The Antiford Christmas Carol

a story
2016-11-05 11:43:38,
2021-01-23 13:36:55
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Part One

            On our world of Orr, in our country of Antiford, are many stories. We love to tell stories. We tell them at night, we tell them during lunch. We even tell them when no one is listening. However: Gornuary is the most precious time of year, and it deserves the most amazing of stories. Why? It’s because this time of year is a magical time. An amazing time. A… fantastical time.


            Why? Well, this kind of magical time deserves one of the best stories, some not known to the average citizen of Antiford. Well, why don’t I tell you about what sets Orr apart: there is a small amount of a force called magic in our world. However, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, we came very close to the ending of our entire world one time because of it.


            One Christmas night was all it took…

            Lucas Meriwether Buford was ratcheting the last bolt into place of his new automaton. He had spent nine long months building this amazing new learning automaton. He wanted to name him Thomas-Isaiah-Matthew to go with his mechanical name, The Intelligent Marionette. However, his long-winded name didn’t stick. Instead, Lucas began adopting the name his associates had begun to use. T.I.M.


            It was late in Dodar and he was eager to finish his new project. Bolting the final piece into place he stepped away, looking at his new creation. The metal man was limply sitting on the work table. Taking a match, Lucas turned on the gas and lit the pilot light behind the automaton. The gas lit and burst, lighting the boiler. The steam began to turn the gears, powering the machine. Slowly, the automaton began to shake and come to life as the turning cogs began running the scripts inside his body.


            “Wake up, my child,” said Lucas, smiling, “come now, rise.”


            The machine whirred, and sat up straight. Its eyes opened and behind its lids you could see the tiny wheels spinning.  The automaton began to look around, its face turning to different things in the room.


            “Hello,” said Lucas, waving, getting the automaton’s attention. “Hi there, my name is Lucas. You are Thomas-Isaiah- Matthew.”


            The automaton tilted its head, and his mouth opened ever so much and its air pipes filled with air and it wheezed out some noise. Lucas gasped, repeating the automaton’s name.


            “T-Thomas… Isaaaaaiiiiiaaaaaaiiiiiiah… Nat… Nathew…,” said the Automaton.


            Lucas sighed. “Fine, how about ‘T.I.M.’? Can you say Tim?”


            The automaton filled its air bags again. “T-t-t… Tim… I…am… Tim!”


            “Success!” yelled Lucas. “You are alive! You are Tim! You are my Tim!”


            “I am Tim,” said the automaton. “Tim. That is a better name.”


            “Woah,” said Lucas, “That new engine, the M.U.L.T.I.P.L.Y. Engine, must be more amazing then I imagined. This is so fantastic!”


            The automaton lifted its arms, testing out its functions. Slipping off the work shelf, Tim stood and began to walk around the room. One of his legs was not working correctly, and it limped awkwardly.


            “Oh no… looks like I messed up with one of your legs,” said Lucas.


            “It is alright, father,” said Tim, “I can use a crutch. I can just be handicapped. This is how you made me, and I shall not be ashamed about it!”


            “No, seriously, Tim,” said Lucas, bending over and tightening a few bolts, “I just need to fix up these few pieces and… there we go!”


            The connections in his legs began to work, and Tim moved his leg, testing it and walking normally. Lucas nodded. Perfect.


            “Why am I looking like you, father, but I am small?”


            Lucas smiled. “Because, my child, you are only just born. You have yet to grow with time!”


            “Hmm… so I start tiny?”


            “Come on, you are not that small,” said Lucas, “You don’t need to say ‘tiny’.”


            “It is alright, father,” repeated the automaton. “This is how I was made. I… like it.”


            “I like this too, Tim,” said Lucas. “You are learning so quickly and having complex thoughts and feelings. I feel so thrilled! I am truly the greatest automaton master of them all!”


            “Yay,” mimicked Tim.


            “You, Tim, will change the world. You can become anything you want to. You can revolutionize the medical industry… you could become the world’s greatest tea artisan. You could do anything! Whatever you do, Tim, you chose to do it the best you can! Your programming and script will allow you to change the world forever!”


            “Mr. Bufooooord!” shouted the horrible secretary from the lobby.


            “Not NOW, Lenora!” said Lucas, “I am with my children! No visitors. No one! Not… not this year… that’s why I got a secretary!”


            Suddenly there was a creaking. Before Lucas could react, his large office oak door cracked and heaved. It flew right off its hinges and careened across the room. Lucas had barely enough time to grab Tim and move him aside as the door flew past them and into his work desk. Through the splinters, a man walked into the office, an angry look on his face.


