Mr. and Mrs. Fowl walked in the door.
“Welcome home,” Elena called from the kitchen.
“Thank you, dear,” Mrs. Fowl said. Artemis stood at the top of the stairs.
“Welcome home, Mother. Welcome home, Father,” he said, giving them each a nod.
“Good to see you, son,” Mr. Fowl said.
“Come and give mummy a hug, Arty,” Mrs. Fowl said, extending her arms. Artemis sighed and slowly descended the stairs. He walked into his mother’s embrace.
“Ahem,” Elena cleared her throat. Artemis quickly stepped back, embarrassed that someone had seen him.
“Dinner is served,” she gestured to the table. It was covered in everyone’s favorite food. Lemon peppered tilapia for Artemis, a fruit buffet for Mrs. Fowl, and caviar for Mr. Fowl. Plates were already set out and the different foods were arranged neatly on them.
“I thought you said that you were cooking this for Christmas dinner?” Artemis whispered to Elena as everyone walked to the table.
“It was,” she replied. “But your mother called while I was in my room and told me that they wouldn’t be home for Christmas dinner so I made it tonight.” Everyone took their seats and began to eat.
They sat there for about five minutes in total silence. Mrs. Fowl’s fork came down on the table with a smash.
“It’s Christmas Eve!” she exclaimed and everyone looked at her.
“Yes, it is Christmas Eve,” Artemis said confused.
“So why is everyone being so gloomy?” she demanded, looking around at everyone. No one wanted to answer in fear of being wrong. “Elena?” Mrs. Fowl said, turning to the maid.
Elena avoided the gaze of her employer. “Well,” she started. “Apparently I’m a bad liar and I don’t want to give away the surprise for tomorrow.”
“And what would that be?” Mrs. Fowl asked.
“Th-the amazing dinner that I was planning to cook,” Elena stammered. She’s lying again, Artemis thought when he noticed the tremor in her voice. Mrs. Fowl seemed to be appeased by this answer. Dinner ended quickly and everyone went upstairs to bed. Elena finished the dishes and ascended the stairs to her room.
When she opened the door, she sprinted over to the window. When she was convinced that it was locked securely, she closed the blinds. She did this every night every since the eyes had appeared. She hurriedly got ready for bed and jumped under the covers.
Elena found herself running through Fowl Manor. She was trying to get away from a flying monster with glowing red eyes. Faces flashed in front of her. They looked familiar but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. A girl in a uniform, a man surrounded by smoke, another man with a strange hat. She turned a corner to find a locked gate blocking her path. Artemis stood in the shadows on the other side twirling the key on his index finger.
“Artemis,” she sighed. She smiled and waited for him to unlock the gate. He didn’t.
“Artemis?” Elena asked, suddenly frightened. Artemis stepped out from the shadows his eyes were covered by mirrored sunglasses and a cold vampire smile covered his face.
“Don’t worry, Elena,” Artemis said in a cold voice, which sent a shiver down Elena’s spine. “Everything is going to be perfectly fine.” Then, the creature appeared. It grabbed Elena around the waist and started to drag her into the darkness. Elena grabbed the gate.
“Help me, Artemis,” she pleaded. “Please.” She reached out a hand towards him. Artemis just laughed and watched as Elena’s fingers slowly lost their grip. Elena scrambled to get away but the creature was too strong. Darkness surrounded her.
Elena sat up and slapped her hand over her mouth to keep from screaming. She sat in bed breathing deeply for a minutes. Tears appeared on the corners of her eyes. Artemis abandoned me, she though, pulling her knees to her chin. He could have helped but he didn’t. He left me to be taken by the creature. The tears started to run down her cheeks.
“No!” she said allowed, trying very hard to convince herself. “Artemis would never abandon me. It was just a dream. The Artemis I know is sweet and kind and caring. He would never do anything like that.” She glanced at her clock. Red numbers blinked up at her. 3:13. Elena sighed and flopped back down onto her pillow. She closed her eyes, but it was no use. She was wide-awake. She turned on the shower and let the water relax her knotted muscles. The steam filled her lungs and she smiled.
