Christmas Catastophe: Chapter 5: Candler

Agent 72 was the first to spot Xylenia’s reflections in the plate glass windows, so he quickly twisted a dial on his belt, and extended the optical camouflage around the dragon.   Pudgy’s teeth started to wiggle, and he looked at the elf who had not disappeared yet.  “Pudgy teeth wiggly, what happened?”  the elf looked at him and nodded, “I turned on the distortion field.  This way Xylenia can land without causing a stir.  Your hat has the same function, so we can proceed with stealth.  For obvious reasons, a dragon, elf, and hedgehog would cause difficulties when detected.” 

The hedgehog laughed and watched as his dragon friend started to glide around to land.  Pudgy read the signs out loud, “emergency, main entrance, staff entrance, deliveries.  Where do we get in?”  The elf rubbed his chin, “Xylenia, can you land by deliveries, we can get in through the garage loading docks.”  The dragon nodded her head and started to bank to the right.  There were a series of large garage doors, with large trucks backed into the hospital’s loading dock.  Luckily for them, one garage door was open, and a large white box truck was just leaving.  “Hold on,” The dragon called back, and she started to dive in and then tuck her tail back, so she could start to land.  As they approached the garage door, it started to close. 

Xylenia was quick enough to coast in under the door just as it closed.  She landed on the polished concrete floor, and then slid up against a large series of crates.  Pudgy looked up, “wow look at all of this these crates.”  The elf nodded as he slid off the side of the dragon, “looks like medical supplies.  This one says 400 syringes per box, and it looks like there’s about 200 on this pallet.”  The hedgehog nodded and slid from his dragon friend’s opposite side.   A quick burst of female giggles erupted from the dragon, as the two were tickling her when they dismounted.

Pudgy wiggled his nose and looked up at the loading area.  There were tall ceilings, of corrugated white metal, with large lights humming loudly.  Agent 72 took out a candy cane, and stuck it into his ear, “72 calling, arrived on site, loading docks.”  The hedgehog started to explore, when he could feel his teeth stop wiggling, and when he turned both Xylenia and the elf were invisible.  He had exited the distortion field, so the hedgehog had to be careful.  Pudgy scampered along the edge of the wooden pallets, and then peeked around the edge of a stack of surgical gown boxes.  Two large burly African American gentlemen were opening boxes and stacking a supply cart with equipment.  

Both were wearing green uniform T-shirts with Candler hospital on them.  They had blue jeans, black leather steel toed boots like Cobalt wore, and security badges hanging around their necks.  One was an older man, with short cut gray hair, while the other was bald.  The two were talking about the latest Falcons game and were quite animated.  Luckily, they were so engrossed with their task and banter, they did not notice the hedgehog.  72 placed a hand on the hedgehog’s head and turned the red tussle ball at the end of his white Santa hat.   The hedgehog quickly vanished, and the wiggly feeling returned to his teeth.   The agent gave him a look while he watched Pudgy look up at him.  “They didn’t see us yet,” the critter whispered. 

While camouflaged, Pudgy could still see a faint outline of the elf and then Xylenia behind him.  It was like a wire frame rigging for animation, though more sparkly with snowflakes.  The elf agent was on point and led the way, and soon very slowly and silently the trio started to walk behind the two workers.  They headed through the maze-like series of boxes and crates, to reach the entrance to the hospital.  There were two large doors that led into the ground floor area.  The signs had numbers on them, no words, and color-coded arrows that meant something.  Various employees were moving carts loaded with a variety of objects, with one cart catching Pudgy’s attention.  “Look 72, Xylenia, I think that cart says children?”    The hedgehog’s companions looked over and started to head towards a large four wheeled cart loaded with a variety of boxes on it.   Pudgy scampered behind Agent 72, who was quickly reviewing a parts list stapled to the side of a box. “Floor 7, Children’s wing.  Head Nurse Williams, c/o Alexandria Klaus.  This is it: Mrs. Claus’s supplies.  She must have had it shipped here via the logistics division.” 

