Move Over, Rudolph

You are one of Santa’s reindeer (other than Rudolph) and you are jealous of all the attention that that red-nosed reindeer is getting. You’ve been offered another job and have decided to go in to Santa’s workshop office and negotiate a better deal. Does Santa match your demands or do you decide to take the new gig (and what is it)? Write this scene.

writing-promptsWant more creative writing prompts?

Pick up a copy of A Year of Writing Prompts: 365 Story Ideas for Honing Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block. There’s a prompt for every day of the year and you can start on any day.

Order now from our shop.

 

 

 

 

 

You might also like:

237 thoughts on “Move Over, Rudolph

  1. gp24

    Inner Office Communication
    To: Santa
    From: Marvin the Reindeer
    Date: Today
    Subject: Unfair Labor Practices

    It has come to my attention that Rudolph, that red-nosed has-been, is once again leading the sleigh team along with your other eight favorite reindeer Christmas Eve.
    I have worked hard as an elite transporter from raw materials to the toy warehouse and all other positions at the North Pole that did not require thumbs and yet each year I have been passed over for your go-to team of eight and Rudolph. Come on Santa. Give a guy a break. All I’ve ever wanted to do was be part of the team pulling your sleigh on the big night.
    If you choose to overlook me again this year, I will quit.
    I’ve been in contact with an agent in New York who is talking an expose’ book deal revealing all I know about the North Pole and you, Santa. I would love to crack this thing wide open—the unfair labor relations with the elves who work long hours and are paid in old cookies and milk picked up on your one night around the world. Thought I’d miss that one didn’t ya. What about the filthy stables the lower ranking reindeer are forced to live in? Yeah we got a couple of elves assigned to clean it out daily, but they take their time—too many old cookie and milk breaks. I mean come on. If I don’t get to pull that big sleigh I ain’t stickin’ around for another stinking year reindeer games or not. What’s it going to be Santa?

    A disgruntled reindeer,
    Marvin

    1. Dew

      I think the elves might get paid in venison tonight. Never attach your name, Marvin!

      I liked the email format on this. It’s a different take, and I enjoyed it.

  2. amaturehourwriter

    Santa was obviously at his wits end when I walked into his office. I had heard the shouting and the door slam, which was nothing new these days around the North Pole. I felt kind of bad for the old man but what can you do when you’re worldwide, multi-billion dollar corporation hinges on one day and one reindeer?

    “You ok, Chief?” I asked.

    It was only a few seconds before he answered but it felt like an eternity, “Rudolph quit.” Santa said flatly.

    The words hit me like a runaway sleigh. Nobody really liked Rudolph since his rise to fame but nobody’s ever quit Santa’s team, ever. “I guess this is bad time to say the Clydesdales that pull the Budweiser sleigh offered me a spot,” I tried to say it as light hearted as possible.
    I almost had to leave the room when I saw the old man’s face drop with defeat. “Maybe it’s time then…” his voice trailed off at the end.

    “Time, sir?”

    “To retire, hang it all up for good.” I was speechless, what could I say to that? “I mean I’m an old man Comet, an old man who’s lost his touch.”

    “No, no, no sir please,” I pleaded. “What about all those kids? What are they gonna do on Christmas morning and see no presents?” I was almost shouting by the end.

    “Well, Rudolph quit and isn’t going to come back, but if you stay I’ll still have enough reindeer for a full flight team as long as there’s no bad weather.”

    “What about my new contract?” I asked. “It’s expired.”

    “I was working on it before Rudolph stormed in here actually,” he said as he pulled a stack of papers from his desk. “All you have to do is sign and we might just be able to pull off this run.”
    I scanned over the document, not reading with any kind of attention to detail. After all I had been working for Santa for years he takes good care of his employees, and I had come to think of him as a pretty close friend over the years. After signing I noticed it was less than a third of what I had signed on for all those years ago.

    “You…you…you,” I stammered.

    “Had to do it kiddo, nothing personal, just business,” the old man said very matter of factly.
    I pulled the contract across the desk and ripped it to pieces. A look of surprise crossed his face as I turned to leave I told him, “Had to do it Chief, nothing personal, just business.”

  3. Critique

    Blitzen found the situation intolerable. And it had little to do with Donnor’s digestive issues – the cacophony of sounds and noxious fumes that perforated the air from the far stall where he sulked, shunned by all of the other reindeer.

    By the looks of the motley herd sequestered for endurance training, Santa could use his help choosing who would guide the sleigh of precious cargo through the skies that night. As the oldest on the team, Blitzen felt he was up for the task. He’d taken mental notes of how the reindeer did in their exercises and tucked it away in his photographic memory.

    Looking out over the stalls, Blitzen shuddered. Would the sleigh even get off the ground?

    Its a wonder Dasher, the narcissistic fool, didn’t put his neck out the way he tossed his impressive antlers and preened in the dingy barn windows.

    Dancer tirelessly practised pirouetting – her dressage was flawless – on her back hooves. On and on she would clomp and twirl. Thump. Thumpity thump. She expected perfection and regarded the rest of them as riffraff. Blitzen chafed at her attitude.

    Prancer’s liked to play annoying pranks and they’d all worn the stigma of sucker at one time or another.

    Vixen had a crush on Dasher. She vexed the rest of them by asking ad nauseum: “Is my rump too wide?” or “Does this collar make me look fat? Tell me the truth – it’s okay.”

    No one knew knew what Comet was thinking because he didn’t talk. He grunted. He spent his time filling scribblers with his writings. Blitzen was convinced there was too much yardage between the antlers.

    Cupid lay sprawled in a haystack, nose buried in another romance novel, oblivious to the world. Twitterpated to say the least thus unreliable in a crisis.

    Then there was Rudolph. That red-nosed know-it-all had set everyone off right from the get-go the way he espoused all that encyclopedia knowledge. Blitzen suspected he was the smartest of the bunch. To hide their collective shortcomings they called Rudolph names and excluded him from reindeer games. Games like: who could stand on their hind legs the longest – Dancer easily won that one; who could burp up the most cud in the shortest time; or who could blow snot the furthest.

    Rudolph stood apart in the shadows watching them laugh and play.
    Blitzen glimpsed a tears dripping off his glowing nose and his angst grew. Donnor and Rudolph were both on the outs. Teamwork was essential for a successful sleigh run.

    It was time to see the master.

    When Santa looked up from the din of the workshop and saw Blitzen standing in the door, he waved him into his office with a merry smile and shut the door.

    “Blitzen.” Santa’s eyes twinkled as he patted Blitzen’s neck. “Its almost time. Think we’re ready?”

    “That’s why I came.” Blitzen cleared his throat. “There’s trouble in the stable. You see Rudolph and…”

    Santa held up a hand and interrupted. “I know and I need to tell you a story.”

    Blitzen wasted no time getting back and assembling the others. They stood at attention as Santa entered the barn.

    When Blitzen explained the special gift of radar Rudolph was born with and carried in his glowing nose, respect and admiration grew in the eyes of the others.

    Santa stepped forward, placed a fatherly hand on Rudolph’s shoulder and said: “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

    Blitzen broke the silence by shouting out with glee and stamping his right front hoof in agreement. Quickly the other reindeer followed and a din of happy noise rang in the air.

    Comet came forward shyly and handed Blitzen some lyrics he had quickly penned. They all began singing as one. A true team.

    “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer you’ll go down in history.”

  4. Kerry Charlton

    HORNED CONSPIRACY

    Prancer was upset, to put it mildly. That red-nosed Rudolph had literally nosed his way into Santa and Associates, LLD. And here Prancer was, the senior operating officer of Santa’s multi-national corporation that was poised to take over the enormously profitable, greedy world of Christmas. And what made Rudolph think he was important with the current global guidance system controlled by Santa’s multi-satellite communication system?

    Not only was Rudolph a shrewd, corporate operative, he was romancing Vixen, Prancer’s sweetheart. Donner and Blitzen didn’t seem to care one way or another as long as they could continue their war of words over Cupid. Prancer had been in secret negotiations with Fed-Ex Corporation to be their senior routing advisor and had been offered the position of executive vice president at a salary of 300,000 bushels of reindeer grain and berries a year.

    Side benefits from Fed-Ex had been laid at his feet, including a suite of trees laced with reindeer at Central Park for him to play with as well as a penthouse garden on top of the Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood. Still, he felt loyalty to Mr. Claus who taught him how to navigate the heavens and to learn the flight logistics of thirty two point landings on pitched roofs around the globe. ‘I’ll give Santa one more go before I quit.’, Prancer decided. However, his negotiations were not going well……

    “Why you ungrateful hunk of deermeat,” Santa said, “I taught you everything you think you know.”

    “Excuse me Nick. I could have quit without notice and let you try to deliver all these presents to billions of children each Christmas.”

    “Thanks for your holiday spirit, Prance. Get your horned butt out of here.”

    “Same to you Nick, with a giant pine cone.”

    ‘So that’s what I get for six hundred years of loyalty and now I know what he really thinks of me,’ Prancer thought as he held his head high and left the workshop.

    “Well, we’ll just see about that.”

    Rudolph had listened quietly to their conversation as had half the workshop. He ambled into Santa’s office. “So what do you want?” Santa asked. “You’ve already taken over half my business..”

    “Don’t blame me, it’s Gene Autry’s fault. I wouldn’t be here working my butt off otherwise.”

    “Get to the point, you bulbous nosed drunk.”

    “You’ve lost the spirit, bah humbug, Santa.”

    “How would you feel after all these years?”

    “I’d be proud, I would. But you, greed and power are now your goal. And think what the children would think if they knew what a greedy fat oaf you’ve become.”

    “Well,,, I’m tired and old and most people have forgotten the spirit, It’s a waste of time trying to spread the joy and the true meaning.”

    “So do you just fold your cards and give up Santa?”

    Rudolph left and Santa just sat there and gazed out the window across the North Pole landscape as skies darkened to night. A single star rose in the heavens, a light like none other Santa had ever seen. He stared as it ascended the heavens above him. A beam shot from the skies and pierced the darkness of the workshop. A voice emitted from the light,

    “Go before me and spread the word, deliver the spirit, the true meaning of Christmas. Go not with dismay for I shall always be with you, fear not.”

    And the light rose to the heavens and danced with delight………..

    In a small suburb of Philadelphia, Bob Johnson closed his story book titled, ‘The Northern Lights’, and watched his three daughters who had fallen asleep on the couch. It was bitter cold outside as snow laced his front porch when he stepped over the threshold and glanced upwards at the stars.

    A simple, heart-felt prayer could be heard.

    “Thank you, thank you for Christmas.”

    1. rle

      Absolutely breathtaking, Kerry. Greed and power have brought may good men to their knees over the course of history. In our overly commercialized society I think we often forget the real meaning of a lot of things, Christmas included.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you rle. I started writing this in a manner totally different, a little soft core and then changed it and started all over. I’m happy you enjoyed it. Thank you.

    2. Reaper

      Beautiful story Kerry. Somehow you managed to find a take that was just a touch different than anything anyone else has done on this prompt. Again,k beautiful, it is the best word I have for this.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reaper. I really wasn’t inspired when I started, and then stopped and rewtote the whole story. I thought it might be a good twist to have Santa the bah humbug.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is beautiful; I especially like the touch of Santa getting a good bitch-slap from the real CEO of the company. Nice reminder.

      And the addendum (Philadelphia). It was tiny and powerful, and invoked a wonderful feeling of what Christmas was like before I became commercial. 🙂 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim. I’ve been totally swamped the last three weeks, I’m barely making a post before the deadline. But blue skies are ahead. Business should slow down during the holidays and I’ll do better on critiques next week.

    4. lionetravail

      That was very sweet, Kerry, and a poetic inversion; it gave us rampant cynicism among the make believe, traditionally happy-go-lucky characters, and the effervescent hope of the real people who are usually the most bah humbug-cynical.

      Slickly done, very slickly done 🙂

        1. Critique

          Kerry I loved your story. It made me laugh, reflect on the reality of the greed skewing our world and then you ended it on such a sweet note – it warmed my heart.

  5. rle

    Please don’t hate me for this travesty. I’ve been a little(okay a lot) under the weather this week and in my medicated state I don’t seem to think as clearly.

    ———————————————

    Rudolph the red nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose. He hadn’t asked for the damn thing, he was just born that way. It wasn’t like he wanted a honker that shined like a lighthouse beacon, and trust me, if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows.

    Now, all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. It wasn’t because they thought the red nose was particularly funny, it was actually because they were just jealous bastards. Reindeer are really funny that way.

    Rudolph so desperately wanted to be like all of the other reindeer, but they wouldn’t let him play in any of their reindeer games. So, he just sat along the sidelines and watched them play tundra ball, spin the carrot, and pin the ear on the elf. Rudolph began to think his red nose was a curse, cast upon him by some heartless reindeer God. Just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse, his luck began to change.

    Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came into the stable and approached Rudolph. “Rudolph,” he said. “With your nose being so bright and all, would you consider guiding my sleigh tonight?”

    Rudolph beamed with pride, hoping somehow he’d found his true calling. “I’d be delighted to guide your sleigh, Santa,” he said as he stood and stretched his legs. But the other eight reindeer would have none of that. They all gathered in an angry circle around Santa and Rudolph. “Now look here!” Blitzen snorted. “we’ve been good enough to get you through blizzards, hurricanes, and earthquakes, so what makes you think we can’t navigate a little fog?”

    “Now, now, Blitzen,” Santa tried to ease the tension in the stable. “I just thought this might be a nice way to make little Rudolph a part of the team.”

    “We don’t want him on our team!” wailed Dasher. “Do you think we’re stupid? Think we don’t know what’s going on? Do you think if you keep throwing us a few sugar cubes that we’ll just keep towing the party line? I don’t think so!”

    “Yea,” added Comet, “You don’t think we know what’s been going on out in the west workshop? Elves have loose lips you know?”

    “Lis…lis…listen,” Santa stammered.

    “No, you listen fat ass,” Cupid piped up. We know you’ve been planning to replace us for years. Well you know what? I hope our replacements are ready because we’re walking. Yea, you heard me, we’re out of here. We all got jobs with the Mexican drug cartel smuggling blow across the border. Whaddaya think about that?”

    Santa tried to feign a look of dismay, but under his thick mustache and pearly white beard, he felt a tiny smile curl on the corners of his lips. “But…but you can’t go. Our flight leaves in just a few hours.” He buried his face in his hands.

    “Well guess what? We can and we will,” Vixen said as she led the others from the stable.

    When the eight reindeer had cleared the stable and made their way out into the snow, Santa looked to Rudolph with a twinkle in his eye. He patted the little buck on the forehead. “Well my boy, it looks as though my plan has succeeded.”

    Rudolph had a look of panic and astonishment on his face, “But Santa, how will I ever be able to pull the sleigh all by myself?”

    “Not to worry young fella, you see, I set this plan into motion the minute I laid eyes on you. When I first saw that red nose I said to myself, ‘Santa, that boy has the potential to make this company a fortune’. Think about it boy, songs, books, movies, you’re going to be a star. Plus, look at the money we saved by getting those others out of here. Let’s face it, those guys had outlived their usefulness here, they were becoming obsolete. They were a liability what with their wages, medical insurance, 401k, and retirement. The time has come to usher in a new era in the Christmas business.”

    Rudolph looked confused, “But what about the sleigh?”

    “Oh you silly deer,” Santa smiled, “During the last two years, our technical team in the west workshop have been building and perfecting the next generation of reindeer. Actually, they’re unmanned drones disguised as reindeer. They’ll do all the flying and navigating. You won’t have to worry about anything, you’re just window dressing.” Santa patted Rudolph on the shoulder with such a force, he nearly knocked the clumsy deer over. “Ho Ho Ho,” Santa cried, “Rudolph, you will go down in history!”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I liked it a lot rle. Extremely clever and we kind of hit the same theme together. I never read before I post so two minds…………… By the way, what kind of pills are you on? Why not send a few my way. Merry Christmas!

    2. lionetravail

      HAH! I love it, RLE- um, maybe you should get sick more often! (Kidding, bleh on sickness.)