            “Oh no!” said Lucas.


            “My father’s door!” cried the automaton.


            “That’s… my line, but cute,” said Lucas, “You are just so adorable... But YOU! Why, Phin, WHY?”


            “I am not ‘Phin’ to you today, Buford,” yelled Phin, stomping into the office and pointing at Lucas, “I want to see it. I want to assess your new toy!”


            Phinneus Cromwell was a tall man in full regalia. He had a large bicorn atop his head and a variety of gizmos and gadgets on his arms and on his belt. His coat billowed in the cross breeze from both doors. A large, bushy beard hid the frown he was throwing at Lucas, but his angry eyebrows could not hide the fire in his eyes.


            “No, Commodore,” said Lucas, “I do not want you to see him. Please… he is my child!”


            “He is another one of your blasted dreams!” said Cromwell as he marched across the office, “Step aside and show him to me!”


            Tim peered out from behind Lucas and gave a small wave, “Hello visitor! Father, who is our guest? I heard you call him Phin? Is he a friend?”


            Phinneus’ eyes widened and he looked towards Lucas, “What is it? What did you do NOW?”


            “Please, Phin, he’s my child,” said Lucas, “His name is Tim. He hasn’t hurt anybody… I promise.”


            “It is sentient, isn’t it?” said Cromwell, “I told you… we go through this every time!”


            “He… uhh… is not,” said Lucas, “He just mimics sentience. Ya, honest! I truly did it this time. Please, Cromwell, leave him alone!”


            “No,” said Phinneus, “We must have ORDER here. We can not allow such things to exist. How was he made? Tell me, how did you do it?”


            “A few springs, a few tubes…” said Lucas nervously, “Love?”


            “Buford! We can not use magic to advance our world,” said Cromwell. “It’s too dangerous. It isn’t believable… it’s not factual. Nobody wants to read that… drivel… he must be based in SCIENCE! I must be able to build one of my own!”


            “Please, Phin.”


            “Stop that… it’s Phinneus Cromwell to you!”


            “But PHIN!” said Lucas, “He’s mine. My Tiny Tim. Surely the Order can allow it, he could do so much!”


            “He will do so much… that is why I cannot allow this!”


            “But… PHIN! I can explain it. He is scientific! I can!”


            Phin sighed, and put his head in the palm of his hand, “Look, Lucas, We cannot have this… you know that!”


            “Please, Phin, I can… I can convince people. He will not break our world!”


            “Fine!” said Phinneus, raising his voice. “Then this is what I decree, Lucas Marigold Buford!”


            “Meriwether,” corrected Lucas.


            “I, Commodore Phinneus Cromwell of the Order of the Badger, give you twenty-four hours!” bellowed Cromwell, his voice filling the room, “you must convince me — convince me — that your monstrosity deserves to live in this world of ours!”


            “He has a name!”


            “But if you cannot convince me, Burford,” said Phinneus, reaching into his pocket, “I will lay judgment upon you… I will deem him…”


            With great fan fair, Cromwell pulled from his pocket a mighty sword. Instantly the smell of fresh bacon filled the room. It did the shing thing from cartoons, I don’t know how else to describe it: Shhhhiiiinggggg……aling…..


            “…Too fantastical!” shouted Cromwell, finishing his early statement. “Twenty-Four hours… until death!”


            Shoving the Bacon Sword back into his pocket, Cromwell turned around and stomped out of the office. Buford crumbled into a heap and cried, Tim patting his back.


And this is how it begins.


            Leaving the HQ of Buford Automatons Phinneus walked briskly down the roads of Astam Junction. Phinneus walked with authority and other pedestrians would move out of his way as he marched down the street.


            In the Order of the Badger, Phinneus dedicated himself to the hunting down and disposing of magical artifacts, creatures, or beliefs that threatened the overall balance of the world of Orr. Commodore Phinneus Cromwell was a hardened man and a fearless commander of a ship known only as the North Star. Under the guise of a water merchant, he patrolled the world doing his secretive duty.


            Even now he looked like a man of authority as he marched through the streets making his way to the small airship docks in Astam junction.


            On his way, a couple stepped out in front of him, raising their hands to stop him in his tracks. One was a larger man with a grand mustache wearing some sort of foreign military uniform. The other was a young girl with a stern look and a wrench.


            “Excuse me, Sir,” said the girl, “just a moment of your time. Are you sick of the Technocrats?”


            “Yes,” said Phinneus, “But I don’t have time…”


            “Do you love PRUSH as much as me?” said the man, “Have you ever been cast-out by your own people?”


