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20 October 2018 @ 08:40 am
Mall Santa II  
Never finished, might someday.

         “No, Ma’am, we don’t suspect anything sexual. We believe the man was a carrier for a disease that, frankly, isn’t very contagious. But we are checking all the children exposed to the suspected carrier just to be sure.” Agent Chris Green wished the NSA had come up with a better cover story. Anything would be better than this ‘Altiplano Fever.’ “The CDC has set up a temporary office and is giving free physicals for the kids, if you are concerned. Here’s the card with their address and the number to call for an appointment.”

         She took the card, a worried crease between her brows. Andrew himself was visible in the small backyard, playing with a big gangly puppy. Orangy-red, the dog reminded Chris of a boxer he had once owned, although this pup looked to be part great dane.

This boy, like all the others he’d seen, looked healthy. My investigation is littered with abandoned inhalers and crutches, two wheelchairs. Fat kids’ clothing. Glasses. I feel like I really am chasing down Santa. We may finally have found one. A real Anomaly, something, or in this case, someone from “Outside.”

“Thank you for your time, Ma’am.” This boy hadn’t had his lollipop ‘specially treated.’ But he did have a puppy, pulled out of nowhere.

Back in the car, Green flipped to his next appointment. A quick five minute drive from here. This is getting weirder instead of getting sorted out.

Kathie Maitland was a chubby little four year old brunette. Her clothes were baggy, and her mother looked worried. “She’s lost so much weight. I took her to Dr. Yama, but he was just pleased, and said to not change her diet, since it was working. I don’t think he listened to me, when I told him nothing had changed. He said the blood sugar test was normal, so not to worry. Not worry! She’s wasting away!”

The girl looked like she had a ways to go to hit average weight, so Green shrugged. “These people will give her a complete physical, and check for Altiplano fever, free. Just call the number.”

A fifteen minute drive into near rural conditions, and Green was given a demonstration of athletic ability by a boy who talked non-stop about how Santa had fixed his muscular dystrophy. His father shrugged, but a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “I can see why the CDC is interested. Since there isn’t a cure. But your ‘Carrier of Altiplano Fever’ dripped some wine on a lollipop, and Davy was feeling a bit better by the time we got home, and he’s improved steadily since.”

“Please call these people, to set up an appointment. We need to figure out what is going on.”

Davy’s father nodded. “Dr. Harrison took blood samples. He’s very excited.”

Back in his car, Green updated his notes. Davy went into both the ‘treated lollipop’ column and the ‘extreme improvement’ column. Katie had gotten an ordinary lollipop, and lost weight. Andrew had been healthy before and after and had a puppy. A bunch of kids had improved allergy symptoms – as in completely gone – a few had reported cleared up asthma, eczema, acne, tiredness, near and farsightedness gone. One boy with a genetic degenerative eye problem was completely cured. That had really disturbed the CDC. But they couldn’t get a doctor near him, the father had a whole law firm on speed dial. Apparently a very good one. Cancers were gone, diabetes gone. Two cases of spinabifida much improved and still ‘healing.’ The doctor Green had spoken to had said the cells of the region were reverting partway to stem cells and then following the developmental path they ought to have followed as fetuses. Eight students from a special program for Downs Syndrome children had visited Santa. The three the doctors had seen so far had no obvious external changes, but at the cellular level, the children had lost the extra chromosome. One heart problem had disappeared. They’d be watched for years.

He looked at his watch. Two more calls then he was done for the day.

Lakisha Larkspur was a change from the other children. Sullen and unhappy.

“It’s her teeth.” Her mother fussed around the girl. “She always has had problems with her teeth. Two fell out last week and the big teeth coming in are making her more miserable than a teething baby. I thought about taking her to the dentist, but what can he do? All he does is complain about me giving her too many sweets.” She tsked. “I thought we’d finished with all the teeth, so maybe Doctor Sparrow’s right. I don’t pay enough attention.”

Which got Green his opening about Santa and his lollipops. And the CDC’s physical, which he was sure could be extended to a dental exam. Free.

“Princess eats all my nightmares, just like Santa said. She’s a Special Puppy.” Margarite beamed proudly at the lanky dog. Blue merle, they called the color, a splotchy gray and black. White markings, short hair, great dane and something else. Perhaps german shepherd, her ears were trying to stand up.

“She’s a very good looking young pup. You are lucky to have her.”

Her dad grinned at that. “I was horrified, myself. But she’s been a very nice girl, housebroken, scold her once for anything and it never happens again. She’s got a repertoire of tricks that has to be seen to be believed.”