Pudgy chuckled, “Pudgy didn’t know you worked with UPS?  They are the big brown trucks that won’t stop every time Pudgy try to cross the road to Cobalt’s house.”  The elf nodded, “what do you think the S stands for?”  As the elf saw the confused hedgehog looking back at him, he further clarified his statement.  “Many Christmases ago Santa brought their founder a toy when he was naughty.  The grateful child changed his ways and said he would do us a favor every now or then.”  The hedgehog soon found himself being hoisted onto the cart, as well as Xylenia climbing on board.  A tall burley man in a green set of overalls walked up to the cart and read the manifest.  The younger muscular man with brown hair shook his head and then started to push.  Agent 72 jumped, and soon was hanging on the front of the cart.  The only empty spot not filled with boxes was now full due to Xylenia and Pudgy sitting there. 

As the cart entered through a set of beat-up white swinging doors, the front of the cart struck the bifold doors and they began to open.   Upon entering the hospital, Pudgy saw glistening white polished floors that had a silver sparkle in them.  The hallways seemed to stretch as far as his eyes could see.  The walls were painted a beige color, with green accent lights scattered about in sconces on the walls.  There were a variety of strange smells that wafted but were quickly sucked up into the air vents that dotted the corridor’s ceiling.  Soon, the cart started to approach a gray steel service elevator, with an elevator call button.  The man pushing the cart let go of the cart, which continued to roll along.  He jogged to push the button, and then caught the handle.  There was an LCD panel beside the door that displayed numbers in red which indicated the floor the elevator was on. 

Everyone remained quiet, trying to stay hidden away and not attract attention.  The hospital worker pulled out his cell phone and checked his messages.  Pudgy looked up and noticed he had a neatly cut brown beard and recognized him as the man that had gone on a date with his friend Heather.  After typing a few messages, Jack started to speak to himself.  “Thank goodness, it was just a sprained muscle, and not something worse.  Why yes Heather, I will take you out for drinks after work.  Oh, we will need to give back the cane we borrowed from my sister.”  The man chuckled and put the phone in his pocket and watched as the elevator doors opened.  He pushed the cart inside the service elevator, and pressed the button labeled 7.  The trio of secret occupants of the cart watched as the gray steel doors closed.  The floor shook, and the mechanical whine began as the cables pulled the car upwards.  It was an old elevator that had seen many years of service and was due for maintenance.  Pudgy noticed the faux wood paneling was starting to peel off from the walls, and there was an oily smell in the car.  There was a sign board with various hospital notices, which included many workplace references and policies. 

The floor indicator lights lit up one by one, until floor 7 was illuminated.  The doors opened, and then the cart was then pulled out of the elevator by Jack.  The children’s floor was a similar beige set of hallways and white floors, though with more colorful murals dotting the occasional section.  Jack pulled the delivery cart up to where the nurse’s station was, and smiled at a woman in green medical scrubs, who was typing on a keyboard at a rolling computer cart.  She turned, and removed her brown reading glasses, and let them hang around her neck.  “Hello Jack, I see you have a delivery?”  Jack nodded, “Nurse Williams or Alexandria?”  The nurse nodded, “oh yes, she has been helping here for the last couple of weeks.  Was talking about holding a party for the children. I wonder where she is, it is not like her to be late.  Please take the delivery over to room 10,” the nurse with short brown hair stated while she pointed down a hallway.

Jack nodded and pushed the cart down the hallway as directed.  Room 10 was a short distance away, and as the cart was positioned through an open doorway, Pudgy could see that it was a large gathering place.  When the hospital opened many years prior, this would have been a ward that could hold 20 patients.  In modern days, such accommodations were frowned upon, though these places served many purposes.  Physical therapy, parties, emergency situations, and the occasional place for family members to spend the night when a child was sick.   Jack positioned the cart in the center of the room, and then turned to walk out of the room.  Once he was clear of the open doorway, agent 72 coughed discreetly.  “Agents report,” he said out loud while jumping from his perch on the cart and maneuvering out to the center of the room.

Elves started to materialize around the room, wearing the same red and black digital camouflage.  “67 here, 48 here, 23 here, and 99 here.”  Pudgy noticed that 99 and 23 were girl elves, as they had long white hair braided ponytails and light blue frosted lips.  Agent 72 adjusted the dial on his belt, and he appeared on top of the cart of boxes.  Pudgy found the tussle of his hat, and turned it, causing the distortion field to cease.  His teeth stopped wiggling, and as the critter looked up, Xylenia giggled while she appeared.  The elves immediately got to work, and soon Pudgy was pressed into service.  They operated like a well-oiled machine, with military precision.  Boxes were opened, supplies categorized, organized, and then placed.  The hedgehog was scampering back and forth, moving boxes into position.  The elves using grappling guns with either hooks or suction cups, to hoist themselves up to tables. 