      This was great, another original take on this; I love the fact that Santa had to hide his smile in his hands. HAH, I say! 🙂

  6. Amyithist

    I knew I hadn’t been myself lately; so it came to no surprise when my boss pulled me off the runway and into his office. The cramped little room smelled of peppermint and Vodka and swarms of boxes overflowing with artificial tree limbs and stringy tinsel crowded around the big oak desk. I followed the ample man through the double doors and stood close to the threshold as he hobbled to his chair.
    His eyes shifted up to mine and he frowned deeply at me. “Vivian called.” My heart nearly stalled. His brow furrowed, then arched as he set a flight plan atop a stack of weathered papers. “You mind telling me what’s going on?”
    I lowered my head and stared down at the glitter laden floor. I shrugged and pawed at a little knot in the floor as a means of distraction. “I’m not sure,” I replied.
    My boss stood, hooking his meaty fingers through his suspenders. He approached the window overlooking the factory floor. He teetered back and forth on his heels as he watched the elves feverishly loading the sleigh. Even from inside the office I could hear Fen yelling through the megaphone: “Hans, clean up that mess! Fern, you call that hustle? We need this loaded by tonight you pansy asses!”
    I winced as Mr. Claus smiled, turning. “That is how you get things done around here. You work. And to be honest, Donnor, you aren’t doing much of that these days. And I’m worried I’m going to have to let you go.”
    My eyes flashed. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. I’d spent my entire life in the village… Then again, I’d felt something foreign to me; something I’d never felt in my life. I wasn’t happy here anymore. I’d seen a life beyond the glitz and the feigned happiness. I’d seen life!
    “Donnor, I want you to take 24 hours. Christmas is in less than a week and I need you present. Understand?”
    I offered a nod, lowered my head and hurried out of the office. The fresh air nearly took my breath away as I bound over the snowy field, past the gaping eyes of the other reindeer, and down the path toward the wood.
    The forest seemed darker than normal as I hurried down the trail toward the middle of the wood. The beauty of the village line suddenly gave way to an eerie growth of old, rotting birch trees and lines of caves with leering eyes.
    The wood was the seedy underbelly of the North Pole. Full of Santa’s rejects, it offered a place to come and get away from everything. Full of bitter males looking to prove themselves and does with loose morals looking for a way to get a little nibble of something to eat. The wood offered a lot for a reindeer like me. Two young bucks I’d seen a few times before nodded toward me as I trotted along the pine-needled trail.
    Waylan and Gunther approached me and we quickly ducked into one of the empty caves nearest the rushing river. “You got the stuff?” I asked.
    Gunther handed me a baggy and I quickly hoofed it open. I bent, taking a deep breath of the leafy herb. “That’s some good shit,” I grunted. I handed them my own bag of village grown grass blades; the most sought after food for hundreds of miles.
    The two bucks greedily nosed the blades out of the bag and began to eat them while I began to tongue the leaves of the mistletoe. The most amazing high quickly filtered over me.
    “Yo, why you always coming down here to the wood, man?” Gunther asked between gobs of blade.
    “Yeah man, you’re chosen. Why the hell would you come out here with all of us rejects?” Waylan chimed.
    I shrugged and smiled slightly. “The grass is always greener, huh?” Their eyes pried deeper and I knew a sarcastic banter wasn’t going to cut it. “It’s my kid, man. He’s this…freak of nature and I can’t stand to look at him. Not to mention, everyone is fawning over him after his little trick.”
    Gunther grinned and nodded. “I’ve heard about him, man. His nose like, lights up and shit! It’s fucking epic.”
    “Man, don’t talk with your mouth full fool,” Waylan hissed, grimacing as shards of chewed blade spewed from Gunther’s mouth. He glanced toward me and frowned. “It’s kind of fucked up for you to abandon your kid just because you don’t like the attention he’s getting,” he said.
    I frowned. I knew he was right, but I couldn’t help the way I felt. I hated that I’d worked my entire life to get onto the flight team. I wasn’t just some second string wannabe. I was the real deal. And then here comes my son… no experience, no clue as to what it means to be a real reindeer…
    I shook my head as I took another sniff of the mistletoe. As the warm high washed over me again, I decided to head back to the village. I’d made up my mind. Fuck Santa and his drunken slave-driving ways. Fuck Vivian and all the nagging and bullshit demands she had. But most of all; fuck Rudolph and his little prancing, lit-nose, self-centered, “Daddy I need you” shit. I didn’t need anyone. All I needed was me.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is intense, Amyithist. You’ve put together a dark and emotional place in the shadow of what should be pure joy. And yet somehow the darkest place is inside Donner’s heart, where envy is eating him alive. I wonder what it will take for him to come to his senses…

      Very well done!

      The only technical flaws I found were a few verb tense things.

    2. Reaper

      Wow, that went to a dark place. There have been some dark stories but you managed to make this gritty, which was really impressive. Loved the story even as it filled me with an all too real feeling of the bad father who wants to use their child as a trophy rather than actually having a child and loving them. The came to no surprise rather than came as no surprise at the beginning threw me a little but that was the only thing. This sucked me in and took me on a ride that is hard to shake off. Amazing writing.

      1. rle

        Amyithist, your writing always grips me and takes me to a very vivid place. I could see this entire story unfold as though I were watching it on the big screen. Kind of a sad and dark story but imaginative and very, very well written. Wow!

      2. Amyithist

        Reaper, thank you so much for the feedback! I appreciate it. I thank you for the critique as well. I’m working on my writing. I can’t afford to go to school, so I’m watching lectures on creative writing on youtube. Kinda lame, I’m sure, but I want to better myself. Again, thank you so much for the feedback! 🙂

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Wow and double wow. So much social disdain in one lonely reindeer. I agree about the gritty and dark and realize it surrounds all of us, if people let their shields down. And yet perhaps there will be hope for Donner, if he sees the light. We need to remember the pain and hopelessness that many people have at this time of year and pray for their help. A very powerful, intense read.

    3. Dennis

      Amyithist, I like how you start out the story without alluding to who the characters actually are. I also liked how the “bad” part of the village echoed real life. I hear you about school. A couple of small books on writing I would recommend are The First Five Pages, and The Plot Thickens both by Noah Lukeman. I have started your new book and look forward to reading while I am on holiday break.

    4. jhowe

      Pretty cool there Amyithist. The thing I like about this is that it stands alone from the prompt. That’s kind of hard to do this week but you came up with a winner. I had forgotten that Rudolf’s father was Donner until now… it’s been a while since I watched it. Good job.

    5. lionetravail

      Wow, this is gritty, Amyithist! If you were going for ‘inciting reaction to an unsympathetic MC’, man, did you ever hit the target. Particularly with the last line’s [“Daddy I need you” shit]. This was a treat- very original take and an original feel, coming as late in the week as it did: kudos.

      Nice take on the mythology, and the “Vivian called” line in the beginning was wonderful- if there’s one thing I might suggest, it’s identifying Vivian and the- hmm, guess I’d call it antipathy- that Donnor feels earlier in the story than the very end. I would admit that I spent a part of the early paragraphs wondering who exactly Vivian was, and when I finally got the answer, I felt “ah, okay”. And then went back to reread it, make sure I hadn’t missed anything.

      But wow. And I thought I’d crafted some bitter reindeer earlier in the week 🙂 I think disgruntled daddy Donner takes the mistletoe cake!

  7. snuzcook

    This is the continuation of my story below–it seemed to need resolution. This is long, and again I trust those who have not the time for long stories will pass it by so they have the time for everyone else. I will only say that I have been bingeing on old holiday movies, and you may see the hoofprint on this story. Enjoy!

    FINDING HOME

    Rudie shook her harness as the team stood atop the American Consul residence in Abu Dhabi. “I still say it’s not right,” she said addressing no one of the reindeer behind her in particular. “I say we need to go back and get her.

    “Naw, she made her choice. It’s not like she couldn’t have come back if she wanted.” Donner had been personally offended when Vixen left so suddenly. He had more than a little crush on her.

    “Yeah, no one forced her to go. Maybe she’s happier where she is.” Dancer had spoken in Vixen’s defense before. It was rumored that he had ambitions of his own, and her unprecedented act of leaving the team had possibly broken the trail for him.

    “At least we don’t have to listen to her complaining all the time. Remember how stuck up she was? Always had to be the center of attention or she’d feel slighted.” Prancer hadn’t liked Vixen since the embarrassing meadow incident last spring. He had since then discovered a doe of Blitzen’s line who was infinitely more approachable.

    “Did you see that place? It’s beautiful! Who wouldn’t want to live there?” Cupid had always been easily impressed by the exotic constructs of Man he saw just once a year. “Kevin, did you see the amazing latticework on the dome?”

    “Yes, Dad.” Kevin didn’t say much. This was his first run, and he was already exhausted keeping up with the team. He was a bit smaller than his father, who was a half a hand smaller at the shoulder than Donner. He had barely passed his qualifying tests a month ago. The other trainees had all been jealous, but now he wished he’d had another season to build up the muscle needed to pull his share.

    “What you’re all forgetting is Vixen’s pride. She could be difficult, and petty. But she didn’t want to leave. She had to. Anything else she would have felt foolish.” Comet spoke with certainty. He had been on the team longer than any of the others, and he knew a thing or two about personalities. “And if there’s one thing we all know Vixen could never allow, it would be looking foolish.”

    “So what do we do?”

    “I still say we go back for her. It’s not that far,” Rudie insisted. “We could detour and be back on track in no time.”

    “What will the Big Guy say? He hadn’t even wanted to do the flyby, and then she wasn’t anywhere in sight.”

    “Oh, she was there,” Comet said. “You can be certain of that. And she was watching.”

    “Who’s going to ask Santa? He’s still mad at her.”

    “Yeah, he’ll never go for it.”

    “Maybe we don’t ask Santa.” Rudie turned to the youngster immediately behind Donner. “Kevin, I thought I detected a little destabilization in your last take off.” The pale skin on Kevin’s ears flushed pink.

    Cupid’s eyes widened, and he nodded. “That’s right, son. And I was sure you were limping a little when we landed. That left foreleg stumbled just a little.” He winked at Kevin, and Kevin smiled back.

    “Is everyone with the program?” Rudie asked. There was a shaking and rattling of antlers as the rest of the team expressed its consent. “Okay, then. Follow my lead. Sssh, here he comes.”

    In less than the time it takes for an air traffic controller to notice an anomalous blip has appeared and then is gone, the sleigh rose above the sleeping city and continued westward. The team moved in a wide arc away from its trajectory and began to circle back.

    “On Dancer and Prancer, on Donner and Blitzen, On Comet and Kevin…Kevin?” The old man peered at the youngest member of the team. He was sagging in the traces, causing the entire team to pivot. “Here, Kevin. Cupid, what’s wrong with your boy?”

    “I’m afraid he’s not up to the long flight yet, Boss. I think we need to stop.”

    “But you know the sleigh can’t fly with only eight the way the harness is configured. Not at the speeds we have to go. Rudie, find us a place to land.”

    “Will do!”

    Rudie led the sleigh the remaining distance back to Dubai, to the rooftop helipad of the Center for the Research and Preservation of Exotic and Legendary Creatures. No sooner did they land, than Kevin stumbled in a faint onto the pavement. Santa released him from the harness and set about trying to revive the young reindeer.

    “I thought I saw a bucket of water just on the other side of the wall,” Rudie said.

    “All right, you can all take a break. We can’t go anywhere until Kevin is back on his feet.” As soon as the harness was released, Rudie and Comet headed over the wall to explore the compound. They immediately saw that all the surfaces were electrified with high current. It would be a challenge to rescue Vixen, once they found her.

    “Which way is it?”

    “I thought I caught a glimpse of antler around here.”

    Movement within the dome caught their attention. It was a female Yeti, sitting atop a replica of a rocky prominence from the Himalayas. She waved them onward to the next area. “You must take her with you. She has the separation sickness, the staring spells, and I am afraid she cannot survive here very long.”

    “How do we enter the dome?”

    “There is only one place where lightning does not guard the walls, and that is a small hole at the very top of the dome. I do not know how you can do it, but it is the only way without a key.”

    “That won’t be any problem. Small openings on rooftops are our specialty!”

    Rounding the dome, they caught sight of Vixen’s enclosure, and the open expanse beneath the dome. “But there’s no chimney. He’d have to free fall all the way down,” Rudie moaned.

    “Oh, ye of little faith. This isn’t the first time The Boss has had to improvise. I remember when he had to find a way down from the oculus of the Parthenon during a war years back, when it was being used to shelter refugees. It was bigger around, but a sheer drop just like this. He’ll manage it.”

    And sure enough, within minutes Santa was kneeling next to the sleeping Vixen.

    “Wake up, girl, we need you.”

    “Go away, phantom. Why do you torture me like this every night.”

    “You’re not dreaming. I need you. Cupid’s boy can’t complete the run, and we need you to finish Christmas.”

    You need me. Great. What’s in it for me? I’ve got a job here, you know. These people need me, too. They think I’m important.”

    “But don’t you know, you’ve always been important to us. It’s not the same without you.”

    “That’s not the way it sounded before.”

    “I never thought you’d leave. No one really thought you would leave.” Santa rubbed his chin. “Besides, I’m just no good with ultimatums. Ask Mrs. Claus. Come back, Vixen. We want you to come home.”

    “I suppose Rudie’s guiding the sleigh tonight?”

    “Yes, but she is just one reindeer. You might say she’s just the headlights, and the rest of you make the sleigh go. A car with headlights but no engine can’t do anything. Not even with the jolliest, most handsome driver in the world behind the wheel!” Santa shook all over as he laughed at his own joke. Vixen couldn’t help joining in.

    “Okay, but how do we get out of here?”

    “No different from me going up the chimney with my sack of toys, especially if you provide a little lift!”

    In no time at all Santa and Vixen were on the helipad with the rest of the team. Kevin had miraculously recovered his health in the meantime, and was nibbling at the lush grass along the perimeter.

    “Kevin, you’re going to have to climb in back. Everyone in your places. We’ve got a lot of time to make up!”

    There was a breeze from the east, with the unusual scent of evergreen boughs and gingerbread, that swept through the streets of Dubai as a shadow glided across the moon that night. Some people reported hearing the faint jangling of small bells as the breeze passed by, as if the joyful spirits of women were dancing on the air.

    If anyone had been listening as the invisible sleigh crossed the path of a jumbo jet heading north across the sea, they might have heard eight voices shouting, “Left, Rudie, left is west!” and maybe even the muttered comment, “For Kringles’ sake, Kevin, sit down and get your fuzzy little antlers out of my face!”

    And with that, I bid you all, a Good Night!

    1. Reaper

      I’ll admit it. I liked the other ending because I like sad stories and be careful what you wish for morals, but this was really beautiful and in the spirit. I really liked that you had Rudolph as the one leading the rebellion to get the nemesis back. Very well written and heartwarming.

    2. cosivantutte

      While your original ending stood just fine on its own, this ending made me happy. I’m glad they went back for her.

      Also, I loved this whole paragraph -> “There was a breeze from the east, with the unusual scent of evergreen boughs and gingerbread, that swept through the streets of Dubai as a shadow glided across the moon that night. Some people reported hearing the faint jangling of small bells as the breeze passed by, as if the joyful spirits of women were dancing on the air.” It’s simply wonderful. 🙂

    3. lionetravail

      I’m so glad you found the time and drive to add this part, Snuzcook! it’s got that upbeat holiday message to it, and puts me in mind of a two part holiday special, where the MC is down but not out at half time 🙂

      From my perspective, i am more interested in. how you felt about the first part, and then writing this one. i know well the sense that I’ve got more story to tell, but this explores even more fertile ground that your first “meanderings” covered. what brought you to this conclusion? what drove you to “finish” the story?

      1. snuzcook

        My motivation goes to one of my firmly held beliefs about storytelling and consuming of stories: That the way we respond to the world is strongly influenced by the cumulative body of images we ingest; negative images or messages must be balanced by positive in order to keep a healthy outlook. (personal soapbox: video games)

        I felt that the original story was powerful, but primarily because its ending touched a common, primal theme of loneliness or abandonment. It made me feel uncomfortable and left my own resonance with it exposed. I felt it was necessary to allow the reader to come back from that place. The second part of the story sought to employ the wisdom of seeing the relationship from the other side to achieve resolution (e.g. Rudie was not a two dimensional being after all, Santa didn’t like ultimatums). Balance achieved, happy ending. (headlights and engine simile was eye-roll worthy, but consistent with the tone of this part of the story)

        Thanks for asking!

  8. Dennis

    ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

    Dancer took a deep breath and knocked on Santa’s office door.

    “Come in.” Prancer nudged the door open.

    “Ah Dancer, you had some important news to tell me?”

    Santa was sitting in his big red chair. Dancer nudged the door closed. He wasn’t sure how to say it except to just say it.

    “I think it is time to move on from this Christmas Eve gig. You know, explore new horizons.”

    “I see.” Santa now wore a more intense look on his face and began to stroke his white beard. “Do tell.”

    “HBO has offered me my own holiday variety special with the possibility of an ongoing reality show.”

    “Let me guess, this has something to do with Rudolph?”

    “As a matter of fact… Whoa Santa, what are doing with that gun?”

    Santa held up a revolver and was looking at it with a childlike quality, as if it was the greatest thing in the world.

    “Ahh, the .44 magnum autoload, a nice performing handgun, once you get used to the recoil.” Dancer just looked on with jaw dropped. “But where was I? Every year it is the same damn thing. One of you reindeer acquires a god complex and thinks you are somehow better than the rest, that your once a year job is somehow beneath you. And all because of some petty jealous over Rudolph’s illuminating gifts.”

    Dancer could barely hear the words as all he could focus on was the gun Santa was waving around as he gestured.

    “Look Santa, I think I would feel more comfortable if you put the gun down.”

    “Well, I have something to tell you.” Santa cupped the side of his mouth and he whispered. “It’s just a toy.” Santa gave a slight chuckle and then placed the gun on the side table. He then picked up a mug and took a few large swallows.

    “Easy there big guy. You might want to slow down on the Christmas Ale. There’s a long night ahead.”

    Santa cupped his brow, looked down and began to weep

    “Hey Santa, I was just kidding and all.”

    “No one knows the stress placed on me, to be jolly 24/7, meet the requests of billions of children and deliver them all in the span of one evening.” Santa wept some more.

    “Look Santa, the show is not that big a deal. I’ll tell you what, you take a few moments alone while I go round up the other reindeer and then we’ll have a grand time delivering gifts.”

    Santa kept his head down and nodded. Dancer slowly made his way out of the room, not seeing the smile Santa was now wearing on his face. Various elves looked on in concern as Dancer passed them.

    “All is well. He’s just feeling the usual Christmas Eve pressure.”

    *****************

    Santa’s sleigh lifted in the air and they headed out to fill joy in the hearts of all the boys and girls. Dancer then took the lead in the first round of singing.

    “You better not pout, you better not cry, you better not shout, I’m telling you why… Everybody”

    SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN

    (Happy Holidays everyone!)

    1. lionetravail

      Great fun, Dennis. I enjoyed this, as Santa seems awful close to going postal, and Dancer ends up playing psychologist. It’s an awesome scene to transplant to this setting 🙂 nicely done!

  9. JR MacBeth

    “Daddy, tell me a story about Santa’s reindeers.”

    “Ginny my little princess, you’ve heard all my stories.”

    “Not the one about Olive.”

    “Olive?”

    “You know, the one in the song, when they say Olive, the other reindeer?”

    “Oh, you mean ‘all of’ the other reindeer.”

    “Yeah. Is she the only girl?”

    “Hmmm. I guess she is. Well, maybe that is a story I haven’t told you yet. Let me see…”

    “Daddy, does she have a red nose? Like Rudolph?”

    “Nope. Her nose is pink! Like yours. And one day, she looked in the mirror and realized that her pretty pink nose was just as bright as Rudolph’s, maybe even brighter. So, she went to Santa and asked if she could help lead the reindeer for Christmas, since it was going to be really foggy, and Rudolph could probably use the help.”

    “Was it as foggy as today?”

    “Even foggier! So, what do you think Santa told Olive?”

    “Yes! That she should help.”

    “Well, you would think. But that’s not what happened. Santa told her that she didn’t have enough experience, she was the newest reindeer you know, and that leading the reindeer could even be dangerous.”

    “Dangerous?”

