Here is my entry that I've written twice already because my computer died. Yes its ending is cliche. Yes it's way over the 'word limit'. Yes there are probably spelling/grammar mistakes. (I'll try to fix these later, but I decided to post it now 'cause I started to run out of time) And yes, you shall read it anyway! Anyway, here it is: The Origin of Christmas “Grandpa, I can’t sleep,” Jessica moans. Who could blame her? It’s Christmas Eve, and all she – and any other kid in the country for that matter – can think about is the presents that are awaiting her under the tree. Maybe she got the talking doll she asked for, or a mini-airbed like the one her grandpa has. She stands at the doorway of her grandpa’s room while he gets up off the jets of air that were making him float in place. Now she really wants an airbed. “Would you like me to read you a story, Jess?” asks her grandpa. "What's it about?" Jessica asks eagerly. “It's not just any story. It's a story about the origin of Christmas.” “Yes, read it! Read it!” Jessica shouts. “Alright, alright, let’s teleport back to your room.” With a flash of light, Jessica and her grandpa appear back in Jessica’s room. After she lies down on her bed, her grandpa tucks her in, and takes a seat in a chair nearby. He pulls out a small book from his shirt pocket, and opens it up to a page somewhere near the middle. Jessica finds this a little odd, but is too eager to hear the story to point it out. “Our story begins long ago,” Jessica’s grandpa begins, “when humans had first discovered space travel. A small crew of astronauts were sent on a mission to find life on another planet. Us humans were finally ready to answer the biggest question of all: Are we alone?” Chris stepped out onto jungle-like terrain. They had landed on a clearing in a vast forest that covered the entire planet. When he saw that the coast was clear, Chris turned back to the ship and called out, “All clear!” A dozen men in space suits cautiously walked out of the ship’s airlock. They looked around, amazed by how similar the planet was to Earth. Bugs buzzed in the wind, small animals crawled up the trees, and birds chirped from the canopies. One of the crew members called out to the rest, “My iLife says that oxygen levels are stable, and that the gravitational force is similar to Earth's. We can take our suits off.” As the crew removed their suits, the captain walked up to Chris. “Hey scout, how’s it looking?” “Well, since it’s so humid, I’m assuming there’s a body of water nearby,” explained Chris. “The wind is moving to the East, so that means that water vapour from the West is being picked up by the wind, and is falling back down here. Therefore, I suggest we head West, and hope that this water vapour is coming from a big body of water. Then, if we can find it, it is most likely that intelligent life will be nearby.” “Wow. I didn’t understand any of that. But I did hear you say ‘West’. So West it is!” the captain announced. When the crew was ready to leave, they began their walk to the West, with Chris in the lead. He tried to listen in on their conversations. “I heard that this is a pretty peaceful planet,” one crew member said. “Really? I heard that the government just told us that so we wouldn’t chicken out,” another said bluntly. That was not good news for Chris. As the scout, his job was to walk ahead of the crew and report any dangers. This also meant that if there was a danger, he would probably be the first to die. Despite the uncertainties ahead, Chris had to be strong. Reluctantly, he walked ahead, picking up his pace. As the sun began setting, he stumbled upon a clearing. He called back to the captain, “Hey! I found a good place to camp for the night.” The captain ran up to him and agreed, “Not bad. Alright, we rest here.” Chris took a seat while another crew member attempted to light a fire. Some others sat beside him. “I don’t believe we’re spending our Festivus Eve here.” - “Wait! What’s Festivus, grandpa?” Jessica interrupts. “Well, many years ago,” her grandpa explained, “before Christmas became a holiday, many humans celebrated Festivus. It was a lively holiday with many traditions like we have today. Traditions such as the Festivus pole, the feast, the Airing of Grievances, and the Feats of Strength.” “What are those?” Jessica asks. “Alright, I’ll explain some of them. In the Airing of Grievances, every person would tell the others how they have disappointed them over the past year. In the Feats of Strength, the host of the party would pick one guest and would have to wrestle with him. The holiday could only continue if the host’s head was pinned on the ground by the guest that he picked.” “That doesn’t sound very fun.” “Never mind that, dear. Let’s move on,” Jessica’s grandpa says as he picks the book back up and continues. “I don’t believe we’re spending our Festivus Eve here,” one of them groaned. Chris had completely forgotten about Festivus. It had been hard for him to keep track of Earth time while he was in space. “If a Festivus pole is what you want, we have one right here,” another crew member said, lifting up a small aluminum pole held up by a wooden stand. “Nah,” the other crew member said, “It’s