AAWC: Challenge #5

Today it’s time for the fifth in a series of writing challenges in the Ardent Author’s Writing Challenge, hosted by the impossible* Zielle at My Homeschool Notebook. (And yes, I will continue to use the same introduction ever time. DON’T JUDGE ME.)

Like other writing challenges which I have participated inI will be posting my entries on this blog, and … I may not always stick to the schedule. Unlike today. #GoodOldSaturday

Team Forest is behind, but we can fix this! Write, write, write! *glares at all the other teams* *and at my teammates* If we were all to post, we could do this!

*ran out of descriptive words starting with “i” that apply in this case.

Team Forest

|Getting Extra Points|

  • You can take photos or draw pictures to illustrate your story. You will get 2 points per photo and illustration.
  • Creativity. This is how creatively you use the prompts. At the end of each round I’ll select my favorite story and that person will earn more points for their team.
  • If you use the name of you team in your story, you can earn a point for your team.
  • You’ll get a point for each prompt you use, and a point for submitting your story/poem.

| Challenge 5 Prompts |

“Did you just shoot down, and possibly kill, Santa?”

“Have you seen the headline of today’s newspaper? Christmas is back!”

For Zielle: I used two of the prompts as well as my team name as well as illustrations. And I submitted in time, haha. So 2 + 1 + 1 + 16 = 20.

The Marvelous Machine, Part 5

The Marvelous Machine

Christmas 1874

(a year after the first and second prompts)

“Anyway,” said Dahlia, brow furrowed. “I’m not too sure there is a Santa Claus.”

Peter smiled wryly. Dahlia had hung onto the idea of the jolly red elf longer than any of the other Strauss children – due to her being the youngest, of course. He had to admit he was sad to see her grow up, but he supposed it was bound to happen.


“Allow me to disagree!” Riley exclaimed. He rumpled Dahlia’s hair and grinned. “Dally, I can prove to you that there’s a Santa Claus. Without a doubt.”

Dahlia arched her eyebrows. “How?” Despite her obvious skepticism, there was hope in her eyes, and she leaned forward on the sofa in the Farjon’s parlor where they were once again spending Christmas.

“Why, I can introduce you – wait, no.” Riley’s brow wrinkled. “Can’t do that! Santa can’t come unless you’re tucked away in bed. Well – suppose you can hear him.”

“Hear him?” Dahlia asked incredulously.

“Yes, indeed.” Riley grinned broadly. “His sleigh landing on the roof, those jingle bells … lots to hear if you can stay away long enough.”

Dahlia nodded eagerly. “I can stay awake! Can’t I, Peter? I could stay awake all night if I could get a chance to hear Santa Claus!”

Peter laughed and shook his head. “Don’t be too sure, Dally. I think Riley might be teasing you a little.”

Dahlia turned her face up to Peter’s with such tender hope that his heart almost break. “Then … there isn’t a Santa Claus?” Her bottom lip trembled.

Peter sighed. “Oh, well. Of course there’s a Santa Claus! It’s just … he’s so quiet … and, um … you can’t really … stay up that late. Or he’ll know.”

“Oh,” Dahlia said, brow furrowed.

“Nonsense!” Riley exclaimed. “You can hear Santa Claus if you really want to, Dally. You just have to believe.”

Peter shot Riley a glance over Dahlia head. “Don’t break her heart,” he murmured. “She believes you.”

“I won’t!” Riley said in a regular talking voice. “Come on, Peter. We’ve got to get ready for Santa Claus.” He stood and nodded towards the front door.

“Can I come? Can I help?” Dahlia asked eagerly.

“Sorry, Dally. Not this time. Why don’t you run to the kitchen and help Maddie out? I think she’s making cookies!”

Dahlia squealed and dashed off.

“Well, what crazy scheme do you have this time?” Peter asked, resigned.

Riley grinned. “Come on. I’ll show you.”


They hiked through the forest to the shed they’d visited last Christmas. When they entered, the room was even more cramped than Peter remembered. Besides the heavily-tarped object – Riley’s crazy machine, Peter knew – there was also several smaller objects under similar tarps and loose mechanical pieces scattered everywhere.

Riley set the lamp on an old table in the corner where a mess of papers were scattered. Then he removed the tarp.


“I changed most of the metal fixings for wood and canvas,” Riley explained. “It’s more of a glider now … but with a boiler like a train.”

