Royal Flying Mounties


Cindy Mantai

“Jerry, can you see anything?” Max cried to his lead navigator, who was flying some 50 yards ahead of the rest of the formation.

“No, I can’t see a bloomin’ thing, sir,” Jerry replied over his shoulder, wiping the high-altitude condensation from his eyes. “This Nor’easter is making visibility near impossible, eh.”

The squadron had been flying for near on six hours straight. Christmas was coming in four days, and it was their job to make sure the final details had been set up for the Canadian leg of Santa’s ride. With 3,000 miles of territory to cover in just under three hours, Santa relied on Max and his team to ensure all routes from Halifax to Vancouver were clear so that nothing would delay the most important delivery day of the year.

Ronald, chief strategist, flying to Max’s right, honked out a command to the 24 other privates spread out behind them in a perfect V formation. “Remember to keep your eyes open for any unusual activity on the ground,” Ronald said. Many of the men were brand-new recruits and Ronald didn’t need there to be any holdups as a result of their inexperience. “Santa is counting on us to secure this mighty nation of ours. Let’s make him proud, eh.”

The privates, their beaks above their white chinstraps wet with perspiration, called out in unison, “Aye, aye, Sarge, eh!”

From his vantage point, Jerry thought he could see in the distance a patch of brilliant blue sky where the storm clouds had dissipated. “Major, clear air space ahead, eh,” Jerry bleated excitedly, hoping Max could hear him above the thrashing, snow-laden wind. Valiantly flapping his exhausted wings, Jerry quickly closed the distance between his body and the blue. Jerry, like his father and grandfather before him, had led exploratory missions for Santa for years. Navigation was in his blood, and not just because he was a Canada goose.

When Jerry reached the blue expanse, he looked down toward the wooly, pine-green landscape below. His eyes could make out familiar landmarks and he knew that in several seconds he’d be flying over frozen Glimmer Pond, known to generations of geese as the halfway point across Canada. Sure enough, there lay the pond in pristine whiteness, its flat surface marred only by six small black specks. Wanting to confirm that the specks posed no danger to Santa’s impending ride, Jerry caught a bit of tailwind for his sideslip and nosed downward to investigate.

What he saw when he neared the pond was something he had only encountered once before in his 34-year flying career. He knew he had to reach Max and the squadron fast, so Jerry down-stroked as he never had before, reaching a lift speed of 20 knots in just under five seconds. “Grandpa Joe would be proud, eh,” Jerry thought to himself as his flapping wings propelled him like a bullet toward the V-shaped gaggle he knew was somewhere just inside the clouds. His unidirectional pulmonary system churning out ragged gasps, Jerry squinted through the wind and saw Ronald and Max flying directly toward him, with their privates spread out evenly behind them.

As soon as Max saw the look on Jerry’s face a sphere of grass-infused dread balled up in his belly. “What is it, eh?” he demanded.

“Sir, you’re not gonna believe this,” Jerry began after quickly saluting Max with his primaries despite the resulting frictional drag. “Up ahead, where that section of blue is, I looked down over Glimmer Pond…”

“Yes, yes, spit it out, eh,” Max honked loudly to make his voice heard above the cheerily cackling privates.

“Well, sir, there were several unidentified spots on the surface,” Jerry continued, “and upon approach I was able to ascertain what they were, eh.” Jerry looked from Max to Ronald and back again, struggling to keep his composure. “They were, they were…”

“HONK!” Max called out in exasperation. “Finish your report or I’ll have you court-martialed, eh!”

“Well, sir, they were six geese a-layin’ facedown with their beaks frozen solid to the surface of Glimmer Pond,” Jerry finally was able to bark out. He paused and gathered the final bit of courage he needed to deliver the rest of the news. “Surrounding the corpses were numerous telltale three-pronged tracks. The gang known as Poules Espionne, Major, headed due west toward the Northwest Territories, from the looks of it.”

Max’s dark face blanched but he puffed out his downy chest and announced over his shoulder to the squadron: “Men, we’re going to set down on Glimmer Pond. Our task is to give six of our fallen brethren a proper burial.”

The ranks immediately went quiet; the rushing of air through swiftly flapping feathers was the only sound heard since the privates dared not breathe as their leader prepared to speak again.

“After that, we fly toward Yukon,” Max continued. “Our mission is to seek and destroy a fowl trio of French hens from Quebec who’ve escaped from the Pen.” Max paused a moment for emphasis. “We believe their intention is to assassinate Santa Claus.”

BIO:  Cindy Mantai is a freelance writer and editor from sunny Buffalo, NY. She loves birds, especially Canada geese. Visit her website at



  1. 1

    Oh no! They can’t do that. Whatever will we do if there were no more Santa!

    I loved it! Awesome writing.

  2. 2
    Laura Eno Says:

    Ha! A fowl trio of french hen assassins. Love it!

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim Wisneski, Deanna Schrayer. Deanna Schrayer said: RT @Wisneski: 12days – DAY SIX – Cindy Mantai & Royal Flying Mounties! […]

  4. 4
    jimcast Says:

    Cindy –

    How can anyone not love this story?! French hen assassins!

    Thanks so much for participating in the 12 Days anthology.


    • 5

      Thanks, everybody. This was a blast to write. And thanks, Jim, for putting everything together. Merry Christmas!

      P.S. Poules Espionne means “Spy Hens” in French. 🙂

  5. 6

    At the beginning, I thought Santa had commissioned the RAF instead of his reindeer to help him with his rounds. But commando geese searching for assassin spy hens are much cooler. Who’d have imagined?

    Really fun read! 🙂

  6. 7

    I loved it, what a great piece of writing. Watch out that trio of fowl hens Santa. 🙂

  7. 8

    “We believe their intention is to assassinate Santa Claus.” Beautiful last line! Oh, this story so brought a smile to my face! Wonderful. It goes well with the candy cane I’m snacking on.

    Good job!

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