December 3rd, 2003, 09:34 AM
A Christmas Crime
Location: Somewhere snowy
For Bob the elf life was good. Your average day consisted of getting up early, listening to Nick rant and rave like some devil-possessed lunatic who hasn't had morning coffee yet, get a pat on the back for a job well done off Mrs C - once El Nino was spent and had gone to devour a dozen iced cakes and a pot of the black wake-up juice, talk ideas over with the foreman, Mike was a decent sort of elf, then fill out the orders. It was temporary work, seasonal you might say, but it payed better than his summer job as a film extra, bloody human elves just weren't realistic but did anyone listen? Course they bloody didn't, they saw green but it wasn't a CGI Eric Bana look-a-like.
This average day was different.
The factory was a hub of disbelief, pained expressions and ........ Nick ranting and raving like some satan-inspired gargoyle.
Ok slightly different then.
"Rudolph you soon-to-be-steak if you don't bring the magic dust back right now I'm cranking up the barbie."
It is worth clearing up at this point that magic dust refers to the substance which makes the presents create smiles on little childrens faces, it is not a drug. Santa doesn't do drugs.
Secondly barbie is a phrase Nick picked up on his trips down under, that is to say the continent and former penal colony known as Australia. It refers to a barbeque on which meats are cooked in the open air, not Ken's 'special' friend.
Lastly Rudolph, being the somewhat temperamental git he is, doesn't take well to threats. Being 'urinated on from a great height' is a phrase humans have taken to mean bad luck, however the stem of the phrase originates with Rudolph who has mastered the art, much to Nick's disgust.
"F****** flying bag of red-nosed s***, I'll f****** have you!!!!!!"
It is unclear whether a study has been done to accurately approximate the capacity of a reindeer's bladder however if Mrs C had not stepped in at this point Nick would have quickly found out, hit and run taking on a whole new connotation.
"Nick, shut up!"
"But Mary ........"
"No buts Nick, be quiet. And you Rudolph, you come down here right now, that ceiling could be very dirty and I refuse to wash your coat again after the last time."
"You're so unfair, I hate you I do, making me wear that coat when its illuminous yellow with a ...hood! Its so not cool."
"Dear, we explained to you why that was, now down."
Mrs C, she was a fine dame, ran this place like clockwork and what a boss, no elf could want for more, well except the illuminous yellow eye sore and a decent part in Lord of the Rings.
"You did that on purpose, you know I hate it when you do that, my name is Rudolph."
"Sorry, Rudolph, now then did you take Mr C's magic dust."
"Nope not seen it since I used it to try and make the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles real."
"I knew that was you you you little bugger, I'm gonna deep fry you......"
"Sorry, I didn't get any sleep last night and I'm sure you know why."
"Yes, well it is christmas sweetheart, a time of 'giving'."
"You don't need to bloody tell me, I invented it didn't I."
"Oh, worth a try, no guts no glory."
"I'm certain you have more than enough of both love. And where do you think your going young deer? Do you know if any of your brothers and sisters have it."
"Would you go find them and ask them for me?"
"Shift it or no feed for you tonight."
"That is so unfair, I ..."
"Got the picture last time, move."
So it was that Rudolph set off to find his siblings.
It was not going to be a good, average day.
Last edited by kater; December 3rd, 2003 at 10:34 AM.
December 4th, 2003, 07:37 AM
Just Another Philistine
C minus 21
Getting a bunch of reindeer to cooperate isn’t easy. Forget the herd instinct. Once you teach these beasts to fly you have independence busting out everywhere.
“I said: fall in, you four-legged freaks!” Even the raising voice fails to move my kith and kin. “If you don’t get your butts over here right now, I’m recruiting a new troop for this year’s tour.”
Grudgingly, they all gather round me. I looked them over one by one. Six average bucks albeit a little young for the mating wars and two doe, Vixen, batting those long eyelashes at me and Blitzen, still bored beyond belief. No tell tale signs of guilt emanating from any of the eight but these guys are good. It wouldn’t show right off. Going to take some work.
“The magic dust has gone pilfered, y’all.” Sometimes, I like to remind them my family is from the southern North Pole, sort of the redneck portion of the neighborhood but then all reindeer have more or less red necks.
