CABB’s

WFOL 2024 Challenge

Winterfest Guests

WINTERFEST GUESTS

WFOL 2024

Cheerful notes from a fiddler’s bow. Fragrant mugs of William’s hot mulled cider. Hundreds of candles gleaming overhead. Fun-filled games, lively chats, magic tricks, delicious food. Stolen moments near enchanted tapestries. A waltz just for two at evening’s end.

Winterfest! How fortunate are those who are invited to this wonderful event! They must look forward with happy anticipation to receiving that special candle each year, then journeying Below for a joyous reunion with old friends and a chance to meet someone new.

But just who are they? Of course, we know the Winterfest hosts extremely well, but who are the Winterfest guests?

You needn’t wonder any longer because you’re about to meet several of them in this special collection of stories. Here, in CABB’s annual gift to the visitors at Winterfest Online, you’ll find tales of those who have enjoyed many Winterfests, those who are experiencing it for the first – or for the last – time, even one who has managed to drop in uninvited. The stories are light and humorous, poignant and bittersweet, heartwarming and uplifting, playful and serious, just like all of us – and life itself — Below and Above.

Our sincere thanks to all the wonderful writers who were intrigued and inspired by this Challenge! Without your contributions, this project would not exist. Please know that you – and everyone who reads our stories — are deeply appreciated. Your warmth and support match the glow of the Winterfest candles!

Now, why not take a break from exploring the amazing tunnels and chambers at WFOL. Snuggle into your favorite chair, sit back with a cup of tea – or maybe a mug of mulled cider with a nod to William – and enjoy meeting some of the Winterfest Guests!

Oh, just one more thing before you go. Apparently two of the Winterfest Guests were running late and hadn’t made it to the party when the project first appeared. They’ve finally arrived, though. You can read their stories listed now below: Winterfest Guests Latecomers!

The Challenge submissions

A Winterfest Tail … err … Tale ~ by JoAnn Baca

No Longer Alone ~ by Tasha Lawson

Ancient Souls ~ by Nelly

Sweeter Than Honey ~ by JRo

Altered Fate ~ by Paula

Heaven is Winterfest ~ by PearlAnn SnowStar

Winterfest Guest ~ by Tunnel Muse

Dancing with the Past ~ by JRo

A Late Harvest ~ by Lindariel

Pipe Dreams ~ by Tunnel Writer
Part 1: Bruce’s Story
Part 2: Stacey’s Story
Part 3: The Next Generation

WINTERFEST GUESTS: LATECOMERS

Candles and Mirrors ~ by Linda S Barth

Into a New Belonging ~  by Carole W

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WATER FUN

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?”

“Okay.”

“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.