Read Tracy Tam: Santa Command Online

Authors: Krystalyn Drown

Tags: #Christmas, #Santa Claus, #holidays, #snow, #North Pole, #middle grade, #science fiction and fantasy, #Chinese American, #ethnic, #diverse book

Tracy Tam: Santa Command

BOOK: Tracy Tam: Santa Command
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Tracy Tam: Santa Command

 

Krystalyn Drown

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The author makes no claims to, but instead acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the word marks mentioned in this work of fiction.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Krystalyn Drown

 

TRACY TAM: SANTA COMMAND by Krystalyn Drown

All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by Month9Books, LLC.

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

Published by Tantrum Books for Month9Books

Cover illustrated by Zach Schoenbaum

Cover and typography designed by Victoria Faye

Cover Copyright © 2014 Month9Books

 

For Kristi

Tracy Tam: Santa Command

 

Krystalyn Drown

CHAPTER ONE

 

Santa Command—Control Room 8

December 24th

2300 hours

 

The twenty-foot view screen was filled from corner to corner with one horrifying image: a brightly lit fireplace! A box popped up on a bottom corner of the screen, listing worst-case scenarios. It named everything from blistered feet to a flaming Santa.

Phil spoke frantically into his headset, sending Artie the order for an emergency Snow Drop. Artie, one of the techies on the lower level of the control room, grabbed his controller and began tapping buttons like he was fighting a boss on a video game. Except at Santa Command, there wasn't a restart button.

“This shouldn't have happened,” Walt scolded. He reached in front of Phil and tapped out a string of commands on Phil's keyboard. The chances of Santa catching fire rose with each passing second. 23%. 48%. 76%.

Beads of sweat formed on Phil's forehead, but it was nothing compared to the heat he would feel if he messed this up. “Heat signs for the entire block were negative. I don't know how I missed it.”

Walt folded his arms across his rather large stomach. He was like Santa's evil twin, making stops in each of Santa Command's control rooms whenever his beeper warned him of an emergency. Instead of bringing presents, he brought demotions and demerit points.

“How long?” he asked.

Phil spoke into his headset. “Rose Street Camera. Knot of Giant Oak. Pull back. Show me the sky.”

A girl on the lower level punched a few buttons. The picture on the view screen rushed backwards, pulling away from the Tam's living room window and up into the star-filled sky. There was nothing else to see, not even the moon.

“Where is it, Artie?” Walt's normally rosy cheeks turned purple. The sleigh was on the roof. The big guy was two paces from the chimney.

“It's coming!” Artie shouted up to them.

“Not fast enough.” Phil rubbed his temple. A headache was starting to form, and he couldn't think straight. He scanned the screen, back and forth, up and down.

Santa stood by the chimney with one foot raised in the air. His eyes were glazed over, oblivious to the smoke rushing out of the chimney.

“Come on. Come on. Come on!” Phil drummed his fingers on the desk. “There!” He pointed to the upper right corner of the screen. A tiny black dot had appeared, and it was quickly approaching.

“If he doesn't make it–” Walt warned.

“He'll make it. I'm not losing this Santa.”

Phil held his breath as the black dot grew closer, revealing itself to be a large bird, not a real one, but close enough to fool the humans. There was a tan, leather bag clutched in its talons.

The man in the red suit lifted his leg over the chimney edge. The smoke touched the heel of his boot, then parted around it. The man didn't pause. He wasn't programmed to.

Phil buried his face in his hands. That type of mistake would certainly mean demotion and possibly the loss of his job.

Walt slammed his fist onto the control table. “Look!”

Phil's eyes popped back open. He caught his thumbnail between his teeth as Artie's remote control bird soared over the chimney top and dropped the white fluffy cargo down the hole, exactly one second before Santa hefted his other leg over, tossed a handful of yellow dust over his head, and dropped down the chimney.

“Rose Street Camera,” Phil said in a nervous whisper, “show me the Tam living room.”

The camera panned down to the window and showed Santa arranging presents around the twinkling tree. The fireplace was covered with a soft, white substance that would soon evaporate, leaving no trace it had ever existed.

Phil leaned back in his seat, running his hands back through his short, curly hair. He had saved his tail. This time.

He glanced at the calendar on the wall. Six months until he had enough money for his vacation. He'd been saving for years just so he could spend a month in Hawaii surfing, kayaking, and mountain climbing.

Walt's beeper went off again.

Of course.
Phil sat back up. The relief never lasted long on December 24th.

Walt pointed to the bright red words that scrolled across the top of the screen. “Phil, we've got movement upstairs.”

“Is it a parent?”

