Words / Nonsense: The Snowmaker

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-- CHAPTER 1 --


Alleluias Sidney Pengreen was in just one way, an unfortunate boy. His misfortune was to be called Alleluias Sidney Pengreen!

Everybody sniggered in his class at school whenever the teacher called out his name. He was called "Pongo Pengreen" by some bullies, and "all he wishes" by others. Alleluias hoped to put all of that behind when he moved up to the big school.

Before his first day at school, Alleluias complained about his old fashioned name. His mother, Abigail Pengreen said, "Don't you fret about your name dear, when they ask your name in class just say it's Al."

Unfortunately, in his very first lesson with the hook nosed Professor Sparks, he was asked what Al was short for, stumped for words Alleluias stammered.

"Come now boy," cajoled Professor Sparks in his beautiful lilting Welsh accent, "surely even a first year knows his own name."

The whole class laughed and Alleluias could feel his face reddening.

"Is it short for Albert? No? Alfred? Alan? Ermmmm... Alex? Oh, er, Aled? No?" Professor Sparks thought hard for a while, smiled, and then declared, "Well, I can't think of any others. Just what is it short for my boy?"

In a timid voice, shammed by his own name with his head bent low he whispered back.

"Alleluias sir."

Even Professor Sparks was surprised. "Oh! A fine old name." he said. "Welcome to the class Alleluias."

On hearing his name the whole class shock with laughter and Alleluias glowed bright red from tip to toe.

At lunchtime, Peter Jones came and sat down next to the lone Alleluias in the school canteen. Peter was amongst the group that had laughed loudest when he heard his name in class. As he sat Peter Jones extended his hand for Alleluias to shake it. Alleluias tentatively raised his, expecting Peter to pull his hand away at the last minute but he didn't, and Alleluias was surprised to see Peter grinning broadly as they shook hands. Something about Peter made him seem a lot more mature and grown up than a young boy should.

"Very pleased to meet you, Alleluias!"

"Please call me Al," sighed Pengreen.

"Are you ashamed of who you are Alleluias? You shouldn't be. "

"What do you know," said Al. "Anyways, I'm not ashamed of who I am, I'm just embarrassed by my silly, old fashioned name."

Peter Jones grinned even broader. Alleluias began to think that a trick was about to be played on him. "Alleluias, I am not quite what I seem. You're a very special young man."

"What! "You're a very special young man!" What on earth are you talking about?"
"Alleluias, all will be revealed," and with hardly a pause for breath Peter continued, "Do you believe in Santa, Saint Nick, old Father Christmas?"

Alleluias was more than a little surprised by the question!

"Don't be absurd." Said Alleluias. "I'm 12 years old. Father Christmas is for babies."

"That may be so, but he does exist. It's just that he's had a little change of direction career wise."

"You're either mad or trying to be even more mean. Please excuse me." Alleluias tried to put Peter Jones out of his mind and continue eating the burger and chips he'd bought for lunch.

"Well, continue eating while I tell you a story. Nick gave up the old Christmas game some time ago. Oh he still keeps his hand in, delivering presents to good children. But that's the key word Alleluias, good children, and I'm afraid there just aren't that many of them anymore."

Alleluias just concentrated on his food, he was sure the "punch line" would arrive soon enough, and that he would be it.

Peter meanwhile seemed oblivious to Alleluias's more than obvious discomfort and continued with the story.

"In the old days Nick employed hundreds, possibly thousands of elves and of course the reindeer, their helpers, he had a whole factory dedicated to making wooden sleighs, another for tin trains, yet another for dolls and bears. But alas..." Peter gave a little sigh and seemed lost in thought for a moment. "Alas, first comics and magazines, then radio and then... then television came, and with it ever more advertisements, and seeing all the advertisements, children became ever more demanding. What would have been perfectly normal, quite lovely children, started to want things. Just having their parents love and a nice football for Christmas wasn't enough. They wanted more than others, or wanted this particular toy, or that book, then this game or another... Soon they wanted television sets of their own! And the tantrums, oh dear me."