Xylenia allowed herself to grow a tiny bit larger, and then moved the boxes from the floor to the tables.  She also picked up Pudgy and set him on the table as well.  As the group worked, soon the room filled with all manner of Christmas cheer.  A tree was raised quickly, and then decorations were shot onto the branches with decoration handheld cannons.  Pudgy was amazed, at what took Cobalt an hour, they did in 5 minutes.  The hedgehog was setting out red plates, and green silverware.  He was on the snack table, but he worried that there would be no food for the guests.  But before he could ask, a nurse walked into the room, and froze as she caught sight of Pudgy.  “And what are you doing here little guy?”   Pudgy looked around and noticed that the elves and Xylenia had already disappeared.  The woman walked in with a confused look on her face and stopped just shy of the edge of the table.    The hedgehog waved, “hi, my name is Pudgy!” The nurse’s red painted lips opened as her jaw dropped.  “You, talk?”

Pudgy bounced happily and waved, “yes, Pudgy visiting Savannah, and wanted to help Alexandria host the party.  She couldn’t come, so she sent Pudgy to help.”  The nurse nodded, “I see, that explains why she was late today.  May I take you to the nurse’s station if that is all right?”  The hedgehog nodded, and then scampered over to her hands that were resting on the table.  She gently scooped up the hedgehog and noticed immediately that he was so warm and soft in her hands.  The young nurse giggled, and then walked out of the room and back down to the large counter where several nurses were standing.   The hedgehog knew what he was doing and would keep the nurses busy while the elves and Xylenia continued to set up the party.  As the woman reached the others, an elderly woman with gray hair and a badge that read director of nursing.  Her piercing blue eyes looked up from a medical record chart and locked onto Pudgy.  “Elizabeth, where did you find that porcupine?”

Pudgy wiggled his nose, and before Elizabeth could explain, Pudgy spoke.  “Pudgy is a hedgehog and is helping Alexandria.”  The director, as well as several other nurses all turned and stared in amazement as the critter spoke to them.  As Elizabeth placed Pudgy gently on the counter, Pudgy bounced and waved.  Everyone saw the hedgehog was wearing a little white Santa hat, with a red tussle.  The director walked closer, and gingerly reached out to touch Pudgy on his head.  Pudgy wiggled under her fingers, and she smiled as his quills were soft.  “My word, I did not think today that I would have a talking hedgehog arrive on my floor.  So, why are you here, Pudgy?”  The hedgehog peeked through her fingers, “Pudgy helping Alexandria spread Christmas cheer.  She had to go home though, so she sent Pudgy.”  The other nurses giggled, and Elizabeth smiled.  “Director, would it be all right for me to take Pudgy around to the rooms?”

The older nurse nodded and pointed down the hall. “Yes, that would be all right.  I am sure the patients will appreciate a Christmas hedgehog visit.  Before Elizabeth could speak, Pudgy found him whisked away by a giggling blonde nurse, who quickly walked away.  Elizabeth shot her a look, “Andrea, get back here with Pudgy!”  Before Pudgy could protest, Andrea had taken him to a room with a little girl laying in a hospital bed.  The bed was covered in pink blankets, and she was wearing a knitted cap.  “Michelle, look what I brought.”  The little girl looked up tiredly at the nurse, and then at Pudgy.  The hedgehog waved, “Hello.”  Michelle started to smile, “hi.”  Andrea walked closer, and gently placed Pudgy down onto the bed.  The hedgehog started to scamper up and bounced happily. “My name is Pudgy.  I am glad to meet you Michelle.”

Under the watchful eye of the blonde nurse, Pudgy visited with the little girl.  He was hugged a little too tight for his liking, but it made the sick girl feel better.  She did not talk much, so Pudgy did most of the talking.  He explained that he was from Pennsylvania and lived in an underground home.  He had friends who lived by that was a Bear, a Dinosaur, a silver fox, two wild and crazy gray fluffy bunnies, two field mice, and his friend Cobalt.  Both the nurse and patient listened and smiled at the wonderful story.  When it was time for Pudgy to go, she started to whimper.  But Andrea was quick thinking, “no, don’t cry Michelle. You will see Pudgy later, for a surprise.”  Without warning again, Pudgy found himself whisked away.  The new room was across the hall with a little boy who had a broken arm and leg clad in fresh casts.  Pudgy introduced himself, and the boy was excitedly explaining to Pudgy how he landed a skateboard trick and broke a few bones.  The critter nodded, and listened, and then explained about his travels throughout the city.  This conversation was way more animated, especially when Pudgy talked about the chocolate store he visited.  Elizabeth tapped Andrea on the shoulder, and the two women giggled while exchanging a look. 

