WFOL 2024 Challenge

Winterfest Guests


by Tunnel Muse


Hello, my name is Jason Storm. I am fifty years old and a musician. I am self-taught and play the violin.

I was twelve years old when I lost my parents in a car accident and ended up living with my grandfather shortly afterwards. My grandfather raised me while he ran a small music store and taught children music in his downtime. I would listen to him play and then try to play it myself. I seemed to be able to pick up the music quite easily, and my grandfather heard me play.

“You have a gift, my boy! Where did you learn to play the violin?”

“I don’t know? I just love the way it sounds when it’s played.”

“Well!” said my grandfather, “with a little bit of fine tuning, I can help you on the finer points. How would you like that?”

“That sounds amazing!” I said to him with a huge grin.

So, he taught me after work was done, and even let me work in the music store after school and weekends. 

Over the next ten years, we worked together, and I learned everything about music and the business aspects of it. On one of those days when the business was quiet, Grandad closed the shop and we went home, which conveniently was just up a flight of stairs from our store. On this one rare slow day, he mentioned a winter gathering he would go to every year, with the exception of illness, he said. Although he would always try to make the effort anyway, when possible.

This day, we sat drinking coffee, relaxing, so I decided to ask him more about it, since after he had mentioned it, he sat deep in thought, shaking his head slightly. “Granddad, can you tell me about this weekend of yours?”

He sat thinking about what he was going to say before he spoke. “It’s a place of wonder and mystery. A place of fairy tales. Almost…magical!”

I sat beside him in rapt interest, curiosity, and wonder as to what this place could be. I listened intently to what he was saying as he continued.

“To explain, my boy, you must understand how this all began and why, before telling you. It was many years ago, when I was young and my shop was new.”

Sitting patiently, I waited for him to continue with his story.

“My business was small and new, like I said. It was hard work and it wasn’t always easy, but I loved it. People would come in and buy my instruments.  Guitars, banjos, and violins. I even had some percussion instruments, as well. As time went on, business was good, and I made a good living on what I really loved…music. I even refurbished old instruments that no one wanted or needed any more. 

“Business was so good that I decided to give back…pay it forward.”

Grandad was thoughtful again; his eyes seemed to be looking into another time. Then, shaking his head, he spoke again. 

“As I told you, business was good, better than good, and I wanted to give back in some small way. I decided to teach children the appreciation of music and began to give lessons. You’ve seen them come to the shop in the evenings, two times a week, to hone their craft.

“Each child gets to choose their instrument of choice, and then learn that instrument. Some took to it easily, as you have, with an inner God-given gift. Others had to work a bit harder, but they had heart and the willingness to learn. It was wonderful to see them grow.”

He paused for a few moments to collect his thoughts, then continued. “I’ve never really spoken about my life…my past before your dad was born. It was a hard, struggling, wondrous, and beautiful life.

“I was an orphan and, like you, had a gift for music. Some wonderful people took me in and raised me until I was old enough to be on my own and live independently.”

I listened intently to my grandfather. I never knew of him being an orphan and having to struggle. I guess it made me realize that we weren’t so different after all. It made me love and appreciate him even more.

“Well,” Grandad continued, “that’s why I give back, my boy. Now I teach children who wish to learn, no matter their station in life, from then ‘til now. I refurbish those instruments and take them to the children and others who can’t afford to buy them but appreciate the art of music.

“As you probably have been wondering, I go out over the Christmas holiday month. I think you are old enough now to come with me and a few of the other musicians who play with me. We are only a small troupe, but you will understand why. 

“I have only one request, Jason!”

He looked at me with a serious expression, but also love.

“I’m listening, Granddad.”

“The place I and the other musicians go must be kept a secret, never to be told to anyone! Understand?”

I had a quizzical expression on my face, and my eyes were wide, staring. “Why does it have to be a secret?!”

“Because it’s where I grew up when I was small. I owe these people everything, my boy, and you must promise me to keep it a secret and tell no one about this place. All right?”

I saw the compassion and concern in my grandfather’s eyes, including a bit of apprehension.

“Look, son, I had to get the okay to bring you. You are not a child anymore, but a young man. I believe I can trust you. Please, Jason!”

“I’ll keep the promise, Granddad, I won’t let you down.”


That was my first time in the Tunnel world. I looked at it in awe and amazement, meeting the loving people who were family to my grandfather. They were warm, caring, and compassionate people. There was no way I could disappoint him, so I kept my word and said nothing about this wonderful treasure my grandfather gave me. In a strange way…another family, even for me.

