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Author's note: Actually, this started with my eighth grade Language Arts teacher assigning the class to write a short Christmas themed story over winter break. I came up with this very idea and well, I had no clue it would turn out this long of a story. But I think it's a really great entertainer for the holidays and I hope you enjoy it. This is the first novel I ever submitted to Teenink. Happy Holidays:)
It was a very stormy night. Even Rudolph’s nose wasn’t enough to guide the enormous sleigh through the long and dark night. Santa was developing frostbite and had no choice but to close his eyes just so snow wouldn’t get into them and maybe blind him temporarily. The perseverant man was already starting to lose hope. The closest reindeer to him wasn’t even the slightest bit visible.
“Ho, ho, ho - “ Santa made sure all the reindeer heard him, especially Rupolph. “Make a landing somewhere!”
“It’s no use,” Rudolph called back to him. “We’re flying over the middle of the Arctic Ocean!”
“Aye,” Suddenly, Santa felt the sleigh tilt sharply upward. “Where are you heading to now?”
“I don’t know,” The red-nosed reindeer admitted. “I’m trying to find a shortcut.”
No response from Mr. Claus. He had his eyes closed, just waiting for all this to be over. He was lying like that for a while in the cold, almost falling asleep. When, suddenly, all of the cold and snow and wind blowing into poor Santa’s ears was gone. He wasn’t sure if this was because he was dizzy from all that chaos, but all he could see was stars then.
“Hey! Who turned out the lights!” Santa noticed that Dasher’s voice sounded clear and crisp now, as if he were talking into his ear. “And why does this sleigh feel nearly weightless?”
Santa was still looking around, when he finally turned behind him. I knew those stars weren’t from my imagination! He exclaimed, and gestured towards that very direction. Planet Earth was staring right back at him. Everyone seemed to be breathing fine, too.
“There’s no way we can operate this sleigh in any direction!” Rudolph shouted, even though he didn’t need to anymore. “It’s impossible to control where we’re floating to!”
And so, Santa tried to calm all of them down and decided they should just stay where they were and wait for them to travel somewhere. The least they could do was make sure the Christmas presents didn’t drift off somewhere.
“Christmas is doomed forever!” Blitzen shrieked. “No one will ever know what became of us!”
“Just stay calm,” the man with a perfectly peaceful tone, even though he was shattered into pieces inside. “We’ll think of a plan.”
Everyone thought and thought, but they weren’t making any progress. And yet, faster and faster the sleigh swam through space, as time elapsed. Pretty soon, a luminou red ball showed up and loomed closer and closer to the troubled group.
Santa got scared and worried that they would crash into it. He closed his eyes as tightly as he could and didn’t say a word. Just braced himself for the moment that was about to come… in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1..
With his tiny eyes still squeezed shut, Santa could only slightly feel the way the sleigh slid gracefully across – was that dust nearly attacking his face? Finally, he opened his eyes and took a quick three-sixty surveillance. For what seemed like hundreds of miles, maybe even thousands, he and his puzzled reindeer were surrounded by bright orange, almost red sand in every direction possible.
At first hesitating, Santa cautiously scooped up a handful of the golden dust. Then he let the soft substance escape through his pudgy fingers.
Once all the reindeer finished struggling to get up against the occasional breeze, Santa noticed the silhouette of a figure ahead. It was hard to tell whether it was traveling away from them, or slowly approaching them. Before long, however, Santa was able to see that it was going towards Santa and his eight reindeer.
Now Santa is no science freak, but he did know something about the universe beyond our Earth. How long did it take for all of us to float here? He wondered. We were moving at a pretty fast pace once we got fairly close to this “planet”. Probably faster than these reindeer could ever fly, even without the weight of this sleigh. Santa wasn’t the brightest buld in the drawer, so he took a great deal of time pondering this.
He looked ahead again. The figure was still pretty far away, but at the same time moving closer with every step. Santa’s best guess was that it probably took them about a few hours to get here, ever since they took off at the North Pole. Santa shivered involuntarily as he was reminded of that intense blizzard. Waving that dreadful thought away, he did the math in his head. Yep. It was around twelve o’ clock at the North Pole. Christmas morning was approaching with every minute. Looks like the Northern hemisphere is going to get their presents late this year. Santa worried. There was really nothing to do.
For about the tenth time, Santa looked around him once more, as his once-loyal reindeer appeared to have just fallen asleep from the long night they’ve had. Still, Mr. Claus loved them with all his heart.
