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Rated: E · Fiction · Holiday · #2239570
Buddy breaks into Santa's workshop, but what for? (What a character story prompt)
Word Count: 1,993

Buddy squirmed around in the canvas sack that held him, trying not to move too much as he worked his face a little closer to the small hole that the tight drawstring had left. The hole that was just big enough to let a little light and fresh air into the stifling darkness that surrounded him.

He still marveled at the simple brilliance of his plan. Steal a mail sack, label it as letters for Santa, then hide inside it next to the local post office. The harried postal workers hadn’t even questioned the extra sack when they’d picked up the day’s delivery, just grumbled a little at the weight. Being bundled up like a common package in the back of a postal truck had made for an uncomfortable cold trip north, but it had gotten him inside Santa’s workshop without further problem. Now, peeking through the small hole, he watched and waited for the opportunity to slip out unnoticed so he could put the next part of the revenge plan against his rival Ryan into action.

Most ten year old boys haven’t the experience or the ambition to be a true arch nemesis, and Ryan was no exception. Sure he was smarter than Buddy, but then so was pretty much everyone else in the class. He certainly wasn’t the biggest or strongest. Buddy excelled over all the others on those qualifications. No, Buddy was out to get Ryan simply because he couldn’t stand just how ordinary Ryan was. And because Ryan had gotten his mom to make Buddy a turkey sandwich, with extra mayo.

As the biggest and strongest in the class Buddy lived to exert authority over the other kids. Teacher usually stopped him, but that day teacher’s attention was elsewhere, and Buddy had stolen Ryan’s sandwich. Afterwards he had laughed that it was too dry. The next day Ryan brought two sandwiches for lunch, spoiling Buddy’s fun by handing him the one with the extra mayo before Buddy even had a chance to threaten him. Buddy almost threw it back in his face, but stopped himself at the last second, remembering how good the other sandwich had been. It was a far more satisfying lunch than the stale cheese string and week old Twinky in his own bag.

That afternoon, while the rest of the class listened to teacher blab on about the rules of spelling and grammar, Buddy doodled pictures of tanks and jeeps in his note book, most of which were exploding for some unexplained reason. And while his pencil scratched away he tried to think of ways to get back at Ryan.

He would have simply beaten him up if they’d been alone; that’s how it worked with his brothers. But nowadays teacher always seemed to be watching whenever Buddy tried anything like that, so he couldn’t get away with doing that at school as much as he used to. If he was going to get back at Ryan it would have to be when teacher wasn’t around. Unfortunately, school was the only time they ever saw each other.

It was when teacher told them that their home work was to write a letter to Santa that the beginnings of his clever plan started to form. Everyone knew writing a letter was going to guarantee Santa put at least one gift under your tree. If Buddy’s plan worked the gift Ryan got would be one of Buddy’s choosing, and he just happened to have the perfect one in mind.

Because it had been Dad’s week to look after Buddy, he had been reluctantly dragged out ‘Shopping’ a couple of days earlier, although dad’s definition of shopping consisted of dragging Buddy into dark dubious shops of the kind that dealt in questionable magical artifacts, plunking him in a corner and warning him not to touch anything while he made low voiced deals with the unscrupulous looking owners.

The day wasn’t totally wasted though. Buddy had managed to pick up a few souvenirs, among them a neat little pocket knife and, more importantly, the shady looking charm that he’d slipped into his pocket when the proprietor had turned around for a moment. It wasn’t as if he actually stole it. After all, he’d dropped his lunch money when he was pocketing the charm, and that was a whole dollar and a half so technically he had paid for it.

He didn’t know what the charm really did, only that the guy had told his dad that it was called the charm of opposites, talking as if it could be both a curse and a blessing. How, Buddy had no idea, but he did learn that all you needed to do was gift it to someone and their whole world flipped around. Happiness became sadness, good luck became bad, kindness became meanness. It was that promised reversal of fortune was the center of Buddy’s plan.

Finally the mail area was quiet enough that Buddy chanced his escape, cutting through the side of the canvas with the new pocket knife and sneaking his way to the doors marked Gift Storage Area.

Finding the gift meant for Ryan in that vast, long room with tight rows of shelves piled to the ceiling was surprisingly easy. Everything was alphabetized by town name, and it was only the work of minutes to find the parcel marked Smyth, Ryan Zackary, Toulouse Middle School.

For a moment Buddy stared at the tag on the box. Ryan’s middle name is Zachary, he thought with an evil smile. ‘Zachary Zed, go home to bed.’ He taunted under his breath as he worked the tag loose.