After explaining why Pudgy had to go, Elizabeth took the hedgehog, and then visited another 10 rooms worth of patients.  Every child was excited to get a visit from the Christmas hedgehog, and gossip was spreading throughout the floor of the upcoming secret visit later.  After many visits, and a trip past the nursing station to check in, the female nurse walked back to room 10.  She found a gathering of women wide eyed and pointing, almost blocking the doors to enter the wardroom.   Pudgy watched as the room started to appear through the open doorway, while Elizabeth navigated the crowd of astonished nurses.  The tables were decorated with fine red and green tablecloths.  All manner of yummy foods was out on platters: including a cookie table with one more marvelous than the next.  There was a Christmas tree in the center of the room, fully decorated and twinkling with lights.  Twenty presents were under the tree, wrapped in silver sparkle paper, and red bows.  The astonished nurse looked down at Pudgy, “what is going on?”  Pudgy wiggled, “Pudgy one of many helpers.  Can the kids come to the party now?”

The director was standing beside the tree, “you heard the hedgehog, bring the children!”  Elizabeth smiled, and quickly walked to the director, and handed Pudgy to her.   The older woman smiled, and then hugged the critter gently, while walking around the room as she marveled at the decorations.  “Alexandria is special, she comes every other year here to Candler Hospital.  The children look forward to it each Christmas.  Sadly, some never make it though.”  Pudgy looked up as the director’s eyes turned sad.  The hedgehog looked confused and listened while she was gently petting him.  “we treat broken bones, and tonsillectomies, but it is the cancer and terminal diseases that are hard to treat.  We try to help as much as we can, make them comfortable, and help their parents when they pass.”  Pudgy started to whimper, and hugged her white coat covered arm.  The director shook her head, “shh now, I’m sorry to bring up sad memories. Let us put on a happy face, here come the children.”

Children started to appear dressed in fluffy white hospital robes and being pushed in wheelchairs.   Their faces soon were filled with joy and excitement, as they marveled at the wonderous decorations.  In some cases, like Michelle from earlier, they were pushed into the room by the nurses still in their hospital beds.  The beds were on wheels, and in many cases, wheeled stands with saline and medication bags were hanging, with the IV lines still attached to the children’s arms.  With the hospital beds lined up against the left side of the room, the beds were soon connected to a myriad of plus along the walls.  The children in their beds smiled, and so desperately wanted to run over to the tree, but they were too weak to move.  Their smiling faces said more than any words could say, and the joy being expressed made Pudgy happy. 

The director walked around the room, carrying the hedgehog inspecting the beds, until she was satisfied that the children were safely settled.  “Everyone, Alexandria could not make it today, but it appears Pudgy and some magical helpers still was able to make this party happen. Now, who’s hungry?”  The children in their wheelchairs soon were at the wonderful snack table and filled their plates with food.  There was always a watchful nurse to ensure they did not take too much, since there were many children there.  A curious little girl with pigtails wheeled over to the tree with the silver presents, finding one with her name on it.  “Oh, Andrea, can I open my present?”  The blonde nurse walked over and noticed each of the silver presents had a child’s name on it.  She had thought they were just decorations, but they were in fact real.  Smiling, “I think we should wait till after everyone eats.”    

As more children started to notice the presents, a similar question was soon floating around the room.  The ones in their hospital beds were served by the nurses, since they were unable to walk.  The director smiled and visited with each child, before reaching Michelle once again.  The little girl looked up at her, “Can Pudgy stay with me for a little while?”  The woman nodded, and then placed the hedgehog onto the bed.  The critter scampered up to sit beside the sick little girl, and he looked up at the older woman.  “Pudgy wondering, what is wrong with Michelle?”  The little girl petted Pudgy gently, “I have cancer Pudgy, and I am here for treatment.”  The director nodded, “yes that is right, today was chemotherapy day, so she is weaker than normal.  This was the last course, which is the strongest.  Hopefully with time you will feel better, and we can discharge you.”  

