Dreamcast 2: Lucid Nightmare | TeenInk

Dreamcast 2: Lucid Nightmare

November 24, 2019
By Grace5150, Rocky Mount, North Carolina
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Grace5150, Rocky Mount, North Carolina
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Author's note:

Includes some personified Santa clause 3 characters as my subconscious/personality companions

Act as though I am, and I will be.

“Ah, the subconscious... a great huge place in your brain that keeps track of your memories, your thoughts, your emotions, your stimuli, and even where you left your favorite kinds of candy in the house the earlier morning. A few months ago, when I was really into the Santa Clause 3 movie and one specific character from that movie in general, I found out about an incredible fact. When you become lucid and know that you’re dreaming, you actually have a chance to talk to your subconscious partners visualized as who you subconsciously want them to be at that very moment. I thought it sounded like a grand idea for me to try it back then, because I wanted to meet Frost visualized as my one of my subconscious partners. It’ll be easy, I had thought then. Just become lucid, ask for him to take my hand, talk to him, meet with him a few days at a time in my dreams, etc. But little did I know that it wouldn’t be that simple. In fact, I was actually totally wrong about all of it: it wasn’t at all easy, simple, or fun. What was my greatest dream actually turned out to be my greatest nightmare and a ticket to a one-way street life with guilt, sadness, and a flurry of other negative emotions haunting me like the plague. ...You still don’t get it, do you? You still don’t understand exactly what happened to me, do you? Well, you’re about to find out. It all started just about two months ago... I was finally lucid, and I was trying to get Frost to appear. And then it all went downhill from the one moment that I laid my eyes on him...”

...It’ll work... or will it? Haha, Grace, stop thinking negative - *of course* it’s going to work! But, what if he doesn’t - NO. I had to do it. It’ll work. I know it will. I held out my hand in a graceful way almost as if I had practicing it for years. Which was technically because I had. I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking as I shouted out of the words, “Jack Frost, grab my hand!” Almost instantly, a cold, icy chill swept across the room I was in. I shivered, and I felt an arm drape over my shoulder and some person grabbing my hand. But, it felt weird: it felt almost like a cold chill... but at the same time, it felt really good. At this, I opened my eyes hesitantly and saw a young man with a large array of spiky hair with a silvery blue-hue to it. He was wearing a velvet blue suit and it looked almost as if it was stained with icicles. I shivered again, and the man smiled slyly. “A bit chilly, are you, my dear?” “Um... yes.” I stammer. “How exactly did you know that?” The man smirks playfully. “You shivered...” I nod. “I know. But, you-“ “When you shiver, I shiver.” The man interjects. “When you feel pain, I also do... It’s dream logic, on subconscious terms.” I gasp quickly. “So - so, you’re my subconscious?” The man simply smirks. “Yes. Or, dream guide, more or less.” I quirk a brow upward. Dream guide? So, I didn’t even summon Jack Frost, but a dream guide from my subconscious that looks exactly like him?! And after all these years of hand training... IT DIDN’T EVEN PAY OFF? “So, you’re not Jack Frost?” I ask. The man smiles slyly. “I *am* Jack Frost. Why are you questioning my identity?” “Well, I, uh...” I fumble. But then, I realize. There’s no need to be nervous: this is all just a dream. A long, realistic dream. I almost laugh out loud. “This is just a dream... no wonder you’re not how I imagined you’d be...” The man curiously rose a brow. “You think this is a dream? Well, I’d say you’re very much awake, my dear.” As an example, he entwined his cold hands through my fingertips and I could just feel the prickling sensation from the coldness of it all. “Doesn’t it feel real?” The man asks. “It *feels* real...” I push my hand away, “but it’s not.” I stalked away from “Jack”, but he kept on following me. “Wait a minute, please wait a minute!” He cried quickly, almost frantically, when I saw that he was now following me. “I’ll give you another example.” I roll my eyes and walk faster. “No thank you.” He keeps up with me, however. “Oh come *on*! Weren’t you the one who said you always loved snowflakes?” At this, I stop walking and turn around. “You mean..” I start. The man clenched his fist, and lets it go, tossing something down. Just then, the magic happened. Snowflakes formed all around us and the grassy wasteland was suddenly transformed into a snow-covered plain. One of the snowflakes fluttered into my palm. I gasped in awe, looking around at the snowflakes, then finally back at Jack. I nod, “You won.” He smirks victoriously at me, almost as if he had expected no less. “Good. Because I have some things I want to teach you about dreams.” Classic dream guide teachings, huh? Well, lucky for me I know how to get out of it. (1st step: trick your subconscious by starting on another topic.) I almost pout as the snowflakes start disappearing and the area turned back to normal. “Oh, but why? I was just getting into it!” The man smirks, a mischievous glint in his eye, “Maybe we can do it again some other time.” (2nd step: change the subject to the preferred subject of interest right before bashing it and then luring it in.) I nod. “Alright. So, what was that you said about dreams?” The man does a playful mock-gasp. “You’re not into this at all!” I nod. “Yeah, but, what about you?” His mock-surprise face is replaced with a sly smirk. “What about me?” “Well, are *you* into it at all?” The man rolls his eyes. “Technically? No.” “Well, are you just gonna stand around teaching all day when you can’t stand it?” I inquire. “You should go stir up some trouble.” The man smirks again, and that telltale mischievous glint returns to his eyes. “What should we do?” He asks me.

A few hours later...

I walked out of the workshop, rubbing my hands together excitedly. “That was fun!” I say, smiling. The man smiles his michevious signature smile back and it was at that moment that I noticed how similar his smile was to mine. When he did smile, his eyes also appeared to have a more dark blue tint to them, making them look more like mine. It was oddly satisfying. “Grace!” A voice called. “Grace, I’ve got the perfect wake-up song for you!” I looked around, confused. Jack knew exactly who the voice belonged to, however: the ridiculous, silly voice of Bryan. Jack knew this was his chance to see if Grace would listen to him if he gave her a bad decision to make. Just then, he heard a loud, pained groan. At this, he turned around and saw Grace holding her head from the dizziness of losing her lucidity. He smirked. Perfect timing. He knew it was now was the time to pull it off. “Don’t fully awaken, my dear.” He said, lowering his voice to a near whisper, and yet still trying to sound like a trusting, innocent person. (When a person is about to lose their lucidity, they cannot see due to the overwhelming dizziness, so he took that chance to make Grace think a kind person was telling her to do the right thing. That way of thinking makes it more obvious that she will do it later.) “But when do you awaken, go back to sleep. If your parents don’t like that idea, then you need to go against them: maybe not complete your study guide at school today?” The man said, almost questioned. But he knew the girl wouldn’t answer. Yes... she had already awoke — and was already arguing. Jack’s plan had worked like a charm. (I had this all planned out from the start. I’m brilliant, really.) Now Jack knew that, for him, she would do anything he wanted her to do...

Tick, tick, tick, tick. “—The only reason why we’re here is because a disciplinary action needs to be taken against Council member Jack Frost.” Mother Nature said. As if on cue, everyone else turned toward his empty chair and sighed. Just then, he strode into the room, walking in an almost arrogant manner. “Now that’s what I’m talking about. You finally opened your eyes and decided to give up.” He declared, walking straight up to the meeting table and calmly resting his hands on it. “Am I right?” Mother Nature shook her head almost annoyedly. “No, Jack. We’re not giving up until you give in.” At this, Jack almost smirked. “Do you honestly think I would just give in—“ “If you don’t, you’ll be eliminated from the council forever.” Jack rose a brow. “Hm. I think *you’re* the one that’s going to get eliminated, Nature Lady.” At this, Mother Nature looked down and saw that her body was gradually growing transparent. She gasped in horror. “Jack, what have you done?!” She asked him in a angry tone of voice. “Please, relax. We can’t hurt each other, so it’s not like I’m going to harm you. And besides, a slow and steady Fadation *is* *much* more fun, is it not?” Mother Nature stared at Jack with a highly intense look on her face, and everyone slowly started to back away. They had never seen Mother Nature, the used-to-be Dream Guardian, look so *mad* at someone before. “I know what this is, but what I’m asking is, how did you do it?” Mother Nature retorted. Jack chuckled. “I had a nightly visitor...” “Grace? You showed yourself to Grace?!” Mother Nature practically screamed at the top of her lungs. “Yes, I did... I showed her the snowflakes, and I showed her myself.” Jack noticed at that moment Mother Nature was radiating a intense feeling of disgust, so he put on a smug smile. “Oh, you didn’t know? I thought you were the head... You know *everything*!” Jack emphasized the word everything to really get on her nerves. After a minute of no response, he said, “But, I guess you weren’t worthy enough since that opportunity was passed on to me...” Jack snickered darkly. “Such a shame.” Mother Nature had never been any more angrier than she was at that moment, when she grabbed ahold of Jack and shook him violently. “Listen, you. I *still* have the power and you will *never* become High Head as I once was.” “Well, maybe not.” Jack replied almost sarcastically. “But, that’s not what I want in life anyway.” His eyes averted to the Frostmas cutout in the middle of the meeting room. Finally, Mother Nature realized: “You want your own holiday...” Jack nodded, smirking. “That’s right.” “That’s ridiculous, Jack!” Jack turned around, the smirk now wiped off his face, and glared an icy glare at Scott Calvin. “That’s not about being ridiculous, it’s about getting a *productive result*!” He quickly shouted back. “What do you mean?” Scott Calvin asked. “What do you mean, what do I mean?” Asked Jack. “You get everything — the postage stamps, the billboards, the Pez dispensers, even the sweet, adoring wife and the holiday working yes-men. And what do I get? Nothing, nothing at all.” Jack raised his hands in the air hopelessly as he spoke. Scott Calvin had had it. “You know what, Jack?” He shot up from his seat, boldly standing in front of Jack. “It’s no picnic being me. I have to deliver gifts to millions of children, all the while my wife is worrying about her pregnancy, and so am I, but I’m about worried about being a father again because I wasn’t all that good at it the first time!” “Oh, Santa, I’m so sorry.” Jack said, trying to sound honest while placing a comforting, cold hand on his shoulder and trying his best not to smirk. “I think you should go have a look at your little girl (Grace) and be happy.” Santa nodded and went off to go to the Realm Room, without even arguing, every council member following behind him, trying to comfort him. As they left, Jack tried to hide a smirk. Grace would listen to him more now than Scott Calvin, and because of that, Scott was more uptight and more easily upset. And soon, he would have Grace wrapped around his frosty fingers. But, who should be the other one to say “I love you”? (He would confess to that person and ask them to meet. Conveniently, he asks Grace the very same thing. When they all meet in that same spot, he chooses Grace over that one person. This is to show her that he “loves” her very, very much.) As Jack turned around, he saw the back of a small retreating elf named Cocoa. She was crying tears of sadness — for him. Jack snickered evilly. Oh, he just knew *just* the right person to “confess” to...