Suddenly an idea popped into his head. His wife, Mrs. Claus, on the other hand loved astronomy and enjoyed watching the starry night sky every evening out on the porch of their old home in the North Pole. She once told him the sequence of the planets of the Solar System.
The old and forgetful man used all of his might to try to remember what exactly Mrs. Claus had said to him. The information could really help him IF he ever got back home…
Don’t cry, whatever you do, just DON’T CRY. His mind screamed at him as he fought back tears. Then another idea entered his head just like that. Mercury, Venus, Earth… Mars! Santa didn’t remember passing any other planet on their voyage from Earth to this place, so they must be on Mars right now.
But what good would that do now that the mysterious figure moving towards them was now only ten feet away?
Finally, the “thing” was inches away from Santa’s face. They took a good long look at each other. The martian’s eyes matched the color of the ground under their feet. His bare skin was magenta colored, but all in all the martian pretty much resembled a human. It stared at Santa a little more, until he simply snapped his fingers and just the area around them went down, down, down, almost like a trapdoor.
Immediately, they were brought into a dim underground lair, full of all sorts of advanced machines and gadgets Santa had never given to any childen as presents or even seen people use back on Earth. No. These innovations probably wouldn’t be developed in another hundred years, back on Santa’s home planet.
The force of the platform hitting the ground must have woken up the reindeer, since they suddenly started groggily asking one question after another, sounding like their usual chatter-box selves.
“Where are we?”
“What is this place?”
“I can’t see anything. Who turned out the lights?”
“Is Christmas over?”
Santa decided not to answer them. He hoped they’d all be soon out of this mess, and not have to remember a single detail of it.
The martian – that’s what he decided he’d think of the figure as from now on – gestured them to get off the platform, which immediately sprang back up to its original place once they stepped out. Inverbally, the martian insisted on leaving the sleigh with the sack of present and now sleeping reindeer in the lair, so Santa finally gave in. He watched the martian lock the lair door with a red shiny key and then was led through a wide corridor, but was stopped halfway through by the martian. It put its arms sincerely on Santa’s shoulders and raised a sole index finger to its mouth. Santa wasn’t sure what this indacated, but still nodded hesitantly, which sent the martian turning back around and walking to the end of the passageway to a very sophisticated-looking door. The alien knocked on it momentarily which made it roll upwards.
Inside was a whole room full of beings part of the martian’s kind, maybe fifty of them. And they were all using similar versions of the computers Santa had seen back in the lair. Looking closer, he noticed that on some of the screens of the computer-like devices those martians were using, there was shots of planet Earth taken from every angle possible. From far away, close-up – it looked like they were watching everything that was going on all over the world. It also seemed that the martians have discovered more about Earth than scientists back home have been trying to find out about Mars for the past few decades.
The martians noisily working in the room seemed to be totally oblivious to their Earthling visitor until Santa’s escorter clapped his hand together once. Everyone immediately looked up from their bright, life-like screens, fully alert. Before long, Santa realized that among the sea of maroon-hued martians, there strapped to a wheelchair sat a human. What could a human possibly be doing here? Santa wondered. Obviously, the lone human wasn’t kept here against his own will – otherwise he wouldn’t be tied up so securely. Was he being held captive by the martians? And the worst question was: Did the martians bring him in here to join the man on whatever he was ordered to do in everyday in this place?
Finally, the martian that brought Santa into this room, and also seemed to have the authority to be in charge of everything that went on around here, spoke.
The jumble of gibberish incessantly coming from his mouth not only looked like it was forming ideas that made perfect sense in every martian’s head,but also in the human’s mind as well, as he wasn’t portraying any clue of confusion on his face and listened intently on everything the martian boss had to say.
Abruptly the speaker stopped, pointed at the man sitting in the wheelchair, and then gestured towards Claus, all the while barking out what seemed like an order.
As if he had been a part of this for a pretty long time, the young man sighed and without trying, obeyed. Santa guessed that the martian probably intstructed him to translate whatever he just said to the crowd in front of him into some mutual language they both knew to Santa, because the human instantly started communicating to him in English.
What if I didn’t speak English? How did they know? Santa thought.
“The master has informed us that you will be with us until that predicament of yours back on Earth comes to an end,” He yawned, as if it was no interest to him whatsoever that another human was in the same room with him.
