This year has been brutal on me. I've been coming to terms with how I have been psychologically abused for most of my life, and my academics have been struggling. Being held up as the straight-A student for over a decade didn't help matters.
But the holidays come every year, which is a time we ought to celebrate. As such, I continue my tradition of holiday timelines with its fifth incarnation, if only to help dull the pain. I've legitimately enjoyed coming up with strange and convoluted things for these timelines, and so I have been ruminating on this one since August or so. Since this semester isn't quite as mentally taxing as this time last year, updates should be a bit more frequent than last year.
Without further ado:
DO YOU KNOW WHAT I KNOW: A HOLIDAY TIMELINE BY SPANISHSPY
COMING TO AN ONLINE DISCUSSION FORUM NEAR YOU 12/3/17
Said the Shepard boy to the mighty king Do you know what I know In your palace wall mighty king Do you know what I know A child, a child Shivers in the cold Let us bring him silver and gold Let us bring him silver and gold
Said the king to the people everywhere Listen to what I say Pray for peace people everywhere Listen to what I say The child, the child Sleeping in the night He will bring us goodness and light He will bring us goodness and light
No, the denizens of Santa Claus’ domain was not actively preparing for imminent obliteration, but Napier Wreathlayer could still see the civil air patrol sleighs flying outside the window, and the anti-air gun that the North Pole Armed Forces had set up was still there. Of course, given the circumstances of his place of employment, they probably would have been there anyway.
This was the facility known as the Stocking. Only a precious few elves had known about it, but it held the most of Santa Claus’ secrets, the secrets that allowed him to continue his crusade to spread joy to the world.
Napier was merely a cog in the machine, but machines generally need all their cogs to work. He was the clerk at the entrance, taking in visitors with their special deliveries.
The door opened. Napier presumed the guards had let in this visitor.
“Mr. Wreathlayer!” proclaimed the visitor. “Remember me? Livingston Baubler?”
“Ah, yes, Mr. Baubler! The cardstock?”
“Why, yes! All I need is to talk to Mr. Yuletide at the records department. Some technical stuff you needn’t worry yourself with.” Baubler reached into his coat and produced a flask of some sort of liquid, and presented it to Wreathlayer.
“I know you’re such an aficionado of eggnog and its varieties, so here, have some. Spiked with peppermint.”
Wreathlayer’s face warmed. “Why thank you, Mr. Baubler! How did you know?”
“Tip from a friend of mine in records,” remarked Baubler. “Why don’t you take a sip!”
He took the churchkey he kept at his desk (he’d need a stiff drink now and then just to stave off the monotony) and opened it. He took a swig from the bottle.
It tasted off. He peered at Baubler. “Is this still good?”
“For me it is,” remarked the visitor.
Wreathlayer had collapsed to the floor. To finish the job, Baubler brandished a knife and stabbed Wreathlayer in the neck. He started rummaging through the file cabinets, looking for some pieces of critical information.
“Facility Map” he pulled out of one. “Archives guide” was another. Good.
He took the ring of a great many keys that had hung behind the little wall of the desk and stuffed it in a pocket.
He returned to the exit, and rapped his knuckles on the door. In came his entourage, other elves armed with stolen gear, hung on their belts, from one of the North Pole armories. “Looking over the map, what we want is in holding room H. All of you except group 2, take positions. If there’s security inside, and there is, tell them it’s an emergency. If they’re too difficult, shoot them.”
Into the corridors of the musty facility went Baubler and his entourage, and found holding room H without difficulty. The guard must be elsewhere, perhaps reassigned to defend from bombing raids instead. Baubler took the keys that he had absconded with, and opened the door.
Filing cabinets, as far as the eye could see. The room was dimly lit, but it was indeed lit. They walked into the room, and scampered about it.
“Found them,” pointed Baubler to some cabinets.
They were labeled, “USA - nice,” “USA - naughty,” “USSR - nice, USSR - naughty.”
Baubler took the keys and fiddled with them to find one that would open the first of many containers labeled "USSR - nice." He opened up the drawer, expecting meticulously written records.
He found pieces of paper going right down into the depths of the drawer, and there was a whole warehouse room full of drawers. He picked one up. He expected names and addresses.
