Loading Santa’s Sleigh
“The rain is still falling lightly,” McKaren said. “It will increase in intensity in approximately an hour. If we’re going to do this Tammy, there’s no better time than now.”
“I agree. Let’s do it.”
Arn and I walked ahead of McKaren as we exited the cavern and entered Gramps’ workshop.
“Let’s take the goons a little pre-Christmas present. Maybe some cases of chocolate pudding mix. Just a taste of what’s in store.” I said.
“Good idea, Tammy,” McKaren said. “We’ll need three hundred twenty seven packets. That’s how many people live in this settlement.”
“What are we going to do?” Arn asked.
“Climb in. We’re going for another ride to start the day on Hoth.” McKaren said.
McKaren was still behind us. Arn and I turned around. McKaren was once again an armored Land Rover. Her doors appeared and opened and Arn and I filled McKaren with three hundred twenty seven packets of chocolate pudding mix.
We exited Gramps’ workshop through the top, as we had the previous day and headed toward the goons’ administration buildings. Rain was lightly falling.
“What’s the temperature today, McKaren?” I asked.
“It is ninety four degrees, a cool day for Hoth. In spite of the rain the temperature should rise to approximately one hundred eight degrees by mid day.”
We headed to the area directly above the power generating building.
“Can the goons see us?” Arn asked.
“We’re cloaked,” I answered. “They have no idea we’re here.”
“What are we going to do?” Arn asked.
“We’re going to pull the plug, then watch the show,” I answered.
The lights in the old administration building were on. Fans in the greenhouse turned. A garage door of sorts in the dormitory section below the greenhouse was closing.
Then everything stopped.
Here Comes Santa Claus
“Enjoy the show Arn,” I said, laughing. “All the goons and everyone else can do is watch. Their cannons don’t work. The power grid is off for a few minutes. Look up in the sky, over the tops of the mountains.”
“Something is flying. Is it one of their airplanes?”
“Just watch,” I advised.
The flying object was headed in our direction. As it drew closer, we could see that it was actually several objects fastened together, pulling a larger object.
“Do you know what that is, Arn?” I asked, laughing.
“I saw pictures in one of the books in the basement. It looks like…It looks like reindeer pulling a sleigh. This is too much. How can Santa fly out of the sky on Hoth? I thought Santa was a myth,” Arn exclaimed.
“Isn’t seeing believing, Arn? McKaren asked.
“Oh I get it. You two are making this appear. It’s another one of your generated images, isn’t it? Why?”
“You’ll figure it out soon enough. Just watch the show, Arn.”
The reindeer, led by a reindeer with a bright red blinking nose and pulling a sleigh carrying a man dressed from head to toe in red trimmed with white who was standing, waving and shouting ‘Merry Christmas’ descended into the area in front of the goons’ buildings. Sleigh bells jingled. The reindeer turned their faces toward the buildings. Wherever the reindeer and sleigh went, snow fell from above them.
The windows of the old administration building were filled with people watching the spectacle. Santa and his reindeer circled the area in front of the buildings, then moved to the edge of the ruins, the area nearest the fields. Christmas music seemed to come from every direction.
Santa and his sleigh flew over the ruins several times. The field workers crawled from their hiding places under the rubble, stood to watch the amazing spectacle, then clapped and cheered.
Finally, Rudolph, the other reindeer and Santa and his sleigh flew back to the open space in front of the goons’ three buildings and landed. Santa emerged from his sleigh, bag in hand. Snow showered Santa. The music stopped.
A Promise and A Warning
“Ho, ho, ho. Christmas will be early this year.”
Santa could be heard by everyone, including the field workers.
“Tomorrow morning when you wake up, and every Sunday from this time forward you will find that Santa has visited. Everyone will receive food to supplement what you now eat. All workers will receive new work clothes three times a year that are cooler than the clothes you now have.
“Medical supplies and other supplies that will help you survive on this planet will also be delivered. The food, clothes and supplies you receive will not replace the plants you grow or the supplies you have and manufacture. They will only supplement those things.
“Share the supplies. Do not steal anyone’s food, clothes or supplies. Santa loves to give and asks that you share, but taking anything that is not yours will meet with Santa’s disapproval.”