Frost walked up to Bernard, “Hey, have you seen Cocoa?” He asked, feigning innocence, almost as if he hadn’t even seen Cocoa in the first place (which, that is, to say, he had). “Why do you want to see her?” Bernard asked, sternly narrowing his eyes at Frost. “Oh, I just wanted to tell her something.” Frost said nonchalantly. “Yeah, And That something is?” Bernard pressed on. “None of your business, hombre tenso.” (Means uptight man, also a slight Pun on homo erectus, which means Upright man) Jack said, smirking. “Where is she?” Bernard sighed annoyedly. “You’re so annoying... (Yeah, you’re one to talk, Jack thought) But I guess I’ll tell you: she’s over by the Tree section trying to pick out a good Christmas tree for Scott Calvin and Carol.” Jack smirked. Perfect. He quickly stopped smirking and said in a honest tone of voice, trying to sound friendly, “Thank you, petit homme.” Then he walked off to the tree section to find Cocoa. All the while as he did, Bernard knew he had just probably told Jack something he shouldn’t have: and yet, if he had his powers, he could’ve known what Jack wanted to do with Cocoa... But, no, Jack was the head now, not Mother Nature, and he had stripped everyone of mostly all their subconscious and psychic powers. Now Jack had everything. And they all had nothing. The only one that still held a limited amount of subconscious power and psychic abilities was Scott Calvin, the new Santa. Despite no longer being the guide for Mother Nature, the used-to-be subconscious head, he still had it good, unlike the rest. He still had a lot of his powers and abilities, to some extent. But, why didn’t Jack just steal that away from him, too? Well, Scott used to have a lot of happy cheer about him (most of the time). I believe that’s why Jack couldn’t handle stealing from Scott; he was afraid of getting thawed. But now that Grace is listening to Frost more, Scott has grown more uptight than usual. “Is that why Jack wants Cocoa? In order to execute his evil plan to steal Scott’s powers?” Bernard mused. There was a silence, as Bernard’s mind thought back to the Hall Of Snow Globes. “I wonder...”

Meanwhile, Cocoa was examining the trees, trying to find the best one for Mr and Mrs. Clause when Jack strode over, “Well hey there, Cocoa.” He said causally. “Whatcha doin’?” Cocoa spun around at the sound of his voice, immediately knowing it was Jack. And yet, she wasn’t sure if she should tell him anything. For, you see, Jack used to be a good person. He used to be Mother Nature’s right hand man, but ever since Scott Calvin took over that job, his heart had froze over and he had become jealous of him. Scott Calvin had his own holiday, he had the proud honor of being Mother Nature’s right hand... He had everything he wanted! Jack, in turn, caused Grace to sin a lot, which caused Mother Nature (the beautiful part of me) to be removed from the position of head and Jack to be elected. Cocoa knew that the Jack she once knew was already gone, so she also knew that she had to be overly cautious about him now. (Even if she was in love with him and didn’t want to be) So even if it was just something as simple as picking out a single tree, Cocoa tried to hide it. “Why are you hesitating, my dear? You know you can tell me anything...” Jack said innocently, his voice filled with naivety. For a minute, Cocoa was filled with fear: she must have spaced out for a minute. But then, that fear was replaced with shock when she looked up and saw hurt in Jack’s eyes. I-Is he hurt because I’m not giving him any information? Cocoa thought, and her heart twisted with emotion. He must think I don’t trust him... Just then, seeing the emotion in Cocoa’s face, Jack spoke up, deciding to drop the bombshell, “Do you not trust me?” He said, his voice filled with supposed “hurt”. Cocoa gasped. “No, no, of course not! I trust you a lot! It’s just...” As she spoke, the irony and embarrassment of her words filled her entire being, “I’m picking out a tree for Scott Calvin and Carol.” Jack smirked fondly. “You could at least tell me that much...” For the first time in a long while, Cocoa looked up at Jack and saw a reflection of purity in his eyes. Almost as if the true Jack is upon me, Cocoa thought. Jack looked at Cocoa and saw that she was deep in thought. Now was his time. “Thinking about me, hmm?” Jack spoke up suddenly. “Well, Cocoa, I have something else for you to think on...” He kneeled down and kissed Cocoa’s hand. “Cocoa, I love you very much. Do you love me, my dear?” Cocoa backed away a bit. She didn’t know what had caused this sudden change in Jack, and it was very suspicious. As a result, she tried to see if their was any feigning innocence she could hear in Jack’s voice. There was none at all, none that she could hear. At this, Cocoa smiled brightly with a smile so wide it could’ve filled an orange. “I do.” She whispered emotionally, wet tears of happiness already flowing down her cheeks. “I love you so much!” She tried to hug Jack, but Jack teleported away behind her and made a condescending tsk-tsk sound. “No hugs now, my darling...” He said in a soft voice. “When there is something I need from you.” At this, Cocoa straightened up. “What is it?” Jack shrugged, trying to feign ignorance. “It’s not that important.” Cocoa’s smile grew even bigger than it was before. “Jack, for you, it doesn’t matter what it is. I’ll do anything!” Her answer had fallen right into Jack’s hands. Jack tried to refrain from smirking as he said, “Well... To show me that you really love me, I want you to meet me somewhere.” Cocoa tilted her head. “Where?” Jack smiled. “Anywhere you want to go, my dear.” Cocoa perked up. “Maybe the park?” Jack smiled. “That’s fine. See you tonight?” Cocoa nodded. “Yeah!” At this, Jack causally walked away from Cocoa, almost as if nothing had happened. But, deep down, he was feeling great: his plan was set in motion. He just had to confess to Grace and get her to go to the park at the same time his “ex-wife” Cocoa would be coming.... Which wouldn’t actually be all that hard considering their “bond”. Jack snickered evilly. He looked up at the clock. Even though there were no hands showing the time, he didn’t really need them in this case: he already knew it was one hour before bed. And, right when Grace’s body hit the pillow and became lucid, she would be surprised to see him again, he knew. The clock ticked again in the monotonous silence and Jack finally smirked, knowing he was alone. He could hardly wait for night to fall...

Meanwhile in the meeting room, Lucy was sitting playing cards on the table and her “father”, Neil, was helping her. Suddenly, he stopped organizing the cards with an anxious expression. “Are you sure Mother Nature will be alright if we do it in here?” He asked worriedly. “Definitely.” Lucy reassured. “She’s usually pretty calm about that stuff.” And yet, as they shuffled the cards, Lucy’s mind wandered. But not because she was playing cards in the meeting room. She thought about all that had happened because she was no longer Grace’s innocent, kind Inner Self: Frost had become the main head *and* the main Inner Self, which lead to a terrible calamity that just hadn’t happened yet. (Lucy can see into the future, so she knows of events before they happen.) Lucy knew in order to face this calamity she needed to be brave despite whatever happened. But even if she did give up (she doubted she ever would), her true self (Grace) would get through. She knew this, and she knew it well. Ever since Jack became head, she calmed herself by looking into the future and seeing the happy ending. It sort of reassured her that there was a way. But now that Jack was trying to lure in Grace, Lucy wasn’t so sure what the future would hold: she — and everyone else — could only hope. Just then, the doors burst open, snapping Lucy out of her own thoughts. Mother Nature limped in through the doorway and held onto her aching chest, gasping in pain, when her tired eyes finally caught sight of Lucy. “Lucy...” She muttered, and crumbled to the ground tiredly. Lucy gasped and ran over, immediately kneeling down to nurse Mother Nature as she had done numerous times in the past. “What happened?” She asked frantically. “Frost happened.” Mother Nature mumbled. “Frost...” Lucy whispered angrily. Lucy got up and she looked around at the now empty chairs. Her parents were nowhere to be seen, now that she had been paying all of her attention to Mother Nature. (Lucy’s parents are technically dream Characters that she created of Neil and Laura. Being my Inner Self, Lucy sees Jenny and Charlie as her parents, not necessarily Neil and Laura, so whenever her mind wanders off or doesn’t think about her parents when they are in the room with her, they just vanish straight into thin air.) Lucy shrugged. “Where would you like to sit?” She asked Mother Nature kindly. Mother Nature laughed. “Lucy, you’re so sweet! Most people would’ve just sat me down wherever they liked, but you were being nice and asked me *where I wanted to sit*. As long as you’re always this nice, I think there’s still a lot of hope for Christmas.” Lucy smiled a smile that looked very mature and calm for a child. “Thank you, Mother Nature. But I think you’ve misunderstood... you’re way more nicer than me. ...Well, anyway. Where would you like to sit?” Lucy repeated this question, and Mother Nature told her that she would like the seat beside her, just like old times. Lucy obliged and led her over to her seat. As soon as she had sat down, Mother Nature told her story about Jack’s plan to make her Fade out of existence. And as Lucy listened, her anger for Jack built up even more and started to swell just on the surface of her heart. How much he had betrayed his subconscious compatriots, and for what? One simple thing: he wanted Scott Calvin’s power. He also wanted his own holiday (which Scott Calvin *also had*), which had made things *even worse* for Frost’s jealousy. But, soon, there would be a time for peace: just not now. Finally, Lucy stopped thinking it over and turned to face Mother Nature with a expression of worry on her face. “Have you ever wondered what would’ve happened if she (Grace) came earlier than then?” She questioned. Mother Nature shook her head. “Don’t dwell on such things. Besides, you fully know the answer to that question.” Lucy didn’t want to argue, because she knew Mother Nature was right. She *did know* the answer to that question. If Grace *had* came earlier, there would’ve been even more chaos than there was in the current ‘now’. That’s why Lucy refused to give up hope. Because Grace *hadn’t* came earlier, there was a better chance of them returning Christmas back to normal. Soon, Lucy again stopped thinking and turned toward Mother Nature, noticing worry and sadness were radiating off of her intensely. And Lucy knew her feelings, so she smiled at her, trying to calm her stormy emotions. “It’s alright.” Lucy whispered to Mother Nature, almost as if *she* was the child. “It’s all gonna be ok, someday.” Tears formed in Mother Nature’s eyes, threatening to fall. Seeing Mother Nature’s tears, Lucy lightly touched her shoulder. And the tears dried up.