Now fifty, and my grandfather gone, I continue his legacy. I play my violin along with the other musicians, who are the children of the original troupe, continuing to bring joy to the Tunnel folk and Helpers. I stroll around the room, playing and watching the enjoyment I can bring for one wondrous night, until next year. I pray one day my son will continue the legacy my grandfather began.

I, Jason Storm, violin player, wish … HAPPY WONDROUS WINTERFEST!!!!! to all. See you next year!!!!



  1. Love the narrative of the grandfather introducing his grandson to the tunnels first through his story, especially as it emphasizes not only the need for secrecy but the magical nature of the tunnels and its residents. Also passing on his legacy to the next generation, to continue teaching and filling the world with music, is such a wonderful note to end on.

  2. This is such a beautiful story full of love and understanding. Jason is now playing at Winterfest and his grandfather patiently taught tunnel children to play instruments, gave what he could. I see him as a warm, kind person and grateful for what he has. He entrusted the secret to his grandson and now Jason appreciating the magic of the underground world continues his legacy…It was good to meet one of the people taking care of the musical setting at this special Celebration.

  3. Music feeds the soul. While some express themselves in words or actions, others live through their music. It should not be seen as an extra curricular subject, but as a core subject. I’m so glad your grandfather character was able to support the Tunnel world’s love of music.

  4. Excellent story of passing down a tradition to family members.
    Music of the Heart brings us all together!

  5. I can just picture and hear this story happening. What a wonderful expression of the importance of tradition and legacy and giving new life to precious things that might otherwise be lost. Thank you for writing and sharing the story.


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CABB logo: crystal and rose




CABB logo: crystal and rose







by AM

“Local temperature is 89 degrees with a heat index of 102. Stay inside if you can. Drink plenty of water and remember, don’t overdo it. It’s a scorcher out there today, folks”.

Catherine cursed the weatherman as she wiped the sweat off her forehead.  “Great. What a perfect time for the air to go out.”

The thought of going outside made her cringe. It was Sunday, so her office would be locked.

“I need to get out of this heat. I’ve got it!” Catherine giggled as she had a wonderful idea.

She went through recycling looking for something she could use.

“Nothing,” she said, frustrated.

She hurriedly changed into a comfortable t-shirt and jeans and hurried to the nearest store. She would’ve run if it hadn’t been so hot.

She sighed with relief when she stepped foot into the cool store.

She picked up some water guns.

No, too violent, and would be frowned upon, she thought as she put the guns down.

She went searching for safer things.

Balloons? No, leaves a mess to clean up.

Her eyes lit up when she saw them. “Spray bottles!!! Perfect!! Hmmm. There’s 50. That should be plenty.”

She grabbed up all the bottles and headed to pay.

It seemed like forever before she headed back to her apartment with her treasures. Instead of going directly to her apartment, she headed to the tunnels. It wasn’t long before she ran into Eric.

“What’s in the bags?” he asked

“It’s a surprise, and I need you to do me a favor. Could you gather all the kids and bring them here?”


“Oh, and Eric?”

Eric turned to look at her.

“Bring as many buckets of water as you can.” She winked at him.

He returned in record time with all the tunnel kids, each carrying two buckets full of water. Catherine passed out the spray bottles and helped fill them up. Once all the bottles were filled, boundary lines were drawn, and safe places declared, they were ready.

“On your mark, get set, GO!” Catherine yelled.

The fight began in full force. Laughter, shrieks, and happy screams echoed through the tunnels as the children chased and sprayed each other. Catherine found herself in the crossfire several times, but laughed as hard as the children. When bottles emptied they were quickly refilled, and the fun continued. Soon adults came to find out where the happy noises were coming from. Some smiled, shook their heads and went back to their previous activity. Some helped by refilling empty buckets. Others just couldn’t help joining in the fun. Catherine noticed Vincent walking towards them.

“I need to borrow that,” she said to Kipper.

He smiled and handed her his full bottle. She placed the bottle behind her back, walked calmly up to Vincent, and sprayed him in the face.

His look of shock made Catherine laugh. Vincent calmly watched the children play for a few minutes before casually picking up a bucket that was a quarter full. He turned to Catherine.

“Vincent, you wouldn’t dare.”

“Perhaps, but then how would I return the favor?”

With that, he dumped the bucket over her head. The children erupted with laughter to see Catherine soaked.

A tapping on the pipes made them all stop. Dinner.

Groans quickly spread among the children. They reluctantly started handing the bottles to Catherine.

“Vincent, why don’t you keep them for the next time?”

The children’s eyes danced with glee. Vincent put the bottles in the buckets and handed them to the children to carry.

“Would you join us, Catherine?” Vincent asked.

“I would love to.”

Vincent took her hand and they followed the children to dinner.