Tracing the path of the broadcast was nearly impossible, since the analog transmission of data was no longer understood, like trepanation, leeching and supply-side economics. Not a single byte of meta-data, no sound, just a garbled hazy image flickering in and out.
The transmission medium itself was ancient. In fact, we nearly missed it. The random sweep we used to calibrate our instruments is what caught it. That particular wavelength hadn’t been used, or even monitored, in decades. The retrotech needed to move data in this fashion would have to be built from scratch. Why? It would be prohibitively expensive, not to mention, very difficult, extremely cumbersome and frustratingly slow. The 'why' seriously intrigued me. It was like building a dugout canoe to ford an ankle-deep river.
Many of my colleagues had theories on where the transmission originated, but only one of them asked the truly relevant question, 'When?', since there hadn’t been that much open …
Since Christmas could no longer be trusted to behave itself, it was confined to cell #17 in the A block of the Guy Fawkes Holiday Correctional Facility.
After Christmas tried to expand it’s area of influence to include all of November through January, Thanksgiving and New Years filed an injunction.
During the exhaustive investigation that followed, it was discovered that Christmas had set up 2 dummy corporations called “Black Friday” and “Christmas in July” to launder money received through the bribery and intimidation of other holidays.
At the trial, Thanksgiving hadn't been shy about it’s objections to the turkey and pilgrim decorations being entirely neglected in favor of the earlier and earlier Christmas sale trimmings. Halloween and Valentine's Day had actually been impressed with Christmas' initiative, but also recognized the danger in expanding any one holiday to 90 days.
In the end, even the Claus' pleas for leniency were ignored. Christmas was charged with Ra…
I found it collapsed and unconscious in an alley behind a bar, most of its decorations removed or stolen. My first thought was relief. It had been missing since the 23 of December, but it was now January 6 and Christmas had long since past.
The kids' emotional wounds had nearly healed. The realization that their tree had abandoned them turned our holiday into a horror show. Feelings of anger rose up from within as I recalled the night it left in an angry, drunken stupor, trampling nearly all of the presents under it’s care. (this was not much of a problem for Charlotte's new teddy bear, but the crystal vase and the life sized origami hedgehog...).
The kids had picked out the little tree themselves. I had seen the potential for trouble but was assured that its “habit” would never affect its work. We decorated it with heirloom ornaments from my Grandmother and Great Grandmother. I now imagined all of them strewn about in back alleys all over town as a result of weeks of unknown…