Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

For Christmas i would like a Fire Truck with Flashing Lights and Sirens and also a Space Ship like in that movie that Dad says we can see next week it looks very exiting. Also one of those swords they have in the movie so I can fight my big brother Simon when he trys to take my stuff.

I have been a very good boy this year I always help my Mum put away the dishes and she says it is a big help because she is so busy. She says my writing is getting much better even though she still has trouble reading it some of the time but I know you will be able to read this. Just like I know that Mum will read the first bit of this letter and then skip the rest because she is too busy. Sometimes she doesnt notice little details. Things like who is taking someone elses stuff just because they can because they are bigger. But you notice those things. I know you do. You dont just make a list, but then you check it. You check it twice. I understand that. Its important to get things right.

See, I want to be just like you when i grow up. I dont mean fat and living at the North Pole. Dad says all the ice will be melted soon and I dont like boats. I know Mum says it is rude to call people fat even if they are. Especially if they are, she says. But its different when its you. You know if weve been bad or good so I know that you know I didnt mean to be rude. I dont care if im fat when i grow up but thats not what i meant. I meant that I want to do what you do. Not giving kids presents. Thats okay I guess but like the fat thing, its not what I mean. Its not the Main Thing, its just how you get people to not notice the Main Thing.

Seeing them when they are sleeping. Knowing when they are awake. Some kids get scared when they hear that song. Lots are scared because they dont want you to know what they do. Some are scared because it seems creepy to have someone watching all the time.

I wasnt scared. I was inspired.

Now sometimes I get up at night and watch Simon while he sleeps. I dont do anything to him. I could, but I dont. Sometimes I take back the stuff he took from me earlier. Sometimes I move his stuff around. Because I can. When hes asleep, it doesnt matter how big he is. That makes me feel better.

But watching isnt the Main Thing either. Watching one brother is quite hard. I dont know how you watch everyone. I guess security cameras must be handy, and you have a lot of helpers. Still, knowing if someone has been bad or good is a tricky problem. Of course, that doesnt really matter, does it? Nobody is going to tell you that you got it wrong, are they? Exept for the naughty kid, and well, they would say that, wouldnt they? Thats the Main Thing. You get to judge everyone else and nobody gets to judge you. Mum says thats what Kings and Queens did in the olden days. Now they just wave and shake hands and sometimes take the corgys for a walk. But I saw an episode of Horrible Histories where lots of people didnt like what the king did so they cut off his head. I think your way is better. You bribe enough kids with presents so they dont care what the others say. They cant even believe anyone wouldnt love Santa. They dont care that you sneak into their house and watch them when they sleep as long as the presents keep coming. Lots of them even bribe you back with food. They know the deal.

And the naughty kids? Who cares? They have all the next year to get back on the nice list. If they cant do that… guess who will be in their house next Christmas while they sleep?

Better not pout.

Better not cry.

Not that you would do anything to them. You could. But you dont. But they know you could.

Thats what I mean when I say I want to be like you. A King in all but name. Loved by most. Feared by all. Nobody messes with Santa. Nobody takes your stuff and you dont even have to hit them with a sword.

Mum said I should sign my name at the end of the letter but I know that you know who wrote it. I know you watching.


Your Biggest Fan.


Wolves at the Door (part 100)

Gil found Alfvin waiting for him; patient, but ready to move on.

“You have satisfied your urge to splurge? Then perhaps we should be going.”

“Don’t you have more stuff to buy?”

“I have what I need.”

He began to lead the way back toward the doorway, but Gil did not automatically follow.  This rushing back and forth between worlds seemed at odds with what Alfvin had told him.

“Is it really a good idea to be in such a hurry?  I mean, I get that you need to visit a village every couple of days, but how many are there before you get back to the start of the cycle?  You said yourself that you’d rather not return to any one village too often, but the less time you spend here, the quicker you burn down the list.”

“That is true.  Unfortunately, right now circumstances are against me.  The distances we must travel are longer, and the nights are shorter.  The prospect of wasting another day makes me quite anxious.  But it is as you say. An hour or two will make little difference, and it may help in the long run.  And speaking of long runs, our next trip will be the longest yet.  But once that is done, I think I can afford to spend a night here, and leave the outer world to its own devices for a little while.”

Restless as he was, Alfvin forced himself to play tour guide.  While enchanted goods were plentiful, they were by no means the only things for sale here.  Clustered near each of the stone doorways were several traders selling various imported goods: the food that Alfvin had recommended so heartily, and artworks of various kinds.  Mysterious and intricate mechanisms sat side-by-side with stacks of impossibly-thin materials, painted with unfamiliar runes.  Occasionally Gil would see something he recognised: blankets, clothing, basic tools.  Even in a world full of magic, the necessities of life remained necessary.

Marvellous as the sights were, Gil kept finding himself distracted by the sounds.  Where once the thrum of the crowds had been little more than background noise, he now kept catching tantalising snippets of conversations that quickly degraded into gibberish again.  His newly-purchased translator was working, but only intermittently.  Even the modest crowds this far from the centre of things must be leeching the magic out of the atmosphere.

Eventually, the novelty began to fade.  From one gateway to the next, the imported goods looked much the same.  The mysterious objects remained mysterious, even after hearing their names.  After stopping by Alfvin’s tent to pick up some supplies, they approached the stone doorway.

The knotted rope was still hanging from the top of the door frame, looking unsettlingly out-of-balance with only one end visible.  Alfvin considered it for a moment before turning to Gil.

“It does the job, there’s no denying that.  But I can’t help thinking we can do better.  Let’s see if we can bring back a sign to hang off the rope.”

As he spoke, Gil stared for a moment, then removed the pendant from around his neck and slipped it into one of his bags.

“Uh… sure.  Sounds like a good idea.”

“Then shall we be away?”

As they crossed the threshold together, Gil breathed a little sigh of relief.  Hearing that colloquial but unfamiliar voice coming from his friend’s mouth had just been too unsettling.  He should have known that even such seemingly innocuous magic would have some kind of downside.

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