Although the night was slowly taking its place, people were still wandering around the alleys of Plaka, vividly resisting to the arrival of the new day. “But what are these people doing still awake at this time?” wondered Charlie the Toymaster who had just managed to pull himself together from the strong impact. “Where am I? Is this the village of joy?”. “At least I didn’t end up in some deserted place” he thought, while trying to hide behind a bright red Bougainvillea. The attractive hero continued to observe the area and the people with admiration, while tiding up his wrinkled clothes.

  A flock of lights in various shapes, flowers that blossom during the night and wild trees nesting in cobblestones were the first images that Christmas Charlie saw. The strong scents, the people that sprout in the alleys having fun, the picturesque stairs among the taverns and that sweet breeze which felt like a mother’s affectionate touch, encouraged Charlie to get out of his hideout. “In this place people must be more magical that Christmas itself. I will go out and meet them and ask how I can go to Technopolis” he encouraged himself. The atmosphere of Plaka may have astonished him, but he couldn’t forget his goal and his destination. Santa Claus had invited them to set the Christmas Factory in Gazi and he had to be there on time no matter what.

  While he thought how tragic it would be to leave the whole world without Christmas due to a simple breakdown he became furious. “No way!” he told himself. “This year Christmas will happen as usual and moreover the toys I will make will be even better”, he screamed in the middle of the street as if he was disputing with some invisible passenger. “Excuse us, are you all right?” asked Charlie three pretty girls who happened to walk together in the same alley. “I am Charlie. It’s me and …I am ok, really ok, and you?” answered visibly upset the Toymaster who hadn’t spoken to a human before. “Here is my hand too, there you go” told them offering his hand in a clumsy handshake. The girls puzzled and begun to laugh, under the light of a lamp tangled up in ivies and roses. “But where are you from? You seem lost” asked the brunette. Charlie felt for some reason cosy enough and let the words come free out of his mouth. “You know, I am not from here. I live at the alleys of time and every year, at this period, we travel to the Polar Star together with Santa Claus and his other assistants to construct Christmas for the whole world. From that place we send it to the world through the starmade dreamdust that exists in the clouds”. The girls were watching puzzled as they couldn’t believe what they had just heard. “But just a little while ago, as we were flying with our high technology sled, a breakdown of the nano-cylinders caused our fall in this city. Athens, right?” he asked just to be absolutely sure. “Athens, yes” answered the blond girl in astonishment. “I ended up here, where I don’t know where I am, while the others probably fell in other spots of your city. Santa Claus sent us a message through the moon, to gather up in Gazi. He says that from that place we are going to construct Christmas this year. Do you understand? I have to go there quickly. Do you know how?” asked Charlie as if he had just told the most normal story in the world. The girls were standing speechless, not knowing if they should take him seriously or not. “First of all we need to inform you that you are in Plaka, the most picturesque and odoriferous place in the city. My name is Irini and these are Sofia and Eleftheria. But now tell us the truth. Are you a Christmas creature or you are just teasing us?” asked Irini. “I am telling you the truth! Show me the way to Gazi and you’ll see. In a few days the whole city will be full of magic” answered Charlie in a sort of a hurry. The girls didn’t see a reason not to give him directions but their curiosity and suspiciousness won for a second over the bright magic.

  “If you really are Charlie the Toymaster, prove it and we will show you the way right away”, said almost simultaneously the beautiful girls. Charlie realized that humans don’t leave themselves loose enough in imagination, that’s why they become sometimes suspicious and grumpy. So he thought it through for a moment, looked around him and put his hand in his fluffy pocket. “Here, this is the proof I am a Christmas creature” he said while putting in the palm of each girl a snowflake. “What is this?” asked Eleftheria. “It’s a snowflake!” answered Charlie. “Will you let it melt in your palm or will you give life to it. It’s up to you” continued mysteriously the Toymaster. The girls were still watching the flake not knowing what to do. They understood that the magic was in their hands but they hadn’t yet managed to let themselves in it. “Believe in it, just believe in it…” Charlie encouraged them pointing at the clear sky. Then the girls lifted their hands and let the snowflakes fly in the air. They closed their eyes and thought about this snow-white miracle that makes Christmas even better. “Look, it’s snowing!” cried out Sofia. “So it is true, you are a Christmas creature!” shouted altogether in one voice. “And you girls are wonderful for being able to make miracles happen” added Charlie emphasizing the fact that if they believed in something it would easily happen.

  It’s exactly the same way it happens at the Christmas Factory, which by the way, wasn’t so far from Plaka. A straight line, two turns, three traffic lights and a zebra crossing and Charlie, barring unforeseen, would be next to Santa Claus, ready to undertake his position as the main toy constructor of the factory, which this year, for the first time, would operate in Athens. Would the other four heroes be so lucky as to find their way to Gazi, or would they end up accidentally in some other Greek city?

Article by George Lebesis for The Christmas Factory