“Your name isn’t-,” Santa interrupted his raspy voice with a wet cough. The two women in front of him, Dana Sharp, and her assistant, Melody, waited patiently at a distance for him to finish. He took a deep breath once he was done coughing, then continued. “Your name isn’t on my list at all,” Santa said.
“That’s why we’re here,” Ms. Sharp said. “We’re not from your Earth. Your elves managed to establish contact with the elves of a Santa that works for Sharp Development. You’re sick this year, but it’s not December on every Earth. I have several Santas available to fill in for you. It’s only right that you choose one you’re comfortable with.” Santa’s heavy breathing filled the warm, cozy bedroom.
The large man was in bed under mounds of blankets. The sound of the fireplace crackling added to the sweet and cinnamon aromas coming from the kitchen. He tilted his head at Ms. Sharp.
“What do you mean, ‘one I’m comfortable with’?. I’m no stranger to magic, so I’m willing to believe your story about being from another Earth. But, if there’s one of me there isn’t he the same?” Ms. Sharp shook her head.
“Not necessarily. That doesn’t always happen with standard Zeros, and you’re something else entirely.”
“Zero?” Santa asked.
“Zero is a quicker term than, ‘doppelganger’, and it conveys more meaning in the context of the multiverse.”
“I’m not a Zero? There are other Santas on other Earths, what else is there?”
“Much more,” Ms. Sharp said. “As for what you are, I think I like the word, ‘Myth’. Santa Claus does not exist on every Earth that has the legend. On some Earths, like this one, humanity’s belief in that legend sparks you into reality. You’re as singular as a Unique Soul, but you still have-,” another coughing fit from Santa interrupted her. She waited until he was done.
“If time isn’t the same across all Earths and there’s a robot version of me. If I can suggest it, I think it would be easier to cure me so I can do the job myself,” Santa said. Melody giggled to herself while Ms. Sharp smiled.
“Your suggestion is noted, but you’re wrong in assuming it would be easier. I have seen it all and the one thing I’ve learned is that magic and technology don’t mix very well together,” she said. She paused to think for a moment, then continued. “Truth be told, that’s terrible wording. The problem is they mix together too well. I can deliver technology that will heal you within an hour,” she nodded. “But, the caveat to that is I need about a month of prep time to study your magical aura. One tiny mistake may produce the most random and unforeseen consequences. But, going forward it would be a good idea for you to join Sharp Development.” Santa chuckled to himself.
“Are you offering me health benefits?” he asked. Although he was joking, he was pleasantly surprised when Ms. Sharp nodded.
“You don’t have to do it alone every year. And, I’m not asking you to abandon your elves; they would get upgraded to better facilities on the North Pole server. They’ll produce higher quality toys with less stressful quotas. They’ll also be in contact with the elves of other Santas. At the same time, you’ll have access to the knowledge and experience of hundreds of Santas. You don’t even have to be ill to take a Christmas off one year. It’s as easy as calling in a substitute if you’d prefer to spend your holidays with the Mrs. I know, I do,” she added. Out of the three people in Santa’s bedroom, only the two women knew how uncharacteristic that last comment was for Dana Sharp.
Melody’s pale face blushed crimson, but she did not react otherwise. Ms. Sharp realized what she said unintentionally, and decided it was a sincere thought on her part. Ms. Sharp went to great lengths to keep her business and private life separate. The fact that her assistant was also her wife made that endeavor much harder. But, Melody was there supporting her at every step. She tried to maintain a professional attitude at all times for Ms. Sharp, and she mostly got it right.
Maybe it was because of the time of year. Maybe it was because they were standing in the center of Santa Clause’s magical existence. But, for one brief moment, Dana Sharp felt comfortable letting her personal life cross over into her business life. She took a single step to the side and grabbed Melody’s hand. Melody inhaled sharply and entangled her fingers in Dana’s, but did not say a word.
“After all,…” she continued. “I’m sure we both love our wives very much.”
“Okay, I’ll choose a substitute, and I’ll join Sharp Development,” Santa nodded with a rosy-cheeked smile that became a hacking cough.