"Well of course a child who tantrums, moans, demands or even breaks things to get something new isn't by any stretch of the imagination a good child. Now Saint Nick can only deliver to good children, and so, well, I'm afraid to say the whole business went down the pan."

Peter stopped talking, paused for a while and looked expectantly at Alleluias." Aren't you wondering what Nick gets up to now then? Don't tell me we've got you worked out all wrong Alleluias Sidney Pengreen."

"What happened then?" Alleluias sighed, and silently wondered how Peter Jones knew his middle name.

"I'm glad you asked, " beamed Peter. "Nick as you know, lives mostly on the North Pole. So it's not as though there's a great deal of job opportunity up there. What you do have a lot of though, is ice, and so Nick naturally went into the snowmaking business, which he has been remarkably successful at. He makes the most wonderful white, soft, fluffy snow you've ever seen. Not like the grey muck the Maelpalm Brothers produce. Don't get me started on their sludge. Anyway, for years now they've been looking at a way of getting even with Nick for taking most of their business. I say, if they'd been a bit better at it, then Nick wouldn't have started in the first place - there is plenty of room for two good snow making companies in this world."

"What have the Maelpalm Brothers, supposedly, done then?" Alleluias made the word "supposedly" last a very long time; his voice went up and down in pitch as he said it and he rolled his eyes around dramatically. All to let Peter know that Alleluias was far too sensible for all this nonsense and didn't believe a word he was being told. Peter shifted uneasily in his seat and looked somewhat nervous as he said ever so quietly.

"They've made a duplicate snowflake."

"They've made a duplicate snowflake!" repeated Alleluias.

"Shhh, keep your voice down, we don't want to start a panic. If anyone knew... Don't you know your mythology, your history, and your science? All snowflakes are individual. Simple, that's the rule. No two snowflakes are ever the same. Never ever, ever! You know that don't you boy?"

"Yes I know that, and don't call me boy, you're no older than me."

"Actually I'm three hundred and eight but we'll start on the complicated stuff later. Suffice to say that no two identical snowflakes where ever supposed to be made, and now that they have, an ancient prophecy may come true."

"Eh?", muttered Alleluias.

"Listen lunch break is nearly over," said Peter. "You live in Carreg Street, I'm just over the hill from you, meet me at the main gate after lessons and I'll walk home with you and fill you in on the rest."

"Sure." Said Alleluias, hoping he'd be able to scarper before Peter found him. All this talk of Father Christmas, (Nick he calls him!), Peter must be trying to make fun, play a trick, or be stark raving mad.

At the end of his first day of school Alleluias had but on thing one his mind. To get home before being cornered by Peter Jones again; who, the more Alleluias thought about it, was convinced that Peter was obviously just setting up a trick, but before he could round the first corner he saw Peter sitting on a wall outside the school gates.

"Hey! Alleluias!" Peter called. "Over here..."

Alleluias could hear some of the other children sniggering as Peter called out his name. The story of his strange, old-fashioned name had obviously travelled the whole school in the afternoon. Peter Jones jumped down from the wall with a flourish and offered him a humbug.

"Want a sweet Alleluias?"

"No thanks, Mum said she'd have a special tea ready today as it's my first day at big school."

"So you are you always a good boy then Alleluias?" smiled Peter.

"Look you!" started Al, "I've told you before, call me Al! I'm sick of people taking the mickey out of my name."

"I'm not. Honestly..." began Peter, "I really do think it's a fine old name that you should be proud of." Peter paused for a moment. "But if you prefer to be called Al, then so be it."

"Good." growled Alleluias.

"Here", said Peter holding out his hand for it to be shaken again, "lets start again, Al."

Alleluias smiled and took Peter's hand, and shock it firmly this time.

"So what's all this nonsense about then? I still think you're just trying to play a trick on me."

"If only I was Al. Everything I've have said is the truth. A duplicate snowflake has been created and an ancient prophecy may come true."

"So what's the prophecy then?"