“What kind of predicament?” Santa spoke for the first time since he and his reindeer were floating in space, which was a while ago.
“You know,” The man intoned. “The huge snow blizzard.”
Santa only shivered slightly this time, partially trying to stifle it.
“Wait a minute,” Santa considered. “There’s no way for me to go back to Earth anytime soon?”
The man solemnly shook his head.
“But – that storm could go on for another few hours!” His voice went up an octive now, and he was beginning to raise his voice. “It could even take all night.”
The man sat there in silence for a moment, then turned towards the still standing and waiting head martian and spoke in that extraterrestrial tongue to it. He was probably negotiating that very issue.
After a few moments of back and forth chitter chatter, Santa was still standing there awkwardly in front of the assembled crowd when the man faced him again. Before he spoke, Santa wondered how long it took the man to finally master the language.
“We have a . . . spaceship out in the back garage,” The man replied. “But the master would like to take a look at you first, maybe ask you questions in order to satisfy our current speculations about your planet so far.”
Santa considered this. Did they, perhaps, want to know more about Earth than what they already discovered from those computer screens? Suddenly, Santa had a silent epiphany in his head. They knew he spoke English because they probably observed him speaking to his reindeer while they were still floating to Mars! The martians also possibly could have developed those hand gestures such as the clapping and putting one finger on their lips!
Scientists back on Earth would be so excited with all this new information. But Santa couldn’t just tell the whole world about his visit to Mars. It would completely blow his cover. There had to be some way he could inform people without having a) people not believe a word of it and b) having anyone know who he was. He decided he’d think about this later. Right now his main priority was to find a way to get him and his sleigh with reindeer safely out of her and back to Earth.
And then an idea practically ran into his head.
“I will only fulfill your desires,” Santa picked his words cautiously. “on one condition.” He was ready to blurt the rest out, then hesistated, then opened his mouth again. “You have to be able to give my planet a mere sign that there is life on Mars.”
This proposal crashed the party on the man’s face for a moment. Then Santa saw him grin for the first time. Hope and gratitude lingered in his eyes.
Right away he interpret this to the master. When he finished, the master gave Santa a look that said, Is something wrong with you? Did it ever occur to you how much trouble your planet and ours could get into, all because of that?
It shook its head, no.
Santa looked at the man again. His expression was a mixture of hopelessness and disapointment, but also indifference, as if he partially expected this answer from the beginning.
“Our planet WILL find out eventually,” Santa retorted back. “However, I can’t think of a reason for Earth to cause any form of trouble between us.”
The man dimly decoded this to the master, who vehemently roared a reply back at him.
“The master says that it should be enough that we are taking care of you for the night,” He explained. “And that you should be grateful for that.”
“The only reason why they want me here is for some speculation,” Santa nearly spit out the last word. “Oh, well,” Santa mentally scolded himself for giving in, but that’s Santa Claus for you. It takes a lot to get him really angry, and apparently all he had his one-track mind set on was getting home. “I’ll do it.”
After the man still disapointedly translated only that last sentence of Santa’s, and then the master repeated it loudly for the crowd to hear, Santa received a standing ovation.
And so, they got down right to it. All in the next couple hours, Santa was being interviewed by the man, who introduced himself as Justin Jacobs. He was asked about Earth’s voyages to the moon and space and about what certain English terms mean – including “it’s raining cats and dogs”, “cat’s got your tongue” and mainly other common idioms – and so on. The last thing Justin asked him was what his purpose on Earth was.
“Really Mr. Jacobs – I shouldn’t have to tell you – “
“Please, sir,” He replied. “Just call me Justin. And yes, you do have to tell me. It’s the main thing the master wanted me to ask you.”
“Well,” He hesitated. “You can know, but you have to swear you’ll keep this a secret. It’s for classified purposes.”
Mr. Jacobs waited.
Clearing his throat, Santa said, “Every year there’s a very common holiday celebrated all over the world. Most celebrate it for reasons of being more religious, but the main concept of the holiday, Christmas, is to give and receive, show your gratitude for family, friends – “
“Wait a minute!” Justin squirmed in his wheelchair. “You’re that big jolly guy, what’s his name? Santa? Santa Claws?”
“Santa Claus. That’s me, all right.”
He just stared at Santa for a moment, grinning widely from ear to ear. “I knew you looked familiar!”
“Oh, Justin, I knew your name sounded familiar too.”
