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Zarkor's Christmas Story

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This is my Christmas story for this year, and I hope you may enjoy it a little. Those of you who have read my ‘Boating’ story may remember that Zarkor’s beloved Teddy had been left behind in that Adventure, and ever since, poor Zarkor had mourned his loss.

You see, Zarkor's teddy bear was his only companion when he was a poor orphan child, so of course he loved it more than anything in the galaxy.

Zarkor’s Christmas Story

Zarkor and Zerak are in their living room in their home on Zerak's private planet, a tall and beautiful Christmas tree standing next to the fireplace. Zerak is busy adjusting the brightly colored lights. Zarkor, sitting on the couch, is watching as Zerak darts back and forth arranging the decorations. Zarkor suddenly asks...

"Zerak, did I ever tell you I met Santa?"

Zerak stops his decorations and turns to Zarkor. "Santa? No, Zarkor," Zerak replies, a little in disbelief. "You mean Santa Claus or Saint Nick or Kris Kringle or something? You know that's just a myth and legend. There is no real Santa Claus."

"Maybe," Zarkor replies, his eyes misting over for a moment. "I'll tell you the story if you quit trying to arrange the lights on the tree for a while. Come here and sit by me."

Zerak drifts back away from the pretty tree and sits next to Zarkor on the sofa expectantly. Before Zarkor can speak, Zerak looks out of the window and says excitedly, "Look, Zarkor, it's starting to snow! It's going to be a white Christmas for us after all!"

Zarkor glances to the window and gives a little sad sigh in recognition. With the gaily decorated Christmas tree beside them, a cheerful crackling fire in the fireplace and both sitting in warm companionship, Zarkor begins his story.

Well," he begins, "See, I was on this cold, frozen planet somewhere in the edge of the Galaxy looking for an Adventure. There was deep snow everywhere, and I was trudging along trying to find some place to rest for a while. I was shivering and everything, it was so cold and frigid, but beautiful, too. I crested this little hill, and what do you think I saw?"

"What, Zarkor?" Zerak asks, listening carefully.

"A pretty little house sitting all alone in the snow in a valley ahead, with golden glowing windows and smoke wafting lazily above its little chimney. You can imagine how happy I was to see this, and startled, too. Who would expect a pretty little house to be sitting in this vast, cold and lonely wilderness? But I thought at last I might be allowed inside and be warm, so I quickly drifted down the little hill to the house and knocked on the door.

In a moment the door was opened by a little fellow, only about half the size of me, and a humanoid type. I peered inside over his shoulder, and it was all bright and warm inside with a blazing fire in a fireplace. Well, of course I drifted right in, nodding to the little fellow as he stood aside.

Inside, I looked around a bit, and it was all so nice. There were comfy looking chairs in a living room, and to one side a cozy little kitchen, its table full of good smelling things to eat. I wondered how this could be, this cozy house being in the middle of nowhere and all, but I didn't complain, of course.

The little fellow walked on his little legs around me as I stood there with wonder in my eyes, and beckoned me to the table with all the good smelling food on it, and indicated me to eat if I so wished. Well, I so wished, so I took a plate and gathered appetizing morsels from all the different places where they were nestled on small pretty little platters. There was drink, too. I poured some from a bottle in the center of the table into a handy cup. It was warm and tasty. I don't know what it was, but I liked it.

Then I sat myself down on one of the comfy chairs in the living room and commenced to eat, me being so hungry and all. After eating for a while I looked around again, and the little fellow was standing a little ways away watching me. We looked at each other, and he nodded and smiled like I was a welcome guest. I turned back to the food, and after a long while I felt satisfied. I took one more drink out of my cup and sat back comfortable and content. I was feeling real good; you know how you feel when you’ve had a really good meal and are all warm and cuddly.

Well, pretty soon an inside door opened and this other humanoid entered the room. He was taller than the little one, fat and healthy looking with red cheeks and fat hands and a fat belly on him. He was dressed in a red suit with white fur trimming. He had these shiny black boots on and white hair like a halo around his head, and a full white beard. I figured he was the owner of the house and the food I'd just eaten, so I got up from my chair and made a little bow.