“Negative.” Walt pressed a button, and several lines of green text appeared in a box at the top left corner of the screen.

Species: Human

Height: 4'9”

Age: 10

Speed: Slow

Destination: Appears to be the staircase

Phil smiled. This was why he'd been chosen to lead Control Room 8. He knew kids, and he knew how to distract them. He'd seen a lot in his years at Santa Command, and he'd once calculated that four out of ten children tried to catch a glimpse of Santa on Christmas Eve. Whether the kids sneaked out of bed, slept in the living room with one eye open, or hid in the chimney, he had a scenario for them all.

Phil spoke into his headset. “Rose Street Camera. Tam's Pine Tree. Give me the second story hallway.”

One of the techies made the adjustment. The view screen switched from the living room to a dark hallway on the second floor.

“Night vision, please,” Phil ordered.

The techie touched a key on his keyboard, and a night vision lens slid into place on the camera. The hallway was now lit in a green glow. Phil could clearly see Tracy Tam creeping past her parents' bedroom door. Her bare feet made no sound in the plush carpet, and she was careful to side step the jingly toys her kitten left scattered everywhere.

“Hm,” Phil said. “Neatly brushed hair. No wrinkles in her pajamas. She's been waiting up, most likely reading a book.”

“Seems pretty routine.”

“Affirmative.” Phil called up another camera, asking for the new shot to be displayed as a smaller video in the corner of the screen. The hallway was still the main focus, but the corner screen showed the rooftop where eight tiny reindeer stood eerily still. He flipped a switch on his headset and transmitted a message to the ear buds worn by each reindeer. “Time to change.”

Even though Phil had seen the transformation thousands of times, his mouth still dropped open in amazement. He knew enough about cameras and technology to create the appearance of magic, but these guys had the real thing. In less than an eye blink, the deer had shrunk out of their harnesses and morphed into their true forms—Inklings. About six inches tall with sharp brown features that made them look like they'd been carved from a tree, they were what most people mistook for elves. But they were so much more than that.

Sasha's squeaky voice chirped into Phil's headset. “Tell me this is gonna be fun.”

Phil suppressed a laugh. The Inklings were tricky little buggers and cherished the one night of the year when their magic wasn't restricted to sneaking around as birds and squirrels, taking notes for the naughty and nice list. If they were judging themselves, they would make the naughty list every time.

“How about Diversion Scenario #3?” Phil suggested. Code Name: Wake up Mom.

Sasha cackled into the headset. As the tiny creatures dropped down the chimney and into the living room, Phil had the cameramen follow them so he wouldn't miss out on any of the fun.

Sasha started small. She and her team raced up the stairs, pausing at the very top. She motioned for the rest of them to stay back while she slunk into one of the shadows to retrieve a purple cat toy. It looked about the size of a bowling ball in her arms, and that was exactly how she used it. With perfect timing, she rolled it under Tracy's heel just as the girl passed her parents' bedroom. Tracy slipped and landed on her back with a soft thud.

“Oof!” she cried.

Her mother's sleepy voice drifted into the hallway. “Did you hear that?”

Tracy sat up straight and, with wide eyes, glanced back to her bedroom. It was only a few feet behind her.

That's right
, thought Phil.
Go back to bed. There's nothing to see downstairs.

Sasha's pointy face twisted into a frown. Many times, a small noise was all it took to send the kids scrambling back to bed.

“It's probably Santa.” It was her father's voice this time. “He usually comes about now.”

“Yeah,” her mother said. “I bet you're right. I hope he brings that microscope Tracy's been asking for. I couldn't find it online.”

“Mmm,” her father said. “Go back to sleep. We'll see in the morning.”

For a long moment, Tracy didn't move, but when no further sounds came from her parents' room, she stood up, brushed off her Superman pajamas, and resumed her creep toward the stairs.

“Uh oh,” said Phil, even though he knew the first attempt only worked half the time. Quickly, he thought up another scenario. “Sasha, go for the snowflake.”

Sasha nodded. She made a few hand motions to the seven Inklings behind her, and they moved into the hallway, arranging themselves in the Snowflake Position, each of them hidden in a dark corner of the hall. Time to amp up the game.

Tracy inched forward.

Sasha mumbled to the others. “Wait for it. Wait for it.” Then, when Tracy stepped into the sweet spot, the center of the “snowflake,” Sasha raised her hand into the air. The Inklings each pointed one finger toward Tracy and shot out a very low dose of magic, slightly chilled. To Tracy, it would have felt like the air conditioning flipped on and a breeze shivered across her skin. Cold, but not alarmingly so. Enough to send her scurrying for the warmth of her covers.

BOOK: Tracy Tam: Santa Command
10.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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