The doorbell rang. Hector opened the door and was greeted by the ever-cheerful postie.
“Mornin’. Here are your letters, and I got a parcel here. Ya don’t need to sign or nuffin, but it’s too big to go through the letter box. There you go!”
Hector realised that it must be later than he’d thought if the postman was here. Shoving the parcel and letters onto the hall table, he grabbed his hot-cup, fumbled his shoelaces into an approximation of tied, shouted out a farewell, and fled the house. Would a mad dash would put him at the bus-stop just in time rather than just too late?
In due course the rest of the family bade their adieus to the house, which settled down to its daily slumber. Nothing was moving, not even a mouse.
After an hour or so, the box began to wriggle, jiggle and eventually it fell off the table on to the tiles of the hallway with a resounding bump. There was a muffled noise, which a careful listener might have discerned as cursing. The tip of a blade appeared from inside the box, slitting the tape holding the flaps down. Cautiously a flap lifted. Larina peered out. Certain now that the coast was clear, she jumped out. Checking her watch, she pulled out a radio and clicking out a code, sent an ‘on-site’ message to base. The Extra Low Frequency used by the team was limited, but adequate.
With sizzling speed, Larina explored the house. When she came across the Elf-on-the-shelf, she was tempted to do for it – she hated those things and everything they stood for – but SOP was to leave no trace of presence. Regretfully she left it alone.
It is patent nonsense that Father Christmas could deliver presents all over the world in a single night. It was bad enough in the beginning when he was looking after a single village, but as demand increased, other methods had to be found. And so, he turned to the elves. They didn’t merely watch to see who should be on which list but reported back and took delivery of a suitable present, sometimes as much as a month in advance, and kept it hidden and safe until Christmas Eve.
Larina found a place to hide the box she had arrived in and started clicking out her report. She hoped she might receive promotion to the elite Jingle Belles unit after this mission, but friends warned her that she hadn’t had any really challenging missions yet, so the brass might not think she was ready.
Christmas Day came at last. There was one present left when the family finished handing out the gaily wrapped gifts, and they puzzled over who it could be from. The label simply said ‘Happy Christmas! Ho ho ho!”.
“Perhaps it’s from Santa!” The children said, puzzled.
“Perhaps it is!” The parents agreed, each assuming it was the work of the other.
Larina watched happily.
© David Jesson, 2020