Ho ho howdy folkses! Welcome to Day Eleven of our Twelve Days of Shitmas celebration for 2022! Here we are already at our penultimate day, within easy spitting distance of the shivering climax of our annual festivities. We're having such a swell time this year we just hate to see our favorite season come to a definitive end, so today we've decided to extend and distend ourselves for you with an unprecedented double dose of scintillating Shitmas cheer. Last time we brought you an Australian-made monstrosity featuring a noisomely twee talking doll with a porn-fetish voice and an oral fixation. Today we graduate from dolls to puppets with a pair of short subjects starring merry marionettes, presented back-to-back for your consideration, delectation and tumescent engorgement. It's double the pleasure and double the fun, but only half the calories of our regular Shitmas treats!

Shitmas...with strings attached.

We're posting a brand-new review of a holiday special every other day beginning December 3rd and culminating with what we consider the worst of the bunch on Christmas Morning. I'm not here to kick a dead horse, people. I know you know that we have a couple of jim-dandy special features this year, and I know you know what they are, but I'm still contractually obligated to tell you, so now might be a good time to go to the kitchen and get a bottle of brandy and a carton of egg nog.

Special feature number one is our Crouching Elf, Hidden Santa picture hunt, where cheeky photos of an Elf and Santa Claus are hidden via invisible links in two random screenshots somewhere in each review. Hopefully by now you've already found them in each of our previous articles, so why not keep your perfect record intact by finding the pair that are hidden here? It'd be a shame to break your streak, don't you think?

Special feature number two is our Tales from the Northside short story anthology, featuring a dozen original tales of adventure and intrigue from the surprisingly seedy and corrupt North Pole realm where Santa makes Elves and penguins tremble and children's dreams come true.

Howdy Doody's Christmas (1951)

Our first awkwardly dangling selection is a one-off special based on the popular and beloved kiddie program The Howdy Doody Show (1948-60) which was a ubiquitous childhood staple of the Baby Boomer generation. The titular character originated on radio, as one of several voices created by WNBC announcer Buffalo Bob Smith, who brought him to television for what was to be a one-time appearance on a program called Puppet Playhouse Presents. Howdy proved so popular that he became a regular character, and eventually the show was retitled and retooled to center entirely around him and his rotating cast of human, animal and puppet pals.

Aside from Howdy himself, cowboy Buffalo Bob and Clarabell the clown were the most prominent regulars who performed skits, read viewer mail and engaged in madcap adventures in front of a live audience of kids on bleachers known as "The Peanut Gallery," a previously obscure vaudeville term that entered the coloquial American lexicon and is still occasionally used today. It was the popularity and name recognition of Howdy-Doody's Peanut Gallery that would inspire United Features Syndicate executives to rechristen Charles M. Shultz's "Li'l Folks" comic strip as "Peanuts" when it went into syndication in 1950.

The influence and popularity of the program is hard to understate, as it set the standard and provided a template for hundreds of programs nationwide that sought to replicate its winning formula. It still retains some of its hokey, wholesome charm nearly seventy-five years on, and though today's brief, shot-on-film special feels a little lackluster and rushed bu comparison it still has some frenetic, slapstick appeal. It also has Clarabell, played by future Captain Kangaroo (1955-84) Bob Keeshan, who might more likely bring a shiver of fear than waves of laughter today due to his more-than-passing resemblance to famous serial killer and occasional party clown John Wayne Gacy.

The 1970's saw a nostalgia-driven revival of interest in 1950's culture, with films such as American Graffiti (1973) and Grease (1978) finding success at the box office and Happy Days (1974-84) dominating the Neilson ratings on TV. After a 1975 appearance on the latter program Howdy Doody returned ro syndication with The New Howdy Doody Show (1976-77), but interest quickly waned, and the program was cancelled after just six months. A fortieth anniversary special followed in 1988, leaving us with just about as much Howdy Doody as the world will ever need.

We open with a brief preamble, where Howdy explains that he's going to tell us all about how he, Buffalo Bob and Clarabell spent the previous Christmas Eve. As marionettes go he's fairly well equipped, with strings a-plenty to control his arms, legs, head, mouth and cold, dead eyes. I've always evaluated marionettes on a case-by-case basis, and much like to my unsteady relationship with ventriloquist dummies my reactions and tolerances to them can run hot and cold and change over time. Howdy currently lands somewhere in my personal neutral zone. He neither attracts nor repulses me, and I have no strong feelings about his personality or humor whatsoever.

