Christmas is coming and Charlie needs to get on the nice list and soon.
Operation: Nice list 7
It is November, and Charlie is getting nervous. Nervous because he knows very well that he will be on the naughty list this year for sure. It started significantly earlier in the year. From there, it just seemed to get worse before it got better. It began with minor infractions like pulling a little girl's hair in grammar school, stepping up to throwing rubber spiders down the hall, and yes, it just happened to land on a little girl who screamed as if her life were about to come to an end.
Charlie did not seem to mind the punishments, and he had quite a few. This behavior went all the way into June, then September. Well, October came, and the first talk of Christmas within the household and school had started. Santa Clause became the main topic at the dinner table, and Charlie's parents asked him what he wanted Santa to bring him.
"So, Charlie?" His Mom starts. "What would you like Santa to bring you this year?"
"Not sure, Mom. I don't think Santa will bring me anything this year anyways."
"Why do you say that for son?" His dad intervenes.
"I don't know, just a feeling, I guess. I've been pretty bad, and I know Santa only brings toys and stuff to good kids."
"Well, that's not always true, son. Santa usually has a soft spot for little boys and girls who, well, are being little girls and boys. What we're trying to say, Charlie is don't give up hope. I'm sure Santa will overlook most of your minor infractions."
"I sure hope so. I've been pretty bad this year. But I have a plan that might get me on the nice list, and I've been working on the plan for days now!"
His Mom gives Charlie a verbal pat on the back.
"That's great, Charlie, you got to keep your little mind busy. What's the plan?"
Charlie responds with stealthy excitement.
"It top-secret Mom, I can't tell anyone, not even you, about the plan. But if this works, it'll be a banner Christmas for sure!"
Charlie continued playing with his food all through dinner, not eating anything. His mind, now reassured by his parents, that he needs to do something drastic to get on the nice list and soon. You see, Charlie is in the fifth grade and is a smart little boy for his age. Charlie started on the computer when he was just a young lad, not saying ten years old is not young. When he was five, Charlie wrote his first piece of code and made it work with some old home security equipment. Then Charlie hacked the local grocery store so his Mom would win the giant cookie platter contest, it was more self-motivated, but he did that at the age of seven.
Every day after school and dinner, Charlie is at his computer like Neo in the Matrix, looking for ways to infiltrate or locate Santa's sever, even trying to find Santa's whereabouts in the North Pole. In one of his letters to Santa, Charlie placed a geo tracker inside the envelope. Just as Charlie figured, Santa is located in an area up at the North Pole. That is old news, and everyone knows that, but he wanted exact coordinates, not the general area. The clock is ticking, and Charlie needed results fast. He thought there must be some interference issue, and just maybe Santa is using a type of EMI generator to interfere with satellite signals. Charlie is working day and night trying to solve his inevitable naughty list conundrum. His computer class project is a code to search for individuals, no matter where they may be.
Charlie seemed to be getting nowhere with his entire electronic and computer gadgets, and it is time for old school results. Time for the contingency plan, he thought up the perfect plan to disappear for three days. He asked his parents if he could visit his great grandmother during the Thanksgiving weekend. That weekend includes four days of not having anyone look for him. It is almost a perfect plan, he thought to himself. His parents are reluctant, of course, because the family usually makes the trips around the families. Agreeing, but with prejudice. They will drop Charlie off their first and pay a short visit as well.
With bags packed, and a tablet in hand and other electronic gadgets, Charlie is ready for 'Operation: nice list.' The plan is ready for implementation, and it will start as soon as his parents leave his great grandmothers house. This plan's idea is past the concept stage, and now it is time to execute the semi-precise plan concocted by an overzealous ten-year-old. Charlie had planned every detail he could think of, even some more contingency plans. It was a quiet half-hour ride, but Charlie's mind was going a mile minute. Almost so, he forgot to say high to his Great Grandmother when everyone walked in.
Claudia saw little Charlie run into her house, making a beeline for his bedroom. With a thick Canadian French accent, she spouts out to Charlie.
"Hey! Where do you think you're going in such a hurry, little guy? Come over here--gimme a hug."
With a big sigh, he says. "Oh, Great-Grandma--"
Charlie drops his things and runs over to give his great-grandmother a big hug. From there, he went to his parents and gave them a big hug. Time went by, and so did the visit with Claudia. It went longer than everyone thought it would. Now for step two of Charlie's plan. With his backpack on, Charlie came out of the room and askes his parents one last favor of the night.
"Mom, Dad? Could you drop me off at the mall, please? I wanna see Santa and drop off another letter to the North Pole for one last-ditch effort. Don't worry, I can walk back or take a cab. I'll be safe, I promise."