Night dimmed. Reality blurred through the looking glass. And the girl, indeed, *did* fall asleep as soon as her body hit the pillow. And when she opened her eyes she did a reality check and discovered she was lucid again. Grace was delighted. She started walking and found herself in a green-grass-covered prairie. However, soon, snow started to fall, changing the entire landscape. “What fun!” Grace said aloud, feeling calm and happy. “What fun, indeed,” said a sly voice from behind Grace. “When you have someone to share this snow with.” Grace knew that voice. She whipped around. Standing behind her was Jack Frost. Grace gasped. “You...” The man smirked. “Yes, me. I was waiting all day for you to fall asleep so I could tell you something very important.” Grace smiled. “What is it?” “Well, we have to go to a private place in order for me to tell you.” Frost said in a hushed voice. “Alright. Where to?” Grace asked curiously. Frost pretended to be thinking hard, “Hmm... How about the park?” Grace nodded. “That’s fine.” At her approval of this, the lucid dream scenery instantly changed to form a huge expanse of greenery and walkways and one bench in the middle of it all. Frost humorously gave a graceful flourish as it did, which caused Grace to laugh. Soon she was sitting down on the bench with Frost. “So, what did you want to tell me?” Frost pretended to act nervous, “Well, I don’t really know. I’m not sure if you’ll even believe me.” At this, Grace smiled even wider. “I’ll believe anything you tell me.” This answer slipped right into Frost’s freezing cold hands. He knew now was the time to “confess”. “Well, Grace, there’s something I’ve wanted to tell you for a while now...” Frost took a deep breath, still pretending to be nervous, “I love you, Grace. I love you *so* much. Do you... perhaps, love me?” Grace bit her lip. “Actually, I... I think I do love you.” As Grace said the finishing touch, Frost tried to refrain from smirking as the upset, distraught elfen girl emerged out of the bushes. “You love *her*?!” She shouted in fury. “Greetings, Cocoa.” Jack said smoothly and calmly, somehow completely ignoring how mad she seemed to be at the time. He pretended to notice Grace and realize Grace and Cocoa had never met. “Ah, give me one second.” He said to Cocoa, right before he pushed Grace straight over to an engaged Cocoa. “Grace, my lover, Cocoa, my ex-wife. Cocoa, my ex-wife, Grace, my lover.” Jack introduced. “I presume you know each other?” “You *freak*!” Cocoa started. “I am *not* your ex-“ But Jack calmly shushed her. “Now, now. I can understand that you can’t get over the fact that we broke up years ago, but spying on me when I’m out with another person and sabotaging my new date... That is completely and utterly ridiculous!” Jack quickly spun his web of lies. Cocoa pouted, knowing Jack was now lying and that this whole entire thing had been set up. “But weren’t you the one who asked me to come here?” She said, trying to break his web. But it was to no avail: Jack was far too good at spinning masterful lies at the drop of a hat. “I have no idea what you’re talking about!” Jack ridiculed. “You may have asked *me* to come here to talk with you about things, but I never did... Is that what this is about?” Cocoa sighed annoyedly, not knowing how to answer the question. However did she get herself into this crazy situation?! Jack saw that Cocoa was now radiating waves of resentment off her body, and Grace was radiating waves of confusion and something like trust. Jack smirked. Now was the time. “If you don’t want to answer me, that’s fine.” Jack said. “But, because you didn’t answer me, Grace has to pick whose story she currently believes in.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Cocoa finally spoke up, astonished. “When did this come up?!” “Don’t act like you don’t know. It was because you didn’t answer my question.” Jack smirked. “Which was?” Cocoa questioned. Jack huffed under his breath and asked the question again, “Why did you come here and sabotage the date?” Silence. Again, Cocoa had no idea how to answer. She had never been a good liar, really. “Well, no answer... Guess Grace’ll tell us who she believes in.” He walked over to Grace and grasped ahold of her hand gently, “Is that alright, my dear?” Upon hearing Jack call Grace ‘my dear’, Cocoa nearly gasped, but tried to restrain herself for the fear that Grace would not believe any part of “her” forced story if she did. For, you see, that was what Jack respectfully used to call both Mother Nature and Lucy when he was still good, Lucy was still the head Inner Self, and Mother Nature was still High Head of the subconscious. “Just what are you planning, Jack?” Cocoa thought to herself through gritted teeth. Cocoa must have spaced out because she soon heard Grace’s voice saying, “I believe Frost’s story.” At this, Cocoa gasped out and, before she could stop herself, shouted the words, “No! Don’t believe him! Whatever he’s planning, I bet it’s evil! Pure evil!” And yet, Grace just smiled. “Frost isn’t evil... he’s really nice to me.” Cocoa scowled at this. When Grace was out of earshot, Frost smirked in amusement at Cocoa. Cocoa stared at him in annoyance. “What’s so funny?” “I think maybe you should look for yourself.” Frost remarked. At this, Cocoa looked down and saw that her body was slowly beginning to fade. She gasped in horror and tears sprung into her eyes. Quickly looking around to make sure no one was watching, she dusted herself off, and shouted at Frost, “I hate you! I hate you *SO MUCH*!” As soon as she said those words she ran away back to the workshop. Frost watched all the while, with a sly smirk on his face. He abruptly stopped smirking when he felt an arm press down on his shoulder and a quiet, soft-spoken voice speak up in his direction, “Was she ok?” He turned around to see Grace and he wrapped an arm around her, as if trying to comfort her, “Yeah, she was fine.” Jack said, and as he did, Grace never noticed the tiny sly smirk that formed on his face...

It was another day dawning at the workshop. And in the meeting room, all was well as usual. Laura, Neil, and Lucy were all playing cards with Mother Nature, who was still ill, when all of a sudden the normal and well dispersed when the huge brown door slammed open and a transparent Cocoa burst in through the door, crying. Lucy quickly ran to her aid, “Oh, Cocoa. What happened? What’s wrong?” Cocoa sniffed, “Jack set me up.” Lucy turned toward Mother Nature and rose a knowing brow. Lucy was about to ask Cocoa what happened with Jack to start the Fadation process, but Cocoa’s body’s started shaking and her low whines came out of her mouth in pitiful sobs that made her whole body shake all over. And so Lucy guided Cocoa to sit next to her. “It’ll be OK.” Lucy comforted Cocoa. And still Cocoa sobbed, “No, it won’t! It won’t *ever* be OK, as long as the frosted Jack is here!” At this, Lucy smiled sympathetically. “I meant that it’ll be OK in the future ‘now’. Not in the ‘now’.” But still Cocoa sobbed. She was just too sad: she couldn’t really hear the meaning of what Lucy had just said. “Cocoa...” Lucy started, her voice calmly gentle and soft. Cocoa looked up at her through wet eyelids. “Yeah?” She quipped, her voice barely hearable through all the tears. “Cocoa, I know this is hard. But, in the future ‘now’, it’ll be OK. You see?” Cocoa did not see for she kept crying. Lucy took a deep breath to calm herself and gently hugged Cocoa. As she held Cocoa in her warm embrace, there, on Cocoa’s body, right near the place where her heart muscle was, was a sort of yellow-looking energy of the light that seemed to be transferring itself directly from Lucy’s body and into Cocoa’s. Soon, after a while, the light died out and Lucy released Cocoa from her warm embrace. Cocoa sniffed, “T-Thank you.” Lucy smiled warmly. “No problem. Now, can you please tell us exactly what happened with Frost?” Cocoa nodded, and began to tell her tale... Lucy and Mother Nature both listened attentively, careful not to interrupt Cocoa. It wasn’t until the very end when Mother Nature told Cocoa the very same thing (the Fadation) had happened to her, in almost the same way. “Really?” Cocoa asked in disbelief. “Yes, it was also through an encounter with Jack.” Mother Nature spoke up. Cocoa put a hand to her chin. “You too, huh?” “Just what is Jack plotting?” Mother Nature fretted. Just then, Lucy saw a glimpse of the future gleam in her eyes. Yes, she was probably the only one who knew what Jack was really planning. And yet she couldn’t tell them that she did, for it would ruin the future result. And so, as a result, Cocoa and Mother Nature kept right on talking right up until Cocoa left the room... but Lucy was the only one who stayed silent the entire time.

That night, Grace got into bed early and went to sleep. She awoke in her dream and did a reality check. Indeed, she was awake and dreaming again. She only wanted to find Jack, so she merely went where her mind led her, and soon found herself standing outside a small cafe belonging to the North Pole. Grace looked around, but she didn’t see him anywhere. “Looking for me?” A sly voice behind Grace said. Grace whipped around, heart pounding, and saw Jack standing right behind her. “D-Don’t sneak up on me like that!” She somehow managed to sputter, still trying to get her breath back. Jack smirked playfully. “Ok.” Just then, Jack’s keen eyes noticed someone in the glass window of the meeting room. Jack glanced over and saw Cocoa sitting there with Lucy and Mother Nature. He smirked. A little party, hmm? It could wait. He would have to attend later... He kept looking at Cocoa, then back at the cafe. ...Unless... “Grace.” He called the girl by name. “Do you mind if we go over to the cafe and grab some cococachinnos?” She nodded at this. “Sure! Seeing as you’re not doing much work out here anyway...” She gestured to the broken sign that was currently in shambles and Jack chuckled lightly. But soon they walked into the cafe, where the smell of freshly-baked coffee and sweet Splinda greeted Grace and Jack. Grace sat down at a table while Jack went to go get the cocoachinnos. But, before he did, he had asked her this: “Do you want to be alone with me?” She looked around. Now that she thought about it, there were elves in almost every corner. She shivered in embarrassment at the thought of one of them maybe telling someone what they had done here. Jack seemed to read her mind (could subconscious dream guides do that? Grace wondered), because he soon said, “I’ll be right back.” And started to walk away. Grace had asked him where he was going, but he had gave his signature smirk and said that it was a secret. Oh, what’s that the elves are doing over there? You’re right! Jack was rallying up all the elves for a specific reason. But, just what? As soon as he had gotten all the elves rallied up, Jack leaned down to their level and said to them, “Santa said to go take a break because there’s some steaming hot ice coffee in the lounge with your little names on it!” Jack sipped his cocoachinno and laughed innocently. The elves turned and looked at each other, probably wondering whether or not to believe him. “It’s got your names on it!” Jack urged. “Go on!” That was all the encouragement they needed. They raced up the stairs to the lounge, making haste to see which would be the first to get some coffee after their hard work. Jack looked around quickly, and after making sure no one was around to see him, expelled the frozen air around him and blew a steam of icy mist onto the gears of the paper machine, eventually freezing them. Now pleased with himself, he summoned up a fresh mint cocoachinno for Grace and walked back to her seat, right when he bumped into someone who was carrying dishes, causing her-and the dishes-to fall to the ground. “Oh, my goodness! How that something like that happen? Oh, dear...” Jack rambled on as he backed up a bit, almost as if he were stunned, and then tucked his hands behind his back and turned the toy machine knob up to high. Soon in a days the toys it created would drastically go up in number. As Jack continued walking back to Grace’s seat, he hummed innocently to himself. But still-what luck! He couldn’t believe how well things had been going for him: soon he would find the Hall Of Snow Globes, and by then Scott Calvin would already want to say “no more Santa”. He smirked evilly, but soon replaced it with an innocent smile when he placed Grace’s cocoachinno down on the table. Grace took a sip. “Is it good?” He asked hopefully. Grace nodded happily. “Yep! Really good.” She looked around and noticed everyone was gone. Just as she did, Cocoa walked in the kitchen and saw the duo, but Grace didn’t even notice. Frost did, however, and he rubbed it in with a cocky smirk. At this, tears yet again formed in Cocoa’s eyes, but she still watched the scene all the same. “Where did they all go?” Grace asked cluelessly, still looking around the kitchen. Frost instantly stopped smirking. “Oh, the elves? They’re on break now.” He lied quickly. “Ah.” Grace nodded in understanding. Seeing his chance to break Cocoa, Frost rested his cold hand on Grace’s. Cocoa, who was still watching, was shocked and spellbound. Grace let him take her by the hand! Cocoa felt the tears threatening to fall, and she shook her head wildly. No, no tears... Not now! She turned her head and saw Jack and Grace again. Jack squeezed Grace’s hand and Grace squeezed his back. Unable to handle it any longer, Cocoa resisted the urge to scream and instead turned on her heel and raced out of the kitchen, her entire body disappearing into nothingness as she did. Jack watched this entire spectacle and smirked evilly. “Well,” Grace suddenly started, causing Jack to focus all his attention on her, “We’re all alone now. Isn’t that good?” Jack nodded, smirking. “Yes, yes... *very* good.”

