Back at the market fairground, Calgary and Winnipeg were standing in line for the Ice Mountain rollercoaster. Edmonton and Winnipegosis huddled over them both to keep them warm and snug while they waited to board the ride. “I think that’s one good thing being fat is for, Dad – keeping me warm,” Calgary laughed wryly as Edmonton hugged him. “Ha ha, thanks, Calgary,” Edmonton nodded as he took Calgary’s remark as a compliment.

Edmonton and Winnipegosis stepped up to one of the windows at the ticket booth. “Tickets for four, please,” Winnipegosis asked the attendant, handing over four tokens in exchange. “Four tickets coming right up,” the attendant replied, rolling out four tickets from the dispenser and tearing each one of them off. Winnipegosis took the tickets, handing each one out to the appropriate person. “Thanks,” he said to the attendant, and the families all strolled through the entrance to the rollercoaster.

Edmonton and Winnipegosis sat inside two separate carriages, which were modelled like mining carts. Calgary climbed in beside Edmonton and Winnipeg snuggled up to Winnipegosis, naturally. A ride safety officer came over to secure the riders inside by pushing the metal lever down over all the carriages. “Winnipeg, sit up or you’ll fall out when we’re riding,” Winnipegosis warned his son, propping him upright. “Hang on to the bar.” Winnipeg looked a little scared as he gazed up at the rollercoaster, seeing a portion of the track suspended over a high waterfall.

The ride operator pressed the ‘go’ button on the control panel, and the rollercoaster suddenly launched into motion, crawling along the track. Calgary latched onto the lever, grinning excitedly, as did Edmonton. Winnipeg tried to stay calm as the cart slowly ascended the first hill of the rollercoaster, Winnipegosis keeping him in his grasp. “Look, Winnipeg, you can get a great view from up here,” Winnipegosis reassured him, indicating the illuminated cityscape and the bustling masses of excited shoppers below at the market. But Winnipeg kept his eyes down, afraid of the descent.

Down at the market, Pictou was still on his shopping trail for tonight’s Christmas dinner, doing business with Chicoutimi. “Oh, no, I don’t take alcohol,” said Pictou, shaking his head. “We’re very teetotal in our family,” Stellarton added. Chicoutimi had his sight on the Ice Mountain over at the fairground, recognising Edmonton on one of the carriages. “Oh, hey there, Edmonton!” he called out to him, waving. “Hi, Chicoutimi!” Edmonton called back, waving both his arms in the air, then the cart suddenly zipped down a steep hill, causing both him and Calgary to scream excitedly. Chicoutimi laughed, turning back to Pictou and his parents. “I’ve got some non-alcoholic drinks for your Christmas dinner,” he told Pictou. “If you’d like, I’ll make some mulled wine – without the wine. It’s red grape juice.” “Oh yes, s’il vous plaît,” Pictou asked politely in French, and Chicoutimi began to boil some red grape juice in a saucepan with cinnamon, cloves and star anise.

High up on the Ice Mountain, Winnipeg and Winnipegosis sat firm inside their cart, Winnipeg shuddering as they crawled through a dark tunnel, filled with the squeaks of bats and creaks of old wooden planks. “D-did they really have to make this ride s-scary?” Winnipeg stammered, snuggling up close to Winnipegosis again. “It’s not a h-haunted house…” “Well, it’s built after an old gold mine in the Yukon, so it’s become a little creepy with the years gone by,” Winnipegosis explained. Just then, the cart re-entered the outside world, dazing Winnipeg for a brief moment, which was perfect for him as the cart whizzed all the way down a steep slope. Winnipegosis had to grasp onto Winnipeg with all his strength to avoid him falling out of the cart. Winnipeg regained his normal sight, and he wailed as the cart descended the mountain at high speed, clutching on to the lever for his life. The cart made a sharp turn around a curve, pulling towards the start of the track with a harsh metallic thump. Winnipeg became badly shocked from the impact and began to cry. “Aw, Winnipeg,” Winnipegosis comforted him as they disembarked the ride and ambled through to the exit.

At that moment, Calgary and Edmonton’s cart pulled up to the start with another loud metallic thump, making them jump. “Oh, guy, that frightened me!” Calgary exclaimed, laughing. “I didn’t feel it,” Edmonton remarked. “Well, that’s ’cause you’re really fat, Dad!” Calgary laughed again, and Edmonton nodded in wry agreement. Then they spotted Winnipegosis at the end of the exit, Winnipeg slumped beside him. “Is he crying?” asked Calgary, looking concerned. “I think so, unfortunately,” Edmonton agreed seriously, and they both came closer to Winnipegosis and Winnipeg. “Aw, Winnipeg, what’s up?” Calgary asked Winnipeg, gently stroking him. “I don’t think fairground rides agree with him,” said Winnipegosis. “Yeah, I think he doesn’t like heights or speed,” Calgary remarked, then he noticed Edmonton stumbling off into the market. “Come on, Winnipeg, let’s get some hot cocoa to warm ourselves up,” he smiled at Winnipeg. “Oh, yes, it’s really cold out today,” Winnipegosis shivered a little as they all began to follow Edmonton’s way.

Advertisements