Blue Santa

Yolanda Renee and Denise Covey of the WEP website came out with a fascinating challenge for the winter holidays: Holiday celebrations out of this world. I was so excited about the project, a science fiction story about New Year in space, the story flowed out of me. Thank you, ladies, for the intriguing prompt. It spurred my imagination.
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“There’s an emergency on Nibelung Space Station,” the captain said. “Their power collectors are malfunctioning. They’re losing power. They need to evacuate the station for a few days, to make repairs. It’s getting mighty cold in there. More than a million people live on that station. They are asking every ship in the vicinity to accept refugees for a few days. Our orders are to fly to the station and take in six hundred people.”

“Six hundred!” Lyd-Co glanced around the briefing room. Every officer seemed as stunned as he was. “We have fifty-seven crew, including you, Captain. We are a small ship. We can’t possibly have six hundred extra sleeping places.”

“We can,” the captain said. “All the crew cabins will be vacated—we’ll sleep in the gym. The mess hall can fit fifty. The infirmary is empty—another twenty or more. The shuttle bays—we’ll have the shuttles leashed outside. We’re having the mattresses and blankets delivered.”

“Aye, sir. What do you want me to do?”

“Be my liaison. Assign quarters. Answer questions. Sort out squabbles. They’ll have kids.” The captain winced. “Maybe pets.”

“Pets? I’m not human, Captain, and this is a human station.”

“You’re my first officer,” the captain said sharply. “Tomorrow night is human New Year’s Eve. A big holiday. Let’s make it as painless as possible for the refugees.”

“Aye, sir, a holiday,” Lyd-Co repeated, his cranial antennas pulsating in distress. “With pets. I’m allergic to human pets. My antennas itch.”

“Shut up, Lyd-Co,” the captain said tiredly. “Take antihistamines and go do your job.”

“Aye, sir.” Lyd-Co went. Behind his back, the others bombarded the captain with questions about waste disposal, water supply, food preparation, and air recycling. Pets, he thought. And children. He hadn’t signed up to the Federation Fleet to babysit either.

The embarkation went surprisingly smoothly. The subdued refugees followed his directions without demur, despite his blue skin. A least most of them did. He was able to deal with the few troublemakers with a minimum of fuss. By the next morning, nobody in the crew had slept for more than three hours, he hadn’t slept at all, but the refugees seemed settled and content. The noise on the ship rose to a deafening level, and gaudy plastic ornaments appeared randomly along the previously pristine walls of the ship.

Lyd-Co ordered video screens installed in various areas of the ship for the New Year programs. The cook baked and distributed cookies. The head navigator performed an impromptu concert; he could play guitar and sing. Someone organized a video game competition for teenagers, and they crowded around the game consoles. Someone else started a daycare. The owners of two pets—a furry dog and a Vergacian dragon—agreed to keep their creatures sedated for the duration of their stay.

By four in the afternoon, Lyd-Co couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer. He needed to sleep for a few hours. He sat heavily on his bedroll but before he took off his boots, a frantic young woman rushed into the gym, an upset soldier hovering behind her.

“Sir! My son disappeared. I can’t find him. I looked everywhere. Please.”

Regretfully, Lyd-Co climbed back to his feet. “How old is you son?”

“Four.” She sobbed. “He went looking for Santa.”

“Looking for what?”

“We’re from Earth. We have this…” She sniffed convulsively. “…this fantastic being, Santa Clause. Every New Year Eve, he brings gifts to children. My son wanted to be sure that even after we immigrated to the station, Santa could still find him. I was busy, so he went searching. He said something about it before her disappeared, but I didn’t pay attention. I’m so sorry.”

“Right,” Lyd-Co said. “Don’t worry. He can’t be far. It’s a small ship. What is your son’s name?”

“Tom.” Her voice wobbled.

“Let’s give Tom his Santa.” Lyd-Co led the way to the bridge. He explained the situation to the captain and said into the loud speakers, projecting his announcement throughout the ship: “This is a message for Tom, four years old. Santa is waiting for him on the bridge.” He repeated the message several times.

“Do you have his gift, the one Santa is supposed to deliver?” he asked the mother.

She nodded jerkily.

“Bring it here.”

She ran out, returning with a big box wrapped in garish red and white paper. Fifteen minutes later, a guard at the door ushered in a small boy with curly blond hair. The boy looked around, spotted his mother, and marched towards her.

“Santa is not here,” he said accusingly.

“I’m Santa.” Lyd-Co offered the bright box to the boy.

Tom took the box and frowned. “You don’t look like Santa. You have blue skin. And no beard. And horns.”

His mother started to apologize, but Lyd-Co stopped her with a gesture. “I have antennas,” he corrected. “You see, Santa is not one man. It’s a job. In a place where you lived before, the man doing the job had white skin and a beard. Here, Santa is blue with antennas.” He wiggled his right antenna for emphasis.

