Christmas Mission
By: James Rumpel

Stnick hated his job. He hated everything about it. He despised being stranded on this backwater planet. He couldn't stand the incredible amount of downtime, having to wait a full planet rotation between missions. Each day he dreaded having to work with the E1VE5's. The automatons were the loudest and most annoying creation he could imagine. They constantly chattered with their high-pitched synthetic voices and bounced around the compound, constantly hammering and drilling.

The only thing that Stnick liked less than being stuck in the compound three hundred sixty-four days a year was the one day when he had to leave. His mission called for him to stifle the development of the creatures of this world. Once a year, he had to traverse the globe and distribute mind-numbing devices to as many of the planet's youth as possible. That duty involved climbing into an outdated time-space inversion unit and warping from home to home. The SPACE-LOCATION-ENIGMATIC-INTERVAL-GENERATING-HOVERCRAFT or SLEIGH should have been replaced years ago. The eight robotic facsimiles of one of the planet's bovine creatures that gave the SLEIGH the appearance of being pulled by magical creatures only served to make the entire thing look even more ridiculous than it was. He completed his annual task in one of the planet's rotations, but for him, it felt like years of constant labor.

This year was proving to be the worst that Stnick had ever had to endure. The popular intelligence inhibiting device for this season was a large stuffed animal that sang one of thirteen idiotic songs whenever it was shaken. Needless to say, every time his time-space inversion unit came to a sudden halt atop of one of the planet denizens' homes, the entire supply of singing toys would burst into song. He swore that if he had to hear one more verse of "Be Your Beary Best" he would disassemble every E1VE5 at the northern compound.

Luckily, Stnick was nearing the end of this particular round of deliveries. Upon completion of the final drop off, he would travel back in time and space to return to the compound and pick up another load of items to deliver. If timed correctly, and it always was, he would reappear at the workshop immediately after his last departure.

The SLEIGH came to a stop on the inclined roof of one of the planet's homes. The adhering base of the craft allowed it to stay in position without sliding off the side of the building. Stnick, unfortunately, did not have an adhering base. He crawled along the snow-covered slippery surface; a bag of singing animals slung over his back. Eventually, he reached the peak and found a position where he could stand steady enough to use the short-range transporter, which would allow him to beam into the interior of the home. He activated the device. As always, his insides felt like they were being squeezed in some gigantic vice and his head pounded to the verge of exploding. The effects only last a few seconds and Stnick materialized inside the home.

Not wanting to be discovered and forced to go through the trouble of erasing his discoverer's memory, he quickly checked his belt buckle computer for the gifts that were to be left at this locale. He reached into his bag and withdrew a singing bear and a handheld video game. The latter was an especially effective brain-numbing device. He was just starting to straighten up when he heard a quiet cough behind him. He quickly made certain his large, prosthetic beard was in place. He did not want one of the humans to see his distorted face and fanged mouth. The screaming such a revelation would cause was certain to wake everyone in the neighborhood and that would mean Stnick would be stuck doing way too many mind erasures.

With his beard snuggly in place, Stnick turned to see a young female human child. She was so tiny and cute that he immediately wondered why the leaders had not decided to destroy this planet years ago. They would be an easy opponent.

"Is that you, Santa?" she asked.

Protocol stated that it would be permissible to allow an occasional human child to see Stnick, as long as that child still believed. This appeared to be such a case.

"Yes," he glanced at his belt buckle, "Tammy. Now you need to go back to bed, so I can finish giving you and the rest of the children their numbin… toys."

"Ok, but please, Santa, take one of the cookies that Mommy and I made for you." She pointed to a tray that contained a number of weirdly shaped conglomerations of sugar. Stnick's digestive system did not respond well to sugar. However, he had his role to play.

"Of course," he said, picking up one of the cookies and stuffing it into his mouth. He covered his mouth with his hand as he did so. He forced the noxious baked confection down his throat.

"Mmmmm," he said, not too convincingly. "Now, you go back to bed, please."

"OK, Santa," said the little girl as she turned on her heels and began strolling towards the stairs. As she turned, Stnick noticed the cellular phone in her left hand. She had been recording the entire encounter.

"I hate this job," said Stnick as he pulled the blaster from his belt. He didn't even check to make certain it was set to stun; he really didn't care. One small, silent ray shot from the nozzle of the weapon and the girl fell to the carpet, unconscious. The alien quickly used a cane-shaped, striped instrument to erase the child's memory. He also erased the entire contents of the cell phone, before transporting back to the SLEIGH.

As the hover-craft left the home and Stnick prepared to make a space-time jump, he had an uncontrollable impulse. It was against all the rules, but at this moment, he was too frustrated to care.

He loudly exclaimed as he disappeared into the night: "Merry Christmas to all and if I had my way, I'd blow you all out of sight."

The End

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