An Adventurer's Dream

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North Pole Interview 2015

on December 24, 2016

My heart is beating rapidly as I take deeps breaths, trying not to cry. Jack squeezes my shoulder as I stare out at the empty expanse. This has to be the worst thing to every happen to me. My mother is so going to kill me. I’ve lost Pepper in the North Pole.

________________________________

Me: Pepper! Don’t do that! Sorry, George, it’s been a while since he last saw you.

George: * growls *

(I am currently standing the main square of the North Pole, where Pepper is running around George and barking at him. I reach down and pick him up scolding him for treating my friend the yeti so poorly. He quiets down, but I can tell he is still wary of sweet, ole’ George.)

George: * reaches over and pats Pepper on the head while growling *

Comet: * walks up beside us * He says he doesn’t mind. He’s a cute dog.

Me: Comet! Welcome to the party.

Comet: * looks around to see nobody except for me and George * What party?

Me: Well, it’s getting started. We’re all early.

Comet: Whoo! I don’t mind that, then. Where’s Mrs. Claus’s hot chocolate?

Me: Oh, no. None of that for you so close to Christmas Eve.

George: * growls and nods in agreement *

Comet: * pouts as much as any reindeer can * You two are mean.

(I laugh and shake my head. A second later, a snowball hits me from behind and I turn around to see Jack standing on a roof with a huge pile of ammo. I set Pepper down and make a snowball of my own, take aim, throw, and… It melts.)

Me: Jack! No fair!

Jack: * laughing * Nobody said that I had to play fair.

Me: * suddenly stumbling as snow falls on me from above * Jaaaack!

George: *growls and throws a giant snowball as big as my microwave at home *

Jack: * yells out in fear and jumps to the ground *

Me: * smiling * Good one, George!

Jack: * grumbles something * Come on, let’s go get your interview over with.

Me: Sure, Jack. But just know that we’re still going to get you when we finish up.

(I grab Pepper, who has been barking wildly, and turn to the yeti and reindeer.)

Me: Sorry, guys. Tonight is super special.

Comet: How so? How does anything beat saving the North Pole from being destroyed?

Me: I get to see the inside of the toy vault.

Comet: * gasps * Really? Even I haven’t seen that!

Me: * laughing * Well, maybe if we ask nicely, Santa will let you join in.

Jack: * smiling * She managed to talk him into letting me see it. If that’s not a Christmas miracle, I don’t know what is.

Me: I didn’t have to do much convincing, Jack. I think Santa knows he can trust you.

Jack: * shakes his head * If you say so. But, come on, let’s head back over so we can get back and I can totally show you who’s the master of snow. I mean, graciously let you lose.

Me: * rolls my eyes * Neither of those are going to happen. You are going down. I have George.

Jack: * eyes the yeti * Well… You may have a point there.

(We start heading toward the Toy Vault, laughing as walk.)

Me: Santa!

Santa: * envelopes me in a warm hug * Welcome back, Brittany! It’s always wonderful to have you visit. Especially when nothing horrible is happening.

Me: It is a bit more relaxing.

Jack: Just a bit.

(Santa ushers us into the workshop and I let Pepper down as I’m handed a steaming mug of hot chocolate. I take a sip and then look back at Santa.)

Me: Okay, I can’t even pretend to be focused on anything else right now. Can we go to the Toy Vault? The readers are diligently waiting to learn about it. And Jack.

Jack: * nods * I want to see how I can get through that high-class security system you got going there, old man.

Santa: * puts his hands on his stomach as he laughs * You won’t be able to figure that out, Jack. * growing more serious * And what have I told you about calling me old man?

Jack: * shrugs *

Me: * starts walking toward the Vault * Come on, boys. Let’s not bicker. It’s time to see all of those toys.

(Pepper is already at the Vault, tail wagging as he stares at it expectantly. He turns to look at me for a second, whining like he does when he wants a treat. Even dogs know how special Santa’s Toy Vault is.)

Santa: Brittany, why don’t you have the honors? * hands me the key *

Me: * face lights up * Really?

Santa: * nods *

Jack: Come on, hurry up. * pushes me forward *

Me: Gosh, Jack. Patience is a virtue.

(I lean forward and insert the key into the keyhole, feeling a bit like a keyblade holder from Kingdom Hearts and holding the key to a world in my hand. Quite literally. After a moment, I turn the key and push open the door. I walk in to find a huge room, reaching as far as the eye can see and even further. I wonder if it even ends. A string of lights dots the ceiling, shining down on us as if we’re under a spotlight. It couldn’t be more exciting, except for one thing.)

