I finally got another crack at Cringle. It seems that American Intelligence couldn’t get anything out of him so they released him; with a tail. The young spook assigned to tail Santa was easy to spot, probably just out of Quantico and still wet behind the ears. After dispatching the agent, I tracked Claus to this bungalow in Southwest Guam, about 12 miles from A. B. Won Pat International Airport.
Home and studio to Giselle, one of Guam’s most celebrated whores, the modest cottage is nestled deep in the forest, away from most civilisation and curious eyes. Constructed of locally grown, rough hewn wood, the hut looks as though it could fall over from its own weight at any time.
Cringle’s craft is parked outside the hovel. I ready the Semtex with an altitude triggered detonator and slowly, quietly make my way to the sled. I probably needn’t have been too concerned about stealth, considering the sound of things going on inside the studio. “HO HO HO”, with each “ho” the hut shakes a little, shingles flap and bits of roof thatching shed with each impact. Giselle must have been a very good girl this year, Santa’s giving her a lot of presents.
“HO HO HO”, Clause is still at it. Only ten yards from Clause’s ride, the reindeer are nowhere to be seen, no matter. Five yards away, I hear something, well of course I’m still hearing “HO HO HO” bellowing from the bungalow, but there was something else. I freeze in my tracks and drop to a crouch. Looking, scanning all about, nothing. “HO HO HO” I’m standing at the foot of the sled, one more look around reveals nothing out of place. Just as I get on the ground to plant the bomb, something sinks it’s teeth into my bum, and I swear I hear “Let’s get him!”.
Twisting away from my attacker, I smack my hand against the bottom of the sled, dropping the bomb in the tall grass. Laying flat on my back, I see a reindeer the size of a moose standing over me, blood dripping from it’s maw. Granted it was just a regular size reindeer, but from that angle it looked huge. “HO HO HO HO”, Santa’s on his way. “Dancer’s got him pinned, let’s finish him off”, again, I swear this came from one of the reindeer. I scamper underneath the sled, emerging from the front as the rest of the herd congregates at the rear. The reindeer, while vicious and somewhat intelligent, are duds when it comes to strategy.
Reindeer are also terrible tree climbers, so I figure my best strategy is to hightail it back into the woods and up my tree stand. From there I’ll be able to pick off the bloodthirsty ruminants with the crossbow I have stashed there. With my last ounce of energy, I clamber to the top of the stand. Catching my breath, I see the pursuit has broken off. The HO’s have ceased, instead I hear Cringle calling “Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder and Blixem, where are you guys?”.
Through the scope on my crossbow, I’m just able to see the sled between the trees. Cringle harnesses the animals to the sled, One reindeer, Dancer I imagine, licks the remaining blood from it’s face as it stares in my direction. Santa bids adieu to Giselle. About to climb aboard his ride, Clause spots something in the grass behind the sled. Picking up the bomb I dropped during the scuffle, Cringle looks it over, then looks in my direction, disarming it, he tucks it into his coat pocket. I guess I’ll be getting coal in my stocking this year; if I’m lucky.