by Aidee Ladnier
Forbes found Jeepers beneath the Christmas tree, batting at a small package wrapped in bright red foil. A tiny silver bow atop the gift almost hid the penciled name of its intended recipient. When Forbes entered, the little cat robot backed away, his black tail with its white tip slapping back and forth in a frenzied blur.
"Something wrong?" Forbes dropped into his chair which creaked in protest but rolled up to the desk anyway. The terminal in front of him glowed to life and he pulled up the schematics for the sensor which had failed in testing that afternoon. He'd been certain the new interface would have--
"There's a box with my name on it under the tree." Jeepers's high, sing-song voice cut into his thoughts.
"Hmmm?" Forbes swiveled his chair around to face the cat robot, who circled the tree before staring up at Forbes. Jeepers's synthetic whiskers trembled.
"There's a box with my name on it under the tree."
Forbes sat back. Ah. It was the anomaly that puzzled the little robot.
"You can thank the munchkins for that. They've been working on it for the better part of a month." With Oliver's help, and a little of his own. Mostly Oliver's though, because they had insisted Forbes was too wired to the house not to give it away.
"May I open it?"
Forbes bit the side of his cheek. "No, you'll need to wait until Christmas to open your presents--just like the rest of us."
"So, it's a surprise?"
"Yes." Forbes nodded, trying to swallow the laugh that bubbled in his throat. "Merry Christmas, Jeepers."
The little cat twitched a black ear and slunk back over to the tree to poke at the box again.
Merry Christmas, everyone!!!