EP138: In the Late December

Nebula Award Nominee!

By Greg van Eekhout.
Read by Stephen Eley.
Closing Music: “Chiron Beta Prime” by Jonathan Coulton.
First appeared in Strange Horizons, December 2003.

They come to a cloud of silver mist, and there Santa finds a little boy made of molten silver with liquid silver eyes and sweeping silver delta wings. His wrists are ringed with missile launchers, and a rounded cone emerges from a cavity in his chest. Once there were many silver boys, fleets of them, protecting the outermost parts of inhabited space against things that came from outside inhabited space. But now, there is only the silver boy.

“You, sir,” the silver boy says, “are a tiresome consciousness cluster. Your binary value system remains as laughable as it is irrelevant. How you manage to remain cohesive is beyond me.”

“My value system is hardly binary,” Santa says. “In between naughty and nice I’ve made room for you: grumpy but fundamentally sound. Do you want a toy or not?”

Rated PG. Contains some dark Santa-related imagery, and the heat death of the universe.