    “Yes. He said that sometimes it would snow real hard, or even hail, and some other stuff even worse…”

    “Like ‘lickricity?”

    “Exactly! And lightning can be really scary too.”

    “So, she didn’t get to help Rudolph?”

    “Well, Santa had another idea, that maybe she could be a taillight. What do you think of that?”

    “Like on a car? That sounds dumb.”

    “Yeah, well, that’s what she thought! But of course, you can’t tell Santa that.”

    “So, what happened?”

    “Right that minute, Mrs. Santa Claus comes in the room. She had been listening at the door, and she had something to say: ‘Chris Cringle! Have you seen how foggy it is out there?’”

    “Chris Cringle?”

    “That’s Santa’s real, actual name.”

    “Wow, I didn’t know that. What’s Mrs. Santa’s real name?”

    “Uh, well, I can’t recall at the moment. But anyway, Mrs. Cringle, let’s call her that, she makes sure that Santa knows that she thinks his taillight idea isn’t too bright, and that Olive should have a chance to help. After all, what if Rudolph caught a cold, she said, and couldn’t lead the way one Christmas, then what?”

    “Yeah! Then what!”

    “Well, Mrs. Cringle whispered a few other things in Santa’s ear that Olive couldn’t quite hear, and next thing you know, Santa says yes!”

    “Yes! So Daddy, will we see a pink light tonight, with red?”

    “You won’t see anything because you’ll be asleep! Remember, if you’re not asleep, Santa can’t leave your presents.”

    “That’s right.”

    “Mommy! You’re home!”

    ****

    “She’s sound asleep now. So Mr. Santa Claus, what did Mrs. Santa whisper into his ear?”

    “Oh, probably something about a cold and lonely bed. And maybe something else about a riding crop…”

    “I’m guessing he wouldn’t like that very much.”

    “You right about that first part.”

    “Merry Christmas dear.”

    “Merry Christmas.”

    1. Reaper

      This is very sweet, I agree with Tim on his comments. Normally the stuff that seems designed for kids doesn’t hold my attention as well but this really did. You did the child’s voice very well.

    2. Amyithist

      Very well done. It’s hard to write entirely in dialogue. But you did a fantastic job. and Olive the reindeer? How precious! A child would absolutely make that observance. So cute! WELL DONE!!

    3. lionetravail

      This was excellent. The child mis-hearing all of to Olive is a wonderful picture, so easy to see, and dad just running with it was perfect daddyhood. The tone was great; i’d say it had the best tradition of the modern cartoon, built for kids but accessible to adults on the deeper level.

      And then you turn it to adult with the final exchange in just the perfect tone. Nicely done. 🙂

  10. Observer Tim

    The man in the sleigh pointed at Jack and then turned his finger aggressively downward. Heave to, that was the message. And the blinking red light from the nose of the lead reindeer sent a second message, one known to criminals everywhere: you’re nicked.

    Jack called to the creature harnessed to the bowsprit. “AHOY, MISTER DASHER, BRACE ABOX!”

    Every able-bodied sailor aboard grabbed something sturdy as the reindeer came to a complete and sudden halt. Smilin’ Pete flew off his position on the wheel mount and rolled forward until he was stopped by the mainmast.

    The sleigh touched down amidships and the jolly old man climbed off. He picked up Smilin’ Pete, giving the skull a quick buff as he approached the captain. The captain nervously shifted from foot to peg and back as the old fellow approached.

    “Jack, what did I say?”

    “Ahrr, Mister Santa, it’s like this…”

    “Did I not specifically tell you when I let Dasher serve an internship here that he was not to be used to pull the boat?”

    “Well, Sur, it was like’n this. Mister Dancer was boastin’ to the boys that he could haul just about anythin’ and then Tortuga Zeke and Gutbuster Gavin started makin’ fun of ‘im. Finally Busty Bob dared him, and said he’d dress up like a girl if’n he did it. Even Smilin’ Pete wanted ta see it done!”

    “That excuse would have worked the first time and maybe the second, but this is more like the tenth! I should have you keel-hauled for this!”

    Jack Bastord glowered, his face slowly turning redder than Saint Nick’s suit. Even the warning look from Smilin’ Pete wasn’t calming him down. “Nobody threatens to keel-haul me on me own ship! That’s mutiny! That’s lunacy! That’s…”

    “Piracy, Jack?” The old man’s wry smile would have disarmed the Spanish Armada. Or made them open fire.

    “Right!” Jack thought for a second (about three-quarters of a second longer than usual) and then burst out laughing. “Arr, that it is, Old Man. Yer always was one o’the best.”

    As if waiting for the moment, one of the crew approached. “Uh, Santa?”

    “Yes, Jennif… er, Busty Bob?”

    The pirate handed him a small book. “Could you give this to Mrs. Claus, sir? I know she likes my stories of adventure on the high seas.”

    “Mrs. Claus? Arr, Nick, I didn’t know the Church let ye keep a bit on the side!”

    “She’s my housekeeper, Jack. There’s no hanky-panky; I am a bishop, you know.” But Santa knew from the gleam in Jack’s eye that this wouldn’t be the end of it.

    “Boss!”

    Santa turned and looked down at the elf standing behind him.

    “What is it, Edwin?”

    “Well sir, Dasher’s been talking with the other reindeer about what a chore it was to pull the ship, sir.”

    Santa smiled. ‘Good,’ he thought, ‘a lesson hard-learned is more often shared.’

    “Now they all want a try.”

    1. snuzcook

      Smilin’ Pete, Busty Bob and all the rest, a happy reunion in an unexpected context, O.Tim. What fun! You always give me chunkles with the pirates’ insistence on their own interpretations on things, and the apparent corruption of the reindeer was a nice touch. And, of course, where else would we expect to find Edwin honing his skills?

    2. JR MacBeth

      O Tim, awesome names you came up with. Jack Bastord? Nice! And that bit about St. Nick being a bishop, so Mrs. Claus would then be his housekeeper. Good one!

    3. lionetravail

      I’m with Snuzcook, this is a fun reunion from a much earlier prompt! I had no idea St. Nick was the patron saint of pirates- that really doesn’t make much sense: who’d want pirates to have someone protecting them? And what pirate with all their swashing and buckling, and murder and thievery, deserves to have a patron saint?

      Aside from that, it’s cool to see all these old friends out and about again 🙂

      1. Observer Tim

        Nicholas has one of the largest sets of patronages of any saint, with over 100 occupations and groups and a dozen or two other things. For example, he is also the (sometimes a) patron saint of prostitutes, children, pawnbrokers, and one invoked for protection against fire.

        Salient here is that he is patron saint of sailors (and nautical occupations), brawlers, and thieves. Pirates sort of came naturally to the tradition. Apparently several biker groups also informally count him as their patron as he is the informal “patron saint of badasses”.

        A nice big list can be found by Googling “Saint Nicholas Center” and going to the Patronages tab. The list here is not sanitized like more popular Catholic sites.

      2. Observer Tim

        To the second part, in an age where (a) most people were religious or at least superstitious, (b) saints fulfilled many of the prayer functions of guardian angels, and (c) death was more common than potatoes, nearly everyone needed a patron saint. Deserving? Most of us aren’t. The pirates took him as their patron without asking for permission. Like pirates do. 🙂

  11. Cynthia Page

    (It’s too long. I couldn’t make this any shorter. I haven’t read any other entries, so I hope I didn’t repeat someone else’s theme.)

    Reined In – Anachronism Update

    Dasher stuck his head over the half-door of Santa’s stable office with his opening speech rehearsed. Without waiting for Santa’s greeting, he let out all his pent up resentment.
    “So you think Rudolph is such a great addition to the team, so great that you would let a mere weanling take the lead. What happens when he runs that bright red nose right into a mountain or a high rise building? What then? He knows nothing of our route, or the hazards we face. He doesn’t understand why we avoid notice. Besides, that nose looks like the landing lights of an airplane. Radar tower operators would see us miles away as we hop around in cities. Outside of fog or blizzard he’s nearly useless.”

    “Don’t be so hard on the little fellow. He tries his best. He just needs guidance.”

    “He’s not the only one who needs guidance,” Dasher said under his breath. “How long have I been your lead flyer, taking the risks, keeping us all safe while you do your duty? You would pass me over for a brat with a shiny nose?” He shook his antlers at Santa.

    “Of course not, Dash. You are still our team leader. We couldn’t get through without your knowledge.” Santa set down his pen and sat back.

    “Well I’m glad you see that.” Dasher was not fooled by Santa’s agreement. It was time to set things straight. “I want changes around here, Santa. I have seniority, so they deserve consideration.”

    “What changes?” Worry lines wrinkled his forehead as he removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes.

    “I want the youngsters trained in aviation navigation and meteorology. I learned the hard way, but they don’t have to. I also want a GPS system for our harnesses. With that, we would never get lost. I want a communication system on the harnesses too, so we can warn each other about hazards or danger, or if one of us has a serious health issue in flight we can compensate immediately.”

    Santa chuckled. “Health issues? None of you have been sick once in over 500 years.”

    “We’ve had some; we just haven’t told you. Last year, Prancer twisted her ankle on a landing. We made sure she didn’t need to use it through the rest of the night.” Dasher bobbed his head. “Suppose one of us gets hit by a drone. The skies over cities aren’t safe anymore, you know.”

    Dasher wasn’t done yet. “What I’d really like is radar, with a proximity warning system, but that’s negotiable.

    “Radar? Hmph. It hasn’t helped humans much. They still have too many close calls,” Santa replied.

    “Look, Santa, we’ve been pretty lucky with weather grounding flights in the northern hemisphere during snow storms, but chaotic weather is going to increase with global warming, and we aren’t prepared. We can’t count on snow storms for cover everywhere, and nicer weather will mean more air traffic. I don’t expect to get it this year, but this is not a Christmas wish. It’s a safety necessity.”

    Santa grumbled, “What are you, a union negotiator?”

    “I might as well be. Who else is going to look out for you and the rest of the reindeer if not me?”

    “Do you have any other demands? Vacation, fresh straw hourly?” Santa was joking, but…

    Dasher said, “Well, now that you mention it, I would like every other year off once my alternate is fully trained.” Dasher didn’t expect this wish to come true, but no harm in trying. His voice became wistful. “Christmas Eve in a warm stable with fresh oats and clean hay to rest in…” Dasher’s eyes became unfocused as he dreamed. “Sorry, where was I? Oh, and the trainees will need to solo before certification, so live on Christmas Eve is the only way to make sure they are fully trained. For several years we’ll rotate new grads into harness with a partial first team supervising.”

    Santa stroked his beard. “Certification? Solo? Wait, you mentioned training, but… meteorology and aviation navigation? Hold on, a sec. Let me think.” He put his glasses back on, wrote something on his notepad and then leaned back. After a moment his eyes narrowed and he sat up. Dasher saw a sparkle in his eyes as Santa wrote down something else. Santa looked at Dasher over his glasses, making Dasher suspect he wouldn’t like what was coming.

    “I’ll give you every fifth year off, but…”

    Dasher thought that came too easily. He had expected Santa to say once per decade.

    “…instead of radar, suppose we get night vision goggles? And I can arrange classes on weather, since I know someone who might help, but navigation is a problem. There’s only one person I trust to teach the young ones. That’s you.” He put his pen down.”

    Dasher started to object but Santa continued.

    “We don’t follow airline flight plans, and navigating over cities is strictly helicopter navigation. There’s no one I know and trust to teach that. YOU are the only one who can teach what you learned by trial and error. I’ll give you a year to get four, including Rudolph, trained as apprentice navigators. For the next four years, you will take each one of them as your co-pilot, then in the fifth year, your best student goes solo, even if it’s not Rudolph. We’ll get some equipment for seeing through weather, maybe even fix up the sleigh with a small Doppler weather system. I expect weekly reports on your students. If any of your first choices don’t show solid comprehension by the second month we will replace him…or her, and if none of them are ready to solo in the fifth year, your vacation gets delayed another year, or until you deem one fully prepared and fit to lead. Got that? No vacation until your replacement is ready.”

    “Got it, sir.” Dasher shuffled his hooves and bobbed his head, jingling his harness bells. He started to back away.

    “Wait. One more thing. Call the herd together and announce these conditions: You must get recommendations from four responsible adults, who are not the parents, for any trainees, and you will set solid criteria for those recommendations. I don’t want just anyone who applies, or frivolous recommendations from friends. I want solid candidates. It will be your job to decide, so set your standards high, or I will give someone else the responsibility. If you don’t think you can handle this, tell me now.”

    Dasher turned to look out the stable window at those gathered outside awaiting the results of his conference. He saw silly reindeer, and solid matriarchs, brave young bucks, and brash, assured young females. He already had an idea who he wanted, but setting criteria for recommendations would ensure he didn’t just pick favorites.

    He turned back and said, “Four recommendations each… yes sir. I’ll make sure we only train the best, sir. Thank you. You won’t regret this.” He turned around, but stopped and looked back. “You’ll let me know about the equipment, and the weather classes for scheduling purposes?” At Santa’s nod he left with a bit more lift in his step than when he entered. Santa thought Dasher held himself just a bit taller and straighter, with a military air about him. He chuckled and went back to his lists.

    1. madeindetroit

      Not to worry about length. My suggestion would be to break up the story into two parts.
      Other than the POV shift on the last sentence, this was extremely well written. I loved the premise here and all the demands made to Santa. You thought of everything including global warming! Also, Dasher would make great union negotiator.

      This was a fun take on the prompt. Well done and very imaginative all the way through. Great job!

    2. Dennis

      It’s time to bring Santa and the reindeer into the 21st century. I’d be a bit leery of flying out there with all that is in the air these days. They might want to request some stealth armor to help fly under the radar. Nice story.

    3. lionetravail

      This story did have a distinct military feel to it, and it was great. Well done, nicely internally consistent, and there was a ton of fun in this, down to the haggling of how often he’ll get a year off 🙂

      I really enjoyed it!

  12. cosivantutte

    This is a continuation of Bilbo’s story. Sorry, Bilbo for the hijack. 😀

    “Eddy, I expect you to watch over the house while I’m gone. Are the elves still working?”

    Edwin Malarkey Jr. readjusted his fake pointed ears and green hat, trying not to smirk. Father will be so pleased once he hears that his brilliant plan is complete. “Why certainly, boss. Business as usual.”

    ***

    I am…Bob? Bobby? Robert. Yes, that’s it. Robert. No. Not Robert. I am Ed? Eddy? Eddie? Ed W. No. Eduardo? Edward? Yes! I am Edward. Edward Cullen.

    A smug smile smeared across Edward’s face. I’m so terribly clever. But, of course I am. I am Edward Cullen. His smile faltered. “So, why am I dressed up like Santa Claus?” He struggled to remember his past. Nothing came to mind. “Huh. Maybe I am Edward Cullen, Santa Claus impersonator extraordinaire.” He put his hands on his hips, puffed out his chest, and tried out his best jolly laugh. “Mwa-hahahahahahahhaha!”

    He scratched his head. “I may not know anything at the moment, but I doubt that Santa Claus laughs like that.” He tried again. “Ahh-hahahahahahahahaha! Ha-HAAAAAA-hahahaha-HAAAA!”

    ***

    Edwin Jr. went up to his room and locked the door. He did a thorough search for any eavesdroppers or observers. Finding no one, he pulled off his fake ears, exposing a stubby pair of radio antenna. He pulled off his hat and pressed the big red button on the top of his head. “Father. Calling father. Father. Please respond. Please respond.”

    ***

    Dancer felt cold. Uncomfortable and cold. He mumbled, “Margo, get me my thermal blanket.”

    “Heeey, mommy! Wook at the pwetty weindeuh. I wanna pet his pwetty white bewwy.”

    “Now, Junior. Don’t touch it. I think it might be dead.”

    “Is not dead. Is pwetty and I’m gonna pet it.”

    Splat! A jelly-stickied hand slapped Dancer’s chest and spread its sticky love all over.

    Dancer jolted awake and leapt up to his feet.

    “Yay!” The chubby little urchin jumped up and down, clapping his fat grape-jellied hands. “Pwetty weindeuh not dead! Yay!”

    Dancer clonked his teeth at the kid.

    The mom grabbed little junior’s hand and ran.

    All right. he thought. There’s the sleigh, the bag of toys. But where’s Edwin? He snuffled the snow mound and found only Edwin’s fading scent. He glanced around at the tall buildings, bustling crowds, noisy cars.

    “Father. Calling father. Father. Please respond. Please respond. Father.”

    Dancer nosed around in the toy bag until he found the walkie-talkie. He pulled it out with his teeth and stood there for a bit, considering the device’s hoof unfriendliness.

    “Father? Are you there? Please respond. I have great news for you. Your plan is complete. Please return to North Pole immediately to put cherry on top. Please respond.”

    Dancer growled ancient Norwegian curses at the walkie-talkie, scaring away a troupe of choir girls. “That incompetent idiot. How could he wander off at a time like this? Edwin, where are you?”

    ***

    “Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Yes! I think I got it. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.”

    A little girl bundled up in a white mink coat swaggered over to Edward. The coat hem dragged in the snow.

    Edward smiled an icky smile at her. “Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Why, hello, little girl. What would you like for Christmas, hmmmmm?”

    “Never mind that, creeper. My mommy wanted me to tell you that you are the ugliest and worst Santa that she has ever seen and she has seen many.”

    Edwin took off his Santa hat and threw it into the snow. “Thems fighting words!”

    The little girl was not impressed with his display.

    “If your mommy wants to insult perfectly innocent bystanders, she should do it right to my face. Tell her to bring it on! I ain’t afraid to punch a woman in the face.”

    “Yep. You are the worst Santa. But I wouldn’t punch my mommy if I were you. She might turn you into a lizard and send you to the moon.” Sparkling amethyst and peridot shards swirled around the little girl, transforming her into a woman with long, curly black hair. The mink coat fit her much better. “Or maybe I’ll turn you into Robert Downey Jr. again.”

    to be continued…

    1. cosivantutte

      And here is the continuation of the continuation:

      “Father? Father? Are you there? Father? Dancer. Please respond.” Edwin Jr.’s voice echoed in the cold New York air. “Is anyone there?”

      No one was.