My news is greeted with startled surprise, disbelief, and the terrifying moans of deer who just realized they may never fly again. Except for Blitzen, she manages to look even more bored than ever.
Everyone denies knowledge of the whereabouts but all agree to be on the lookout. They even agree to participate in the sweep of the demesne I figure is going to be necessary.
Satisfied the beginning is as good as its going to get, I send them out to begin searching on their own reminding them the sweep will probably happen this afternoon.
Vixen hangs back, another agenda on her mind.
“Rudy, I need a favor,” she begins, her eyelashes pumping like the pistons on the plastic engines we’re featuring this year. “I want to move to the back of the train.”
“Why is that?”
“I’m tired of Comet and Cupid staring at my rear all night long, trading comments on its relative merits.”
“Well, you’re a doe; what do you expect?”
“I expect I could trade places with Blitzen and let miss bored-and-oh-so-modest Blitzen see how it feels.
“Yeah, this year her tail is growing out and covering things my tail doesn’t.”
“That isn’t normal.”
“Yes, but it serves modesty embodied just fine.”
“Sorry, Vix, but we can’t move you.”
“Meter, flow, ring. Listen to it in your head and you’ll see it’s all wrong.”
She thinks it over. ‘Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Blitzen; Comet, Cupid, Donner and Vixen.’ Doesn’t work. Even moving the trailing four to the front doesn’t work. That’s the trouble with solid rhymes, they stick in your head and you can’t adjust them.
Vixen sees the problem and wanders off to conjure a new solution to her problem. I take off for the Garage. There’s a rumor that Rolls and Cadillac have been vying for the contract for a new sled and I want to see what they’re offering.
December 4th, 2003, 08:54 AM
Edited for submission
Location: An ice flow somewhere south of the snowy place with flying reindeer.
Three penguins are sitting with rubber masks pushed up off their faces. One mask is of Tony Blair, two of George Bush, but that is bye the bye. All three are eyeing the sack in the middle of them.
"We did it.." The wearer of Tony Blair says.
"Just..." The smaller of the two George Bushs answers
"Feathers would be proud of us." The large George Bush declares( Feathers as in "Feathers" McGraw who is now doing time in a Yorkshire jail for the theft of a diamond and messing with the wrong trousers. The property of one Wallace, inventor and companion to the much praised master mind Gromit)
What now?" Small George asks.
"We wait." Tony answered
"What for?" Large Bush wants to know.
"That," the wearer of the Tony Blair mask points to a small, dark speck on the horizon. The speck gets bigger and darker.
"bloody hell" The smaller of the Geroge Bush''s screams as a large net snaps out of the jet as it passes low over the ice flow, scooping up the sack.
"What about our payment?" The large George Bush shouts. The jet turns and again passes over the ice, then heads south, leaving a small mushroom cloud behind about the same size as the ex ice flow on which the ex penguins had stood.
Last edited by Holbrook; December 4th, 2003 at 08:59 AM.
December 4th, 2003, 11:13 AM
Location: Precisely ...... lost....
Bob could have sworn there was a house over the hill, however that was three hills ago and parts of him had so frozen up he didn't know if they even existed in anything but memory.
Now your average sturdy elf, having lived in bleak tundra all his or her life, is about as immune to the cold as a fatman is to free pies. Its myth. Cold is cold and freezing puts the expediency of pulling your trousers down to answer the call of nature in doubt. Assuming you actually could. Bob couldn't - he'd tried at least twice over the last hill and a half. In a flat land where lights would reflect far and wide off the white surface, getting lost was a rare talent but then working in the factory you hardly used your fag break to go wander the compound.
The other thing about this snowy place was it got dark so quickly it seemed perpetual, blink and you miss it sunlight, blindess wasn't a common ailment unless folk didn't have summer jobs to keep them busy.
Then a strange thing happened to Bob in his delusional musings, he met Tony Blair.
It had often occured to Bob that heads of state would one day get round to asking his opinion on world affairs and then implement his suggestions and make him ruler of the world along with a good part in Lord of the Rings, but he never thought they'd come to see him. As he sat down with Mr Blair and Mr Bush (there was a third head of state but he didn't recognise him so he kept his ignorance to himself) Bob ordered his revolutionary thoughts on all the various subjects.
