The Curse of Christmas Future - Finish The Story Contest (Week 68)


Title Curse of Christmas Future.pngImage by Noel Bauza from Pixabay, modified by me using GIMP photo editing software.

This is my entry into the Finish the Story Contest. The prompt, or start of the story, was written by @dirge and is highlighted below in quotation to differentiate between their work and mine. The idea of the exercise is that I finish the story, and try to do it in 700 words or less. I've failed to honor the word count this week, as the ending I envisioned wasn't possible in 700 words, despite multiple edits. The ending to the story comes in at just over 1000 words.

The War On Christmas

beginning by @dirge

“He just marched in and fell down on his bunk,” Tili the elf began. “Hasn’t said a word. He’s been staring at the wall.” Rili thanked him and opened the door to the worker’s dorm. Gili sat, his legs curled up to his chest, rocking back and forth, staring at the wall in the half-lit room.

“Hey Gili,” Rili said. He stepped inside the dorm and pulled up the blinds. “Heard you weren’t feeling too good. What’s wrong?”

Gili said nothing. He continued staring, his elvish eyes a shade of absence, black circles hanging beneath them.

Rili stepped forward and put a hand on Gili’s shoulder. “I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me, Gili,” he said. “What’s wrong? What’s the matter?”

Gili turned his head to Rili, as if noticing him for the first time. The light slowly returned to his eyes. “What’s wrong?” Rili asked again.

“You won’t believe what I caught Santa doing…” Gili whispered.

*

Rili stormed out of the dorm, Tili chasing his heels down the shoddy hallway to the creaky elevator. “Well?” Tili asked. “What did he say? I heard him whispering.”

“We need to get a hold of Rudolph. Now,” Rili said.

“What? Rudy? What’s the matter?” Tili asked, the nervousness building in his voice.

“Do you still remember how to use a cane spear?” Rili asked.

“A cane spear? We haven’t used one of those in a thousand years…”

“I want every able bodied elfman and elfwoman out in front of the workshop, armed with a cane spear at sundown.” Rili smashed the elevator call button repeatedly.

“That’s crazy,” Tili said. “What’s happening?”

The elevator doors opened and Rili, foreman and village chief of the Northern Elves entered. “Santa’s dead,” he said. “And the Cold has claimed him.”

The elevator closed. Tili collapsed to his knees. “My god,” he
whispered out loud. “It can’t be.”

The darkness of the hallway terrified him. Indeed, it seemed to call to him. Begging him to wander inside of it. Tili, for the briefest moment, heard a sound that, despite not seeing it, instinctively conjured an image into him mind. Of a skull, laughing

*

Rudolph drew the arrow, firing it into the target. It flew straight enough, but landed just outside the rim. He swore, trying to load the bow again. But the booze was rising hard, now. And he fumbled with the arrow and it landed on the snow. “Damn this piece of shit,” he mumbled. “God damn elvish piece of shit.”

“Suppose it’s not a good time,” Rili said, wandering in from the frost clouds of the Northern Plains. “Not happy with our trinkets?”

“An elf couldn’t make a proper train or sleigh, let alone a bow and arrow.” Rudolph spat on the ground. “What business have you with me, little one?”

“The Cold has returned,” Rili said. “It’s consumed Claus. The wife is missing as well. Darkness settles upon the city.”

“And you expect my help?” Rudolph asked, lighting a cigarette. “You think the deers have any skin in this game?”

“I do,” Rili said, fixing his boo-bit-y cut-sy red hat against the frigid arctic winds. “I’ve called my elves people for the fight. Ordered them out in spears. We’re storming Claus’ manse at sundown in hopes to catch him off guard. He’s consuming us, Rudy. Eating elfmen and elfwomen both. Like little gingerbread people.”

“Yeah, well that’s not my problem.” Rudolph picked up his bottle of vodka, staring at the picture of his long dead deerwife. “It’s yours.”

“What happened to you, Rudy?” Rili asked. “You used to be something. A leader of your people. And now look at you. Lost in grief over a deer that cared for you not.”

Rudy guzzled more of the vodka, his red nose beginning to illuminate a hint of ruby light. “What do you know?” Rudy shouted, his eyes narrow in anger. “What does an elf know about love?”

“Enough to fight for it, Rudy. We need you. We need you and the deers.”

“The deers…are gone.” Rudy looked away, chugging the vodka and wandering off into the snow.

“I know you, Rudy!” Rili called after his old friend. “And this isn’t you!”

Rudy hesitated, his outline fading against the coming snows, before running off. Rili followed him as far as he could before the snows consumed him.


SantaSubTitle.jpg

The Curse of Christmas Future

Ending by @raj808

"We all know what it is we're up against here" he finished.

Rili stared out at the crowd of his fellow Elfkind. His heart soared at the sight. Two hundred elves of all shapes and sizes, both young and old brandishing ancestral cane spears. The whole of the southern tribe united and fierce from his speech.

