By Bobby Gonzales
Santa had never seen such bullshit.
Kringle grunted as he rose to his feet amidst the blood stained snow. He looked once more at the carnage before turning to walk back toward the workshop. Three bodies laid strewn with gore. Greebo had been his friend as long as Santa could remember. Since the night he first landed on this planet and the elves came at him to protect their territory.That night he had proved his dominance. He’d claimed a stake on this new world and gained the respect of treasured allies for the ages to come. This world was ripe for worship and Santa had garnered it better than any of the other off worlders. Except perhaps for that Jesus fellow. Damned fool, why did he have to go and get himself killed. There weren’t enough of them left anymore, and the ones calling themselves ‘humans’ were becoming evermore stingy with their coveted belief. He knew it would come to this, he thought as he crested the final white dusted slope toward his shop. The wind bit at his rosy cheeks and he pulled his red cloak tighter around him.
Santa knew it would come to this someday. Knew that some of the more desperate of his brethren would begin to lash out to undercut the other in an attempt to steal some of their worshippers. But, he never expected an attack so brazen, and on him who stood mightier than the rest. They’re growing desperate, incautious. Kringle reached the rear door to his workshop. As he opened it he felt his shoulders drop in relief as the warmth washed over him. He bent down stepping through the arch, felt as the familiar pain shot through his mid back as he did so. The workshop and everything inside was sized for his elves and the years were beginning to take their toll. But, Santa welcomed the pain, it was a small price to pay for all of his good little soldiers. As his pupils contracted to adjust to the sudden brightness, Santa looked around and saw ten little elves standing at attention in their olive green uniforms. “Report!” Santa barked.
“Sir! Seventeen dead in total, sir.” Freg, his first officer stated. “All the rest have been accounted for, and the wounded are being treated.
Seventeen? Santa’s knees nearly buckled beneath him. He was not accustomed to losing friends. Each of the elves was as long lived as he was. Or near enough that in all his time he’d never seen one die to old age. But, Kringle had to remain strong for his good little soldiers. “Any sign of who could have been behind this?” Freg broke eye contact, his green eyes drifting to a point near the corner. The elf began to say something, but his voice caught in his throat. “Out with it!”
“Sir! Sir, we found…shells.”
“Sir! Egg shells, sir.”
“Egg….” The realization dawned on him like a hoof to the gut. The bunny!? He wouldn’t dare! Before he could stop himself, Santa reached forward, grabbed Fregg’s tiny body, lifted him up, and began shaking him. “Are you sure!?”
“Sir!” Fregg choked out as his head flopped back and forth. “We’ve verified it, sir. They’re even decorated in the traditional fashion…”
Kringle dropped the elf to the floor and stomped in a circle about the room. “Damn that miserable rabbit! Damn that pellet shittiing fur fucker to the end of damnation!” He was heaving now, shaking with rage. He looked around at the elves and saw that beneath their sharp stance there was fear in their eyes. Fear in the eyes of his closest friends, his good little soldiers. He crossed back over to Fregg, who was rising to stand back at attention. He flinched as Santa placed his hands on his shoulders. “I’m sorry, my old friend. And I promise to all of you that this will not stand. I will rectify this mess to keep the rest of you safe and avenge the deaths of Greebo, Meebo…even Kyle.
A knock came at the door from the main work area. “Enter.” Santa called over. Little Lerra entered, barely older than two hundred, she was the youngest Head of Operations ever appointed to the position. “Yes?”
“Mr. Claus.” her soft voice hit him like a soothing cup of cocoa. “Preparations have been made. All is packed and the reindeer have been strapped in.”
“Cancel the night.”
“No, I’m sorry. But there are other matters to attend to.”
“Mr. Claus, you can’t.”
