The tank of sharks edged closer to my head. One wore a bib and circled. The man dressed as Santa, but most definitely not Santa, laughed. His Santa suit looked dirty and worn and had a darker, almost blood-red tint. He also sported no beard and had no jelly belly. But he looked old enough to play the part.
The press named him Santa Slays, even though reports show he hasn't killed any of the children he kidnapped. Sally told me they wanted "Slays" because it would get more likes and shares.
I'd tracked him down to an old abandoned toy factory. He'd been pretty easy to find thanks to my dog senses; and frankly, the guy stank—I mean, really badly, like booze and vomit and like he hadn't showered in the last twenty years.
"Can we hurry this up a bit," I said. "I've got a Christmas party to get to."
I image Sally was checking her Omni-Cuff holo-clock and tapping her foot. She was also probably miffed that I ducked out on helping her put up the decorations. But to be fair, the nanobots did most of the work. I'd have to remember to print up some flowers for her before I got back. Maybe even pull some strings and get backstage passes to the Taylor Rapids concert.
I wouldn't be surprised if her boss was making passes at her. He thought I didn't know about his crush on her, but it was pretty obvious.
Brain and Danny were probably arguing over the correct words to some Christmas song. Brain would mention all his research; he probably even interviewed a couple people. Danny would mention how good his memory was. Danny might not remember what day it is (probably something to do with all those blows to the head playing football) but he could remember music lyrics.
Bandit, my talking dog, was most likely talking politics with the Jefferson's cat in between sneaking bites of turkey and lapping up punch. Besides being cheaters at poker, cats tend to lean more to a monarch-like government where leadership is passed based on bloodlines. Dogs tend to lean more towards a government based on merit where through hard work (and by challenging the boss) you can become the leader. And don't get them started on taxes. Cats think everything belongs to them while dogs are happy with the "table scraps."
"Kids these days," said the Slayer (another name BTW) interrupting my thoughts, "always in a rush. Can't even appreciate a good deathtrap. Why in my day superheroes sat quietly and listened as the villain gave his backstory."
"Oh no,"I groaned, "not the backstory. I"d rather be thrown in with the sharks."
"It all started Christmas Day forty years ago. All I wanted was a red firetruck. I'd been a good little villain. I stole the stop sign from the corner and caused a five car crash. I cut the pigtails off the girl who sat in front of me. I even vaporized the sidekick of the local hero with my very own death ray."
"I'm really regretting having superhuman senses," I said.
"But on Christmas morning, did I get a red firetruck? No. I got a green one."
"Seriously? I would have given you coal. Actually, I would have given you a prison suit, but that's not important."
"I got teased by the other minions. Who get's a green firetruck?" He wiped away a tear. "Henchmen can be cruel." He straightened back up and fixed his Santa hat. "Now I kidnap kids and ransom them for gifts. To make up for the one gift I never got."
"You do realize you're an adult now and can just buy one."
"That's not the point! Santa ruined my Christmas and now I'll ruin his name! The name of Santa Claus will be feared throughout the world! Mwah-ha-ha-ha!"
I wriggled a bit and swung the chain back and forth in order to dodge the shark that just leapt out of the tank trying to get me. "Kind of surprised he isn't feared already. Some guy breaks into your house in the middle of the night while you're asleep? He's always watching you? And he decides if you've been good or bad? Who's he to judge us?"
Santa Slays spun in a circle making his robe bellow out. "Finally, someone who get's it." He looked down at his fist. "Dogboy, you understand. Join me and together we..." He looked back up, but all that was left was the dangling chain. "Where'd you go?" I tapped on his shoulder and he spun around. "How did you escape?"
I held up my dog paw-hand. "I have razor sharp claws that can cut through most anything. Duh."
Santa Slays' shoulders drooped and he looked at the ground. "I suppose this means you'll be taking me to jail now."
I tilted my head to the side in confusion. "We're not going to fight?"
He stretched his back; I heard a crack noise. "Are you kidding me? I'm in my fifties. Fighting hurts. Why do you think I made a deathtrap?" He sighed in defeat. "I'll take you to the kids then you can arrest me."
"Wish all my cases were this easy."
It wasn't long before the police arrived to take Santa Slays into custody. The abducted kids ran to the loving arms of their parents or guardians. In some cases, siblings joined in the celebration. My purple cape fluttered in the cold, winter wind and I was thankful for my fur covered body.
"Thanks, Dogboy," said the officer helping Santa Slays into the patrol vehicle.
"Hey," I said to Santa Slays. I tossed a small, red firetruck into his lap.
His eyes fell to the object and then he looked back up at me. His eyes were watery and his smile spread across his face. "You did this? For me? How?"
I pointed to the building behind us. "It's a toy factory. There was a whole room filled with them."
He sniffled. "Why?"
"Even villains deserve a merry Christmas," I said.