Then Justin giggled uncontrollably until tears creeped out of this eyes. “Christmas used to be my all-time favorite holiday. Until – until – “ His smile faded.
“Until what?” Santa looked at him.
He shook his head. More tears spilled out of his eyes, and this time they weren’t of joy. “Until one of your reindeer took my dear sister away one Christmas Eve night,” The man seemed to choke out each and every word.
“Oh, dear,” Santa ran over to console Justin. “What happened?”
“Well, sir,” Santa could see Justin’s eyes acquire a faraway look, as if he was in a flashback. “My only sister, little Ashe, she strongly believed in you as much as I did. But just for fun, on about my eighth Christmas Eve, we decided to stay up all night and look for you flying in your sleigh.” Justin gulped. “So we talked and talked, while we still kept an eye out the window for any sign of you and your reindeer. And at last, he heard those bells ringing! How we were so excited! We ran out the door into the snow with our pajamas still on, and followed you all the way to our neighbors house, the Nelsons. Don’t you remember how you asked the reindeer to wait on the roof while you went down their chimney to deliver the presents?”
“Ah, yes,” Santa replied. “Just like every year. And for every house, too.”
“Well then. That was the time Ashe and I decided to climb up on the Nelsons’ roof and wait for you to come back up to at least greet you. We scrambled up a tall oak tree that stood on the side near the house, reaching all the way up to the top.
“When we finally climbed to the edge of the rooftop, they were there all right. All eight of them. Dasher, Prancer, Connor, Cupid, Donor, Vixen, Comet, Blitzen, and Rudolph. Ashe ran to them before I could stop her. She was pretty darn lucky she didn’t simply slip off the roof and fall nearly ten feet down to the ground, especially with that too-big white night gown of hers. And so, when I finally reached Ashe after a few minutes of carefully picking my steps, she was already petting and hugging and talking to the reindeer, even if they didn’t reply to her remarks. We waited for a long time, and it was a very cold night. So I told Ashe I’d be right back with our winter coats. It was stupid of me, really, to just leave a six-year-old girl alone on the neighbor’s roof like that. Sure, I was eight, but I could of at least had some common sense.”
Santa nodded sincerely. “Go on,” He said.
“When I came back,” Justin’s voice cracked sharply. “There was nobody on the roof. I looked towards the sky and saw you operating your sleigh – with Ashe clinging to one of the blades under it!” Wiping his eyes, Justin said,”I haven’t seen her ever since.”
“Wow,” Santa rested his hand on Justin’s broad shoulder. “I don’t remember those reindeer telling me a thing!”
“Maybe they didn’t know where Ashe went after the roof scene,” Justin guessed. “Maybe Ashe sneaked under the sleigh and the reindeer weren’t at fault.”
“Don’t you worry,” Santa said. “I’ll have a talk with them now. Go tell your master to lend me the key to the lair. That’s where I was told to leave the reindeer.”
“Sure,” The middle-aged man led Santa to the master, who was looking at one of the screens intently.
Before Justin could say a word in martian, the master immediately stood up from his crouched position and turned to them. He talked to Justin in that gibberish language again, who then turned to Santa wearing that same solemn expression his face showcased not long ago.
“The master said he was just going to tell you that the blizzard ended now,” He uttered out. “You can now hop into the spaceship and go home.”
Home. That word gave him a tingling sensation all over. “Not yet,” Santa surprised Justin. “I have to help you find your sister first.”
Justin surprised Santa by hugging him, then muttered something to the master, who gave Santa that same red shiny key he had been using earlier. Now that he held it in his hand, he could feel that the key wasn’t made of any kind of material keys were made of back on Earth. But now was not the time to ask. He had an entire world to give presents to!
They both ran to the end of the long corridor and nearly bumped into the lair door. Inserting the key, Santa turned it and lifted the latch to the door. It was just like any door back home but instead of opening sideways it opened upwards. There inside were the still sleeping reindeer.
“Wake UP!!!” Santa shook the animals vigoriously, one by one.
After all the reindeer were settled down, Justin told them the story of his long-lost sister.
“That was nearly a decade ago,” Blitzen said. “I can’t tell you all the details because I barely remember myself. How about you, Dasher? Do you remember?”
“Nah,” He replied. “I do remember a lot, but I never paid attention to where that girl went.”
Nobody seemed to know.