Kringle rounded on her in an instant. “Can’t I!? I am a Santa Fucking Claus. If I say Christmas is canceled, it’s damn well canceled. I…” Santa looked down at the terrified little elf. He’d done it again, he’d let his rage overwhelm him. “I…I’m sorry Lerra. But this attack has been unprecedented. I can’t go off and leave you all alone.
“But, sir…” Fregg stammered behind him.
“Yes? What is it?” Santa snapped, but Fregg hesitated. “Spit. It. Out.”
“Sir. Belif is low sir, lower than it’s been in scores. If you cancel Christmas then…”
“What are you trying to say?”
“Sir, how will you protect us if you have less belief than the Easter Bunny?”
Santa took those words in, let the full weight of them sit on him. He understood what must be done. “What of you here?”
“Sir! They caught us unawares before, sir. That will not happen again. Isn’t that right Little Helpers?”
“Fa La La La La!” Cried out his honor guard.
“Very well. Fetch me my hat.”
A few hours later and Santa was well on his route. The first several thousand houses had him nervous. He found himself looking over his shoulder far more than he was looking forward. Not that he needed to mind the reins, Blitzen would keep them on course, and Dasher would keep the others in line. He was starting to relax now. Maybe the rebuff from the elves was enough to keep those Easter freaks at bay. He tried to let the thought warm him, but his doubts persisted.
Cupid bucked in front of him. Santa looked down and saw the next house. He checked his list, put on his glasses and checked it again. Little Nacho’s house. Aw, for fuck’s sake. Nacho has been really good this year. Santa would have to lug a drum set down. He tugged on the reins and his reindeer banked around to land nimbly on the roof. He got down and gave Dancer a nuzzle, she bucked at his hand and snapped playfully before accepting his pets. Santa chuckled. “My little fighter. Well, here we go.”
Santa bent his knees before swinging the bag onto his shoulders. Even then he could feel the pain in his back flare. Son of a whore’s bath. He made his way over to the chimney before taking out his miniature reality warper. He touched it to his nose and krinkled it, in a moment the chimney widened and he could feel the gravitational shift begin to pulse that would ease him down the chute. He walked off the edge and floated gracefully down, noting the dirty brick that was in desperate need of cleaning. Irresponsible oafs. This is a legitimate fire hazard. Kringle rolled his eyes as he landed and scoped out the location. The tree was in the far corner and blinking brilliantly with colored lights that sparkled off the shiny ornaments. On the coffee table near the couch sat a glass of milk and cookies, with a smaller plate of carrots. After all this time Prancer still loves those. Santa smiled, grateful that the little things could still bring him cheer, even in these uncertain times.
Kringle made his way over to the table and set the bag down. He grabbed the cookies and devoured all but a sliver of each. He had to abide by tradition. Eating all of the cookies could lead a child down the road to disbelief, and for Santa, disbelief was tantamount to death. With that settled, Santa drank most of the milk, set it down, and reached into the bag to pull out the bass drum. He groaned as he lifted it and shuffled over to the tree. He let out a groan as he set when he set the last piece down then–Something darted in the corner of his eye.
Santa pretended not to see it, put a hand on his back and arched to give him a reason to look over in the direction he thought he saw something. But, nothing was there. Santa cursed himself for his foolishness. Attacking his elves was one thing, but no one, not even that vile long eared rodent would attack the man himself. On my route no less. Santa was chuckling to himself when the rabbits attacked.
They came in a flash, and from all angles. Dashing blurs of fur and fangs. By the time Kringle was fully aware of what was happening he already had half a dozen latched tightly to various parts of his body. Santa pulled one off his beard as it ripped out a chunk of white hair. He threw the damned thing against the damn wall and saw its brown body go lump. Another was trying to trip him underfoot and he slammed a boot down to hear a crunch. He searched around for a weapon but the only thing near him of any value were the drum sticks. Kringle grabbed them and began batting at bunny after bunny. There seemed to be no end to them and Santa whirled more deftly than a man his size seemed capable of. He lept back toward the far wall to give him some space and keep them from surrounding him.