Santa stomped. The earth shook and the buildings swayed.
“Does everyone understand?”
The faces at the windows and in the rubble were frozen in disbelief. No one moved. No one spoke.
Santa stomped again. The earth shook and the buildings swayed.
“I can’t hear you. Does everyone understand?”
Hundreds of voices shouted “Yes, we understand.”
“Wonderful.” Santa smiled. “Santa will be by tonight while you sleep and every Saturday night for the rest of your lives. Santa will be visiting the other settlements on the planet on other nights. Please let them know.
Santa’s Special Treat
“Soon the rain will be heavy. But you have enough time to have a treat before then. I brought chocolate pudding. There’s a package for each of you. I’ll leave it on the steps in front of the old building.”
Santa, carrying his bag, walked over to the steps of the old building, opened his bag, turned it upside down and shook. Packets of pudding mix poured out. Or so it appeared.
Actually, Arn, McKaren and I hovered just above the steps and Arn and I emptied cases of pudding mix out of the open doors, onto the steps. The packets appeared after they had left McKaren, and looked like they were falling out of Santa’s bag.
Santa walked back to his sleigh, and climbed in. His reindeer pawed the ground. Snow continued to fall. Santa stood in his sleigh, waved toward the building and toward the ruins, shouted “Merry Christmas”, called out the names of his reindeer, and whistled.
Santa, the reindeer and the sleigh, complete with the cloud that showered snow on them, circled the area as they slowly rose into the sky and headed toward the mountains.
As the sleigh disappeared over the mountains, the faces at the window disappeared. People began emerging from the buildings. The field workers approached the buildings. Several people leaned over, picked up a packet of pudding mix and read the directions. One goon opened his packet, licked his finger and stuck it into the chocolate powder. He withdrew his chocolate-coated finger and licked it.
“Hey, it really is chocolate pudding mix. All we have to do is add water and shake.”
People poured out of the buildings. Field workers intermingled with goons. Everyone wanted a packet of chocolate pudding.
“Time to head back to the workshop, kids,” McKaren announced. “The rain should really pick up in about fifteen minutes. Let’s get inside before we get really wet.”
“Don’t forget to turn on the lights as we leave,” I reminded McKaren.
The lights in the windows of the old building flickered on. The fans in the greenhouse began turning, and the garage door in the dormitory area closed. The goons returned to the buildings and the field workers to the rubble.
What Was That All About?
Soon we were lowering back into Gramps’ workshop.
None of us had spoken on the short trip back to the workshop. Watching what had just taken place had apparently left us speechless.
We settled into place and McKaren’s doors opened. Arn and I stepped out, turned our backs to McKaren, and then turned to see the McKaren who appeared to be a person.
“I loved that, Tammy. Loved it. Now they know to expect deliveries from Santa once a week. It’s almost like magic. It doesn’t make any sense, but then what does make sense to these poor people?” McKaren exclaimed.
“I understand that we’re going to give all the stuff in this place to the people living on this planet, but why the Santa Claus show?” Arn asked.
“It might not have played well where I come from, but it seemed to make quite an impression on the people of Hoth. Did you enjoy it?” I asked Arn.
“I did. I’ve never seen anything like that. Was it just for entertainment?”
“No, the entertainment value was an extra bonus. After that show, people will have an explanation of sorts as to where the stuff is coming from, and hopefully they will share and not try to take anything that belongs to someone else. Who would want to mess with that stomping Santa?”
“Hopefully,” McKaren added.
“This has to be the best thing that has ever happened since earth became Hoth,” Arn said. “Was this your idea, McKaren?”
“No. Tammy and Gramps came up with the idea. Gramps convinced me to help out and to provide the necessary equipment to make it happen.”
Questions, Questions, Questions
“Why would you and Gramps do this for the people of this planet, Tammy? How did Gramps find you, McKaren? How did you even know about Hoth, Tammy? You didn’t seem to know a thing about Hoth, not even its name when you arrived?”
“Whoa, Arn,” McKaren said. “One question at a time. Answering those questions, the other questions you’ve asked, and the questions those answers will provoke is going to take a couple of years. What would you like to ask first?”