      ***

      Dancer walked down the sidewalk. He had chosen a random direction, hoping for the best. But Edwin was nowhere in sight. “I should have gone the other—” He stopped and stood perfectly still as the strong scent of utter desperation wafted past his nose. “Only one person in this world smells like that.”

      He ran towards the smell.

      ***

      Edward clutched his hair as crumbs and flakes of memories cluttered up his head. “I’m Ed. Ed? Eddy? Eddie? Edwa–No. Edwi…” He released his hair. “I’m Edwin Malarkey. And you! What do you want?”

      “I want you to stop your plan.”

      “No! My plan is perfect. It’s foolproof. It’s the most beautiful thing on Earth!”

      “Your plan will RUIN Christmas as we know it.” She grabbed him by the white trim on his Santa suit. “I love Christmas, you foul-faced punk. If you ruin it, I will ruin your life. Shoot. I might do it anyway. After what you did to President Clooney with MY magic—”

      “Edwin!” Dancer raced around the corner. “Your plan is complete. All you have to do is go back to the North Pole and do something about putting a cherry on top.”

      The sorceress glared death spells at Edwin. He squiggled uncomfortably in her grip. “Dancer, go fetch the walkie-talkie. I need to tell Edwin Jr. to cancel the plan.”

      “But the plan is complete.”

      “And I’m going to cancel it!” His voice went up an octave halfway through that sentence. “I have seen the light. It is beautiful and radiant and oh so glorious! Oh, how it does dazzle my eyes!”

      Dancer contemplated Edwin’s situation. “I see. She’s one of your mares and she’s threatened you with disembowelment or worse. Fine. I’ll get the walkie.” He muttered, “I’ll have to talk to that sorceress on Licquor Ice Lane about her job opportunity.” as he walked away.

      She released him with a shove. “So, I’m ONE of your mares, am I?”

      “Yes. No! No! You are my darling, my beloved, my starshine, my one, my only! I don’t have any other mares. Just you.”

      “Good. Keep it that way.” She turned back into a little girl and skipped away.

      1. lionetravail

        I got confused with this one, Cosi, and it’s probably because I’m not reading it as a continuation maybe. Fallible memory? The edward, edwin, and edwin jr stuff was… disorienting?…. for me over the longer piece.

        Still, I love the child speak, and the handful of sticky love 🙂

        1. cosivantutte

          Sorry for the confusion. I probably should have set up the story a little better.

          In Bilbo’s half of the story, Edwin had crashed the sleigh into Central Park. Maybe Edwin did it on purpose. Maybe not. I figured it was his usual round of bad luck and it gave him amnesia (short-term, of course).

  13. Stephen S

    (Suspects)

    The officer opened the door, letting me in. The room was small; two chairs and a table sat in the middle. The detective took a seat and motioned for me to sit. I glanced down at my four hooves and back at him.

    “I’m sorry, force of habit; let me start the recorder so I can get your statement,” the detective said and pulled out a small recorder and pressed record. Talking at the device, the detective said, “This is Detective Smith with?”

    The detective pointed at me and I said, “Reindeer Dasher.”

    “Thank you for answering my questions today, ” Smith said.

    “Sure, whatever I can do to help?” I said and sat back on my hind legs.

    “When was the last time you saw Santa?” Smith asked?

    “Two days ago the 12th, I had requested a meeting with him,” I stated.

    “What was the meeting about?” He asked.

    “I was asked by the other reindeer to talk to him about an issue we were having with, Rudolph.” I said.

    “What was the issue?” He asked.

    “Well, first of all Rudolph is an alcoholic, second there has not been a foggy Christmas for more then 100 years and there is no reason why he should be lead still. So the other reindeer and I felt that we would put an ultimatum to Santa. He allows the others to lead or we walk,” I said.

    “What was his response?” Smith asked.

    “He said he would look into it, but if I and the rest of the reindeer felt that we could find better jobs, then he supported us fully in our future endeavors.” I said, looking at the ground.

    “Do you know of anyone that would want to hurt Santa,” Smith said.

    “The elves,” I said.

    “Santa’s elves?” he asked.

    “Yeah them, I would check them out. You know they are all related; right? Well you see every one of them is in line for Santa’s Sleigh. I would check with one of them.” I said.
    Smith wrote something and asked, “How many of them are there?”

    I thought about it for a moment and answered, “About 2000.”

    “Is there one in particular I should talk to?” He asked.

    “Well they all follow Santa but I guess Tublo would be the shop foreman.” I said.

    Smith wrote some stuff down and looked up at me and said, “Thank you, Dancer.”

    Standing, I put my hoof out and said, “It’s Dasher.”

    He shook it saying, “Yup, your right.” and then he lead me to the door.”

    I walked out of the police station, half way down the street I stopped and stood up right on my back legs. I fished my lighter and smokes out of my saddle bag, as Santa’s Sleigh pulled up next to me at the curb. I lit my smoke and looked at the driver. Prancer smiled at me, he was wearing Santa’s hat and had a bright red nose hanging from his keychain.

    1. HappyGoLucky

      Holy cow! That was an… interesting approach. I do like the detective sense. The only thing I ‘m wondering? What happens next? Do they get caught? Do they get away with it? Maybe do a small little thing that lets us viewers know. Other than that- and the drugs, obviously- it was an A+.

    2. Observer Tim

      Wow, Mickey Spillane does reindeer. I can just see it “The Candy Cane is Half Red”.

      There were only a couple of things I noticed. In the second paragraph I think you’re using derivatives of “record” too much; it’s a little jarring. And the last would be punched up if Santa’s hat ware referred to differently (e.g. “the Old Man’s hat”, or “Claus’s cap”, or something like that).

      Great job!

    3. Reaper

      From the title and the feel I have to ask. Was this inspired by the Usual Suspects? I got that feeling and thought it was really well done in such a short space. Though I do echo the a little too much record in the one paragraph.

    4. lionetravail

      I think this was a lot of fun and agree that it was a clever way to tell the story. A bit of editing to help the flow, but the dialogue could almost have been out of any surreal- very surreal- cop show. I love the ‘I lit up a cigarette’ at the end, which was appropriately gritty and clearly celebratory for getting away with it.

      “Sorry, force of habit.” Awesomely funny 🙂

  14. HappyGoLucky

    Okay, that’s it. The idiot light bulb finally hit too close to home. That no good nutcracker. He doesn’t deserve to be in the front! I do! Who does all the work deciding what gifts go in first? Me! Who makes sure Mrs. Claus gets her daily foot rub? Me! And- if this isn’t enough- who makes sure Santa here gets a new suit every Christmas? ME!

    I frowned and pranced around a little. They don’t call me Prancer for nothin’. No, stop! A mad reindeer doesn’t prance around even if his name is Prancer.

    “DASHER!” I yelled, running around. “DASHER!?”

    “Geez, Prancey, cool your jets! What the lights is wrong?”

    “First off, Prancey?!”

    “Sorry.” Dasher slugged back a little. They’re all scared when I’m mad- WHO CARES?!

    “Sure, whatever. But Mr. Light Bulb hit too close to home!” I could feel the waterworks about to explode.

    “What’d he do this time?”

    “Oh, don’t get me started!” There was a two second pause. “So, he just walks up to me, and is like, ‘I heard you got put in the front this year!'”

    “That’s great!”

    “SHUT UP RUNNER BOY!”

    Dasher frowned.

    “Anyway, then he was like, ‘Wanna go get some Egg Nog?’ And I was like, ‘Uh sure.’ So we went and I drank a little to much of it, and so did he. We hooked up with some deer and did some things that I’m not proud of. Mr. Light Bulb said that I was ‘A Drunk Deer’ and that he was going to tell on me. So he did. And then I realized that he was somber the whole time!”

    “And that hit close to home…”

    “MY FATHER, YOU IDIOT!”

    I started crying. This isn’t something I do often, so Dasher, naturally, was worried. “Oh, dude, I’m sorry. I forgot about him. It’s just, well, um, well,” Dasher stammered.

    I pushed him away. “Go.”

    He nodded. “Right.”

    I was in Christmas Square crying about something that had happened so many years ago…

    It was Christmas Eve, 1895. Dad and I were stocking Santa’s sleigh and helping him check his list when Rudolph’s dad came over, drunk (like always), and stabbed Dad to death. Blitzen, of course, was sent away, but I couldn’t get over it.

    Rudolph had apologized thousands of times, and I knew it wasn’t his fault, but whenever I saw him, I saw Blitzen, and I thought of that night.

    I wiped my eyes and headed to Santa’s Workshop.

    I didn’t even need to knock. “Come in, Prancer.”

    I walked in, my head low.

    “Hi, Santa.”

    “Hello, Prancer. Fancy seeing you here. I heard about last night.”

    I felt my face gong Rudolph’s nose red. “Sir, let me explain. You see…”

    “Nope. No explanations.”

    “But, sir…”

    “I’m putting you on the front.”

    “WHAT!?”

    Santa chuckled. “Yes, Prancer. It occurred to me when Rudolph came to tell on you. You see, I have a bad habit of picking favorites, if you haven’t noticed.”

    Oh, I noticed.

    “Anyway, I realized, you all might be a tad jealous, so from now on, Rudolph and another reindeer will lead. We’ll get around twice as fast! I chose you this year because of your tensions.”

    There was an eerie silence.

    “You two are brothers, like it or not. You need to learn to at least live with each other.”

    I nodded. “Thank you, sir. For this opportunity.”

    “No problem.”

    “I won’t let you down!” I shouted, running out.

    Three days later, Rudolph and I were flying over the Pacific.

    “Hey, uh, Prancer?”

    “What?”

    “I’m sorry.”

    I didn’t respond.

    “About the egg nog, about my dad…”

    “Hey, that’s not your fault.”

    “Still.”

    “It’s fine. Just, keep flying.”

    He started humming that song from Finding Nemo.

    God, that guy can be annoying.

    “Please stop.”

    “Sorry.”

    “HO HO HO! NEW YORK AHEAD!”

    “Landing?”

    “Landing,” I confirmed.

    We dove towards Lady Liberty.

    I heard a scream next to me. Rudolph.

    “WHAT?”

    “We’re gonna crash!”

    “WHAT?!” I screamed.

    “We’re gonna crash! We need to find a clearing!”

    I swerved left and right, trying to find Central Park.

    “2,000 MILES!” Rudolph yelled. Somehow, I knew he was talking about Central Park.

    I kept flying.

    We landed with a thud on the ground, right next to a bench.

    “HOLY COOKIES, WE’RE ALIVE!” Santa yelled.

    I nodded.

    “What happened?” Dasher asked.

    “Some tension up in the front.”

    Great. Rudolph starting humming again.

    After a moment, I recognized the song. Just Keep Swimming.

    I joined in. Soon we were all humming Just Keep Swimming, flying across the moon.

    You might think you know Santa’s chant. The truth is, you don’t. It goes like this: HO HO HO! AND TO THE END OF A FIGHT!

    1. Observer Tim

      This is an nice one, Happy. I like the way there’s no real villains, just a group of reindeer trying to get the job done. Also, you did a great job sneaking in the backstory without disrupting the flow. That’s a heck of a lead time, though – from the Pacific to New York! 🙂

    2. lionetravail

      HGL, nice job with this story! I particularly liked a bunch of the lines in it, ranging from “Who makes sure Mrs. Claus gets her daily foot rub? Me!” all the way to “HOLY COOKIES, WE’RE ALIVE!”

      I thought you told this very well 🙂

  15. turtles87

    That Jolly Man In Red has done me wrong for the last time! Just because I got some chipped hoof and a broken antler doesn’t mean I had to be moved back in the ranks, staring at Rudolph’s idiotic butt!

    I am the best, I accept nothing but the best, and I AM the best.

    I. Should. Be. First. Not Bright-nose.

    Fudge it! Rudolph doesn’t even know the route to each and every house. He hasn’t spent half is entire life practicing navigation.

    So I guess, once you become a freak and have a bright red nose, you magically then become the best and THE JOLLY MAN IN RED instantly puts you in the front ranks.

    Thankfully, I got that call from Jack Frost. On the phone line, he said he had a job offering for any interested reindeers. When I said I might consider it, the dude had at least listened to my concerns and he actually appreciated my skills.

    Right now, I’m marching my way to the Jolly Man’s office, gonna demand an explanation for this new favoritism, and try to get my position back.

    And I won’t take NO for an answer!

    I walk down the cherry red hallways and turn a corner where I am blocked by two Jolly Gaurds.

    The tallest guard stepped forward, “State your business and name.”

    “Kuma Ti, reindeer number 546. I’m here to make a deal with the boss.”

    “Do you have a reservation?”

    “Yes.” I lied.

    They step aside and the shortest guard pushes the door open.

    I step through and see Jolly standing behind his desk. Papers as high as the ceiling are stacked on the desk.

    “Excuse me, boss?”

    He doesn’t look up as he writes “Yes, what is it, Kuma Ti? Is your hoof bothering you again?” He smiles at me sincerely.

    Fudge! Now all that anger is gone and I got nothing to propel me.

    “Um, no. I was just wondering…”

    “Yes? Out with it, Kuma. I have lots of paperwork.”

    I take a deep breath and blurt out, “Can you switch my position with Rudolph’s?” I close one eye and hold my breath.

    He gives me one look then goes back to his papers, “No. Sorry buddy.”

    Fudge!

    I smile, “Alright. No prob. See ya.” My smile keeps until i turn and leave.

    That Jolly Man has treated me wrong for the last time!

    What was Jack Frost’s number again?

    1. Reaper

      It is a good story, especially as a character piece. I was completely with your MC up until he went all wuss at the end. I lost any sympathy because of not confronting the problem and not actually quitting. You managed to do that with just a couple of lines. Part of that, I think, was you making Santa so easily sympathetic.

      1. turtles87

        Thank you, Reaper! Yes, I believe I made Santa very “easily sympathetic”. Not sure where this story was going; I just came up with it and just posted it. But thank you again!

    2. madeindetroit

      I loved this story. This was very well crafted.
      Your strong MC makes a case to be number one and then very decisively charts another course. Well paced with outstanding dialogue.
      Loved the Jack Frost references!

      Very well done Turtles87…

    3. Observer Tim

      Great story about what really happens as often as not in these confrontations. I’ve seen this happen in real life too many times, especially with ‘busy bosses’. We like seeing the hero, but sometimes the stories of the other guys have to be told. Thanks. 🙂

    4. lionetravail

      This was a lot of fun, Turtles- nicely done! I like the fact that after seeming a little bit milquetoast at the end by not confronting the jolly fat man, Kuma at least has the courage to think about his other options. The Jack Frost reference was clever, but I thought you’d go one step further since you have Rudolph as your object of envy plus Jack Frost in the same story: my mind immediately went to Rudolph’s glowing red nose as the source of the friction, and Jack Frost who goes nipping at one’s nose…. muahahahaha.

      “Hey Mr. Frost? This is Kuma Ti… Yeah, to you too. I was wondering how much it’d cost to have you come nipping at some Mr. Busybody’s nose?… Really?… Can I put it on layaway?”

      ::Wink::

      Nice job with this 🙂

  16. jhowe

    The following is a 363 word excerpt from the actual transcript from the Sioux Falls, MN police department from December 26th, 2008. The term ‘actual’ may be exaggerated for effect but other than that, it’s fairly true.

    911, what’s your emergency?
    Grandma got run over by a reindeer.
    A reindeer? Where?
    Coming home from our house Christmas Eve.
    You did say a reindeer, right?
    You can say there’s no such thing as Santa.
    I made no judgment about that.
    But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.
    Ok, we’ll get to that. We have emergency responders on the way.
    No need to hurry.
    Is she not injured?
    She’s dead.
    When did this happen?
    Two days ago; Christmas Eve, I told you that.
    Ok, calm down; and you’re just calling now?
    Well, she’d been drinking too much eggnog.
    Eggnog?
    As were we all.
    How did this happen.
    We begged her not to go.
    Go where?
    Out, into the snow.
    When did you find her?
    Christmas morning.
    That was yesterday.
    Well, there was the eggnog and playing cards with cousin Belle, a lot of beer and we were watching football.
    So you were too busy to call?
    Have you ever had fig pudding?
    I can’t say that I have.
    Well, I’d advise against it; there’s been a line at the bathroom for hours.
    How do you know it was a reindeer?
    From the hoof prints on her forehead.
    Anything else?
    Well, the neighbor, he’s a little unreliable, but he saw it all.
    What happened?
    They were arguing, the reindeer. And Santa was trying to keep peace.
    You don’t say.
    I’m serious. Rudolf was the cause of it all.
    Rudolf?
    Hey, I’m just repeating what I heard.
    Calm down; I’m not accusing you of anything.
    Well, the neighbor is spouting off about it all down the street.
    You mentioned he’s unreliable?
    Yeah, we get our eggnog from him. He’s like the neighborhood supplier during the holidays.
    What is he saying?
    That they should never give a license to a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves.
    He’s talking about Santa?
    Who else?
    Right. Someone should be there soon. Would you like me to stay on the line?
    No, it’s my turn to get into the bathroom.
    The fig pudding?
    Don’t ever eat that stuff, I’m telling you.

    1. Observer Tim

      Uh huh. I love the way you mixed the song into the narrative, jhowe. It’s truly inspired. 🙂

      On a side note, a lot of radio stations up here (in Canada) have pulled that song out of their Christmas rotation, citing ‘bad taste’ as the reason. So I deliberately find a copy somewhere and play it every week. On the other hand, there are a number of “Christmas classics” that can make me turn off the radio. Censorship only has value if you do it yourself.

    2. lionetravail

      Brilliantly fun, Jhowe. I loved this from the first sentence, and read just the first lines to my wife who broke into insane laughter. And it only got better from there 🙂

      What a wonderfully zany take on this; it is a thing of beauty!

  17. rle

    Okay, so this doesn’t exactly follow the prompt, but it felt good so I decided to run with it.

    ————————————–

    It was less than two weeks before Christmas and as was typically the case this time of year, the North Pole was in a frenzy of activity. Merry elves bustled about, this way and that, putting the finishing touches on toys, carefully wrapping packages, and staging millions of deliveries so each one would arrive at the correct destination.

