They were all gone! All of the presents I’d set out for the kids were missing. I didn’t mean to curse, but that was a heck of a thing to happen on Christmas eve! The gifts weren’t actually from Santa, of course. He’d be awfully busy around that time of year, I think, not that I’d ever met him. Those kids needed their Christmas gifts though, and by golly I had to be the one to get those presents to them.
I’d been doing it every year, but this year of course there was a problem. I couldn’t well give presents to all of the children if they were missing! So I spread my golden wings and took to the skies in search of presents. As much as I loved the feel of the cool winter breeze whipping through my golden ponytail, it wasn’t much more than a distraction as I frantically scanned the world below for any sign of the gifts.
I looked for an awfully long time, probably more than an hour. Of course I couldn’t give up, those kiddies were depending on me! The longer I searched though, the less time I had to give out presents when I found them… If I found them on time. I was torn from my sad thoughts by something catching my eye on the ground below. Down a short alley, I saw a glimmer of divine providence.
I swooped down quickly to see what it was, and sure enough, found a trace of what I was looking for! I was never more glad that I’d laced cookies with a little heavenly love to give them just that extra bit of sweetness and warmth! Heavenly love shines wonderfully bright to angels, and it made my cookies near blinding for anyone with grace. Just as good too, because it gave me a trail of shimmering crumbs to follow.
I walked down the short alleyway, following the trail first left, then right. As I got to the end though, the cookies seemed to stop at an old brick wall. Sensing more divine love on the other side, I thought maybe there was a secret passage somewhere. I tried to knock on one of the bricks, and found my hand slipped right through those bricks. The wall sort of jiggled and wavered like so much Jello.
I took a deep breath, and stepped into a pocket dimension. It was very gaudily decorated for a pocket dimension. Even my golden wings and hair felt dull compared to the shining and shimmering metals and gems that lay on all the walls and furniture. Well, they didn’t really. Heavenly bodies shine warmer than even the most sparkling gold nugget. Still, the sheer wealth of the owner was apparent.
I made my way through the tight halls. They might have been rather spacious were they not filled with so many things. The hallway did not go on particularly long before it opened into a grand room, in the middle of which was a golden throne atop a mountain of goods, including my presents for the children! Flabbergasted, I looked at the room’s inhabitants.
Atop the throne was a gaily laughing crimson-skinned child in a colorful frilly dress. Her straight flowing black hair almost entirely obscured her twin scarlet horns, poking out just above her forehead. She swung her little legs back and forth in front of the throne while she watched the other occupant.
Stuffing her face, an older big-sister looking girl with similarly straight silver hair and large black ram’s horns sat at the bottom of the mountain. She had pale blueish skin, and wore jeans and a dark T-shirt that had quite the contrasting daisy on the front. She was curvy and mature-looking, in stark contrast to the way she was filling her cheeks like a hamster with the cookies I’d baked.
Seeing that there were still a couple cookies left, I swiftly flew to her, throwing myself between her and the plate of cookies. “No!” I shouted desperately, “Please! These cookies are for Santa!” The room suddenly fell silent. I couldn’t even hear the laughter of the kid on the throne. The Blue-skinned girl’s eyes grew wide as pancakes and she sat there dumbfounded for a few seconds before finally swallowing the cookies stuffed into her cheeks. “SANTA!?” She exclaimed, finally breaking her stunned silence. She stood up, easily a foot taller than me, and put her hands on my shoulders.
“I’m not in trouble am I? Does this mean I don’t get presents?” This time it was my turn to stand in stunned silence as I processed what she’d said. “Am I in trouble?” She asked again, with worry heavy in her voice. Unsure how to answer, I just started to explain. “…I bake the cookies for kids who forget to put any out for Santa. Just so Santa has something to eat at those houses.”
The girl backed off, looking at the plate of cookies in horror. “I ate Santa’s cookies!” She started wailing. “I’m naaugh-augh-tiiee!” I fumbled, doing my best to calm her down. “It’s okay! Really! There’s still some left! I’m sure plenty of kids put out cookies for Santa this year- and I always bake too many!”
She was still in quite a lot of distress, until I heard a sharp voice call out from the throne. “Mephistophela, calm down. I’m sure you’re still on the nice list. As for you, goldilocks, take your cookies back. I’d thought I smelled divinity on them. It gives me indigestion.”
Sniffling, Mephistophela looked up at the little demonic girl on the throne. “A-are you sure I’m still nice?” When the little red girl nodded, Mephistophela wiped her tears away and stood up, attempting for the first time to look dignified since I’d come in. Now that the girl on the throne mentioned it, Demons shouldn’t be able to eat cookies baked with heavenly love, but Mephistophela was eating them like a pig who hadn’t been fed for days.