"Step away from the penguin."
Penguins? Yes what a great topic to start on.
"Don't suppose you could see fit to lock all the penguins up could you, Antartica would make a great penal colony in my estimation."
"Who is that? Bob? Step away from the penguin Bob. Now."
"Bob? You will address me as Mr Bob or THE Bob, who do you think you are."
"Ahahahahahaha, thats a good one, 'cept I know Nick and he's an un-jolly fat b****** who talks too long, eats too much and is about as much use as yellow snow."
At this point in Bob's fictional movie meeting with the heads of state the screen would fade to black, in the real world Nick caned him over the head with a hockey stick. It left a lump.
December 4th, 2003, 01:15 PM
Eye Mull of Machine
"So, what do you make of it, Sir?"
"I don't like this. I don't like it at all."
"I know what you mean, Sir. Nasty business. Nasty business, indeed."
Inspector P. Bear of the Yard bent down and, using his favorite magnifying glass, surveyed the area. Bits of black and white feathers lay in the permafrost, along with a few blackened claws and bits of charred beak. "Penguins," Inspector Bear thought out loud.
"Penguins," he replied. "The question is, what are penguins doing on this hemisphere at all, let alone the top of it? And why would someone go to the trouble of blowing them to animal kingdom come miles away from anywhere?"
"Oh, it's a conundrum alright, sir."
Inspector Bear stood up on his hind legs and started taking notes. He sniffed the air for a long time. His olfactory talents were legendary, making him one of the youngest bears ever to earn the title of 'Detective'. "Hmm," he said at last. "There's a distinct smell of burnt."
"Yes, Penfold. Burnt. There's burnt snow, burnt penguins, burnt TNT and..." he sniffed again, "Yes, burnt aircraft fuel. Someone dropped a bomb on these penguins, from high overhead."
"Oh, good job, sir! Top hole! No wonder you're the best detective in the world, sir!"
"Penfold, instead of crawling up my arse like a hungry little hemarrhoid, would you get the Chief on the blower for me? There's a good chap." Inspector Bear smiled at his subordinate in a loving, fatherly sort of way. That is to say, Penfold got the distinct impression that if he didn't do what his boss told him, he would quickly find himself bent over his bosses knee with his britches (no, not bitches - britches!) around his ankles. He quickly scuttled off to find a member of the Caribou Flying Squad. They always had radios.
December 4th, 2003, 06:57 PM
Just Another Philistine
“Hello, hello?” The elf listens to the tirade exploding in his ear from the speaker about low level nukes and penguins 180 degrees out of position, overflights of protected zones, and ‘who the hell does Santa think he is?’
“Okay, now, general person. We know NORAD gets all uppity even when the Canadians are the senior members on duty but I gotta tell you: the naughty and nice lists? Well, naughty just increased by one.”
The elf listens patiently to the sequel, thinking that you should never make sequels. They do not have the bite of the originals.
“General, by the accord of 1952, as amended every decade since, and twice in the last year, we accord you this emergency phone system to check on things, not to control things.
“We know all bout the nuke; Mrs. C cleaned up the mess and there won’t be any fallout, physical or political, if you just keep your mouth shut.”
More verbiage delivered at machine gun rates.
“General, old buddy, I gotta tell you, I’m not going to listen to too much more of your noise. You can send all the planes you want; you can peek at us with all the satellites you want; you’re not going to see any more than Mrs. C wants you to see and you know that. And I guarantee you she will increase the font size of your name on that naughty list. You’re hanging in there at a not too terrible 16 pt but you start sending planes and you’ll get to 48 in no time.”
A milder discourse.
“What happens if you hit 48? Do you remember the switches and coals? Picture six tons of that delivered to the door of your mountain hideaway.”
A few more phrases, more conciliatory than anything previously delivered.
“That’s okay, general person. Understand how nukes can cause you to worry. Yeah, we have our problems but it’s that time of year, you know? We expect to have problems. So, you take care, say your prayers, and be nice to the Captains. You were one once yourself, remember?”
