Since the invention of the A-Drive, humanity had reached beyond Earth to live on places like Mars and the moons of Saturn and Jupiter. The workload at the factory had increased steadily over the years. Every year the overtime seemed to start a little earlier. But today was Christmas Eve. Tonight the factory would be shutting down for two weeks to give everyone a much needed break. Don looked forward to the rest and time with family and friends.
Someone touched Don on the shoulder, and he jumped. “I’ve been trying to reach you,” Saul, his supervisor, shouted.
“Sorry, I can’t hear a thing over this CNC machine,” Don shouted back.
“How close are you to being done?” Saul said.
“About five minutes.”
“Great. Head over to the main loading dock as soon as you can. They need some help.”
“If I don’t see you again, Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas to you too, Saul,” said Don with a smile.
As a maintenance man it wasn’t really Don’s job to work on the loading dock. Some of the other maintenance men would object. But Don felt like anything he could do to help during this season would get him out the door that much sooner.
Don made a couple of adjustments to the machine and gave the operator, Sarah, the thumbs up sign.
“Thanks, Don.” Sarah slipped a piece of candy into his hand. “Merry Christmas.”
Then he saw—walking right toward him—the big man himself. Don had never seen the boss in person before.
“Merry Christmas, Sarah.” Don popped the candy into his mouth, grabbed his tools and started toward the loading dock. He caught a ride on one of the many shuttles that ran day and night throughout the huge plant. It felt good to get off his feet. And the walk to the dock would have been a good fifteen minutes. Christmas music played through the speakers on the shuttle, and workers getting on and off greeted each other with “Merry Christmas.”
Don stepped off the shuttle as it passed the main dock. Louise, the group leader, was standing just inside the overhead door with her tablet.
Don put his toolbox down in the corner, out of the way. “Merry Christmas, Louise.”
“Merry Christmas, Don.”
“Saul sent me down here to help. What can I do?”
“We’re loading up the big boy there,” Louise indicated the large spaceship across the dock. “Just grab any free fork truck. Thanks, Don.”
For almost an hour Don hauled crates and boxes into the hold of the large ship. The cargo area was so big that Don and the eight other drivers hardly saw each other. As the hold began to fill up, Louise flagged Don down.
“You ever done the pre-launch checklist?” she asked.
“Yeah, a few times,” he said.
“Great. Jump in there. My pilot’s on his way.”
She sent the live file to his phone, and he climbed aboard. Half an hour later he checked off the last item. “Just in time,” Louise messaged.
Don stepped off the ship and looked around. Everyone seemed to be standing at attention. What’s going on?
Then he saw—walking right toward him—the big man himself. Don had never seen the boss in person before. He looked just like everyone said. Almost instinctively, Don stepped aside and snapped to attention like everyone else. He had heard that every year the boss made one run himself. The rumor was that he used to make all the deliveries. Don didn’t see how that was possible.
As the boss walked past Don on his way into the ship he said, “Everything ready to go?” He patted Don on the shoulder.
“Great. Thanks for the help, Don.” He handed Don a small, brightly-colored box, tied with a bow, and climbed inside the massive ship.
How did he know my name? Maybe it was Louise. She must have told him.
The alarm began sounding, indicating that the ship was about to engage its anti-gravity and begin the launch sequence. Don walked back to retrieve his tools. He got a message on his phone from Saul: “You can go home as soon as you’re done on the dock. Have a Merry Christmas.”
And quite a Christmas it would be! He had a story to tell the kids about how he had met the boss, and the boss had called him by name and personally handed him a Christmas present. As Don started to put the gift in his toolbox, he looked at the tag. “To Don. From Santa.”
Get your Christmas flash fiction fix in the Dec. 2017 edition of Splickety Magazine.
Meet the Author
Scott Thomas is a husband, father, former graphic artist, and lifelong Indiana resident. He writes short fiction and draws silly pictures, mostly for his own amusement. He is currently working on a longer story about robots who believe they’ve evolved from household appliances, an inventor who fails frequently, and a post-apocalyptic world that just might be better off.
This is Scott’s first story published anytime, anywhere, by anyone, for any reason. He is very happy.