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             Christmas Eve

                    by Don Urbanus

     It was Christmas Eve. The employees at Rising Sun Nursery had been sent home early and I was closing up the store and anxious to get home. Suddenly I heard a loud humming sound and an eerie light glowed through the sliding door in the breezeway. Alarmed, I walked over to the door and looked out. Immediately, I was immersed in green light and something like a tractor beam seized me and pulled me toward what I assumed was an alien spacecraft. My body was rigid. A door in the ship opened and I was sucked in.
     I found myself sitting in a chair in a large dark room. A green light clicked on and shone on my face. My interrogators were in the shadows.
     “You-man”, said a high pitched metallic voice, “We want to ask questions.”
     “Who are you? Where am I?” I demanded. They ignored me.
     “Questions. You answer,” it said again. Apparently they were talking into some electronic translating device because I could hear one of them speaking in a strange gurgling voice to his partner.
     “Ask him about how they grow plants in those pots,” suggested Glorg anxiously. “I want to know how they do it.”
     “I am the one asking questions here,” responded Commander Grak importantly, “The High Command of Planet Zerk has other more strategic questions they want answered first, Glorg. Just because you are the ship’s field biologist doesn’t give you the right to ask the first questions.”
     “Alright, alright,” Glorg waved a tentacled hand, “Just remember that we need to get specimens from this planet and they have hundreds of varieties and thousands of specimens here. The scanner is going crazy.”
     “Yes, yes," sighed Grak. He failed to see the interest in new biological specimens. Why not just attack the planet and wipe out the you-mans? Then they could have it all for themselves.
     I listened to all this gurgling and slurping with alarm. They appeared to be drooling too, although it was hard to see. I got the uncomfortable feeling like maybe they were going to eat me. The first alien spoke into the device again.
     “You-man. Who is Santa Claus?”
     I sat staring at them. “Santa Claus?”
     Glorg frowned. “Maybe he didn’t understand. Ask again.”
     ‘You-man. Who is Santa Claus?”
     “You want to know who Santa Claus is?” I asked, dumfounded.
     ‘Hmm. Maybe this you-man is not very smart,” stated Grak, “This is the third time he has answered with a question.”
     ‘You’re not doing it right. Let me try.” Glorg grabbed the translator. Grak glared at him.
     “You-man. Tell us…., “
     “First of all, my name is Don, not you-man," I answered angrily.  "Secondly, Santa is this guy that deliveries toys to children all over the world in one night. And that would be tonight.’
     “See?” smiled Glorg, ‘You just have to know how to ask.” Grak rolled his eye and sighed.
     “Dawn. We want to know where this Santa lives?” asked Glorg.
     “The name is Don, not Dawn, got it? And Santa is supposed to live at the North Pole, although nobody knows where exactly.” What was this all about? Why were they asking me about a mythical person? What was I doing here? I had presents to wrap still.
     Glorg looked over at Grak and smiled feebly. “He’s kind of touchy, but at least he’s talking.”
     Grak sighed heavily. “I guess our information was correct about the North Pole although our scanners have not been able to locate him. He must have very advanced cloaking devices to hide from us. Think of the speed of his ship if he is able to go all around the world and deliver gifts to… How many young you-mans are there on this planet?”
     “About a billion,” answered Glorg glumly. “Think of his production and delivery capabilities. A billion units delivered in one night? Unheard of.”
     “I don’t see how we can chance an attack on this planet. It is just too risky. This Santa Claus sounds like a very formidable foe,” said a very grim Commander Grak. “I suggest we report back immediately to the High Command.”
     “What about the you-man? And what about my biological samples you promised?” asked Glorg.
     “Oh, very well. Dump this you-man out and get whatever samples you need, but hurry up. If I’m late again for X-mss, my wife will kill me. My kids will kill me,” said Grak, gurgling more forcefully.
     “I know,” smiled Glorg, “I was late getting in last     X-mss Eve and my son thought I was the giant Blorg delivering treats to all the good little Zerkians.”
     I listened to their strange talking and then suddenly I was unceremoniously forced out the ship’s door and fell on the ground. The ship zoomed up over the nursery. A green light shone down and sucked up half the one-gallon section, then in a blink, the ship disappeared into the darkening sky. I stood there a minute and thought about what had just happened.   Somehow I felt like I had done something important but I wasn't sure how I was going to explain the missing plants.  But it was late, and I had promised my daughter that we would sing Christmas carols and watch “How the Grinch stole Christmas.” And maybe, if she was good, she could open one present from us. The rest of her presents, of course, were delivered after midnight by 'you-know-who.'
 

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