The next night, instead of falling asleep and waking up in a world of white, I instead opened my eyes to see a *room filled with white*. I tilted my head, confused. Where was I? This wasn’t my normal lucid dream setting... A young little girl who had red hair and was wearing pink clothes walked up to me. “Um, I have to talk to you about something.” I rose a brow. “Uh, who are you, again?” “Lucy. Lucy Miller.” The girl said, smiling warmly. I nodded. “Nice to meet you, Lucy Miller.” “Nice to meet you too, but you already know me.” The girl said. “I’m your past Inner Self.” I rose a brow at this. “You’re my past Inner Self?” I question. “That’s *so* cool! So what did you want to talk to me about?” Lucy bit her lip. “I wanted to talk to you about Frost.” I rose a brow, intrigued. “*Jack* Frost? *My* Jack Frost?” “Yes And no. He is not *your* Jack Frost. He is merely your future Inner Self... unless you can stop him.” “Excuse me?!” I ask, currently flabbergasted. “What do you mean by that?” “He isn’t really in love with you. He just wants to use you for his elaborate scheme to become Santa Clause and overthrow everyone else in his way in order to also become the head of your subconscious.” Lucy got straight to the point. I took one look at Lucy and burst out laughing. “Hahaha, yeah, right!” “But it’s *true*!” Lucy protested. “Yeah. Almost as true as unicorns.” Lucy gasped in horror. “Unicorns *are* real!” I shake my head. “No, they’re not. Sorry, kid.” Lucy sniffles, holds in a shaky, trembling breath, and starts to... cry? I dash over and put an arm around her. “Hey, it’s OK.” I reassured. Lucy looked up at me with wide, trusting eyes, smiled, and tried to hug me. No! Get away! Without even thinking about what I was doing, I immediately recoiled and backed away while crouching down in a defensive position on the ground. Unbeknownst to me, Lucy currently eyed me with a furious stern expression on her face. Frost... he must’ve told her to recoil. I get up off the ground, dusting myself off. “What happened? And what were we talking about?” I ask. “Frost.” Lucy reminds me. I nod. “Oh, yeah!” “Do you believe?” Lucy asks me suddenly. I look up at her, confused. “What?” “What I told you about Frost... Do you believe any of it?” Lucy said. I bit my lip. Did I? “I...” I start off. “I-“

Meanwhile, in a private meeting room, another more heated exchange was taking place. “Frost, I’ve had it.” Mother Nature was saying. “You made it snow in Hawaii, you frosted Mexico, sending all the geese northwest for the winter, and not to mention you tried to upstage Santa Clause 276 times!” Frost smirked. “Freezing stuff is kind of my *gig*, though...” “Pardon me if I’m wrong, but last time I checked, freezing an entire continent is *NOT* your *gig*,” Mother Nature shot back. “Especially in Mexico.” Jokingly remarked the Easter Bunny from his seat. Mother Nature gave him a “You’re-not-helping” look and he immediately shut his mouth. Frost didn’t reply. At the moment, he was currently trying to focus on both Mother Nature and what he was seeing at the other room. Good thing I can do a million things at once, hmm? While still listening to Mother Nature, Frost also focused his vision on Lucy: was she crying? Grace was going over to comfort her when, suddenly, Frost felt a warm radiation emitting off of Lucy’s body. No, not a hug. No! Get away! Grace did as told and recoiled. Frost smirked. Good girl... “Frost, are you listening?” He heard Mother Nature question him. At this, Frost rose one frosted eyebrow and gave a smug smile, happy to again remind them that he was of higher rank. “Yes, you said that my gig was not about freezing things in Mexico, or frosting an entire continent.” Frost said slowly for emphasis. Suddenly, as Mother Mature chided him for what he had said, Frost began to realise that Grace was about to tell whether or not she believed Lucy’s words. Oh, this was one party he definitely *had* to attend. “I’m sorry, Mother Nature, but I just realised I forgot to give the elves new tools for the toy-making.” Frost said. “I’ll go do that. I’ll be back in a sec!” And then, without waiting for Mother Nature to give him the approval, in a flash of white light and a flurry of ice, Frost disappeared into thin air.

“I...” I began, with a sharp glare at Lucy. “I don’t.” Just then Frost appeared. He looked from Lucy, to me, then finally walked over to me and said, “Did Lucy talk to you?” I nodded. “Yeah. She told me you were evil and you were using me.” Frost chuckled, and began to chide Lucy. “Oh, sweet child. She is very kind, but she believes everything.” “That’s not right.” Lucy interjected, but I wasn’t paying any attention to her anymore. I smiled and nodded to Frost. “Yeah, like all kids do.” Frost chuckled and began to walk toward the open door. “Well, shall we go?” He asks me gently, so I nod and walk out. When I am out the door, Frost turned around and glared intently at Lucy. Don’t try and tell her *again*. Be nicer, will you? Lucy gasped, barely focusing on his telepathic words. The glare... It was the exact same. It was true. Frost *was* taking over Grace’s life. Lucy waited for Frost to leave the room, and as soon as he exited, she began walking to the room where Mother Nature was. What had happened there, she wondered? “Ah, if only she hadn’t went in... she would’ve been better off...”

Knock, knock, knock. “Mother Nature?” Lucy called out. There was no answer, just a long, solemn silence. Lucy thought maybe she had gotten a headache because Frost had probably been really annoying to her, so she patiently waited a few seconds, and when she still got no answer, she called again, “Mother Nature?” Still no answer. By this time, Lucy was growing more than suspicious: surely she would’ve heard her calls by now! “Mother Nature, It’s Lucy. I’m coming in.” And so Lucy entered the room and got a huge shock. The place where Mother Nature has originally been siting was empty: no one was sitting there now. “But... there’s no way!” Lucy thought. “She was very ill: she couldn’t have gotten up by herself!” Suddenly, Lucy remembered who she had been with when she was here last, and her mind started to race. “No — no, that’s not possible..” Lucy said, barely wanting to believe it. “Ah, but it is.” Frost said from right behind her, taking Lucy by surprise. He must’ve entered the room without her noticing. “What did you do with Mother Nature?” Lucy said, tears already filling her eyes. “Isn’t it obvious? I killed her.” Frost said plainly. “You killed her?” Lucy echoed. She didn’t want to believe it, and told herself she wasn’t going to, so, as a result, she ran into the next room, calling out Mother Nature’s name in despair. She was about to run to the next room over until Frost teleported in front of Lucy, stopping her from going any further. Lucy still didn’t want to believe it, but when she looked up and saw a cocky grin on Frost’s face, she knew immediately what he had done. “You killed Mother Nature! How could you do such a thing?! Without Mother Nature, there’s no beauty, no happiness, and the entire world will be in ruins!” Lucy shouted at Frost, now extremely angry. She didn’t care if he didn’t care. But, Lucy knew just one thing: Frost just *had* to listen now, he *had* to! if he didn’t, then— However, a smug smile merely curved up Frost’s lips. “Ah, well maybe Mother Nature was best gone.” Frost stated evilly. Lucy lashed out immediately. “How can you say that?!” Frost kept on smirking, and a light seemed to turn on in his eyes (sign of future reading). “There’s a time when you should fight and a time, well, when you can’t. But, don’t worry — you’ll get trapped between the rocks anyway, little one.” He replied to Lucy, right before teleporting away to an unknown location. Lucy sat down in the closest chair and sighed mournfully, putting her chin in her hands. What was she thinking? She couldn’t try to persuade him — not when it wasn’t her job to do. It was Grace’s job, not hers, and yet, to think Lucy had almost just ruined everything for her! Lucy couldn’t help but to think about the current Grace, however. Frost was luring her in more and more, and soon there would be no more luring left to do. What of Grace then? What would she do, give up? After a moment of silence, a renewed courage filled Lucy, almost as if out of nowhere. No, Lucy thought, shaking her head vigorously in determination. I won’t lose hope... And yet, somehow, something still kept ruthlessly nagging at her. That philosophical statement Frost had left Lucy with before he vanished... what did it even mean? At first, Lucy thought of the future, and she started to laugh. There’s no way — Shadows can’t see the future! But then she remembered the flicker of light that had appeared in Frost’s eyes before he had spoken, and Lucy became panicked. She therefore turned her mind ahead to the future ‘now’, and saw something startling: Frost freezing Lucy’s parents, and locking them — and a distraught version of her (was it still her in the ‘now’? She wasn’t sure)— in the supply closet. Lucy gasped aloud at the startling revelation. Frost — he had just seen one day later into the future. But, how, exactly, was that even possible? The sad thing was, that was the only thing Lucy wasn’t prepared to answer...


Dreamcast 2: Lucid Nightmare: In The Future Now

I opened my eyes and did a reality check. Yes, I was dreaming. As I realized this, I saw the landscape change to a blurry outline of the workshop. I looked around at it and suddenly felt the cold air grow tense around me. Now everything was no longer blurry, but I wasn’t focused on that. I was focused on the indiscernible feeling I was getting, like someone was standing right behind me. I knew of only one person it could be. I whipped around, and saw him: Jack. “Hi.” I say awkwardly. He smirks. “Hey.” “Uh,” I try to think of stuff to say, “Wanna talk about something?” Jack eyes seemed to light up. “Maybe later, but I’ve got work to do.” He said, gesturing to the workshop. “Want to come inside with me?” I nodded. “Sure, that’d be great!” Jack smirked. Perfect... “What?” I question. He looks back up at me, confused. “Pardon?” “I thought you said something.” I said. “I didn’t say anything.” Jack replied. I nodded. “Oh, OK. Must be hearing things.” Jack smirked again. Must be...