She stayed in the shower as long as possible before she started to prune. She stepped out and wrapped a towel tightly around her body. She sat on the toilet seat and let the water drip off of her body.
Elena walked over to the mirror and examined her face. She had broken out a lot over the past few weeks. She grabbed her moisturizer from of the counter top and applied a thick layer. She let it sit there for about a minute before she washed it off.
She wrapped her hair in a towel and grabbed a book off of her shelf. She plopped back down on the bed and leaned against the headrest. She started to read, but soon found herself reading sentences multiple times. She closed her eyes. She woke up to the feeling of water running down her back. The towel that had been around her hair was on the floor. Water was dripping off the ends of her hair and down her back. She glanced at the clock, 5:26. Oh no! Elena thought. I need to cook breakfast. She jumped up and quickly changed into athletic shorts and a tank top. She raced down the stairs and into the kitchen.
“Now,” she said to herself, examining the contents of the fridge. “What should I make for Christmas morning?” She decided on red and green pancakes. She got out the ingredients for the batter, a pan, and food coloring.
When she had finished, there was a stack of red and green colored hot cakes sitting on a plate. Elena stuck them in the oven to keep them warm. She heard movement upstairs. She scrubbed her hands clean and walked to the bottom of the stairs to greet the Fowls. Mrs. Fowl was first to descend, closely followed by Mr. Fowl. Artemis trudged behind them. His hair was sticking out in multiple directions and he wore plaid pajama pants with a black shirt. He yawned.
Elena giggled. “Good morning, sleepy head.” Artemis placed his hand on top of his head, trying desperately to flatten his hair. “Did your mom just wake you up?” Artemis nodded and followed his parents into the dining room.
Elena brought out the plates of pancakes. Everyone ate quickly, then were ushered into the living room by Mrs. Fowl. Elena collected the dishes and headed into the kitchen to clean them.
“Elena?” she heard Mrs. Fowl call from the kitchen.
“Aren’t you going to join us?”
Elena was taken aback. “Oh, of course. One moment please.” She dried her hands. Before she left the kitchen, she grabbed a big trash bag for all of the wrapping paper. She walked into the living room. Mrs. Fowl gestured for Elena to take the empty seat opposite her and Mr. Fowl next to Artemis. Butler stood near the doorway so he could survey the whole room.
“Now that we’re all together,” Mrs. Fowl said. “Elena would you mind passing out the gifts.”
“Not at all,” Elena knelt beside the Christmas tree. Soon there were three piles of present in front of each of the Fowl family members and there were even some for Butler.
“You missed one in the back,” Mrs. Fowl said, pointing it out. Elena bent down and read the label. To: Elena. She picked it up and was surprised by how much it weighed. She returned to her seat next to Artemis and watched as the Fowls unwrap their gifts.
Slowly, she started to open her own gift. The room suddenly became silent and Elena looked up to see everyone’s eyes on her.
“Go on,” urged Mr. Fowl. Elena carefully ripped each side, then slide her finger down behind the tape in the middle. She pulled it back to reveal a sketchbook and a big box of colored pencils. Inside the box was every shade of every color imaginable. Elena looked up and smiled.
“Thank you,” she said. “Oh, I almost forgot.” She ran over to the tree and pulled her presents out of the branches. She handed them to each person. One by one they unearthed their presents. For Mr. Fowl, Elena had gotten a gold Rolex watch. She had bought Mrs. Fowl a necklace with a diamond flower in the middle. Butler received a gift card to Guns R’ Us and for Artemis, Elena had bought a golden pocket watch on a chain.
She received a wave of thank yous plus a hug from Mrs. Fowl. Elena started to clean the wrapping paper off the floor when Mrs. Fowl made an announcement.
