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  • Max

It is Christmas Eve, and Millie the Cockapoo dog is walking through Elderberry Woods with her family, Chris, Lisa, Ben, Eva and Mia. They are on their way to visit Santa’s Grotto. Millie is walking between everyone’s legs and making them laugh.

Santa’s Grotto is lit up with Christmas decorations twinkling all over the roof and a light-up model sleigh sits beside the door. Murals of elves making presents and reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh cover the walls. While the family are visiting Santa, Millie picks up a scent and walks, with her nose on the ground, around the back of Santa’s Grotto. She finds a sleigh attached to eight reindeer. Cupid is pulling at her reins. In her excitement, Millie runs in circles around the reindeer. Cupid snaps her reins and runs away! Millie follows her!

Millie runs past mossy trees crawling and scuttling with bugs. Leaves and twigs tangle in Millie’s golden curls. A robin flutters down and swallows a plump caterpillar whole. Cupid also runs past all of this, eventually stopping at River Alpine and paddling in the shallows where the currents aren’t too strong. Millie barks and joins her. “Hello! Let’s play!” Millie woofs excitedly and splashes in the water. “I’m Cupid,” replies the reindeer, “I thought I’d break free of my reins and have a little explore. I see wonderful places from the sky but I never get to explore them. I’d be happy to play”. Cupid splashes back at Millie.

Back at the grotto, Chris, Lisa, Ben, Eva and Mia are all looking for Millie. “Millie!” calls Eva. “Millie, come here, girl!” shouts Mia. “Come on, Millie!” hollers Ben. “Let’s look over here,” suggests Lisa, pulling back the branches of a fir tree. “There’s no sign of her,” sighs Chris, “we’ll have to go home”. They all walk away sadly.

Santa checks his list of visitors. No one is scheduled for the rest of the day. About time, he thinks, It’s six o’clock. All of the local children will be having their dinner by now. He goes around the back of his grotto and sees that Cupid is missing!

Santa jumps on his sleigh, following Cupid’s hoofprints. They reach the river and see Millie and Cupid splashing each other with the water. “Come here, Cupid!” booms Santa. Cupid gallops away, but Millie isn’t fast enough and is put in the sleigh. “Ah, you must be Ben, Eva and Mia’s dog, Millie,” Santa says, having heard all about her from the family on their visit. They set off after Cupid.

Cupid is going in a loop, back to the grotto. When she arrives there, Santa and his reindeer are on her tail. But Cupid runs down the path and starts to take off! Santa and Millie chase after her in the sleigh. They take off along the path as well. Some low clouds blow into the sleigh. Millie feels the moisture cover her fur. “Cupid, you’ve had a play!” barks Millie, “Come back!” “Of course, my friend,” calls back Cupid. She slows down and flies alongside the sleigh. They both land. Cupid is reattached to the sleigh and they fly back to the North Pole.

On Christmas Eve, Santa squeezes down Ben, Eva and Mia’s chimney not only with presents, but Millie as well! Santa places her in Mia’s stocking, tucked in snugly with the gifts, so that she can’t get out!

In the morning, Eva and Mia wake up to a barking noise. Eva and Mia look in their stockings and run into their parents’ room shouting, “Millie’s back!” The family celebrate Christmas and open their presents with Millie. And Christmas is complete.

By Max

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  • Max

Snap the shore crab is a post crab at Crabby Delivery Service, or CDS for short. He is on his rounds in Seaweed City and the currents are very strong. High Tide Fishyway is still bustling with traffic, desperate to get to work in the rock pools before the tide exposes the rock. Snap must deliver all the post in time too! Snap is sitting in a queue on his weak little blenny, Fin. The stronger dogfish that most sea creatures ride can handle the currents much better than Fin, but CDS can only afford blennies. Just then, a very strong current cuts through the Fishyway. The dogfish manage to keep going, but Snap and Fin are swept into the high seas above the Fishyway!

The current eventually dies down and they swim back to the sea floor. But they are in a unfamiliar part of Seaweed City. Snap and Fin begin to make their way back to the Seaweed City rockpools that they can see in the distance. But blocking their way is the least popular delivery address on Snap’s round – Big Crab Tunnel, home to Biggie, the city’s biggest and most aggressive velvet swimming, or devil crab!

As he approaches, Snap sidesteps, as soft as a feather, through the sand, avoiding any trip hazards like rocks. Snap places Biggie’s letter on a rock. Suddenly, Biggie wakes up! “WHAT’RE YOU DOIN’ IN MY PLACE?!!!” roars Biggie. “J-just delivering your post, Bigton,” shivers Snap. Biggie will not listen to anything unless he is called ‘Bigton’. “WELL, YOU’VE DROPPED IT NOW, SO GET OUTTA HERE!” Biggie thunders. Snap turns around and runs sideways. Biggie blocks his way. “Please move, Biggie,” pleads Snap. “MY NAME IS BIGTON!!!!” roars Biggie. “Yes, of course. That’s exactly what I meant,” Snap says calmly as he edged toward the not-so-secret second entrance. Biggie saw what he was doing and dived at the secret entrance, giving Snap a few seconds to escape through the main entrance. “NOOOOOO!!!!” Biggie roars as he sees Snap escape.