He smiled a nice smile and bowed back to me as well as he could, being so fat and all. He indicated for me to sit down again, and he walked around and sat down on a rather too big chair by the fire. I guessed it was his usual chair, being the homeowner. Well, I scooted my chair over to the fire, too, to hear him in case he wanted to talk. I didn't know what language he spoke, of course.

I introduced myself, saying, "Hello, and thank you for the good food." He nodded pleasantly and replied in our own language with a smile, "You're very welcome. My friends who live here with me are very good cooks."

I was surprised he spoke our common tongue, but was happy about it, as I was anxious to have a conversation, having been trekking about in the cold for so long without company.

I introduced myself by saying, "My name is Zarkor, and I'm visiting your planet looking for an Adventure. ThaHe smiled at me and said, pointing to a frosty window, "Well, there's not much adventure around here, it's mostly just snow everywhere. Not many live on this planet except for me and my small companions."

I asked him his name, thinking maybe I'd heard of him around the Galaxy or something. "Oh, I have many names," he said, and winked a pleasant little wink. "You would be surprised how many."

Well, I thought for a moment, not knowing exactly what to say next. "So I guess you must get around a lot, then."

He smiled once more. "Yes, my job keeps me here most of the time, but on occasion I do travel."

The conversation, not getting anywhere in particular, he being so vague and all, I thought to say, "So, what exactly do you do?"

He leaned back in his big chair and smiled once more. "Oh, I make gifts for those more unfortunate than most in this Galaxy. It's a nice Galaxy, all and all, but there are some locations that could use some improvement."

I said, "Yes, I guess so. I used to be unfortunate myself, you know. I was a poor orphan as a child, until a caring friend took me in and saved me from starvation and a desperate life."

'"Is that so?” The fellow shook his head in commiseration and smiled a sympathetic smile. "Then you were the kind of life-form I like to help." He looked thoughtfully into the air and seemed to be studying something. "I don't think I remember you, though. I usually remember everyone I've helped, though some do slip through my fingers, so to speak.”

I said, trying to ease his mind, "You probably missed me by mistake, or were too busy with someone else or something. There are so many poor orphans and deprived beings in this old universe of ours.”

"Yes, I usually remember everyone," he said again, sort of vague-like. "You never received a surprise gift or toy when you were a lonely child?"

"If I did I don't remember it," I replied, thinking back. "But its okay, the planet I grew up on is pretty obscure, though my species is one of the most intelligent in the Galaxy."

"I'm sure you're right," he said, looking at me out of the corner of his eye rather strangely, I thought. Ignoring this, I said, "So, you're some guru or saint or something? I mean, a do-gooder, like?"

He laughed good-heartedly at this, his fat belly shaking all around. "No, my friend, I'm just a kind creature who sees the sorrow and suffering of others and tries to do his little part to bring a little cheer to those less fortunate."

After he'd stopped chuckling, I said, knowingly, "I tried that, helping I mean, but it seems every time I try to help someone it somehow made it worse for me. I have a Theory about that, if you'd like to hear it."

He smiled that kind smile again. "I know what you mean," he replied, shaking his head in agreement. "The solution to that phenomenon is to help anonymously. Get in and get out fast, that way the good you may do doesn't rub off on you in a disadvantageous manner."

Well, I thought about that for a while until I got it straight in my head, and found myself likening the idea, although the anonymous part kind of rubbed me the wrong way. "I suppose," I said, sort of vague-like, copying him.

Then I looked around the room again and asked, "So, you make gifts and toys and stuff, right?"

"I have a workshop underground at the back of the house. It's sort of a secret, you see. Keeps the busybodies away. I don't get many visitors way out here, as I've said, but when I do they're usually the wrong kind. Of course, you're welcome, you seem a right sort."

"Thanks," I said, a little shyly. Then I asked, looking him over, "What species are you? You look humanoid to me. What planet do you come from?"

"Oh," he answered, a small, troubled look appearing on his fat face, "I come from very far away. You see, I'm sort of a renegade or a rebel. My home planet is full of greed and avarice and all the usual selfishness and bad manners you find most everywhere. I tried to set an example of goodness, but was condemned for my kindness and compassion. I was persecuted and victimized for my views, so I made my escape, and now I've settled here where I can continue my work in peace.

