The Nutcracker and The Sugar Plum Princess
'Uzura? I can't see anything'
'Who's coming? Where are we?'
There was a loud BANG on a snare drum.
Duck's eyes popped open as the grandfather clock sounded the second chime of eleven.
"What? I was just dreaming? Just a dream."
Duck sighed and looked down at her wings. Wait. . . no, not wings. Hands! She had hands!
She quickly clamped her hands over her mouth to stop herself. She took a surprised step back, tripped over her feet and landed hard on her rear.
"Ow! That hurt."
Duck reached behind her to rub her poor behind. No tail.
Hands and no tail? She looked at her legs sticking out in front of her. Feet, girl's feet wearing ballet flats! Her gaze traveled up her legs to her lap where the hem of pale yellow nightgown covered her thighs.
She reached behind her, pulled an orange braid over her shoulder, and stared at it.
Duck ran her hands franticly over her face feeling her chin, her lips, her nose, her ears, even her cowlick!
"Fakir! Oh my gosh! Fakir!"
She called excited, as she stood up in the middle of the living room.
"I'm a girl again! Fakir?"
Duck turned and saw Fakir slouched forward limply on the couch. He held the nutcracker loosely in one hand and next to it on his lap rested a little ducks head.
Duck looked back and forth between the couch and down at her human body.
"I'm. . ."
"I'm a ghost!"
She wailed as her eyes begun to tear.
"My present killed us! I'm so sorry Fakir!"
The grandfather clock called the final note of the eleventh hour. The front of the clock snapped open and Duck, once again, tripped over her own feet in surprise, this time landing on her face.
She pushed herself back into a sitting position. As she rubbed her nose she could hear a faint but familiar laugh coming from within the clock. She raised herself up onto her knees and peered, frightened, over the back of the couch.
From within the dark depths of the grandfather clock a brown booted, stockinged leg stepped into the living room. The leg was followed by the torso of a man clothed in a green jacket and a red billowing cape. Next emerged the face of the old storyteller who's crazed eyes still haunted Duck's dreams.
She breathed out softly as she stood to face the man.
"Oh what's this?"
Drosselmeyer leaned in closer and peered at her.
"Is this the little duck I see before me? What is she doing here, as a girl nonetheless? How is that? That was not part of my story."
He took a few steps closer to the back of the couch and surveyed the two bodies there. He looked back up at Duck and then to the chestnuts scattered around the floor.
"Hmmm, I see, I see. Must have eaten some of the nuts too."
Duck asked confused.
Drosselmeyer looked at her again and grinned in his deranged fashion.
"Yes quite so. If eaten incorrectly, the Crackatook nut is quite useful in separating one's spirit from one's body. Thank you my dear for so obligingly delivering them to the boy."
"You mean you're the one who put the nuts by the lake?"
"Why yes of course. You see little Duck, I've been so bored since you and the boy broke my writing machine. So very bored. I've been waiting to take control of the story again. Not much I can do without my machine or hands,"
He cast a sideways glance towards Fakir.
"But if I had a new set of hands. . . can't be just any old hands you know, have to be a story spinners hands."
Drosselmeyer moved closer and grabbed Fakir's shoulder.
Duck cried out horrified and rushed to push him away from her friend. Before she could reach the old man, a flash of silver knocked the prosthetic hand off Drosselmeyer's arm. It went flying into the corner of the room with a loud clatter.
Duck couldn't stop herself in time. She crashed into Fakir's body, and knocked the nutcracker to the cushions.
"Watch it Moron," cried an outrage voice from her side. Duck looked down. There was the nutcracker but, rather than the wooden doll that Fakir had shown her earlier, this figure was human. It was Fakir! A small Fakir, dressed in the nutcracker's uniform. "Fakir. . . but why?"
Fakir pushed himself up from the prostrate position he'd fallen to.
"Not now! Pay attention won't you!"
He climbed up the back of the couch and brandished his sword at Drosselmeyer who had chased after his fake hand.
"So you've returned. I won't let you have control over any of the stories again!"
Drosselmeyer stood, twisting his hand back onto his wrist, and turned to face them.
"Ah there you are boy. I was wondering where your soul had gone and attached itself. A little wooden doll, quite appropriate for a puppet who tried to be rid of his strings."
"I'm not your puppet. You will not be taking what you've come for." Fakir scowled at the dead man.
"We'll stop you!" Duck exclaimed, stepping around the couch and planting herself between Drosselmeyer and Fakir's body.
"Stop me?" He chuckled to himself. "The duck and her little wooden solider are going to stop me? Oh that is amusing, so very funny"
There was a soft noise, a sort of scampering. All three turned towards the wood box curious as to the source of the sound. Duck inched closer to Fakir as she peered into the shadow cast by the box. The noise became a low rumble. Hundreds of mice burst out from the space between the wood box and wall.
Duck jumped in surprise, and knocked Fakir back down onto the cushions of the couch. "Again, idiot?!" Fakir glared up at the girl who towered above him. Duck was too engrossed in what she was seeing to respond. The mice, dressed in blood red military uniforms were lining themselves into neat rows, separated into eight platoons.
"What's this now?" Drosselmeyer questioned as he effortlessly positioned himself atop the grandfather clock to watch.
