The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
And he wasn't...Santa Claus. He was something far beyond a children's fairy tale.
Jimbo sat at a nicely handmade table, hewn from the trees about them, and shaped into something resembling a mushroom, but with six seats about it. He sat next to Mrs. Santa Claus and Samuel and Nanny next to Mister Santa Claus.
Mrs. Santa Claus had that same ageless beauty that suffused Santa Claus, but with a more down home feeling to it. Her whole presence was tidy, warm and friendly, like a favorite dog or cat, or couch. Something you just knew you'd never feel bad on or around.
The small child they had seen earlier was squeezed between Jimbo and Santa, as everyone was beginning to think of them, because they had no other way to describe them that didn't include they know what you are thinking. He had all white hair as well and eyes that seemed to be on fire all the time with an enthusiasm that was remarkable for one his age. His fingers were deft and quick, his mind even quicker. He had a tendency to knit his eyebrows together when he concentrated and his lips would pout.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Jimmy." Mrs. Santa Claus said to him, jumping up to go through the rounded doorway into her tiny kitchen and come back quickly with a salt shaker. "Your salt."
"But I didn't ask..." He let it go. This had happened continuously for about an hour now. He'd think something..."
"And I know." Mrs. Santa Claus told him with a wink and a twinkle in her eye.
"Okay." Jimbo finally asked out of exasperation. The idea of someone diving into his mind uninvited was beginning to worry him, if not irritate him.
"You want to know how I do it. Right?" She asked.
Santa smiled at her and she smiled back. "A little birdie told me."
Samuel suddenly realized what the tiny black thing was that was nestled in her snow white hair. He had thought it was some kind of ornament, but when it unruffled its feathers, and cocked a black eye on him, he almost choked on the slice of bread he had been eating.
Nanny pounded his back and he stopped coughing, but instead began laughing over and over.
Jimbo glared at him. "Uh, this isn't funny."
Samuel wiped at the tears in his eyes. "He's telling the truth, Jimbo. She does have a little bird talking to her. It's right in front of your eyes."
Jimbo looked over at her, but saw nothing. "Oh. Invisible friend, right?"
Samuel stopped laughing. "Sorry, Jimbo, I thought everyone could see it."
Nanny glared at him too. "I can't either, and I usually do."
Mrs. Santa patted her arm. "Deary, you're still a young soul, you can't be expected to see everything...yet."
That got Nanny even more mad. "I resent being talked down to!"
She started to get up.
Both Samuel and Jimbo held her down.
"Okay. I'll stay, but all this spiritual mumbo jumbo is starting to get to me..." She froze at her words. She swiveled her eyes to look at Jimbo. "I'm starting to be you!"
Jimbo laughed. "Happens to the best of us."
Santa and Mrs. Santa laughed.
The child, a young boy of about the age of ten, set a piece of cloth he had been shaping in his lap next to Nanny. "Like it?"
Nanny forgot her anger when she saw the tiny Christmas tree. "It's beautiful! How'd you do that?"
"With love." The boy answered with a straight face. "Mommy shows me how to do it every day. I've been getting better. Do you like it?"
Nanny looked at him more closely. "You've asked me that two times. Why?"
"Denny is special." Santa told her, his eyes solemn. "He knows how to shape the future."
"Don't we all?" Nanny laughed, thinking he was being companionable, not serious.
Samuel looked at the tree more closely and he could see Nanny, Jimbo and himself climbing inside of it, following a trail of cavernous tunnels, pursued by something indefinable. He gave Denny a startled look. Denny looked him in the eyes. "You like it?"
"I'm not sure." Samuel answered. "It doesn't look like a future I want to experience."
Mrs. Santa put a hand on his. "Honey, it's not the future that is, but the future that could be."
Santa nodded. "Denny's gift is more of a warning of what the future will become if we misstep or take the wrong direction."
Jimbo set his napkin down. A handmade cotton like material that never lost its crispness, no matter how much he folded it. "Don't you think it's time you told us who you people really are?"
Santa smiled. "Friends."
Mrs. Santa nodded. "Oh so true."
Denny smiled at them and grinned like the little child he appeared to be. "Friends we cherish."