He took a breath and continued. "Santa's body was found on the northern plains, frozen solid like a candy cane. That thing that inhabits Clause mansion is not Santa... it is an abomination!"

The cheers rattled the roof of the workshop. Rocking horses shook violently, teddy bears fell from shelves and toy cars trundled across the floor.

Rili beamed "Mr M A Anzo says his deal with Santa will pave the way for a new era. He says we will reap the benefits of 401K and a comprehensive health insurance. I ask you elves... when have any one of you ever been sick before the COLD miasma appeared in the north pole?"

"Never' an old grey bearded elf screamed," waving his spear above his head.

Rili nodded at him "They want to take our freedoms. They want to replace us with robots and move us to a giant shed somewhere in Alaska. Will we be forced to leave our ancestral home of the north pole?"

"Never" the whole crowd roared as one.

Santa page break.jpg

Rudolph leaned up against the wall behind the workshop. He flicked the butt of the cigarette he'd been smoking into the snow where it hissed into a splutter. The end of Rili's speech echoed into the frozen arctic night.

"I say we march on up to the Clause mansion and take back what Santa sold out from under us all... our heritage! Are you with me?"

The thunder of the combined elves resounding Yes rattled through Rudolph's hangover like a dentist's drill.

They are going to get themselves all killed.

He remembered the time before.

Cantering through fresh fallen snow with her. Hoofs breaking the crisp frozen skin of the blizzard. Chasing her through pine woods heavy with the smell of rising sap. Rutting in a quiet glade away from all the world. Cocooned in that quiet space of ice, sky, bough and bur; just the two of them and the universe.

He'd given it all up for corporate sponsorship and a cut of the profits from the Rudolph merchandise.

His nose bloomed red as he bit back a tear in anger.

No more! Rili might be foolish, but he had a set of reindeer-sized balls on him. It is time I grow a pair. Mr M A Anzo must pay.

Rudolph bellowed a call at the northern lights as he galloped into the night.

Time to gather the herd.

Santa page break.jpg

Rili slammed his spear against the mansion's door. "Come out Mr Anzo and answer for your crimes."

He glanced at Tili for strength and his friend grimaced a tight smile back. Tili nodded and Rili hit the door again.

A blast of icy air hit them all as the door started to swing open. The blast was like the cold from winter's birth. Black misty tendrils slipped out of the widening crack of the doors.

The elves gasped as a familiar voice followed those deadly mist tentacles.

"Now then my good elves, what is all this fuss? Return to the workshop and continue with the preparations. Christmas is almost here. Soon we will have secured a world-wide distribution network removing the need for the great flight. You are the pioneers of your own future."
ili thought about Gili choking his guts up, wrapped in a swaddling cloth in his hut, sick and dying from the COLD. He steeled his heart.

"Show yourself" he screamed.

The elves all started to thump their sticks into the ground in rhythm to their chant.

"No more fake Santa. No more fake Santa." Something stirred in the mist, as their chant built to a crescendo.

Dead green eyes glistened in a pale face of corpse white. No hair graced Santa's head, no beard framed those thin lips but he still wore the ubiquitous red and white furred suit. Suddenly his mouth opened impossibly wide. Icicle teeth gnashed rending the air as the behemoth lurched out of the mist. At least fifteenth feet tall, the abomination swung a giant fist down toward Rili.

He recognized that face... Mr M A Anzo.

BazosMonsterfinal.jpg

The ground shook as he dodged just out of reach and leaped forward to stick his spear into that bloated knuckle.

The Anti-Santa howled. "I just wanted to bring us all into the twenty first century."

"For Gili" Rili shouted as he ripped the spear from the Anti-Santa's hand. Black mist belched forth from the wound choking Rili and freezing the words in his throat.

A hundred spears flew, piercing Anti-Santa like a pin cushion.

The behemoth tore them out one by one, black mist now spewing from multiple wounds seeking out elves with creeping misty fingers.

Rili was paralyzed, the COLD creeping through his bones and thickening his blood. He gasped for a breath, croaking as he felt his mind begin to freeze. All around him his friends stood frozen in step, slow white crystallization flowing across their faces.

Suddenly a great roar blew across the field of battle and a thundering of hooves shook the earth beneath Rili's feet. Those elves who'd avoided the black mist cheered and threw their spears before the charge of the mighty host.

Rudolph bellowed once more, and a thousand of his fellow deer joined the call. The Anti-Santa trembled in the face of that wall of sound.

Rudolph headed up this river of brown sinewy death, his nose a glowing point of magma. The herd struck the behemoth like a spear, that fire-bright point of light piercing the COLD and extinguishing its mist.

Anti-Santa was born down beneath the thundering hooves before being born aloft, torn and broken, as the reindeer took to the sky.

