Flash Friday 18/12/2015: Catching Up With The Present
“All ears, please!” Santa called out to his workshop of elves. The bells on their suits tinkled as they all turned to look. Santa held up a wad of multicoloured papers. “I have here all the children’s letters from around the world. I hope you’ve all had a good rest, because it’s time to prepare the toys and get ready to bring holiday cheer to the world. Is everyone ready?”
The elves all picked up a tool of choice. Hammers hovered over nails, chisels rested on wooden blocks, and saws placed onto logs, all ready to construct a toy at a moments notice.
“Very good,” Santa beamed. “Then I’ll begin.” He cleared his throat and peered at the first letter. “‘Hello Santa,’ it says here. ‘I hope everything is fine in the North Pole. I have been a good girl this year, so I hope you visit me for Christmas. If you could get…'” Santa squinted. “The latest One Direction album on iTunes, that would be great. Thanks, Sarah’. Well.” Santa gave the elves a smile. “I suppose that one’s not for us to make, then. Let’s see what the next one says.
“‘Dear Santa, when you visit my house, can I pet Ruldolph please? I think it would be a lot of fun to see a reindeer up close. For my present, can I please…have a list of these games downloaded on my computer’. Alright. Well, you know, a bad start, but it’s fine, right?”
Santa gave a nervous laugh. The elves exchanged worried looks, their tools still at the ready.
“Let’s see here…’Dear Santa, yadda yadda, good girl, yadda yadda, didn’t hit my sister once, yadda yadda, ebooks on my tablet’. Oh dear.” Santa began flicking through the wad of letters, peering with increasing horror at each one. Finally, he gave a slow glance at the elves. “You might as well put all your tools down,” he said with morose. “They’re all digital things.”
“Well, it can’t be all bad,” an elf said, as the others exchanged shrugs and laid their tools down again. “We’ve been working for hundreds of years now. Nice to have a break.”
“Nice? How can I perform Christmas without any physical presents? I’ll just be riding through the skies in a one-horse open sleigh filled with…terabytes, or hard drives, or whatever the hell you download things with. What am I going to put under the tree? What am I going to place into the stockings? What do I do if the children have been bad? Do they get a lump of coal attached to an email?”
“Oh, don’t you fret your head, sir. You’re a smart man; you’ll think of something.”
“I hope so,” Santa said, tugging at his beard as he re-read the letters. “Even if my job is becoming obsolete, children still need me, if not nothing more than a simple figure of Christmas. If they want presents downloaded to their devices, then I suppose there’s only one thing I can do.”
Alice stirred from her slumber on Christmas Eve. Usually it was due to the excitement of Christmas that every child felt, keeping her from getting a decent nights rest. This year, however, she was awoken by a shake on her shoulder. Groaning, she sat up, rubbed her eyes, and saw Santa Claus standing in her bedroom.
Santa held up Alice’s tablet, its screen a blinding white against the dark room. “I’m awfully sorry, but I need some help with this.”
Alice blinked sleepily. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you see, you’re the one that asked for, uh…” Santa flicked through some coloured paper in his other hand. “The ebooks, right?”
“Well, I tried to get them all downloaded and whatnot while you slept, but to be honest, I have no idea what I’m doing. Can you show me how to get the books you want?”
Alice pointed. “Go to the App Store.”
Santa stared at the tablet, then at Alice. “How do I do that without buttons?”
“You press the screen.” Alice leant over and tapped the App Store icon.
“Blimey,” Santa said, blinking as the store loaded. “You can point at the thing you want on these things? I’m going to need to get my elves to make one of these back home. Alright, now what?”
“Right. No, no, not ‘movies’. Fat fingers letting me down again. Alright, and then what?”
“You scroll down…no, keep going…yes, that one. Then you tap that and you click the ‘buy’ button. Then it asks for, like…payment stuff.”
“Payment stuff? Ah, yes, of course.” Santa began entering his payment details. “I don’t suppose they worked out how to upload money over the internet yet. Gosh, this is all so complex. You know, back in the North Pole, we’ve got wrapping up a real live pony nailed to an art form. Are you sure you don’t want something more traditional? A jack-in-the box? Perhaps a toy train?”
Alice frowned, as if she were speaking to someone from a distant past.
“Nevermind,” Santa said. “Right then, I think it’s doing that download thing, so I’ll wait for it to finish that. Er…do I have to do this with every kid that wanted these ‘ebook’ things?”
“Good grief. I’ll need to make Christmas a week-long holiday at this rate. Goodness knows I’m going to need to buy a physical book that tells me how to use the digital ones. Ah, this little message thing says the download finished. I’ll leave you in peace now, but no reading any of these books until it’s Christmas! Trust me, I know these things.”
Alice gave a sleepy wave as Santa climbed out the window back onto his floating sleigh. There has to be some sort of technology course he could take over in the North Pole.