Olive, The Orphan Reindeer...
OLIVE'S SECRET JOURNEY
She decided to search for them although the journey could be dangerous.
Olive didn't want anyone to worry so she kept her plan a secret. Even Santa and Mrs. Claus didn't know. However, it would be rude to leave without saying goodbye.
Olive went to their house.
"I'm going on a little holiday," she told Santa.
"Be careful," Santa warned. "I don't like where that remarkable nose of yours has been pointing lately."
"Please don't worry, Santa, I'll be all right," Olive said.
"Don't forget, there aren't just wolves in the Barrens," Santa said.
"No, you'll have to look out for the Gotchas," Mrs. Claus said. "Those lumpy yellow things are scary. So you be careful now, you hear?"
"I will," Olive said. "But who says I'm going to the Barrens? I didn't say that."
Mrs. Claus gave her a look. "Well, we don't want to poke into your business, Olive. Lots of luck wherever you're going. Oh, and maybe you can keep an eye peeled for Boomer. He's been gone with his snowmobile since sun up."
The chubby elf, Boomer, was Olive's best friend.
"He's a good driver, Mrs. Claus, I'm sure he'll be all right," Olive said.
"He missed breakfast and we all know how he loves to eat," said Mrs. Claus. "Now don't you be gone long."
"I won't," Olive said.
Mrs. Claus gave Olive a hug. "Watch your back at all times, Olive."
She knew she hadn't fooled Santa and Mrs. Claus in the least. "I will," said Olive. "Goodbye. Please don't worry."
But maybe I'd better worry, she thought. The Gotchas were a scary bunch.
~~ CHAPTER 2 ~~
"Hello there," Olive said.
The hare shot up like a rocket.
"Did I scare you?" Olive said.
The hare twitched and its fur stood on end.
"You sure d-d-did," the hare stuttered. "I thought you were one of those sneaky Gotchas."
"I'm sorry. Have you seen any reindeer that look something like - well, me in these parts?"
"You mean with a nose like yours?" said the hare.
"Nope, I haven't."
"What about a large elf?"
And that was that. The hare went back to its digging.
~~ CHAPTER 3 ~~
"Excuse me, but I'm looking for my family," Olive said.
"Who?" the owl said.
The owl glared with eyes the size of doorknobs. "Who?"
"Who? Who? Who?"
The owl flew away.
Olive shook her head. She was getting nowhere fast.
~~ CHAPTER 4 ~~
"Arf! Arf! How's it going, pal?" said the seal. "My name's Cal. What's yours?"
"I thought I had the most talented nose in these parts. But you've got a real prize-winner, Olive. Arf! Arf!"
"Thank you, Cal," Olive said.
"But wait just a cotton-picking minute. Is that really your nose or is it a little ball stuck on your face?"
"No, it's really my nose."
"Arf! Arf! Incredible! Fantastic!"
"Thank you again."
"With a nose like that you could earn barrels of herring at the circus," said Cal. "My brother Hal did really well there. Arf! Arf! Can you catch with it? Want to play catch the snowball?"
"I'd love to, but I don't have time," Olive said. "I'm looking for my mother and father and brothers and sisters. Have you seen them?"
"Wouldn't know them if they came up and bit me."
"Oh, they wouldn't do that, Cal!"
"Just a way of talking."
"Oh. Well, have you seen a large elf wearing ear muffs and red and green knickerbockers? His name is Boomer."
"Oh, Boomer. Why didn't you say so? Hmm, Boomer." Cal thought. "Sorry, no. But try going west if you want to find reindeer. At least the ones who haven't, you know, vanished."
Vanished? Olive didn't want to ask what this meant.
"You've been helpful, Cal. Thank you for your trouble," she said.
"No problem. Keep your nose clean, Olive. Arf! Arf!"
~~ CHAPTER 5 ~~
Suddenly she heard a familiar shout in the distance.
It was Boomer.
He'd flipped out of his snowmobile. He lay beside it in a snowbank.
"Help me! Somebody help me!"
"I'm coming, Boomer," Olive shouted back, and ran towards him.
But in her haste she didn't notice the Gotcha.
~~ CHAPTER 6 ~~
Gotchas love olives. Naturally it was charmed by Olive's nose.
Its eyes gleamed and its mouth watered. It smacked its rubbery lips. Yum! Yum!
"Gotcha!" it snarled.
It was fast.