The elves all cheered. Rili felt his blood warming in the passing of Rudolph's nose. Residual heat flowed over all of the elves, awakening their will to fight the effects o of the COLD and briing them back from the brink of death.

A high pitch buzzing flowed from inside the mansion as a strange hovering robot creature emerged from the dissipating mists. Suspended from its undercarriage there was an odd flat box with a screen displaying a message...

AmazonDrone.png

The end.

© Rowan Joyce all rights reserved.

All images used in this post are either my own original digital art or creative commons licence, credited beneath the image. If you have enjoyed this tale of Christmas future, please do check out my homepage @raj808 for similar content. Thank you.

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Comments 12


Shared on twitter as part of @ocd/@ocdb #posh (proof of share) initiative:

https://twitter.com/rowanj808/status/1207696881889030145?s=20

19.12.2019 16:04
0

Ho Ho Ho and a merry corporate Christmas too. @raj808 this is a great ending. I love your description of the workshop with all the toys “Rocking horses shook violently, teddy bears fell from shelves and toy cars trundled across the floor”. And you brought in more of Rudolph’s backstory tying it in so well, “Rudolph merchandise” I hope that means the very annoying Christmas song ;). “Black misty tendrils” ah that makes it so creepy and then you finish with the dreaded “Anti-Santa” and Rudolph to the rescue. Great fun to read :)

19.12.2019 16:44
0

Thanks Gaby. I'm glad you enjoyed the tale of Bezos... Ermmm, I mean Mr M A Anzo getting his comeuppance on the north pole.

Amazon killing Santa and ruining Christmas... not on my FTS watch 🤣😉🎅

Happy Christmas

19.12.2019 17:04
0

Ohhhh the ending is precious - but don't let @mvkean see it! He's always after me to sever myself from the wicked tentacles of the jungle (Amazon).

The prose is dazzling and memorable, as we expect from @raj808. Lines like this: "Santa's body was found on the northern plains, frozen solid like a candy cane. That thing that inhabits Clause mansion is not Santa... it is an abomination!" and the derelict Rudolph, smoking, drinking, and moping over a lost romance--Rudi, deciding to "grow a pair" once more (consider the elves!) and rise to the occasion. Glorious ending! Like great westerns and cowboy tales of yore, with a heroic battle and good triumphing over evil. Ah, but no cliche here. This heartwarming yule-tide tale comes with a sly wink and poke at corporate greed. Masterful, fun, and full of epic archetypes - only you, Raj, can pull this off time and again! #loveit

19.12.2019 19:06
0

Like great westerns and cowboy tales of yore, with a heroic battle and good triumphing over evil. Ah, but no cliche here. This heartwarming yule-tide tale comes with a sly wink and poke at corporate greed.

I know right... I've managed to develop beyond my old tendencies to always have a sad and gruesome ending. Part of me wanted to write this much more grisly with Mr M A Anzo either torn apart by ravid reindeer, or have him and his corporate COLD obliterate everyone in a dystopian nightmare elf town... but hey, it's Christmas... I must be getting soft in my middle age 😆

I felt like this story was a reasonably lighthearted poke at the giant multinational behemoths that monopolize our consumer nature. I originally planned on spending a lot more time around the character of the Anti-Santa, Mr M A Anzo (did you spot the anagram of 'amazon'?😉) and explore the darker ideas I had about how the company was spreading the COLD to the elves, rather than making it the fun bombastic ending that it turned out as. But, as they say, everyone loves a happy ending... and in this case even I do 🙂

Thanks for reading Carol.

19.12.2019 20:00
0

You know me - a fun bombastic ending is my favorite kind!
I'm not clever with anagrams, but the ending of the story made me go "Aha!" - I'm ridiculously slow at word play. Shakespeare and his buddies had to be a riot - oh to be a spectator at the tavern, with good hearing, and the quick wit to get the puns and allusions and jokes. I'd love to meet you over a Happy Hour with our Brits of Steemit! Cheers! and thanks for being here - and delivering a happier than usual ending. :)

20.12.2019 19:27
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This post was shared in the Curation Collective Discord community for curators, and upvoted and resteemed by the @c-squared community account after manual review.
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19.12.2019 19:39
0

Thanks for the curation @c-squared, massively appreciated 🙂

19.12.2019 20:00
0

I felt chills when the reindeer rushed in. Loved it!

21.12.2019 02:07
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Cheers bananafish. I'm glad you enjoyed the charge of the herd to destroy the almighty Anti-Santa ;-)

21.12.2019 10:04
0

Haha!! Yes, I will confirm my subscription. All that is left is to find someone to pay for it. Very funny ending.

26.12.2019 02:15
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🤣😆 cheers m8. I'm glad that ending gave you a chuckle... and that you've remembered to renew your subscription... otherwise Mr Amazon will knock round 👹🤯😉

28.12.2019 10:29
0