He got one with several little numbers written on it, with a row of '1' then '2' and so on and so forth for each of the numerals. One digit per column was punctured.
"Do you have the records we wanted?" asked Baubler's second-in-command, Watson Poleman.
Baubler seethed. "I suppose," he said as his voice trailed off.
That's when his compatriots knew that their leader was angry.
"They are records, yes. But they're punch cards."
Silence from his allies. "Does that mean we will need a computer?"
"Yes. We will."
"Is there any that we could use? And if so, would they read the cards?"
"Only one I know of here is in Claus' compound," spat Baubler. He raged at himself. He hadn't thought this through. He hadn't considered this method of recordkeeping. He thought he could just skedaddle off with the records and go about his business.
He looked around. He thought.
"Clearly, I overestimated how much we can take. That being said, we can make our lives easier if we only focus on the Bolsheviks. Take everything you can from the Soviet boxes, and make sure they are divided between naughty and nice. We will have to improvise from here on out."
"But what are we to do?" asked one of his compatriots.
Baubler thought hard. He knew that at this very moment the North Pole security forces were descending upon the Stocking.
He turned to his cohort. "Get the phone in the main office and call our agents in the factories. They know what to do."
*BANG* *BANG* *BANG*
They shook the foundations of Santa Claus' house. The sirens began wailing.
The jolly old man himself was in his office. He could tell his compound had not been hit. The explosions were in the distance, but they could be felt here.
He opened his cabinet and grabbed the loaded rifle he kept there. After his previous encounters with humans he was not willing to risk anything.
He left through the exit at the end of the small hall. His secretary and deputy, Cornelius Candycane, was there to brief him.
"I got a call from the defense forces. General Bellringer has told me that there have been explosions at three different toy factories, and a holdup at the Stocking. Something about entering the records rooms."
Claus had no inkling that that sort of element was here up on the North Pole. "I'll go to the Stocking. Come with me."
"As you wish."
The two of them made their way to the stable. The reindeer had heard the noise and as such were ready to pull the sleigh. And, as was there since the recent state of emergency, the machine gun was mounted near the reins. It was leftover from the big war, yes, but dead elves don't argue with lead.
Santa Claus wished he wasn't familiar with warfare. The thing was that he had unfortunately been dragged into one war (and one smaller conflict that you could call a war) before and wished not to do it again. Nevertheless, the bullets that he heard outside the Stocking were giving him deja vu.
Rifles and machine guns sent their bullets and rounds whirring through the air. As they did, Santa and Candycane pulled their sleigh behind the line established by the army.
One of the other sleighs had prepared a turret, armed with the same cannon a human tank was, and was aimed, but did not fire, at the intruders.
"Mr. Claus!" came an elf soldier, who saluted. "Lieutenant Midwinter at your service, sir! I am the commanding officer in charge of our current deployment."
"Lieutenant, I would like to speak with these rebels personally. Provide me an escort."
"Are you sure, sir? They could kill you!"
Claus glared at Midwinter. "I said, provide me an escort."
"Yes, sir." Midwinter barked to his men, "provide a cordon around Claus. He intends to speak to them!"
They did so. Claus' red hat was visible even above the elves with their guns; it helped that Claus was a foot taller than his guardians. Candycane merely nodded and followed them, his own gun in tow.
The gunfire from the rebels stopped. He could hear their guns being thrown to the ground.
Their leader stepped forward. "We were instructed to not harm Santa Claus himself. Therefore, we surrender."
"Our troops outside are surrendering. As you said, they weren't to harm Claus."
Poleman braced for impact. He knew Baubler was not inclined to take opposition to his schemes lightly, but this was indeed what he had ordered.
"So our first plan did not succeed. Clearly, our own initial assessment won't work. Nevertheless, we will not let ourselves and our culture become replaced by nihilism." He turned to Poleman. "Radio to Mr. Confectioner that the sleighs need to launch at this instant. All three!"
"Yes sir!" replied Poleman. Other rebel elves handed him a radio. "Group F, launch all sleighs. You know the drill."
"And the rest of you! Take all the punchcards you can. Get the charges ready. We need to get out of here."
"Livingston Baubler?" asked Santa Claus.
