Part 4

After catching her breath, Julia stood up and looked around. Unlike the last building she had been in, this one was richly decorated. Photographs covered the walls: There were people in costumes, people building props and sets, and people operating cameras. Julia walked by a glass case full of awards. “Best Student Film,” “Best College Production.” “Award for Excellence in Theatrical Arts.” She continued down the hall, where there was another display case, full of colorful costumes and an old fashioned film camera.

Suddenly, she heard a muffled voice coming from the end of the hall. She walked closer and started to make out words.

“...haven't got all day come on...camera...any minute!”

Julia arrived at the end of the hall and stopped at a door. The voice was coming from the other side of the door, “We've gotta move, let's go, let's go!”

Julia opened the door, and she was outside again, in another plaza. To her left was a short man with a beret, smoking a cigarette, sitting behind a camera with a film crew bustling around him. He was shouting orders, “Pick that up, get the mics ready, come on! We've gotta get this moving! Where is that kid? She was supposed to be here already. ”

“Excuse me sir,” Julia said.

The man turned around to look at Julia and said, “Finally, geez, takin' your swell time are you? Hey wait a sec, you're not the kid.”

“Sir, I need to find my class. I'm lost.”

“Look kid, Santa's gonna be flyin' in at any minute and I need to direct this scene.” He checked his watch and turned to the film crew, “Where is that other kid? She's gonna miss the scene!” The director looked up at the sky and said, “Great, too late.”

Julia looked up above and saw something flying in the sky, barreling down towards them. It looked like a comet in the distance.

The director, who was now visibly nervous, turned to Julia and said, “Hey, what's your name?”

“Julia.”

“Julia, nice to meet you. Hey, would you mind doing me a favor? Santa's gonna land in just a few seconds. All you've gotta do is say that you want a pony, got it?”

“I want a pony?”

“That's right, you'll be fine, here he comes. Ready, and ACTION!”

It was a magical sight. The comet-like object grew bigger as it came closer. It was Santa's sleigh, drawn by several reindeer. Just when it looked like they were going to crash into the building, the reindeer jerked around and landed as gracefully as they could in the plaza, pulling the sleigh behind them, which bounced a couple times. Sitting in the sleigh was none other than Jolly Old Saint Nick himself.

“Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas!” he said as he stepped out and waved to Julia, who stood motionless. After the director gave her a nudge, she finally stepped out into the plaza to meet Santa.

“Why hello there, what's your name?”

“Julia.”

“Merry Christmas Julia! Now, what would you like for Christmas?”

Julia completely forgot her line, in utter awe of what she had just seen. Instead, she asked what was on her mind, “Are-are you the real Santa?”

Santa frowned and responded, “Why of course I'm the real Santa, but really, what would you like for Christmas?”

Her mind still blank, she said, “I-I-I want to know what I want to be when I grow up.”

Santa, frustrated, looked at the director and said, “Come on Jeff, that's not in the script.”

“Cut, cut, cut!” The film crew stopped rolling, and Jeff got out of his director's chair.

“Sorry Mr. Claus, I lost the other kid and I tried to fill in with a replacement at the last minute, and...”

“Jeff, do you know how hard it is to pull off a landing like that?”

“I know, I know, I'm sorry.”

“We're gonna have to do this scene all over again!”

“Again, my apologies Mr. Claus. Hey, why don't we forget about this scene for now, and just move on, ok?”

“Look Jeff, I've got over 2 billion kids to deliver presents to next week, and there's a heck of a lot of preparation involved. I don't exactly have all the time in the world.”

“I know Mr. Claus, I know...”

“You want some bearded phony doing this instead?”

“Please Mr. Claus, it really wasn't...”

“Well, do ya?”

Jeff shook is head. “No... no of course not.”

“Good. You know, you are very, very lucky to get the real Santa for this film. Just letting you know.”

“I know Mr. Claus, I know.”

Santa then walked away to consume some milk and cookies at the snack table.

Jeff sighed, “Man, that guy's got a lot of nerve. Not as jolly as the stories make him out to be.”

Jeff proceeded to light another cigarette and said, “So what was your name again?”

“Julia.”

“Julia, I'm Jeff Thompson, Professor of Film. You can call me Jeff. What are you doing here on a university campus this time of year?”

“I'm here with my class, trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.”

“Ah, I see.” Jeff took a puff and responded, “Ever thought about film?”

“No.”

“Well, I can only speak from a director's standpoint, but the biggest thing for me is the ability to tell stories. Not just any stories though, stories that captivate and transport your audience to another world. Stories that capture the imagination and influence the emotions in a way that no other medium can. That's film for you.”

He checked his watch and said, “I guess the other girl isn't gonna show up. Wanna have another crack at it Julia?”

“A crack at what?”

“Do you wanna try another scene? This next one's real easy. You just gotta follow Santa around. He's gonna show you his toy shop, and you've just gotta look like you're surprised and amazed the whole time. Got it?”

“Oh okay, yes I think I can do that.”

“Great, let's do it then. Hey Mr. Claus, we're ready to do the next scene when you are!”

Santa, still at the snack table, turned around to face them, his beard speckled with cookie crumbs. “Does the girl know her lines?”

“There ain't any lines in this scene.”

“Oh, right. Okay, let's get this over with.”

Santa walked back out to the plaza, which was completely covered in snow. There was a large candy cane in the middle.

“Aaaaaand ACTION!” Jeff called out.

“Ho-ho-ho. Welcome to the North Pole, Julia! And now, let me show you my workshop.”

Santa pulled the giant candy cane like a lever, there was a big burst of pink smoke, and a large wooden building appeared out of thin air, decorated with Christmas lights, with a sign in front that said, “Santa's Workshop.”

As Santa led her inside, the film crew followed closely behind. There were elves all around, working furiously, stuffing teddy bears, making toy cars, and assembling dolls. All the toys were getting passed along on a complex network of conveyer belts.

“My elves work day and night to ensure that the best toys are delivered to children on Christmas Eve. It's quite hard work but they're up for the challenge. Let's go this way, I'll show you where the big toys are made.”

Julia continued to follow Santa, which was difficult since there were so many elves running around, obstructing her path. “Excuse me! Watch it!” they shouted. One of them rammed into Julia, causing her to lose her balance. She fell and hit something hard.  A siren went off and red lights flashed. She stood up and looked at what she had landed on. It was a control panel with a large, red “emergency stop” button. All of the conveyer belts were jammed and smoke filled the room.

One of the elves ran up to her and started frantically pushing buttons and pulling levers, “No, no, this workshop isn't designed to stop right in the middle of full production, what have you done, what have you done!”

The sirens continued to ring, then a voice rang out on an intercom, “Code Red. Evacuate. Evacuate. Evacuate.”

Over the alarm, Julia heard Jeff and Santa arguing nearby.

“What's going on, you said your workshop was fully functional!”

“Of course it's functional! How you dare you question my elves' workmanship! You should be grateful I didn't make you travel all the way up to the North Pole to film it!”

Suddenly the elf at the control panel turned around and yelled, “Get out! She's gonna blow!”

Julia didn't have to be told twice. She ran out of the workshop as fast as she could. A sea of elves scurried around her, screaming, “She's gonna blow, she's gonna blow!” Finally Julia got outside, saw a stone bench at the far end of the plaza, ran behind it, and crouched for cover.

There was a loud explosion and pink smoke filled the lawn. When the smoke cleared, Julia peeked over the bench and saw that there was nothing there.

The End

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