[wrote this back in 2004, back when AOL was still hanging on to their subscription model]
It’s almost midnight, and I’m watching the red and green lights next door through the amber prism of the last third of a fifth of scotch. It makes for some pretty colors.
Suddenly I hear a noise from my kitchen, and my .38 clears the holster before my bunny slippers hit the floor. One can’t be too careful these days.
Of course I recognized him–Alfred Hitchcock silhouette, Jerry Garcia beard, and a fashion sense all his own, running to red velvet and white fur. In so much as a three hundred pound man can sneak, he was sneaking across the tile from my front door.
I click on the light and leaped into the room. “Freeze!” I shouted. Sometimes the cliches are best.
I thought he was going to jump out of his mukluks. The sack hit the floor and his fingertips brushed the ceiling. Good reflexes for an old guy.
“All right, buddy, what are you doing here?”
“Ho, ho, ho,” he stammered, “Don’t you know who I am?”
“Yeah, I recognize the outfit. But maybe you didn’t see the mezuzah on my front door?”
“Uhhh, I came in through the chimney?”
“Nice try, fat man, but I don’t have a chimney. So what’s in the sack?”
He seemed shocked that I would even ask. “Toys, of course! For all the good little boys and girls of the world?”
I wasn’t impressed. “Yeah? So what are you doing here?”
“You’re a good–”
I shot him a look and he shut up. “Let’s just see what’s really in the bag.”
“No! You can’t–”
This time the barrel of my .38 stared him down. He fell silent, and I hooked the sack with my foot. It was damned heavy. I waved the gun.
“You just step back a little, Nick.”
He obeyed, looking scared, and not just about my gun. I peeked inside the sack, and saw something that froze my blood, despite my earlier doses of Canadian anti-freeze.
It was full of AOL disks. There were enough CDs in the bag to infect half of the world’s computers. I jumped back, horrified, and the fat man hit his knees, sobbing.
“I couldn’t help it!” he cried, “You have to believe me– it’s Case. He’s gone mad. He kidnapped Prancer, he says… he’s going to have a reindeer barbecue for all his tech support staff if I don’t deliver all these!”
I lowered my gun. This poor shmuck was no threat– he was victim. The real villian…
I’d tangled with Case before, but I never dreamed he was capable of this kind of madness. I looked down at the whimpering Scandinavian at my feet.
“Get up, you big lunk,” I snarled at him, “We’ve got work to do, you and I.”
His eyes shown with tears. “You mean…”
I holstered my .38 and went looking for my shoes. “We’re going to get your reindeer back. And while we’re at it, I’ve got a personal score to settle…”
“Oh, thank you, Mr. Maccabee!”
“Call me Judah.”