            “No, I don’t. Now if you excuse-”


            “Listen, Sir, we represent foreign ambassadors trying to gain funds to start a world war,” said the woman. “Our world needs to change! The Technocrats must be stopped; the world order must be broken! These two things can only change with a world war!”


            “What?” said Phinneus.


            “And I am the Prushian Emperor,” said the larger man, “I need funds so I may pay the parking tickets on my land ship and return home to unite my homeland! Then I will take over the world!”


            “What? Prush doesn’t exist and doesn’t have an emperor!” said Phinneus.


            “Prush Confederacy, whatever!” said the man. “The point is, I will unite the world under the glorious flag of the Prush Confederate Empire!”


            “I don’t know about that,” said the girl. “You fool! We discussed a world war trade partnership. With Kuu and Mont-Diamont out of the way, the Golan Empire may rise and take over the world with SQUID LAUNCHERS!”


            “No,” laughed the large man, “Golah will be the last stop on the POOP-TRAIN EXPRESS!!!”


            “SILENCE!” yelled Phinneus, stomping his foot on the ground and shutting the two up, “I would NEVER support such an outrageous cause! The Golan Empire? Not plausible. A world war? There’s no tension great enough or empires expanded enough for such a feat! And a Prushian Empire? Down right insane! You cannot even control your patch of land called the Confederacy! How do you expect to control two better-off other nations and then attack the world? Ludicrous!”


            “So does that mean you won’t help us?” said the larger man in a tiny voice.


            “Not even a simo?” said the girl.


            “HA!” yelled Phinneus, “I am busy; I do not have anything to give you! I wouldn’t give you the time of DAY if I thought it would aid in your ridiculous query! Good DAY TO YOU!”


            With that, Cromwell pushed the two aside and stomped through them, onward towards the docks. It was getting late and he wanted to be cozy on his ship before nightfall. The other two watched him walk away with awed expressions.


            The girl looked towards the larger man, squinting with anger. “Poop train?”


            The man glared down at her, his mustache twitching. “A Simo?”


            They immediately broke out in a slap fight. However, they are no longer important to the story. In fact, we should probably shoot forward to Phinneus reaching the North Star.


            It was late, and the sun had already begun to set. Stepping onboard, Cromwell was surprised to see that it was deserted. Looking around, he had deduced his crew must have gone to the bars and the inns looking for companionship. He decided to allow this, and he headed to his quarters. Along the way, he cried out for his first officer, but was saddened to see he was also not on board. Shrugging, he continued to his quarters.


Once inside the ship, Phinneus took out a large flashlight, and switched it on. It shined a blue hue as he navigated into his ship. Once at his quarters, he shut the door behind his, and turned on the other light bulbs. Walking over to a music box, he turned on a holo tube and the blue electric tube began to spark, playing music and heating the room at the same time.


            Taking a seat, Phinneus decided to turn off the flashlight and prop up his feet. Looking around his room, however, he furrowed his brow and scowled.


            “Wait a minute,” he said, “All this stuff is waaaaay too fantastical. How did I even get it?”


            Well, even though that was not in the script, Phinneus remembered that-


            “Hey, you, shut up!” said Phinneus. “No, seriously. NO FLASHLIGHTS in Antiford… they are… not probable.”


            But Phinneus had forgot we said they were new and rare large proto lights which would not be so hard to remember-


            “Yeah, but this one is small. And why is it blue? …And what about this thing? My room lined with light bulbs? Come on! And this device? What is it? A radiator or a music box? Pick one!”


            Look, do you want me to tell the story or not?

            “Tell it right, you blasted narrator!” shouted the crazy blunder head to the nothingness around him, “I’m a big dummy dum!”


            With that out of the way, Cromwell and I decided to stop bickering with a compromise of a neo-fantastical matter. Since I am still upset, I shall skip ahead a bit.


He ate some dinner which was questionable, he read over some documents, probably encyclopedia entry requests, and got upset. Then he went to the bathroom. After that… he decided it was time to have a rest and get some much-needed sleep. He had given up on Boric’s return and decided he had a great deal of work to do in the morning.


            While preparing for bed, however, Phinneus thought he heard some chains rattling. He could hear it as if it was in the room.


            “Boric,” said Phinneus, “Is that you?”


            Seeing no one, Phinneus grabbed his lightning shocker gun thing and headed to his door. The lights began to flicker, and the sounds of chains rattling got louder and louder. He flew open the door and stepped out. All sounds of chains stopped abruptly and Phinneus found himself looking into the darkness. He scowled.


            “Who is there? Show yourself!”


            There was no reply. Phinneus gave out a sigh and walked backwards into his room, shutting the door behind him. He paused at the door a moment, and then decided to lock the door.


