T’was the Night Before

“Were the heck did you put my magnetic boots and anti-gravity belt?” the big man asked in a booming voice.

The smaller man quivered under the vibrations from his companion.

“Uh, I sent the boots out to be re-soled,” he said. “And, your belt is in the locker, back behind the big bag where you always keep it.”

“Oh, yeah,” the big man said. “So it is.” He retrieved the belt and wrapped it around his ample middle, over the bright red flight suit. “When will my boots be ready?”

“In plenty of time for your flight,” the small man said. “You worry too much.”

The big man wheeled on the smaller one, glaring down at him. “Are you criticizing me?”

The little man backed away, his hands rubbing the front of his green tunic. His conical technician’s hat was askew on his oversized head.

“N-no, not at all,” he said. “It’s just that we go through this every year. You forget where you put your belt, and you do so much walking on these missions, we have to re-sole your boots every time. But, we always have everything ready for take-off, you have to admit. When have we ever caused you to miss a launch window?”

“Well, I suppose . . . ,” then the big man snapped his fingers. “There was that one time, remember? Back when the humans were trying to get to their nearer satellite. You techs were so busy monitoring them that you almost forgot to get my ship ready.”

“Okay, one time in how many thousand cycles? Besides, you still got off on time.”

“Oh, sure; got off on time, but the image generator and cloaking device malfunctioned, and I almost got a ground-to-air missile up my backside from that bunch of humans near the northern pole of their planet. Then, I got chased by that other bunch, in some little toy airplanes that could have caused a bit of damage if I hadn’t been able to outrun them.”

“Sorry, boss,” the little man said. “You’re right. We did almost blow it that time. You should have been here monitoring the conversations on their primitive communications systems, though. They nearly gorked out over you. Put you down as a UFO; that’s a human term for unidentified flying object.”

“I guess it was funny,” the big man said. “But, it wasn’t too humorous when they were chasing me. Our prime directive is very adamant about that. We’re only to come into contact with the immature humans. The fully mature ones’ minds can’t handle our presence.”

“I know, boss; but, don’t worry. All systems are ‘go’ this year. This mission will be a snap.”

“Let’s hope so,” the big man said, then laid a pudgy finger against his large red nose. With his free hand he scratched at the snow-white beard that covered his lower face. “I’ll be glad when it’s over, though. This beard scratches my face. I’ll be glad when I can cut it off for a year.”

“Yeah,” the little man said. “I don’t envy you that. Glad I don’t have to grow hair on my face. By the way, what are you leaving the little humans this year?”

“Heck,” the big man said. “How do I know? Logistics packs the darn bag and gives me a pad with directions on what to leave where. Whatever the latest human fad is; that’s probably what most of it is.”

At that moment, another small tech in green entered the control room, carrying a large pair of black boots.

“Hey, Santa,” he said. “Your boots are ready, and better than new. Better put them on; you only have half an hour before launch.”


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