This story is written for AMMC: A Merry Minion Christmas. You can find the rules here:
Title: “A Nixie Christmas”
Author: Theresa Miller
To my daughter, Katrina Novak, from whose brain the Nixies and Noxies were born. May your imagination continue to make the world a better place.
“D.U.B.S., this is Agent Noreen Silva, I have a situation here.”
The communicator in Noreen’s hand came to life with a tinny gender neutral voice. “Due to budget shortfalls, the office of the Department of Underworld Border Security has been temporarily closed. Please avoid any emergency situations until we reopen.”
“Thom is that you? I really do need to get through to Noxie Command.
“Thom this isn’t funny.
Noreen stared at her communicator in consternation. Had Tatiana and Oberon’s squabbling gotten that far out of hand? Reluctantly she trickled the necessary magic into the device to switch it from Communicate to Record and Transmit.
“This is Agent Noreen Silva reporting a disturbance in the Verge. There’s a depression about my height and twice as wide.” She paused, considering. “For the sake of accuracy I must report it’s a bit taller than me; about the height of a regular Noxie or,” she shuddered delicately, “Nixie.
“Since no Noxie worth their dust would mistreat the border this way, I assume a group of Nixies passed through recently. This would be a great time for backup. Agent Silva; going in.”
Noreen hung the communicator on her belt, then put her hands on the soft, springy substance of the boundary and melded into it. Tingles running through the Verge material painted clear pictures for experienced Verge travelers. Today’s picture was all too familiar. Her brother had been here. Like all Nixies he was the offspring of a Noxie father and a Pixie mother. Like all Nixies he had a Noxie’s ability to meld with and shape the Verge and a pixie’s penchant for mischief.
“Must I spend my life cleaning up after him?” Noreen sighed as she followed the familiar trail. She was almost to the Other Side before she found the pocket. She pulled out the communicator.
“Agent Silva again. It’s definitely Nixies. I’ve found their stash. It would’ve taken quite a few of them to stash this many…” She reached out and tentatively prodded the nearest brightly colored box. It crinkled under her questing finger. “Well, whatever they are they’re bigger than socks or spoons and there are a lot of them.”
Noreen pocketed the communicator, hefted the largest of the boxes and, closing her eyes, concentrated on willing the Verge to allow the passage of the strange object. Reaching the edge, she poked her head through, right into the prickly branches of a pine tree. She was sure it was winter in the human realms, but the tree was bare of snow and the air was warm and stuffy.
She frowned. This didn’t make sense. She seemed to be both in a forest and in a house. Things didn’t work that way in the human realm. They just didn’t.
Movement caught her eye. She turned and found herself face to face with a dread beast straight out of her nightmares. The black-furred creature narrowed its yellow eyes and bared its fangs. Noreen jerked her head back into the Verge as the beast lunged for her, claws extended. Its paws passed through the barrier and caught her collar, dragging her back into the human world. She twisted out of her jacket and fell, hitting branch after branch until she landed face down on a softly carpeted floor.
“Mittens, what are you doing in there? Are you in the tree again?” A woman appeared in the doorway. “Get down from th-.” The woman stopped short and put her hands over her mouth, eyes wide.
Noreen froze. How was this human seeing her, especially partially hidden as she was by the tree trunk?
“The presents.” The woman turned. “Bob, the presents. They’re gone!” Quietly Noreen melded back into the Verge.
“D.U.B.S., Agent Silva again. I have a female human distressed about missing ‘presents.’ I know humans are obsessed with the current point in time, but have no idea how it can go missing. If these humans have a way to store bits of time in boxes and a bit of forest growing in the middle of their house, we need to do a sweep for magic in this area. There must be a leak. In the meantime the tree is guarded by a ferocious feline. I’ll have to find a different route. Looks like it’s gonna be an all-nighter. Sure would appreciate that backup.”
It was a long night. When she finally finished pushing the time boxes into the human world she dragged her aching body to a point along the Edge where she could see the tree. The magic must still be leaking in because it was now covered with a myriad of colored lights and glittering pretties.
The woman sat sadly on the floor surrounded by several smaller humans, the smallest of which was crying. Noreen wondered for a moment if she had failed, but then dismissed the thought. Crying was one of the default states of small humans and it always seemed to make the bigger ones sad.
“Shhh,” the woman said hugging the smallest one. “We can still have Christmas without presents. We still have each other.” The small one only wailed louder.
Suddenly a door blew open and bounced off the wall with a bang. The wind blew in a flurry of cold and snow and a human man who was grinning from ear to ear.
“Merry Christmas!” he bellowed, throwing his arms open wide. “Santa must have been extra busy last night. He didn’t have time to bring the presents down the chimney. They’re all up on the roof.”
The small humans squealed, jumped to their feet and ran to follow the man outside. The woman sat there for a moment then reached under the tree. She held up a beautiful little red jacket with a torn collar. She gazed at it a moment. It was too small for any of her children. Where had it come from?
A shriek of pure joy came through the open door followed by the clunk of a ladder hitting the house. The woman looked up with a smile then rose and went to join her family. The jacket fell to the floor, forgotten.
As soon as she was out of sight a small hand reached out of thin air, grabbed the jacket, and pulled it out of sight.
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