Big Crab Tunnel caves in from the vibrations caused by the roar, but Biggie manages to scuttle out before any rocks hit him. Limpets abandon their home scars on seeing Biggie. A starfish takes a risk and captures the limpets before quickly retreating into another rockpool. Biggie snatches and eats a stray sea snail, fuelling his energy and making him push on with the chase. Snap hops onto Fin and he swims away at top speed (well, top speed in blenny terms, anyway). Biggie clambers onto the water highway and chases after Snap, blocking three lanes of traffic. Fish fire bubbles at Biggie; that is the equivalent of honking your horn in the underwater world. In return, Biggie eats the young crabs on the fish and, in one case, eats the fish as well!

Snap veers sideways, down Sea Cabbage Street. He has to stop as he finds that the cave-in at Big Crab Tunnel has left a hole in the road! Biggie storms into Snap and his blenny and they tumble into the rocks. The blenny quickly recovers and rescues Snap and swishes up some sand to block Biggie from seeing which way they went. Biggie gets up and steals a dogfish to ride. They set off twice as fast as Snap’s blenny. As the dogfish is such a better fish for riding, Biggie soon catches up with Snap. He gets the dogfish to shunt Snap’s blenny. Snap falls off and his blenny loses him in the bustling road.

They are back in the centre of Seaweed city now, where the currents are strong again. Strong enough to carry away a large devil crab! Biggie is swept up into the waves and Snap sees a shadow zoom across the water. The shadow deepens and Snap sees a seagull pull Biggie from the water by a claw!

Snap manages to deliver the day’s post to the rest of the city just before low tide sends everyone hiding in the water filled tunnels.

Back at the postal centre Snap’s boss, Sidewalk, asks him, “How was your morning?” Snap sighs, “Turn on the news and you’ll see”. Sidewalk watches wide-eyed. Afterwards, he says, “I see what you mean”.

By Max

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  • Max

Spook had become trapped as a ghost when he tripped, and fell from the sky, trying to get to the afterlife. He found an abandoned mansion, settled there and had been alone ever since.

However, his mansion was previously owned by the infinitely rich Cuthbert-Simon-Arthur Challing, and when he passed away, many precious artefacts were left abandoned. This drew many explorers and treasure hunters to the mansion. Explorers like Jane Hart.

Jane was an extremely intrepid explorer. Her first expedition was finding the Loch Ness monster. She was ten at the time.

Jane was at the mansion looking for clues to explain why other treasure hunters always ran away from the old place. She stood at the rotten front door. It creaked as she opened it and stepped into the dusty hallway.

Spook was disturbed from his book as the front door creaked. A tall figure stood in the doorway. Spook was instantly terrified. I have to scare her away before she gets me, he thought.

Books suddenly flew over the stair railings. They landed on and around Jane. She batted the books aside, pushing onward. Most people would think twice after just that, thought Jane as she sprinted through an open doorway leading to the drawing room.

Spook sank through the floor and saw Jane in the drawing room. He snuck up on her and shouted, “BOO!” in a spooky voice. Jane just stared at him. “Go away! Or I will make you… err… blue?” Spook said. He was not good at this scaring stuff. People usually just ran away when he did the book trick. I’ll just throw some pencils at her, decided Spook. He opened fire. Jane left the drawing room and headed for the library. I’ve found out what I came for, thought Jane, but I need to teach this ghost a lesson. And pick up the Peacock Emerald along the way. She searched the tables and bookshelves for the emerald, but couldn’t find it anywhere.

Spook had retreated upstairs and was watching Jane from one of the raised reading wings. I have to finish this, thought Spook. A plan began to form in his head.

Spook sank through the floor and knocked over a bookshelf. He scooped up the fallen books and began throwing them at Jane once again. In return, she started to rummage through her backpack. Eventually, Jane threw her bag on the floor, holding her water bottle in the air triumphantly. Spook zoomed away – a little known weakness in ghosts was water. It stunned them. Spook had been defeated once before, and it was by water. He weaved around the bookshelves, avoiding any splashes of the liquid. All of a sudden, Jane snuck up behind him. She threw the water all over him. The ghost squealed and fell to the ground. “First of all, who are you?” asked Jane.

“I was a human, like you,” gasped Spook, “but then I died and fell on my way to the afterlife. I found this mansion, and decided to call it home”.

“I asked you for your name, not your story, ghost,” scowled Jane.

“My name was John Cane, now it is Spook,” replied Spook. His energy was returning. Jane and Spook kept talking. The conversation gradually became friendlier and friendlier until Jane decided it was time to go home. “It’s been nice meeting you, Spook,” Jane began, “but I have to go home. The sun will set soon and this place is miles away from anywhere, and, by the looks of it, this mansion has no accommodation fit for a living human. Goodbye, Spook”. Jane got up and repacked her rucksack. “Goodbye, Jane,” Spook said sadly, “I suppose that you will take the Peacock Emerald with you”. Jane shook her head. “I’ve learnt something from this adventure; sometimes it’s best to leave things as they are,” Jane said softly. Her boots echoed on the hard floor as she walked away. Spook gazed out of the library window, seeing a better world form out there.

By Max

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