“Timmy and I have one more surprise,” she paused for dramatic effect. “We’re going on a ski trip to the Himalayas.” Artemis didn’t react. He was us to a “”surprise” trip ever Christmas.
“Oh,” Mr. Fowl added. “And Elena gets to come along too.”
Elena dropped the bag of trash in surprise. “Oh!” she exclaimed, quickly picking it up.
“So, everyone needs to pack quickly because we leave at noon.” Mrs. Fowl explained and she and Mr. Fowl exited the room. Elena had still not moved from her spot. She continued to stare at the place where Mr. and Mrs. Fowl had just been. Artemis stood up and stretched.
“Are you coming, Elena, or are you going to stand like that all day?” Artemis asked as he walked upstairs. Elena broke out of her trance and finished cleaning up. She then rushed upstairs to pack her suitcase.
This is so exciting, she thought. I’ve never been to a mountain range before. She brought her packed suitcase downstairs and walked into the kitchen. She finished cleaning in there, then proceeded to check each room in the house to make sure they were clean.
Artemis had been packed since the beginning of the week. He had known about the surprise trip since last month.
“It seems hacking as its advantages,” he said to himself. By the time he made his way downstairs, Elena and his parents were already waiting for him.
Mr. and Mrs. Fowl led the way to the runway on the side of the house. Elena stopped in her tracks. Artemis almost ran into her. Her eyes widened.
“Are we flying to the Himalayas?” she asked Artemis.
“Of course,” he replied in a matter-of-fact voice. “What did you think we were going to drive?” He walked around her and into the plane. Elena gulped. She took a few deep breaths and boarded the plane. Inside was amazing. The seats were leather, there was a kitchenette in the rear, and a huge bathroom in the front.
Elena sat in the rear so that she could easily reach the refreshments if any of the Fowls got peckish. The plane’s engines started, causing it to shake. Elena reached over and shut the shade of her window. She pulled her legs to her chest and buried her head in her knees. Luckily, none of the Fowls needed anything so Elena didn’t have to move.
The wheels hit the ground making the plane bounce a couple of times before slowly rolling to a stop. Elena’s head appeared from between her legs and she slowly lifted her window shade. She sighed in relief when she saw that they were sitting safely on a runway. Elena collected her suitcase and followed Artemis. They entered the ski lodge and Elena’s jaw dropped. It was enormous! She had never seen anything like it in her entire life. The sound of her name snapped her back to reality.
“Elena, dear, hurry up or you’ll be left behind,” Mrs. Fowl called over her shoulder. Elena sprinted to the Fowls. An attendant relieved her of her bag and then escorted them to their room. He opened the door and allowed the guests to enter first. Elena’s mouth fell open for the second time in less than five minutes. This is a room? she thought. The front area and a coffee table, a couch, a gigantic fireplace, and multiple doors that led to individual bedrooms. The room had its own kitchen, a exercise room, and a cabinet full of movies, games, and other kinds of entertainment.
“This shall be your bedroom, miss,” the attendant said, opening one of the bedroom doors. Elena slowly walked inside and gasped. It looked exactly like her room back at the mansion. Everything matched, from the wallpaper to the pattern on the rug. A vase of flowers sat on her bedside table. Elena waited for the attendant to close the door before she ran to the bathroom. She sighed. Halleluiah, she thought. I have had to go ever since we took off.
After she had done her business, she walked back into the main room to find it empty. A note sat on the coffee table.
Mr. Fowl and I left to go skiing. Arty should be return soon. He said that he had needed to look at something in the lobby. Feel free to join us.
Elena had just finished reading the letter when Artemis walked in. He was talking to Butler.
“I think we might be able to get more out of him, if…” he stopped talking when he realized that someone was still in the room.
Elena smiled. “Hey, Artemis.”
“Hello,” Artemis said, nodding. “Are you not going to ski?”
Elena glanced out the window at the mountain. “No,” she said, shaking her head furiously.