The elf listens to the goodbye’s and thank you’s. When the receiver returns to its cradle, the other elf on duty compliments her handling of the situation without any mention at all of the missing magic dust. If old general person had heard that story, well….just be glad he didn’t hear.
December 5th, 2003, 11:29 AM
Edited for submission
This is the BBC. Speculation to night is growing over happenings at the north pole. Reports of an explosion on an ice flow were pinched, errr sorry leaked.... no... well we have it on good authority that the said explosion was very close to a secret base used by a person or persons unknown, well for most of the year to you and I.
In fact the news of the explosion caused the share prices in candy, christmas trees, glitter and santa sacks to plummit. The Bank of England has stated that it will not as yet step in, but if the slide continues and hits the Christmas pudding stocks then they will rethink the matter
A black gloved hand swtiches off the radio and nods to the pilot of the jet, the pilot grins and blows the black gloves owner a kiss, before pushing back her blonde hair. Miss Kitten Whow (niece to Pussy Galore!) was the best, at flying a private jet and wearing red leather.
The black gloves owner rises from his seat and moves back to look at his prize. The sack is full, very full. Black gloves begins to laugh, it is high pitched and grates on Miss Kitten Whow's nerves. I suppose, she thought, every man has his faults.
Last edited by Holbrook; December 5th, 2003 at 03:57 PM.
December 5th, 2003, 04:35 PM
Eye Mull of Machine
15:30 and a bit Local Time
Location: Iceland Yard HQ
(Sound of door knocking) "Come in."
"You wanted to see me, Chief?"
"Yes, what have you found out so far, Bear?"
"Well, I've found out that Penfold is slow at getting the coffees in."
"And that's news to me? I need something I can work with! Look Bear, you may not realize this, but this is not yer average run o' the mill case. First, there's the robbery at the Clause's. Then, a few hours later, three Penguins get zapped on an ice-flow further south. I've got the mayor breathing down my neck on this one. He says it's a political hot potato. How's it gonna look when he asks me for an update and all I can tell him is 'Penfold's slow at getting the coffees in'? He'll have my arse, he will!"
"Sorry sir, but my caffeine levels are dropping like I don't know what. My little grey cells start acting all out of sorts when my caffeine levels get too low. Now what was it you wanted, Chief?"
"Bear, I want you to know that our jobs are at stake on this one. What have you found out?"
"Well Chief, I...err...found out that a bag of magic dust has been stolen from the Clause factory and...um...three penguins...were killed in...an explosion."
"And that's it?"
"Yes, Chief. Oh, the explosion was caused by a small nuclear device dropped by a passing jet."
"Really. Well, that's cold comfort to parents world-wide this year when their little darlings fail to smile when they open their prezzies. Bear, I'm sending you out on this one because you're the best detective we've got. You can take Penfold with you, but for pity's sake, tell him to bring several flasks of hot coffee. I want results, Bear, or we're all in deep doo-doo. Got it?"
"Yes Chief, I'll get back to the site of the penguin murders straight away."
"No! I want you to go the Clause's and find out as much as you can about the theft of the magic dust. That's more important than the a few dead penguins. I want statements from everybody. Someone must have seen something."
(sound of door knocking) "Come in."
"Here's your coffee, Sirs."
"Penfold, get my thermos. We're leaving for the Clause's."
"Right now, Penfold!"
"Bear, one more thing."
"Watch out for ol' Nick. He's got a hell of a temper. Make sure you interview him and Mrs C together. She keeps him in line, but when he's by himself, he can be a cantankerous son-of-a-bitch. With this magic dust business, he'll be extremely uppity."
"Thanks, Chief. I'll bear that in mind. Geddit - bear?"
"Yes Chief." (Inspector Bear quickly departs the Chief's office)
"You too, Penfold!"
"Yes Chief." (Penfold quickly departs the Chief's office)
December 5th, 2003, 05:31 PM
Just Another Philistine
“Don’t look now, Prancer, my friend, but Blitzen is stealing your act.”
“What ARE you talking about, Dancer? Try slowing to a waltz for a change so a person can understand what you’re saying as you sashay by.”
“Check her out, moose! She’s strutting tighter than Cupid after a haircut.”
“Well, that’s always been her style.”
“No way, not like this! There’s something different about her this time.”
