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(© E. Meeske)

Page 1

"You, too, have looked upon the living dead."

Lawrence Talbot, the Wolfman to Lou Costello, Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Santa watched cheerily as his elves finished their yearly work, well aware that his own almost interminable night of work was upon him.† He smoked his meerschaum pipe, the same magic that allowed his eternal mission preventing oral cancer after so many centuries of indulgence.† He was still in his white shirtsleeves, his crimson cloak waiting by his sleigh for his annual mission.

There is a hierarchy in every bureaucracy.† Santaís top elf, Flibbet, approached him, ready to present his underlingsí work as his own Herculean labors.† "Everything just about ready, chief," he advised.† "Teufellieb in electronics is running a little late as usual but weíre getting him to hand over the goods.† It does take a while though - especially considering how that departmentís size has grown."

Santa smiled and didnít ask who Flibbet would advise as a replacement.† Teufellieb was getting old though, as elves eventually do, and even when human, his perfectionism had partially cost his former country their war.†† "Do you want a Wunderwaffe or a childís toy rocket?"† was his favorite quote, surreptitiously repeated among the elves whenever he was running late.† Níwin-Níwin - only a decent engineer but an outstanding manager - would probably take over next year.† Such is the life of a corporation.

"Excellent, Flibbet.† Make sure he knows I want him to expedite release.† Tell Níwin-Níwin privately I want her to see me and Mrs. Claus on the 29th for lunch.† I donít want it emailed."† Mrs. Claus had come on the scene, coffee and scone in hand for her husband.† She caught the drift and clucked neutrally.† Santa repressed the term Stepford wife as he had done for almost forty years - he knew that their eternal marriage was as much a routine for her as for him at this point, and bore her no malice.

"Very good, sir," Flibbet said.† He pivoted and walked towards electronics and almost bumped into Petrovkia, special assistant for Antiquities and Oddities.† Flibbet gave the disheveled oddball a perfunctory nod and walked off, not daring to scowl in front of the big boss.† Flibbet wasnít alone; Mrs. Claus herself had vacillated for about thirty years between complete avoidance and the maternal approach with Petrovkia before the latter had won out.

"Hello dear," she said, "Would you like some coffee as well?"

"No thanks.† Boss, itís something - we found an old frozen Norse body trailing towards Greenland.† About a hundred miles out - gods know how he got this far up."

Santa humored him.† He always had to humor Antiquities and Oddities.† "Well, that is interesting.† From their old colony that disappeared in the 1300s?"

"1400s.† Exactly, sir.† Heís from the time period."† His eyes were glowing, although Santa was damned if he could tell if it was from excitement over the find or if there was something else he wanted to add.

"Thatís more crazy than most things we see."† Santa paused to allow himself a neutral delivery.† "Was there anything else?"

"He seems to be animate beneath the ice."

Santa spit up his coffee.† Living for over a millennium in the Arctic teaches you that once living things freeze, they donít wake up again.† Not at all.†† Mrs. Claus cleaned his chin whiskers with a wet nap before he could shoo her away.

†† "He . . . Is he a candidate for elvification?"

Petrovkia thought for a moment, then waived his arms dramatically.† "From what old clay may a good elf spring?† It is beyond my ken.† The disappearance of the Norse from Greenland was precipitated by the Little Ice Age, of course.† Most went back to Iceland - but the others?† As far as we know starvation and plague-"

Santa looked at his watch, debated internally while Petrovkia babbled.† "Letís take a look.† Is uh, someone from Medical there?"

"Dr. Chow-chow, sir," the weird elf said, and almost dancing, he led his master towards the specimen.

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Genre:Living Dead
Type:Short story
Rating:6.61 / 10
Rated By:24 users
Comments: 2 users
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