Artemis’s brow furrowed. “Why not?” Elena bite her lip, contemplating on whether to tell Artemis a secret that she had never told anyone before.
“I’m afraid of heights,” she blurted out, blushing a little. She closed her eyes an waited for the laughter. It never came.
“Your afraid of heights?” Artemis repeated.
“Yes. The skiing part is fine but when I was eight, the orphanage I was in took a ski trip. I was having a lot of fun until the ski lift stopped moving. I was stuck on a bench by myself for an hour and when they came to get me, they made me jump onto one of those trampolines from 100 feet up and every since I have been terrified of heights.”
Artemis smiled slightly. “Well that was then. Why not try it again. A lot of psychologists say that facing your fears helps you overcome them. I’ll even go with you.” Elena thought for a minute.
“Alright, Artemis,” she sighed finally. “I trust you.” She changed into heavier clothing and met Artemis by the front door. He led he to the ski rental station. On of the teenagers who worked there helped her buckle her boots. Elena slowly stood up. These are really heavy, she thought as she walked outside. Artemis handed her a pair of skis, then showed her how to attach them. They each grabbed a pair of ski poles and carefully made their way to the ski lift. Elena froze. Fear shown brightly in her eyes.
“Come,” Artemis said, his hand extended toward her. She took it hesitantly and he pulled her into the path of the chair. It hit Elena in the back of the legs, making her knees collapse. The chair slowly ascended the mountain swinging slightly.
“Don’t look down, don’t look down,” Elena kept repeating to herself. The ski lift squeaked to a halt.
“Not again,” Elena grabbed onto Artemis’s arm and buried her face in his shoulder. Wow, Artemis is ripped, she thought as he felt his muscle through his coat. The lift started again and Elena tightened her grip as the chair started to swing again.
“Elena, its time to get off,” she heard Artemis whisper. She lifted her head to find herself at the top of the mountain.
She quickly jumped off the chair and skied away from the lift. Artemis was right behind her.
“I did it,” she said, smiling. She turned to Artemis. “Thank you for helping me.”
“Not at all,” he gestured towards the slopes. “Shall we?” Elena nodded. For the rest of the afternoon, she and Artemis had a blast skiing through the snow. By the end of the trip, Elena could go up the lift without being totally afraid, as long as someone was with her.
It was the last night of the trip and Elena was laying in her bed. She slowly sat up in her bed. She sighed. She just couldn’t get to sleep. She walked to her bathroom for a drink. She opened the door and found a brick wall blocking her path. She ran to her other door. Same thing. She sat down on the old chair in her room, trying to figure out what was going on. Metal latches locked around her wrists and ankles. She struggled, but it was no use.
The chair turned and Elena realized that her room had disappeared and had been replaced by a laboratory. Two creatures in white coats walked towards her. One held a needle with a strange glowing purple liquid.
“No! No!” Elena screamed. “No needles! I hate needles! Please, no needles!” A gag appeared around her mouth preventing her from yelling anymore. The creature without the needle slowly pulled up her sleeve, revealing her elbow. The other creature pressed the point of the needle into her skin. Searing pain emanated through out her body.
Elena awoke with a start. The book she was reading before bed clattered to the floor. She grabbed her elbow, afraid of what she might see. A circular scar was barely visible in the morning sunlight. Elena stared at it, eyes wide with fear.
“It really happened,” she breathed. She glanced at the clock, 6:30. The Fowls would be awake soon. Elena got out of bed and started to pack her suitcase. Breakfast had already been delivered but she wasn’t hungry. She arranged the food onto three plates and waited for the Fowls to get up.
An hour later, everyone was boarding the plane. Before they took off, Elena made sure that everyone was taken care of. She found a seat in the back of the plane, pulled down the window shade and assumed her fetal position. Just because I can go up the ski lift doesn’t mean that I’m still not afraid of heights, she thought as the plane rumbled to life.