Santa must make some changes with Rudolph and Blitzen sick on December 23rd!
| AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written to a picture prompt - two old bicycles almost covered in a snow drift. Must be less that 1200 words. Constructive criticism appreciated!
“You called 911?” Santa glanced at his wife, Martha.
“Of course, honey. Here they come.”
Santa looked out the paned window to red flashing lights against the snow as the North Pole Ambulance drove to the barn. “Be back.” He threw on his greatcoat and walked out. The snow crunched under his feet as he came to the barn door. Two medics were crouched down examining Rudolph and Blitzen.
“This one’s nose is red,” Steve said, his blue EMT jacket open in the warmth.
“His nose is always red,” Santa commented. “What else?”
Steve held his stethoscope to the prostrate reindeer’s chest. “He’s wheezing. Maybe bronchitis.”
Santa stroked Ruldolph’s head. “What about Blitzen?”
“Henry,” Steve called. “What’s with yours?”
“Maybe some bad hay. Says he has an upset stomach,” Henry said.
“Do you think they’ll be ready for tomorrow night? It’s December 23rd,” Santa asked.
“No way.” Steve stood. “These reindeer need at least forty-eight hours to rest. We’ll have the vet call in prescriptions.”
“That’s bad.” Santa shook his head. “I need twelve reindeer and these two are leaders.”
“Sorry, Santa. Better have a backup plan.” Henry pulled out his cell phone and punched the vet’s number. Santa trudged back to the log house, smoke rising from the chimney, snow drooping over the eaves.
Martha opened the door, her silver hair in a bun, her red velvet dress covered with a white apron. “Well?”
“They’ll be okay, but not for tomorrow night. I’m not sure I can make it all the way around the world without them.”
“Let me fix you some tea. Go rest by the fire.” Martha went to the kitchen and looked out the window to the snowy yard. Two happy faces glinted in the moonlight. She realized they were bicycles. Buried in a snowdrift, the seats and handlebars revealed themselves in the moonlight. “Santa? Come here.”
Santa pushed up from his lounger and walked in the kitchen. “What?”
“Look. What about those old bicycles the elves flew last summer?”
Santa gazed at the snowy field and spotted the minimal bicycle parts. “What about them?”
“Remember those two elves, that were all thumbs in the toy factory, flew them around the yard?”
Santa looked at his wife and raised one eyebrow. “You are not thinking I hitch up two bicycles to the sleigh with the rest of the reindeer are you?”
Martha looked at him and poured his tea. “Who would know?”
Santa returned to his lounger, stuck his thumbs in his suspenders and stared at the roaring fire. “Well,” he thought, “no harm in trying.” He picked up the intercom phone.
Mario, Head Production Elf, answered. “Sir?”
“Mario, could you and the two elves that flew the bikes last summer come over?”
A pause followed. “Sure. I’ll get them. You know, they’ve been doing a lot better. Got a whole doll assembled yesterday.”
“No, no. It’s not about that. Come on over.”
Moments later, Martha answered the knock at the front door. “Ma’am. Santa asked we drop by.” Mario doffed his green pointed hat.
Martha wiped her hands on her apron and smiled. “Come in. He’s in the living room.”
Santa looked up to Mario, dressed immaculately in his green uniform, red slippers, his hat in hand. “Here they are, Santa.”
Santa remembered the bicycling elves now. Adrian had his shirttail out, coke bottle eyeglasses, hat askew and a hole in one red slipper. Ian sported the remainder of dinner on his uniform, had no hat, and stood almost as tall as Santa, making his green leggings come to his knees. Santa shook his head. If there were two misfit elves, he surely had them. “You flew the bicycles last summer?”
“Yes, Sir,” they responded. “We seem to be a lot better at that, than making toys,” snorted Adrian as he poked an elbow into Ian’s ribs. The two giggled, then mellowed when Santa didn’t respond.
“Think you could be part of the reindeer team tomorrow night? Hitched to the sleigh? Rudolph and Blitzen are down.”
Adian and Ian looked at one another and shrugged. “Maybe,” Adrian said. “We better practice though.”
“First thing in the morning.”
“Yes, Sir.” The three elves retreated to the front door and let themselves out, Mario lecturing them on social manners.
Early the next morning, Adrian and Ian dug the bicycles out of the snow and met Mack, Reindeer Foreman, at the barn. Santa walked up.
“You sure about this Santa?” Mack asked, his bulk stretching the black belt around his green belly. “I talked to the reindeer and they aren’t terribly keen.”
“We have to get to all the children tonight.” Santa said.
“Okay. You’re the boss.” Mack walked to the reindeer team, hitched to the sleigh.
Adrian and Ian rolled the bicycles over to two empty harnesses. After some discussion, Mack decided part of the harness would go around the elves’ chest and the rest around the bar holding the seat. Behind them, Donner rolled his eyes and pawed the ground.
The elves straddled their bikes.
“Let’s go,” said Ian. Mack opened the barn door and Santa stepped in the sleigh. The elves bent their legs to the pedals and the reindeer stood rooted to the ground. The elves keeled to the right and just caught themselves before falling.
Mack put his hands on his hips. “There are gifts that won’t get delivered, there are children that will go without, all because you reindeer are so proud. Let’s try this again.” A sigh went through the reindeer. Finally, Donner gave the nod and looked at Mack.
“Now!” Mack called. The elves climbed back on their bikes and crawled forward. The reindeer stepped up, unsure how fast the bikes were going. There was a gap as the elves pulled ahead, then the reindeer went too fast, then slowed, jerking the bicycles back. But the elves stayed on.
“Okay. Steady,” called Adrian. “Let’s go outside.” Santa sat in the sleigh as they roamed the corral with starts and fits. Within minutes, the reindeer adjusted to the increasing speed of the bikes.
“Are we ready to fly?” called Ian. Donner responded with a huff. Adrian and Ian increased the pressure on the pedals and let go of the handlebars, lifting the bikes slowly into the air. The reindeer followed, trailing Santa in the sleigh.
“Faster!” Adrian urged Ian and the reindeer on. They circled over the house, then sped off to the south.
“Try for Fairbanks!” Santa yelled. Within a minute, he could see the city below. The elves, thrilled with their success, placed their hands on the handlebars and descended to one hundred feet.
“No, no!” Santa yelled. “They’ll see us!”
Adrian and Ian immediately lifted their arms and up they all flew back to the North Pole coming to a smooth landing by the barn. Mario walked up as the elves were getting off. “What kind of bikes are those?”
“Oh,” said Ian. “they’re old Schwinn Radio Flyers. Sort of a classic.”
“Not anymore.” Mario looked at Santa. “We have a sudden order of two hundred Radio Flyers for Fairbanks alone.”
He hustled the elves off to the bicycle production facility. “Flew a little low, did we?”