Meanwhile, in the workshop, total chaos was enthusing. The toy machines kept malfunctioning. And the paperwork site was spewing out *way too much* paper. Santa’s Elves were scurrying around trying to stop everything from happening but far too much was going on at one time and they were clearly overwhelmed and feeling rushed. Frost and I walked in around this same exact time and we noticed all of the commotion. I scanned the area with interest. “I wonder what caused the paper machine to go haywire.” I said with a hint of curiosity. “I don’t know either. Who would even do such a terrible thing?!” Frost said, feigned shock clearly showing up in his voice. I frowned, looking around at all the mess. “Well, do you want to go and try to help out?” Just then, before Frost could say anything back to me in reply, Scott came in the room and noticed all the chaos. “Whoa, Whoa, what’s going on?!” He screamed out in panic. “I didn’t do it, sir!” One elf said pitifully as they scurried to no avail to catch the huge ginormous horde of flying paperwork in his hands. “Well, it wasn’t *me*, either!” Another one of the elves cried out annoyedly. “It just kind of randomly happened!” Scott held out his hands to the elves in a calming gesture. “Listen, I’m not blaming anybody. I just want to know how to stop this mess!” Scott’s voice rose gradually in panic as he spoke. He was clearly alarmed and scared about the whole ordeal that was going on. “You’re right, Sir! If we don’t stop this soon, then this Christmas will probably be off!” One of the elves piped up suddenly. At this, Scott stopped. “Christmas.. will probably be off?” He echoed the words with a sense of uncertainty. “Yes, and you don’t want Christmas to be off, do you, Santa?” Frost asked him slyly. At these words, Scott shook his head, about to give up. “No...” He stood there in thought for a while, the finally he looked up, wearing a much more bolder expression, much to Frost’s surprised chagrin. “I can’t possibly let that happen!” Scott said in reply. He stood up taller and walked up to the machine. “Let’s see...” he pressed the stop button and the machine stopped the large flow of paper jam. The elves stared at him with disbelief. “Why couldn’t we get to that for you?!” They asked him sadly in unison and also with a bit of annoyance in their tiny voices. “I like joking around with you all. It’s just one fun thing that I like about being Santa.” He said jokingly while laughing cheerfully. “Plus, there’s one thing I can probably do on my own that you guys can’t.” The elves stared. “What’s that?” Scott grinned. “You’ll see.” Almost in an instant-no, a spilt millisecond, perhaps even shorter than that-Scott assembled all the miniature dolls toys up in one huge row, and all the tiny miniature vehicle play toys in another, second large row. Second by second, he masterfully fused all the toys together, and within not even a millisecond, he had a collection of toys, now all neatly sitting together one by one in a single row: there were dolls sitting on bikes, dolls riding on top of the trains, dolls sitting and riding the cars, dolls riding in the buses, and more-all animated and driven by some magical method that, indeed, *only Santa* could’ve done. “Wow!” The elves all said in unison as they applauded him merrily in their utter amazement and awe. Scott chuckled at their child-like ways. “Well, anyway.” He said, turning away from the elves. “I think that’s enough damage done for us for today.” I smiled. “I’m glad about that!” I turned to look for Frost, and I noticed that he was gone from the scene. Shrugging my shoulders, I turned to look back at Scott. He was looking at Lucy, who was staring at him in reverence, as he knelt down next to her. “Would you like to go somewhere very, very, special with me?” He asked. Lucy grinned. “where to?” “Well,” Scott started in a low whisper, “I can’t tell you yet. All I know is that it’s very special... and it has *lots* of snow globes.” Lucy’s eyes widened. “Really? Lots of snow globes? How many?!” Scott smiles. “That’s top secret. But you’ll see them all if you go with me.” Lucy frowns. “Can Grace come, too?” She looks in my direction curiously with a strange, odd look on her face that I can’t quite read. Scott laughs. “If she wants to.” I nod shyly in response. “Well, I guess I do...” “Then it’s settled!” Scott says. “Let’s go!” Lucy grins childishly at the both of us. “Can we make it a race?” “Oh, you’re on!” Me and Scott say confidently at exactly the same time. “1, 2, 3...” Lucy starts to count. A moment of silence. “...Go!” She screams out, already making a rapid head start for the stairs. “Hey! Cheater!” Scott shouts in protest, quickly dashing after Lucy with me running by his side. Lucy giggles and smiles laughingly as we continuously try to no avail to catch up with her. “Try and catch me,” she starts off, “or I win the race!” This childish “try-and-catch-me” process continues until we make it up the stairs, and into the next room. I dash into the room after Lucy, trying to catch her. But somehow Scott, who was originally behind me, had made it in the room before I ever did (how he did this I have absolutely no clue) and he was already holding Lucy in his arms and twirling her around. I smile. That’s so sweet. Eventually, Scott puts Lucy down on the floor as he walks up to a huge colorful revolving door in the middle of the room. “I’m entering the secret code... Don’t look.” He whispers seriously to me, while still smiling a little. I nod and look away. Suddenly, as I look away, I hear Lucy giggling and I turn to see what is happening. She looks to be happily whispering the code in Scott’s ear as he puts it in the machine. That’s so sweet, she’s helping him. Suddenly remembering I’m not supposed to know the code, I quickly turn my head away and act like I wasn’t watching, but by the time I do that the revolving door has already started to turn in the other direction. “Wait!” I cry out, running up to the door just seconds before it started turning. Scott chuckles kindly. “You were almost too late to see what was behind this door.” Lucy giggles at Scott’s statement and looks at me while smiling. But, come to think of it, that wasn’t a happy smile... it was a sad one. She must be getting sad and impatient because I took so long getting to the door. I frown. “Sorry...” (She actually is sad because, since she is part of my subconscious mind and still has limited powers, unless most of the others, she knows that I was looking at the door, and she knows that Frost will find the globe and use it to complete his rule over me as a result of that.) Scott smiles. “It’s OK.” Just then, the door officially started twirling around in the other direction, making a melodic and sweet chiming sound as it did. I held onto Lucy’s hand as it started turning, hoping I wouldn’t embarrass myself by losing my balance and falling over (it’s happened before with revolving doors). But that didn’t happen, and suddenly the door stopped moving. For a minute, all was still, and I realized I had closed my eyes without knowing. Bracing myself for whatever beautiful things I would see, I opened my eyes... and gasped out loud in awe. It was absolutely beautiful... It was a room that almost looked like a palace. There were snow globes everywhere and the floor looked to be covered with a frozen substance of some sort. And yet, when I walked closer with Lucy and Scott to go look at the snow globes, my feet didn’t slide at all: I didn’t even have trouble walking. Instead, I walked like normal and without any difficulty. My body seemed to think that it was just like a regular floor. How odd and completely fascinating. After a short while of looking around, I finally found my words again, “This is beautiful...” I said in awe. Lucy looked at the snow globes and back to me while smiling gently. “I know. It really is.” She says kindly. I smile back at her, then turn around to look at Scott, “So, what kinds of snow globes are in this hall?” I ask him out of curiosity. He picks one up from the middle of a nearby pile. “Well, for starters, this one is really special.” I grin. “What’s so special about it?” “It has magical powers.” He says in a solemn voice. “And when it’s in the wrong hands, it could cause trouble for me... and for the entire world.” I frown. “Wow. That’s really fascinating. Are there anymore cool ones?” Scott nods. “Yeah. Watch this.” He magically pulls out a snow globe from behind his pocket. As he does, Lucy immediately gasps happily. As I look at it, I start to understand why: there is a figurine of Lucy inside of the globe. The Lucy figure is wearing a winter coat and she is smiling at the snowman figurine in the globe. “That’s so cool!” Lucy says. “Oh, and that’s not all.” Scott says. He shakes it for the first time, and, as it starts to snow inside the globe, the Lucy figurine moves and hugs the snowman inside the globe. As she does, the snowman turns pink. I smile. That’s so cool! Scott and Lucy start talking about the globe, but I am no longer paying any mind to them anymore. I am now looking around out of curiosity to see if I can find anymore snow globes with figures of people in them. Suddenly, one catches my eye. I grin with pure joy. “Found one!” I say joyfully. I walk up to the globe and see the figurine of a young girl inside. She has curly black hair, and blue eyes that are the same color as mine. She is wearing a black dress. She wears a happy expression, and a smile that almost looks like Lucy’s signature calm expression. Inside the globe, the once-beautiful white snow has turned brownish-green and ugly, and the flowers that were perhaps once in the globe are now wilted around her feet. I frown. That’s odd. Plus, I hadn’t seen that girl inside the globe anywhere around here. I turn to Scott, “Scott, who’s the person in this one?” I call out. Scott comes over to look, and the instant he sees the globe, the look on his face changes to a deep expression that I can’t quite read. “You... don’t feel scared looking at that globe?” He asks me uncertainly. “Why would I?” I ask him cluelessly while shrugging my shoulders. “I don’t even know who this girl is.” At this, Scott frowns. “Well, her name’s Silvia. Does that name ring any bells?” I frown, thinking it over. But I still didn’t really seem to recognize the name of hers. So I said, “No.” Scott frowns. “Well, she’s a really sweet girl. She used to work here, but then something happened with us and she just...” Suddenly, Scott trails off and doesn’t any anything more. “What? She what?” I push him for more information, but Scott doesn’t seem willing to give out any more answers. And so I frown. Strange... What exactly did that girl do to stop working here, I wonder? Suddenly, Scott speaks up again: “Come on, let’s go back downstairs.” I frown. “Well, OK...” Lucy takes my hand and we walk back to the revolving door. We exited the Hall Of Snow Globes, and the lever pushed the back part of the door in to reveal Frost standing there: he had followed Grace using his subconscious powers in order to get to the Hall Of Snow Globes. He walked further in the hall and gracefully brushed a levitating snow globe with that same girl inside of it away with one hand. He came even further in and saw the magical snow globe resting in the middle of the globe pile, the very same spot it had been resting in when Scott, Lucy, and Grace were in the Hall. Frost picked it up and snickered in devious delight. He had finally obtained what he wanted after all this time... He walked up to the revolving door and entered the “secret” code. “Grace, thank you oh, so much... You have no idea what you’ve done.” He said to himself just as the revolving door twirled shut.

Lucy gleefully skipped along the wide hallway exuberantly. She was happy. It was almost one day before Christmas and she couldn’t wait! So she kept on skipping, but as she passed by the room that led to the Hall of Snow Globes, she saw Frost exiting out of the secret entrance. At this, a feeling of dread pulsed though her. How had he known about that? And why did he go in there, anyway? Lucy knew those questions couldn’t be answered without a little confrontation so she walked in. As she did, her attention immediately averted to what he was holding - the exact snow globe that belonged to Uncle Scott. “That’s Uncle Scott’s snow globe.” Lucy said defensively to Frost, “You’re not supposed to have that.” Frost just gave a sadistic smile, and his snowy eyebrows rose up in delight. “I know. Isn’t it great?” Lucy held her ground. “It’s not great at all! You’ve done a terrible thing. You’ll be on the Naughty List for the rest of your life!” At this, Frost just smirked. “Ah, but naughty list people have more fun.” Lucy backed up, a bit wary now. She was not afraid of him, not necessarily - but, what was that emotion Lucy sensed in his voice? Bitter jealousy, it sounded like. At this, Lucy went toward the door in order to exit and find her parents. “I’m going for help.” Lucy called out, for you see, she was thinking that he would stay where he was and give in. But, no, that wouldn’t happen. “I wouldn’t do that...” Frost taunted from behind her, but Lucy was already out the door. There was no time to waste now. She scanned the crowd for her parents and finally saw them by the stairs. “Mom, dad, come here, quick!” She cried out, her voice filled with obvious anxiety. “What, what is it?” Laura and Neil said, sounding just as alarmed as Lucy was, perhaps even more. They followed Lucy into the secret room. “What is it, sweetheart?” They had made it into the room, but Frost was nowhere to be seen. Lucy looked around, confused, when suddenly, she heard a voice from behind her: “I told you not to do that.” Knowing Frost was cornered, (he was standing behind her and her parents, foolish child) Lucy spilled the truth, “Frost stole Uncle Scott’s snow globe and he knows that it’s not his!” But then, in a quick, seamless, motion, Frost took a breath and blowed, expelling freezing cold air onto Lucy’s parents. They backed away, but struggled against the deep chill. Confused and overwhelmed, Lucy backed away from the scene as well, but still hopelessly shouted at Frost for him to stop all the while. And it was to no avail, for he did not stop, and soon Lucy’s parents did not even try to fight, almost as if they couldn’t - soon, though, when the icy fog cleared Lucy couldn’t believe her eyes when she discovered they *really* couldn’t fight back - they were completely frozen! “What did you do?!” Lucy asked Frost, not wanting to believe that which she had just seen with her very own childish eyes. “I froze them.” Frost replied simply. “You should have minded your own business. Now you will have to pay” he said. He blew a large puff of chilly air towards Lucy. She tried to run away from it, but found she couldn’t move her legs, or her feet. Something was definitely wrong. She looked down suspiciously. Uh oh... She was frozen from her legs down to her feet. She couldn’t move: not one bit. She stared at Frost in a sorrowful way, trying to plead to be unfroze. Frost stared back at her with an evil, dark smile. “Now, what’s with the sad face? I told you you’d have to pay, didn’t I?” He walked to the door and opened it, then turned to face Lucy with a more scornful expression. “Guess next time you’d know to listen.” Then he walked out of the room, tucking the snow globe in his front-pocket.