But then Rudolph spoke up. “I know where Ashe Jacobs is.”
“What? You do?” Cupid said, emphasizing too much. It seemed like they all knew, but they wanted to hide the truth.
“Tell us about it,” Santa said.
“Well,” Rudolph said, glaring at Cupid rudely before continuing. “Nobody wanted to let you know what there was a stowaway on board. You see, we were young reindeer and we wanted to make you feel proud that you hired us. If we told you the truth, everyone was afraid you would think we were bad reindeer since we didn’t take care of the situation very well. But that Ashe was so stubborn, she felt she was obliged to secretly ride on the sleigh with us. So we let her, as long as she didn’t say a word. And the girl didn’t. When we finished our night-long duties and returned to the North Pole, Ashe wasn’t the least bit tired when she got off the sleigh. I mean, she was hanging on the whole night. So we took her to the factory not far away from your home, Santa. We all stood outside while Blitzen went in and brought one of our closest elves out. It was Jessica, and she hasn’t told you at all right, Santa?”
Santa shook his head.
“Well, all those ten-some years, we selfishly had her keep poor Ashe in the huge closet out in the back of the factory. Of course, the elves taught her many subjects to keep her brain well-nourished. Math, science, and history were Ashe’s star subjects. Especially English. The little girl loved to read. Justin, your sister was raised by elves.”
He just sat there for a moment. Then he suddenly said, “Well, is she still in there?”
“Yep!” Rudolph embraced Justin in a hug. “Come on, let’s go get her!”
Santa returned the key to the master and Justin told it what happened. “Go,” the martian said in a very thick accent and smiled, slightly pushing Justin. Then he mumbled something to Justin, who said, “The master wants to make sure you won’t tell anything of this visit, Santa.”
He winked. “You got it,” Santa said.
When Justin was sitting next to Santa in the sleigh in mid-flight, he tapped him on the shoulder.
“Santa, there’s one thing nor I nor Rudolph got to tell you.”
“Oh?” Santa looked at him doubtfully, as if there was already enough to comprehend already.
“When I saw you flying away with my sister onboard, I climbed a tall maple tree nearby as fast as I could and hung onto the end a one of the blades under your sleigh and up we all went. I tried to look for Ashe, but then she wasn’t there. I looked over the sleigh and saw her sitting right behind you on the presents. I was about to get to her, when some spaceship hovered by and sucked me into its door. Long story short, I’ve been working for them ever since, on their mission to communicate with human life on Earth.”
“The translator?” Santa said.
“Not just that,” Justin replied. “I’ve also helped explain some of the big things happening on Earth, including wars and stuff. They have really good tools that help them see whats going on everywhere here. Kinda like telescopes, only super good ones. That’s how they knew about the blizzard and how you crashed into us.”
“Ahh,” Santa realized that he figured out most of that on his own.
“They also have a collection of a lot of other things they picked up from Earth,” Justin went on. “Cars, bikes, trees – “
“So that explains where that wheel chair came from?” Santa interrupted.
“Oh, yes,” Justin streched his legs as far as they could go in the wide open space in the sleigh. “How nice it feels to finally be free from being strapped to that thing. They didn’t trust me.”
“Oh, and Santa?” Dasher called out to him.
“Well, we all want to say we were sorry for . . . what we did years ago.”
“Yeah,” Dancer chimed in. “We regret it ever since, but we were still scared of telling you.”
“Well, we can put that behind us now,” Santa inhaled deeply and did what he didn’t do for a long time. “HO, HO, HO!!!!”
They arrived at Justin’s old house, where he had spent his entire childhood going on adventures with Ashe. “Wait a minute,” he said. “What about Ashe? Aren’t we going to get her first?”
“Merry Christmas!” Santa bellowed, and with that he took off his roof, leaving Justin looking out the living room window at the clear night sky. Then, he looked around. “Wow, this place hasn’t changed at all,” he whispered.
• • •
He must have fallen asleep on the couch, because the 20-year-old awoke to a bright light streaming through that same living room window. He look out. A white Christmas. Standing up, Justin noticed that there were presents from Santa under the tree, which looked exactly like the one he and his family dressed up every year for the holidays. He ran upstairs, and looked into his parents room. Older versions of Rachel and William Jacobs slept in the room. He was going to go to the bathroom, but on the way there, he stopped at his sister’s room.
Eighteen years old now, lay Ashe, his dear sister.