But Olive was faster. With a lightning move she sidestepped the brute and gave it a kick with a hind leg.
"Take that, you big lump!" Olive snapped. She was surprised at how tough she could sound.
"Ouch! Ouch!" yelped the Gotcha, and waddled off.
Boomer was surprised too. "Sweet potaters! Nice move, Olive. But what are you doing here?"
"I'm looking for my mother and father and brothers and sisters."
Boomer laughed. "Well, I guess you found me instead. I haven't a clue where I am and the snowmobile is a total wreck. I also sprained my ankle."
"Climb onto my back," Olive said. "You can help me find my family."
"I'd be glad to." Boomer struggled onto her back. "And I'd also be glad to get out of here right away before any more Gotchas show up."
~~ CHAPTER 7 ~~
Olive had a strong back, but it was a tough job carrying such a heavy elf.
You should go on a diet, Boomer, she thought.
Olive plodded on for a good hour.
Finally she came to a cave. Its wide mouth was like a killer whale's. Long, sharp icicles like silver teeth were rooted at the top.
"Do we go in, Olive?" Boomer said.
"I don't know," Olive said.
Boomer shivered. "Brrrr! I'm freezing."
"So am I."
"There could be a Gotcha in there bigger and tougher than the one that attacked you," Boomer said.
"There could be a dozen."
Boomer thought. "A dozen? Well, I sure don't want to go in now."
"Neither do I," Olive said.
"So what should we do?"
The wind howled and the snow blinded them.
"We've got to go into the cave," said Olive. "We can't stay here freezing."
Boomer nodded. "You're right."
Olive took a deep breath and they entered the cave.
What lurked in a dark corner ready to spring at them?
~~ CHAPTER 8 ~~
The Tunnel On The Right
The echo bounced around the rock walls.
Brr-aa-ck! Brr-aa-ck! Brr-aa-ck! Brr-aa-ck! Brr-aa-ck! Brr-aa-ck! Brr-aa-ck! Brr-aa-ck! Brr-aa-ck! Brr-aa-ck!
Olive moaned. "Now you've done it, Boomer."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Boomer said. "I couldn't help it."
Olive didn't move.
Her ears were cocked for the slightest noise. Any moment a Gotcha or something just as awful could attack them.
They waited. They didn't move a muscle. But nothing happened.
Then with tiny sighs of relief they made their way through the gloomy cave.
They came to a fork leading off to two tunnels.
"Shall we try the one on the right, Olive?" Boomer whispered.
Olive sniffed. There was a mossy smell all around and a faint, horrible one underneath it.
One she didn't like.
"We'll try the right," Olive whispered back.
One tunnel is as good - or bad - as another, she thought.
As they travelled along the tunnel that horrible smell got stronger and stronger. When they came near the end, it was plain where the smell came from.
In their path were four Gotchas.
~~ CHAPTER 9 ~~
Olive quivered. Boomer pressed his knees into her sides.
If the Gotchas woke up, they were finished.
What should they do?
Without a word Olive began backing up. She didn't take her eyes off the big yellow lumps for a second.
They'd never been so silent.
Only the plink-plink-plinks of melting icicles could be heard.
Then Boomer felt another burp coming on.
However, he managed to stifle it with his knuckles.
Bit by bit they backed away from these terrifying yellow lumps.
Easy does it, Olive thought. Don't stumble on any loose stones. Back up some more. And a little bit more. And some more.
Keep going. Don't stop.
Gradually she got far enough away so they couldn't see the Gotchas.
Everything was going fine. Just another three or four steps to the fork. That's all.
Easy now, Olive kept reminding herself. Easy. Don't rush. Whatever you do, don't panic. Easy, easy.
Olive brushed against a spider. A brown one hanging from a sticky thread.
The spider swung in front of Boomer's nose. When he saw it he lost all control.
"Aiiiieeeeee!" Boomer screamed.
The Gotchas hopped towards them with surprising speed. Their black eyes looked ready to pop out of their lumpy yellow heads.
Their huge mouths were wide open as they screamed too. The echoes in the cave were deafening.
Olive and Boomer just closed their eyes.
We've had it! Olive thought.
~~ CHAPTER 10 ~~
The Tunnel On The Left
Olive smiled. "Well, what do you know! I think you scared them, Boomer."
Boomer chuckled and blew on his fingertips. "Ho-hum, nothing to it. Sometimes it pays to be a loudmouth. So what now?"
"That's a good question."
