“Rudolph One this is Departures,maintain current heading and climb to 12,000 feet. You may increase speed as required above 10,000 feet, over”. The bus rose at the yoke moved on its own. The voice from the GPS squeaked, “Departures, this is Rudolph One, climbing to 12,000 feet, thanks for your help.” Click “ Now Arwin, now we are at cruising height you can get used to the controls. We have about two hours flying time.“
Arwin tentatively grasped the yoke. Flight simulators and helicopters in SL were one thing, a flying bus, that was something different. Nose level, rate of climb zero,altitude 12,000 feet, heading 356 degrees true on the gyro compass, air speed 400 knots, this was a very fast bus. Time to try a slight turn. Whoooa and mighty responsive, must not over correct, need to keep level. Arwin found that driving the Santa Special was more of an adventure then she had expected.
“Time for me to take over” the GPS squeaked, “We are almost at our destination, this might be a bit disconcerting, most people are not used to vertical landings.” “Vertical?” gasped Arwin, “What keeps this bus up? Magic?”. “Right first time.” Pepper Minstix replied. “Hold onto your hat, we are going down!” The nose of the bus tipped straight down and all Arwin could see was snow, then trees and finally reindeer. As the ground rushed to meet them Arwin fought her panic, only yards from the ground the bus nose lifted and they settled softly down with all four wheels on the snow. “ I think the children will enjoy that.” laughed Pepper. “Though it might get a little noisy.” “And messy”, thought Arwin.
“Time to meet Santa” said the GPS, “Just drive the bus up between the trees and round to the left and park by the workshop.” Arwin put the bus in gear and moved off, as they moved out of the trees she could see some brightly painted houses on the left and a huge barn like building. The sign over the door read 'Santa's Workshop'. Arwin parked the bus, turned off the ignition and walked over to the workshop.
The big main door was closed but there was a really small door by the side of it, only about four feet high, a small sign on it said 'Elves and Visitors Entrance – Please Knock' , which is exactly what Arwin did. The door was opened by an elf wearing green candy cane striped overalls. “Hello Arwin.”, squeaked a familiar voice, “ I am the real Pepper Minstix. Santa used my personality for the GPS, I hope we had fun. Come on in.”
Arwin ducked through the door and looked around. The workshop was brightly lit and hundreds of elves in brightly coloured overalls were building toys, wrapping them and loading them into sacks. On a chair in the centre of the workshop was a bearded, rotund man in bright red overalls. He was holding a clipboard and calling out names and what gift was to be sent. Every now and then he paused, frowned and crossed out a name from his list. He looked up from his list as Pepper tugged his sleeve. “Welcome Arwin, good to see you.” he said in a deep but kindly voice, “I think I may have your name on this list too. Let me see. Ah there it is, under Santa's Helpers. Pepper, can you go and find this present and put it on the bus.” He pointed to the list. “Now Arwin,I have to carry on with the list, I hope you enjoy your present and also have fun bringing all those girls and boys to see me. Pepper will be on the bus to give you some take-off and landing practice until it is time for you to go home.
Still in a daze, Arwin made her way back to the bus. This was a lot to take in, a flying bus, elves, Santa Claus. She wondered just how much she should say when she got back to the depot. They did not know where she was going or how, perhaps this was something that only she and the children that were going to travel on the bus should know. That would save a lot of questions.
Pepper Minstix was waiting for her on the bus, with a parcel bigger then the green clad elf. “Santa said you could open this now.”
Arwin pulled off the wrapping and smiled, Santa had outdone himself, how did he know she wanted this exact bass guitar? But then that was just yet another part of the magic of Christmas.
“Ready for take off?