            Turning around, Phinneus let out a cry of surprise as he saw the light bulbs flash again. Then the light bulbs blew. Standing in his quarters was an eerily blue man with an eyepatch. He was covered in chains and rigging and he glared at Phinneus.


            “Who are you?” shouted Phinneus, even as he pulled the trigger on his gun, sending a lightning shock out towards the man.


            The shot flew right through him and sparked off the wall behind the man. The man raised his arms, the sounds of chains rattling filling the room once more. He let out a large moan and screamed.


            “What are you?” asked Phinneus.


            “Ask me who I was… or am… again,” said the man.


            Phinneus looked up, squinting, “Wait, you’re Nolan, aren’t you? Alexander Nolan, from Conwell!”


            “That is who I was!” said Nolan, raising his hands, “Or… am… I guess… I don't know. I am Alexander Nolan, you’re friend and ally… I come from-”


            “Wait, friend? I wouldn’t go that far,” said Phinneus.


            “Well I am from the future, idiot, we get a great deal closer,” said Nolan. “You see, I have-”


            “The future? That can’t be possible,” said Phinneus, “How did you get here?”


            “Gods damnit, Cromwell!” said Nolan, “Look, could you just… let me talk? Maybe finish one second? God, why didn’t I bring my gun?”


            “Sorry, it’s just… what’s with the get-up?”


            “It’s to wake you up and jar you!” said Nolan, “It’s… theatrical, but it – look, just let me talk, okay?”


            “Squeak, squeak squeeeeak!”


            A little Octopus, Franklin, jumped onto Nolan’s shoulder.


            “No, I’m not saying it,” said Nolan, “I don’t even know what it means.”


            “Squeak, squeak!”


            “Well, fine,” said Nolan, “Franklin says that it is required of every man that the spirit within him should partake in magic with his fellow man. If that spirit goes not forth in life-  look, Franklin, this is stupid. I’m just going to tell him about the thing, ok?”


            “This all sounds like bullshit,” said Phinneus.


            “Look,” said Nolan, the chains rattling more and he stood a little taller, “Commodore Phinneus Cromwell, in the year 1914 you begin the final stages of a massive anti-magic holocaust! You are heading to doom, Cromwell. DOOM!”


            The chain rattling increased in volume, and Nolan stepped forward, causing Cromwell to flinch backwards with the movement.


            “You must change, Commodore, or you will be doomed in… hey…. Hey…. HEY! What the hell, with the chains?”


            Nolan turned around, his hands crossing. Behind him a light blue Vibranni kneeled, chains in her hands as she rattled them furiously.


            “What?” she said.


            “What on Orr are you doing, Rilain?” said Nolan, “I’m trying to do the thing! We don’t have much time.”


            “Then just TELL him already,” said Rilain, “You were the one who wanted all this extra stuff.”


            “Look! Just let me do the thing, ok?” said Nolan, “I can do it.”


            Rilain sighed and stood up, pushing past Nolan and glaring at Phinneus.


            “Look, Cromwell,” she stated, “We need to change your mind. Tonight you will be visited by three spirits. These spirits will each approach you in order to help change your heart and change the path in which you head!”


            “I don’t have time for such things,” said Cromwell, “What path am I on? I have no need of spirits, I don’t even like them. They are not allowed on this ship!”


            “HA!” said Nolan and Rilain together.


            “You will do this, you,” said Rilain.


            “We’re out of time!” said Nolan, gesturing to Franklin as he started to disappear, “Phinneus Cromwell, you WILL be visited by these three spirits! Heed my warning, you must take these seriously! Expect the first of your visitors in one hour!”


            “Wait, Nolan!” shouted Phinneus, “Why can’t they just all come at once, give their written arguments, and let us be done with it! Why can’t you tell me what my path is?”


            “Because, “said Nolan, who was watching as Rilain turned white and faded into nothing, “You must see… on your own, with your own eyes.”


            “But so much can be skipped if we just do it all now!” said Phinneus, “Nobody has time to READ this!”


            “It must,” said Nolan, as he began to turn white. “My words have sunken into you, and I am glad I got through. But it is up to you, now. I can stay no longer…”


            Just like that, he faded into space, leaving Phinneus alone in the darkness of his room.  He looked around, his eyes adjusting to the darkness and he was looking for any signs of this being a hoax or some sort of trick.


He made his way to his arm chair, sat down, and gave a huge sigh.


            “Damn you, Nathan!” he said, “It’s the Christmas Carol? Bah-Humbug. No, wait:  Bullshit!”