Howdy Consumers, welcome to the twenty-first ornamentation of HACK. If you’ve made it this far, remember that the best gift you’ll ever get is your present.
This week I present you with an alternate reality adventure that is presently in progress…
A SANTA STORY
“You’d be surprised how much room there is in a chimney.”
Santa Claus slid through the sooty cylinder like its surface was a water slide. I clumsily clambered downward; hands, knees and spine jammed against the grimy brick.
“Just let go and enjoy the ride!” he echoed from the blackness below.
I figured, what the hell, it’s Santa Claus. It’s not like he would let me die—again. So I let go and felt the grating ash on my backside. Suddenly a force pushed upward against my body. I could feel my jeans getting extremely warm but my upper half was freeze-burned, scraped, and stuck.
“HO HO HO!”
The silly bastard laughed at everything. He laughed exactly the same way every time. It never got old. I felt grips around each of my ankles. Santa yanked and I emerged through flames into a cozy, hobbit-sized room.
“You know, hobbits originated from a dwarf-elf half breed,” Santa said, catching my thought. He reached into the fireplace and pulled out a steaming clay pot.
He poured hot steaming purple tea into a reindeer mug and its nose lit up red. He then produced two bottles, one green, one clear. As he poured both entire bottles into each of the mug’s antlers, I read the labels. The green was absynthe and the clear was saki. They dribbled and mixed into the tea which hissed and bubbled for a second. I took a sip and felt the warm, delicious drip hit me.
I smirked. “So what are you, some lame secret agent or something?”
“Nope, just a spirit, loosely manifested by the myths of various tribes and religions,” Santa said.
He leaned back in reverie…
“Those were the good ol’ days,” Santa said, “I could take whatever form I wanted. The rituals were REAL, nothing at all like this commercial nonsense. That’s why I went under-glacier.”
My mind flashed to right before this story started.
We had been flying for hours in his giant sleigh, sipping hot cinnamon chocolate from a couple of snowmen mugs. As we approached I saw what looked like a small chimney sticking out of the Arctic ice mountain below. Smoke was rising from it and I thought I could even smell peppermint…and sugar cookies…and fresh pine.
Then he confessed, “I stole that from LOST. Great show. Hurley has me over to the island every now and again for his annual DHARMA Christmas party. Ha! More like SAMSARA if you ask me!”
I simply stared at him.
“That’s a Buddhist joke, kid. Pay attention.”
The sleigh took a dive as the reindeer turned in unison and hovered just above the chimney.
“I had to disappear,” Santa said as I shifted back to the present, “Shit got weird. The old myths either collapsed or grew corrupt. What they did to Saturnalia was pretty awful. But really, Jesus had it worse. I mean, there are actually ash trays with the face of Jesus on them.”
Santa conjured a long wooden pipe from an inside breast pocket and placed it onto an ash tray with, sure enough, an engraving of Christ’s face, crown ‘o thorns and all. Santa opened a fist-sized sack containing what looked like miniature Christmas trees. Each one glittered like bright garland and wafted a familiar wintergreen fragrance.
“Here, I’ve got something special for you…the Candy Cane Pipe.”
The cane was about the size of my forearm, carved out of thick peppermint bark. He demonstrated how to hold it upside down, gripping it just above the curved end. He generously packed the bowl that was carved into the outer stem. I placed the curved end to my lips. A spark, and peppermint puffs erupted from the top of the cane. Random whorls of red and white hovered and swirled together.
“I call this my Sugar Plum Stash,” he said, “because it puts visions in your head. HO HO HO!”
His laugh seemed stretched on a wah wah pedal. It contracted and elongated and was almost visible. Then he took a hit from his wooden piece, which had a jolly totem face carved into it. As he exhaled, a smoky wreath formed a halo around his head. His expression suddenly turned serious.
“You know, I didn’t always look like this,” Santa said.