"Yes, Mr. Claus. He's the one who ordered us to seize the facility. He's the one in charge." The elf paused. "And he is the one that will succeed."
Claus scowled. "I knew he was up to something," remarked Candycane. "You think someone who gets so mad at committee meetings about continuing deliveries to the Soviet Union would not be planning such a thing?"
Baubler, Claus remembered, was a skilled bureaucrat. He was in the foreign ministry, under Candycane. He kept the naughty and nice records, as well as access to a computer that could read the cards, under wraps from that ministry specifically because of him.
Back during the last war, Baubler had brought up several objections to helping the Soviet Union because they were an "atheist" power. They opposed the idea of Christmas, he said, and therefore they deserved no help from them. Nevertheless, he did a lot of work with the Western Allies, and made sure that the sleighs over Britain, and those that bombed Germany, were in the air. That was how he was promoted to Deputy Foreign Minister, something he had been peeved about. He wanted that Foreign Minister post.
"So what is his plan?" asked Claus to the rebel, who seemed to be in charge.
"He hasn't told me much, and what he did tell, he told me not to tell you. But he also told me not to kill you."
The argument went on for a while.
"Mr. Claus?" asked Candycane, "I hate to interrupt, but look up. There's something you might want to see."
Claus looked upward.
Three sleighs had taken off into the sky, to where he did not know.
Shepherd Street was bustling, or so was bustling for this little town on the shores of Lake Michigan. This little town, a nondescript suburb of Chicago, was about its normal yuletide business.
On Shepherd Street was the Hohman City Hall. Outside flew the Stars and Stripes and the star-spangled blue and yellow flag of the state of Indiana. As was normal, there was the elaborately decorated Christmas tree, upon which was a golden star.
Ms. Emily Sadouski was the accountant in charge of the reception area of City Hall. Mayor Parker was busy with something or another, and she was tasked with keeping the people at bay. Or was, hypothetically. Nobody was here today.
Until there were. Lots of them. Dressed in black, with masks covering their faces.
They were all holding guns.
Sadouski became very worried, as was rational when a large amount of armed men enter your place of employment. She pressed a button. An alarm. Fortunately it was silent.
They pointed their guns at her. "Where is the Mayor?" blurted their ringleader at her.
She said nothing. "Where is the mayor?" asked their ringleader, again.
She was petrified.
"Shoot the broad!" one of their number cajoled.
"No," said the ringleader. "Bound and gag her. She'll be good as a hostage."
They therefore tied Sadouski to her chair. She screamed, but the man tying her up strapped a pillowcase around her mouth.
There was soon screaming and hollering from all over the building. Gunshots too.
The ringleader kicked open a door.
There he was. Mayor Ralph Parker. The most powerful man in Hohman, cowering in fear. He didn't have armed guards, because this was a nice suburb, without the undesirables that Chicago had. There was no need for armed guards, because the thugs were elsewhere.
"We used to know each other, Parker, but that doesn't matter. Hands up, head down. Men, ensure Mr. Parker is restrained." He turned to one of the others.
"And Dill, hang the red flag from the window."
"Mr. President! We have a situation!"
Kennedy's eyes were ripped from his papers and looked concernedly at Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, and Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense. They were followed by staffers.
"We have reports of what appears to be a Communist takeover of several government facilities in the town of Hohman, Indiana."
McNamara's face, already grave, became even more subdued.
"We are also receiving reports of an explosion at a checkpoint between East and West Berlin."
Hohman city hall was thoroughly taken over by this militant group. Mayor Ralph Parker was bound up in rope and gagged like everyone else.
Their ringleader was whisked away to another room. "Sir!" said Dill, one of the lower ranked men. "You have a call from our help!"
They had been given a set of radios that would relay information between their helpers and themselves. Yes, by all means, this aspiring band of revolutionaries had some outside assistance. Where would they get so much heavy weaponry otherwise? They had military-grade machine guns poring out of the windows of city hall, as well as the two police stations and post office they had commandeered.
The ringleader went to the back room they were keeping the radios in.
"Mr. Farkus!" commanded the voice from the radio. "I hear your efforts have been successful! I want to warn you that the military is coming soon. Our scouts have seen military convoys being sent on the highways around Chicago, but hopefully you can last long enough for the rest of the plan to come to completion."
