Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Checkin’ It Twice by Michael Young

Excerpt from Checkin’ It Twice

He looked down and thought how his stomach was more like a half-deflated balloon than a bowl full of jelly, and his nose more black cherry than maraschino.

His job gave him every reason to feel jolly: perfect job security, cheerful co-workers, state of the art technology, travel to exotic places, and unlimited hot cocoa. But today the calendar read November 25th. The most dreaded deadline of the year was today: the finalization of the Naughty List, based on this year’s deeds.

Sure, he could see kids when they were sleeping and know when they were awake. He knew if they were bad or good with the help of his monitoring elves. It was just so hard to make the final decisions. Though most people assumed he checked the list only twice, he often agonized over it for weeks, checking and rechecking it.

There was the regular Naughty List, which was bad enough. Then there was the Chronically Naughty List, where only the naughtiest appeared. Those on the second list risked being
permanently banned from Christmas privileges, with only coal to look forward to for the rest of their lives.

St. Nick didn’t like having to put anyone on that list. But, rules were rules and he couldn’t break them without setting a bad example.

He stuffed his large girth into the tinsel-draped chair behind his desk, and picked up his candy-cane striped pen. The Naughty and Nice lists lay out in front of him, filled with names in calligraphy. Off to the side lay the third list, which held only one name. St. Nick’s eyebrows rose.

Several months ago, he had sent his elite elves to carry out interventions for each of those on the Chronically Naughty List. For those who remained after the interventions, he conducted a trial, with one elf as the prosecution and one as the defense.

Every year they had managed to shrink the last list considerably by the middle of November, but he had not expected this. A single name. “Dallin J. Snark,” read St. Nick. “How can we get you off this list?” There was nothing to do but conduct the trial. He’d have to call on Amras and Nerwen, his most experienced and talented elite elves.

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