not the same without my family.” Judging by the rest of the crew’s sullen expressions, they missed their families too. * * * Keeping watch at night was Chris’s least favourite part of the job. Rarely did anyone volunteer to switch in for him, and so he rarely got any sleep. Every night he told himself that he would stand up to the captain and ask if someone else could take his place, but he never did. So he sat there every night, listening to the others snoring while he kept watch. Suddenly, a sound broke the silence. It sounded like something was moving around behind the bushes. It’s probably nothing, Chris comforted himself. But then he heard it again. Ambushes at night happen only in books and movies, you’re just paranoid, he told himself. But when he heard the same sound, only louder and closer, he decided he should nudge the captain awake. However, just as he was about to nudge the captain with his foot, a small creature ran out into the clearing, followed by several more. Quietly waking the captain wasn’t going to do. “WAKE UP!” Chris bellowed. “Code purple!” When the creatures were merely metres away, Chris finally got a good look at them. They were small, with green skin, and were holding spears, bows, swords, and the like. Panicking, Chris stepped back as more and more ran into the clearing. The crew began to fire at the creatures. Suddenly, something that looked like a chestnut rolled towards Chris. By the time he saw the fuse on the top, it was too late. The chestnut grenade blew up, sending him flying. Chris slammed into a tree with crushing force, and blacked out. * * * Chris woke up in a small hut made of a straw-like material. It had holes in the walls instead of windows, and looked as if it was supported by some kind of glue. Suddenly, he remembered the ambush, and quickly sat up. It wasn’t the smartest idea. AAAAHHH! A sharp pain in his back made him fall right back down. When he opened his eyes again, a curious creature was standing over his head. “Es evigilabit!” the creature whispered in a coarse voice. The creature looked like a plant. It had scaly, green skin and long hair made of leaves. Its eyes were dark, and looked at him curiously. The creature was wearing something similar to a leather tunic. “Sunt te surdum?” Chris snapped out of his gaze, and reached into his pocket. He pulled out two earpieces, put one on, and held out the other one for the creature. Cautiously, it took it and put it on. “What is this?” asked the same coarse voice. “A translator,” Chris explained, “it’ll allow us to communicate.” “I see,” the creature said. “The last time I saw technology such as this, it was in the hands of a human. Say, are you human?” “Yes! Wait, others have been here before?” “Yes, of course.” Chris decided to drop the subject for now. “What are you? A flower, or some kind of human?” “Both,” it said, “I am… Floran.” “Floran? Okay, well my name is Chris.” Chris got up slowly and held out his hand. “My name is T’mas [pronounced: Teh-MASS],” the Floran said, staring curiously at Chris’s hand. “Why are you holding up your hand like that?” “Never mind that, where is my crew? Are they safe?” Chris asked, preparing himself for the worst. “There was a short battle, but the other humans put up a force field that my tribe can’t get through.” T’mas motioned for Chris to follow him, and they walked outside. T’mas pointed to a bright purple force field less than a kilometer away. Although Chris was relieved to see that they were safe, he suddenly realised, “Your tribe? So you’re one of them?” “Technically, no,” T’mas said sadly, “I was banished when I told them to stop attacking every living thing that stepped on their land. You see, my father and older brother were killed in a raid similar to this one. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to stop the raids from happening, but my tribe is violent by nature. So I do little things to make it a little more peaceful. For example, saving you.” “Maybe we can stop them together,” Chris offered, “we could both go talk to our leaders and try to convince them that we can make peace.” T’mas pondered the idea for a moment. “Normally I would say no, but since today is Otium Day, your plan might actually work.” “Otium Day?” “Yes. Every year, we have a day where we strive not to do anything violent or harmful. For me, every day is like Otium Day, but it’s hard for most of the others. Violence is in our genetics, you see, and so today isn’t easy for my tribe.” “Interesting. Today is Festivus for us humans. It is also a time of peace for us.” “Great! Maybe this plan will work. We can leave in-” But T’mas was interrupted by a bright flash of purple light. Chris quickly turned toward the force field. “It’s flickering!” Chris shouted in horror. “The force field is fading! We don’t have much time before it fades completely and your tribe attacks! We stand no chance against your army of Florans.” “That’s not good,” T’mas said, “Maybe we can-” “We have no time,” Chris interrupted. “Run!” They bolted in the direction of the flickering force field. Chris had forgotten about his back until now, but despite the horrible pain, he kept running. As the force field slowly dimmed, it