"I hate to say this, Olive, but you might not find your family. They could be - could be -"
Olive's eyes welled with tears. "Yes, I know. But I can't quit so soon. Let's try the tunnel on the left this time."
This tunnel sloped downward. The farther they went it grew dimmer.
As they crept along, Boomer clutched Olive's neck. His hands trembled and his stomach gurgled.
"I sure wish I was at the North Pole," he said. "The special today is grilled cheese sandwiches and blackberry pie."
Olive came to a sharp corner. When she turned it she froze.
"Sweet loving potaters!" Boomer cried out.
What they saw was unbelievable.
Is it the dim light? Am I looking into a trick mirror? Olive thought.
~~ CHAPTER 11 ~~
They all had noses like hers.
Well, not exactly like hers. Some noses were blue and some were green.
Could it be?
Yes, it was her parents and her eight brothers and sisters.
Olive's father had a nose as blue as the sky.
Her mother's nose was a lovely lime green. It had a slight upward tilt, but it wasn't snobbish.
Her brothers' and sisters' noses were blue or green in all kinds of wonderful shades.
They studied each other before breaking out into fits of laughter. Then there were a great many licks and nuzzles exchanged.
"At the North Pole I'm called Olive," Olive said.
"How about that!" her father said.
"That's what we named you," her mother said.
"What else?" her father said. "In our whole family tree nobody has a nose like yours."
Olive gasped. "You mean I'm the only reindeer with a nose like -?"
"Yes, like an olive," her mother said. "You're very lucky."
Lucky? Olive thought. Yes, I am lucky. I'm not just different, I'm one of a kind.
Then she couldn't stop smiling.
Everybody sat down to a meal of celery sticks with peanut butter.
The food got Boomer's full attention. He loved peanut butter.
After the meal Olive told them what she did at the toy factory, and about the friendly skating races with her reindeer friends on Candy Cane Pond.
Her mother and father beamed with pride.
Open-mouthed with amazement were Olive's brothers and sisters: Iggy, Andy, Charlie, and Franky, Cathy, Winnie, Shirley, and Suzie.
"You wouldn't believe how fast and strong Olive is," Boomer said. "She doesn't like to blow her own horn, but she leads Mrs. Claus's team."
"Ooooo!" cried Olive's brothers and sisters.
"No doubt about it, you're something special, Olive," her father said. "So you'd better get back to the North Pole before it gets dark and even more dangerous."
Olive hesitated. "But - but - "
"Now don't argue, Olive. That's where you belong," her mother said. "Lots of people count on you."
"Why don't you come back and live with me?" Olive said.
Her parents shook their heads.
"We all have many close friends here, Olive," her mother said. "We'd miss each other."
So Olive left with a lighter heart and promised she'd visit again soon.
~~ CHAPTER 12 ~~
But Boomer didn't weigh any less. He'd put away a lot of celery and peanut butter.
Boomer, you're like a sackful of wet cement! Olive thought.
But she didn't mind that much. She was feeling too happy.
When they got to the North Pole, Olive took Boomer right to the hospital.
"Stay off that ankle, Boomer," Dr. Winters said. "Give it lots of rest and it'll be as good as new in ten days."
As for Olive she made a visit to the whirlpool.
Then she trotted off to Mrs. Claus's bakery.
"Here's a raisin and oatmeal cookie to munch on, Olive," said Mrs. Claus with a big smile.
At the toy factory Olive met Santa Claus doing his rounds.
"Ho! Ho! Ho! I'm glad you're back, Olive," Santa said. "Mrs. Claus needs you to lead her team on the Big Trip. It's not far away you know."
Later on in the gym there was a Bop 'Til You Drop party to celebrate Olive's and Boomer's safe return.
Mrs. Claus made a chocolate fudge cake that took up a whole table.
"Wow! Look at that!" shouted Boomer.
The cake was formed like a Christmas tree. Its branches were whipped cream with red cherries on the tips. The trunk was crushed filberts and cashews.
By the sandwich and pastry buffet were two troughs of fruit punch. Enough for eighteen reindeer. One trough for Santa's team and the other for Mrs. Claus's team.
Except for Boomer, who was groaning after too much cake, everybody had a great time.
Santa and Mrs. Claus danced the night away. And Olive conducted the elves' band with her one-of-a-kind nose.
She'd never been happier because she knew the North Pole was where she belonged - home.
Posted with pleasure and by permission from Michael Christie