Santa’s eyes darted left and right, trying to assess the scene. He counted twenty, twenty-one, no twenty–Damn, there are too many. Santa looked across the room and found…his bag! He had to get to his bag. The rabbits darted toward him and Santa lept, tucked, and rolled. Before he was back to his feet they were on him again. One of the rabbits tore a chunk out of Santas left cheek before he was able to bat it aside as another snatch the hat from his head and began to shake it viciously. Santa stumbled as half a dozen of the little monsters tripped him up. He fell in a heap and they dove onto him, biting, ripping, tearing. Santa blindly reached out his arm and grasped at air, he fumbled around until he felt velvet. The bag! Santa reached in and hoped these little bastards were sentient enough for this to work. He rifled through feeling for–Aha!
The man who had once been dubbed Saint Nicholas exploded with a roar and swept around him, knocking several of the rabbits away. He got to his feet and swung his bag around slamming several of the rabbits to the floor with a crunch. “You little fucks get one thing for Christmas…” Santa swung the bag again and sent another group of rabbits flying. “Coal!” Santa swung to and fro, smashing and bashing. The bag felt sure in his hands, one of the only devices he had managed to bring to this world. Inside reality warped to produce the coal that represented the naughtiness around him. After what seemed like hours that was surely only several minutes, Santa dropped his bag and let himself sit with a thud to the floor. The room was covered in red gore and matted fur. Santa took out his list and hoped someone in this house had asked for cleaning supplies for Christmas.
Santa heaved himself into his sleigh. The reindeer were skittish. He didn’t blame him, they’d never seen him like this. He looked at his list and tried to see if anyone nearby had asked for a medical kit for Christmas. As he was fishing out his glasses he felt a plink against the side of the sleigh and saw a brightly colored egg. His brain refused to accept what his eyes were showing him for a moment before he yelled. “Go go go!” The reindeer shot off at a rapid pace, as Santa was knocked back into his seat and a moment later the sleigh shook from an explosion of heat, shingles, and egg shell shards. He grabbed the reins and banked into a tight turn. All around them colorful eggs were flying into the air before exploding. “Higher, higher!”
He pushed the reindeer as hard as they could go, it was that or lose everything. He could see Vixen heave from the effort, but he did not relent. Once they were at a safe altitude his mind began racing. He was in a bad position. The fight with the rabbits proved one thing to him, he was weak, weaker than he had ever been. The Bunny was not the strongest among them, but he had numbers, more and more every year. He had built an army, and decided now was the time to strike, when he was vulnerable.
No time to think about that. What should he do? Then a thought came to him, a long shot, but the only shot he had left to take. He couldn’t abandon the route. If he faltered now, he would indeed be overtaken by that egg laying mammalian monster. He checked his list, checked it again, then looked over the side of the sleigh. Good. We’re over the Atlantic now. We should be safe. Santa’s only choice now was to get to North America, the South to be more specific. He began to tear off pieces of his sleeve to fashion bandages and came up with a plan.
“Alright, lads.” Santa called over to his team. “I expect him to be waiting for me when we get there. As soon as we land you take off back home. When you get there without me the elves will know something is amiss. Whether I return or not you all will have ample time to prepare for whatever comes next.” Santa slung his bag over his shoulder. “I’ll make sure of it.”
The sleigh barely kissed the ground before Santa pushed himself over the side. He landed hard on his feet and turned to give Donner a good spank of the hind quarters. “Yah! Off you go.” They were back in the sky in the blink of an eye. Santa turned and narrowed his eyes as he surveyed the area. A park in Savannah, Georgia. A good place to die. There was a baseball diamond to one side and a soccer field to the other. Trees lined the perimeter and bushes were scattered by the sidewalks leading through and around the park. He knew he was not alone, could feel it in the whiskers of his white mustache. “Come out, cowards. You will face me out in the open and we will die with honor!” Shuffling in the bushes nearest him. He stepped back and glanced down at his list one last time, it had not changed it’s proximity marker to show which gifts were currently being kept in the bag. Good. At least this is going to plan so far.
