Author’s Note: Merry Christmas, readers! As my gift to you, I present this special holiday flash fiction. (Special thanks to Catherine FitzSimmons for the suggestion that led to this story). Enjoy!
The Christmas Invasion (or “Santa vs. the Flying Saucer”)
by Nathan Marchand
Santa Claus whipped the reins, and his nine “little” reindeers ran forward and sprang off the roof, pulling the jolly fat man’s sleigh behind them. But instead of plummeting, they all threw off the shackles of gravity and arched into the night sky. As the wintry wind nipped at ol’ St. Nick’s thickly-bearded face, he was grateful for the ancient holiday magic that allowed him to perform his annual acts of grand generosity. Not since his days as a bishop so many centuries ago had he been able to do so much for the less fortunate.
“Ho, ho, ho!” he bellowed to himself. “The sun will rise soon in this time zone. This job gets longer every year. I miss the days when everyone had chimneys.”
The reindeer seemed to be slower, Santa thought, so he leveled out his sleigh at an altitude of three-thousand feet instead of the usual five-thousand. “Poor fellers must be exhausted,” said Santa. “I’ve run out of carrots from the children to feed them.” He laid down the reins and cupped his hands around his mouth. “Just one more city and it’s back to the North Pole, boys!”
All nine of them grunted affirmatively in reply.
“Ho, ho, ho! I can’t wait to get home to see Misses Claus, too!”
Santa reached back and grabbed a huge scroll, which he unrolled until he reached the “Nice” section for the final city. “Hopefully my first stop has a chimney—”
Suddenly flickering lights flashed in his eyes.
“Is that you, Rudolph?” he said, peering over the scroll. But his most famous reindeer’s nose wasn’t glowing.
Santa dropped the list and grabbed the reins. “It must be an airplane! I can’t let it see me!” With a flick of the reins, his reindeer, though tired, would take evasive maneuvers.
But he saw no more flashes. Nothing but pale moonlight filtered through clouds. Only the whistling wind was heard.
Santa stroked his white beard. “Perhaps I imagined it.”
Instantly, from out of the clouds came a spinning disc that seemed to be made of neon. Its lights blinded Santa. He held up a hand and blocked just enough of it to see it fly in front of him. He yanked the reins, and the reindeer groaned as they turned to port, almost clipping the sun-like saucer.
His heart racing, Santa rubbed his eyes with one hand, holding the reins with the other, but it took several long seconds of blinking to clear his vision. That didn’t help his headache.
“That’s no airplane!”
He looked over his shoulder. The saucer was a quarter-mile away but still bright. Santa squinted to get a better look. It was at least three times the size of his sleigh, perfectly round, and lined with windows.
“No aircraft on Earth looks like that! It’s from space!”
Leaving a trail of light, the saucer sped away—toward the city!
Santa’s beard ruffled as his face contorted with righteous anger befitting a saint. “You picked the wrong night to invade, sonny!”
He yanked the reins and banked the sleigh sideways, making a wide U-turn. “Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!” The reindeers galloped, kicking at the air, their sleigh bells thundering as they fought exhaustion to accelerate. Santa could feel their fatigue through the reins. But the saucer came closer.
“Onwards!” Santa shouted.
The saucer darkened its lights and vanished into a mountainous cloud.
“Rudolph, full power!”
The lead reindeer’s nose glowed, shooting a red beam that cut through the cloud. The saucer was silhouetted inside.
“Faster, boys!” shouted Santa, whipping the reins.
They were a quarter-mile behind now, but the city was only fifty miles away. The cold wind bit Santa’s cheeks and stung his eyes. He whipped and shouted. They inched toward the saucer. Rudolph kept it bathed in red light. Santa’s teeth rattled as the magic surged through his sleigh. His old transport felt as though it would fall apart. He only whipped the reins more.
The reindeers’ painful groans mingled with the peels of their sleigh bells, but now the saucer was only a hundred feet away. Before Santa could think of what to do next, the spaceship dove. Only then did Santa look down and see the city’s suburbs below.
“Down, boys!” he shouted, whistling to signal a descend.
They arched downward, but the rhythm of their bells slowed. The saucer shrank before them. Panic seized Santa. The world can’t end on Christmas Eve!
He expected to see flashes of flame, but there was nothing. Then, to his shock, he saw the saucer had stopped below them and a few hundred feet above the houses. Ten seconds later, Santa leveled out his dead-tired reindeer and floated next to the spacecraft.
With his sleigh hovering, the old saint put down his reins and stood.
“Go back to your planet, invaders, or I’ll…sick my reindeer on you!”
All nine of them moaned.
Santa slapped his forehead.
An electronic hum.
Santa looked at the bottom of the saucer and saw white beams of light shoot out. Momentarily, his chest tightened, but then he saw what looked like strange dolls and model ships floating down the beams like they were tall slides.
“Toys!” he exclaimed.
The playthings descended along the beams, phased into energy particles, and fell into houses’ chimneys or through skyscrapers’ windows.
Santa looked up at the saucer, which now glowed with warm multicolored lights.
He smiled. “You just wanted to help deliver toys.”
A white light danced across the saucer’s hull as if to say, “Yes.”
His frozen cheeks suddenly burned. Then he burst into a hearty, “Ho, ho, ho!” and his belly shook like a bowl full of jelly.
“Thank you! And a Merry Christmas to you!”
With that, the saucer’s teleporter beams ceased and it darted into the sky, vanishing in a twinkle.
Santa sat down and grabbed the reins. “I hope Misses Claus has cups of hot chocolate ready for all of us, boys! We need them!”
The reindeer grunted in agreement.