The next night after that...

I open my eyes and do a reality check. Then I notice the world of white around me. Sure enough, the snow was everywhere, blanketing the ground and covering the frozen water. Small clumps of it hung high on tree branches and refused to let go. It made me feel warm and happy deep inside, while looking at the snow. My mind even managed to avert from ‘How do I find Frost again?’ to ‘Oh wow, this is so perfectly beautiful!’ Suddenly, I felt a cold chill sweep down my spine and I shivered, wrapping my arms around myself to keep warm. But, wait — the air around me wasn’t *this* freezing cold at first... That could only mean one thing. “You’re correct.” A tauntingly mocking voice said. Startled, I whipped around to look behind me at who it was. And yet, part of me also knew who it was right away: it was Frost. As I stared at him, I noticed he looked normal, but I also noticed that something was different. I kept on staring at him, trying to figure out what it was, when I noticed what he was holding in his right hand — a silvery-white metallic circular item — and it slowly dawned on me: he had stole Scott’s magical snow globe—that one that could supposedly change the world if in the wrong hands. “Give that back!” I say, and made a lunge for it with my right hand. Frost jerked the globe just out of my reach almost a millisecond before I tried to grab it, however, while he gave a mocking sneer. “Too slow.” He remarked. Trying my best to ignore his comment, I kept trying to grab the globe but he succeeded in keeping it away from me by jerking it away at the first second or playfully dancing around with it, perhaps until I gave in. It was like a sick, twisted game of cat-and-mouse — and I was obviously the cowardly mouse. After a while, I am out of breath, panting from exhaustion. Frost looks me over, frowning innocently. Finally, he kneels down and extends a hand to me. “Are you alright?” He asks me softly. “You’re exhausted.” A smirk forms his face. “If you give up now, it’ll be better for you.” I recoil and quickly grab a huge snowball from nearby and toss it at him. Before it can even hit him, he, unfazed, merely rose a brow at the snowball, causing it to completely disappear in a large puff of blue-and-white smoke. “How... How?!” I scream out, as I am barely able to contain my anger any longer. “How do you know what I’m going to do before I do it?” Then, the hard realization slowly begins to dawn on me: “You’re me... No — you’re my subconscious...” I almost laugh out loud in a nervous manner, but I try to refrain myself from doing so, “No wonder...” There is a long silence as the puzzle pieces start to slowly piece together. “But, if you’re my subconscious,” I start to say, “then...” I think about it for a minute or two before finally saying, “You followed me and Lucy (She didn’t dare mention Scott Calvin. Not now.) to the Hall of Snow globes.” A evil smirk forms Frost’s lips. “That’s right.” He simply said. “And now you know everything.” “But why would you keep something like this from me?” I practically bellow. “Why?!” Frost rose a brow challengingly. “It wasn’t me, it was you.” I just stare. “What?” “I didn’t start all this, you were the one who made me evil.” Frost responds. Grace was about to ask how, but Frost seemed to read her mind, even as he kept on talking, “As soon as you started to sin, I accepted your ideas and became like this.” I rose a brow. “Why, though?” “You inspired me.” Frost said. “I did?” I asked cluelessly. “Oh, yes. To you, it seemed so cool to be able to be evil... and to me, it appeared that way too. I—“ Just then, a sudden noise of hustle and bustle just inside the workshop made both me and Frost turn toward it. “Sounds like their putting the tree topper on,” Frost started innocently. “I’d better go.” Frost started to disappear. “Wait!” I cried out. But it was to no avail. In a flurry of light and icicles, Frost disappeared straight into thin air... My knees sank down into the snow, and I felt on the verge of giving up. But, wait. He had said something about a tree topper.. Yes, that was it! — he was going to make it break in order to put the finishing touch on his plan. I couldn’t let that happen. I stare toward the door, a determined expression slowly forming on my face. Even if he now knew I was going inside... I still couldn’t let him get away with it. I *had* to follow him in.

Christmas music softly echoed throughout the halls as Laura, Scott and his wife, Carol, were preparing to set up a Christmas tree in the main work room. Unbeknownst to them, Frost was spying on them from another location nearby. After finishing some paperwork at his desk, Scott stood up and turned to Laura. “Would you like to put the tree-topper on?” Carol smiled. “Yes, would you, Laura? That’s my favorite thing to watch.” Laura grins at Carol. “Sure, of course I will!” Carol holds up the ladder for Laura and gives her an anxious look. “Don’t get hurt, Mom.” Laura smiles. “Don’t worry, I’ll be careful.” With that, she climbed upward on the ladder, holding the decorative star tree-topper in one hand while Carol still held onto the ladder for her. “Alright, let’s say the blessing like usual.” Carol said as Laura finally climbed to the highest point on the ladder. “Scott?” Scott nodded his approval to Carol, and started saying the blessing out loud, “I pray for our family, our relatives, and our children. I pray that they will have a great time on Christmas Day. I also pray that this Christmas will be a great one for all of us. Amen.” Suddenly, just after the prayer was done and the decorative golden star was placed on top of the tree, the tree started to teeter a little. An echoed snap. Everyone screamed and yelped in alarm as the tree suddenly fell to the ground, and with it, the tree-topper. CRRASHH! A sickeningly horrific loud sound of breaking glass filled the room. For a minute, no one moved. And then, almost hesitantly, Carol, who had her eyes closed, finally dared to opened them as she gazed at the battered mess. She sniffed sadly and walked up to the tree-topper-or what was left of it, anyway-as she sobbed and started to cry while picking up the ravages pieces of what still remained. “Sorry, honey.” Scott said, clearly distressed. “I didn’t know it would fall like that...” a silence. “I know that was your favorite ornament.” Scott said sadly to Carol. “Yes.” Carol whispered brokenly and tightly to Scott. “Yes, it was.” Carol stared at Scott through red tear-stained puffy eyes. “I thought this would be a good Christmas.” She said softly. Scott stared at Carol with a distressed look on his face. “It *is* still a good Christmas, honey.” He tried to touch Carol’s arm to comfort her, but she only recoiled in disgust. “No, no it’s not! All you care about is your work and you never pay any mind to your child or to any of us!” Scott winced, depressed. He now had no more words left to say. “Well, I guess you’re-“ “Save it.” Carol said angrily, right before dashing out of the room, angry and bitter tears running down her cheeks. “Carol!” Scott screamed out her name in his utter despair, but it was of no use. She was already gone... to who knows where. Just then, a unusually freezing cold chill swept throughout the room. Then, in a huge misty flurry of dark light and icicles, Frost appeared in front of Scott. “I heard you were putting the tree-topper on today. How did things go?” He asked causally. Scott sat down on the floor, defeated. He didn’t say a single word. Frost knew that now was the time to dig in deeper. He pretended to notice that the tree had fallen and that the tree-topper was broken. “Oh,” he started off. “Did I come in at a bad time?” He said innocently. Scott frowned emotionlessly. “Well, for starters, Carol hates me. I ruined her favorite ornament, and I also ruined her Christmas time because I haven’t been spending any time with her lately. And plus my mood hasn’t gotten any better with time.” Scott sighed dejectedly, still sitting on the floor, clearly depressed. Frost hid a dark evil smirk. “Well, Scott,” he held out a icy-cold hand for him to take, “why don’t we take a little walk? It’ll help you feel better.” With nothing else to do, and with no better options, Scott stood up and let Frost take him by the hand, as they walked to the outside patio to look at the stars. And as they did, no one at all noticed Frost magically summon up a yellow gift bag behind his back as he kept on walking...

Soon they were out in the patio, staring out at the night sky and the darkened snow that was lit up by the half-moon shining in the pitch-black starry sky. “You know, Scott,” Frost started off, “I’ve always envied you.” Scott frowned. “This again? Trust me, I know.” He replied grumpily. “Wait a second, I’m not done talking!” Frost said rapidly. “Sure, I’ve always envied you... but now that I know how hard your job is, I would probably never want to be Santa.” Scott sighs. “Tell me about it.” He mutters angrily. “Oh, I almost forgot,” Frost started off, “I have a gift for you that’ll make you feel better.” He got a hold onto the gift bag from behind his back and he showed it to Scott, giving it to him for him to hold. Scott frowned angrily, just staring at it. He wasn’t in the mood to want to open it. “Come on, open it.” Frost urged. Scott frowned. “I’m not in the mood.” “Please, come on, open it.” Frost kept on bugging Scott. Eventually, Scott gave in, more out of anger than annoyance, and he started to untie the ribbon that was on the yellow gift box. As he did, Frost started to speak up yet again: “You know... being Santa is a very hard job, don’t you think?” Scott sighed, still trying to untie the ribbon. “Really, Frost? You bring it up again?” Frost rose his hands into the air in a “not-guilty” gesture. “Hey, you don’t need to bring your anger out on me.” He said, causing Scott to glare at him and divert his attention from the gift box. “I want you to leave now, Frost.” Scott said angrily. “I’ll only leave if you say the words ‘I never want to be Santa’.” Scott squinted suspiciously at Frost. “Why?” “Just say it, Scott.” Frost urged. Scott frowned. “I don’t feel like it, Frost.” “Come *on* and say it already! It’ll make you feel better.” Frost kept urging Scott. Finally, after a while, Scott had had it: and so, he yelled it out, much to Frost’s well-hidden dark amusement, the words: “I never want to be Santa!” As he said the words, a bright light emitted from out of the box, nearly blinding Scott as he finally opened up the box and saw what was inside: the magical snowglobe he had told Grace and Lucy about. And then, suddenly, the realization of what was happening slowly began to dawn on him, all too late. “Frost, NOOOOO!!!!” Scott screamed in anger and protest as Frost laughed manically. But it was to no avail: just as Scott had said the words, a white bright light filled the entire area... and then both Scott and Frost completely disappeared into thin air.

