Christmas wasn't the same. Each year things got worse. Santa Claus didn't know what to do.
|1878 word entry into December’s WdC ‘What A Character Contest’. Prompt: about someone committing or trying to commit a serious crime at Santa’s workshop.
Something was deeply wrong about Christmas. People weren’t celebrating it with the same spirit as before. Traditions along with the value of charity was being lost along the way. Santa had another year coming up without an answer to why that was. Oh, there were still good little girls and boys here and there. More and more seemed intent on giving in to mischief or worse. There were rumors of an attack coming on Santa’s warehouse, itself. Santa and Missus Claus slept uneasily waiting for the alarm clock to ring and wake them this Christmas eve.
It was a major screw up. Things, strange and magical things kept happening. Jersey Snake said it was the toys themselves. “It's like try’n stuff cats and dogs together.”
Ben da’ Hulk, was next. The grown-up gifts, worth much more, made ready for Santa’s sleigh distracted his oiled noggin’. There were Barbell sets, bench press, squat rack, all were passed with only a single envious glance. When he tried using the complete ‘Power Rack Cage’, the ultimate in work out equipment? His own muscles fought him. A black eye, by slipping and hitting himself in the face and a sprained wrist later he swore the apparatus was jinxed. “Either that or it’s got some kind of Smart Security electronics built in what don’t let nobody but it’s true owner climb aboard.”
The leader of the thieves, Professor B. Smart waved them both off. “Give it up. We ain’t up here at Santa’s workshop for da’t weak stuff, worth nothin’. You’se too greedy. Keep your eye’s on da’ prize we come for.”
He’d been planning this gig for years. A sleigh and reindeer that could fly? Santa’s outfit that could stop time itself and make a night last as long as you want? A bag Santa could lift in one hand, that held whatever you put in it, quantity and size no matter? What a find. These were the real treasure.
“Forget-about-it.” Smart smirked, whipping off his gas mask as the last traces of smoke disappeared before him like ghosts. Everywhere lay slumped and snoring elves asleep singing sawing log sounds in several registers. The big elf and Missus Santa were under the same spell.
If worse came to worst, torturing the truth out of one or the other on where these particulars were kept was the back up plan. Smart had it all covered. Finding Santa’s workshop proved to have caused the most skull sweat. It had taken hacking into military spy satellites flying over the North Pole and knowing what to look for. “That alone took several pain staking years and a process of elimination.”
Luckily, Smart had realized focusing on the hours of Christmas Eve, when Santa departed from the famed spot would reveal all. He caught the relay on his Smartphone in the wink-of-an-eye moment before the famed ride launched and disappeared into thin air. The sleigh and the reindeer, the bag and Santa himself became a single voiced “Ho ho ho”.
The recording showed time stopped then and there. A hiccup occurred on screen and Santa was back as quick as that, his world wide travels completed. “A time warp. I have to have that.”
What Santa used for good, could equally be used to steal, anything, anywhere, any what, any who, Smart wanted. It was a master criminal’s dream come true. “The reindeer should be easy to track. They have to be fed and cared for. The sleigh will be close, the bag within and Santa’s suit prepared and stored nearby. You’se Hulk, head right. You’se Snake, head left. I’ll take the center track.”
They spread out, winding their way past the Christmas stocking stuffing section, barely long enough to pause and sample a candy cane and a nut or two. Shortly after the plan nearly came to a full stop. Smart had to kick the silly happy smile off Snake’s usually evil sly face. The goodies magic properties brought warm and wistful childhood memories along with them, back to Christmases past. “Greedy fools. Santa has traps everywhere.”
A wap on the back made Hulk spit his smile out along with what he was eating. “That’s better.” Smart ducked a roundhouse from Hulk’s well muscled arm and hammer like fist. “You’se back to yourself. Now, get goin’.”
Smart was careful now. Who knew what might happen next? His nefarious brain checked every shifty shadow. Their steps echod down to the very end of the workshop until just one door was left. It was his nose that opened his eyes. One crooked eyebrow arched higher than the other. He sniffed and knew he’d found the answer. “This way boy’s.”
He’d been afraid there would be some magical lock, some ploy, a secret or two before access could be gained. Think hard as he might, Smart wasn’t smart enough, no-one was, who could figure out might protect from entry, one so nefarious as he. “Why, there is no lock at all.”
There was the sleigh dressed in holiday regala, the suit and bag laid inside. A row of stalls held the reindeer munching away with no concern at these strangers being here, at all. Rudolph’s bright red nose rose up into view, Prancer pranced and Dancer danced as each was led to their halter and put in place.
“Open the bag,” Smart commanded, dressing and buckling Santa’s big black belt. Toy after toy, gift upon gift, floated and stuffed themselves inside one after another.
“Ain’t heavy a’tall.” Hulk heaved the bag up, setting it in the back of the sleigh before joining it. “The heist is on.”