"That had better come soon," replied Farkus. "I am already getting tired of pretending to be a Communist."
"Your 'pure' America free of miscegenation and sodomy will come soon enough, Farkus," replied the somewhat raspy voice. "And if you need emergency help, you know where we are."
"Good, good!" blurted Farkus. "This nation deserves to burn for letting the Communists grow as big as they are, and on our own shores! Kennedy, King, Malcolm X, all of them are bringing this country to ruin! And I have to pretend to be one of them."
"Just be patient. The Berlin and Moscow teams have already been dispatched."
And with that, Gerald Giftbearer turned off his radio, in a little fortified sleigh in Lake County, Indiana.
Krasnoselsky District, Moscow
There were two of them. Policemen.
Policemen with nothing to do. They decidedly didn't do much of anything, for there was nothing to do. It was a boring day in Krasnoselsky, that neighborhood of railyards and not much else.
One wandered off to relieve himself in one of the depots. He was police; he could do what he wanted.
The one that stayed remained there, and continued to do nothing. He turned his face away from his compatriot, assuming nothing would continue to happen, and that nothing would continue to be necessary.
He turned around after some minutes, and found his compatriot lying on the ground, his head turned into red mush.
This policeman looked around, scared. He called for help.
And within a minute he had neither a brain to think with or a mouth to call with.
Livingston Baubler had escaped with enough punch cards, at least he thought. There ought to be somebody interesting in these records, both in the US and in the Soviet Union.
They had retreated to the wastelands outside of the main settlement on the North Pole via an unmarked, covered sleigh, and regrouped with some of his followers.
His followers were quite legion, really. A lot of the North Pole Defense Forces was disillusioned with the continued service of anti-religious regimes.
They agreed that the Red Menace had to be dealt with.
These elves, in the chaos of the explosions and the siege of the Stocking, had made off with a few sleighs. But these were not just sleighs.
They were, in the parlance of the NPDF, troughs. Taken from the reindeer feeding bins, their munitions were those of human tanks, and with the cannons to match. The reindeer needed special hearing protection and body armor, and they pulled the massive armored contraption, still on blades, into battle.
There were six of them, as well as the machine guns and mortars and military-grade rifles that they had plenty of.
The surrendering elves were at their core a diversion. Santa Claus was away from his compound, and so the time to strike was now.
"Elves! Loyal Elves!" he called out. The general muttering ceased.
"We stand here today to restore our birthright. We stand here today to take back what is rightfully ours, and to oppose the forces that attempt to render us obsolete.
To replace us.
So long as Bolshevism continues to exist, the world will leave its spirituality and go towards ways of celebration that make our time-honored purpose nothing more than a hackneyed memory of childhood nevermore to be undertaken. The secularists the world over want us to become obsolete.
So I say to them: you will not replace us.
Claus' own sense of misplaced compassion is why we did not destroy the Soviet Union. At least the Nazis professed a faith, as impure as it was.
Over yonder is where the traitor Santa Claus keeps his computer. We need to secure that computer to decapitate our enemies.
The reason why we give coal to naughty children is that it is not fun, but it was necessary in the age of coal-burned fire. Now, in this current age, the tradition remains, for it is that, tradition.
Now, what we are about to do is to give coal to millions of people, for their naughtiness in allowing the menace of Bolshevism and secularism cannot go unpunished.
Now, we march. Why?
Because they will not replace us!"
The crowd of elves cheered, and got in formation. With Poleman behind him, Baubler began to lead his march. The troughs formed a line.
Soon enough they reached Claus' compound. It was walled; that's why they brought the cannons.
Six blasts, all within five seconds of each other, fired off from the troughs.
The wall came tumbling down.
If they were to be replaced, they would not be easily.
Good. Claus was still at the Stocking. That is what went through the head of Livingston Baubler.
His men still had the punched cards, as they should have. "Rummage through the building and find the computer in here!"
"Yes, sir!" his men cried out. "The rest of you, stay outside and make sure that loyalists cannot interfere! I'm going in!"