Pudgy started to hug Michelle, looking sadly up at her.  As Elizabeth stopped by with a plate of cheese, crackers, and cookies; she noticed Pudgy hugging the patient and looking sad.  “Hey now, what’s the sad face for Pudgy?”  The hedgehog whimpered, “she has cancer, Pudgy sad.”  The woman’s expression changed to a soft smile, “yes, but it is treatable.  She should recover and be in remission in a couple of weeks.  Now please do not be sad,” the nurse said while petting the hedgehog.  Pudgy nodded, and then watched as Michelle was nibbling on a piece of cheese.  The two watched as the nurses also started to nibble on small plates of goodies.  There was enough food to feed everyone, and even a tiny bit left over for the janitors.  The Janitors kept washing the floors outside of the ward, looking in wanting to join on the fun too, but they still had to work. 

As a small radio placed Christmas music, someone started singing “Must be Santa Claus.”  Pudgy had never heard an up-tempo version with an accordion, but the song plus the sugar was resulting in bouncing children.   Michelle’s neighbor was a slightly older girl, who was busy watching Pudgy.  “Michelle, can Pudgy come visit me now?”  The little girl nodded, and patted Pudgy, “Can you go visit Lilly?”  The hedgehog hugged her again and nodded while starting to scamper across the bed.  They were close to one another, so with the two girls watching, he started to run as fast as he could and jump the gap between the beds.   He was almost clear across the gap between the beds when he started to fall.  Catching the edge of a bed sheet, Pudgy started to fall, but soon was quickly climbing back up.  Upon reaching Lilly’s feet, the two little girls cheered. 

Pudgy scampered up to Lilly and bounced happily. “Hi, my name is Pudgy!”  The African American girl smiled and petted Pudgy gently with her heavily taped up hand, with a myriad of IV lines attached to the back of her hand and arm.  Pudgy noticed the bandages across her belly, and he started to frown.  The girl’s hazel eyes locked onto his and her lips curled into a smile. “Do not worry Pudgy, I was just here for appendix surgery.  I am fine, turns out I did not need one anyway.  Can you tell me a story?”   Pudgy nodded and started to tell her about his first big adventure, where he went to the center of the earth.  The little girl’s eyes went wide, and soon her neighbors were struggling to hear, and asking Pudgy to repeat.  A nurse walked by and attached a small microphone to Pudgy’s quills.  Each bed had audio speakers on it and could work with the nurse microphone packs.  With each bed configured, Pudgy began telling his story from the beginning. 

The tale was grand, and had scary parts, about how the dragon at first tried to eat him, and then she turned out to be a good friend.  The evil lizard people, and then the scary but kind man who lived in the center of the earth.  Soon the whole room was listening to the grand tale, of how Pudgy travelled to the north pole, met Santa, and helped save the day.  When Pudgy finished each story, the children cheered, and the nurses clapped.  But soon the patients could not last any longer, and the presents were passed out.  While Pudgy was singing hedgehog versions of Christmas carols, the children started to open their exquisitely wrapped silver presents.   Pudgy watched as Michelle opened her present and pulled out a brown wig.  Elizabeth smiled, “do you want me to help you put it on?”  Michelle nodded, and took off her knitted cap to reveal her bald head.  The drugs had caused her hair to fall out, so Pudgy soon understood why she received her present. 

Michelle soon was wearing the wig and was smiling from ear to ear.  Lilly smiled at her, “Oh Michelle, that looks wonderful.”  Pudgy nodded and bounced happily.  Lilly opened her present, and found a doll dressed as a nurse.  Lilly smiled, “thank you Santa! I love my doll!”  There were many children calling out, “Thank you Santa!”  With the food eaten, and the presents unwrapped, the children started to look sleepy.  The director nodded, and quietly motioned to start taking the children back to their rooms.   Pudgy soon was scooped up by a man dressed in a nurse outfit, who then carried Pudgy over to the director.  He handed Pudgy to her, “here you go director.  Pudgy, it was nice to meet you, I have to head out on my rounds.”  The brown-haired man waved, and then exited the room.   The director stood by the doors and let Pudgy say goodbye to each child who passed.  The children in the wheelchairs left first, and all were excitedly playing with their presents, and holding back yawns as best they could. 

