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The Naughty List

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DECEMBER 24, 2161:  Camp Parker, Main Residence - 2340 hrs
 

Security Chief Anderson glanced up with an air of mild irritation at the cloud of soot billowing from the fireplace.  He closed his notebook to protect it from the gritty particles, set it to one side, and calmly drew a thirty eight calibre pistol from his shoulder holster, aiming it at the figure who staggered over the hearth.

 "Every year, I ask you not to do that," the large elderly man said, dusting himself off.

 "And every year, I say the same thing:  you can't be too careful," Anderson said.  He shrugged and put the gun away.  He glanced at his watch.  "You're early," he noted.

 "No kidding," said the old man, bending over to pick up the glass of milk and plate of cookies that had been left near the Christmas tree.  "There are a lot more naughty people on my list, this year."  He sipped at the milk.  "And a lot of them, it would seem, work for you."

 "Each to his own," Anderson said.

Santa Claus made a face and nearly choked.  "What the hell is this?" he demanded, glaring at the glass in his hand.

 "Light soy milk," Anderson sighed. "Don't look at me, Princess is on a health kick."

 "Don't think that's going to get you off my Naughty list," Santa warned, selecting a chocolate chip cookie.

 "I'm crushed," Anderson said, getting up off the sofa and walking across to the liquor cabinet.

 "You know, directing sarcasm at me is grounds for staying on the Naughty list permanently," Santa said around a mouthful of cookie.

 "By now, I'm pretty much used to it."  Anderson unlocked the glass doors and took out a bottle.

 "I find it incredible that you even believe in me," Santa sighed.  "A man like you shouldn't be able to see me at all!"

 "Call me open minded," Anderson said.

 "As opposed to what I usually call you?"

 "Come now, Santa, you know you don't want to get on my Naughty list."

 "Humph!"  The otherwise jolly fat man placed five presents under the tree.  "A fine thing, when Santa Claus is held to ransom by Galaxy Security!"

 "We live in troubled times," Anderson observed wryly.  "Hand over the goods."

Santa put one hand in his pocket, withdrew a data strip and passed it to Anderson.  It was labelled:  Santa's Naughty and Nice Listing 2161 AD. CLASSIFIED.

 "And I mustn't forget this," Santa said, handing over a large lump of coal.

 "Thanks," Anderson said.  "And I'll keep up my end of the bargain:  I'll have Zark erase all traces of you and your vehicle from every surveillance and security system across the planet."  He poured two shots of Scotch and handed one to St Nicholas.  "Merry Christmas."

Santa took the drink and downed it in one swallow.  "Merry freakin' Christmas to you, too, Shit Head," he growled.  He stomped over to the fireplace, pressed one finger alongside his nose, and vanished up the chimney.

Anderson sipped at his whisky and put the data strip in his pocket.

This would keep the Counter-Intelligence Division busy for another year.

He tossed the coal in the wood basket, collected Santa's glass and plate, and headed for the kitchen, softly whistling Santa Claus is Coming to Town.