“Were you here before, Tammy?” Arn asked.
“I’ll take that question, Arn,” McKaren said, “since Tammy doesn’t know the answer.” No, in the terms you’re thinking, Tammy has not been here before.”
“Then how did Tammy and Gramps plan out all this?” Arn asked.
“This will be the short version, Arn. I will explain more details later.
“Tammy will spend almost exactly two years here. She arrived in mid July and will leave in mid July. When she returns to the past, she will return to the exact moment at which she left.
“Tammy will tell Gramps about her two years here and will convince him to come here to help you and in turn to help all the people of the planet. Gramps will leave Tammy’s time after Tammy returns, but will arrive here before Tammy arrived. That’s when you needed him.”
“O.k. Then where did Gramps come up with the machine that dug the cavern, the machine that made all this stuff, and where did he find you, McKaren?” Arn asked.
“Gramps found a door. That door led him to another world, the world where I come from, where those machines come from. Gramps convinced me to bring a few supplies and join him here to help out the people of this world.”
Tales and Riddles
“Why would you do that, McKaren. Why would you come to Hoth for us?” Arn implored.
“Ah, but that is another story, a story you will read. But it will be another day when you will read that story,” McKaren answered.
“You won’t tell me?” Arn asked.
“I am not the one to tell the story. I am McKaren. The teller of tales must tell it, not McKaren.”
“You speak in riddles, McKaren,” Arn said.
“Riddles only when you do not understand; clearly when you do understand. Riddles are riddles only for those who lack understanding. However, you will gain understanding. Do you have more questions for now?”
How Did You Know Who I Am?
“I have a question for you, Arn,” I said. “You said Gramps told you I was coming. So why didn’t you trust me when I showed up and why didn’t you say something like ‘Hey, Gramps told me you’d be showing up’?”
“Remember when we talked about survival, Tammy? Everything here has been about survival – every day, every minute, everything I do, everything I say. One wrong move and I could have ended up dead. I trusted no one; no one except Gramps. He’s the only one, ever.”
“I get that, Arn. He’s the only one I ever trusted,” I said.
“Then try to understand that just because a woman showed up and said her name was Tammy wasn’t enough for me to immediately trust you. I had to wait to be certain you were really the Tammy Gramps had told me would be coming. Don’t forget he was gone for almost a year and a half before you showed up. I’d given up hope.
“Gramps said he had to return to his time, but I thought he’d say goodbye or something. When I woke up one morning and he wasn’t there, I thought maybe something had happened to him. I eventually decided that maybe he just zapped out of here, and he was mistaken about you showing up.
“When you did show up, I didn’t want to get excited. Nothing good ever happened to me on Hoth except Gramps. You could have been a goon spy wanting to know about my basement hideout. Maybe the goons had followed me and thought I had treasure stored there.”
“I understand, Arn. So what made you change your mind?” I asked.
“Because I’m pretty and you love me?”
“Yes, you’re pretty. I’m not sure what love is. If it’s what I felt for Gramps, then yes, I love you,” Arn said.
“I’m not sure what love is either, Arn. But why did you decide to trust me? Why did you decide that I’m really the Tammy Gramps told you would be coming?”
“You said all the right things.”
“The right things? You liked the way I talk?”
“You knew a lot about this planet’s past,” Arn said.
“That’s it? That convinced you? A goon spy might have known that stuff.”
“But a goon spy would never have said the three things Gramps told me you would say without me asking or prompting.
“What did I say, Arn?”
“You have no clue? Gramps said you told him what you’d say so he could tell me so I’d know it was you.”
“Arn! Remember, according to McKaren I don’t tell Gramps anything until I leave here.” I shot back.
“Remember the night I almost choked when we were talking?” Arn asked.
“Yeah, but I didn’t know why you were choking.”
“You said the third thing, the clincher. I thought there was a remote possibility that someone else could have said the other two things, but only you could have said the third thing.”
“Out with it Arn! What did I say?”
Arn. My dear sweet Arn choked up and couldn’t talk. I thought he was going to cry for sure. Finally he managed to say it.
“You said you could whip my ass.”