dawned on Chris that they weren’t going to make it. He realised that his crew would be slaughtered, and he would be stuck on a dangerous planet, light years away from home. Just as that thought ran through his head, the force field disappeared completely. “NOOO!” Chris shouted. But suddenly, a shadow swooped over them, and something sharp picked him up off the ground. He looked to his right, and saw that T’mas was being held up as well. Chris watched in terror as the ground got farther away, until they were a hundred feet high. When he looked behind him, whatever hope he had left completely disappeared. They were being held up by the giant talons of a humanoid bird. Its skin was covered in white feathers, and it had a yellow beak and red eyes. It wore little clothing, but it had a large feather headdress. Chris wanted to scream, but they were flying so fast that he couldn't open his mouth. All hope is lost. I’ll never reach the battle in time, and Earth will never hear from us again. We’re just too far away… Wait, are we? Suddenly Chris realised that the creature was flying them in the direction of the clearing where the force field had been. In a matter of seconds, they reached the area between the advancing Floran army and the crew’s camp. It’s a Festivus miracle! Suddenly Chris’s heart was filled with hope. The creature swooped down, set them down safely, and flew away into the sky. “What was that?” T’mas gasped. “I don’t know, but there’s no time to question it,” Chris said. “We have a war to stop.” As the army advanced, and the crew stood and stared with terror, Chris set his earpiece to speaker mode. When the army was only ten metres away, Chris decided it was time. “STOP!!” he shouted as loud as he could. The shout was loud enough to halt the advancing army. It was so loud that flocks of birds flew from the trees, and animals howled from miles away. “Please! Just stop.” Chris saw that he had everyone’s attention and decided to move on quickly, before their bloodlust took over their patience. “Today isn’t just any day. Today is Festivus for us humans, and coincidentally, it is also Otium Day for the Florans,” he said, getting some puzzled looks from his crewmates. “Today is a time of peace, happiness, and relaxation. And what are we doing with our time instead? Killing, slaughtering, and fighting. And for what cause? “On a day of peace, the humans are trying to leave this planet in peace, and the Florans are trying to live peacefully in their homes without fear of intruders. Peace, peace, peace, peace, peace! And yet, we fight! Tell me, does this make sense?” The crew shook their heads, along with most of the Floran army. “Then why are you doing this? If you had just stopped and thought about it for one second, you would have realised how stupid this is.” An important-looking Floran - probably the leader - yelled something from the crowd, and many others shouted their agreement. T’mas translated, “He’s asking, ‘What do you suggest we do?’” “What do you do? You go home, and let us leave," Chris said. "We just came to look around. We were going to leave this morning!” Chris assured the Floran leader. “We were?” the captain of the space crew asked. “Yes,” Chris said, glaring at the captain, “We were.” The Floran leader said something else, attracting more shouts from his army. “He’s asking, ‘How do we know you won’t attack us once we go back home? Why should we trust you?” T’mas translated again. “Because it is a day of peace. Because we want to go home to our families just as much as you do.” The Floran leader grumbled something to himself. When Chris looked to T’mas for a translation, the Floran said “I’d rather not speak such dirty words on Otium Day.” Suddenly, the leader of the Floran army said in a heavily-accented English, “You humans have always been nothing but trouble. However, you are the first humans to suggest a peaceful solution to a conflict. And, although we are not the most peaceful species, it is Otium Day. And so I will oblige by letting you go. Just this once.” He then dropped the crossbow that was in his hands, and shouted to his tribe. Chris watched in delight as hundreds of Florans put their weapons down and walked back in the direction of their village. “Well, I must go now,” T’mas said. “Yup, I guess this is good-bye,” Chris said, and turned to walk to his crew. “For now," T'mas added. “And when the crew got back to Earth,” Jessica’s grandpa concludes, “they told stories of how Chris and T’mas had saved them. People celebrated their safe return every year. The celebration was named Christmas, after the brave human and Floran who saved the day. Chris and T’mas did meet again, but we’ll save that story for another time. For now, let’s just remember their courageous act that has changed the universe for the better.” As Jess’s grandpa closes the book, he asks his granddaughter, “So, now do you understand what really happened? … Jess?” But she is already fast asleep. Her grandpa smiles as he gets up, and teleports back to his room. As he sits on his air-bed, he stares at a picture on his bedside table. It is a picture of him on a humid, green planet with his best friend. A friend by the name of T’mas.