A good friend of mine wrote this today in response to my challenge. I LOVE this short story. I know you’ll love it too.
by Teri Green
He sat back and reviewed the punch list for his new office. Naughty or Nice monitors – Check. The displays cycled through quietly-sleeping toddlers, with names displayed underneath in Green. Every so often one would click audibly as a child, who should have been nestled sung in his bed, was shown at whatever activity it was that kept them awake. Wish List printer – Check. Lists were spooling out in the ribbon of paper with name and location listed for each item. This would be parceled out to the warehouse for fulfillment after a quick review for N/N status. The Amazon-Mars red phone – well the phone was here, but the tech was due out later today so better wait to check that off the list.
He traded the punch list for the report from his shop foreman. Fronar was the best, imported from the flagship office, brought here to set up tools, hire help, establish processes and safety standards. Given his experience, you had to take seriously his concerns about the workforce. While on the surface there were a lot of similarities between Elves and Martians. They were both masters of disguise, hiding from populations who did not understand them. They both had a terrible time speaking English, preferring the dialects of their forbearers, and thus requiring the translation modules. The Martians could even wear the standard issue North Pole uniform.
It was the differences that made things interesting. For example, the Elves saw the translation modules as fashion accessories, but you could not get the Martians to keep them on and Fronar was constantly picking them up off of every horizontal surface. The Elves were generally a happy group; willing to work hard and proud of their craftsmanship. They hated it when products had to be sourced through other companies, much preferring to build demand for their products by selling to outside distributors at a reduced rate during the offseason. The relationships with companies like Mattell and Hasbro had proven profitable for both sides for many years.
The Martians, however, did not have a few hundred years of history behind them to fall back on when they lost direction. They were prone to rely on Union negotiation for every little thing. Not that the Elven Union had not been utilized to great effect. Local 1 had managed to get peppermint banned from the cafeteria, and while the wrapping machine was expensive it did save money over the band-aids and paper-cut cream in the long haul. But the Martians were a very literal group. They wanted everything in writing, and they needed rules to maintain order. So, since mediation is spelled out in their union contract, the poor union negotiators have their work cut out for them – and Frodor had to live up to it all. Missing salt shakers in the cafeteria could bring the entire production line to a screeching halt, let alone a little overtime in the build up to C-day. Things taken for granted back home had to be rethought out here.
This brought him to his next agenda item. He had to decide what to tell the motor pool administrator. They still had to decide how he was going to get from base to base and deliver all these toys, once they got past all the labor issues. Reindeer, which had long been strictly for show back home, were useless here as the Reindeer EV-Suits had impeded both running and flying. That did not faze him since he had delivered his wares in everything from a sled to a military bomber back home.
The Rover suited his sense of style, but it was not designed to haul the kind of load that was necessary, and the cabin was open to the elements, or the lack thereof. An all Martian crew would not have any issues, but what could they use to protect the crushable or the combustible products in his bag? They toyed with the idea of putting a dome over the top of the Rover, but Everyone wanted to avoid the inevitable comparisons to the pope-mobile. At least there was no issue of transporting livestock. One thing to crush some toys, but animals had been banned from the wish list since that pony cantered wildly around the ribbon room, spooked by its own decorations. Good thing, too since a lot of kids were asking for actual Martians this year.
He might as well get to it. He heaved himself out of his comfy office chair and prepared to cross the compound. The dome was complete and air tight, but it was bone chilling cold here, so best to add several layers. As he left his office he glanced up at the dark night sky. Earth was not visible from this southern pole of Mars, but he knew it was up there. He needed to be here for the first Christmas on Mars, but since that was close to 2 years away, it would be a long time before he was home again. He knew Nick Jr. was capable of handling everything there, but that did not mean it was going to be easy to be away for the holidays.