The Battle of Dume Towers.

I had to wait until my fingers grew back before typing this one.

On Christmas Eve, we were ready. Click had hacked into the NASA Santa-tracking satellite and discovered that it was reporting twenty minutes behind his actual location at any time. Cunning old devil had ensured nobody could catch him, but he had not reckoned on extraterrestrial intervention.

Caligula and I were on the roof with crossbows while Click waited downstairs with the fireplace net, the gin traps and the anaesthetic-laced sherry. We let Santa land his sleigh and disappear into the chimney before shooting his reindeer.

That’s where things started to get a bit strange.

Caligula and I both hit our targets but all the reindeer did was turn their heads and stare at us. The one with the big red nose snorted and hundreds of heavily-armed elves poured out of the back of the sleigh. They had lights and tinsel and marshmallows and fluffy clouds and egg-nog and good cheer. They also had submachine guns and machetes.

Caligula curled into the foetal position, teeth bared and fingers extended. I can’t blame him, he is only a child and cannot be expected to cope with marshmallows and good cheer at his age. I reloaded and fired but one bolt at a time wasn’t enough. I could only kebab three at a time so I was soon overwhelmed and lost all the fingers of my right hand to a piece of exceptionally sharp tinsel.

Later I learned that Click had failed to net Santa, who had then cajoled Click with a merry ‘Ho ho ho’ and offered to share his mince pie and sherry. It was over a day later that I actually found this out because Click was sedated and in a drunken stupor when I found him. Santa, apparently, is impervious to alcohol and anaesthetic.

So he escaped with his bolt-proof reindeer and his army of chuckling green-clad miniature monsters. I lost the bet with Senga and had to pay her three gold coins. I did say I was good at haggling, didn’t I? Senga was the only one to get a present from Santa. It was a gold coin. The sarcastic old swine, he must have known somehow.

The bullet-holes in the roof will need sorting out and I’ll make Click deal with the residual marshmallows and tinsel. He can sweep them off the roof. They’ll probably help to keep the Ferals at bay until the swamp swallows them. If it can.

So once more, I have failed to capture Santa. It wasn’t all bad. Santa has to abide by rules like any other supernatural being. Caligula, Click and I had, in his book, been very naughty indeed so the coal we received will heat this place until the spring.

It’s more than three gold coins’ worth at current prices. I think I’m still ahead on the deal.

An army of elves and Kevlar reindeer. I hadn’t considered he might cheat.

You can’t even trust Santa these days. What is the world coming to?

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