Arwin found that driving the 'Santa Special' was more of an adventure than she had expected...
Pulling the bus out of the garage, she noticed snow was starting to fall. "GREAT... Snow... Just what I need." The sun was just starting to come up in the distance. She quickly got on the interstate and headed north. She day dreamed what the BONUS would be. "fa la la la laaaaaaaaa la la la laaaaaa" sang softly in the background. She grumbled....
As Arwin sipped her hot chocolate and day dreamed about the BONUS... what she would SPEND the money on... she was sure it was money... a thought crossed her mind. She started calculating the distance up route 180 and 8 in her head... It was well over an hour since she had left the station and she calculated the time SHOULD be a LOT longer. Had the dispacher miscalculated the time it took to get to the orphanage? Maybe she heard him wrong.
She didn't have time to ponder her calculations any longer. The snow was falling a LOT more now and it was getting harder to see the road. The bus had been easy to drive. It seemed to drive itself. Like it knew where to go.
As she squinted to see the road ahead of her the snow began to disapate. The road up ahead cleared and she saw a building in the distance as the road came to an end. One hour and ten minutes! That MUST be a record. She brought the bus to a stop with ease. It stopped right in front of the sidewalk of the orphanage. A "NORTH ORPHANAGE" sign was near the gate of the sidewalk entrance. She looked for the key to turn off the bus but couldn't find one, so she just left the bus running. "I sure hope we have enough gas to get back," she thought. The door of the bus opened by itself... like it KNEW it was at it's destination. "Get hold of yourself Arwin... You're just imagining things."
Walking out the door she gazed at the orphanage. It was a bright colored building... Red... Green.. Gold.. Silver... It looked like Christmas! Of COURSE it did! The gate swung open with the breeze as she walked up to it. Through the windows she saw a dozen or more little faces. Beady eyes watching her every move, then disappearing as she approached the door. She didn't even have time to knock...a large woman dressed in red (of course) opened the door. "Ahh... I'm here to take the children to see Santa?" She found herself saying. "The children are ready," she answered. "I'm supposed to see a Mrs. C. Laus," Arwin stated. "I am she," she answered with a big smile on her face, as she led the way to the sitting room.
All of a sudden Arwin felt the floor shake under her feet... Loud noises rang out... and Arwin had 50 children crowding around her. "Children... Children..." Mrs. C. Laus said. "Let's give... erm... your name please???" "ahh... Mz Elf Lane," she found herself saying with a shrug, thinking of the guys at the garage. "If you can't beat'em... join'em," she thought. Mrs. C. Laus let out a giggle and told the children to give... Mz Elf Lane some breathing room, and the children moved a away... a little.
Arwin looked closely at the young faces... ALL with happy smiles grinning at her and ALL with a hundred questions. "You gonna take us to see Santa?" "When do we leave?" "Is there a bathroom on the bus?" "Can I sit in the drivers seat with you?" That one caught Arwin off guard. She looked to see who had asked that question. Looking down, Arwin saw a little girl pulling on hers...erm.. tights. "Can I sit up with you?" Asked the little girl again. "Ah.... well... erm.. no... It's a--against company policy," Arwin said. The little girls eyes looked down in sadness. "But... You CAN sit in the seat right behind me if you want." The little girl looked up eyes beaming.
"OK children... Grab your letters to Santa and backpacks and lets load into the bus. We have a long journey ahead of us," said Mrs. C. Laus. "YAYYYYYYYYY" The children yelled in chorus as they made their way out the door and through the gate into the bus. Arwin made sure the little girl was in the seat right in back of hers... as promised. After making sure all the children were buckled in their seats and closing the door... Arwin took her position in the drivers seat. "This is going to be a LOOOOOONG trip," she thought as she pulled out of the driveway and onto the road.
The children seemed to get louder with the anticipation of seeing Santa. Arwin could hardly think. She had reached that part of the road where that dense snow cloud was and she could hardly see. The bus handled the road o.k.. but she was sure she'd drive off the road if she didn't concentrate. "Please children... I need some quiet so I can concentrate on the road," she found herself saying at the top of her lungs. They didn't seem to hear her. She wondered how she could get their attention. The brakes grabbed... the bus chugged and coughed... she was sure it would stall. With the jerk of the bus the children grew silent! Now she needed to KEEP them quiet. "Maybe if you tell them a story?" asked Mrs. C. Laus.
A story... Arwin hadn't told a story in years. She used to love telling her little neice stories...but... that was before the accident. No time to think about that now..the children were waiting. She nodded to Mrs. C. Laus and the children all grew quiet. You could hear the hum of the bus and Arwin realized that the radio had stopped playing that confounded Faaa laaa laa la laaa song.
"Once upon a time there was a bus... A very special bus. A bus with... magical powers!!! It lived at the North Pole with Santa and the elves. One snowy Christmas Eve, Santa went to check on his reindeer. To his suprise they were all in bed with a cold! Even Rudolph! "How will I EVER get the toys to the children this year," asked Santa to the head elf? "Maybe you can use the Santa Special," said the elf. "Do you think it can make the trip," asked Santa? "I'm sure it can Santa... we've updated it with all the latest gps and navigation. We've even given it some SPECIAL features," said the elf. "Would you like to see?" Santa nodded and off they went to check out the Santa Special. They reached the garage where the Santa Special was. It was a fine bus... all decked out for the holidays in bright yellow. The elf showed Santa all the SPECIAL features... the extra bright lights... the glowing tires... the extra room in back for all the presents. The door opened and Santa had a seat in the drivers seat. It was a pretty standard dashboard with all the latest gadgets the elf had mentioned. A bright red button was positioned in the center of the stearing wheel. Santa thought it was the horn. "No Santa... THAT button makes... the bus FLY!" "HO HO HO," said Santa, "Of course it does. I won't be able to deliver the toys quickly without being able to fly. Good job... I think this will do."
The little girl sitting behind Arwin yelled out... "Let's pretend THIS is a flying bus." The children all yelled yes.. and Arwin agreed. "Is the bus ready for take off children," Arwin asked. "All presents loaded and labeled ma'am," said the little girl. Arwin chuckled as the little girl saluted. "O.K." Arwin beeped the horn... and the bus slowly lifted off the ground. "Get ready for a grand adventure everyone!"