“So how can I help you?” asked Doodlefig.
I replied by telling him how I was tracking down Cameo and how he had turned everything black and white. Initially Doodlefig was concerned “All my coloured pens are shades of grey now, too”, but I pointed out that what I really needed was a way into capture Cameo – and to turn the machine off.
“Because of the problems I had with identifying roads from rivers, I managed to crash and lose plenty of radio controlled drone planes” I explained. “Fortunately, Sandra’s friend Claire had a radio-controlled helicopter with a super strong video. Apart from agreeing that she would fly the helicopter – because I kept breaking mine – we’ve started a sweep of the wooded area and I think we’re close. Of course, getting there quietly will be a challenge, unless….”
“Unless I draw you a way through.”
A shout from outside brought everyone outside, and Claire pointed at the large TV monitor. In the centre of a wooded area was a large object with a big red button and the words “Wham!” on a screen. As Claire panned back, the hut also came into view.
“That’s where Cameo is – Steven, can you draw the hole please?”
Within an instant, they stepped through and were in the woods. After a couple of minutes of checking where they were and that everyone was OK from the experience, WPC Sandra instructed four policemen to surround the cabin whilst the rest of us returned to the machine. We looked at the device, trying to see if there was an off switch, but apart from that red button there was nothing.
Sandra looked under the machine. She could see the main computer, shielded with a heat wrap so that it would remain cool whilst it worked… and it was there she saw a small loop of a red wire, poking out from the edge of the metal case. With nothing to lose, she got out her scissors and snipped the wire.
Nothing happened… at first. Then we heard the sound of a fan starting to slow down. The screen started to flicker before it started to display information that looked like a diagnostic check. We saw the words “Over heat” and we immediately ran into the canopy of the woods. I couldn’t help but peer round the tree to watch the screen. The screen went blue, with the message “EXCEPTION: CORE OVERHEAT. SHUTDOWN IN 5… 4… 3…” the screen went black and instantly colour started to flood back into the world.
A couple of other policemen that were with us immediately ran back to the machine and started to rip it apart, so that it would not be able to work again – just having the machine as evidence was enough. Sandra, Steven and I then made our way over to the lair.
“But I can’t guess what’s inside” said Steven. “I can’t just guess!”
“Well, you’re going to have to” replied Sandra, “I don’t think he will be coming out any time soon.”
Steven thought about it, then drew a door. He opened it and they walked through – and into Cameo’s office. Cameo was surprised to see them suddenly appear and shouted at K9 to attack them. But K9 didn’t. He had only been programmed to be friendly and helpful, so he continued to behave in his predictable manner.
Cameo started to get up, but Doodlefig was quicker and drew a small cell around Cameo. He was caught!
Cameo explained that he was fed up with everyone being so different from moment to moment, how one minute people were friendly, the next they might not be. He was fed up with people not waiting their turn and just pushing in… unlike the old black and white films he had seen where everyone was nice, and things were just so… “Black and white?” answered Sandra.
At that point, I had to conclude my work. I explained to Steven why I was there and that I had to decide whether they should be on the Naughty or Nice list. I had decided that whilst Steven had been bad, it was with the intention for doing nice things to others, so he could remain on the Nice list, but that we would be monitoring him for the next ten years.
“Hang on” said Cameo, “You say there’s a list and that you decide who is Naughty and who is Nice. Well, here’s my take. Irrespective of why he did it, that man did a bad thing – he should be on the Naughty List. As for me, I don’t want to be on the list. How do I unsubscribe?”
“You don’t unsubscribe” I answered.
“Well, how does that work?” replied Cameo. “You decide whether someone is good or bad, based on your opinion and perception of their behaviour, and there’s no way to unsubscribe OR plead your case! I bet you’ve already decided which list I’m going to be on – and yet I’m sure I can explain how I’ve just made the world a better place for people!”
I thought for a moment. “That is quite a quandary and in part you’re right. There are times when we have to carefully think about a person’s behaviour – what they did, why they did it, and what they thought they would achieve. That’s why we have so many departments checking the lists. Some people have unsubscribed from our list – they didn’t actually unsubscribe, they just stopped believing in Santa and his list. But you didn’t do this for anyone else, you did this for yourself – and it didn’t work.”