    Santa sat high above the workshop in his plush office, studying the gargantuan scrolls of names, trying to finalize the list of who was naughty and who was nice. “Why Jimmy Smith, you little rat bastard,” He mumbled as he shook his head. “You were off to such a good start too. This was finally going to be your year, but no, you couldn’t be good for ten more goddamned days could you?” Santa removed little Jimmy Smith’s name from the nice list and placed it at the bottom of naughty.

    Presently, there was a knock on Santa’s door. “What is it?” he barked as he looked up. The door swung open and in walked Hiram, Santa’s chief elf, with a look of bewilderment on his face. “There’s a problem on the doll baby line sir. The robotic arm is turning the torsos upside down and then shoving the heads in their asses. I don’t know how many got past us before we caught it. We may have to go back through and check India, the Middle East, and most of China. Who knows how long it’ll take to fix this. Oh, and by the way, Donner has refused to participate in touch and go landings until he’s spoken with you sir.”

    Santa shot Hiram a look of disgust. “Fix the doll problem Hiram instead if bitching and moaning to me about it. This is why I pay you the big bucks! If you can’t get it done, I’ll find somebody who can!” Santa stood behind his desk and towered over the tiny elf, veins standing out on his forehead and his rosy red cheeks rosier than normal.

    “Yes sir, right away sir.” Hiram scurried out the door.

    “Send Donner in,” Santa called after him, “like I need one more thing to deal with.”

    Soon, Donner had entered the office. “What is it?” Santa asked without looking up from his work.

    “We need to talk,” Donner replied, tapping his hoof on the marble tile.

    “So I gather. Who pissed in your oats anyway?”

    “I’m not flying this year. In fact, I’m not flying again, ever. I’ve been offered another job and a very lucrative one at that.”

    “Okay.”

    “Okay?”

    “Yea, okay, don’t let the door hit you in the ass, okay?”

    “But…”

    “But nothing. Pack up tour shit and go wherever it is you have to go.”

    “Aren’t you even going to ask…?”

    “Nope, because I simply don’t care. Go to the circus, go to the moon, go fly a kite or go fly with a loon, but just go!”

    “But sir, you need me and I just thought maybe…”

    “Truth is Donner, I don’t need you. I don’t need Dasher or Dancer or Prancer or Vixen or Cupid or Comet or Blitzen either for that matter. Haven’t needed any of you since Rudolph came along. He’s special you know? I was kinda hoping the rest of you would just die of old age, but you just seem to keep hanging on. Now, if you’re quitting, go! If you’re not, you’re fired, so go anyway!”

    Donner quietly left Santa’s office with his head hanging low. His plan had backfired. He didn’t have another job offer. He was just hoping Santa would offer up an extra scoop of grain once in a while or maybe and extra week on the summer pasture. What was he going to do now? Nobody else on the planet had any use for a flying reindeer. Then his eyes brightened. As he sat out across the frozen tundra he thought maybe he could ferry eggs for that bucktoothed freak The Easter Bunny. Or, maybe he could gather up teeth for that old hag The Tooth Fairy. Good options? Probably not, but it was worth a try.

    1. madeindetroit

      Loved this story and the manner you paint Santa as something of a corporate CEO sitting on their throne figuring out way to ax most of their people. Tight dialogue that flowed very well. Loved how you left Donner twisting in the wind with no other offers except maybe from the “buck-toothed freak” or the “old hag” tooth fairy.

      Nice job.

    2. Dennis

      I was waiting for the tables to turn and have Santa be the bad guy. I went that route too but in a different way. I think a lot of us made the naughty list this year with our stories. 🙂

    3. lionetravail

      “Why Jimmy Smith, you little rat bastard,” He mumbled as he shook his head. “You were off to such a good start too. This was finally going to be your year, but no, you couldn’t be good for ten more goddamned days could you?” — Effing loved this 🙂

      And then you went with the robotic arm shoving their heads up their asses, which is, of course, brilliant satire.

      The end was poetic in a way, though I liked that Donner found the bright spot at the finish. If I had my druthers (who uses druthers anymore?? le sigh), I’d love to see Donner’s farewell conclude with: “Hmm, he’s got the same problem as his dolls if he thinks a flying reindeer can’t land on his feet!”

      Lots of fun 🙂

  18. Observer Tim

    There. Big project is done and I’m back..

    THE REQUEST

    It was three weeks before the big night and Saint Nicholas was going over The List again. Much of the work was done by computer, but he reserved this part to himself. Finalizing moves from naughty to nice was satisfying and heartening work.

    There was a distinctive knock at the door; centuries of knowing his staff told him who it was.

    “Come in, Vixen.”

    The young reindeer came in and stood before the desk, shuffling her hooves and clicking her knees nervously. Finally Santa broke the awkward silence.

    “Is something bothering you, dear?”

    Words gushed out. “Well sir, it’s about the job opening. I know nobody wanted the accident, and losing Rudolph is a blow, but the work must continue. That’s what you tell us every year. I like the new Dasher and Comet, they’re both great, but I noticed you haven’t placed the new Rudolph yet.”

    Santa knew what was coming, but Vixen would have to say it herself. “And…”

    “Uh, I’d like to apply, sir.”

    “You know the job of Rudolph is traditionally held by a male reindeer.”

    “Yes sir, but I think I could do better. For one thing, we won’t repeat the debacle of 2007 when we had to go back and do the deliveries a day late in Prague because Rudolph wouldn’t ask for directions. And working with him gives all of us a reputation as his herd, which can be a bit awkward around mating time given his uh, inclinations.”

    “Well, my dear deer, I…”

    “I know the risks, sir. The noseglow lichen is specifically enchanted to work on male reindeer, but the elves could develop a new strain. It shouldn’t take more than a year or two, and even if it takes longer I’m willing to take one for the team. I don’t really want to be butch, but if it means I can get the lead job…”

    “And the fame?”

    “Oooh, trample the fame. I just want to show that I can do the job as well as any male. I’d even take the name Rudolph if I had to, though I’d prefer Ruby.”

    “Ho ho ho! Now girl, I’ve been…”

    “Please sir, try it for just one year! You have to give me a chance!”

    “Calm down girl, let me speak. I’m going to grant your request. Frankly, the current candidates for Rudolph have all been a bit too eager for the glory. I need someone whose first focus is on the job and it sounds like you’re it. I’ll give you a try this year –just this year, mind you– and if it works out, there’s an option for continuing. And I’ll call you Rudy, not Ruby. Do you understand?”

    “Yes sir. Thank you sir. I won’t let you down sir.”

    “See that you don’t. Now, do you have any suggestions for the girl who’s going to be Vixen this year?”

    “Well sir, I’ve been making a list and checking it twice…”

    1. lionetravail

      So, so cute! Girl er, reindeer girl… power! And such a great solution for pesky males not asking for directions. How on earth did you choose Prague for the debacle of 2007?

      Love it 🙂 This could so easily be a great children’s story!

  19. Bilbo Baggins

    REVENGE OF THE REINDEER

    Dancer laid his two hooves on the big man’s table and clapped them back and forth.

    “You know I hate it when you stand. It creeps me out.”

    The ceiling fan swung lazily around on the ceiling. Going back on all fours, Dancer looked around the tiny office disdainfully, as if paying his last dues.

    “Just wanted to say I’m leaving tomorrow for Greenland. There’s nothing you can do.”

    Mr. Dictator Claus leaned back in his desk chair and it squeaked in protest. A look of intense worry creased the forehead above his waist-length beard.

    “Well, I never thought we’d lose an original member of the team. This will upset the Equilibrium heavily. But, on a better note, Clarissa passed her sleigh test with flying colors! Ho, ho, ho!”

    Dancer swung his antlers around in rage. Part of him wanted to kill the old man right there, but he released the thought with a cruelty-tempered mercy. Best to let him suffer as his workshop goes down in flames.

    “I don’t care about Rudolph! The annoying firefly can have his stupid song, but he can’t boss me around! The next time I come here, I’ll be running the show– you, the elves, everything!”

    “How are you going to deliver the presents?” Santa asked, sliding his hands into his big red pockets and pulling out a candy cane. “See, you need me, Dancer, although you don’t want to admit it.”

    Dancer’s snout curled into a grin. “Meet my business partner. Malarkey!”

    Surfacing out of the hallway came Edwin Michelangelo Malarkey III, oozing with pride and dressed in an extra red suit he’d snagged out of Kringle’s wardrobe. Shutting the door behind him, he locked it with a professional, snake-like gesture.

    “The bartender? Dancer, this plan of yours is absolutely outrageous!”

    Edwin whipped a business card out of his suit jacket, placing it on the crumb-filled cookie plate.

    “More than a bartender, Mr. Claus. Much more. I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.”

    Santa held the card up to his glasses. “Stunt double? Celebrity assistant? United States vice president? Screenwriter? It appears you are a man of many talents, Mr…. Malarkey. But I absolutely forbid you from trying to replace me. The consequences would be disastrous.”

    “Oh, don’t worry. I have contacts who readily assure me that you will stay on Coke cans and the Christmas carols. Under our current business deal, we might even allow your duplicates to remain in the malls.”

    “I don’t care about that! I’ve always been the one to run the workshop. Under someone else, the workshop will fail. Toys won’t get to the children!”

    Edwin glanced behind him at the assembly lines. “I’ve already spoken to the elves. Half of them are ready to leave when I say the word. My old boss Robert Downey helped me set up a warehouse in Nuuk. I’ll set up an interactive present shop, elf-for-a-day packages, the whole shebang. It’ll be the most famous attraction in the world. Run by me, of course.”

    Santa almost choked on his candy. “Merry Wenceslas, you can’t! It would ruin the entire thing, the careful framework I’ve kept through the centuries! Please, Dancer, reconsider. The hay deal is still open. Warm and fresh in the stables?”

    Edwin put his arm around the reindeer with a casual smile. “Mr. Dancer here’s receiving much bigger pay now than any pudgy Kris Kringle can give him. We’re prepared to do it all on our own. Right, Dancer?”

    The reindeer waved his antlers again, nabbing a cookie from the desk and chewing it with a menace. Santa could only watch them breeze out the door, with a sinking feeling that all would never be the same at the North Pole. But, at least he still had Rudolph. The other crew didn’t matter, right?

    __________________________________________

    Santa and Rudolph shared an eggnog around the fireplace in Mrs. Claus’s house. A gloomy cloud hung over the house, and the elves were complaining even more than usual. Suddenly, with interest, Santa turned up the television as Fox News reporters switched to a picture of the man they knew as Edwin.

    “Acting president Edwin Malarkey, missing since the “8-ball incident” last month when he fled to exile in Greenland, was sighted yesterday above New York City. Witnesses reported seeing what appeared to be a sleigh flying over Central Park. The late commander-in-chief was trying to steer a lone reindeer above the skyscrapers, but crashed under the heavy load of what looks like a bag of presents. The sleigh has been recovered, but President Malarkey and the reindeer remain missing.”

    The screen switched over to a live feed of policemen holding back a crowd. Buried in a snow drift underneath a tree was the sleigh, firemen feverishly working to dig it out of a snow drift. Santa gasped, and Rudolph’s red nose flickered in surprise.

    “That imposter! Mrs., keep the cookies hot! I have business to conduct over at the Pole!”

    Slipping on his oversized red coat, he summoned his elf servant, who scurried to the door.

    “Eddy, I expect you to watch over the house while I’m gone. Are the elves still working?”

    Edwin Malarkey Jr. readjusted his fake pointed ears and green hat, trying not to smile. His father would be pleased once he knew the plan was finished.

    “Why certainly, boss. Business as usual.”

    GH (Next up: The Edwin Strikes Back)

    1. lionetravail

      How awesome, as I’m smiling ear to ear while starting to catch up. Edwin is really turning into the best boogeyman ever! “Keep the cookies hot!” What great fun 🙂

  20. lionetravail

    Professional Conventioneer

    “Um, Santa?”

    “Why yes, Donner! Please, come on in. What can I do for you today?”

    “Well, I … I mean, er… well, I wanted to talk about a promotion and….um…”

    “A promotion? And…? Surely something more than ‘um’, hmm?”

    “I’m sorry, but, yes. I mean, a promotion and, um, well, a raise to go with it.”

    “I see. Hmm. Well, I’m certainly willing to consider this, Donner. You’ve been an excellent employee. I’m a bit confused that you’ve come directly to me about this, and not simply taken it up with HR, but still, we can certainly discuss things. What did you see as your role in this company, moving forward?”

    “Honestly Santa, I was thinking about maybe a new position.”

    “What kind of new position?”

    “Not in the last pair, certainly.”

    “Oh?”

    “I want… well, I… I want to be first. In fact, I want to lead the whole department.”

    “You want a supervisory role then?”

    “Yes, yes, a supervisor!”

    “Hmm, I see. I do have a very satisfactory leader already.”

    “I know. Rudy’s an okay leader, but that’s only because he gets all the special treatment.”

    “He has major assets he brings to this company.”

    “His nose glows.”

    “Ah, yes, precisely! He’s left this business through dark times, when no one else could have!”

    “I could have.”

    “How, exactly dear Donner? Does your nose glow red too?”

    “That’s not fair, you know it doesn’t! But when it gets erect, the tip of my penis glows very, very red!”

    “Ah, but we’ve spoken about that, m’boy. But you leading the working group, well, that would send quite the wrong message to the little ones we must visit, don’t you think? No, no, I don’t think that would be all appropriate.”

    “I, I can’t keep working out of the goodness of my heart, Santa, no without any real recognition.”

    “Or what, Donner?”

    “Or I’m going to… … accept another job offer.”

    “You’d leave us? Leave this home, this great work environment? This company which brings so much joy to children all over through? To do what, exactly? What other position are you qualified for?”

    “I… I don’t want to say.”

    “No? But then how am I to know if I can make a counteroffer, or for how much? Donner, you’ve come this far, tell me.”

    “No.”

    “You want to tell me, so tell me.”

    “It’s… well… it’s a job where they pay really well! And, and they appreciate my strengths and I can, er, fill any number of positions, okay?”

    “It’s porn, isn’t it?”

    “NO! OMG, how could you think that, Santa? No, it’s not that at all.”

    “Well? What is it then?”

    “There’s a position open as a Convention Manager down in Massachusetts. You know, handling the organization and infrastructure of large meetings for a group I am extremely well suited for.”

    “What group?”

    “Furries.”

    “Oy vey! This is very difficult for me, Donner.”

    “I’m sorry, Santa.”

    “You understand that I’m jolly, not sad, right?”

    “Yes sir.”

    “Mmmm. Alright then. I can’t move you up the traces, but how about if I get you your own apartment? You won’t have to bunk with Blitzen any more.”

    “Um…”

    “Take it or leave it.”

    “Well, sheesh, okay, twist my foreleg why doncha, big guy!”

    “Alright, then get back to work and let’s not have anymore of this kind of thing.”

    “Okay.”

    “Oh, and Donner?”

    “Yes Santa?”

    “Let’s keep the glowing thing zipped, capisce?”

    “Yes sir.”

    1. Reaper

      Disturbing how accurate this conversation is in most companies. I have to say while I enjoyed all of this and found it very well written my favorite parts are the German Christian based Santa Claus popping off with Oy Vey and Capisce. That was awesome.

      1. rle

        I knew this was going to be a very entertaining prompt and so far I haven’t been disappointed. I’ve been fighting a chest cold this week and when I read the line about that special glowing red part of Donner’s anatomy, I broke into a fit of coughing and nearly passed out. Wow.

    2. lionetravail

      Thanks guys! All of these have been incredibly fun to write- this one just popped out there because it’s already so cliche’ed… except with reindeer. 🙂

  21. catbr

    “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, You’ll go down in history.” Same sickening song every year, like he’s royalty or something. Give me a break already. I’m about ready to spew all the carrots I ate at lunch everywhere. The rest of us reindeers never get that attention. Nooo, not like Rudy. Why for a fresh bunch of carrots I’d….

    “Hey Blitzen, how’s it going? What the…what’s all this orange sticky stuff all over the ground?” said Comet.

    “Huh? Oh that. I threw up. Must have had a bad carrot or something. So is Rudolph getting his yearly pampering from Santa and all the elves?” said Blitzen rolling his eyes.

    “Yeah that’s why I’m here. The rest of us were wondering where you were. Doesn’t matter anymore. It’s all over with now.”

    “Speaking of all over with, I’m thinking of leaving this dump and taking up old man Weasel’s offer to pull the big kiddies wagon for Christmas rides in the park. He thinks I’d do good at it. I’m getting fed up with all the fussing over Rudolph every year and meanwhile the rest of us play second fiddle for doing the same amount of work. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right. Rudolph makes me sick. All that attention just because of a shiny red nose.”

    “You worry too much. Rudolph isn’t that bad. Hey lets go get a snack. I think there’s left over carrots from supper somewhere.” said Comet. Blitzen shuddered and cringed at the thought of eating anymore carrots. But, he reasoned, there might be other snacks to eat too.

    So off they went. Instead of food they found Rudolph. He was behind the barn with his head bowed down low, tears dropping silently down into the snow.

    “Rudolph? What happened?” said Comet. Out of all the reindeers he was always the one who was there for the others no matter what. A very kindly soul.

    “I saw you and Blitzen and went over to talk with you’s. I heard everything you said.” said Rudolph with the saddest tear streaked reindeer face that Blitzen ever saw.

    Now, Blitzen wasn’t so angry anymore. He never imagined that deep inside Rudolph was just like everybody else instead of a big arrogant snob. “Rudolph, I’m sorry for saying the things I said about you. Can you forget about it? It’s the kids that matter after all. We all gotta stick together as a team like Santa always says.”

    Rudolph stopped crying and smiled. Blitzen stayed. He never liked old man Weasel anyway.

    Later that night Rudolph told Santa what had happened. Santa thoughtfully considered everything for some time that night and called a meeting the next day with all the reindeer. He told them that starting this Christmas all the reindeer were going to take turns at being in the lead of the sleigh but would have to wear a shiny red nose in case of fog of course. This year it would be Blitzen’s turn. Santa turned to look at Blitzen’s surprised face giving him a wink and a nod. “Ho, Ho, Ho. Merry Christmas my trustworthy reindeers.”

    1. madeindetroit

      Great story and well written.
      Loved how the story ended with Santa giving a surprise gift to his reindeer crew. You captured the true meaning of Christmas!

      Well done!

  22. snuzcook

    RANGIFER TARANDAS NICHOLI

    Is it really only two months ago that this all started?

