Small Realities

Inside the mind of Lance Schonberg

Branch Santa, Part 1

“Chief!”

The door slammed open to allow a little man in pointy shoes, bright blue suit, and a floppy, green felt cap into the office.  Santa didn’t need magic to see the elf was upset about something.  Frank’s tenor, having no resemblance to the helium-filled elves of Hollywood, tried to reach up a few octaves.  “Chief, we’ve got a real problem.”

Santa took off his glasses and used two knuckles to massage his right temple.  A ‘real problem’ materialized about once an hour, usually something production related and solvable by someone at least two levels below him.  Well, he’d known Elves were an excitable lot when he took the job.  “What is it this time, Frank?”

“This isn’t a ‘this time’, Chief.  This is it!  Every other problem we’ve had for the last decade doesn’t count!  The last century, even!”

“You used that line this morning, Frank.”

Frank shook his head so hard his cap slipped down one side.  He pushed it back up without pausing.  “That was nothing.  I was just trying to get your attention.  This is the real deal.  You’ve got to talk to Howard.”

“Isn’t Howard in charge of media monitoring?  Something external for a change, then.”  Santa looked over Frank’s head at the open door.  “Where is he?”

“In the hall.  HOWARD!”  Another bearded face, this one with a red pointed hat and round glasses, stuck out from the door frame.  “Well, don’t just stand there!”

Santa sighed.  “Relax a little, Frank.  Come in, Howard.  Have a seat.”  He waved at the jar on the corner of his desk.  “Cookie?”

Howard shook his head as he took the offered chair, poking at his glasses with one finger.  “No thanks, Chief.”

Frank started tapping his foot.  “Well, come on, Howard.  Out with it!  The Chief needs to know what’s going on.”

Santa frowned at Frank then turned a smile on the other elf.  “Go ahead, Howard, tell me.  What’s got Frank so excited this time?”

Howard took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “It really is big, Chief.  You know I’ve been following all of the space programs for the last few decades, as much for to personal interest as to keep track of what the humans are up to.”

Santa nodded.  “Yes, I know.  I do read your reports once in a while.”

Scrunching back into the chair, Howard swallowed.  “Well, there was a big press conference a few minutes ago.  You knew the UN is building a base on the Moon?”

“I knew the UN started its own space program a few years ago with that in mind, yes.  Seemed a little odd at the time.  Still does, really.  Not the regular UN sort of thing.”

“No, but, well, I’m still not sure how everyone managed to agree on the funding, but they’ve decided it’s going to be a colony instead of a base.”

“I see.”  Santa stroked his beard with one hand.

Frank’s eyes bulged.  “You see?  Chief, don’t you get it?  A colony!  That means there’s gonna be kids on the Moon!”

“Relax, Frank.”  Santa felt like he said that a lot lately.  “I’ve known this was coming for a long time.  Ever since the Americans first landed on the Moon way back when.  This is just a little sooner than I expected.”

“How can you be so calm about this?  There’s no way you can do the whole world and visit the Moon in one night.  It just can’t be done!”

“I know, Frank, I know.  Do me a favor and get Eugene and Jan up here.  Tell them it’s for Plan Luna-Ho.  They’ll know what to bring.  You’re welcome to stay, too, Howard.”  Frank started for the door, mumbling to himself.  “Oh, and Frank?”

The elf spun back.  “Yes, Chief?”

“Ask Nelson to clear my schedule for the rest of day.  This might take a while.”

Next

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