Meanwhile, I was walking around the workshop trying to figure out where exactly Frost went off to when suddenly a strangely blinding bright light shining off the window of what looks like a patio catches my eye. I frown as a feeling of dread seeps its way into my stomach. Oh no. I’m too late. My knees tremble with extreme fear and panic and I fall to the ground on my knees helplessly. Suddenly, I feel an overwhelming dizziness overwhelm me and my knees give out as I completely fall to the ground. I didn’t know what was happening, nor was I aware of what was happening. I was about to wake up, and it hurt so much. Suddenly, my eyes opened to see my room in real life. I frowned. For some reason, I still felt very tired and sleepy, even though I knew that I had *definitely* slept all night. I got out of bed and walked downstairs to go get myself a snack, trying my best not to worry about what was happening to me now and earlier—and also about what must’ve happening to my subconscious at the moment. Little did I know, that it would be impossible for me to forget about it at all... at least, not now. She may have, but he would’ve never have let me forget.

I walk back upstairs after eating a snack, and I decide to comb my hair. I get the comb and look at the mirror, gently running the comb through my hair... when suddenly, I see something that completely startles me. I frown and stare. No way. This wasn’t happening. It was a reflection of me... on top of the real me in the mirror... and she was smiling darkly. To make sure it wasn’t a mistake, to make sure that it wasn’t a dream, to make sure that it wasn’t actually happening, I pinched myself... and jolted back in shock. That proved it. I wasn’t dreaming, it was happening, and it was real.... or was it? I looked back to the mirror, and made sure that she was still there. She wasn’t. Now it was just me in the mirror, and no reflection. I sighed and shook my head while laughing slightly to ward off my anger. Was I going crazy? I *had to be* going crazy! I chuckled again, nervously rubbing my hands through my hair as I went downstairs to get another snack, mostly to kill time... but also to take my mind off of these things. As I walked down the stairs, I started planning what I would do after the snack. “After the snack, I’ll do some homework, and that’ll make me stop thinking about it for sure.” I muttered almost to myself as I continued walking downstairs. Do homework... to get my mind off things?! Was I crazy?! A slight silence passes and I smile shakily, trying my best to laugh, despite my frightened emotions that I could tell no one. Well, anyway, I think to myself, it’s better than trying to convince myself that I’m not going crazy right now. And so, after a while of eating a large snack to kill a lot of time, I eventually decide to start on some of my History homework. I take out my book and start working.

Soon, I have completed my homework and have completely forgotten all about the terrifying incidents that happened earlier. I walk downstairs and show my homework to Jodie, but to my surprise, she only just squints at it. I frown. “What’s wrong?” “Well... There’s nothing written anywhere on the page.” She eventually says to me tightly after a while. I just stare at her with a dumbstruck look on my face. “What do you mean?” I say to her. “I wrote everything down tonight that I was supposed to.” “Uh, no you didn’t.” Jodie says. “Yes, I did!” I scream at Jodie angrily. “I did! I *know I did*!” Jodie glares at me. “Then what do you call this?” Jodie somehow manages to keep her voice steady while she hands me the paper. I stare at it in awe. ...What in the world..?? It’s just as she said: completely blank, with no evidence of what I just wrote down. But, I know I wrote it down... didn’t I? I wince in confusion, and tears start to uncontrollably flow down my cheeks. “Grace,” Jodie starts off, “I think you need to take a shower and take a breather. Then we’ll talk some more about this situation and about what exactly really happened.” “I really *did write it*!” I shout it out without thinking, the heavy tears staining my already-shaky and angry voice. “*I swear I did*!” Jodie frowns tightly. “Go take your shower, Grace.” She puts emphasis on each word as she growls it quietly at me, then proceeds to push me into the bathroom and lock the door so I can’t try to get out. There is a moment of silence. After a few minutes, I simply frown. I’m so confused, and yet I really don’t want to think about what just happened. And yet, the questions still remain in my mind: Why wasn’t there anything written on the paper? Did I actually write something or not? Why did I shout and scream at Jodie? Am I really going crazy? And, lastly... Why don’t I feel bad about the whole ordeal? Yes, indeed, I didn’t feel anything about what had just happened. As a matter of fact, my mind was completely and utterly numb of emotion towards what had just happened. And yet, I also knew why: I knew now, without a doubt, that Frost had won the battle. He had a huge hold on me. I shook my head rapidly, trying to calm myself, and somehow make sense of what was going on now that Frost was in control of me, when suddenly I heard the door unlock and creak open slowly. I already knew just who would be at the door... The angry, stern voice of Jodie, who had clearly already had enough by now, floated out from the open doorway: “Grace, why aren’t you in the shower yet?!”

...I can’t sleep. It hurts so much, deep down. I really can’t bear to face what I did.

...I know you can’t sleep. I know it hurts a lot deep down. I know you can’t bear it. To face what you did would be horrible. I understand that perfectly.

No one’s here with me. I feel icky and sick to my stomach. I wish someone was here with me. I wish I still had a light. But I don’t have a light anymore now, do I?

I’m here with you. It’s ok if you feel sick. It’s only natural to feel that way in this situation. I’m here with you. I’m your light. I’m still here. I promise I am. And, if you can save me, I’ll be here with you for a long time.

Is forgiveness the only answer in this situation? Will I ever... *be forgiven*, even after what I just did? I can only hope so. Time will go on to tell that one piece of the story....

I used to think that forgiveness was the only answer to a horrible situation. And now I can tell that you think so, too. I’ve changed my ways since then, but you’ve since gone back into the darkness, and, with it, I have too... My ways are starting to fade. I will probably be turning into nothing very soon. And yet, I’ll try my best to communicate my thoughts with you. You *can* be forgiven, if only you change your set of mind first beforehand! Don’t you understand? It’s not you yourself that needs to be forgiven and changed, it’s changing your ways of thinking and your set of mind that makes all the difference in the world. I hope that you will soon come and save me and your state of mind... Time will go on to tell that one piece of the story...

I awaken abruptly from a dream that I can no longer remember anything of upon hearing a quiet, weak sob. I turn, curious, and see a young girl who looks just like me (and she had the exact same clothing as me at that point) huddling over in the corner of my room. She is breathing heavily, and her clothing looks almost bedraggled. She is looking around the room and finally, when her eyes meet mine, she smiles calmly. Where have I seen that smile before? Suddenly, it hits me. She looks absolutely nothing like her, but, just to be sure... “Lucy?” I call out. “Is that you?” The girls smile changes to a sorrowful one. “No. The Lucy you know of is gone.” “What?” I ask. “How is she ‘gone’? ...And how do you know that..??” The mystery girl dodges the question, “You’ve been in a lot of trouble recently, haven’t you?” She asks me. I stare at her. “Yes.” I say numbly. There’s no way. The only way she can know that is... “Yes.” The girl says, somehow reading my mind. “I am your past Inner Self. I am currently connected to Frost because I was him last.” “So, if you’re Frost’s past Inner Self—“ I start off. “That means there’s still hope?” She smiles. “Yes.” I breathe a sigh of relief. “Good...” But my relief is interrupted when the girl lets out a loud cry of pain and clutches at her chest. I immediately run to her aid, “What’s wrong? What happened?” I told you not to do that. The girl looks up at me, tears filling her eyes. “He told me not to... but I did...” The girl said, her voice drained with sickening quiet. “Who told you? And what did you do?” I cry out, now feeling desperate. Again, the girl dodges the question, “If it truly *can* be done...” She breathes out. “Save Frost. Please...” “Wait, what do you mean, ‘save Frost’?” I question, now confused. The girl doesn’t answer. A few seconds later, a puff of black smoke swirls around her and when it is gone, so is she. I gulp nervously. Wonder what happened to her... But, most importantly, what did she mean by ‘saving Frost’? I think and I think, and suddenly I remember a scene from the movie of Lucy hugging Frost and his heart getting thawed. Then, the realization dawns on me. Lucy will be there at that time, but everyone isn’t counting on Lucy: they’re counting on me to bring him back to the light. Even *his own* light was counting on me... I get back in bed and tuck myself in. I *had* to get to the North Pole Resort by tonight.

...I opened my eyes to see that I was at some street corner and was really close to a bench that Scott just ironically happened to sitting on. Oh, yes! My mind put me in just the right place this time! I run over to Scott. He looks up at who it is, and notices me. “Oh, it’s you, Grace.” He says. “Why did you come find me?” “Well... I kind of want to help you out, but I don’t even know half of anything that’s going on here so far.” Scott grimaces, “It’s a long story that I don’t really want to talk about. I think you’ll find more when we get there, anyway.” I tilt my head in confusion. “Get where?” “The North Pole Resort.” Scott says the name almost in disgust.