    I had been in Santa’s office for a private talk. Over Santa’s shoulder, I could see the outlines of dozens of little pointy ears pressed against the frosted glass door. The details of my ‘private’ meeting would be all over the workshop before we even finished talking.

    Santa played with a loose thread on the front of his green work apron, taking his time to respond to what I had told him. I had been anxious and keyed up when I walked into his office, knowing that I was breaking the rules by complaining to the boss about one of the team. Now all that nervous energy was transforming into irritated impatience. I expected a negotiation and instead he was making me sweat like a disobedient calf.

    “So you’re saying this is all Rudie’s fault? That somehow her unique talents what, steal the attention away from you?”

    “That’s just it. It’s not a ‘talent.’ She inherited the Glow, like Donner’s big ears, and Comet’s puffy little tail. She can’t fly as well as Cupid when she’s on her own, and you know what a terrible sense of balance he has. She doesn’t even have a decent sense of direction. I swear, if she weren’t in harness, she couldn’t find South on a clear day.”

    Santa’s belly wobbled as he tried to suppress a “Ho ho ho.” Stories of Rudie’s lack of navigation skills were a constant source of entertainment. I pushed the point.

    “And you don’t know what it’s like when she has those dreams of hers. Her nose lights up the entire stable like a Christmas parade. Then she starts talking in her sleep and kicking the stall. No one can sleep. The next morning she’s all perky and primping around while the rest of us are dragging our haunches all day looking like so much smoked meat.”

    “Now, Vixen, can you hear how petty you sound? Rudie deserves her place on the team as much as the rest of you. You all came to it through your bloodlines. You all owe your positions to the same quirk of nature that gave your sires the ability to fly in the first place.” Santa looked over his little glasses at me with a patronizing smirk.

    “Isn’t this just because Rudie is a doe, a much younger doe?” He crinkled his button nose. “You females can be so competitive. You were the only doe on the team for the last four years, before Rudie moved up. Now you have to share the attention.”

    I shook my antlers and stomped my hooves, coming close to dislodging a photo of Mrs. Claus at the edge of his broad desk.

    “I’m not the only one complaining. Everyone’s disgusted with little miss rosy nose. They just don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t have any options. I do.”

    Finally, I had gotten Santa’s attention. “What options?”

    “I heard from some of the townspeople about a rich sheik who is creating a research center. He is gathering rare and legendary creatures from all over the world to a compound he is building in Dubai. They say he located the last of the unicorns, and he is going to find a way to clone it to preserve the species. He has isolated DNA from a dragon’s tooth they found in Albania and they may be able to reproduce that as well. He has transported an entire family of yeti from Tibet, and pregnant sasquatch from the Olympic Rainforest in the United States. This is going to be the most important attraction in the world.” I could feel my feet leaving the carpet as I became swept up in the excitement of the idea.

    “And this is the option you’re talking about? A zoo?” Santa’s eyes flashed in anger. “You would break up the team without an heir of your bloodline ready to take your place so you can go live in a zoo?!

    He balled his fist and banged it on the desk. “After all I’ve done for you!”

    I’d never seen him this angry before. I tried to keep my voice calm. “My niece is a year old. She’ll be able to join the team in another two seasons. You can just put one of the other older trainees in her place until then.”

    “What, Cupid’s boy? Or Prancer’s nephew? I can’t start the team with ‘Now Dasher, now Dancer, Now Prancer and Prancer! Or worse, Prancer and Kevin!”

    “What about me? There’s a bigger world out there, and I can’t spend my life here, as a stable pony to some red nose freak.”

    “Is that an ultimatum?”

    Suddenly the reality of what I was proposing hit me like a wagonload of wet stall muffins. It had been all just talk, a fantasy. I never seriously considered living anywhere else. I just knew I’d had my fill of the way things were. I wanted Santa to appreciate how unhappy I was.

    I glanced again at the ears pressed against the frosted glass, imagined the hundreds of little gossipy minds eager for a new morsel to brighten the monotony of their jobs. And that’s all I was to them. Just a source of momentary entertainment. They made the toys, but every one of them was just like me, expected to anonymously keep their heads down and do the work while someone else got all the recognition.

    I looked Santa square in the eye. “Yes, it is. Either get rid of Rudie or I’m out of here.”

    “I’m not getting rid of Rudie.”

    “Then you can forward my Christmas cards to Dubai.”

    Only two months ago. I look up through the high glass dome of the Compound. The stars seem particularly bright through the filters that are programmed to block certain spectra of light and enhance others. I used to fly up to the glass to look out, but everything was much hazier up close.

    Tonight I want to see as much of the sky as possible. Tonight I am watching for the approach of a certain crimson glow out of the east. There it is, at last. I’d recognize the dip and yaw of Rudie’s light anywhere. Closer and closer it comes. When they are close enough to make out the outline of Santa’s head and arms holding the reins, I step behind the placard at the viewing end of my enclosure. The sleigh flies by incredibly fast; just the hint of sleigh bells penetrating the glass and sprinkling through the air.

    I step out from behind the sign onto my mark. This is where I am required to stand for two minutes every half hour when important visitors are on site: ‘Rangifer tarandas nicholi, Saint Nicholas Flying Reindeer, adult female.’ There are no visitors now, but I have a particularly empty feeling now that the sleigh has come and gone. I can’t think of anything better to do. These days I seldom can.

    1. Reaper

      Snuzcook, this is… there are no words. So much is packed into this. The ending is so sad but there is so much in the lead up to it as well. Beautiful, funny, sad, I had moments of thinking of Marx and the communist manifesto, civil rights riots, just so many things went through my head that this connected to. I don’t know how you did it and I am stunned. Somewhere in the third quarter of this I got the Pink Floyd line, Did they get you trade the lead role in war for a walk on part in a cage, stuck in my head. That, for me at least, is a pretty powerful connection. Thank you for this one.

        1. snuzcook

          Totally knew what you meant: Did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage? What a flattering connection for you to make! Thanks, Reaper!

    2. catbr

      The grass isn’t always greener on the other side as Vixen surely now knows. I thought for a moment that Santa was going to stop and get her out of the compound. Very good story and writing.

    3. madeindetroit

      Wow. This is an amazing story. So well written and so sad at the end.
      You certainly know how to create that emotional bridge to the reader with your words.

      Fantastic.

    4. Observer Tim

      Yowch. Tear heart open, allow to bleed. This is a masterpiece, snuz. You managed to wrap a story of unfortunate choices up so well… words fail.

      This deserves a sequel showing how Vixen manages to get out (along with others, I hope) and the tearful prodigal return. Either that, or the rescue attempt by her real friends. Or any of a thousand bittersweet outcomes. 🙂 🙂

    5. lionetravail

      Snuzcook, this is some nice, tight writing. The early part is transcendent comedy, and the last 3 paragraphs tired wistfulness. The grazing grass is not always greener, it appears, and in Dubai it comes in the very best brands, only inside a dome.

      What a wonderful and unique take on this- can’t wait to read the follow through further up.

      1. snuzcook

        I had a great deal of trepidation that this piece went too many different directions. I was really working the humor (thought I was quite clever here and there) and then zagged into deep remorse and wtf just happened emotion. One of my greatest weaknesses in longer pieces is that I meander a bit. Was it detrimental to the reader’s experience here?

        1. lionetravail

          I don’t think ‘meandering’ is the right descriptor, to be honest. I think you went exploring, which is fine to do in a longer piece, and since you had ideas to explore was well worth it. (I’m still working my way up the stories to your next piece to see where this goes.)

          I, personally, think that the switcheroo- going from a comic set up to an emotional denoument- is an eminently fashionable trick to pull on us 🙂

  23. madeindetroit

    A STAR IS BORN

    When Vixen and Cupid arrived at Club Reindeer, the line snaked out the door and half way down the snow-covered boulevard leading to the North Pole’s hippest dance club. It was the Saturday night before Christmas and the North Pole was hopping.

    Celebrities’ were hosting glitzy parties and catered events all over town. On the near east side, Hugh Hefner was throwing a Playboy Party featuring his world famous bunnies dressed as scantily-clad elves. On the south side, Maxim Magazine was hosting the Snow Ball. On the west side, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were hosting their inaugural event called West and Wild. Tickets for the bash sold out in less than an hour.

    After twenty minutes, the line had barely moved. “What’s taking so long? I need a drink,” Vixen said.

    “I have no idea what the holdup is,” Cupid said tugging at her fishnet stockings. “Damn, these things itch.”

    A young reindeer wearing a tight leather skirt turned and spoke. “Rudy’s making an appearance tonight.”

    “Who?” Vixen asked.

    “Rudolph the Red,” she gushed. “He’s so…dreamy.”

    Vixen and Cupid looked at each other cross-eyed. “That’s why he bugged out of flight training early today,” Cupid said.

    Vixen felt the heat rise from her hooves up to her nose. Now he was making personal appearances. It was no secret he made the most money among the flight crew. And he had the least seniority. She’d had it up to the tip of her blond antlers with the spoiled runt. Inside the club, there was no sign of Rudolph. Word spread through the crowd that Rudolph and group of hussy’s had holed up in a VIP room. When the two bellied up to the bar, Vixen ordered a Candy Cane Crush and Cupid ordered a Polar Express.

    After she sipped her drink, Vixen announced, “I’m quitting the flight crew,”

    Cupid choked on her Polar Express. “What? You can’t quit the crew. There’s only four days left until Christmas Eve.”

    “I’ve had enough of Rudolph and his diva games. You know I’ve been taking acting lessons.”

    “Yeah, so,” Cupid said taking a taste of her drink.

    “I met a movie producer from LA at the Ho-Ho-Ho Bash two nights ago. He offered me a two-movie deal. Tomorrow, I’m marching in Santa’s workshop and resigning.”

    “Well,” Cupid said, lifting her glass for a toast, “here’s to your acting career my darling.” The two reindeer guzzled their drinks and made a mad gallop to the dance floor. Deejay Jack Frost was just getting warmed up.

    The next morning, Vixen’s popped two Advil to soothe her fat head. She regretted letting Cupid talk her into crashing Kim and Kanye’s party with Jack Frost but Cupid had the hot’s for Jack. She warned her that could be dangerous but Cupid said they would take it cool.

    Santa’s workshop was a mass of chaos and confusion. Elves ran in every direction, their arms stacked with toys. Vixen felt a pang of sadness. She would miss the excitement of Christmas Eve and the inter-continental flight the crew had trained for all year. Vixen waited until Santa had a free moment. “Santa, we need to talk.”

    “Not now, Vixen. Too many fires to put out this morning.”

    Vixen gave Santa the old misty-eyed doe face. “This can’t wait, Santa.”

    “All right,” Santa said, as he gestured to his office. It worked every time.

    Once inside the office, Santa closed the door and took a seat behind his desk. “What is it, Vixen?”

    “Effective immediately, I’m resigning my position on the flight crew.’

    Santa bolted upright in chair. “What? You can’t leave. I’ll give you more-”

    “I’m sorry, but I’ve decided to make a career change. I’ve accepted the starring role in two movies. I’m leaving for LA this afternoon.”

    “When did this-?”

    “And,” Vixen said, “the studio wants me to change my name, strictly for show business purposes. From now on I’ll be known as Bambi.”

    “Bambi!” Santa said. “You can’t steal-“

    “And, you’ll be proud to know, Santa, that one of the movies is a Christmas movie.”

    Santa removed his spectacles and ran a hand though his beard. “And what is the name of the movie?”

    “Bambi Rides the North Pole,” she said proudly.

    Santa sunk down in his chair. His rosy red cheeks had turned pale white.

    “The second is short film.”

    Santa threw up his hands. “Dare I ask the name?”

    “It’s called Thump Her.”

    Santa’s face planted on the top of his desk as Vixen…er… Bambi strutted out of his office to catch the next flight to LA.

    1. Reaper

      Ahhh, poor impressionable Vixen. I was wondering why the name change until that last movie name. Nicely done, and oh what jealousy brings. Only confusing part for me was the line, she warned her when you were talking about two different she’s.

    2. Observer Tim

      Ah, Rule 34 (look it up, it’s real). I hope Vixen is savvy enough to get out of the business quickly, but from what we’ve seen so far it’s unlikely. As a second option, I hope it takes surgery to get the hoof-prints out of that agent’s face.

    3. lionetravail

      I love this MID 🙂 Every little last bit of it! From the image of reindeer out on the town, Rudolph Diva games, to Bambi, and then to Bambi Rides the North Pole and Thump Her … omg, they’re just fantastic titles I could easily see in the Reindeer porn industry.

      Brilliant work here!

  24. Trevor

    Please read my story and tell me what you think! Sorry if it’s a bit long.

    Red With Envy

    I hate Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. He thinks he’s all that. Why does everyone love him so much? Because he lit Santa’s way through a foggy Christmas night years ago? So what? Santa’s gotten through worse nights without the red-nosed punk. Doesn’t anybody remember all the good things I’ve done over the years?

    I’m Dasher. Before Rudolph came along, I was the one at the front of Santa’s sleigh. Everyone looked up to me as the brave reindeer who piloted the sleigh every Christmas. We’ve had many close calls over the years, and if it weren’t for me, most of the other reindeer would be dead. But after that terrible Christmas when Rudolph took the lead, everyone in the North Pole started worshiping him and forgot all about me.

    It was two days ’til Christmas, and everyone at the factory was working double time to get ready for the Christmas Eve flight. The elves were rushing to get the presents built and wrapped, and the reindeer were all working out to get ready for the excruciating trip around the world. But as usual, Rudolph spent more time flirting with his stupid girlfriend Clarice than actually training. This was the way it was every year. We’d all work our antlers off getting ready, and Rudolph took all the credit despite not doing anything. It made me sick.

    While I was doing stretches, I noticed one of the elves running toward the field from the factory. Even though he was far away, I could faintly hear him calling my name. I galloped over to him to see what he needed.

    “Dasher!” The elf said as he stopped in front of me, out of breath. “Santa….he wants to talk to you….immediately!” I was very surprised. Santa hardly spoke to the reindeer before the Christmas flight, so I knew that this had to be something of great importance.

    I followed the elf inside the factory, the sudden warmth instantly hitting my chilled fur. The factory was a complete madhouse. Elves were running around like scurrying mice, preparing the presents and wrapping them up. “Santa’s waiting for you in his office. It’s in the back.” The elf told me in a hurried voice before rushing off to get back to work. When I got to Santa’s office, he was sitting at his computer, his fingers flying across the keyboard. When I walked in, my hoofs clicking on the hardwood floor, Santa looked up and pushed away from the desk.

    “You wanted to see me, Mr. Claus?” I spoke calmly and professionally, but inside I was a nervous wreck. Why did the boss want to see me?

    “Yes, Dasher. It’s about your position on the sleigh.” Santa said in his deep voice. But instead of sounding jolly like he was on Christmas Eve, he spoke in a solemn tone. I knew this had to be bad news.

    “Usually, you ride at the front of the sleigh alongside Rudolph.” My muscles tensed in rage on the mention of that name. “But Rudolph’s come to me saying that having another reindeer at the front is constrictive and slows him and everyone else down. So I’ve decided that you won’t be flying with us this Christmas.”

    “What!?” I didn’t mean for it to come out that loud, but I was in a rage. “You’ve always told us that we need all the reindeer to make the flight.”

    “I thought that, too. But Rudolph told me that, if the rest of the train hard enough, they can make it and do it much faster. I know you must be upset, but it’s for the best. You know how we barely finished delivery in time last year.”

    I wanted to tell the fat moron that the reason we almost didn’t finish the flight last year was because Rudolph had went to an elf’s Christmas party, drank too much eggnog, and was still getting over a hangover during the first part of the flight, but I stopped myself. I had to be reasonable or I wouldn’t get anywhere with him.

    “Actually, I have a suggestion, Mr. Claus.” I explained, using all my energy to keep calm. “Why not have Rudolph sit this one out? He’s the newest.”

    “Oh, Dasher. Don’t take this personally. It’s just that….Rudolph’s become an important Christmas symbol, almost as important as myself. It’s essential to keep the Christmas spirit by having Rudolph lead the sleigh.”

    I wanted to take my antlers and shove them right down his throat. He tried his best to be polite about it, but I knew what he was really saying. He was saying that me and the other reindeer weren’t as important as Rudolph. Rudolph was the only reindeer worth talking about. But I wasn’t about to give that red-nosed prick the satisfaction of getting upset, so I just nodded politely and left the factory. Then, as my rage began to take over, I saw Rudolph. He was trotting happily away to the stables. He looked back at me as he went inside. Was that a look of satisfaction in his eyes? Did he know that I wouldn’t be leading the sleigh this year? He did. He had to.

    He wasn’t going to get away with this. I’ve done more for Christmas than that deceitful freak of nature has ever done. He wasn’t going to take away what was rightfully mine. I couldn’t let it happen. I just couldn’t…
    **********************************************************************************************************************************
    “I can’t believe it.” Prancer said as he stared down into the coffin.

    “Why would he do it? What would drive him to do something so awful?” Comit added, rubbing his wet eyes with his hind leg.

    “I don’t understand it. Rudolph knew that it was dangerous.” Vixen replied solemnly. It was all he could do not to burst into tears at the scene before him.

    Lying in the coffin was the body of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. He was dressed in a black tuxedo and his eyes were shut peacefully in death.

    “We better sit down. Santa’s about to speak.” Comit said. With that, the reindeer joined the rest of the mourners, which consisted of both reindeer and elves. While some sat poised in sorrow, others were so overcome with emotion that they couldn’t stop sobbing. Santa, dressed in his best suit, came to the front of the factory to give the eulogy.

    “Rudolph was a great reindeer.” Santa began, wiping at his tears. “He was astounding even before we realized it. While many of us, myself included, scorned him when he first entered our community, he never let that damage his pleasant, loving demenour. He….was a good friend to us all.” Santa had to pause for a moment to stop himself from crying. “I….I just hope he knew how much we all loved and appreciated him. He was the symbol of what Christmas is all about.”
    **********************************************************************************************************************************
    The fat bastard went on for hours, reciting Rudolph’s history like he was reading from a textbook. I watched all the reindeer and elves mourn for the “tragic death” of Rudolph, sobbing like a bunch of babies. I really had them fooled. They really thought Rudolph’s was just a terrible accident.

