|Graphic designed by Farah Evers [http://www.farahevers.com/]|
Starting December 1st, the Snarkology will bring readers 25 Days of Christmas Stories. Check back each day until December 25th to discover wonderful new Christmas themed stories!
|Graphic designed by Farah Evers [http://www.farahevers.com/]|
The high-pitched racket of whooping sirens blared throughout the large control center. Each of the five-hundred monitors pumped out the horribly loud sound while strobing warning lights flashed. By the time Santa entered the ultra-modern facility, chaos had already broken loose, and the elves were running around like their little green leggings were on fire.
Santa, his hair wet and covered in a thick layer of bubbles, appeared in the doorway with a towel wrapped around his waist, his chest heaving. “What in holy Christmas is going on in here?” Though shouted, his voice was barely audible over the hullabaloo.
“Sir!” yelled Terence, the elf manager in charge of the Naughty Or Nice Observation room, otherwise known as the “no-no” room, as he ran around and through small groups of excited elves with a metal clipboard in his hand. He came to a wide-eyed stop at the sight of a near naked Santa, but, ever the professional, was still aware of himself enough to tug on the bottom of his fur-lined red velvet jacket and adjust his wireless mic before continuing. “We have a M12 situation. It’s happening as we speak.”
A frown crossed Santa’s face, making the deep creases between his eyes even more pronounced. “For the love of Rudolph, Terence, turn off that blasted noise. Everyone on the entire North Pole now knows we have a situation on our hands.”
“Oh, sorry, sir.” Terence turned and waved at an elf at the command desk. The wave morphed into a very precise swish in front of his neck. With a flick of a switch, the control center was relatively quiet again, though the rest of the frenzied elves in the room continued chitter chattering and buzzing about like a battalion of wound-up tin soldiers.
“Now, that’s more like it.” Santa sighed. “I know how much you like your acronyms, Terence, but tell me in English. What’s a M12?”
Terence straightened his spine, turned back around, and then leaned his head way back to look Santa in the eyes rather than stare at his big boss’ sizeable exposed belly. “A M12 is a heart wish made with a magic instrument.”
“Yes, yes,” Santa nodded. The resulting movement caused a rivulet of suds to stream down the side of his face. He wiped the unrinsed shampoo with his available hand - the other hand held up his bath towel – and then smeared the bubbly goo into the towel’s considerable terrycloth piling. “With Jack and Krista running about, all sorts of magic is being used this Christmas.”
“Ahh, yes, sir. But this isn’t them.” An uncharacteristic grin spread across Terence’s usually stern face, and he raised then shook his little fists in uncontrolled excitement. “It’s the pen, sir.” His voice was near a giggly squeal. “After all these years, the pen is being used for a Christmas heart wish.”
Santa’s eyebrows shot up high on his forehead. “You don’t say. That pen usually sends heart wishes to Cupid. Hmmm.” He pointed a still wet finger toward the giant screen on the wall of monitors. “Let’s see what’s happening on big Bertha.”
Terence pulled a small remote from the pocket of his jacket, pointed the device at the wall, and then pressed its only button. The image on the screen immediately changed from the inside of an African mud house where young Badru Kimbowi was fast asleep on a mat of weaved rushes, to a little girl with long ponytails who was writing on what looked like the reservation desk of an old hotel. The child was a study in absolute concentration. Besides her pink tongue poking to the side of her closed lips, she also had her body hunkered over the writing tablet and her small hand grabbing so tightly to the fountain pen her knuckles were completely white.
“The girl’s name in Cecilia Monroe, though she is more commonly known as Sissy. She’s six years old and lives in Chello Springs, Colorado with her mother.” Terence glanced at his clipboard. “Our record indicates she’s been nice all year, though there was a minor incident last April. Seems she flipped off another girl during recess and then proceeded to call her an obscenity.” He looked back at Santa. “Based on this report, she was provoked to take this action. The before-mentioned girl who was flipped off had called Sissy a bastard because she doesn’t know who her daddy is.”
“If memory serves me, that ‘before-mentioned’ girl is Adrianne Baker. She’s definitely on the naughty list this year.” Santa frowned. “I’ve had more incidents with her in the last twelve months than some of my worst cases in the last three years. She’s a nasty little thing.” He hiked up his towel with one hand and peered closer at the monitor. “Can you make out what Sissy’s written yet?”
