NORTH POLE - Despite having caught H1N1, Santa's hospital bed was found empty this morning at Our Lady of Acceptable Loss.

Santa, a local industrialist, whose condition had deteriorated over the past 72 hours, was found missing this morning when nurses performed their 5am bed check at 6:30am, due to smoke breaks, gossip-hour, and web surfing.  By the time they got to Santa's room (around 7:35 or so), they realized the jolly fat man had disappeared.

North Pole police were called (after a few more smoke breaks and gossip sessions) and arrived on the scene a short two hours later, but discovered no clues to his whereabouts.  Calls to Santa's factories, as well as his elven general manager were not immediately returned for comment.

Despite the news blackout, Santa, the world famous toy industrialist, philanthropist, and felon is widely expected to keep up his annual tradition this year, despite H1N1 or the loss of most of his flying reindeer herd.

Wall Street reacted favorably to the news of the fleeing felon, pushing stocks up broadly across the board in early afternoon trading, only hitting a snag when insurance companies pole-axed the fun as investors realized their profits really were unsustainable after all.


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