"But sadly, I fear for my safety even on this desolate planet, and I only dare to venture out once every year, bringing little gifts to those who suffer the indignities fostered upon them by the more fortunate. I offer little, but oftentimes a small kindness is appreciated most in difficult circumstances.

"You see," he continued, "it is not the present itself, it is the feeling of being loved I bring, of being worthy of some precious little thing that may give someone some hope in this life. This is the real gift I offer."

I let that soak in for a moment. "I see," I said at last, looking deep into his eyes, which seemed so kind and so sad as well. He looked away, as if some deep hurt was recognized in him. I looked away, too, not wanting to intrude on some profound personal pain he seemed to harbor within.

I changed the subject by saying, "It's getting dark outside. I don't want to take advantage of your kindness. Maybe I should be going."

"Nonsense!" He replied, laughing, becoming cheerful again. "Don't even think of it! I'll have some of my companions make you a comfortable warm bed. I wouldn't think of sending you out on such a cold night!" He then called out, and some of his little company entered the room. He spoke to them in their own language and they scurried about preparing a place for me to spend the night in a warm corner by the fire.

"Have you eaten enough?" He then asked, looking at me closely. "Yes, thank you," I replied. "I am a little sleepy after that wonderful meal. I appreciate your hospitality so much!"

"Oh," he said, "I'm happy you've come out of the cold and eaten my poor provisions, and now can sleep cozy and warm by the fire." He then stood up from his oversize chair and walked into the kitchen. He turned to me and said in a most kindly but somewhat distant voice, "I don't receive many visitors here, as I say, and it is a little lonely for me, though I have my little friends for company." He put his fat arms around the shoulders of the two little ones who had prepared my bedding, smiling at each in turn. He patted their heads, and they disappeared quietly through a side door of the room.

"Tomorrow you will awake to a hearty breakfast here on the table. Take your time with your meal, and then you must leave my little home to continue you adventures. You will not see me in the morrow, as I will be busy making more gifts and toys for the unfortunate. So I will bid you a heartfelt farewell now, my new friend. And if ever we should meet again, I will remember you and your good company of this evening." He smiled the most wonderful smile and his eyes twinkled with kindness and tender compassion, and I'll say even love for me, a stranger in his home. Then he turned and hesitated, a thoughtful look on his face.

"I have something for you, I think," he said softly in a sort of knowing way. "Yes, something just for you." He then disappeared through the inside door. I waited expectantly, wondering what he could mean. Presently he appeared with a gaily wrapped present in his fat hands. "Here," he said, "this is for you, even though you are no longer an unfortunate orphan. I hope you will accept this small gift. It's just a little thing, but you may appreciate it, and I hope it will make you a little happy to have it."

He handed me his gift, then turned once again to disappear through the door. But before closing it he turned his head, and with a jolly smile winked at me again. Then he was gone.

Well, I turned away with an overwhelming feeling inside of gladness and joy, almost in tears. It's difficult, Zerak, to explain how I felt at that moment. It was if I had been in the presence of some grand mysterious being, a great and noble soul. A being of elemental and immense gentleness and sympathy, full of love and compassion just for me alone. But at the same moment filled with a deep hurt, wounded painfully by the offences of others, but nevertheless indulgent in a poignant understanding of their frailties and weaknesses, and therefore with a deep concern even for their wellbeing.

The next morning after a well deserved and refreshing sleep, the breakfast he had promised was sitting steaming on the table of that little kitchen. I ate heartily, knowing I had yet to complete my adventures on that cold planet. I was looking forward to what discoveries I might find in that wide snowy world, but still hesitant to leave that warm, pretty and homey little house nestled deep in that snow covered land. And, of course, reluctant to leave my new friend, odd and mysterious as he may be.

So I gathered my courage and bravely drifted out the door and into that frozen unknown, seeking my Adventure, and wondering if I should ever again meet this creature who welcomed me, a stranger, so kindly into the warmth of his hearth and heart.

Much later, when I had completed my journeys on that lonely wintery planet, I sat down and took his gift from my pack and opened it. Inside, wrapped carefully in the softest tissue, was another Teddy, exactly the same in every detail as my beloved lost Teddy, who had been left behind forever in my Adventure on that far away Next Continent, so very long ago."


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