But of course their plan did not go uninterrupted. Soon, there were artillery shells from the NPDF landing around Claus' compound, but none hit the compound proper. The mortars that his elves had secured fired back in their general direction.
"No matter!" blurted Baubler. His right-hand elf, Poleman, was feeding cards into the computer, which they had found before too long. It was in an unmarked closet, but that sort of thing was what they were expecting.
The cards were being fed into the computer, and it was producing bushels of paper with names and addresses, all of these in the Soviet Union.
"These are in Armenia, sir!" remarked Poleman. "We aren't even close to Moscow yet."
"Damn it!" seethed Baubler. His plan was failing. The Moscow team would not be able to complete its mission. "Keep on! Everyone not working the computer, arm yourselves!"
The rifles were drawn.
Their work continued, and the artillery kept coming.
"Attention, all Baublerist rebels! This is Minister of Defense Claudius Bellringer!" blurted out a voice from what sounded like a very loud speaker. "If you lay down your weapons now you will be spared. If you do not, you will be killed. This is your final warning."
Even for someone so convinced of his righteousness, Baubler was scared. "How many sleighs do we have still flight-ready?" he asked.
Poleman relayed the question via radio. "We could have one of them take off if you needed to. But where?"
"Keep at it. We'll get Khrushchev eventually if we can hold out long enough," ordered Baubler. "But if we do fail, and that is a possibility, the Berlin team is too fragmented."
"If we have to."
The sirens were omnipresent. Police cars barged onto Shepherd Street, and the officers came rolling out, all with guns drawn.
One of the police stations, the one on McGavin Avenue, had been stormed by the militants. The other, on Dillon Street, was still in police hands. Chief of the Hohman Police Department Harold Flickinger was observing the chaos.
"Chief!" said one of his younger officers by the name of Wilczek, "Everyone's in position!"
"Sound off the horn."
And so through the airhorn went, "Occupants of Hohman City Hall, surrender now. Indiana National Guard units are descending on your position via Billingsley Avenue with weapons better than anything we have. You will not maintain occupancy of this building."
Without warning, machine gun fire burst through some of the windows. Multiple police officers were killed in the gunfire, but Flickinger ducked. He wished he could say the same about Wilcek.
"You don't understand, capitalist dogs!" called a voice from the city hall, "we are loyal to the Soviet Union! We will not surrender!"
"I want an entire press blackout. No press in or out of Hohman. After recent events we cannot risk it." The aid nodded and scurried away.
Kennedy turned his attention to the McNamara's presentation. "Mr. President, our surveillance initiatives have found very little; Hohman seems homegrown. However, we have received an urgent call from Moscow, which informed us of an interesting new development."
"Go on with it, then!" blurted Kennedy.
"They told us that they found the assassins of the Moscow policemen we told you about earlier. They're elves."
Kennedy's eyebrows rose. "Elves? From the North Pole?"
"Yes, sir. Intelligence indicates that there is some degree of civil strife up there. We have attempted to contact Santa Claus but there has been no response."
"Once more, this is General Claudius Bellringer. You have one more chance to surrender. Santa Claus is en route and will be leading the attack personally, if the artillery barrage does not destroy the compound."
The computer was still printing out addresses. It was now at the Amur oblast.
Still an infuriatingly long way from Moscow, and that was with a tremendous amount of discarded cards.
The artillery kept coming. "No, no, NO!" screamed Baubler. He heard nearby gunshots.
They were about to be captured. "Poleman! Tell our sleighs to prepare to take off!"
"Hohman! We can still inflict punishment even if both Berlin and Moscow have failed! To hell with the computers, go!" He brandished the rifle and shot the computer console, which began to emit smoke.
They ran, the troops shielding Baubler from harm. They fired at some loyal elves who had entered the building, but made it into their line.
They boarded one of the smaller sleighs, armed with nary but a machine gun. "Add more guns to the sleigh! Move it!"
His elves did so. "Now get on to Hohman! You have the location, right!"
"Yes sir!" responded the conductor.
The conductor reoriented the reindeer, to an open route, and they began their gallop. It was fenced in so nothing fell out, but it was still lightly armored and lightly armed.
They thought they would get away.
But down on the ground, the red coat was unmistakable.
