A story by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Stacey de Lacey’s motorised iceberg not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Not even a Sea Monkey, thought Stacey de Lacey, and he put his feet up on the coffee table, crossed his spindly legs, and smiled a sly, smug smile.
Stacey de Lacey was a boy about your age, but he wasn’t as nice as you. Stacey was a Villain, and his favourite hobby was Trying To Take Over The World. He’d almost done it once, with the help of a moving island and his army of mischievous Sea Monkeys. But his schemes had been scuppered by a boy named Oliver Crisp and a meddling mermaid named Iris. His moving island had been blown to bits, and he had ended up adrift on a raft with his Sea Monkeys.
There had been a time when he had been proud of those monkeys. How he’d loved it when they’d stolen things for him! How he’d laughed when they annoyed people by going ‘Eep, Eep!’ But when you’ve been stuck on a raft with them for six whole weeks, and you’re the person they’ve been eeping at, and pinching, and sitting on the head of, armies of Sea Monkeys tend to rather lose their appeal.
Luckily Stacey de Lacey had managed to give his monkeys the slip as soon as the overcrowded raft bumped against the shore. There was a big port nearby. ‘Look in there!’ he’d shouted, pointing to a crate that was waiting to be loaded aboard a ship bound for Valparaiso. And as soon as the giggling, eeping Sea Monkeys had crowded inside he had slammed the lid shut and walked away, telling himself how extremely clever he was.
Back at his parents’ house, he prepared for a big scene. But when he opened the door and said, ‘Mum? Dad? I’m home!’ his mother only said, ‘Oh, have you been away somewhere?’
Of COURSE he’d been away somewhere! Stacey de Lacey did a furious little dance of rage on the doormat. ‘I’ve been gone for ages! I’ve been trying to take over the world with a moving island and an army if Sea Monkeys, and if it hadn’t been for one meddling boy and a shortsighted mermaid I’d have done it, too!’ he shouted.
“That’s nice, dear,” said his mum.
“Who did you say you are?” said his dad.
“Aaaargh!” said Stacey de Lacey, and stormed upstairs to his enormous bedroom. I’ll show them! he thought. It will only take me a minute to come up with another plan to take over the world!
In fact, it only took him 47 seconds. ‘Bingo!’ he shouted. It was the work of a moment to sneak into his mum’s study, switch on her computer, and order himself a motorised iceberg from www.motorised-iceberg.com. A week later he was in the Arctic Circle with his feet up on the coffee table.
Yes, it was the night before Christmas, and that was all part of Stacey de Lacey’s Evil Plan. Inside the motorised iceberg was a cosy cabin. In one corner of the cabin was a fireplace. Leading from the fireplace was a chimney, which poked up out of the top of the iceberg into the cold sky where the stars glimmered and the Northern Lights shimmered. In a few hours, Father Christmas would come zooming through that sky in his reindeer-powered sleigh, on his way to deliver presents to children everywhere. But what did Stacey de Lacey care about children everywhere? Stacey thought that children everywhere were RUBBISH, because they laughed at him and said that Stacey was a girl’s name.
So Stacey was planning to make sure that they never got their presents. His chimney was the first that Father Christmas would pass as he went winging his way around the world. Down that tempting chimney he was sure to come, and at the bottom he would find a mince pie and a glass of sherry waiting for him, in the middle of Stacey de Lacey’s hearth rug.
But – and this was the cunning part of Stacey’s Evil Plan – underneath the hearth rug there was a HIDDEN SWITCH. Stacey chuckled an evil chuckle as he imagined what was going to happen. The magical bearded weirdo wouldn’t be able to resist that mince pie (Stacey had bought the expensive deep-filled ones, just to make sure). And as soon as Santa set foot on the hearth rug, Kerblam! Splunge! Clanggg! He would trigger the HIDDEN SWITCH, and an IRON CAGE would drop from the CEILING and trap him!
Then, on Christmas morning, as people awoke to unstuffed stockings and unhappy children, Stacey de Lacey would issue his ultimatum. ‘I have Father Christmas a prisoner on my motorised iceberg’, he would say. ‘Unless you hand over control of the world to me you’ll never see Santa again!’ And he would laugh an Evil Laugh.
There was a thump from above, as if something had landed on the top of the motorised iceberg. Stacey de Lacey hurriedly took his feet off the coffee table and hid behind the sofa, waiting. Were those reindeer hoofs trampling about up above? Was that a distant, ‘Ho ho ho!’? Soot fell down the chimney and spread out into the cabin in a black cloud. Stacey stifled an evil chuckle. Above the mantelpiece the iron cage swung, cunningly disguised as a very trendy lampshade. ‘Step into my trap, Santa!’ hissed the young supervillain.
There was a slithering sound from the chimney, then, with a bump, and another burp of soot, a figure appeared in the fireplace. Peeking over the back of the sofa, Stacey waited for the soot to clear. Was that…? Could it be…?
‘Eep!’ said the figure in the fireplace. And – slither, bump, slither, bump – more small, grinning, big-eyed, web-footed figures, soot-covered figures dropped into the fireplace, all going ‘Eep! Eep! Eep!’
The Sea Monkeys were back!
‘No!’ wailed Stacey de Lacey, leaping out from behind the sofa. ‘You hairy idiots! You’ll ruin my Evil Plan! Clear off! Hop it!”
He ran towards the fireplace, meaning to shove the pesky primates right back up the flue, but that was a mistake. As soon as his foot touched the hearth rug – Kerblam! Splunge! Clanggg! – down came the iron cage. The Sea Monkeys all skittered out of its way just in time, but not Stacey. ‘Get me out of here!’ he screeched, rattling at the bars.
And sooner or later the Sea Monkeys would, because they were very fond of him. But for the moment they were having far too much fun, scoffing Santa’s mince pie, drinking the sherry, climbing up the Christmas tree, and tucking into the great heap of Christmas goodies which Stacey de Lacey had been planning to eat, all by himself, in front of the telly on Christmas Day.
Across the sky above the motorised iceberg there passed a faint jingling of sleigh bells. But Stacey de Lacey didn’t hear it. How could he, over the noise of all those overexcited Sea Monkeys?
Eep! Eep! Eep Eep! EEP! EEP! EEEP!
He sighed. Reaching through the bars, he swiped a chocolate orange from a passing Sea Monkey, and a chocolate banana from another. His plans for Taking Over The World were just going to have to wait until New Year. And, now he came to think about it, maybe this was better than spending Christmas all alone.
‘Happy Christmas, Sea Monkeys,’ he said.
And the Sea Monkeys said,