With reluctance in their faces and voices, they agreed.
His Mom responds to his cow-eyed pleas.
"Okay, but you need to come back here right after you're done, alright?"
"Yea, sure, no problem, thanks, guys."
All are saying their goodbyes and Happy Thanksgiving. They all walked out the door and into the car. Charlie's parents dropped him off near the main entrance of the mall. Charlie bolts out of the vehicle with the letter to Santa in his hand. His backpack was full of equipment. They say their goodbyes and love you's again, and so did his parents.
Operation nice list contingency plan is now in full swing. Charlie finds his way up to Santa's mall workshop, standing there looking up in awe.
"Whoa--if this is the helper's workshop, I can't wait to see the real deal."
Awe-inspiring it was, but Charlie needed to work fast. Santa's helpers are busy loading the sacks of letters into the box, now is Charlie's chance to sneak into the workshop. He saw a partially full bag and jumped into it. One of the helpers found the sack, tied it up, pulled the string, and in the cart, Charlie went. Charlie could hear murmurings coming from the helpers. Not being able to make out any of the words, he thought they were speaking in their Elven language. Charlie turns on his GPS and sees that he is moving north, and at a high rate of speed.
He ends up drifting into a nap, waking up in a most precarious place. The North Pole, yep, Charlie made it. Now all he has to do is find the central server to the workshop, plant his virus, and find a way to get back to his great-grandmother's house by Sunday. However, one thing or say many things are in his way still. When his eyes cleared, he found himself standing in front of the big man himself, and hundreds of little ones too. Santa had that precarious look on his face, and then the silence is broken.
"Well-- Charlie, I see you made it."
"I-- I guess I did. How'd you know it's me anyway, Santa?"
With a hefty Ho - Ho, he said.
"I am Santa, you know, and I know all children's names. I also know that you may be on the naughty list. I haven't checked my list twice--, but I think you still are. After this stunt, your grandkids may even be on that list too."
Charlie started to well up from the harsh words from Santa. While all this is going on, Charlie was able to push a button in his pocket. The results of that button are about to be apparent in a few seconds. An elf with a headset and a styled wrist keyboard rushed into the room where Santa and others gathered around Charlie.
"Santa! Santa! We have a breach, a big one at that!"
Charlie stood there controlling the grin on his face while operation nice list is in its final stages. In the time it takes a snowflake to hit the ground, he will be on the nice list for sure. There seems to be a glitch, and Charlie did not consider that his software would change everyone to the nice list, pretty much deleting the naughty list altogether. Charlie is speechless by the leering look Santa is now giving him. Charlie knew he was in for a world of hurt if his Mom and dad ever found out. At this moment, however, he is more concerned about Santa's reaction.
The elf leads Santa to the server room, and Santa came out not happy. The other elves quickly surround Charlie so he could not escape. Charlie never thought anything would ever make Santa mad, but somehow Charlie managed to do it. Santa is very displeased with Charlie right now. All Santa is doing is pacing back and forth in front of Charlie, seeming to come with a justifiable punishment. He leans in, touching nose to nose with the ten-year-old. The elves are murmuring in their elven language, loosely translated they said they have never seen Santa so flustered and upset in hundreds of years as they did now.
With anger in his eyes, Santa starts telling Charlie of what he did.
"Do you know what you just did? You just wiped out hundreds of years worth of work! Just because of your selfishness. I have the right mind to banish you and all who come after you from Christmas, and I won't stop there. I'll make it, so you were never part of anyone's life. Removing you as a memory of everyone. You'll remain here for the rest of your existence cleaning the stables."
All Charlie could do is whimper. His mind is trying to come up with a way to reverse all that he had done. All he wanted now was to go back to his Mom and dad. With a revelation, a lightning bolt in Charlie's head went off. He said through his tears and whimpering breath.
"Santa! Santa - wait! I think I have a solution!"
Santa snarled at Charlie.
"Speak fast, child, and be true with your words."
Feeling Santa's hot angry breath on his face, Charlie spoke.
"Don't you have a backup server? If so, you'll only need to enter the new data from when the virus hit."
Santa looks to the server elf, with an embarrassing nod, he concurs. With a quick reversal, Santa became his jolly old self again. All the elves then grabbed a glitter-like substance and threw it in Charlie's direction. Charlie became sleepy and fainted. He awoke in the morning at his great-grandmother's house, having no recollection of anything. A month later, Christmas morning came, and Charlie's parents were right. Santa did overlook his transgressions. When Charlie turned eighteen, an elf came to his apartment and offered Charlie a cybersecurity position at the North Pole. Needless to say he was reluctant, but Charlie accepted.
Word count 1998