The large beds were unlocked from their positions, and then disconnected from the walls.  One by one the beds were wheeled past, with children waving at Pudgy.  The hedgehog waved back and said “Merry Christmas” to each one.   Lilly and Michelle were last to leave, with Michelle already asleep in her bed.  She weas still wearing her wig, with the knitted tussle cap lying beside her hand.  The Christmas tree was still standing, twinkling and casting a soft light into the room.   The older woman looked down at Pudgy, “I need to go on rounds as well, so I will leave you here Pudgy.”  The woman walked over and sat Pudgy down in front of the Christmas tree.  “I will be back later, and we can figure out what to do with you next.”  The woman stood back up and smiled while putting her outfit back into its proper placement.  She walked out of the room, while two janitors walked past the doorway again.   “Jen, Larry, there is food left over, please help yourself.”

The male and female janitors in their green overalls with hospital logos smiled and walked into the room.  The unwrapped present paper was put into a pile, and the disposable plates had been placed nearly in the trash.  In terms of cleanup, this would be a snap.  However, two plates of food were placed for each janitor.  They watched the tree, and the scampering hedgehog around the tree skirt.  But to their amazement, he waved and then disappeared.  “Jen, where did the hedgehog go?” The young bald man said, while nibbling a cookie.  The woman shook her head, “Larry, I don’t know.  Maybe he really did visit Santa at the north pole?”  The two workers smiled and nibbled beside the twinkling tree. 

Agent 72 had stealthily maneuvered around the room to reach Pudgy and activate his optical camouflage.   When the hedgehog felt his teeth wiggling against, he knew he had gone invisible once more.  He turned, and saw the shimmering elf beside him, and motion to follow.  Nodding, the two scampered along the edge of the room, and then out through the doors.  Saying nothing, the two maneuvered the hallways, until they reached an alcove where spare wheeled stands for IV equipment was standing.  The elf patted Pudgy on the shoulder, “good work Pudgy.  When you left with the nurse, you allowed us to finish setting up and allowed the other elves to teleport back home.  Xylenia is waiting outside, on a patio where the hospital staff smoke. Now, let us head out, and keep quiet while stealth.” 

Pudgy nodded, and then started to follow the elf once more.  There were speakers above them in the ceiling, which called out a message. “Nurses, please be on the lookout, Pudgy disappeared.  There is also leftovers, which you are welcome to help yourselves.”  Pudgy wished he could have said goodbye to the nice nurses, but he knew the elf was correct, and that it was best for him to leave now.  As the minutes passed, the elf led Pudgy further down a hallway.  There were colored painted lines on the floor, which soon directed you to go this way to surgery, this way to x-ray, and this way to the cafeteria.  They were following the orange line, and soon turned down a hallway to see a set of glass doors appear. 

The doors opened automatically when something crossed the light beam at the bottom of the doorway.  While camouflaged, the doors would not open.  Before Pudgy could say anything, he watched agent 72 pick up a discarded empty pack of cigarettes that had a smiling camel on it and caused the door to open.    The two quickly darted through the sliding glass doors before they closed once more.   As Pudgy gasped while catching his breath, the elf patted him on the head once more. “Pudgy, I must take my leave now.  It was a pleasure to work with and meet you.”  Pudgy looked up and bounced happily, hugging the elf. “Pudgy glad to meet and work with you too Agent 72.”  The elf laughed and hugged back.  As they separated, the left then disappeared completely in a blinding flash of snowflake sparkles. 

Pudgy turned around and looked around for Xylenia. “Xylenia, where are you?”  The shimmering sparkly dragon outline waved from behind a bench.  “Over here Pudgy, are you ready to go now?”  The hedgehog scampered over and hugged his friend.  She giggled, and then helped him up onto her back.  When the critter was strapped in, and safely ready, the dragon started to flap her wings.  However, the magic that caused the camouflage to hide them was drained.  The hedgehog and dragon soon started to appear, and while Xylenia started to fly around the building, children in their rooms were pointed excitedly out of the windows.  Nurses were dumbstruck as they watched a dragon fly by, with a tiny hedgehog on its back.  That story turned out to be a lot more real than anyone realized. 

With the hospital slowly diminishing in size, Pudgy watched as Xylenia flew higher and higher into the skies above.  There were thick clouds overhead, and an occasional rumble of thunder.  Pudgy hoped she could get above the storm before it started to rain.  As tense minutes passed, and the gray puffy clouds turned black around them, the dragon was able to navigate the skies and get above the cloud deck.   Flashes of lightning were dotting the clouds below them, “Boy, we left just in time Pudgy.”  The hedgehog nodded and settled in for a long flight.  He did not worry with Xylenia flying and watched as the Savannah city proper disappeared.

