Santa had a lot of catching up to do on recent Australian history and politics.
After the economic collapse of Sydney, due to excessive council corruption and growing Bogan race riots that led to mass looting, a state of emergency was declared that had never been lifted. Refugees flooded the ACT leading to the unexpected election of the Collective Party, that stood on the platform of Canberra for Canberrans (later amended to ACT for the ACT – when it was discovered that most Canberrans were not actually born in Canberra). They oversaw the break-up of the ACT into self-governing collectives, that led to significant cross-city migration and house-swapping. The Christian Collective of Wanniassa had been the first to attract large numbers of suburb-swappers, followed by the Motorhead Movement of Monash, the Real Estate Collective of Red Hill and the Complacent Collective of Cook.
Then things picked up pace until the whooping cough epidemic broke out in Lyneham, leading to inner-north suburban violence between the vaccination-haves and the vaccination-have nots, a movement of capitalists south of the lake and socialists north, and strictly enforced socio-economic testing of inhabitants seeking to live in particular areas. If you’d ever had the slightest leftist tendencies, and didn’t subscribe to Fox news, you would never be allowed to live in Deakin or Yarralumla.
The biggest change happened when the Australian Parliament decided to teleconference rather than sit, and sold the Parliament House off to developers for luxury retirement flats. That was followed by more battles over access to lake views, swimming pool rights and Malls losing their neutral zone status as surrounding suburbs claimed them.
Government departments remained in the increasingly dysfunctional ACT, as the only State or Territory where a majority of land had not yet been sold off to China. Most public servants worked from home, and played out their suburban biases in competing policy documents. The few remaining actual government department buildings were mostly relocated to the airport precinct, after its flight operations closed when air travel, petrol engines and farting cows were all outlawed under the 2020 international climate change reduction summit, that was held on that bit of the Indian Ocean that had formerly been known as the Maldives.
After that Black Mountain Tower and the Carillon and major galleries were sold to Dubai to use as theme park buildings. And Civic, long a neutral zone, was claimed by the homeless and the suburb-less, leading to it becoming a dangerous badlands of Canberra. The security agencies employed by the Government let it alone as their resources were stretched just capturing illegal immigrants from the surrounding states, and the Government was too preoccupied trying to placate the conflicting demands of the suburban collectives.
“Australia should have abolished the states a long time ago,” said Ned Kelly. “I’ve always said it would lead to trouble.”
“No, you didn’t,” said Captain Cook. “I seem to remember that you were always agitating for an independent state in north-eastern Victoria.”
“An independent republic!” said Ned Kelly. “Something entirely different!”
Santa held his hands up. “I think we can argue about that later. It is very important that I get back to my Reindeer – wherever they are. Australia is one of the first countries in the world and there are a lot of other countries I have to get to this evening.”
The young girl shook her head. “I thought most of the world didn’t believe in Santa anymore? What with the North Pole finally melting and the anti-consumerism movements in Europe and North America?”
“Well – it is true,” he said, “That numbers have been down a little in the past few years, but there are still those who do believe in me, and it’s vital that their belief is proven to be valid.”
“How many still believe?” she asked.
“Well let’s put it this way,” he said. “I used to just visit those who believed, but they became so few that I decided rather to visit children in order that they might believe.”
“Yes, it’s all about belief,” said Captain Cook. “That’s why we need to get back to the ruins of the National Museum of Australia. If we are away from it too long we will cease to exist.”
“What do you mean?” asked the young woman.
“Well,” said Captain Cook. “You would be aware that over the last decade there has been considerable revision of the Australian curriculum and anybody that might be considered a dead white male has been thought to have had their time in the limelight, and needs moving aside for other figures, once forgotten or overlooked.”
“And so now we are being forgotten and overlooked,” said Ned Kelly. “It’s like Santa there. If people don’t know us, or don’t believe in us, we don’t exist, see.”
The young woman shook her head a little. “This is proving a much weirder evening than I ever thought it would be.”
“And I suspect it is only going to get weirder,” Santa said. Then he looked at her carefully and said, “Angie, isn’t it?”
She looked surprised. “How did you know that?”
“I remember you asked for a DNA science kit for Christmas when you were 12,” he said. “But then you stopped believing.”
Angie stared at him for some moments and then said, “You really are Santa? Not just a nut-job?”
“That’s me,” he said.
“And these other two?”
“Genuine too,” he said. Then, “Welcome back.”
The moment was broken by the harsh noise of a helicopter and a bright searchlight scanning the trees around them. “Let’s go,” Angie said. “Quickly!”
Craig Cormick is an award-winning Canberra author who has published over twenty book of fiction, non-fiction and short-fiction. His awards include the ACT Book of the Year, a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award and a Victorian Community History Award. His most recent book Uncle Adolf won a 2015 ACT Publishing Award. For more information on Craig and his work check out his website at www.craigcormick.com
Part four will be published on the site tomorrow.