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(© E. Meeske)

Page 2

Santa was a little surprised that the newcomer was in Antiquities with a portable med unit, rather than being taken directly to Medical, but Antiquities was always unduly possessive, and it - or he - was indeed an oddity.  The Greenland settler was in a hypobaric chamber now, his torn 14th century clothing removed and lying in the corner on top of some old Hittite bronze armor.  He was a tall, emaciated man with thinning brown hair, apparently intact with the exception of what looked like an infected animal bite on his left arm.  Santa pushed past a stack of black letter Latin printings and an old crown that seemed to be whispering (he had learned not to look directly at most things in this department) and went up to Dr. Chow-chow, whose expression was torn between curiosity and disturbance, and who was speaking into a recorder.

"Lack of evidence of hypothermia is idiopathic as is continued motion of the subject - oh hi boss," she smiled.  "It’s weird, he’s quivering and we’re picking up brain waves, but any cardi- any heartbeat or respiration must be below the level of our sensors."

"Peculiar," Santa said.  Some phantom memory was trying to touch his mind from centuries past, but he couldn’t place it.  "Do you think recovery is a real poss-"

An elf’s scream of surprise stopped him short.  The man had sat up, glassy blue eyes trying to understand his surroundings.  He was drooling and apparently shivering.  Santa had a feeling that the revived man’s mind was quite damaged - the expression was beyond either normal confusion or shock, and seemed far too slow.  Nonetheless, he made an effort.  "Calm down," he said in Icelandic, multilingualism being one of his powers, "we have brought you someplace safe."

The hypobaric chamber popped open - obviously without Dr. Chow-chow’s consent.  She looked about in annoyance, her pointed ears turning an angered red.  "Who the hell did that?  Are you trying to kill h-"

Her protest was stopped fairly short.  The man had lurched out of the chamber and bit her soundly in the ankle above her Blahnik, imbecile eyes rolling up towards his forehead as he bit down as though he were a shark at feeding.  "Akk, you fucker!" Chow-chow snarled, her eyes popping out widely.  She tried to kick out with her other heel and toppled backwards, unable to support herself on her injured leg.  Santa wheeled onto the man to pinion him.  "Stop, friend," he cried.  His friend gave an exaggerated, moronic blink and then bit Santa through his shirtsleeve, turning it as red as his coat.  Santa swore and smashed his fist into the man’s skull, shattering it like an egg and tossing brains over a dusty dodo egg in the corner.  He looked around covertly, a little ashamed at his show of temper, as low-level elves ran about screaming.

Dr. Chow-chow was certainly not upset with Santa’s reaction.  She paused to smirk before making an urgent call.  "Two rabies vaccines, two tetanus, stat!" she ordered on her phone, lying uncomfortably on the floor as orderlies cleaned and dressed their wounds, along with Santa’s bloody hand.

Santa stood by the sleigh as the loading finished.  Mrs. Claus was concerned, and although he pretended to be fine, his arms were both throbbing - one from the bite, one from the vaccine.  At least it’s not multiple shots in the belly anymore, he thought, and almost laughed at the size of the syringe that would take - still being mostly human, he had grown like a walrus centuries earlier to deal with the cold.  Mrs. Claus handed him the aspirin and the bottle of  "Distilled Permafroste" water from the commissary.  "You be careful out there this year, especially with that crazy man.  They’re still cleaning Antiquities and Oddities.  It was so strange that they‘re not even going on about overtime like usual."

"I’ll be fine, sweetie," he lied, knowing both arms would be aching for, well, what would subjectively be weeks for him.  "Check on Dr. Chow-chow, please.  Flibbet, tell Petrovkia that he’s off the New Year’s celebration and assigned cleaning duties the day after the party."

"Of course, sir.  I understand" said Flibbet, a trifle sanctimoniously.

Santa noticed a slow fever starting in the Aleutians.  By Vladivostok he was a little disturbed it had not abated, but instead had seemed to worsen, and, a little guiltily, he raided a pharmacy for antibiotics and prednisone.  He had stopped his normal banter with the reindeer, which had been somewhat perfunctory for decades anyway.  Despite the magic, it was a very mechanical process after all.  By Beijing his vision was blurred.  "Very bad this," he mumbled aloud, "But I have a job to do."

[ Continue to page 3 ]

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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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