He took another hit while I studied his scarlet garb trimmed in fluffy white. His shiny black boots with gold buckles rested comfortably on an ottoman. That blushing, ochre face seemed perpetually amused and slightly bemused, a subtle distinction only Santa Claus could pull off. When he exhaled, the smoke seemed to dance across his beard like morning mist rolling away across a field.
“It was that damned cartoonist, Thomas Nast. He’s the one who drew me in this ridiculous getup. How did I know it was going to stick? I went through thousands of years existing in multiple thought forms until this one image became the St. Nick. Next thing I knew it was the end of the 20th century and I still looked the same. The grown-ups remembered me, but they had stopped believing. Then the corporations stepped in and relegated me to Commercial Deity. They would keep the kids hooked long enough to make them viable consumers, and then castrate their sense of wonder like they did to their parents before them.”
Santa took another hit, held it in, grabbed his reindeer mug, and swallowed the entire contents in a single gulp. He closed his eyes, slowly exhaling purple smoke through his nostrils and mouth as he clutched his fist over his heart.
“But it was a kid that finally broke me,” he said gravely, ” Randy Vendruski.” He was the brightest kid I’d seen in a century, and it wasn’t a dim century. Too bright, too soon. By first grade he was already a pariah amongst his peers. You were once a teacher, I’m sure you can guess what that led to.”
“Bids for attention,” I replied.
“Precisely. He pulled all kinds of stunts, some of them now legendary. Mind you, he never hurt anyone but he toyed with everyone. It was his way of dealing with those who had hurt him emotionally. His poor parents had to attend weekly school board meetings to discuss ‘The Vendruski Problem.’ They had given Randy as much love as any parents could give. Finally, I was called in as a last ditch effort.”
“Unfortunately by then I had fallen off the sleigh. I was questioning my own meta-existence and not coming up with any answers—a miserable shell of the spirit I had once been. But I went to the school, and I met with the kid’s parents and teachers. I listened to their complaints and desperate pleas. What did these people expect? Did they really think that I could undo the damage that they and their precious social institutions had wrought? What was I going to tell this kid? It’s all so fuckin’ REAL? I’m not even sure I’m real anymore!”
A grandmotherly voice startled the sudden silence. From the light of the brick fireplace a pair of oven-mitted hands held out a tray of gingerbread cookies. Mrs. Claus stood there, smiling benignly. I had forgotten this guy was married.
As my fingers grasped its torso, the gingerbread man giggled.
“Ooo hoo hoo! That tickles!” it squeaked.
Mrs. Claus nodded, indicating a bowl filled with frosting.
I dipped it and the gingerbread man exclaimed, “Mmmm…creeeamy.”
Mrs. Claus raised her eyebrows as if daring me to do it.
A bit disturbed but not wanting to be rude, I raised the cookie to my mouth and bit into the gingerbread man. His head and arms flailed from my lips as he shouted “Yuuummy!”
“Go on dear. Sorry to interrupt,” said Mrs. Claus to her husband.
“Thank you, wife. Anyway, they all wanted me to tell them what to do about Randy. And you know what I told them?”
I shook my head.
“I told them: Tell him there’s no such thing as Santa Claus.”
“Why would you say that?” I asked incredulously.
“Well, I said that if they let the kid in on their little secret then he might be more cooperative with the adults. Some argued that he was too young, but in the end I got my way, if only because they had no other options left. When they told him I wasn’t real he was honestly shocked. As smart as that kid was, he still bought into the manufactured myth. And the truth was too much for him. He figured that if the adults could lie about that, they could lie about anything. They were never to be trusted again.”
“But why would you do such a thing?”
“Because there’s a greater purpose-elf,” Santa rumbled and pointed his finger into my chest, “that you have yet to understand. Besides, Randy Vendruski learned a valuable lesson that day, one that most people never learn.”
“You don’t have to believe in everything, just believe in something.”
“So what happened to him?”
“He was bitter for a long time. Then in his senior year of high school some of the kids caught up a bit and suddenly found him fascinating. To entertain them, he began creating his own myths. That was the point, you see. If I was going to go the way of the dodo, I’d better first arm these kids with the best present ever—imagination.”