Margarite proceeded to show off Princess’s tricks. She pointed her finger and yelled “Bang!” The puppy flopped down and rolled belly up. Then jumped up for a “High Five!” Fetched things by name. Opening doors to get some of them.

Green eyed the puppy. Four months old maybe? “That’s impressive.”

He added notes about the puppies to his records. The three he’d seen had been welcome members of their human family. He was beginning to hope he’d find one looking for a new home.

He was halfway home when his cell rang. “Green? We’ve found Santa’s Elf.”

cnmckenney on October 20th, 2018 03:05 pm (UTC)
Heh, heh, heh (EVIL)
Bureaucrats running around waving hands and screaming "They sky is falling". A joy to behold. Only thing better is watching crowds of them getting pink slips.
ekuah on October 20th, 2018 05:54 pm (UTC)
Never finished, might someday.
Please please,
pretty please.
Mike WeatherfordMike Weatherford on October 20th, 2018 06:09 pm (UTC)
I loved "Mall Santa". I would be happy to see another short story in that series. I can just envision the CDC having cats and kittens, trying to find out what's going on. Personally, I could use a dose of "Altiplano fever". They're not a cure, but your stories cheer me up more than most.
(Anonymous) on October 20th, 2018 07:07 pm (UTC)
Miracle on 34th St.
Was Eldon watching classic movies?
Can you get USPS involved to authenticate him?
What will he do with all the letters?
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on October 20th, 2018 07:54 pm (UTC)

Got me to reread Mall Santa

Eldon is gone - the story is about the ripples.

Perhaps the dog decides Green should marry the (green) elf.
(Anonymous) on October 21st, 2018 02:15 am (UTC)
Thank you. That made me smile.
(Anonymous) on October 21st, 2018 02:19 am (UTC)
Cross breed hell hounds without Michael. Hm. What can GE dogs do, besides be loyal and smart?
(Anonymous) on October 21st, 2018 03:04 am (UTC)
Among other things, cause any bitch to come into season, including bitches that have been spayed. I don't know if that generalizes to treating human problems or not. Pam???
matapampamuphoff on October 21st, 2018 03:38 am (UTC)
One of the rules I laid down for the series was that Smart Horses and Hell Hounds were still horses and dogs, and that they would use their brains and magic to succeed at the sorts of things that are important to horses and dogs.

For dogs, taking good care of the pack's human members, especially the young ones, is high on the list. Food and sex are right up there as well. And chasing things that run away.
(Anonymous) on October 21st, 2018 08:24 am (UTC)
Ooh, what if this world ends up acquiring a few of the next generation for Police dog training (not to mention how they'd do as seeing-eye dogs or in other related roles like support of the elderly)?
(Anonymous) on November 13th, 2018 09:17 pm (UTC)
With their medical abilities, they would probably tend to work themselves out of jobs as Service Animals.
(Anonymous) on October 21st, 2018 09:18 am (UTC)
So what happens when they analize doggys genes? Will doggys need rescuing? Can they call on the God of Spies or the Dark Lady if their family is in trouble? Or does Q see an anomaly vfrom Eldon s visit and come looking? Perhaps with her apprentice Crimson?
(Anonymous) on October 21st, 2018 10:01 am (UTC)
They're *Hell Hounds*, obviously their prayers would summon _The God of Just Desserts_... ;P
(Anonymous) on October 21st, 2018 09:27 am (UTC)
I went to have look at Smugglers Ring but it's gone, like several others that you might be starting to worknon.. What stories are still on livejounal?
matapampamuphoff on October 21st, 2018 11:36 am (UTC)
Amazon's gotten strict about giving away what they are trying to sell, plus checking for copyright infringments, so I've removed a whole lot of stuff, so I don't forget (again!) to remove it before publishing. These are a few things that are still up:

Not Fallen https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2015/10/06/

Martian Exodus https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2016/02/22/

Alignment https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2016/11/29/

Outlaws of the Solar System https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2016/12/11/

Zombies https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2017/02/03/

The Wild Boy https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2017/02/23/

Oscar and Bran outtakes https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2017/04/29/

Ghost https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2017/08/15/

Space Marshal https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2018/02/15/

Stone https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2017/11/08/

Dwarves and Witches https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2018/02/02/

Marooned (I think the first two bits are hidden in Space Marshal) https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2018/04/04/

Gates of Hel https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2018/06/16/

Wizards of High Valley https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2018/07/13/

Crux https://pamuphoff.livejournal.com/2018/07/18/

Edited at 2018-10-21 12:09 pm (UTC)
matapampamuphoff on October 21st, 2018 12:10 pm (UTC)
With most of the WotGs stuff gone. Sorry.
(Anonymous) on October 21st, 2018 12:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying, and thanks for the links.