Pushing the thought away for the moment, I turned to the girl on her throne. “I can’t leave with just the cookies. You also have the presents I was going to give out to the neighborhood children! I have to take those back too! I have to deliver those before Christmas morning!”
Once again Mephistophela’s eyes turned into dinner plates. “WE STOLE PRESENTS FOR CHILDREN!?”
She immediately went back to wailing even harder than before. Covering her ears, the girl on the throne tried desperately to calm her down, but nothing she said was getting through. “B-But, you told me they were free gifts for good kids!” The big girl cried.
“I technically wasn’t wrong!” The little red girl shouted back through the wails. It was pretty obvious now who the ringleader was. I turned back to the crying blue girl and reached up to place my hand reassuringly on her shoulder. “It’s alright. If you return the presents, you’ll make up for it, and you’ll still be on the nice list.” I said in as consoling a voice I could.
That finally seemed to get her attention. She seemed to attempt to stop crying, and started wiping tears away as she turned to me. “A-are you sure?” She asked, tears still glistening in her eyes. I nodded with as kind a smile as I could manage, and she stood up straight again.
Now somewhat angry, the little red girl started stomping down the treasure mountain towards me. “Who do you think you are, barging in here and ruining my Christmas haul?” Now, I’m not one to get angry, but I didn’t really like the way that girl said it.
I stood up as tall as I could and said “I am the angel Niveditiam, and those are presents I made personally for the children, and cookies I baked for Santa! Who are you to steal them for your own greed!”
The little girl paused and held her hands to me, palms out. “One, I didn’t steal them. See? Clean hands. All of them were carried off by her.” She pointed to the teary Mephistophela. “Two, I’m Pratyusha. I’m an Imp, and I need some Christmas presents too. Nobody makes them for imps.” She almost seemed to pout as she said that last part.
I didn’t like how she implicated the big girl in her schemes. “Don’t put Mephi- Mephistophi- Don’t put the blame on her! It was clearly your idea!” I said to defend the nice big girl.
“Mephi is good.” The blue girl said, cutting between me and the imp. “Our names are too long, so I’m Mephi, and that’s Pratty! You said your name was Niveditiam? That’s also too long. How about Niva?”
“I- actually, that sounds lovely. You may call me Niva.” I agreed, sidetracked from my dispute. Mephi perked up, clearly happy that her suggestion was well received.
“So I’ll give the presents back to you, and you can deliver them, and all those kids will be able to get their presents, right?” She asked, clearly hopeful. At that I finally understood how she was able to eat my cookies. I guess having a pure heart overrides being a demon by birth.
“I’d love to.” I responded, “but it’s been so long already, there’s no way I can get all these presents back in time.” Mephi immediately looked hopefully to Pratty, who stubbornly crossed her arms. As Mephi glared with pleading eyes, Pratyusha repeatedly shook her head, trying to stand as defiant as possible, until finally she broke.
“Ugh, fine! I’ll help.” She then turned to me. “Listen, with my pocket room magic, I can technically compress spaces. In other words, I can make the distance a lot shorter. Maybe… Ugh. Maybe me and Mephisto- me and Mephi can deliver some of them for you.”
I lit up. “That would be wonderful!” I cheered. “But… I left the list of homes at my house. I can’t remember where each present is supposed to go.” I sighed, but it was cut off by a smug grin from the Imp.
“Photographic memory. I saw that list on my way in. I’ll tell you where they’re going. You can take half, we’ll take the other half back to their homes. Does that work?” I was so excited that I flew up and hugged the imp, lifting her off her treasure mountain. She clearly wanted to protest, but thought against it.
Grinning, I responded “This doesn’t excuse what you did.”
“Well then I’ll make you a deal. If you make a present for me each year, I’ll help you deliver your other presents. How does that sound to make up for it?” Pratyusha offered.
I had only begun to nod when Mephi shouted “WOOHOO! Let’s help Santa!”
Christmas is going to be fun in the years to come…
Author’s note: This was my entry into the Christmas 2018 speedwrite, and until literally the last voter, it was the only story with zero votes. It had a phenomenally poor showing, and I am very curious as to why. As I was writing it, I had decided to experiment with first person, and I’m wondering if that caused any serious problems. So please comment, shout, angrily message, or otherwise critique this story to your hearts’ content, and I’ll be able to improve future story contest entries.