Ralph Parker had never been tied up. Or gagged, for that matter. There was a first time for everything, he supposed.
The hapless mayor of Hohman was awaiting his inevitable execution, or maybe being saved. Being saved would be very nice, but alas that did not appear to be happening.
He could hear gunfire outside. He wondered if they'd get to him in time.
He saw the man who appeared to be their ringleader walking through the hallway his office opened into, flanked by two others. He began screaming, or what he could do through the gag.
The ringleader looked. One of his henchmen asked him "what should we do with him, Farkus?"
Farkus was perturbed. "Don't say my name in front of the captives!" he yelled.
Parker knew that name. He had thought that the ringleader sounded familiar. He tried to make the words "Scut Farkus" through his his gag.
Farkus glared at him. "Okay, you two, come with me." They followed.
He had his men untie Parker. "So you know who I am. I knew who you are as soon as I saw the campaign posters."
The gagged was pulled off. "Scott - or should I say, 'Scut,' Farkus, how did I know you'd be a communist in your older years?"
"Not exactly a communist, but for you it doesn't matter. You're the man who ruined my life!"
"Really?" asked Parker. "What made you think that one well-deserved retaliatory beating ruined your life?
Farkus began to breath heavily. "It f***ed me over for life. You destroyed my ability to mentally function. You destroyed my social life, which destroyed my school life, which destroyed everything else. I couldn't get into Harvard like you. Hell, I couldn't even get into a state school!"
"Stop projecting, Farkus. We both know that broader issues are at play here."
"No! Let's reenact that fight. I'll show you who is boss here in Hohman! Dill! Schwartz! Stay back! Let me at him!"
He took his gun and threw it to the wall, where it lay. He lunged at the mayor.
The Mayor was almost pleased. As a child he had fantasized of being a frontier ranger, fighting bandits and Indians and who have you. This was the best he could do.
He did know however that this fight could be over quickly. As Farkus pummeled him, he kicked up with his knee, throwing the latter man back. He made a run for Farkus' rifle in the meantime.
Farkus ran at him. Parker knocked Farkus in the chest with the butt of the rifle, and then ducked. He already saw Dill and Schwartz raising their guns.
With Farkus down, he raised the rifle, still ducking. "It's clear to me you're not going to learn any lesson. Soap in your mouth would be far too harsh."
He raised the rifle and shot Farkus in the stomach. He'd probably survive for a bit longer, so he could be turned over to the police.
Like the serials he used to watch as a child he knelt as he put the gun over the desk, using it as cover. The bullets from Dill and Schwartz buzzed by him.
He aimed, missing several, but ultimately hitting them in the chest or stomach.
They screamed. He knew that the others must be coming, so he slammed the door shut, locked it, and pushed some bookcases in front of it.
He wasn't the Red Rider, he thought, but it was something.
The plan was going as was intended, thought Gerald Giftbearer. The occupation in Hohman was going well enough.
And Hohman was the perfect town to besiege. It was close enough to a big city for the elites to care about, but not enough for the US armed forces to be there so quickly. There was no military presence at all in Hohman. So Giftbearer kept to his place in Lake County and waited.
“Giftbearer! Giftbearer!” spewed from the radio.
It was Baubler. “What the hell do you need? You’re clearly in trouble.” Giftbearer responded.
“Damn it, Berlin and Moscow have failed. I am currently in a sleigh bound for your location with as many loyalists as I could muster. I would reckon that Claus is behind me. Make sure everything you have is brought to the Hohman City Hall to help our allies there.”
“But why? The nukes aren’t flying. Why would they be flying? We haven’t started a war yet!”
“We still can. Might have to take the North Pole down, but it would be better than letting Bolshevism survive.”
Giftbearer paused. “Are you mad?”
Baubler was incensed. Why was his loyal agent questioning him?
Poleman, who was also on the sleigh, looked at him. So were the rest of his men.
“Certainly somebody would keep the tradition alive,” he said, deflectingly. “Even then, why would they target the North Pole?”
They all looked away. The rest of the ride was silent.
Until they came up to Hohman. The sirens were blaring, and the police cars were taking up the majority of that stretch of Shepherd Street.