Out of the bushes came a beautiful white rabbit that seemed to shine in the moonlight. It was–The Easter Bunny? He came himself!? Santa allowed himself a smirk. Incautious. “You dare attack me on the Holiest of Nights!?” Santa roared out.
“You have grown feeble, old man.” Said the rabbit, scrunching up it’s whiskers.
“ One so small and low to the ground has no right to talk to others of feebleness.”
“You have no idea what I am capable of.”
“Is that right?”
Santa reached into his bag and pulled out the AR-15 stashed inside, little Judd’s number one Christmas present from his very irresponsible parents. Their irresponsibility may just save Santa’s life tonight. Santa began firing but the Bunny dove back into the bushes. Kringle thought about unloading the full clip but held back. Firing blindly would serve him not if he ran out of ammo and had not killed his foe. So he waited. Fucker has to come out sometime.
“Know this.” Came the Bunny’s voice from the bush. “You will die a clever man.” A horrible noise of popping and crunching bone rose from the bush. Furry ears rose six, seven, eight feet tall. Santa stood stunned as the giant Were-Bunny came into full form. Santa opened fire but the Bunny was quick, too quick. He was on him in the span of a breath. A long furry, anthropomorphic claw wrapped itself around Santa’s neck and lifted him off the ground. Santa dropped the rifle, but kept his other hand wrapped securely around his bag. That old familiar velvet. Santa, focused on the evil inside the Bunny and swung the bag. The coal hit the side of the creature’s hide with a loud ka-thunk. It dropped Santa to the floor as he gasped for breath. Santa focused back on little Judd and felt the bag shift back to his presents. Santa pulled out a wicked looking serrated knife. Jesus, kid. He stabbed the Bunny in the side and rolled away. The creature howled in pain before turning to grab at him again.
Santa grabbed a handful of snow, and launched it into the creature’s face. Momentarily stunned, Santa was able to rummage in the bag again to pull out two Glock 9mm’s. He opened fire onto the Bunny which exploded like bright red paint onto its fur. He kept firing until he heard the guns click. As he reached into the bag again, the creature leapt high into the air and came crashing down onto Santa’s mid section. Kringle swore he heard something snap as pain exploded into his back. He grunted loudly as all the air was knocked into him. In the next moment the Bunny had knocked Santa’s bag far away from him.
“Enough games!” The Bunny thundered. “You die. Now!” It reeled back one of it’s long arms, splayed out it’s long white claws and–The Bunny went flying into one of the nearby trees. Santa sat up, still trying to catch his breath and looked to his right. Dancer! He had come back to save him. He could kiss that ornery reindeer, and he just might, if they both survived this. Santa looked around the park and saw the AR-15. He looked left and saw the Bunny getting up.
“Keep him off of me!” Santa yelled. Dancer grunted and they both took off. Santa heard a hard thud but did not look back. He slid to grab the AR-15 and turned prone. He leveled the sights to see the Bunny holding Dancer’s horns. It let one arm free to slash at Dancer’s flank.
“Not bloody likely.” Santa whispered as he exhaled and squeezed the trigger. The first shot took the Bunny near his kidneys and the recoil painted red all the way up to its neck. The creature cried out a horrible sound as it let go of Dancer, allowing the reindeer to pin the creature to the tree. Santa got up and went to pick up his bag. He pulled out little Judd’s last Christmas present. This child needs serious psychiatric attention. Kringle reached the tree and placed the grenade in the Bunny’s mouth and pulled the pin. “Merry Christmas, you filthy animal.”
Bobby Gonzalez is a writer and actor of Cuban descent, based out of Los Angeles. He has an upcoming show for HBO Max titled “The Garcias.”