“Oh,” Tom said, eyeing Lyd-Co’s antennas with interest. “That’s okay.” He smiled and tugged his mother out of the bridge, the box safely clutched in his little hands.

“Thank you,” the mother mouthed. The door hissed shut behind them.

“Hey, Santa, did you bring me a gift too,” the chief engineer asked with a grin.

“Congratulations on your new job, Blue Santa.” The captain didn’t even try to restrain his smirk.

With twitching lips, Lyd-Co stomped out. He was so tired, his antennas had shrunk to half their normal size. He needed to find out everything about this Earthen Santa. But before that, he needed sleep.
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Word count: 960; FCA (Full Critique Acceptable)

 

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20 Responses to Blue Santa

  1. Oh how I love this. Blue Santa has just become my new hero. A tired, anti-histamine laden hero.

  2. Denise Covey says:

    This take on Earthen Santa and New Year’s Eve is priceless Olga! Love the recognisable trappings of earth’s customs transported to another galaxy. Blue Santa. So well done. Love the characterisation in such a brief piece. I also like how they made do so they could take in refugees. An apt storyline for today!

    I’m glad you were inspired by the challenge, Olga. You have come up with a touching holiday story for us to enjoy! Thank you for participating!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope Blue Santa finds you and showers you with gifts!

    Denise 🙂

  3. Olga, this was so touching. A new space age Christmas Story, I love it. And the fact that the one most against all the fuss took on the role of Santa – perfect. Once word spreads, he’s going to need that research, and lots more presents, but first a few good hours of sleep. I too liked the way you combined the two holidays, seems very appropriate for the time. A dragon as a pet, now that’s my kind of space story. 🙂
    I’d love to see this expanded – it’d make a great new children’s book or books. I say go for it Olga, the children would love it, and a blue Santa, Lyd-Co, would become all the rage. I’m imagining all the stories that could befall this crew and their guests, even in the few days they’re forced together. Wonderful!

    Thanks so much for participating in the WEP Holiday Celebration Challenge, and for being so inspired to write such a cute new Christmas Story!

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Holiday and a prosperous and peace-filled New Year!

  4. Blue Santa – funny! I really like the main character. Overworked and annoyed and he still did the right thing.

  5. Jody Harmon says:

    That’s a good one, had me imagining the chaos and hubbub of displacement for both the ship crew and the those displaced. A little comfort for a kid missing home customs, a warm heart story.

  6. I really like your “non-human alien” story. Very good weaving in Christmas and Santa. 🙂

  7. Olga, just wanted you to know your work is mentioned in the online newletter The Review Here. Here’s the link:
    http://paper.li/ReviewFromHere?edition_id=f41bcce0-a51f-11e5-b992-0cc47a0d164b
    Congratulations! You work and a few others, tweeting does get the word out!

  8. Olga Godim says:

    Thanks to everyone for liking and commenting. I wish you all merry holidays.

  9. Olga, love your piece. Brilliant. Love the take on Santa. Fantastic. Very creative mind. It would have never occurred to me. Merry Christmas.

  10. desk49 says:

    A wolf in sheep’s skin is still a wolf.
    Santa in blue skin is still Santa.

    Ho Ho Ho.Marry Christmas

  11. Widdershins says:

    A cranky blue Santa … nicely done. 😀

  12. dolorah says:

    This gave me a very big smile Olga. What a situation, and then to have to play an unfamiliar role. Can I please have one of those dragons?

  13. Please, can I look after the dragon? please, please, please. Wonderful piece. Thank you

  14. DG Hudson says:

    A wonderful story, and a good response to the ‘you don’t look like Santa’ comment from the child, Tom. You picked an event that happens a lot in some children’s lives. Whenever a large crowd gathers, at least one child will be missing as they go off to explore. I was lost for about 10 mins at a state fair as a child and didn’t even know the real names of my grandmother or my mom. They came back and wow was I relieved (I hadn’t moved as I was watching the show on stage). I thought I was going to have to join the travelling circus/fair just because I got lost there. I liked your story.

  15. odell01 says:

    The details of Xmas in space are nicely written. Happy to know just who Santa turned out to be.

  16. What an adorable story. You were mentioned and I can see why. Congratulations.
    Nancy

  17. Congratulations. I really loved this story when I first read it, and love it still.

  18. Lovely story!
    An overworked and cranky Blue Santa to the rescue, complete with pet allergies and itchy antennas. 🙂
    Congratulations on the WEP Encouragement Award!

  19. Pingback: My lovely badge | Olga Godim writing

  20. What a great allegory! Loved reading it. Very well crafted, engaging, and deserving of the award. Congratulations!

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