“Hmmm, I see what you mean. More twinkle in her toes than she usually can bear. Moving that perky little rear around quite daintily isn’t she? She been taking lessons from Dasher?”
“You know he can’t abide the company of does. Bad enough he must pair with Vixen in the team. Only manages that because he’s so high flying he doesn’t notice anything else.”
“Too true, old buck, too true.”
“So, figure this Blitzen for me.”
“Well, the prancing and the extra-elongated tail swishing, the rump swinging, the eyes bashful. You know, it’s almost as if…”
“Yep, I knew you’d see it!”
“Like she she’s got some magic dust up her unmentionables.”
“Plays that way for me, too. Guess we’d better let Rudolph know.”
“You don’t think she used it all, do you?”
“No way, dude. Her butt would be six feet off the floor, her forelegs not making more than occasional contact with the floor.”
“You’re right of course. But, if she can get this kind of reaction with a few grains, shouldn’t we be looking in to acquiring some for ourselves?”
“You have a point there, Prancer. But I think we’d better wait till after Christmas to experiment with this kind of getting high.”
“I suppose. But, imagine me with that extra lift.”
“Down, boy. Down.”
“Why are all the really good ideas bad?”
”Let’s go hunt Rudolph down.”
“You know he’s not that way.”
“Stuff it, Prancer. You know what I meant. Let’s go tell him the bad news.”
December 5th, 2003, 08:56 PM
Location: A big bed ........ with lots of broken springs........... and a slight downhill slant to the left ............
Bob was in the Clause's bed, he just knew it and along with the nightmare's of Tony Blair's body with a penguin head it couldn't get any worse. Well almost, Bob sat up and regretted it. Rubbing the back of his head, which was two inches larger than normal, the elf couldn't help but bemoan his luck. The world hated non-human elves not called Orlando. Longing for home, a good strong drink and a fag along with the tender ministrations of Mrs Bob, Bob was disappointed to hear a weezing noise in staccato rhythm with a heavy clomping that got steadily closer to the door. Given that what had happened to him wasn't clear nor exactly why he was in this cesspool of a bed he pulled up the sheets and feigned sleep.
Just outside the door there was a pause interspersed with a lot of heavy breathing and slow hurried voices.
"Remind me again why we chose a room on the third floor."
"You said it had a lovely view."
"So I did. Do you think he's still asleep."
"If he is he's about to have a rude awakening."
"Go easy on him Mary, he's been through a lot."
"In that case a bit more won't hurt."
Bob really wished he would wake up from this nightmare. But it was too late, the bogey lady was about to get him.
"Bob you horrible little elf get your green arse out of my bed now and tell me what the bloody hell you were doing out there."
There is a point in any race's life when they lose control, for human men its their teenage years, for human women its once a month and menopause, for elves its being told to move your green arse.
"My arse isn't f****** green you stupid bint, I'd like to know what the bloody hell I was doing out there also, seeing as the last thing I remember is being cold and trying to pee myself and if your going to threaten me with my job you can shove it up your cellulite laden jacksie because I'm going back to hollywood where at least they treat their workers respectfully like ****."
If there was an elven medal for doing oneself proud Bob would have awarded himself it ..... posthumously.
"Jesus Christ Mary not the knife, Bob quick use the window."
Bob's last image of Mrs C as he plunged three stories out of a window into a massive snow drift was of a hitchcockian pyscho with flashing blade and the faint sound of 'ree ree ree' in the background.
Time: 30 mins later
Location: A big bed .......... with lots of broken springs ....... you get the idea
"That was awfully cruel Mrs C."
"Yes but we did need the bed and I haven't laughed so much in years."
"We do do a pretty mean 'good pyscho bad pyscho' don't we."
"Yes, you played the role with remarkable calm Mr C."
"Why thank you Mrs C."
"Should we dig him out now?"
"Nah let the bugger freeze for a while yet, we need to sort out what we're going to tell the police."
December 7th, 2003, 06:15 AM
Edited for submission
HIGH NOON (GMT)
Location: One of the dark satanic mills north of Watford Gap.
The thin, half starved workers shuffled into the gloom of the factory, the night shift had suffered four deaths and seven manglings. All told a good night.