As soon as we got out of the plane and saw everything, it was already pretty obvious that this was not a place filled with the Christmas spirit. In fact, it looked less like a Christmas wonderland, and more like a money-sucking System Of greed. Miserable-looking tired elves scattered around the hordes of people waiting in line to get in, already asking them for money for a supposed good cause “charity exchange” or just giving out toys in exchange for money. They looked exhausted and nearly lifeless. I frown, already feeling torn. This was just so wrong... this isn’t the true meaning of Christmas. It ruins it all entirely. I turn to Scott, “What should we do?” Scott frowns in thought. “I don’t know.” He says, trying to think of something. As he does, we both start walking around the park to look around. Suddenly, the PA system starts up with a loud metallic screech ironically right above me, which causes me to quickly cover up my ears almost in an awkward manner. “It’s time to examine those gift bags!” An young elfs voice, who may or may not be a recording, echoes out over the PA systems intercom. “Go on over to the Gift Shop and pay for your gift bag! There’s a new, surprise toy in each bag! Good for kids and adults alike! So go on, and get your gift bags for your kids today!” I wince. “Sounds more like a marketing ad than a fun-filled time.” Scott says in disgust, and I nod my approval towards him. We continue walking, and we are suddenly approached by a young male elf who is handing out some voice-recording pens. “Hey, do you want some of these?” He asks Scott. I see a flicker of recognition light up in Scott’s eyes. “Curtis!” He desperately calls out the elfs name. “Remember me?” Curtis looked confused at Scott’s actions, and maybe even a little bit scared. He whimpers. “How do you know my name?” He says. “Curtis, I’m Santa.” Scott says, getting severely desperate. Curtis whimpers again. “It’s me! You know... Scott Calvin?” He tries to prod Curtis on. But nothing seems to work. Finally, Curtis stops shaking. “You’re *not* Santa.” He says. “Security!” “Wait!” I scream out, placing a hand on Curtis’s arm to calm him down. “It’s OK.” I say to him soothingly. “This guy... well, he’s a little weird.” “Hey!” Scott protests in annoyance, and I resist the urge to go “SHH!” in his direction. “But, the truth is,” I continue, “we really wanted some of those pens. Can we have some?” I ask Curtis hopefully. “Yeah, you can have it all! Now go away!” He says, handing me the whole bucket and running away from us in fear. I smirk. That went great. “Why did you ask for all those pens?” Scott says from behind me. I turn back around to face him. “I have a plan.” I say simply. “Well, what is it?” Scott eyes the huge bucket filled with voice-recording pens, “and why does it apparently involve a hoard of pens..??” I smirk. “That’s simple. Here’s the plan.” I guide him over to the petting zoo, where no one is at the moment, and I tell him everything about my whole idea in privacy. He listens to me intently, and, once I am finished telling him my idea, he simply nods. “It’s worth a shot. How should we start it, though?” I think for a while on how we could do that, when, suddenly, I see someone standing nearby: a young-looking girl with curly light-brown hair. Scott is still thinking away about the plan, not knowing of the girl, so I quickly ssh him in case he says something that gives us away (since we are already pretty much just standing here anyway). “What?” He asks, now alarmed. “Is someone here? Did they hear us?” I nod. “There is someone. I don’t know if she heard us, though. I have no clue how long she’s been standing there. I didn’t even notice her before. She’s over there.” I point in the direction of the outside of the petting zoo. Scott just frowns in confusion. “Who? I don’t see anybody.” At his words, I look back again to make sure she hasn’t disappeared: but, indeed, she’s still standing there in a calm manner with a almost sickly, slouched stance. I frown. “You don’t see her?” Scott looks confused, “No, I don’t see anyone.” I wince. Why was this?Suddenly, I hear a devilishly familiar voice: “Why, if it isn’t my two amigos...” I immediately knew who it is: Frost. And yet, I wasn’t focused on him anymore: it was the girl who I was staring at. Sure, she at least *looked calm*, but the gaze on her face was almost sickly... almost *sad* as she stared at me. Plus, her face looked rather pale, and her entire body looked as if she was translucent. I frowned. What was wrong with her? I wanted to be nice and go see. Suddenly, the girl’s eyes widened as she stared at the person behind me: Frost. And then, quickly turning around, the girl broke into a run. Without thinking, I run after her, chasing after her, hoping to help her with whatever it was that had happened with her. Behind me, I hear Scott calling out my name, “Grace!” He says. But I don’t listen. I just keep running after her. I bit my lip angrily. Frost... I think to myself. He must’ve been the one who hurt her. I have to help her. I have to let her know that I’m a good person. I see the girl rush to open the door of the practically empty workshop. When she opens it, she rushes in as if she is on fire. As she does, I notice that her steps are more unsteady. She is clutching at her chest in pain. I have to help her. At these thoughts, I immediately run into the workshop, but I see no-one. I look around a little, but she is nowhere to be seen at all. I blink my eyes once in confusion. What? Where is she? She just ran in here... she couldn’t have just *disappeared*! Suddenly, I see the stairs, and my eyes widen. She must’ve made it up the stairs somewhere. So I dash up the stairs after where I think she may be. And then suddenly, almost as if out of nowhere, I find myself in a huge room. I frown. How did I get here? I wasn’t here before, was I? No, I was heading up the stairs... then, how am I in this room now? I tilt my head, utterly confused. Suddenly, I look around, and eventually spot the curly-haired girl again: she is smiling with pain and looking in my direction. I walk up to her. “Are you hurt?” I ask. The girl smiles playfully at me, “What about you?” She asks me. I frown. “What do you mean?” I ask her. The girl giggles. “Are *you* the one’s who hurt?” My eyes widen. This girl-whoever she is- just saw right through me. I frown sadly, and look down at the floor, dejected. “Yes.” I say quietly after a while. “I am hurting. But it’s OK. I’m fine now. I have to stop what’s causing the pain, and it’ll be better.” The girl smiles gently. “Exactly right, mi amiga.” She says. “Changing your state of mind makes all the difference in the world.” I frown. “Why do I remember hearing that before?” I ask quietly, almost to myself. The girl just keeps on smiling. Suddenly, I remember: it was a dream where someone was talking to me. And when I woke up from it, I saw a girl who looked almost identical to the girl in front of me... Suddenly, I look up at her with a look of awe on my face. And then, the realization strikes me like a jolt of lightning: it was *her*. She was the one who sent me the dream. It was also her in disguise who came to visit me visually when I woke up. She came to tell of what was happening, and how to help me-and also how to save her in the process. She must’ve lured me here with a specific reason in mind, too. I smile at her. “Well? What is it?” I ask, looking at her with a nervous smile. “Why exactly did you bring me here?” “Like I said before: changing your state of mind makes all the difference in the world. You need to do that today, here and now, in private... and away from Frost.” She says. I frown. “But... how should I do that?” The girl frowns. “However you want, as long as you believe it will work for the better.” I frown. “What if I don’t know how?” “You can.” The girl says seriously, while staring at me. “And you will. Even if you wouldn’t have been able to, you wouldn’t have even seen me anyway. After all, I...” the girl pauses abruptly and smiles sadly, but I somehow already understand what it is she means. And so I freeze in disbelief while staring at the girl. “You’re... not real.” I quietly say to her in awe. “No, I’m not.” The girl says quietly. “I’m only a spirit, and a remnant of what your light used to be.” I frown. “Oh... ok. Well, how do I get back what used to be mine?” “I already told you... it’s by changing your state of mind.” The girl says with a sweet grin. Suddenly, the world around me grows white. I immediately start to panic. “What’s happening?!” The girl laughs. “Scott has done it! He made Frost day the magic words!” I smile with joy. “That means that everyone’s safe and good, right? Everything’s fine now.” The girl smiles as widely as she can and holds onto her chest in her suddenly immense pain. “Not yet. There’s just... one thing... you have to do...” the girls voice is getting raspy and soft. Her body is also growing translucent. “Y-You’re... fading...” I whisper in awe. “Is that... a bad thing?” “No,” the girl whispers, “It’s good. It’s really good! That means that you’re finally learning to accept your changes!” The girls hands are shaky. “Whether you know it or not, Grace, you are changing. You are....” There is nothing but silence. “Um, uh...” I hesitate. “...Will he remember anything about this conversation we’ve had, or anything about this alternate timeline?” The girl slowly shakes her head back and forth. “No. Because of the ways that Time works in this world, to him, it will only appear that his plan to overtake Santa has completely failed. He won’t remember anything of this day, or any day that occurred in this parallel universe, for that matter.” The girl smiles shakily and clutches at her chest. Then, suddenly, almost abruptly, she falls to the ground in pain. I run to her aid, helping her up. As I do, she looks up at me and smiles. “I will be leaving you from here on out so you can do this work alone by yourself.” She says, and I nod. “I understand.” I pause, then, after a while, I speak again, “I... will I know if I’ve changed?” I ask her with some uncertainty. “You’ll know.” She says with certainty. “I know you will.” She smiles at me one last time. Then, everything grows hazy in my sight and I am forced to close my eyes as the pain can only grow worse...

I open my eyes and suddenly find myself inside the workshop. Everyone else is celebrating and having fun. Indeed, the Christmas cheer was back... for real this time. All of a sudden, I hear Lucy run into the room. “Uncle Scott, Uncle Scott!” she screams out at the top of her lungs, clearly very panicked. “Lucy, what is it?” Scott runs to Lucy, and, to my surprise, Lucy, close to tears, almost sobs as she eventually says the words, “Look what Frost did to my parents!” Almost as if on cue, a group of Police Elves stride into the room, carrying the parents-who now look like nothing more than ice sculptures-into the room, along with Frost, who has now been chained and bound, at their heels. They tug at the chains hard, causing him to nearly wince. I will admit, that when he’s bound and chained up like this, I don’t feel scared at all. And, even if he weren’t chained, I think I would still be able to stop him. After thinking this, I chuckle slightly, almost to myself. She was right. I would be able to tell the difference. Truly, I have changed my state of mind. “Frost, let Lucy’s parents go.” Mother Nature says sternly. Frost just smirks. “Why would I do that? I can only do that if I thaw myself out. And that is something that I will *never, ever do*.” I frown and grimace in pain, holding a hand up to my heart. ...I can tell he’s hiding it. I know he’s hiding something deep down: the pain... the same pain that I’m feeling right now. He wants to thaw out. He’s just fighting against his true feelings, the way exact way I had been. “Well, does anyone care to stop me?” Frost says, smugly raising an icy brow. The Police Leader Elf pulled on the chain again. This time, Frost did wince in pain. There is nothing but silence filling the room. “Well, if there’s not anyone who wants to stop me-“ “I will.” I say boldly, surprising myself with my renewed and revitalized courage. The Easter Bunny and some others gape at me. I walk up to Lucy and pat her on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’ve got this. Stand back, kid.” She smiles and backs up. Everyone else does the same. Frost jeeringly raises a brow. “What are you gonna do, sweet me into submission?” He says tauntingly. “Oh, no. I’m going to do much worse.” I say simply. With that, I walk slowly up to him. 1 step, 2 steps, 3 steps. I turn back over my shoulder, seeing Lucy. I give her a thumbs up and keep slowly walking over. 4, 5, 6, 7. He stares at me all the while, trying to figure out what i’n going to do. But any remnants of his previous power over me is now gone, and as of right now he has no ability to read my mind ahead of time. He has no clue what I’m going to do. This is my big chance. I slowly get closer. 8........ 9...... 10! I suddenly hug the man when he least excepts it and I feel him getting... warm? I look up. Indeed.... he is now thawing out. His hair begins to change color, from an inhuman spiky, icy-blue to a more human-esque straight-styled dark-brown. He looks very surprised about what is happening. “What... what is this feeling?” He asks me quietly, almost as if in awe. “It’s a hug.” I say. There is a short silence. “It’s warm.” He eventually says. I nod. “Yeah. Have you ever felt warmth like this before?” He frowns. “No...” there is silence. Everyone waits intently to see what he has to say. “...but I think I like it.” He finally finishes happily, almost in tears. Suddenly, there is a bright white light that fills up the entire room. It is so bright that I eventually have to close my eyes. When I sense that the light had stopped, I open my eyes up again... and I see that Lucy’s parents are back to normal, Mother Nature and Cocoa are both back in one piece, without any injuries or scrapes, and best of all, my *real and true light* (and not an illusion) is standing right near me. I look at her. There are tears shining in her eyes, but she is smiling. “Will you ever forgive me?” She says. At this, I know just what to say... and so I nod my head in approval. “Of course I forgive you!” I say happily. The girl tries to smile at me, but her voice breaks and she starts to cry uncontrollably with extreme happiness. “Thank you...” She sobs onto me, and everyone runs up to hug me and her in a big group hug. The girl continues sobbing, but it is clear that she is finally *really and truly* happy. After all, she changed along with me, didn’t she? Changed a lot, deep down in the heart... Eventually, she stops crying and looks back up at me, wiping some of her tears away. “I never did tell you my name, did I?” The girl says shyly. I shake my head back and forth. “No, you didn’t.” “Well, my name’s Silvia.” She says. Tears brim up in her light-blue eyes again. “I truly thank you. I had forgotten what such warmth elf like. I truly hope that you can keep on smiling happily so I can stay with you forever! Thanks for bringing me back...” I smile. “No problem.” And then, almost instantly, I awake in my bed. I get up and look out the window. It’s Christmas morning. I grin with delight as I race down the stairs to go and open up my amazing and wonderful presents. As I do, my eyes seem to change their color to become a little bit more light blue. Indeed, I think to myself. As long as I keep smiling... as long as I keep laughing.... as long as I keep on fighting and being happy... then, even if I get discouraged, angry, or sad, I will still smile. The Christmas spirit is surely back again... in my own heart.

The End



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