10 to 12
The wooden door creaked open and a figure, clad in green, peered through the gap.
“Sir? The guys downstairs are getting fidgety. Are we nearly…”
He let the question hang like the baubles which swayed gently from the tree in the corner of the room. The Big Man, as they called him, was staring intently at one of these sparkling trinkets. No, not at it. Through it, at something only he could perceive. He had been like that for some time.
“Why do I do this, Number One?” he asked.
The elf tried to stifle a sigh and closed the door.
“To bring joy, Sir. It’s the same every year.”
“Exactly,” said The Big Man. “Every year. Millions of toys. Each and every one destined for the land-fill.”
“But it’s for the children,” started the elf, immediately realising his error.
“Is it?” said Santa, raising his voice. “And where do they end up? All of you mortals?”
A pause. He lifted his bulk from his stool and cursed in a language not spoken for millenia, then:
“Ah, what the hell. Once more, eh? For old time’s sake.”