn’t know how to get out of here?’ the man in the nice suit said, rather childishly.

‘That was when I didn’t need to get out,’ Bonaparte replied, giving the man a withering look. ‘But now I do, the forest will help.  It is enchanted, you know.’

A broken twig and a bunny footprint later he had found the path, and the man in the nice suit was following him along it offering thanks and help in finding the moonlit mountain.  Bonaparte demonstrably didn’t need the help of a person who couldn’t even keep to a path, but he had to admit it was nice to have a bit of human company after so very long sitting by himself in a tree – so he agreed that the man could come along.

***

The moonlit mountain was six and a half miles away from the enchanted forest, so they reached the foot of it in little more than two hours.  It was a beast of a mountain, taller than a skyscraper and covered in crags and outcrops and other mountainous things – for further information, take a look at a recent Peter Jackson film.  Bonaparte leaned back and looked up and up and up until he could look up no more, and he felt humbled by the majesty of nature.

‘So,’ he said, turning to the man in the nice suit, ‘you reckon she’s at the top?’

The man pointed, and sure enough Bonaparte could just about make out two figures silhouetted against the afternoon sun.  They looked very far away.

‘Shall we get a cup of tea first?’

And so the unlikely friends stopped in the unlikely cafe at the foot of the moonlit mountain for a fortifying cup of tea.  It was lucky they did, for the cafe was also a Visitor Centre, and inside it they found a leaflet which told them that although it was possible to climb the mountain, it wasn’t really necessary as they had recently had a lift installed.

‘I don’t know,’ said the man in the nice suit, ‘I don’t really like the music they play in lifts.  It’s cheesy.’

But after three years, seven months and almost three days without his mother, Bonaparte put his foot down, and into the lift they went.  As it happened, the lift was one of those old fashioned sorts that didn’t play music at all, so the two of them amused themselves with a game of 20 questions as the tin box shuddered and shivered its way to the top of the moonlit mountain.  Bonaparte wasn’t very good at 20 questions, as living alone in a tree is not conducive to a thorough grounding in popular culture.  But they had a giggle, and isn’t that the main thing?

When the lift eventually stopped, they got out of it and were dazzled by the bouncing reflections of sunlight on snow.  After they’d stopped bellowing things like ‘ARG, MY EYES!’ their sight adjusted and they looked about to see what they could see.

Bonaparte’s mother was frozen in the act of landing a vicious looking left hook on the ice witch’s cheek.  She was entirely encased in ice, just as the man in the nice suit had said.  The ice witch was frozen in the act of pointing her wand at Bonaparte’s mother, and a stream of ice poured out of it.

‘That must be the spell,’ said the man in the nice suit, apparently feeling it was necessary to have a character available to state the obvious for the less imaginative readers.

Bonaparte ignored him, and set about blowing on the ice encasing his mother’s hands so that it would melt.

‘It’ll take ages doing it this way,’ he said, after he had blown warm breath continuously for ten minutes and only managed to thaw her left pinkie finger, ‘this calls for more tea.’

So back they went in the lift, and they ordered ninety four cups of hot tea because the woman in the visitor centre said that was the number of cups they had in the whole building including the staff room.

And they piled them all onto the cleaner’s cart and carefully brought them to the top of the moonlit mountain without spilling a drop.

And then they set about pouring the tea over the ice that held Bonaparte’s mother until it thinned and got less frosty and more glassy and then finally cracked open and fell away from her completely.

‘Bonaparte?’ she said, through chattering teeth, ‘what are you doing here?  I told you to stay in the forest.’

‘I’m rescuing you, mum,’ Bonaparte said, ‘I stayed in the forest for three years, seven months and three days, but I had to draw the line somewhere.’

‘Good grief,’ she said, ‘that is an awfully long time.’

She looked over at her nemesis, still encased in ice.

‘I suppose we should thaw her out too,’ said the man in the nice suit.

‘Don’t be absurd,’ Bonaparte’s mother snorted, ‘she’ll only do it again, the woman’s a liability.  What do you think we were fighting about?  The fact she kept freezing everybody in the kingdom with her ice spells, that’s what.’

‘Mum’s the captain of the guard,’ Bonaparte told the man in the nice suit, a hint of pride in his voice.

‘So what will we do with her, then?’

‘We’ll leave her here.  She’s a nice feature for the tourists to look at.’

The man in the nice suit couldn’t disagree with that, for as a romantic type himself he had already mentally composed several poems about the icy figure that he was planning to post on the internet when he got home.  Perhaps he could start running ice poetry tours, and people would give him top marks on Trip Advisor.

And so they all trooped down the moonlit mountain in the dying sunlight, singing songs of the old times.

They even made it home in time for Christmas dinner.

The End.

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