Tossing the previous gift carelessly into the corner, Buddy carefully centered the now slightly dog eared tag in the middle of the glittery red foil that neatly wrapped the replacement pulled from his pocket. Buddy had no talent for wrapping, so he’d convinced a neighbor to wrap up what he’d said was a gift for his mother. As she wrapped she’d cooed and fawned over what a good boy he was so much that Buddy wanted to just grab the parcel and run. Still, it was Christmas, and being polite added points to the correct side of the naughty or nice list, so he made sure say thank you as he accepted her meticulous handiwork.

Now, with the neatly wrapped charm safely taking the place of Ryan’s real present, the only thing left to do was for Buddy to get a ride home, and thanks to TV Buddy knew just how to arrange that.

Not five minutes later he was sitting in the security office after ‘accidentally’ walking into the biggest guard elf he’d ever seen. And while he sipped the courtesy cup of hot coco (with marshmallows) he told his tale of woe to the security elf behind the desk. Not the real story of course, but one he’d memorized from that movie of the week.

The elf wasn’t even trying to look sympathetic as Buddy recited the well rehearsed lines. “Yeah, yeah.” The elf said, waving him to silence. “I get it. Sick little brother. Lost letter found in your jacket the day before Christmas that just had to get to Santa. Blab blab kid, I’ve heard it a million times. When will you people learn that trying to sneak into Santa’s work shop is dangerous? You could get hurt. Or worse!”

“But you’ll make sure Santa gets the letter, right?” Buddy pressed, sticking to his story. “Even if you’re going to make it so I won’t remember this trip?” That’s what usually happened in the movies.

“Let me show you something, kid.” The elf said turning a brass key stuck into the lock of a heavy door. When the door opened a thick cloud of fog rolled across the floor. Through the mist Buddy could see what looked like a bunch of kid sized shapes, covered in frost. Even as he looked the outstretched hand of one fell off, rolling to a stop just inside the door. The word ‘Santa’ was written on the envelope clutched in the frost covered fingers. Buddy turned pale in shock. That definitely didn’t happen in the movies.

“Do me a favor.” The elf said as fog pooled and eddied around his ankles. “Tell the other kids that not everyone who wants to get to the North Pole actually makes it.” As the big guard guided a shaking Buddy towards the office door the security elf picked up his phone and punched the buttons.

“Sparkle? Tell Jingles I have another Rolph Harris trip. Yeah, some kid thought he’d try to hand deliver a letter to Santa. Put him in sleigh 36. Drop off at Toulouse. Blinky’s bringing him down now.” As the door closed behind the big guard and Buddy, the elf lowered his voice a little. “And get a maintenance elf up here.” He continued, looking into the still open freezer. “The hand fell off that mannequin again.”

Through a frost covered window Santa watched and shook his head as he saw Blinky leading the kid towards the sleigh parking shed. The kid was lucky the sleigh had been delayed and there was still time to get him on board for a quick trip home. More and more kids were trying this every year, he thought. All because of those idiotic television shows where Santa was always generously granting last minute gift wishes and indulgently making sure everyone got home for Christmas. They completely glossed over the havoc it made of his careful schedule. Sometimes, he thought sadly, he really really wanted to do was make the trespassers wait until it was actually convenient for him to make the trip.

To distract himself from these rather unSanta like thoughts he sat down and picked up a letter from the last of the pile still on his desk.

Dear Santa;
Teacher says it’s a tradition to write you a letter and ask for presents. She says that most kids send you long lists of stuff, hoping for it all. This year she wants us to be different and think of what Christmas is really about, and to ask for one special thing that would make us happiest.

I have a Mum and Dad that laugh a lot, and we eat lots of good food. Our house is neat and warm, and my sister is usually nice to me most of the time. There is only one thing I can think of to wish for, but it is not for me if that’s okay. There is this boy in my class who seems sad all the time. Because he’s sad he gets mean and picks on everyone. I think the thing that would make me happiest is if you to give him whatever my present was going to be this year. I don’t really need it, and maybe getting two presents will make him feel special and he won’t be sad anymore.

Thank you, and give Rudolph a carrot from me please.
Ryan Smyth (with a y)

Santa nodded and laughed. This was just the kind of letter he needed. A truly selfless gift always made him smile and reminded him of why he spent year after year doing this.

“As you wish, my dear Ryan with a Y.” He chuckled, dipping the feathered quill he preferred into the magical ink and addressed a gift tag to the second name that had been hastily scrawled as an afterthought on the bottom of the letter. “And a Merry Christmas to you.”

With the wave of his hand the newly addressed gift tag wafted up and slipped under the door, heading for the crate of presents being loaded onto sleigh 36. With a magical sparkle it pasted itself over the current tag that was, contrary to the usual careful work of the elf in charge of gift wrapping, sloppily pasted onto a neatly wrapped shiny red foil package.

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