Me: Where are all of the toys? Did you already prepare them for the sleigh, Santa?

Jack: * walking in behind me * Darn it. Someone beat me to it.

Santa: * walking into the Vault, panic clear on his face * This is not a joking matter, Jack. Where are all of the toys?!

Me: Maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe they’ve just been misplaced.

Santa: * face red as he looks around * It’s a little difficult to misplace enough toys to give to the world.

(We are silent for a moment. Pepper is sitting by my feet, tail still wagging as he stares off into the distance. I look over at Old Saint Nick and I’m a bit concerned he is about to go into full cardiac arrest.)

Jack: * breaking the silence * What did you say earlier about nothing bad happening?

Me: Oh, goodness, Jack…

(Santa storms out of the room as soon as the Vault closed behind us. The security box flashes yellow and then beeps to let us know it is locked. Pepper is whining as he tries to wiggle out of my arms and go back to the Vault.)

Jack: * scratching Pepper’s head * He really wants back in there, huh? Too bad there’s nothing fun to look at.

Me: * looking at Pepper curiously * He doesn’t usually act this way, especially for nothing. I wonder if he sensed whatever happened in there. Maybe there was some magic left behind or something?

Jack: I don’t know. But I do know that we’re in a lot of trouble if we don’t find those gifts by tomorrow night. I don’t think any child would be okay with an IOU underneath the tree instead of a present.

Me: Probably not.

Jack: What do you think happened?

Me: I’m not sure. But we know someone who can help.

(A few minutes we are sitting inside of Tim’s office, reviewing security footage of the door from the past five hours – the last time someone had gone into the room and dropped off a load of toys.)

Tim: I don’t see anything out of place. They went it, they left, they locked the door. There’s no other way to get the presents out of the Vault. It’s just as secure as the vault for the Naughty and Nice list.

Me: There’s no other way at all?

Jack: If I’ve learned anything, it’s that there’s always a loophole. Someone’s figured out how to get around security.

Tim: * shakes head * I just don’t understand. There’s no way anyone could have gotten out with all of that. Santa’s bag is still in his room. Unless someone else is using some sort of Christmas magic, it’s just not possible.

Me: And the Ninja unit hasn’t found anything yet?

Tim: * checks his phone and sees no notifications * Nothing at all.

Jack: * lets out a sigh * This is ridiculous. Maybe we should go check the Vault again. Nobody has been in since we left. There could be a clue.

Tim: It’s as good an option as anything.

(We head back to the vault, where Tim unlocks the door. The security box flashes yellow again before the door is pushed open, where we are once again met with the unending room. Pepper is whining in my arms. I sigh and set him down, letting him wander around as I talk with the other two.)

Jack: I don’t feel any frost from the outside. Definitely wasn’t a break-in in that aspect.

Tim: And the door wasn’t broken.

Me: It’s just weird. If there’s no reason that someone should have gotten in, how did everything just disappear into thin air?

Tim: Your guess is as good as ours.

Me: * thinking * Unless… Whoever came in here before us did use Christmas magic to stuff everything into a pocket or something.

Jack: Is that even possible?

Tim: It’s Christmas, Jack. Anything is possible.

Jack: Touché.

Me: * sigh * Maybe we should go check-in with Santa and make sure he’s still okay. I’ve never seen him quite so upset over anything.

Tim: It is a bit of a big deal.

Me: That it is. We only have one day and then Santa needs to head out. What will happen if we don’t make it in time?

Jack: We’ll make it. Don’t worry.

Me: * nods * Yes, we have to.

(I turn around to call Pepper, but notice that he’s disappeared. I freeze in my spot, my heart pounding in my chest as my eyes wander the room. In all the emptiness, why is it that I can’t find him?)

Me: Pepper!

(Only silence greets me and I force myself to take a deep breath. This isn’t happening. I did not just lose my dog in an unending empty room that has been mysteriously emptied of Christmas toys. Mom is going to kill me.)

Jack: * sets a hand on my shoulder and squeezes * Don’t freak out yet. He was just right here. We’ve handled more dangerous things than looking in the Toy Vault for a lost dog.

Me: * trying not to cry * But, but…

Jack: * smiles gently * We’ll find him. Don’t worry. Tim, mind grabbing the Mrs. and Snow?

