Carrie Hatchett’s Christmas adventures are continuing much longer than I thought they would! First she had to travel to Lapland, then she spent a night in a bar listening to tales of strange events surrounding the disappearance of the Northern Lights, then…well, you get the picture. So this week I’m posting a second snippet from A Very Carrie Christmas.
I’m hoping to bring Carrie and her long-suffering side-kick, Dave, home for Christmas soon. I love writing about Christmas, and especially Lapland and snow and mysterious aliens, but I have other work to do! I hope you enjoy this week’s snippet.
Carrie and Dave scrunched through crisp, thick snow, following Sofia Kestikalo to the guesthouse where the Sami were providing rooms for them.
“I still can’t quite believe you know all about the Transgalactic Council and aliens,” said Carrie. “That’s all supposed to be top secret. Do all the Sami know about these things?”
“Most of us appreciate that there’s more to the universe than what exists on our doorstep,” Sofia replied. “The line between concrete reality and other kinds isn’t so strong here as it is elsewhere on Earth, and this isn’t the first time aliens have visited us. When the Transgalactic Council introduced themselves and offered to help with the first invasion, only officials in high places were supposed to know about it but the secret soon spread. The reaction of the Sami was less catastrophic than the Council feared. We shrugged and went on with our lives.” She smiled at them over her shoulder.
“When you get settled in,” Sofia continued, “come downstairs to the bar to meet everyone. I haven’t seen anything strange myself, but most of the villagers have a story to tell about something odd they’ve noticed or that’s happened to them. Of course,” she added, “some of them drink a little too much reindeer pee, so I wouldn’t take everything you hear as gospel.”
“Reindeer pee?” echoed Dave.
Sofia stopped and turned. “Yes, haven’t you heard of that? We feed hallucinogenic mushrooms to reindeer then drink their urine. You experience the psychedelic trip without suffering the inconvenient side-effects, like nausea. That’s where the myth of Santa’s flying reindeer comes from. Didn’t you know?”
Carrie and Dave stared at each other and then at Sofia. There was an awkward pause, then Sofia burst out laughing. “Don’t worry. I’m joking. It’s just something we tell the tourists.”
She turned away, still chuckling, but Carrie caught a look in her eye that made her uncertain which part of Sofia’s story was untrue.
“Here we are,” Sofia said as they arrived at a two-storey wooden building with closed shutters. “Stamp your boots at the door. We try to avoid walking snow indoors. I’ll take you upstairs first. I hope it’s all right if you share a room?”
“Yes, that’s fine,” said Carrie.
Dave didn’t answer, which reminded Carrie about the last time they’d shared a room. It had been aboard a Transgalactic Council training starship, and things hadn’t gone very well. She vaguely recalled the problem was due to Dave being unreasonably tidy.
The room, when Sofia opened the door to show it to them, conjured up one word in Carrie’s mind, and that word was adorable. Twin beds with patchwork counterpanes faced the door on each side of the small space. A small nightstand separated the beds, and on it was a lamp with a chintz lampshade, and an old-fashioned alarm clock. At the foot of one of the beds was a combined chest of drawers and writing desk, and on the side of the other bed was the window.
Through the floor came the quiet sounds of chatter and scraping chairs. The room was clearly above the bar.
“It might not be quite what you’re used to at home” Sofia said, “but it’s the best we could do.”
“Don’t apologise,” said Carrie. “It’s perfect, isn’t it Dave?”
“Yes. Very nice.” He had a pained expression, though Carrie didn’t think it had anything to do with the room.
“Good. The bathroom is at the end of the hallway. When you’ve put your things away, go downstairs and turn left. The door to the bar is the first on the right.”
As she went to leave, Carrie said, “Oh, but we don’t have any money to buy drinks. We came straight here, you see, and—”
“Please,” said Sofia, “don’t mention paying for anything. The villagers will be very offended. You are our guests, and you’re providing a great service. If you can return the Northern Lights to our skies, you will be repaying us ten-thousand times over.” She rested a hand on the banister rail.
“Let me explain,” she said. “These days, tourists can go to many places to play snow sports, enjoy a sauna or see a reindeer. The Aurora Borealis is one of the few things we have that’s different from most European tourist areas. If the Lights are unpredictable, that’s doesn’t matter too much. People will come and stay with the hope of seeing them and, they don’t go home too disappointed if they don’t show. But if word gets out that the Northern Lights have gone forever—that there’s no chance of ever seeing them again—that will kill our main source of income and we’ll have to go back to fishing, or herding goats or reindeer.”
She gave a shudder. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to do all those traditional things once in a while, but if you have to do them to make a living, the novelty soon wears off.”
Sofia went downstairs, and Carrie closed the bedroom door. “Isn’t this great? It’s so cosy, like we’re in a fairy tale.”
“It’s certainly very nice of the Sami to put us up,” said Dave. “I’ll take the bottom drawer, okay?” He unzipped his overnight bag and began carefully placing his clothes and other belongings in the drawer.
“Don’t bother with that now,” said Carrie. “We’ll have plenty of time to sort our stuff out later. Come on, let’s go down to the bar. Did you hear what Sofia said? Free drinks!”
“Yes, I heard. Don’t go overboard.”
“Go overboard? Huh. As if. Come on.”
Read A Very Carrie Christmas Part 1 here.