“Boy did that rile the New World Conspiracy,” Mrs. Claus interjected.
She stood next to her husband who reached his arm around her waist. His eyes twinkled at her.
“It sure did,” Santa said, “But for the most part, the governments leave us alone as long as we keep exporting magic for things like iPods and video game systems.”
“That’s not magic,” I protested, “that’s technology.”
“Do you know how your iPod works?” he asked.
“Not really,” I admitted.
“Then it’s fucking magic. Trust me, without it their gadgets would be useless. Where do you think the phrase ghost in the machine came from?”
“So basically, you sold out and the kids are doomed,” I stated flatly.
“Nah, son, the kids are alright. See, that Vendruski kid was just one of many seeds that the other Local Deities and I have planted. In a few years, unparalleled Earth changes will occur and the time will be ripe for a takeover.”
“But what about the children?”
“Don’t you see?” Santa smiled merrily, “They’re the ones who will give me new form. They will define and refine the new myths so that the Great Spirit can continue to nourish future generations.”
“That’s why we need you, dear,” Mrs. Claus interjected. Her spectacles sparkled in the flickering firelight, hiding the eyes which felt caring and kind.
“Yes, yes,” Santa nodded.
He pulled out a huge scroll of parchment, unrolled it and scanned with his finger.
“Mortimer Snerd… You were very naughty my boy… By the way, I don’t think fooling around with two sisters counts as a threesome if they don’t fool around with each other.”
Mrs. Claus looked at Santa disapprovingly.
“I’m just sayin’!” he scowled.
“Anyway, the Fuckedocalypse is almost upon us and the end is imminent. Despite your dirty soul, you have remained extremely eminent among the humans, your former species. So congratulations, you are now one of Santa’s Elves.”
He must have seen the consternation on my face, because he quickly added, “Oh don’t worry. This is a cake gig, to prep for you for full blown Angel Work. You can’t go fixing dimensional rifts or raising planets to Christ Consciousness without payin’ some dues. On the other hand, there are many perks to being an elf.”
“We have an Olympus sized whorlpool and you get a nice, long blowjob every time you complete a mission,” said Mrs. Claus enthusiastically, “Plus there are plenty of she-elves who would love to have you kiss them under their mistletoes.”
“HO HO HO! Good one, wife!” Santa chortled, “And another thing, no lame outfits with curled shoes or jingling bells. And for gods’ sakes, get a haircut! From now on your motto should be–STAY RELEVANT.”
“Now,” he glanced once more at his list, “You were definitely not meant for factory work. Besides, I only need a skeleton crew there anyway. Fuck toys. You’ll be assigned to a team and do fieldwork. For 10 months you will find a way to inject joy directly into their hearts. No bribery, no lists, and NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND! Let them discover the truth on their own. I don’t care what your methods are. You can give them LSD laced LCD implants or do funny dances for all I care. Just get them prepared for my return.”
“And when will that be, exactly?”
“December 25, 2012.”
I laughed out loud. He had me up until that point, but a 2012 connection as well? It was just too ridiculous.
“Check your calendar, son,” he said calmly, “That’s four days after Timewave Zero. Shit’s about to get real. I HO-HO-HOpe you’re ready!”
I was about to reply that my recent resurrection made me born ready, but then the giant Corporate Xmas Bots attacked and the glacier split wide open. It reminded me of Krypton exploding in the first Superman movie.
Luckily, Santa has a secret space fortress where we regrouped before establishing a new North Pole on the Saturnian moon Iapetus.
At the Polar Bear Roast on Noelmas, Santa gave a big speech about how the children are our present or some such nonsense. Part of me suspects that he’s just making the whole thing up as he goes along. But with full health benefits and all these sweet perks, who am I to question Christmas?
‘A Santa Story’ originally published in Heroes and Hierophants, © 2010 iUniverse Press. Revised and updated December 2013. All pictures obtained from Google Image Search are the property of their owners.