Snake slid open the big broad back doors, slithered in beside Smart, hissing an evil low chuckle. “Gimme’ the reins to these beasts. Sit back and get ready to fly.”
One jerk, and they were off leaving Santa, his wife, and elves sleeping the night away far behind. Smart sat back and relaxed. He was having the time of his life. With time stopped, it could last forever. Why, just imagine. He need never grow old and die. It was how all those presents were prepared in such short order.
That must be how Santa lasted like the magic elf he was. “What?”
A grumble from Hulk in the back seat was followed by an oath. “Snake’s headed the wrong way home. Why’s he doin’ a detour? I don’t wanna’ see the sights.”
“It ain’t me. These here reindeer are taking me for a ride.” No matter how Snake tried to reign the reindeer in, no which way tug or pull, or curse and yank changed the course. The three hardened thieves had no choice in the matter.
House calls were made. Toys and gifts, stocking stuffings sorted themselves out at each stop. The exact right things grew tiny, small enough to fit through key holes and cracks under doors. “They’s gett’n away.” Hulk did his best to wrestle a hand sized motorcycle with a name tag ‘For: Bob’ growing smaller, back.
It jerked him off the sleigh. “No stopp’n them.”
“Now, what, boss?” Snake stuck his tongue out, flicking it over his lips. “What’s da’ plan?”
Smart’s brain pondered. It shivered. It wandered the whole long timeless night away. “Santa don’t even need to be around. Christmas takes care of itself, seems like.”
There was nothing the three could do but hang on until their journey was through. Bored, tired, sleepy, Snake, Hulk and Smart grew blurry eye’d and weepy. Every spot on the globe visited, they stirred as Santa’s workshop came into view.
“Santa is going to pay for this,” Snake hissed.
Hulk muscled up his brow and nodded. “I goin’ beat him to a pulp.”
Smart leaped out as the sleigh landed. “You had your fun, old man. I still got your sleigh, suit and bag.”
Missus Claus and the elves yawned, stretched, rubbing their eyes. “Best sleep I’ve had in years,” Santa declared. “You’re hired. Someone needs to wear that suit or it won’t work on Christmas and I’m tired.”
Hulk launched himself at Santa, fists flying. Snake got in the way just trying. Smart paused, studying the situation. There were too many elves to seek vengeance now. He’d have to wait for the right opportunity. “What’s in it for me?”
“Just the right scoundrel I’ve been searching for,” Santa mused. He’d found not giving anything to bad little girls and boys this season made them act worse. If he gave in to what they wished for each wanted more. Santa needed someone smart to deal with that half of humankind’s equation.
Missus Claus brought milk and cookies while the two discussed the matter in detail, ironing out the rough edges to both’s advantage.
“So, we take away, instead of give.” Smart smiled. Snake, hovering nearby, finished a brownie and slyly winked. Hulk pounded his fist against the flat of his other hand and nodded.
Preparations were made. Practice flights given. It took a solid year before all was ready. Instead of pieces of coal being flung at where bad boys and girls, men and women lived?
Santa did his thing with good boys, girls and grown-ups. “Here you go, your turn, Professor Smart.”
Dressed in Santa’s outfit and riding with an empty sack in the sleigh, Smart and his crew took off a minute after. Once again time paused. The sleigh made its pre-programmed stops.
The bag held open by Hulk’s steady hands, Snake slithered and slinked growing smaller and more tiny the closer he got to a keyhole or crack under a locked door. “Hurry it up, there’s many more,” Smart urged.
Out came Snake with the nightmare of future black hearted deeds being dreamed. Each small dark cloud balled up, dripping shivering tears of fear was thrown into Hulk’s open mouthed bag. A quick twist and it was trapped to fight among the others. “On to the next.” Smart smirked.
Hulk enjoyed pounding the nightmares into shape. Snake preferred coiling and teasing the venom out of each one. By the end of the endless night, Smart collected what he wanted. It was a trophy any evil minded genius would want granted as their Christmas wish. “I get to torture and torment pure evil. How it whimpers and whines. How it screams most sublime. I have a whole year to test new ways to make it yelp, wear it out until it is nothing but the worst of a sore loser.”
For evil doers Christmas eve grew to give Santa a bad name, “Krampus”. Where Saint Nick concerned himself with the good. His alter-ego became responsible for the bad.
Hardened criminals tried staying up wide awake only to find their dark clouded minds getting the best of them when Snake appeared at their door. They became dazed into deep slumber wherever they were, whether engaged in mischief or not. Their most treasured bad dreams were vacuumed by the power of timeless magic out between their ears.
Each year had to be worked as hard as it could while they dreamed up new dastardly plans. Through trial and error many were dashed and crushed, taking more time to come up with another.
Santa’s hardest problem had solved itself.