• Fiction

    Branch Santa, Part 11

    by “That’s going to take some getting used to.” Eugene stared at Santa as the big guy strapped his skinny frame into the only seat on the Sled that fit him. “What is?”  Santa fought with the straps, taking forever to get his too-long arms in the right spots for things to snap together. “The time compression field.  Take a few steps away from the shuttle and we’re outside of it until you come back.  On Earth, Santa would still be gone all night but I didn’t have time to blink in the time you were gone, Chief.”  He held out his hand.  “Here, I need to get the data into…

  • Fiction

    Branch Santa, Part 10

    by Santa crept through the bare tunnel, toy sack slung over his shoulder.  The colonists hadn’t spent much mass on luxuries or decoration.  Out here, he had a hard time believing anyone would want to live on the Moon, a tough, barren existence compared to what the colonists left behind.  He shivered.  With only the sealed hatches for company, he felt cold.  The lack of chimneys, snow, lights, or anything else that might give a sign of Christmas, weighed down on him. But inside, Santa found decorations, simple things made of colored plastic or sometimes painted on the stone walls.  In a few family units, Santa found a holographic Christmas…

  • Fiction

    Branch Santa, Part 9

    by Frank stopped at the bottom of the gangway, turning to look down at the man he’d looked up at for most of his career, the man he still looked up to.   “How did I let you talk me into this again?” Santa clapped a hand on Frank’s shoulder and had to reach fairly high to do it.  “You were the right elf for the job.”  He gave Frank a lopsided grin before leaning back a little to avoid craning his neck.  “I’ll come for a visit early in the New Year when things have settled down.  Well, maybe early in February, after I’ve had a chance to rest a…

  • Fiction

    Branch Santa, Part 8

    by “It’s a variation on the original magic that made you Santa.  A little different, a little more focused.” The booth hummed, an oscillating pitch putting Santa in mind of 1970s science fiction.  Lights inside the booth flashed cheery colors against its walls.  He looked down at Eugene.  “Different how, exactly?” Eugene kept watching the controls.  “Well, you started out as human.  The magic imbued you with extra abilities from scratch:  the Chimney Thing, time compression, and so on.  As an elf, Frank already has some minor magic but he still needs a full set of Santa skills, just not quite the same set you have, plus he needs a…

  • Fiction

    Branch Santa, Part 7

    by Most meetings happened on the workshop floor, out of the way but with activity swirling around them.  Once in a while events called for something more formal.  Once in a long while.  Frank thought back to the last time they’d used room, three years ago, or was it four?  A multimedia presentation on, well he couldn’t remember exactly, but he’d been impressed at the time. Today they needed the room.  Really, they needed three rooms just for the elves in attendance and the technical department polished the PA system so every pointed ear in every building of the facility could hear the announcement.  Tonight, in just a few minutes,…

  • Fiction

    Branch Santa, Part 7

    by Most meetings happened on the workshop floor, out of the way but with activity swirling around them.  Once in a while events called for something more formal.  Once in a long while.  Frank thought back to the last time they’d used room, three years ago, or was it four?  A multimedia presentation on, well he couldn’t remember exactly, but he’d been impressed at the time. Today they needed the room.  Really, they needed three rooms just for the elves in attendance and the technical department polished the PA system so every pointed ear in every building of the facility could hear the announcement.  Tonight, in just a few minutes,…

  • Fiction

    Branch Santa, Part 6

    by Late in the afternoon of December eleventh, Santa finished the List.  He clicked the save icon and watched the progress bar creep to full.  Not quite the same as the satisfaction of checking each name with a pencil, but it saved literally tons of paper.  He shuddered to think about how many trees went into the List in the years just before the first computer version.  Bells, but what a nightmare that had been.  They’d almost gone back. A tiny jingle preceded Frank into Santa’s office.  “Meeting room’s full.  You ready, Chief?” Santa looked up, first at Frank then at the clock.  “I guess I am.”  He pushed away…

  • Fiction

    Branch Santa, Part 5

    by Jan backed into a cavern at least a hundred metres across, leading the little tour group. “This is the hangar for the miracle of science and engineering we call Santa’s Sled.”  She stepped aside to give everyone an unimpeded view.  “And when I say Sled, what I really mean is multi-mode lunar transport shuttle.” Jan smiled, but no one except Eugene noticed.  Her words didn’t penetrate beyond ears in most cases, but she kept talking, giving important figures and technical specs, and wishing they’d come up with a cool acronym. Sleek and powerful, it looked like a racing machine or a star fighter from some science fiction blockbuster.  Unlike…

  • Fiction

    Branch Santa, Part 4

    by Christmas came and Christmas went.  Three times. Halfway to the fourth the first shuttle of colonists left the orbital transfer station for the Moon and thirty-seven families set up housekeeping in ‘pre-prepared dwelling units’, a nice phrase translating to furnished caves.  In a little twist of that old elfin magic, every one of those families came from a cultural background with Santa Claus.  Thirty-seven sets of parents brought fifty-nine children and twenty-two of those kids were young enough or imaginative enough to still believe in Santa Claus. Even with another hundred families scheduled for next year and projecting high than averge birth rates, the soon-to-be-promoted Lunar Santa would have…

  • Fiction

    Branch Santa, Part 3

    by Jan and Eugene went back to R&D, arguing some technical point about orbital mechanics.  Howard slipped away at the same time, back to the media centre and his four assistants.  Frank stayed in his chair and Santa sat down to wait for the explosion. The door clicked shut. “A branch Santa!”  Frank sprung out of the chair as if something had bitten him.  “You’ve got to be kidding.  There’s only one Santa.  There’s only ever been one Santa.  That’s how it works!  What are we going to do, clone you?”  He paced in front of Santa’s desk. “Well–” “Of course not.  Cloning is all well and good for sheep…