"Fakir?" Duck asked nervously as the first row of mice began a slow drum roll on the snares strapped to their chests. The rest drew long, little sabres from the scabbards at their waists. As the drums reached their crescendo the largest mouse Fakir or Duck had ever seen emerged from the shadows. In the now deafening silence the leader of the mice marched down the center row of his army. A long red cape billowed out behind him in stark contrast to the black uniform with gold chains he wore over his dark grey fur. On his head he wore a crown of glittering gold. The large mouse stopped when he reached the front of his army.
His beady red eyes surveyed the room and came to rest squarely on Fakir.
"I, The Great Mouse King, have found you Nutcracker."
Fakir blinked in surprise and turned to face the mouse squarely.
"I don't know what your after, but there seems to be a misunder-"
"SILENCE!" Bellowed the mouse, interrupting. "How dare you feign ignorance!" He slowly drew a sinister sword and pointed it up towards Fakir's heart. "Today is the day you die Nutcracker! CHARGE!"
A log on the fire gave a loud SNAP and sent sparks flying into the air. The mouse army rushed past their king in their surge towards the couch.
"FAKIR!" Duck yelled, looking around for something she could do to stop the quickly approaching army. She spotted the broom in the corner and grabbed it. She moved in front of the couch and with two powerful sweeps she sent the mouse horde flying to either side of the room. The Mouse King snarled and rushed the giant girl who had decimated his army.
"Well that's not fair now is it?" Drosselmeyer stated from his perch on the clock. "What can we do to make this more interesting? Ah I know!" He snapped his fingers and to her surprise Duck began to shrink. "That's more like it!"
"DUCK!" Fakir cried out in horror as he watched the girl shorten to the size of a small mouse. The enraged mouse king was coming right at her. Fakir leapt off the couch and landed between her and the giant mouse. He pushed Duck backwards and barely brought his sword up in time to block the downward arc of the mouse king's blade.
Duck slammed into the now oversized broom handle when Fakir pushed her out of harms way. One of her shoes had been knocked off with force of the impact. She crumpled to the floor and landed on one of her ankles.
"Ow!" She sucked in her breath when she tried to put weight on the foot. From her position on the floor she watched as Fakir fought the mouse king, matching him thrust for thrust. It seemed to Duck that he was holding his own against the ferocious mouse, but then one of the soldiers, rushed to aid his king. Fakir was now fighting two against one.
Fakir managed to disarm the mouse king when he stumbled into one of the nuts that had scattered on the floor. He turned his attention to the soldier mouse and dodged a thrust aimed at his head. He kicked out. His foot made contact with the mouse's side and sent the rodent skidding across the floor.
"Fakir behind you!"
He heard Duck's desperate cry just in time to see the mouse king recovering his lost sword, and making a sudden lunge at him.
Ignoring the way her ankle screamed at her, Duck used the broom to support her in standing. She had grabbed the shoe, which had been knocked off, and threw it with all her might. It smashed into the mouse king's temple with a sickening 'Thunk'. The king's massive bulk collapsed on top Fakir.
He pushed the unconscious mouse off of himself and stood. He looked around and could see the mouse army recovering from the blow Duck had dealt them. He glanced at Drosselmeyer, who was watching excited. Then at Duck, who was leaning heavily against the broom, and then back to the now seething mice.
"This isn't over Drosselmeyer" Fakir yelled and grabbed Duck by the hand. He pulled her to the hole the mice had come through.
"Well this is turning out to be quite an entertaining tale I've set in motion." Drosselmeyer said. He watched as a few of the mice went to the aid of their injured king, and the rest chased after the boy and duck.
"I think I'll get myself a nice cup of tea, and watch and see what happens next."
He jumped down and stepped back into the abyss of the grandfather clock.
"A new story, how exciting! What wonderful tragedies will unfold before me?"
His ramblings could be heard as the clock face closed behind him.
Duck and Fakir rushed out into the small space between their home and the town's outer wall. She managed to limp a few more steps before her ankle gave out. Duck lost her grip on Fakir and stumbled into the freezing snow.
Fakir spun on his heels and looked down at the red haired girl who was on her hands and knees. She was thigh deep in snow clutching a visibly swollen ankle, wearing nothing but a thin nightgown and one shoe.
Fakir crouched down with his back to her.
"But Fakir I -"
"Hurry!" He demanded. He could hear the mice in the house getting closer. Duck clamored onto Fakir's back, wrapping her arms around his neck. He hooked his arms behind her to keep her on and ran.
There was a path through the snow that the mouse army had created. It led to the town's wall and to a gap between some of the stones. Fakir looked over his shoulder behind them and could see the first mouse come out of their home. The mouse pointed to him and Duck and called out to the others. Fakir turned and ran through the hole in the wall. There was a flash of blinding light.
Duck blinked and held tighter to Fakir's shoulders.
"Where are we?"
Author's Note: Yay progress! I had an editor this time (boyfriend duty!) so hopefully fewer spelling and grammar mistakes! My brain does like to get ahead of my poor fingers.
Thank you, those of you who reviewed! It really does help me from procrastinating, knowing that there are people who want to know what happens next. I hope you enjoyed this chapter : )