Writing Exercise #6

November 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

I’m actually pretty proud of this one.  In fact, I may try and turn this into a real short story later.  After NaNoWriMo of course.  The prompt is: “Santa Claus” is really a package delivery service run by Aliens.

“How could you loose an entire squadron of elves, and half a contingent of reindeer in one night?  Do you have any idea how much your little stunt is going to cost me?  What were you thinking?  An unauthorized fly by, in a major metropolitan area, during the day, in November for cripes sake!  Hundreds of people saw you Zant! How are we going to explain this one?  The US military is already up my ass about the sightings last Christmas over Des Moines, and now this? Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

Kringle was angry.  His broad face, usually happy, was drawn up.  His eyes twinkled, but not with merriment.  The man was known for shaking when he laughed, and Zant couldn’t help but notice that his belly shook just as much like a bowl full of jelly when he yelled. This wasn’t the first time Kringle had yelled at him.  There was the mistake in Cairo, and that time in Sydney.  Not to mention the week in London where Zant had lost his toy bag.  Fortunately he was able to find it, but not after a well meaning charity organization had given away nearly everything inside it.  Which was impressive considering bags like his held hundreds of thousands of gifts.

“I’m sorry Mr. Kringle.  I just thought that if I got some more flight time in that I could make the roster this year.  I’ve been practicing on the simulator, but it’s just not the same, you know?  I need to feel the wind on my face, really guide that sleigh through some sweet maneuvers.” Zant waved his hand in a flying motion, simulating the sleigh ducking and weaving.  Half-way through his third barrel roll he realized he was only making matters worse. He got off Kringle’s desk, and sat down.

Kringle glared at him.  He was silent for a long while before letting out a heavy sigh. He stood and walked over to the bay window overlooking the factory floor.  “Zant, please understand.  What we do here is important.  The humans, they need this. They have so much misery in their lives, so much hate and anger.  The Holiday season is the one time during the year that they manage to try and be happy.  Sure, not all of them get into it, but the ones that do, well, they need our help.  Without us spreading Cheer and Joy, and delivering those gifts, well, this planet would tear itself apart.  Right now our numbers are down.  Only thirty percent of the world’s population participates in some sort of Holiday activity.  Our Christmas and Hanukkah numbers are down.  The Kwanza numbers are up, but they are starting to plateau.  If we loose any more people to disbelief and misery, well, we might end up loosing the contract on Earth.  And if we pulled out, do you know what would happen?”

Zant thought for a moment, trying desperately to come up with the right answer, “Um, we would, uh, loose the contract to the Trillians?”

Kringle chuckled, “No my boy. Perhaps a few decades ago another company could have come in and taken over, but the numbers are just too low these days.  If we pulled out, there would be no more Holiday.  No more Cheer.  No more gift deliveries.  Humanity would fall completely into the abyss of disbelief.”

“I don’t think I understand what this has to do with me.” Zant said.

“My boy, humans are tricky creatures.  They all say that in order to believe in something that they must first see it.  But do you know what happens when they see something? They explain it away. They rationalize it. They push it further in to disbelief.  Part of what we rely on is faith.  We need these folks to believe in us, without seeing us, because that’s what gives them strength. If they can find it within themselves to believe in something they can’t see, like us, then they allow themselves the possibility to believe in other things they can’t see, like the goodness in their fellow man.

“Your stunt last night, well, that lost us a lot of good people.  By allowing yourself to be seen in broad daylight, you allowed them to activate their rationalizations.  Yes, they saw a sleigh flying through the air, being pulled by reindeer, but their rational minds just won’t allow them to believe that’s really what happened. Look here, read this.”

Kringle walked over to his desk and rifled through a stack of newspapers until he found the one he was looking for and handed it to Zant.

Zant looked it over and read the headline, “Flying Reindeer.  Military experiment, or Macy’s marketing stunt?” He looked up at Kringle. “But, they saw me! With their own eyes! How could they not believe?”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to explain to you my boy. Humanity has been through so much in the last century that they simply cannot believe in something so outright, especially if it claims to be doing good.  They will look for the hidden agenda, the secret scam. Sure, they may want to believe that there is good in the world, but when directly confronted with goodness, for some reason, they simply have a hard time accepting it.  Which is why we use such a light touch.  We want people to be effected by what we do, but in little ways.

“Which is why, my boy, that I think it’s time you returned to the home world.  I just don’t think you’re cut out to be a Claus.”

Zant was crushed.  Being a Claus was all he’d ever wanted since he was young. The problem was, he was a screw up. He hadn’t done very well on his entrance exams, and his flight test had been near disastrous. The only reason he had gotten accepted to the academy was because of his family connection to Kringle. He always thought that once he was actually at the North pole that things would be different. That being around other Clauses would give him the drive and the focus to improve.

“Mr. Kringle I–”

“You’re flight points are low, you can’t make it down a chimney without getting stuck, you’ve only got a sixty percent gift delivery accuracy rate, and on top of it all, you still don’t know the names of the Eight.”

“But uncle–”

“No but’s Zant. It’s time you went home. There’s a transport ship leaving tomorrow, and I want you to be on it.”

“Tomorrow? But that means I’ll miss the Season this year! Please, uncle, I mean, Mr. Kringle, please let me stay until after Christmas. If I’m going to be sent home, at least let me have one more holiday.” Zant did his best not to cry.  Being a Claus was all he had wanted since he was young.  He had to convince Kringle to let him stay. If he could stay one more Christmas, he was sure that he could figure out a way to prove that he was worth of being a Claus.

“Zant, I–”

“Please, just one more Christmas,” Zant couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. “Please…” He lay his head in his hands and sobbed.

“Alright Zant. One more Christmas. But you’re on the next transport after New Years, got it?”

Zant looked up, “Really? Oh thank you sir! Thank you!” He ran over to give his uncle a hug. “You don’t know how much this means to me! I promise, I won’t let you down. No more screw ups from now on.”

Kringle peeled Zant’s arms from around his waist, “Alright my boy, alright, that’s quite enough. Report to Trixin in the morning. And you better know all the names of the Eight and be able to tell them apart”

“Yes sir!” Zant started towards the door.

“Zant?”

“Yes Mr. Kringle?”

“Forgetting something?” Kringle held up Zant’s toy bag.

“Oh, of course. Sorry sir. Won’t happen again. No more screw ups from now on.”

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