The sun set quickly, and soon the night sky was filled with stars as far as the eye could see.  Pudgy watched the moon with its craters float in the skies above, and he hoped the moon dinosaurs were all right.  He wondered if he would ever meet them again someday.  As questions filled his mind, the hedgehog quickly fell asleep.  Xylenia could not help but smile and continued to stay level with the curved horizon.  She had several hours of flight time ahead of her, so she did not want to overdo it.  South Carolina soon gave way to North Carolina, and then turned into Virginia.  With the night skies, the only thing she could see was the dots of lights from the human cities and towns that were strung below her like Christmas lights.      

After many hours had passed, Xylenia could see the outlines of Pudgy’s forest appearing as the sun was just starting to rise.  The morning twilight filled the skies with a myriad of blue and orange colors.  Pudgy was just starting to wake up and saw Mister Bear’s cabin passing below them.  The frorest was covered in snow, with ice hanging from the tree limbs.  “Oh boy, we made it home!  Xylenia, can you stay awhile?”  The tired dragon nodded, “Yes most definitely, I can stay Pudgy.  Glitter will call me when I need to return.  But first things first, I need to land.”  The hedgehog held on and felt his dragon friend lower her tail.  The dragon’s body pitched backwards, and soon she was coming into land in front of the hedgehog’s underground home.  With a couple of bounces, Xylenia landed, and started to jog until she could come to a complete stop.  Once it was safe, Pudgy hopped off from Xylenia’s back, and then scampered up to his underground home’s front door.  After working the lock, he opened the door and headed inside. 

The home was cold, and he knew he needed to start a fire soon, but first was to let Xylenia inside.  The hedgehog scurried through his home, turning lights on, and opened the interior door into the big meeting room.  He headed over to the tiny hedgehog sized controls, and he started to turn the wheels to cause the big bifold doors to open.  As they swung into the room, the cold winter air blew into the home, further chilling the interior.  Pudgy watched as his dragon friend walked in through the doorway and turned around sitting beside the banquette seat.  She smiled and watched him turn the wheels and then begin to shut the door once more.  In a couple of minutes, the door was closed once more, and the LED light above filled the room with a white light. 

Pudgy pointed to the newly installed heater that Cobalt had put in. “Xylenia, Cobalt put the heater in.  I think you push button to light it.”  The dragon nodded and started to carefully push the igniter button.  Soon a set of blue flames were dancing inside the glass enclosure.  The hedgehog nodded, and then went inside his home to start the fire in his wood stove.  Logs placed, kindling lit, the fire soon was starting to catch inside the fire box.  As the warmth started to spread throughout the cold home, plans were made to cook breakfast.  The hedgehog needed to tell Cobalt he was home too.  After securing the door of the wood stove, he then went to check on his friend once more.  The dragon had curled up in the big room and had fallen asleep.    Nodding to himself, the critter went to the side of the banquette and opened a side panel door that Cobalt had installed. 

There was blue blanket inside, and with much effort, Pudgy was able to pull it outside to the room.  He then started to try to cover the dragon with the blanket, but he was having trouble.  A half-asleep dragon grabbed the cover and soon was mostly covered by the thick blue blanket.  She also instinctively reached out for Pudgy and pulled him in to hug.  “Merry Christmas Pudgy, “ the dragon mumbled as she fell asleep once more.  The hedgehog smiled, and snuggled with her, “Merry Christmas Xylenia.”  Breakfast could wait for a little while, but soon he felt his eyelids grow heavy, and soon too the hedgehog had fallen asleep.  Pudgy was home once more, with his dragon friend.    Little did Pudgy know, in a short time, there would be more holiday cheer to spread.  But that would be another time, on another day, and it was time to rest. 

By Cobalt

Cobalt is a normal guy that goes to work. Pudgy is his hedgehog friend who lives in a hobbit style home nearby, and goes on epic adventures. All Pudgy stories are copyrighted to Cobalt. Doomcock, Harvey Cthulhu, and Xanadoom is copyrighted to Overlord DVD.

One reply on “Christmas Catastophe: Chapter 5: Candler”

I loved reading this, it left me in tears for the Michelle character as well as the Nurse’s explanation to Pudgy about the hospital, but I also have tears of joy reading about how Pudgy was able to bring so much cheer to the sick children. Thank you so much for this chapter.


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