Silently the stick like figures began to work. The machinery hummed and spat, snapping at the workers and belching out toys and gifts. Everything from forged Barbie dolls to pirate copies of "The return of the King" playstation 2and a half games.
Behind a large glass window over looking the vast expanse of the shop floor, black leather gloves removes his black leather gloves and runs his hand though his grey curly hair.
The sack is behind him on the desk. A small pinch of the contents has been removed by the research department and was now being administered to the tester. One small five year old tied to a chair in the corner.
The researcher wiped his sweaty hands down his dirty white lab coat and placed the coated lump of coal before the child...
The poor child's eyes widened and she grinned. "Ohs... arrrsss ohhhsssssss" Fell from her small rosebud lips.
"Soooo..." The former black leather gloves purred. "We have it....."
December 8th, 2003, 05:34 PM
Just Another Philistine
C minus 14
Location: Beneath the North Pole headquarters, in tunnels designed to move heat, water, and cookies from place to place.
“Okay, okay, the meeting needs to come to order.” The Head Gnome pounds his gavel on the head of the Recording Secretary Gnome, a satisfying gong emanating from the empty spaces therein. Seeing little response he hammers the podium into smithereens, a display shocking and awesome enough to gather the attention of the Republic of Gnomes party, at least. The Free Thinking Gnomes were still thinking freely and loudly and to no general agreement.
“….because the “g’ is silent, you nitwit.”
“then why don’t you spell nitwit with a “g’, gnincompoop?”
As well as other equally important arguments.
Finally, the Head Gnome has enough attention to begin the meeting. He pulls in everyone else with the words “NO MORE DUST” boomed into the cavernous cavern where they are assembled.
A thousand different “Huh?”s respond.
“About time you Gnomes paid attention. What do you think you made me Head Gnome for if you aren’t going to listen to what I have to say?”
From a distant corner, a muffled “I thought we made him head gnome, you know - the guy who does the cleaning.”
The Head Gnome ignores that remark and gets to the point.
“Santa’s magic dust is missing. If it isn’t found there won’t be any Christmas flight. If there is no Christmas flight, there will be no spoils of peace and love and good will. If there are no spoils, there is no dust to smoke the echo chamber. If the echo chamber is not smoked, it’s going to be a very long year listening to those idiot elves singing Deck the Walls With Cows and Pollie.”
Before the riot can truly erupt, the Head Gnome gets in a last bit of information.
“We need to conduct a search of the lower levels of the North Pole. The perp could have buried his treasure. If we find it; it all goes back to the fat guy. All of it. If we don’t do this right, Mrs C will start her spring cleaning early and we’ll be house hunting again.”
The cavern clears in less than a second, a thousand gnomes infiltrating the duct work of the North Pole looking for new little dust bunnies.
December 12th, 2003, 02:41 PM
Edited for submission
Time 9.00pm or 21.00hrs GMT.
Location The Dark Satanic Mill; (The middle of the long line of the afternoon shift in the process of clocking off)
George sniffed and looked round again. Check your six, his instructor's voice boomed in his memory. be on your guard 24/7. At work, at play and especially on the loo.
You see George was a member of the SAS (Santa's Army Special. ok Sanda moved the letters when Mrs C wasn't looking, he was a fan of the Andy MacNabb books) People like George, kept an eye on the toy trade, the latest fashions, fads etc and removed protential trouble,( Faulty toys, those with metal spikes in etc) before they could hit the shops.
Here George had hit the motherload of all bad toys, he had come across something else as well, a number of small children in a total state of "Arrrrrrrrrrr....ohhhhhhhhh...... pretty........."
Mrs C had to be told, someone had either brewed their own dust or.... George did not want to think of it. The line shuffled closer to the clocking off clock. George needed to get out of here fast and contact his fellow member of the SAS, who worked in the soft toy division.
December 16th, 2003, 05:55 PM
Eye Mull of Machine
Time: hard to tell at the North Pole due to the convergence of the time zones. Inspector Bear's watch told him it was 3:15 (the big Mickey Mouse hand was over the "3" and the little Mickey Mouse hand was hiding underneath). However, it was pitch dark, so the time was anybody's guess.
Location: A big wrought iron gate in the middle of a snowy wasteland on top of the world.