There was also gunfire. Before contacting Giftbearer, he had told the occupiers of the police station to attack the police. They were there admirably, firing off the machine guns and rockets they were given.
But there were also tanks. The Indiana National Guard had deployed, and had brought in the big guns.
Baubler inhaled, and deeply.
“Brothers!” he proclaimed. The elves on the sleigh looked at him.
“I have doubts we will be victorious. If that is the case, let this be our Thermopylae. Let this day be when the world beheld the last stand of Elfdom and Christendom. It will be the last stand of those who wish the rising tide of secularization would finally withdraw to the depths in which it belongs. Now, my brethren! We will live in death!”
He was hoping for applause. His compatriots only gave him a somewhat exhausted look. He cursed them in his own mind.
There were several machine guns on the sleigh. He grabbed one of them and began firing on the police, and on anyone who may be within the path of the bullets.
It felt good. Perhaps too good. But here he was, fighting and dying for his people. For his tradition.
But was that worth it?
Of course it was worth it, he mentally told himself. The guns kept firing.
And then he saw the jet fighters coming in.
“Baubler, you idiot! They can see us! They will shoot us down!”
“That does not matter! You will land when I tell you to land, and only when I tell you to land!”
As if on cue the sleigh lunged downwards, avoiding fire from the jets.
“I am not having any more of this, Baubler. I am landing on the roof of the city hall. I am done with your theatrics.”
“No! NO! Keep flying! Keep flying!”
The pilot did no such thing. He maneuvered, dodging bullet after bullet.
One of the other elves was hit by one of the bullets put out by American fighters, and fell down to the ground limply.
It didn’t register with Baubler.
They landed on the roof. Baubler was screaming.
“Oh, to hell with the rest of you!” He grabbed his gun, and reloaded just to be sure. He’d fired some of his bullets when escaping Claus’ compound.
He found a door to the inside of the building and was mentally preparing himself to die. He found some degree of excitement in being able to go down in a blaze of glory.
He expected to find his allies, the masked white supremacists, to support him. He only found corpses, dressed in all black, lying on the floor.
There were several.
“Farkus! Anyone? Are you there?”
From one of the side rooms stepped a man. Not one of his.
He was in a suit. He was brandishing a gun, and had several more on his belt. He also had a machine gun slung over his arm.
“Who the hell are you?” asked Baubler, in whatever English he could muster.
“Ralph Parker. Mayor of the City of Hohman. And you?” Parker brandished the gun.
“I’m the elf that orchestrated this whole thing.”
“Give me one reason not to kill you.”
Big mistake. It dawned upon Baubler that admitting he was the ringleader of this whole thing was a big mistake.
“Because he must face justice at home,” came a voice behind him.
Santa Claus with an armed escort stood right behind him, guns aimed at him.
“Now would you care to explain to me why a man dressed as Santa Claus would be here?”
“I doubt you believe me. I doubt you even believe I exist. I just know that when you were eight years old you wanted a Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time for Christmas.”
Parker stood in stunned silence.
“I just know. And with those guns I see all around you? You’ll shoot your eye out, sir!”
Parker just shook his head. “He’s still a threat, and so are the Commies.”
Claus peered right into Baubler’s eyes. “You have one reason to tell me why I should not have you in chains this instant.”
“Oh, so you plan to spare me?” asked Baubler. “What I wanted to do was to send the world’s nuclear bombs at each other. Why, you may ask? To punish secularism. To promote Christmas. To save Christmas. To save ourselves and our livelihoods. And to punish those who let it happen.”
There was silence.
“I knew you had doubts about our war against the Nazis, but this is another level, Baubler. This is ridiculous! We were never going to go along with Unthinkable! And here you are, trying to start a war. A war that would kill millions, and indeed likely ourselves.”
“Surrender, Baubler, and you will be tried. You will live. I cannot say that it will be pleasant, but you will live. You will stand trial, and probably be found guilty of treason, murder, and several other crimes.”
“No!” screamed Baubler. “I will not be replaced! I will not surrender!”
He brandished his gun and turned around, and fired several shots.
It was a blur. He fired. They fired. Parker fired.
And then he could fire no more.
There would be no trial. He would not go to prison.
But he was right about one thing. Santa Claus had no intention of replacing him.