“Just a moment, sir, and I’ll zoom in with a different angle.” Terence pressed the hands-free microphone closer to his mouth and rattled off a series of commands. The view of the little girl shifted then refocused, revealing the contents of her letter. Her sprawling, juvenile handwriting covered the entire page. Misspellings and no punctuation abounded. “Would you like an interpreter, sir?”
“No, Terence. I can just make it out.” As Santa read the note aloud, a collective gasp rang throughout the room. He looked around his staff of elves, most of whom had their hands over their mouths, disbelief etched on their small faces. Their response echoed his own. “Who would do such a thing? And only days before Christmas.”
“We’re on it, chief. The crew will have an answer in seconds.” Terence started for the command desk, but Santa placed a hand on his shoulder. The big man’s grim expression stopped the elf in his tracks.
Santa sighed and ran his fingers over his dripping beard. “I was hoping I wouldn’t need to add to their workload, but the situation calls for some special help.” He glanced at the big screen. “Contact Krista and Jack. I need them in Chello Springs, Colorado right away.”
About the reviewer:
Sheryl Hayes lives in the heart of Silicon Valley, Ca, where she cares for her mother. Her cat graciously shares the house with the two of them. In addition to writing her first series, she works full time at a private utility company. When she is not writing, she is knitting, plotting what costume she’s wearing to the next convention she’s attending, playing World of Darkness, or reading. Her blog can be found at http://www.sherylrhayes.com/blog/
“You never tire of your picture book, do you? That’s probably the best present your father, Henry, ever gave you.” She stood over me gazing at the book.Her warm hand glided down my cheek, and I looked at her. “Do you miss him, Mommy?”“Miss him?” She sat at the foot of my bed.There must have been a time when Henry did more in this house than drop off presents. Somehow they must have spent a lot of time together, I thought, or I wouldn’t be there. “Like when you were together?”“Were? Candace you talk as if in the past. Your father is always with us.”“Not really.”She looked confused. “Yes, always. He’s always here, in a way, and at other times in another way. Not in the sense Sarah’s father is or…or… Oh! Candace, I seem to be short on words.”“Why do you call him Henry?”She tilted her head, her blue eyes grew gray. “Candace you ask the most unusual questions.” She stood. The stone expression I remembered from a few years back flickered across her face. My heart thumped and I rose to my knees, but before I could apologize, tell her never mind, her blue eyes twinkled and the color came back to her face. “Your father is a very special father. Which makes you a very special person. Oh, if only I were so special. But he loves me. What we share is…” She waved a hand in the air.“You don’t know you’re special, Mommy?”She sat closer to me this time. “I’m different. You’re still a little too young to understand. Although I have to say, you’ve always been wiser than you should be. You’ve always been wise, and I’ve always been different. I crossed a bridge one night on Christmas nearly eleven years ago.” She sighed and smiled. “My life is like a fairy tale.”“Happily ever after.”“See how wise you are?” She patted my leg and stood. “Now get dressed and come down to breakfast.”I looked at my book, now on the Santa Claus page. The wink. The secret.
“Mmmm.” A blissful murmur escaped Bryn’s lips. The pastry was crisp and warm and light, and the filling rich and spicy, bursting onto his tongue with the taste of childhood Christmases. “Thank you.”
His thanks to Sue related to more than just the neighborly gesture of bringing pies. He only hoped the two weak words could hold the depth of gratitude he felt for the way she had awakened him, his energy, his hopes, and his senses.
The warmth in her eyes as she responded with a simple, “You’re welcome,” suggested that she understood something of the depth of his feeling, though perhaps not the reason for his emotive response. He smiled across his coffee at her, and no words were needed as they shared a moment of perfect contentment.
Of course, Trudi was not one to allow the silence to linger, and she bounced over to Bryn with her hand outstretched, displaying the coloring book she’d brought. Sue sat back in the corner of the sofa, and Bryn got a very appealing view of her shapely legs. She looked like a cat curled comfortably in the warm room, and she seemed happy to let Trudi, perched on Bryn’s chair arm, dominate the conversation.
“I want a princess dress for Christmas “I want a princess dress for Christmas,” Trudi announced. “I love princesses. I like the princess in Aladdin best, and I like the other princess, the one with red hair like mine.” Sue and Bryn exchanged an amused look as Trudi rattled on. “I like unicorns too. I’ve got a unicorn but it’s not a real one. It’s purple and furry.”
Did all girls go through a fairy-tale phase? Something in Sue’s eyes told him that if she had ever believed in happy endings, she no longer had that faith. What had happened to change that feeling? He wasn’t ready to ask yet, but maybe one day he’d find out. He’d like to bring back her faith in the world.