"Phew, that was a long trip. Are you sure this is the place?"
"Penfold, when you've been a detective for as long as I have, you will be able to spot those clues that are commonly overlooked. In this particular instance, you may have failed to notice the word "Clause" on the mailbox at the entrance to the driveway. You know, the one you stubbed your toe on."
"Gosh! What a well-trained pair of eyes you have, Sir."
Bear muttered under his breath, "Give me strength!" Then he buzzed the intercom. A scratchy, tinny voice soon responded. "Yes? Who is it?"
"This is Inspector P. Bear of the Yard. I have my assistant, Junior Detective Penfold with me." "Very junior," Bear said to himself.
"What do you want? Is this about the robbery?"
"Yes. We'd just like to come in and take a look around. Ask a few questions if that's alright. May we come in?"
"Err...yes, I think that would be alright, as long as you don't take too long. We're very busy, you see," said the tinny voice.
"We will try not to take up too much of your time. There's no sign of your plant from here. Where do we go?" All that was visible to the naked eye, even Bear's well-trained peepers, was this wrought iron gate in the middle of snowy nowhere.
"Oh, err...follow the yellow-brick road."
"What?" replied Bear.
"FOLLOW THE YELLOW...no wait a minute. I've only just moved here from Oz. Sorry. Umm...when you come through the gate, just keep walking. You'll see it eventually." With that, the intercom clicked and the tinny voice was gone. Then, the deadbolt on the gate clicked and the gate swung back giving just enough room to allow the Inspector and his trusty assistant to walk beyond it. Once they had passed the threshold, the gate swung back and the deadbolt shot back into place, as though it had returned home after a thirty-year absence. Inspector Bear and Penfold began walking again. They kept the gate at their backs as they trudged northward. After about ten minutes, they noticed a dim light, shining brightly in the distance. (Bear noticed it before Penfold, of course.) As they walked towards it, the now not-so-dim bright light became increasingly apparent. What they saw made them gape. A very ornate-looking factory, along the lines of the Disneyworld castle, glowed brightly, bedecked as it was with thousands of Christmas-tree lights. The factory windows glowed with a warm orange-yellow colour.
"This must be the place," whispered Penfold.
"Yes, Penfold. I suppose it must," Bear whispered back.
December 17th, 2003, 09:36 PM
Eye Mull of Machine
Time: The following day (I think!)
Location: The crime scene - Nick's office. Nick and Mrs C are present, along with Inspector Bear and Penfold, his trusted assistant.
"So, Mr Clause, when did you notice that the bag of magic dust was stolen?"
"Two Sundays ago! You took your bleedin' time gettin' 'ere! You've got precisely seven days to get it back, or everyone's goin' to 'ave an 'orrible f****** Christmas and I'll be out of business the day after!"
"There's no need to take that tone with me! I could easily have you detained at Her Majesty's pleasure for that!"
"Now, look 'ere Inspector. Are you gonna get me my magic dust back, or aincha?!"
"Mr Clause, I understand your predicament, but..."
"Really? 'ave you ever 'ad to deliver prezzies to millions of kids all around the world in one night? I don't think so. It's a logistical nightmare, I can tell you! You've no idea 'ow bad this is gonna turn out if there's no smiles on the littl'uns faces come Christmas mornin'!"
"Now, dear." (Mrs C.) "The Inspector is just trying to help. I'm sure if we cooperate fully, he will be able to track down those responsible, and recover the magic dust. Isn't that right, Inspector?"
"We will do everything we can. Now, err... Penfold?"
"Yessir!" Penfold looked up sharply at hearing his name called.
"Take out your jotter pad and take notes please."
"Now, Mr Clause, let's..."
"Yes, Penfold. What is it?"
"I seem to have lost my pencil."
Inspector Bear sighed and handed his trusty 2HB to Penfold, who promptly licked the nib.
"Ewww! Penfold, do you have to do that?"
"Do what Sir?"
"Lick the end. That's disgusting. The pencil will work just fine without your spittle, my lad!"
"Sorry Sir. Won't happen again, Sir."
"Ok. On with the proceedings. Mr Clause, you say you noticed the bag missing over two weeks ago. Now, think back to that Sunday. You too, Mrs Clause. Now, did either of you notice anyone acting suspiciously, or anything unusual? Out of the ordinary?"
