It was mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve. I was wandering through a new store, appreciatively eying a set of Penguin avatars which used clothing layers for much of their effect. As usual, the Tiny Empires HUD was in its upper corner, giving me messages every three minutes.
Then a message came up which I couldn't believe... what did it mean? A mysterious stranger, dressed in bright red, had been sighted? As the messages continued in the next few months, we found that this mysterious stranger drove a sleigh with reindeer, and that he would be available for anyone to sit on his lap.
By this time, I was laughing and enjoying the excitement. Usually jaded senses, dulled by hundreds- nay- thousands- of "same old same old" months were getting a workout on this new twist. It was a Mysterious Trader... but not the usual sort. The messages flying in the chat rooms showed that I was not alone in my speculation and appreciation.
What would this be all about? What would the outcome be?
Finally the last month came, and we met the new stranger face to face. He didn't look at me with a "piercing gaze", he had a bright twinkle in his eye. And gold? Not a breath about it. He simply wanted me to sit on his knee. That was the question it asked- "Sit on his knee?"
What did I have to lose? I said yes.
And what to my wondering eyes should appear but cheap land! It was the usual prize that the Mysterious Trader gave out... but this stranger left with a light and empty sleigh.
This happened twice more on the next day- Christmas day itself.
And from then till now, there's never been a breath about him. But I know he came, because I was there- and I caught him all three times. He never charged me anything, but the prizes were just as good as that mysterious man in the black cloak ever gives out.
But now it's coming Christmas time again. Will it happen again? I have no clue. For those of us who spend much or all of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home, on the computer, in Second Life, playing Tiny Empires... we will have a chance to find out.
But I do know one thing. Yes, Virginia, there really was a Santa Trader.