"Basically, getting straight to the point. Without prevaricating, and...

"Okay, okay just tell me!"

"Sorry, I'm nervous, I've never told a human before."

"A what? A human... You are up to a trick."

"No, Al, listen. Okay. This is tough for me, I've been sworn to secrecy for years and now I just have to blab it all to a 12 year old boy who can help save the world. It's a little difficult for me."

"Difficult for you? If you're telling me I 'spose I'm the boy who's supposed to help save the world!"

Peter looked a little bashful. "Well, yes, you are the chosen boy... well, probably."

The pair continued on their way home, and Alleliuas thought even if it was all a trick it was a splendid story so far.

-- CHAPTER 2 --


When Alleliuas got home he began to tell his mother about the odd new boy he had met while his mother was maing tea. Mrs. Pengreen wasn't really listening, but suddendly something Alleliuas said made her physcially jump with a start.

"What was that Al?", she looked nervously around, "who said what to you when?"

"A strange boy at school told me that I'm the boy to help save the world from ancient prophercy becuase of a duplicate snowflake!"

"That's really strange dear", started his mother slowly, "I'm not sure if I should tell you this, but an old, odd man came up to me in the street today and told me a similar tale."

They both looked at each other for a short while, and then they both smiled and said at the same time.

"It's Camera Bamera!"

Camera Bamera was a television programme; it wasn't one of their favourites as in it nasty, creul and often painful tricks were played on unsuspecting victims and then replayed on the telly for the amusement of millions of people. However the victims were normally rewarded with something nice, like a fantastic holiday or a new car. While they didn't exactly like the programme, it was compulsive viewing, and the host whilst a slimy, creepy sort of a guy, was very funny.

With great relief they tucked into pudding, a gorgeous treacle pudding. Soon after Alleliuas' father, Wesley Pengreen, came home and the whole family soon started to laugh when he began telling the story of a strange old man who came up to him in the street trying to tell him about Alleleiuas and some kind of duplicate snowflake!

"Oh dad, mum and I think it's Camera Bamera!" giggled Alleliuas.

Wesley started to laugh too. "Of course!", he beamed, "and I was nearly taken in by him too!"

That evening extremely happy, Alleliuas told his mother and father of the classes he had, how much he enjoyed them all and went to bed very tired a little early to be good and ready for his second day at school. However, when he came down to breakfast the next morning both his parents were looking a little fidgety and somewhat sullen at the kitchen table.

"What's the matter, Mum... Dad?"

"I'm afraid you've been suspended from school Al," began his father. He waved a letter in front of him. "This was hand delivered this morning and says that you weren't properly registered at birth, and until mum and I sort it out, you don't exist so they can't teach you!"

"Dad," replied Alleliuas knowingly, "it's Camera Bamera remember?"

"No love this isn't." continued his mother, "I phoned the headmaster this morning and he swore to me this wasn't a game. He knows nothing about the snowflake business, and to be frank now thinks we're all rather mad! This is apparrently a big mix up. They sent the first days regisitrations to the council and they didn't have you listed on their central register for children in the bourough, they then checked with the registrar of births and deaths, and they didn't have you either. So, until we can fix it, they won't accept you. Apparently it's an insurance risk..."

Both of Alleliuas' parents took the day off work and phoned many official council, hospital, education and goverment departments trying to prove that Alleliuas existed. Neither had any luck and no-one could proove that Alleliuas had ever been born. Professor Sparks, Alleliuas' form master, sent over a package for him, he wrote, "Please find the enclosed a little something to occupy you in the coming days and some school work so you won't fall behind when you return to school whenever this dreadful siruation has been resolved."

In the parcel was enough work for a year! Thirty or forty books, most of them not on the curiculum and on all kinds of subjects that most first years never have to study. As well as his mathmatics, english and history text books he had been sent: "The weird history of the unexplained", "Goosebumps - things that go bump in the night", "Saint Nicholas, Fact or Fiction", and many others including books on the Phareohs, Druids, British Wildlife, books on ancients legends & myths and much, much more.

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