“Talking of didn’t work” replied Cameo, “I’ll tell you something else that didn’t work too – this cell you drew me into. The ink is still wet, and I’ve smudged a hole I can escape through!”
With that, Cameo ducked through the broken bar and ran outside. He leapt onto the Skidoo and it jumped into life when he pressed the button. He instantly started to drive down the hill. Sandra saw the skis and knowing the area reckoned that she should ski down as quickly as the Skidoo – but told Steven to draw a hole in the Town square – because that was where Cameo would be coming out from the hillside.
The colour was now returning to the trees and the village. Stephanie and Mike were standing outside the café, drinking what they were thinking looked like hot chocolate, when the colour returned… as did the taste. “Eugh!” Cried Mike, “I’ve over sugared this!” Stephanie pointed at Mike’s jumper. “I thought you had a patterned jumper on” she said. “But it’s crumbs and Tomato Sauce from the burgers we had!”
“Oh grief!” exclaimed Mike. “I guess just being in Black and white was a good thing! But your top does look pretty though!”
“It’s just a shame it doesn’t match the shoes and handbag!” laughed Stephanie.
We stepped out into the Town Square. Steven had carefully made sure that the hole came out somewhere not obvious which I was pleased about – having us walk out into the centre of town would have raised so many questions.
Looking round the square, we saw an ice sculptor at work. Steven watched him for a while and then went “Aha!” and got out his pens. In an instant he had drawn three more sculptures – and placed them where Sandra had said Cameo would be coming out. And she was right.
“Watch out!” cried Cameo. He tried to avoid the sculptures, but instead caught the kerb stone and was flung from the skidoo. The skidoo crashed into the town’s Christmas tree, and Cameo landed by our feet. Steven immediately drew a pair of handcuffs around Cameo… and blotted the ink dry.
Sandra skied to a stop by us. “Well, that’s that sorted” she said.
Cameo smiled. “Well, there’s plenty to keep the town courts busy – but now I know I don’t have to believe to be on the list I don’t believe in Christmas, I don’t believe in the Naughty and Nice List and I don’t believe in Santa… so all your work is for nothing! Ha ha ha!”
Sandra looked at me. “I wouldn’t say it was for nothing – not for us anyway. Thank you.”
I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around. The first thing I saw was a sleigh, with a brown bag on it. Then I saw the Black boots and red trousers… I didn’t need to look any further.
“Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas!” cried Santa. “We had heard about the case that Wodge was working on and we have been following it with great interest because it was just so unusual. I agree with Wodge’s decision regarding you Steven, but you must stop drawing in that way. But here’s a small present of new crayons for you.”
Santa proceeded to give gifts out to everyone – new skis for Sandra, a new Seaplane for Mike (with apologies that we broke the last one), a new computer for Stephanie with a box of mechanics and electrics so she could work on her robotic arm project and gifts for everyone else. Then Santa turned to Cameo.
“Well, I know you’ve been a naughty boy, so you know that you’re not on the Nice list. You can work to go back onto the Nice list… but, oh, you don’t believe in the list. In fact, you don’t believe in Santa either! But of course, now you’ve met me, and you will watch that sleigh ride up into the air as I begin my evening job of distributing presents around the world. So now you must ask yourself… do I believe in Santa? Well, do you?”
At that point, Granny Smith appeared. “I heard Santa was in town” she said, “So I baked some cakes”. Mike took one look at the cookies. “You do know that we have colour back in the town now – I think you over baked them; they’re burnt black!” Granny Smith looked saddened. “But it’s the thought that counts” said Mike, “and I think with all the events it’s easy to forget how things should look. Come over to my café, and have some of my cakes – and have a hot chocolate too. On me. All of you!”
“Thank you” said Santa, “but I’ll have to pass – plenty of things to do tonight! Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas!”
With that, he got onto his sleigh and it zoomed off into the night.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my Christmas report. I hope that you’ve been good this year and that Santa stops by your house; I wish you a very happy Christmas, and hope that 2018 brings you fun, happiness and new adventures.
From all at Frog’s Pad, from Wodge, Stephanie, Mike, William, Sandra, Claire, Steven, Granny Smith, Santa, K9… and Cameo… merry Christmas!
Claire with the controller for the radio helicopter
A Christmas tree
The ice sculptor with a circular saw
The ice sculpture