One moment the happy family was seated there with them, smiling, then they were gone. The home around them vanished. The furniture was all that was left. It sat beneath a towering tree and a soft mist of rain was drizzling between the leaves and beginning to wet them.
They got up from the mushroom table and it too vanished.
"Well, at least they didn't just dump us on the ground." Jimbo admitted reluctantly.
Next to the huge tree trunk, their back packs lay neatly stacked. A basket of bread and fruit sat next to them, with a note on top.
Nanny ran over and read the note. "We hope you'll enjoy this little gift from us. And remember choices are never final, there's always another door that can be opened, and we love you from the bottom of our hearts."
She looked up at them. "Signed Mister and Missus Claus."
Jimbo shook his head. "No, I refuse to believe it. Just a legend. A myth."
Samuel looked to his right were Al and Marilyn were dancing a slow waltz. Al looked over and shook his head. "Al doesn't think so."
He looked back at Jimbo. "Neither do I."
Nanny came back. "What now?"
"We rebuild our tent and wait for the morning."
So they pulled out the tent from Jimbo's backpack and slung it together. They were so tired and worn out by the time they finished, they could barely crawl into their sleeping bags.
As they lay there Jimbo said. "Notice the temperature here remains perfect, no matter what the time of day or night? Like it's controlled somehow."
"Noticed." Samuel answered with a yawn. "Did you also notice that the trees talk?"
Jimbo laughed. "Sammie, please no more stupid jokes!"
"I'll second that." Nanny said with a whimper of a yawn. "I just don't understand why I'm so tired all the time down here. I never feel entirely rested, and yet I feel more clear than I've ever been."
"It's the vibration of the place." Samuel explained. "It's very high."
"If it's so absurdly high." Jimbo demanded. "Then why did that ship blow up? Sounds like some contrast is going on."
"I believe so too, Jimbo, and I think that's what the warning was about. That everything is not what it appears to be."
"Then what is it?" Nanny asked, stiflying another yawn.
"Some kind of test maybe." Samuel commented.
He propped himself up on an elbow and looked at his friends. "I remember Al telling me once that the people who live down here are of such a high vibration that anything negative around them turns on itself and destroys itself."
"Like that ship?" Nanny asked.
"Yeah. Like that. But then that beggars the question of how the ship could even exist here at all, as they were obviously accustomed to having control of this territory."
Jimbo yawned loudly, then sat up, awake again. "That would mean this so-called hollow earth is more than it seems. Maybe divided up."
"Or shared." Nanny added, getting excited herself.
Samuel nodded. "But the question in my mind is why the more advanced civilization would allow the negative one to exist in its own space."
Samuel was about to say more, when he noticed Al squatted near the door, shaking his head. "It's not about one or the other, Sam, it's about learning."
"Yeah. But what?"
"Who you talking to?" Nanny asked, confused by Samuel's sudden turn in conversation.
"His invisible friend. " Jimbo explained. "Who else?"
Nanny threw herself back down into her sleeping bag and shut her eyes. "You two just blow my mind. I can't keep my head straight around you. Good-night."
Jimbo lay back down too, but he wasn't sleepy anymore, not any more than Samuel, who had stopped talking and lay down as well.
"Do you think that ship was Nazi?"
"Yeah. I do."
"Then that would mean that they built an empire down here."
"Sad, but true."
"That would also mean that one day they might emerge again."
"I don't think we can fight something like that."
"Won't have to."
"How you figure that?"
"When have we ever been in any fight where the odds were in our favor?"
Nanny stirred. "Will you two spiritual war heroes shut up, a girl needs her beauty sleep."
Samuel and Jimbo shut their eyes, but neither one of them slept very well that night. Especially after they heard a sound similar to the one made by the earlier flying ship and a great shadow passed by and a spot light speared the ground not even ten yards away.
The blogged novel "Shasta Caper,"is the second of two novels I've written about Samuel Light. The first novel, "The Angel Files," is available now at Amazon now for $2.99.
Sam is a detective who specializes in helping people with supernatural, occult, or spiritual problems.
Sam is given the toughest case of his life: discover the identity of a mystery girl that both he and his partner have fallen for, who the mysterious military organization that is after them is, and what in the heck is a hundred foot tall angel doing in the middle of Area Fifty One.