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You feel like a failure, and you are one. The whole process is making you numb. You’ve been at this for months now — almost half a year. A Santa Claus you are not. You know that, but none of the other Santas seem to notice, or care. Still, technically, you really are Santa. Santa, Santa, Santa!
What of the other Santas? They know the real Santa Claus myth is that there isn’t a Santa. How do they deal with that? They’re all tangled up in knots over it. Their brains were already abnormal, but this is all considerable extra wear and tear. Sure, they don’t have to fly up in the air with reindeer, as that would be too much — a vulgar display of power. However, they do have a lot of work to do, coordinated with each other, and what seems like an endless supply of elves. Many, if not most, of the elves are no better than good ol’ Andy. Still, they are curiously obedient, reliable and even nice most of the time. At the end of the day, everyone likes to feel useful. The elves love that feeling, and it’s even more powerful than any threat of punishment.
The Santa who originally caught you — nicknamed “Painfree” due to his former pain killer addiction — is still your coach, and he makes it clear that you’re in it for the long haul. This is a “team mission,” he likes to say, with a goal of bettering the world. Still, this all-encompassing servility of holiday, tradition and good will towards men makes your head spin endlessly sometimes. The feeling does let up occasionally, but everything seems like a dream. You don’t care that it’s not always a bad dream (though it usually is). No, you only wish to stop the dream, to wake up and face the world alone like you used to. You’d give anything for the non-magical mundane — the pointless and trivial. You want to break free from the holiday chains. The truth is, nothing is more soulless than a mundane magical existence, and you are ensnared by that.
The funny thing is, no one’s busted you for your thoughts. The other Santas can indeed read your mind at times, yet none of them are turning state’s evidence on you. You can also read their minds occasionally. Yes, you may hear their own thoughts of escaping. It is apparently not considered a sin in God’s eyes. ‘So,’ you find yourself wondering, as you stand above your assigned elves, ‘If escape is not a sin, how come something as normal as sex is?’ “Because sex isn’t normal,” answers Pyotr, one of the elves. He’s looking up at you on the warehouse stairs, grinning through his foul teeth. He did not merely think that, however. He said it aloud. For that outburst, another elf named Riggs slaps Pyotr’s face, and hard. “No one said you can talk in here! Get back to work!” So he does, without even grumbling about it. Elf-enforced anonymity, designing special toys for special girls and boys. Lapses of elf etiquette are common enough — to be expected, really.
You know what makes someone become an elf. You wish you didn’t know, but you do. As you were informed on your very first day, the Santa Clan’s elves are all miscreants, sent here in a collaboration between God and the Devil. You used to not believe in such things, but now you’ve been forced to come to terms with it. You can look the truth in its beady little collective (or individual) eye. The other word for these elves — other than “former rapists, murderers, liars and thieves” — would be demons. Being deviants, the elves sometimes try to escape, and often enough they do. Interestingly, you’ve learned it’s not even your job to stop them (or, rather, not a job specifically for you). It is their job to stop each other, and they’re not always keen on doing so.
Right now your eyes catch a standard, horrifying image. One of the elves is drooling over a nude Barbie-type doll, and wiping off the drool with a rag. It’s a pattern: The elf will hold it, caress it, then drool upon it again. Then he’ll wipe it off and put it down, only to pick it up yet again. Some tears may well up in the elf’s eyes. You try not to read his thoughts. Oh-ho ho, how you try. The evil in the room is intense enough without picking up individual signals. So you tell him to get back to work, and he does so rather promptly. For some reason beyond your understanding, this particular elf is more disturbing to you than most of the others. You don’t even recall his name (or maybe you’ve blocked it out). His sense of lust and longing has a bizarre, transcendent quality, as though there’s something serene, innocent and beautiful about it. It’s almost haunting. You’d almost rather see the elves slit each other’s throats or beat off (not that either of those things couldn’t happen, of course).
You decide it’s time to take a little rest, as you are certainly allowed to do. You go back to your office and sit in your big, fat chair. You say out loud, “So this is Christmas. Ba humbug.” After sitting emptily a moment, you locate the “Nice & Naughty” list on your desk, pick your nose and wipe it on the page. “Ba humbug.”
(To Be Continued…)
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