Thursday, 25 December 2014
Short Story - Christmas Day Special!
As we line up to get strapped in, the others jostle for front place, but Father comes straight to me and leads me to the most important position. Pride swells in my stomach ... or it could just be the beginnings of nausea. Once we are all ready to go, Father waves goodbye to his wife, and the jingling of bells signals the start of a very long night. I lean forward into my reins, trying to get a feel for the heavy load. Once I am steady, I switch on my bright red light and gallop as fast as I can along the ground, just making it to the end of the runway as we take off into the night sky.
It is not totally dark yet, but it soon will be, so Father flicks on the headlights to illuminate the way for the others. We are picking up speed and I can just make out the familiar sight of Europe's silhouette below. Father instructs us to stop and I turn my head to watch him open the trapdoor on his present carrier. Each gift is programmed to find its destination, and they all hover simultaneously in the air for a split second, before plummeting to the ground.
Father once explained to me that he used to deliver them all himself when he was a young man, but
now technology has grown far beyond my comprehension, as has his beard, and his wife always used to complain when he came home covered in soot. Anyway, it is far easier to let satellite navigation do the work, he said, so that is what we use now. When I asked how the presents entered all the houses, he said that was not for him to worry about, it was no longer in his contract, and did I see any other delivery men waiting for someone to pick up the parcel before driving away? I replied that I had never seen any delivery men in my life, as we lived in a rather sparsely populated area. In fact, I noted that I had never seen another family in all my years. Father did not respond, so I never asked again, as I think it is a touchy subject.
The morning is almost here and we have covered every continent apart from Asia. This is my favourite stretch of the journey, as I can feel the wind urging me on from behind; my hooves hardly need to touch the skyway. Although Father uses us for minor jobs throughout the year, it makes me feel like I am part of something big when we finish our largest, most important task.
Father prepares us for landing and we begin to slow down. All the gifts have been delivered now and
morning is finally here. My hooves touch the snowy runway and we engage the brakes so Father's wife does not get annoyed again. (Last year we didn't manage to slow down soon enough and her ice sculptures got destroyed). Once we have come to a halt, Father unharnesses us all, leaving me until last. "Thank you, Rudolph," he smiles. "You're welcome Father Christmas," I reply.