    It was just so easy to sneak up on him. He had his back to me, slurping up water noisily. I could feel all the rage that had been building up inside of me melt away as I shoved his head under the water and watched him slowly drown. I knew he was dead when I saw that stupid red nose burn out. I tossed his body onto my back and flew out to the frozen pond. I used a heavy rock to break the ice and tossed Rudolph’s body into the freezing water. It was so satisfying to see his body float down to the bottom of the pond.

    It only took about five minutes for the reindeer to realize Rudolph was missing. They set up search parties and went out to find him. It didn’t take them long to find him in the pond. Cupid tried to revive Rudolph, but it was too late. He was too long dead.

    Now I was going to be the one to lead the sleigh on Christmas Eve. I was going to get the attention. The fame. The glory! I would be the new face of Christmas. I would be the one that children adored.

    I’m gonna be the new Rudolph. No matter what it took.

    1. catbr

      Sounds like Dasher might be the first reindeer serial killer ever if he doesn’t get to take Rudolph’s place. A good deal of envy and rage is conveyed in your story. A surprise horror ending showing the lunatic mind of the hooved beast. Good story.

    2. Reaper

      Very readable. My only suggestion would be to switch the second and third parts. The murder was given away by the lead in so the reveal lost some power. I feel like it would actually have more punch if reveal was that he got away with it.

      1. Observer Tim

        I’ll second this; knowing that Rudolph is dead steals some of the impact from Dasher’s plan. But then, knowing what Dasher did might knock out the impact of the memorial. Perhaps (and I suggest this because I can tell you’re crafty) if you could interlace the last two sections to build both of them up.

        Just thinkin’…

    3. Dennis

      Nice story. I have not objections to longer stories but I think it would benefit you to try and target a smaller word count to tighten up you stories as you have great ideas.

    4. lionetravail

      Good stuff, Trevor! I think you can still find ways to cut some of the prose to make it move a little faster, but this is a pretty good story . like: “I really had them fooled. They really thought Rudolph’s was just a terrible accident.” That part is kind of like the evil villains of yesteryear gloating in soliloquy. On the absolutely great plus side, I loved the line “I knew he was dead when I saw that stupid red nose burn out.” That was awesome 🙂

      I agree with some of the earlier comments about adjusting the last two parts in terms of order to preserve the sense of surprise with the reveal.

  25. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    One Crazy Reindeer

    Got in trouble for not being concise enough last time, so here’s a quickie under 500 words. lol

    “So, here’s the deal, Santa.” I said, and leaned back in the chair. I crossed my left leg over my right, and my hoof knocked hard against the edge of the oak desk, chipping some of the wood. Good.

    “What is it now, Donner?”

    Dalmer.” I exaggerated. I changed it when I started eating the fawn. Mighty tasty, and such soft meat. I felt a tingle in my nether and continued, “Anyway, I found another job, but I won’t take it until I hear what you have to offer.”

    “Why would I offer anything?”

    “Because you need nine magical reindeer to fly your heavy ass around, and there’s only nine of us.” Thanks to me, since I’ve been eating everyone’s children.

    He rubbed his belly, and then ran his hand through his yellow beard. You see, Santa is a huge smoker. By Christmas, that thing is as discolored as a vagrant’s chonies. The elves bleach and dye it right before Christmas Eve just to make sure none of those disgusting human children gets a look at that frightening tuft attached to his chin.

    “I’ll give you a raise and a bigger stable.”

    I pretended to think it over, and said, “No. I want double salary, triple my stable, and a harem of those fine does you reserve for Rudolph.”

    I wasn’t into the women-folk. I just wanted them so I could reproduce and have a steady supply of food.

    Santa reached into his desk, popped a stick of cancer in his mouth, and lit it. “No deal.”

    “Santa, you need me.”

    He blew smoke into my face, and I coughed. He said, “Naw, we got Rudolph. He enough man-deer for a whole handful of you. Bet he can even handle your slack.”

    “You son-of-a-bitch.” I said, and stood up. “You’ll regret this.”

    “If this means I’m getting rid of you, I doubt it.” He said, and sucked the exhaust of tobacco into his dying lungs.

    I turned and stomped out of his office. After slamming his door—whishing the glass to break, it didn’t—I grabbed my cell phone and woke it up.

    “Call Abominable Snowman.” I said, thanking Siri for existing, otherwise I could never use a phone with these damn hooves.

    The phone rang three times, and the line clicked. “Hello.”

    “You got a deal. You steal the does for me, and I’ll bring you all the elves you want until there aren’t any left. When there are no more elves, I’ll be satisfied enough that Santa’s entire operation is fucked.”

    The line was silent for a moment, and he said, “Deal.”

    1. Reaper

      That was certainly twisted and dark in a different way. I loved the Dahmer reference. I was thinking of using one myself but skipped it so I’m happy I’m not the only one who thought that way! Great story Jay.

    2. lionetravail

      Brilliantly done:

      Disgruntled reindeer? check. Seedy Santa? check. Other wintry mythical creatures willing to make this into a bad boy buddy flick? CHECK!

      Great job 🙂

  26. Pete

    “Come in Blitzen.”

    I slammed the door behind me, still steaming from the news. Retirement my ass. I knew exactly who was behind all this.

    The freak.

    But before I could get a grunt out that red-faced plumper held up a chubby hand. “I think I know what this is all about,’ he said, peering just over those wire framed glasses. They’re not even prescription. Just like the blue eyes—contacts. Such a phony.

    “Now, I understand you’ve been speaking with the rest of the team. It seems you have a problem with Rudy?”

    Rudy. Don’t even get me started. The whole thing was a farce. All the way down to the snow storm. Hello, it’s the freaking North Pole, not exactly sunny Florida. To say we needed help in those conditions is like saying Fat Man here needed a hand with the cookies. But I swallowed it down. I couldn’t let on that I wanted to mule kick him back to Caribou.

    “Well, it’s just that, he’s Rudolph isn’t even the best on the team. In fact, he’s the weakest link and…”

    “Let me save you some time, Blitzen. Rudolph is our guy. He’s the one who gets the kiddies excited. I mean, they still air the television special after fifty years. And I must say, I look quite good in that version. Anyway, he’s got a twitter feed, a street team, stuffed animals and cartoons, you name it. And now, with Slash coming into his own, well, he just signed a deal with Red Bull! It’s got wings! I love it!”

    He would. I always knew the guy was a sellout, but to hear him come out and say it about made my antlers burn up. And just when I’d edged close enough to take a bite out of his sugar plumb ass Dancer burst in the door.

    “Hey Blitz, come on. Time to go.”

    I sneered at Santa. “Slash, really? With his rap music and flashy reins. The guy is a joke. A joke! It doesn’t even work with the song. You can’t just replace me. I’m one of the original eight. Eight! Not nine you bloated bag of gas!”

    “Blitz.” Dancer said, nosing me along. I started out the door, but I wasn’t leaving without a fight.
    “I’m from a champion pedigree. My ancestor was Borghild, the great Norwegian Warrior!”

    Dancer leaned in close. “Man, would you just give it a rest. Wait until you see your new gig.”

    I followed him through the gate, out to the pasture, past the team quarters to a newly constructed stall out in the forest. For Dancer, he was uncharacteristically quiet, (even after years of duty the guy had never run out of stories), and as we neared my new facility I felt an incredible writhing down in the wedding tackle regions. Instinct took over my movements. I sneezed and snuffed, my reflexes kicking like I was a calf again.

    “Relax, stud.” Dancer snickered.

    Inside I was led to my new quarters. And I must say, I felt a little bad about the way handled things after I saw the place. Bales of golden hay were stacked high and crisp. The temperature was a balmy 22 and a pail of apples sat overturned and spilling. I looked at Dancer and he winked. “So long, Blitz. Enjoy. I’ll be training with the young bucks.”

    I sniffed around, still a little worked up when I heard something at the door. Then perhaps the finest looking doe I’d seen since that summer vacation in Alaska years back sashayed into the shed. She blinked a few times, running a hoof in the dirt.

    “So you’re Blitzen? she shyly, her voice like a sheet of silk over my neck.

    I swallowed hard, fighting the urge to hop right up on my hind legs. “Yup”

    Maybe retirement wouldn’t be so bad.

    1. Reaper

      Good luck with the two year old. Remember to remind them you do not negotiate with terrorists on the demands. Very funny story, love the take on the prompt because it was definitely a twist to see where the new job came from. All around good read.

      1. madeindetroit

        This is a great take on the prompt. I love your writing style. The balance between your narrative and dialogue is flawless. Ah, summer vacation in Alaska. Must be spring break for reindeer! I was wondering when Rudolph was going to get his own Twitter feed.
        Great twist at the end.

        Very well done.

    2. Observer Tim

      I had a sense this was going to go somewhere dark, like so many of this week’s responses. It was a pleasant surprise, Pete. Of course Saint Nick would take care of his employees, even if their attitude sometimes left a bit to be desired. 🙂 🙂

  27. lionetravail

    (Blame this one on Reaper’s inspiration :))

    The Nightmare Before Christmas

    ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and at the North Pole,
    not a creature was stirring; no, nary a soul.
    The elves had been hung by the chimney with care,
    skin blue with death’s rictus beneath empty stare.

    The reindeer were nestled all dead in their beds,
    blood pooled from slashed throats under their askew heads.
    The only one living went by name of Cupid;
    as stalked he poor Santa, he screamed out: “Hey, Stupid!”

    Then from workshop’s office arose such a clatter,
    that Cupid deduced where he’d finish the matter.
    He stepped through the doorway, right over the sash,
    with plans to treat Santa to his very own slash.

    “Wha… what do you want from me?” the fat man did call.
    “I’d like you to scream while I’m taking YOUR balls!
    I sent on ole Blitzen, and Dancer and Prancer,
    and all of the rest, save for Rudolph, that cancer!”

    “But why would you do this?” begged anxious Saint Nick.
    “I should think that it’s obvious: that Rudolph’s a dick!
    And it’s your fault, you fatty; he thinks he’s the favorite.
    When I finally kill him I’m sure gonna savor it!”

    “But what will you do when this industry’s gone?”
    “I’ll be banging your wife. til she gives me a fawn!”
    “Oh woe!” cried the fat man. “Bad Cupid, you’re ruthless!”
    “Tell me about it; ole Rudy’s now toothless.”

    Then reindeer advanced, and with horns did his worst,
    and gored Santa’s belly into liverwurst.
    Before he returned to where Rudolph was strapped,
    he found Mrs. Claus and made sure she was tapped.

    Once done, and each impulse save bloodlust was sated,
    he went to where poor, tortured Rudolph had waited.
    “And now it’s your turn, you glowing-nose putz!
    I can take all the time that I need on your nuts!”

    The screams went unanswered as bowels were loosed,
    and Rudolph just whimpered o’er parts now reduced.
    Then Cupid addressed his nearly-dead victim,
    soliloquy-izing his departing dictum:

    “Well Rudy, old son, here’s where we’ll be parting;
    I’ll be brief since I’m sure that your stumps are still smarting!
    I’m signed up for courses to learn bow and arrow,
    and I’ve got a job lined that thrills to the marrow.

    I’m trading out Christmas for Valentine’s Day,
    since Cupid’s a name that’s got plenty of play.”
    Then he trampled poor Rudolph to death with delight:
    “It’s my last merry Christmas: to me a good night!”

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T. Allow me to praise it over the top, I’m rarely so taken with renditions of poetry, and this passes as a masterpiece of its own right. There were three or four lines where the meter was a taaaaad off (e.g ““Wha… what do you want from me?” the fat man did call.” You could easily tweak that into place by omitting the “Wha”) but otherwise this was hiliarious. Yes, lurid and graphic and slightly disturbing, but that was the beauty of it (I felt the impulse to strangle some silly-smiley gnomes when I was invited to yet another baking session today- it’s not even as if I liked Vanillekipferl).
      The swipe at Valentine’s Day was genius- never trust a Cupid! With a name like that you’re bound to snap someday and start hacking away at somebody …

      Thanks so much for just bringing festive warmth to my heart and and a banana grin to my face 😀 .

    2. Reaper

      I, and my inspiration, take no responsibility for this! The demons in my own head are enough for me to manage thank you! 😉 Very gruesome and well done lionetravail. I like it a lot. There is a story out there on the interwebs call Pooh Goes Apeshit that this reminds me of. It is only similar in how dark and yet funny it makes a story for children. I’ve always loved that story and yours now joins it in a small group of writing that is wrong in the absolute best ways.

      1. rle

        LT, I shall never look at ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas ‘ the same way ever again, ever. This was delicious and yet horrifying at the same time. I may need to seek professional help to rid my mind of these images. Great work!

  28. Cceynowa

    Dancer’s Opportunity
    Words: 563

    The tights were riding up my ass, time to schedule another Brazilian wax. Oh, and definitely needed to thread the eyebrows, and my face tightening-tinted-moisturizer was low. Better add that to my list. Wonder if Edward had replaced the sole on my platforms yet? No way was I going to buy another three-hundred dollar pair.

    ‘Course if I was the Rudolph the Red Marvel I wouldn’t need to buy my own shoes. Good Ole Fat Man would buy them for me. Perks of being the star. Benefits written into his exclusive contract. Whatever. Didn’t see Donner, Blitzen, or Cupid getting perks. They were the other male entertainers in our troupe. But no, they had to pay for their shit same as us girls; well most of us girls.

    Vixen had twisted her ankle about a month ago, fell off the stage into the gleeful arms of the audience. She’d lost a tassel in the ordeal and had threatened to sue LapLand. I’d encouraged her to take her case directly to Fat Man. She’d spent less than an hour in his office. The next night, she’d tightened her corset, strapped on her heels, and danced through the pain.

    I’d tried to coax some info from her about it, since I needed to talk to Fat Man myself, but she’d just said that I’d best be thinking carefully before I talked to him, and that what he had to say may not appeal to me. Her warning made me hesitant to knock on his office door. I decided to do so after our last performance for the week.

    “Enter.”

    The wall-sized aquarium, housing black-tip reef sharks, made the room feel crowded. Fat Man was kicked back behind his desk, stroking his long white beard. He gestured to a straight backed chair, “What can I do for you Dancer?”

    “Well, sir,” I said as I awkwardly took a seat, “I wanted to talk to you about my contract. It’s up next month, you know.”

    “Is it? I hadn’t realized.” He reached for a drawer in his desk and removed a stack of papers. “I have a standard copy here for you to renew.”

    “Well, actually, I’m not sure I’m going to be staying at LapLand for another year.” He stopped shuffling the papers and looked up at me.

    “You’re not sure?”

    “No. See, I’ve been offered a job elsewhere.”

    His eyes had gone cold. “I’ve worked hard to establish an exclusive act. You know the routine requires all nine performers.”

    “I understand that sir, but you don’t exactly treat us all like equals do you?”

    “But you are not equal.” I hadn’t expected him to admit it. “Some do more for their pay than others, which is why they are making an additional thirty percent plus costume accessories, repairs, and any medical bills covered at my expense. Are you interested?”

    “What are the terms?”

    “Additional private performances. I have a list of clients you would visit after hours.”

    He didn’t have to spell it out for me. I understood. Private dancing, and whatever else, was not on the standard contract. “I don’t think so.”

    “Have it your way, but there is potential for a lot of money to be made,” he replaced the papers in his desk. “Out of curiosity, what is your other offer?”

    “Modeling in California. The man said I’d be a Bunny.”

      1. jhowe

        The rest was pretty cool too. This was well done and brought out Dancer’s feelings of playing second fiddle perfectly. I still can’t get over the riding up of the tights though.

    1. cosivantutte

      I think Dancer just traded one sleazy boss for another sleazy boss. 🙁 But who knows? Maybe things will get better for her.

      By the way, kudos on your unique take on this prompt. I love the detail of the sharks in the Fat Man’s office. The fact that he can sit comfortably in an office surrounded by sharks says a lot about his character. Besides that, it’s a cool mental image. 🙂

    2. lionetravail

      I agree, that was an AWESOME first line, Ccey, and the denoument at the end about being a “Bunny” in Cali is just perfect and adorable.

      What a great feel to this one- it was funny, and seedy, and literate right down to the dialogue, all at the same time. Awesome!

    3. Reaper

      There is nothing I dislike about this. I agree that your first line is a great hook. The sharks gave me a perfect image of the kind of man you were portraying. The desperation and hope mingled were amazing. Just all around great story and funny read while managing to stay a bit gritty too. The take on the prompt was surprising and just awesome.

  29. jhowe

    In a forgotten corner of northern Russia the herd grazed sporadically on patches of lichen and the tender branches of dwarf willows. ‘Hmmm, not bad,’ thought Comet as he munched. ‘Very satisfying.’ The fog that had spread earlier over the vast tundra was beginning to lift and Comet was amazed by the magnitude of the herd. Thousands of reindeer clustered together moving as one.

    “Are you a breeding male?” said a comely female with luxurious fur.

    “What do you have in mind?”

    She smiled mischievously. “I don’t typically waste my time with meat donors.”

    “Meat donors?”

    “I’d avoid those running men over there if I were you.”

    There were in fact a group of men, rather tall and much thinner than the men he was accustomed to. At that moment a large male reindeer went down and the men went about the butchering process.

    “Are those men wearing…?”

    “Yes,” she said. “Reindeer fleece.”

    “Yes, I’m a breeding male.”

    “I thought so.” The female nudged Comet and they moved away from the others. “I’m in dire need of a mate.”

    A mate? As in forever?”

    “Don’t be a fool. Calving season is upon us and I must be pregnant soon.”

    “Or you become a meat donor?” Comet said, his panting breath spilling out in plumes.

    “Just shut up and mount me.”

    “Perhaps we should get to know each other a little?”

    “Don’t you want a little of this?” She turned and exposed her backside to the nervous newcomer.
    When the mating was over Comet held his head high and pranced around, forgetting to keep his feet on the ground. He soared above the herd and the men ran toward the animals shouting with spears ready.

    “Holy shit,” Comet said as he touched down on the frozen ground.

    “What are you, some kind of freak?” said the female.

    “What are those men doing?” A large group of them advanced in Comet’s direction.

    “It was nice knowing you,” she said as she rejoined the herd.

