Christmas was rolling over the globe like a tsunami, engulfing large cities and small, countries and continents.
Some people were meeting it joyfully at the Christmas dinner, others — at the workplace and without any joy whatsoever. There were even those who were sleeping serenely, not perceiving this night as an occasion for fun. Downtown was brightly lit and crowded. Young people were in a hurry to hang out together, children were admiring the fireworks and burning sparklers, grown-ups were breathing fresh frosty air and stretching their legs before visiting another friendly family.
No one was paying much attention to three Santa Clauses, dressed in red. The coats were obviously too big for them. It was a familiar sight — Santa Claus, hurrying to bring joy to as many kids as possible on Christmas Eve. Heavy bags on Santas’ backs didn’t raise any questions either as their contents were expected to make so many children happy.
The only thing that could somewhat puzzle passersby, was why these three venerable elders were striding together.
Some cynics even assumed that they were cold and decided to get warm by heading to the closest bar. The three reached the crossroads and stopped. Santas turned to each other, nodded their heads, then turned around and went in different directions with a sure step.
The tallest of them turned into a dark backstreet and soon approached an old apartment building. Santa Claus looked around, then carefully opened the door and disappeared into the darkness. Inside, he stood still for a moment, listening closely. Silence… It seemed that the ground floor residents had already finished celebrating and quietened down. Relieved, Santa lowered the bag on the floor and took a small flashlight out of his pocket.
He came out a few minutes later, just as quietly, and closed the door behind. Then he made sure that the door was safely locked and took a breath of relief. Santa fished out a small cylinder from the same bottomless pocket, came up to the wall, and swiftly made a few strange swings with his hand. The movements were accompanied by a slight hissing. Having completed these weird manipulations, Santa Claus slung his bag over his shoulder and quietly slipped out of the building.
After getting back on the street, he checked the list, designed a new route, and vigorously started walking down the street. Suddenly, a popular Christmas tune began to play loudly. Santa Claus jumped with a start and grabbed his pocket. He fished out his cell phone, almost dropping it at one point, and answered the call. After hearing someone’s quavering speech, he visibly turned pale and said in a breaking boyish voice, “I’ll be there in a moment. Hold on!”
It was hot at the police station. A girl, named Jade, was accompanied by two boys. They were all dressed in red Santa Claus style coats, and stood in front of the officer’s table. All three were sweating and sniffing their noses. Duty officer Stephens was examining the detainees in astonishment. Actually, only the girl was detained, two boys came by themselves, apparently to rescue her. These children seemed rather well-off. Why were they doing this then? Were they not getting enough presents? That seemed unlikely… Or was it a way to show off? The puzzle pieces were not falling into their places.
“Well, my dear, are you going to tell me why you were doing this? Or should I call your parents?”
“No, don’t call them! Please!” gave up a chubby boy whose face was sweaty from the heat.