2022 minus 08: And so this is Christmas [Eve]

Posted: 24 December 2021 in 2022 minus, Christmas, fiction, writing
Tags: , , ,

I wasn’t sure what to write for today’s post; whether to do another Ten Things, since it’s a Friday, but once I decided that, since it’s Christmas Eve, I should do something Christmassy, it occurred to me to check whether I’d reposted what I once regarded as ‘my traditional Christmas story’.

Turned out I haven’t done so, not in a decade, not since christmas 2011.

So you get it today.

As I say, I wrote this story many, many years ago… but it’s always one that I’ve especially liked.


No Time For It

He matched the description in all the stories. Hell, he could have come straight from an audition for Miracle on 34th Street. The only thing that was different was the look of puzzlement on his face.

“Where am I?” he asked again. This was nothing new. He’d been asking the question for the past three hours, ever since we’d intercepted him one minute after midnight on the 26th. OK, so I’m sentimental. I let the old man have one more year in the job.

“You’re in a holding cell,” I said.

“Oh, fucking hell,” he said, “not again.” He walked up to the force field. “What’s the charge this time?” He reached inside his jacket. I wasn’t worried. He’d been scanned when we’d grabbed him and there was nothing in there other than a cotton vest.

He pulled his hand out of the jacket. He was holding a fist full of paper. Permits of every sort you could think of. He thrust his hands towards me. “Here you go,” he said, “whatever you think you’ve got me on, think again. I’ve flying permits, authority to land on rooftops, even waivers for trespass mentally signed by every parent.”

I smiled grimly. “The charge? Spreading joy without permission.”

That shook him. I could tell.

“Spreading joy? Bugger.”

“Yeah, spreading… joy”

He let out a huge sigh. “Since when do you need permission for that?” he asked, a note of desperation creeping into his voice.

“Ever since the last election. Come on, you must have known that.”

He leaned against the wall, defeated. He had known that, of course. But like every other year, he’d thought he’d get away with it. My phone buzzed. I turned away from him and took the call.

A minute later, it was my turn to look puzzled. And then, as the final words, sunk in, I smiled. “You’ve been found guilty,” I informed him.

“Without a trial?” he asked. I got the impression he’d been looking forward to the trial.

“Yeah,” I replied. Homeland Security abolished trials last month. “You’re sentenced to exile…”

“For how long?” he asked.

“Three hundred and sixty-four days,” I informed him, and deactivated the forcefield. I watched as he faded from view, leaving only the sound of a “ho, ho, ho,” in the air.

Who’d have thought it? The judge was even more sentimental than me.

© 2004 Lee Barnett


See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Sixty-one days. Sixty-one posts. One 2022 now rapidly approaching.

Just dropping this in here, as I was asked: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.

I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of quid every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to the new year. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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