Peter’s eyes widened. It looked a lot more like something that could actually take off the ground now. Which made it all the more dangerous. He gulped. He didn’t want to lose Riley like this.

“You haven’t tried it yet, have you?” Peter asked.

Riley shook his head. “No, I haven’t. I mean, I’ve sailed a scale-model like a kite, so it should be able to maintain itself, given the right wind conditions, for a time without the motor. But … no, I haven’t tested the full-size one.”

Peter nodded. He knew much of Riley’s work was backed by science – but another big part of it was backed by Riley’s crazy imagination. It just wouldn’t do. Please … keep Riley safe, he prayed in his heart.

“But what does this contraption have to do with Dally’s Santa Claus?” Peter asked.

Riley’s face became radiant with excitement. “I’m going to fly this machine onto the roof of Fantasies. You can convince Dally that it’s Santa Claus. Won’t that please her?”

Peter gasped. “Riley! You’ll break your neck!” he exclaimed.


“Oh, come now, Peter, don’t be such a bore! I’ll be perfectly all right. I’m sure nothing bad will happen.”

Peter shook his head emphatically. “No, Riley. Something bad is almost sure to happen. You know how easy it would be to break your neck? You could kill yourself. You. Would. Be. Dead. There is no turning back from death, Riley. For me … I don’t worry about myself. There’s always Heaven, and though I would risk my life, I wouldn’t fear it, either. For you … I worry. I really do.”

Riley rolled his eyes. “You worry too much, Peter. Everything will be just fine.”


Peter admitted to himself that he was too weak as he helped Riley haul the glider to the hill above the mansion. Swallowing hard, he looked down to the rooftop below as Riley tied jingle bells to his ‘sleigh’.

“Now,” Riley came around to stand beside Peter, “That’s all we need to do for now. We’ll give Dally a Christmas she’ll never forget – that’s for sure!”


That was true. If Riley died tonight, Dahlia would never forget it.


Peter sat down on the edge of Dahlia’s bed. “Snuggle in now. Can’t have Santa – or Mother – know that you’re awake.”


Dahlia dived under the covers. By now, Peter knew, Riley had climbed back up the hill and was preparing for his first flight. Oh, Lord, don’t let him hurt himself … he prayed.

They waited … and at last there came a loud thudding noise on the roof followed by – yes, jingle bells. Peter’s eyes widened. Had Riley truly made a safe landing? Why, it couldn’t be!

Dahlia giggled and squealed. “He really does exist, Peter!”

Peter smiled. “Yes. Now, I have to attend to some things. You get to bed.”

Dahlia nodded and ducked under the covers. Peter smiled and left the room. He jogged out of the house at the back and peered up to the roof.

Riley stood there, his machine beside him. It looked like a couple parts had fallen off, and it wouldn’t be doing anything anytime soon, but Riley was in one piece. Peter breathed a sigh of relief.


Just then, Andrew, Essie, Maddie, and Carole rushed out of the house. Peter blinked, realizing there were others in their wing of the house who much have heard the racket. Carole and Maddie were blinking and winking, looking confused and frightened, Andrew looked defensive, and Essie was wielding a revolver, which, in the rush that followed, promptly went off.

Riley dived behind the chimney to avoid being shot.


Peter made an exaggerated gasp. “Did you just shoot down, and possibly kill, Santa?”

Essie glared at him and tucked her revolver back into her dressing gown. “It’s touchy.”

Riley leaned out from around the chimney. “All clear?” he asked.

“All clear,” Peter called. “Did you actually land it, Riley?”

“That I did! Told you I’m a genius.”

Peter smiled. “I never doubted it. Just your sanity.”

“Thanks,” Riley said. “Now, how do I get down?”

Peter shrugged. “Beats me.”

“Beats you?” Riley repeated.

“Yes. I suppose you’re stuck up there all night.” Peter turned and walked back into the house to the sound of Riley’s protests.


The next morning, Dahlia almost hyperventilated from joy. Riley turned laughing eyes to Peter. “Have you seen the headline of today’s newspaper? Christmas is back!”

Peter chuckled. “It was never gone, was it?”

“Well, it’s back for Dahlia, anyway,” Riley said, winking.


divider winter

Until Wednesday,

~Kellyn Roth~

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