Fiona’s eyes sparkle as she holds up the snow globe. She gives it a good shake – tiny elves tumble down inside the glass and then get up to continue dancing. They were always dancing. Jumping up and down, twirling underneath each other’s arms, hopping back and forth along the snow. Excitedly, Fiona shakes the toy again. And again. And again.
Everything looked magical inside the globe. Snow drifted at a leisurely pace, like feathers floating in mid-air. Fiona had seen snow in the old movies belonging to her grandmother. Films like It’s a Wonderful Life or Harry Potter, where magic reigned supreme. Where nothing couldn’t be made more cheerful by the presence of this funny white material falling from the sky. Having never seen snow in real life, Fiona assumed it wasn’t real. Just another feature of a fantasy world, where dreams really do come true. But, Grandma had said that snow was real. She had seen it. She even said whole countries were covered with it – places like Russia or Canada. Fiona nodded along but she didn’t believe Grandma. After all, Grandma used to tell all sorts of stories about things that didn’t really exist. Like a town called Norfolk. Grandma said she’d holidayed there as a child but where she pointed to on a map was out in the sea. There was nothing there but water. Grandma also used to tell stories about tiny yellow and black creatures that buzzed around, helping the flowers to grow. She called them Bees. Dad called them fictional. Dad said snow was fictional as well. All Grandma’s memories were products of an overactive imagination. Such a shame, thought Fiona, because it really is beautiful.
Fiona only stopped shaking the globe when she noticed one elf had stopped moving. He was tall for an elf and covered from head to toe in red and green stripes, spread out on the floor of the toy. Usually he had sandy blonde hair, just like Fiona herself, but right at this moment, Fiona could swear there was a little red in there. Shaking her head, she assumed it was a trick of the light. This red was like the red of his cap, but it made his hair look wet. That couldn’t possibly be real. Sighing, Fiona put the globe back on her nightstand and skipped out of the room. Collectively, the elves ceased their merry movements and breathed a sigh of relief.
One elf, with sandy hair similar to the boy on the floor, rushed over to where he lay. Cradling her brother’s head, she tried not to cry at the blood painted on her hands. In that final shake of the globe, Simon had hit his head on the roof of a house that lined the back wall. Now his body was limp and getting colder by the second. The other elves knew they had to move quickly to remove the body, in case the child, the unknowing keeper of their prison, return and notices this is more than a toy malfunction. But they give Celeste time to mourn her brother.
Celeste and Simon were nine when they were brought to the globe. Many were shocked by how young they were, but many also knew that age did not matter to those in charge. The higher ups were the people who profited from the end of humanity. Those who grinned icy, soulless grins as the world heated and all those who lived in it died. All those except the elves, a tiny race of creature, who could now leave their hiding places in the woods of Iceland and enjoy this new world. Most elves wanted to learn from humanity’s failings and live collectively, sharing the Earth and its resources. But a few saw the possibility to become rich beyond belief and monetised everything, charging the others for the air they breathed, punishing those who couldn’t pay by sending them here. To a crowded snow globe in the bedroom of a child born 500 years before any of the elves were. Here they are forced to dance and act like mechanical features of a toy. For if they do not, they risk this archaic world finding the magic within the globe and changing the course of history. Many elves wonder if this may be better than allowing the future to unfold as they know it will. But many also know this will change who is born and who is not. They could make a worse world. They could write themselves and their loved ones out of existence. Too many mothers were imprisoned in the globe, none of them willing to risk their children for a better future.
One mother now walks towards Celeste. Kneeling next to the girl, she gently pulls her weeping body away from Simon. Four men pick up his body and begin a funeral march towards the furthest house on the left. Underneath it is a hidden door. It is where new prisoners appear, and it is where dead prisoners are laid to rest. Both the start and end of everyone’s final journey. It is where all prisoners will once again find themselves, for death is the only form of release here. Celeste is allowed four more seconds to mourn before the elves hear the telltale sound of the doorknob outside the globe rattling. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off and dance like nothing has happened.
Fiona’s eyes sparkle as she holds up the snow globe.
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