Mrs C was the first to reply. "I didn't, really. The elves were just beginning to get ready. You know, dusting off their tools, firing up the furnaces, starting up the machinery and such like. The reindeer were off out for a formation test-flight. So, the place was a hubbub of activity, but that's normal for this time of year. Wouldn't you say, Nick?"
"Yes, yes I would. Except..."
"Except what, Sir?"
"Well, the reindeer did seem a bit more unruly than last year. I mean, Mary and I caught Rudolph flyin' round the ceilin'. And apparently, we've been 'earin' that Blitzen's more 'orny than usual. A lot more 'orny. She's makin' all the other male reindeer as randy as a rabbit who's just been released from prison! Magic dust sends 'em daft like that, if you're not careful."
"I see. And you found Rudolph flying round the ceiling. Hmm, very interesting. Where, may I ask, do you keep the magic dust?"
"Why, in the safe over there in the corner, Inspector."
"I see. Is the door to the safe supposed to hanging off its hinges like that?"
"No, of course not, you daft bug... err... sorry Inspector. No, the door ain't supposed to be 'angin' like that. Normally, I'd keep it shut, but it's been like that ever since the magic dust got nicked!"
"Hmm, looks like a small explosive device was used to open the door. That's two explosions in the Arctic Circle in as many days."
"Yes. Three penguins were discovered having been mysteriously blown to smithereens on an ice flow further south."
"Really? I didn't hear about it. Did you, Mary?"
"No, no I didn't."
"Well, we tried to keep the media out of it. But somehow the BBC found out and broadcasted it on the Six O' Clock News. They even sent Kate Adie to cover it. Damned hacks! It's nigh impossible to keep anything from those people!"
"Oh I see. Well, we don't watch the Beeb on principle, do we dear?"
"No, we don't!"
"Oh, and why's that?"
"Can't pay the license fee."
"Hmm. Are you getting all of this down, Penfold?"
"Can't...pay...license fee. Yessir, every word. So what do you make of it all, Sir?"
"Well, as you know Penfold, penguins are notorious criminals. Master thieves, the lot of 'em. Now, do you remember that breakout six months ago?"
"Erm...breakout. Oh yes, yes I do, Sir! Three penguins escaped from the penal colony six months ago! Oh my gosh!"
"Yes, Mr Clause. Otherwise known as the Antarctic. All the free-roaming penguins were deported there ages ago, to help keep crime-rate down. People have forgotten since, though. Most people now just think it's something to do with the continental drift theory. Just don't tell anyone else, ok? We're not supposed to tell members of the general public, even those as prestigious as your good self, Mr Clause."
"Not a word, and you neither Mary, alright?"
"Ooh, Nick. I love it when you're all masterful!"
"So you think those escaped penguins did it? So 'ow did they come to get blown up?"
"Good question, Mr Clause. I'd say they were working for someone else and they probably got stroppy about getting paid. Hence...kaboom! Now, it would take quite a bit of money to develop an explosive that's powerful enough to blow the door off your safe without anyone hearing the bang. And it would take someone with extraordinary nerve to have a bunch of penguins steal Santa's bag of magic dust, then kill 'em off like that, from a passing plane."
"Sorry, Mr Clause. I'm not at liberty to divulge such details."
"Oh, bull****! Erm...I mean...err...why not?"
"Because, Mr Clause, if the people who I think are responsible really are responsible, I don't want you and Mrs Clause to be put in any danger. My life is already in danger simply by suspecting them. They have spies everywhere. They could be listening in even as we speak! If I utter the name of this organization, and they find out about it, the two of you might just as well consider yourselves gonners!"
"Oh," whispered Mr C.
"Where to, Sir?"
"What? Without any transport? It'll take us weeks to get there on foot."
Nick sighed. "Take a couple of deer. It'll be quicker. Bob? BOB!!! Where is that blasted elf?"
"It's alright, dear," cooed Mrs C. "I'll do it. Inspector, and...Penfold is it? If you'll just follow me."
"Give 'em Prancer and Dancer, love. They're about the sanest...umm...I mean, fastest!"