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Santa and the Region Crossing

This is a reprint of a story I wrote for Prim Perfect, issue #38 in December, 2011. Happy 10th anniversary, little story!  It was originally titled, Santa and the Sim Crossing, but Saffia Widdershins informs me that Patch Linden prefers ‘region’ to ‘sim’. Any other quirks can be blamed on the passage of time. This was fun to write, and I hope you enjoy it too.

SANTA AND THE REGION CROSSING

A Story for Christmas by Ceejay Writer
Illustrated by Winona Wiefel

The sled was loaded to capacity, as its creaking boards could testify. Santa knelt down to shake the hands of his elves. “Thank you, another year’s work well done!” The elves beamed proudly, gazing at the mound of gifts wrapped in glittering paper. “Good journey Santa! Merry Christmas!”

Santa eased his bulky frame into the driver’s seat and picked up the reins. The annual voyage round the grid was about to commence.

Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!”

Dasher and Company did not “on.” What Dasher did, instead, was to look back at the jolly man and sigh. “Can’t we teleport? Or better yet, transfer inventory to all the good boys and girls? It’s 2011, Santa. Use the technology.”

Santa laughed, indeed a jolly one, his belly doing that bowl-of-jelly thing. “Of course not! You know everyone expects us to be seen in the skies, tonight of all nights!”

It’s a little-known fact that Santa has a bad memory. That’s one reason he makes those lists. It also means that he doesn’t recall a lot from his yearly trip around the grid… or the terror of the region crossings. On one hand, this is a good thing—surely he wouldn’t attempt this every year if he did remember! But the reindeer do. Oh, yes, they remember.

Santa frowned. “Now Dasher!” he called out again, hopefully.

Dasher sighed, and looked at his teammates. “We might as well get this over with, he’s going to keep ‘Now-ing’ us until we do.” They sighed back collectively and began trotting forward, digging their hooves first into the snow, and then into the chill night air, climbing higher and higher, lifting Santa and his massive sleigh up above the rooftops.

The magical sight of that fully laden sleigh, with eight proud reindeer gracefully galloping through the mists of low clouds, silhouetted against the full moon—well, it was nothing short of a breathtaking miracle. Thirty meters they traveled, a spectacle to behold.

And then they hit the region crossing.

Dasher completely lost his footing and went careening off to the west. Cupid became tangled in invisible rubber bands and boinged every which way. Dancer’s elegant antlers appeared to detach and drift off towards the horizon. Santa’s eyes went wide as the sleigh plowed down to street level and then some, determined to enter the magical realm of Lost Stuff, which everyone knows is at coordinates 0,0,0.

Santa landed on his ample behind in a snowdrift. “Ho Ho Oh No. I seem to remember this now.”

Dasher reappeared abruptly, upside down next to the spilled sleigh. Presents were strewn everywhere. “So, about that teleport…”

Santa drummed his fingers on his knee and thought. “I can’t ruin the memories of this Christmas for all the good boys and girls. I need to make my voyage! It’s… TRADITION!”

The reindeer wandered about, gingerly prodding the region crossing with their hooves, shuddering as the dark magic that bound the regions together crackled and hissed. Blitzen, the most cowardly of the lot, pleaded with the jolly old elf. “We can’t keep struggling like this year after year! Santa, we’re not young bucks anymore, it’s just too much!”

But Santa only half-heard the plea. You see, he had an idea. If the region-bindings were dark magic, maybe they could be neutralized with light magic. And light magic was in abundance during the holiday season!  In fact, he had a little with him—if it were enough to get across the North Pole region crossing, he could re-stock his supply in each region. They’d work their way around the grid, by Jove, and it would be the best miracle of them all.

He pushed his gloved hand deep into his furred cloak pocket and, in triumph, withdrew a handful of cookies, holding them up for all to see. “Mrs. Claus baked these for me. They’re filled with sugar, flour, and love. It’s good magic!”

Lumbering to his feet, Santa approached the region crossing and carefully laid a cookie across the border. A slight rumbling was heard, but the cookie stayed in place. A second cookie was laid on the border further down. The span between cookies was the exact distance between the shiny metal runners of the sleigh.  He ran back and hopped in. “Come on, reindeer, back in line! I have a cunning plan!”

The six reindeer looked at each other and sighed. Vixen grumbled something about being only three years away from retirement. But they knew Santa was both stubborn and determined, so it was best to simply get this over with. They slipped with practiced ease back into their harnesses and jockeyed into formation.

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!”

The sleigh eased forward. The reindeer picked up speed, and soon they were thundering directly towards the region crossing. Dasher crossed over first, and to his amazement, he held true to the path! In the twinkling of an eye, the entire team and its precious cargo rushed rather gracefully into the neighboring region.

Santa laughed, with great relief. “I knew it would work! Every Christmas cookie is baked with love and given with generosity. That’s the best magic of all. All we need to do is keep collecting more cookies as we travel to help pave our way. Luckily, the good boys and girls of the grid always make sure I have plenty!”

And this, dear reader, is why you should always, always, always leave a plate of cookies out for Santa. And a glass of milk, of course. Performing miracles is thirsty work!

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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