(A few minutes later, Tim returns with Mrs. Claus and Snowflake trailing behind him. Mrs. Claus hugs me tightly when she sees me, patting my back. She lets go of me and I reach down to pet Snowflake, whose tail is wagging like crazy. She’s still the most adorable white ball of fluff that I know.)

Jack: Mrs. Claus, you think Snowflake might be able to sniff out Pepper? If he disappeared this easily in here, maybe he’s also where the toys are.

Mrs. Claus: * smiles * A good idea, Jack. I am hoping that is also the case. * leans down and pats Snowflake on the head * You heard him, girl. Let’s go find your friend and missing toys. It’s up to you.

(Snowflake barks and starts sniffing the ground. A moment later, she is walking straight ahead. We follow right behind her, keeping together as we roam the possibly dangerous room. After a few minutes, she suddenly turns to the left and starts running. I take off after her, surprised when she jumps into the air and disappears. My eyes widen as I try to come to a stop. My legs hit against something and I fall forward, half hanging off of some invisible wall. And there, on the other side, are Snowflake and Pepper.)

Me: * groans * I found them. And an invisible wall.

Jack: * helping me back up * I bumped into something when we turned this way as well. But it didn’t feel like a wall, more like…

Me: * gasp * A pile of toys.

(I grab the wall I landed on and notice that it’s made of lots of boxes and stuffed animals. Jack and I look at each other with a light in our eyes as Mrs. Claus and Tim catch up to us.)

Jack: The toys are still here.

Mrs. Claus: * giving him a curious look * In all this emptiness?

Jack: Yes. They’re just invisible.

Me: Watch this. * reaches over and grabs both Snowflake and Pepper *

Mrs. Claus: * gasps as the dogs appear * My goodness.

Tim: * smacks his forehead * An entire North Pole full of elves working to create top-notch security to protect everything for Christmas and not a single one of us thought to check the security setting.

Me: There’s an invisibility setting? That’s a thing?

Jack: Apparently. But, in this case, that’s definitely a good thing. At least it wasn’t set to ‘spontaneously combust.’

Tim: No, that won’t ever happen. I made sure to get rid of that function upon installation.

Jack: I was joking about that…

Tim: I wasn’t.

(We head back out of the Vault, our two precious dogs following along behind. Tim closes the door and messes with the security box before opening the door back up again. This time it flashes green. My jaw drops as I stare at the amount of toys filling up the room before us.)

Tim: * cries out in joy * Thank goodness!

Mrs. Claus: Oh, Santa will be so thrilled to learn that everything is fine.

Santa: * from behind us * Saying I’m thrilled is an understatement. I’m ecstatic! How did you all figure this out?

Me: Well, short story, Pepper and Snowflake helped us figure it out. They’re the real heroes today.

Mrs. Claus: I have some good dog treats in the kitchen for the two of you!

Pepper and Snowflake: * ears perk up at the mention of treats as they follow Mrs. Claus out of the workshop *

Santa: * grinning from ear to ear as he looks in the Vault * I have never been so happy in my life. I couldn’t stand to disappoint the children.

Me: Looks like that won’t be happening for a while.

Jack: Thankfully. I want to hang out around here for a little while longer. I don’t need you going out of business, old man.

Santa: Never going to happen, Jack. Now, how about we head back to my house to meet Mrs. Claus and the pups for some Christmas cookies?

Me: I’m never one to turn down sweets. Before we go, I just have one thing to say about the Vault.

(They all turn to look at me curiously as I walk inside the door enough to stare inside and then face them again. A smile lights up on my face as I laugh at the thought in my head.)

Me: It’s bigger on the inside. * laughs *

Jack: * groans and shakes his head * You did not just say that.

Tim: I think she did.

Santa: * laughing * Come on, let’s go and get our treats to make up for all the panic we just went through.

Jack: * throws an arm around my shoulder we close the door and head that way * Some sweets to energize us. And then back to our snowball fight for you to lose. I think it’s a pretty good day, overall.

Me: I would have to agree with that. Except for the losing part. I’m pretty competitive, Jack, and I don’t like to lose.

Jack: We’ll see who’s the better snow thrower.

(I headed back with the team to eat some delicious Christmas cookies and hot chocolate. As soon as we finished, we were back outside and preparing ammo for the oncoming war. Somehow, the entire village was out and joining in on the fun. I managed to hit Jack on the back of the head. He is still threatening his revenge. I finally got home just a little bit ago, just a bit exhausted from the day’s festivities. I will say, I don’t mind there not being any real trouble this year, but I do always enjoy the adventures at the North Pole. Until next year’s adventure… Merry Christmas!)

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