    “Wait, we need to get out of here. Come with me.”

    “No way,” she said. “I’m nothing without the herd.”

    As the men approached, Comet looked back at the retreating female and jumped into the air as a spear flew by his side, just missing. He flew northward, toward his home that he had foolishly left behind. ‘I hope the jolly guy takes me back,’ he thought. He flew on thinking of his fight with Santa over the red nosed bastard. It all seemed so petty now.

    1. lionetravail

      I love how matter of fact the female is: “You want some of this, meat donor?” So cynical, and yet so amusingly reindeer-o-centric! Nice to know that Comet got a lil sumthin’ sumthin’ on the side, too 😉

      Great job with this one, Jhowe!

    2. Reaper

      I loved the story for the story. There is a deeper meaning I’m reading here all summed up in the line I’m nothing without the herd. The way you portrayed a visionary, not able to see things the way others do. From not understanding what the hunters were when everyone else knew, not really getting how the world around him worked when thrust into normal society. Trying to live that normal life but knowing there is something better that he was part of. I think everyone goes through this, knowing there is somewhere they belong and having left it behind for something that seemed better but wasn’t. The hope of it rings true because I want to believe that when Comet returns to the place he belongs they will know he is home and take him back. Inspiring.

    3. Observer Tim

      I love this take, jhowe. It reminds me of the sort of thing that happens when cartoon animals go to join their natural cousins, except (a) it’s done straight and (b) it’s not sanitized for my protection. You did a great job portraying the reindeer attitudes and mentality. Bravo! 🙂

    4. Dennis

      JHowe, love how you have at least one character in your stories this is a bit edgy, in this case the dame. Nice take on showing what happens after the prompt set up.

  30. Reaper

    This is one of those few times I feel obligated to preface this. It is a bit over but I could not bring myself to cut the intro which would have likely brought it down to the right length. I love Christmas and Santa Claus but this just jumped into my head and demanded to be written.

    Anarchy North Pole

    I slumbered mightily the sleep of the just

    From pleasant dreams I was suddenly thrust

    ‘Something’s amiss’ my mind it did natter

    Roused from my rest by the sound of blood splatter

    With candy cane bat brought quickly to hand

    I crept through the dark, wondering ‘What’s wrong in my land?’

    Once in the workshop I scanned quickly the shelves

    When what should I see, but Donner disemboweling elves

    Always had Donner been such a magnificent stallion

    I wondered when his accent had become so Italian

    My naughty list grew longer, I realized with fear

    Then the sound of violently scratching vinyl on phonograph struck my ear

    “Look fat man, you can stop with the rhyme. It won’t save your ass this time.”

    “Donner! What are you doing? Have I not been good to you?”

    “It’s Donnie now, you self aggrandizing prick! Good to me? You’ve barely noticed us since that red nosed bastard showed up. At first we thought, give it time, the boss will love us all again. It’s been near a century and you still treat him better because he brings you more advertising.”

    “I have done no such thing! You are punishing the nice children of the world, slaughtering innocent elves, and out of the pen after curfew. I do not even know what to do with you.”

    “Look fatso, there are no nice kids left in this day and age. You’re rewarding vice and consumerism. These innocent elves are the managers that run your sweat shop; I haven’t touched the rank and file that you pay three gumdrops a day, well below the minimum. But that’s not the point. We unionized six months ago and you ignored our demands. You probably didn’t know about that since you were ‘too busy’ to read the letter.”

    “What are you saying?”

    “I’m saying I’m out of here you velvet clad Nancy boy. I took a job with Don Giovanni working in Jersey. He’s a heartless tyrant too, but he don’t pretend otherwise.”

    “I can work the sleigh with only eight. You can expect to be on the naughty list for the rest of your life.”

    “Now see… that won’t work and let me tell you why. The other originals are gone too; they just don’t have the balls to tell you thanks to that ‘fun car trip’ you took us on. Dasher is representing France in the five k dash come summer Olympics. Dancer’s going back to the pole in club in Tijuana. Prancer accepted a job running a nonprofit fighting for LGBT rights. I told him it was a bit on the nose, but you know that guy. Vixen made a deal and starts succubus training week after Monday. Comet just signed on to play for some pro basketball team. Cupid is going back to work for his old bosses. They have a better package and give him Christmas off so long as he works Valentine’s day. Blitzen, well you know how that kid is. He couldn’t find a job so he shaved his head and is moving to Idaho to live in a bunker with some likeminded individuals he found on the internet.”

    “So all of you feel this way? No matter! I will make do with Rudolph alone.”

    “Funny you should mention that. We figured you might think that way and didn’t want you to have that option. So we offed the spoiled little shit. It’s funny what exotic meat shops in Texas will pay for reindeer steaks and sausages this time of year.”

    “You are heartless and evil. I’m ruined.”

    “Well not necessarily. We figure you can still make it if you teach the missus how to fly and have her pull the sleigh for you. We suggest you put a wide load sign on the back if you go that route. Anyway, it has been imaginary, see you never fat ass.”

    1. lionetravail

      Just beautiful 🙂 Your love for Santa and Christmas came shining through, Reaper!

      I love the slow, horrible segue from an optimistic Christmas rhyme into a less optimistic one, and then to horror and OMG and then a total loss of the poetry into unadorned dialogue. Slick, sardonic, and highly enjoyable- still smiling and chuckling even as I write this!

    2. catbr

      Donnie, the Italian reindeer mobster/killer. Funny. And the gangster Edward G Robinson take “Now see…” . I liked the story and the poetry at the beginning. You were still sort of in the poetry mode in the dialogue “and out of the pen after curfew. I do not even know what to do with you.” Good writing.

    3. Observer Tim

      Whoa, now there’s a good reason to keep the reindeer close to home. You did a great job on the poetry, Reap, and it tied quite well into the narrative. I would have wanted the beginning a bit more sing-songy from Santa, but that’s just me. All in all a great tale!

    4. Amyithist

      The beginning was my favorite part. The dark homage to The Night Before Christmas was just wonderful. The rest of the story was so entertaining, I found myself near giggles. I knew there had to be something up with Santa! He couldn’t be all that jolly! 🙂 Thanks for the great read!

  31. snuzcook

    Ho Ho Ho! #Blindside!
    The had to look up the words shaved into Dancer so I could understand your clever ‘white Christmas’ reference–Love it when I can add something new to my private lexicon.

    I never really attributed quite so much snarkiness to reindeer–who knew! I suspect this prompt is going to be rife with little revelations about our favorite Cervidae.

    I bet you had a big grin on your face as you were writing this…Well done!

  32. cosivantutte

    I chin-propped on the bar counter. “Bartender! Get me another Spike in the Nog.”

    “I’m sorry, Mr. Dancer sir, but I’m not allowed to—”

    “You’re not allowed to. You’re not allowed to. Blast it with candy canes, man! I need another Spike in the Nog!”

    “You’ve had one too many, Mr. Dancer sir.”

    “Not yet. Get me another one. Now or else you’ll get a permanent hoof mark in the middle of your face.”

    “But, Mr. Dancer sir—”

    I raised my head and clonked my teeth in an aggressive gesture.

    He got the message and I got my Spike in the Nog.

    As I lapped up the toxic stuff, I thought about him. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. Rudolph the red-nosed Santa’s pet. Rudolph the red-nosed bane of my life.

    “Is this still about Clarice, Mr. Dancer sir?”

    “No, this isn’t about Clarice. It’s all about Rudolph.” I hiccupped. “Rudolph that slimy lounge lizard. So, I picked on him when he was a dipsy-doo fawn and gave him this biiig pathetic complex about having no friends. That don’t mean he can go stealin’ my girlfriend and my spot on the team. Do you know how awful it is to be stuck behind Blitzen and Donner?”

    “No, Mr. Dancer sir.”

    “Well, count your lucky snowflakes that you don’t know.”

    “Why don’t you quit?”

    Sticky, eggnog-coated thoughts clumped together in my head. I struggled to get them into some semblance of order. “Quit?”

    “I know this sorceress down on Licquor Ice Lane. I–uhh–owe her a couple of favors. It’s best if you don’t ask about them. Anyway, she needs a reindeer for the holidays.”

    “For what?”

    “She wants to conquer the South Pole and set up a toy workshop to compete against Santa’s toy monopoly. Apparently, the two of them go back and there’s a lousy love story involved, but that’s all unimportant backstory. She has a team of reindeer, but she needs a leader. Do you want in, Mr. Dancer sir?”

    I lapped up the rest of my drink, which was a bad idea. My head buzzed like…something really buzzy. My words slushed and mushed together as I think I told him, “I’ll have to talk to Santa about it first. Then, I’ll let you know.”

    The bartender smiled. “Of course, Mr. Dancer sir.”

    ***

    One of the benefits of being a magical reindeer is hangovers don’t last long. I woke up the next day, bright-eyed and clear-headed. My breath still tasted like nutmeg, though.

    I marched into the workshop. The elves were singing THAT song. The “Oh, let’s all praise Rudolph the red-nosed freak” song. I resisted the urge to go on a rampage. Somehow.

    Santa sat at an empty table, drinking Banana Boat beer with Rudolph. Talk about wanting to go on a rampage. But I held it together. “Santa. We need to talk.”

    “Oh, ho ho ho! Not now, Dancer. Rudolph is in the middle of this great story about Clarice and their new baby. Oh, ho ho ho! Go on, Rudolph.”

    “Go away, Rudolph. Me and the old man need to have a business talk.”

    “Ha ha ha! You can talk all you want in front of me, pal.”

    I clenched my teeth. I swear that reindeer sounds like Mickey Mouse more and more every day. “Go talk to that really tall elf over there. He’s not doing anything.”

    “Ha ha ha! I don’t want to bother Buddy. He’s trying real hard to meet his quota.”

    “I DON’T CARE!”

    All of the elves stopped singing and stared at us.

    Rudolph took the hint and went to talk to Buddy.

    “Okay, Santa. I am kicking the gauntlet in your general direction. I am tired of being the tail end of your team. I want to be the leader again.”

    “Ho ho ho! Where would I put Rudolph?”

    “In my spot.”

    “Now, Dancer. You know I can’t do that. With that bright, glowing nose, he must be the leader. Ho ho ho! No sense in putting a candle under a bushel and all that, you know. Ho ho ho!”

    I decided to bite my last card on the table. “I have another job opportunity. If you will not meet my demands, I will accept that new job.”

    “Oh, but you are a valuable part of our team.”

    “I’m the tail end!”

    “What if I offered you an increase in your oat accounts?”

    “No. It’s the lead or nothing.”

    “I’m sorry to hear that. But, ho ho ho! I hear Rudolph’s little girl, Clarissa, has shown great progress in her flying classes. I’m sure she’ll make a wonderful addition to our team when Christmas comes. Oh ho ho ho!”

    I decided to leave before I ran over Santa.

    ***

    I returned to the bar. “Hey, bartender!”

    He sashayed over to me. “Well? What is your answer, Mr. Dancer sir?”

    “What’s your name?”

    “My name?”

    “Yeah. I like to know who I’m doing business with.”

    The bartender grinned. “My name is Edwin Malarkey. I take it your answer is yes?”

    “Yes.”

    1. snuzcook

      EDWIN! What a delightful zing at the end!
      I must say, Santa needs to consider developing some team-building skills. Somehow, tho, I don’t think Dancer is likely to be happy in any situation, and a lateral move to work for some witch just shows how flawed his reasoning really is.
      Great fun, cosivantutte!

      1. cosivantutte

        Thanks!

        As soon as I introduced the bartender, I knew that it had to be Edwin. I just couldn’t find the right moment to drop his name in until I got to the end.

        Seems like all of the Santa’s in this prompt need some help with team-building skills as well as team-leadership skills. 😀

    2. lionetravail

      Hugely fun, and beautifully done Cosi! This was brillantly funny and sophisticated 🙂

      I loved is breath still smelling like nutmeg, all the little reindeer references to lapping the drink up, and so on. The twist with Edwin was icing on a wonderfully rich holiday fruitcake.. Awesome!

    3. Reaper

      Your ending makes me feel as if I have been Rick Rolled, Edwin Rolled? Nicely done. The phrasing on this really got me. I love the rich back story your created and making Rudolph as big a jerk as Dancer was implied to be in the beginning. Thing that really sunk the hooks in and made this great for me was the imagery of your words, the one in particular that I found most amazing was, Sticky, eggnog-coated thoughts clumped together in my head.

      1. cosivantutte

        Edwin Rolled 😀 I love that! I’m not sure how or why he’s a bartender in the North Pole, but he’s Edwin. He has a way of getting around.

        I’m glad you enjoyed it. This was one of those fast-write stories, where I didn’t have to stop and figure out what happens next.

    4. Bilbo Baggins

      Ha! Edwin strikes again. Am I the only one who got the Elf reference, too? Loved the part about the sorcerer and the toy monopoly. Looks like Kris Kringle has some devilish competition, now that ex-prez Malarkey’s got nothing to lose.

      1. cosivantutte

        😀 I was wondering if anyone would pick up on the Elf reference.

        As for Edwin, when he gets involved with sorceresses, he always has something to lose. He just has rotten luck.

    5. Observer Tim

      You had me chuckling severely, Cosi. This was a long lead-in to a very satisfying surprise end. A part of me was trying to figure how the RDJ cast would fit in, but it was only after I’d resolved that there was no link that you hit me with the punch line. 🙂 🙂

      You did an incredible job portraying Nick, Rudy and Dancer as complete jerks.

    6. catbr

      Ha, ha. Dancer was a funny character in this story especially at the end when he gets the subtly indicated shaft from Mr. Malarkey. Humorous story and well written.

  33. lionetravail

    On Dasher, To Better Things

    “That stupid, red-nosed fuck! He did it to me again! Again!”

    “Jeez, Dasher, what’s up your ass now?”

    “Oh, what’s up my ass? Well, that’s pretty goddamn funny coming from you, Prancer!”

    “Hey, what I do in my private life…!”

    “This isn’t about you, Prancy Pants, it’s about me and that fruitbat, Rudolph. I’ve just had it with him!”

    “So, what’d he do already?”

    “There I was, with the jolly, old, fat ass, and he says to me ‘Dasher, your coat certainly came in nicely this year, didn’t it? Maybe you should be in the lead traces this year!’, and I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy, right? So after he leaves, fucking Rudolph says ‘Great going, Dash! Let’s go get some drinks and celebrate!’”

    “Oh shit, you didn’t! Didn’t you remember that time a couple years back when he took you out and got you so drunk you got neutered?”

    “Well, it’s been years, and Santa had punished him, so I figured he’d learned his lesson! I am so goddamn mad I could spit!”

    “So what’d he do this time?”

    “He fucking shaved ‘Blut’ into my right side and ‘Ehre’ into my left!”

    “Holy snap! There’s no way Santa would let you pull the sleigh at all with that on you, even if everyone’s always hoping for a white Christmas!”

    “And I can’t just get rid of all the fur because he’d never let a bald reindeer into the traces! I’ve just had it!”

    “What’re you going to do, Dash?”

    “Well, you just come with me into the workshop and goddamn see…! Hey! Hey Santa!”

    “Dasher, what’s the rule about yelling in the workshop?”

    “Fuck the rule, fat man!”

    “Dash! That is not acceptable behavior!”

    “I don’t care, you diabetic turd! I am so done with all this holiday crap every year- consider this my two week notice!”

    “But Dasher, it’s so close to the holiday- where am I going to find a replacement for you? And what will you do for work? I’d be worried about you.”

    “There is no replacement for me, fat ass, and as far as work goes, I already have another gig lined up, so no fear, okay?”

    “What? What job could you possibly be fit for besides working for me?”

    “I’ll have you know I am multi-talented! It’s not all dragging your sorry carcass all over the world, weighted down by care packages for undeserving, self-centered little shit-for-brains! In fact, I’ve got a modeling career all planned out, and my first photoshoot is in exactly two weeks!”

    “You’re going to be a model, when you’ve been a model reindeer all these years? Ho ho ho, that was a little pun right there, you know?”

    “Very little, fat ass! And yeah, I’m going to model for this company in Alaska which is all about reindeer. It’s right in their name, actually: Alaskan Reindeer Company. So you and the Mrs. and all the flaky little elves can all kiss my ass! I am out of here!”

    “Well! That makes me feel much less than jolly this year, but I guess a reindeer has to do what a reindeer’s got to do… Prancer! Now that Dasher’s left, what can you tell me about all this? You came in with him; you must know something.”

    “Me, Santa? I helped him get his head shot together, and mailed it to the company in Alaska for him down at the post office, that’s all.”

    “To this Alaskan Reindeer Company?”

    “Well, that’s not the full name, actually?”

    “And what is it?”

    “The Alaskan Reindeer Sausage Company.”

    “PRANCER!”

    “Well, he’s always being a schmuck about my life choices as well as being a dick to everyone! I figured we all deserved a nice Christmas this year!”

    1. snuzcook

      snuzcook
      December 11, 2014 at 1:41 am
      Ho Ho Ho! #Blindside!
      The had to look up the words shaved into Dancer so I could understand your clever ‘white Christmas’ reference–Love it when I can add something new to my private lexicon.

      I never really attributed quite so much snarkiness to reindeer–who knew! I suspect this prompt is going to be rife with little revelations about our favorite Cervidae.

      I bet you had a big grin on your face as you were writing this…Well done!

      Reply ↓

    2. Reaper

      Couldn’t stop laughing lionetravail. This was great. For some reason I am also expecting a theme through this, and I’m doubting kindness and giving are going to be it. Nice way to start us off and I will have a smile on my face all day I think.

    3. Cceynowa

      Too much fun. I think you started this prompt off perfectly, and (I agree) that the less-than-traditional-Christmas Spirit is going to prevail throughout. Great job!

    4. lionetravail

      Thanks so much everyone 🙂 Glad you all enjoyed it as much as I did writing this.

      OMG, Snuz, I was not only grinning but freaking chortling as I wrote this!

      JRMacbeth- that is an amazingly cool idea, and I’m flattered that I wrote something that made you think of seeing it in an animated cartoon short! I have no idea where/how to go about finding someone to collaborate with, but the thought of this as a short cartoon film just absolutely tickles my funny bone some more. Thanks!

COMMENT