Though I'm not crazy about the teeth.

From Howdy's intro we flash back to Buffalo Bob putting the finishing touch on their Christmas tree by encircling it with delicate strings of lightly buttered popcorn. As fast as he can put them on, however, Clarabell pulls them down and eats them, even going so far as to shake a little salt on each kernel as he pops them in his mouth.

All that murder builds a mighty appetite.

Howdy, meanwhile is standing on a windowsill next to the fireplace and using a hammer to hang his stocking. Buffalo Bob comes over to see how he's getting along, and despite the lack of articulation in his fingers he manages just fine. In a trice he has his stocking up and everything ready to go for the holiday.

"Santa should bring you some linseed oil. Your finish looks a little dull."

Howdy asks Clarabell if he'd like to put his stocking up next and he mimes in the affirmative. He reaches into the little crotch box he keeps hanging from his smock and pulls out a huge sock that's nearly as long as he is tall. He brings it over to the mantle and tries to hang it, but he never seems to have the stocking, nail and hammer in his hands at the same time.

"Now where did I leave the leg I took out of this thing?"

Finally, after five or six attempts, Clarabell gives up trying to do things the standard way and drives in the nail with his forehead, which may explain why he blacks out when he kills.

Buffalo Bob warns that it's almost midnight and Santa is soon due to arrive. Clarabell looks at the face of a big grandfather clock and frowns. Midnight is still five minutes away, and he's not a patient clown under any circumstances, let alone on Christmas Eve when he's wating for Santa to bring him a new chainsaw and a shovel. He opens the clock and moves the hands forward to midnight and the chimes begin to ring.

Bob says they'd better hide so Santa doesn't see them, suddenly realize they're living with a notorious serial killer and scoot straight back up the chimney without leaving them any toys. He hops behind the sofa and Howdy tucks himself down behind a chair, but clumsy, homicidal Clarabell can't seem to find anywhere to go. He opens the clock cabinet but realizes it's too small for him, opens the door to the basement but remembers that's where all the bodies are, then finally heads over to a window and pulls the blind down to his belly, hoping Santa won't notice the entire lower half of his body sticking out from the bottom of it.

The chimes ring out twelve o'clock, but Santa doesn't come! Clarabell steps over to the fireplace and looks up to see if he maybe got stuck in the flue but gets only a face full of soot for his trouble.

Actually it's dirt. He does a lot of digging.

After awhile they figure Santa wont be coming after all. Bob thinks there must be something wrong, so he suggests they all climb into their "Rocketdoodle" and head up to the North Pole to make sure Santa is okay. The "Rocketdoodle" turns out to be stock footage of an airship from Flash Gordon (1936).

I'd recognize that thing anywhere.

Meanwhile, up at the North Pole, Santa is indeed, in a bit of a pickle. A dunderhead named "Ugly Sam" has unwittingly found himself in the office of Santa's workshop and has mistaken the poor fellow for an escaped convict called "The Bearded Bandit." He has him tied to a chair and refuses to believe him when he tries to explain who he is.

Ugly Sam looks like he should be selling baguettes.

Meanwhile our boys in the rocket arrive in North Pole airspace and do a fly-by of the workshop, via some animated footage from an undistinguished and largely forgotten short subject version of The Night Before Christmas (1946).

At least the sun seems to be enjoying himself.

Ugly Sam has meanwhile heard the roar of their engines and thinks the Bearded Bandit's gang is on the way. He figures if he can capture all of them he'll earn a big reward, so when he hears the outer door of the workshop open he quick shuts out the lights and uses the tassel from Santa's hat as a ball-gag to keep him quiet.

No worries, Santa. We don't kink-shame here.

Howdy, Bob and Clarabell are in the workshop now, surrounded by surplus toys and sneaking around in the dark looking for clues as to why Santa never came down their chimney...which may or may not be a euphemism for one of his other kinks. After all, what happens in Santa's workshop stays in Santa's workshop.

This guy can't unsee the things he's seen in that place.

Bob cautions the others to be as quiet as mice, so immediately clumsy old Clarabell has to fuck things up by running into stuff, knocking shit over, falling on the floor and making about as much of a ruckus as a clown can make outside of an actual murder where the victim is really making a fuss.

After all the clamor, Clarabell gets up and walks towards the office end of the workshop and Sam leaps out at him, shouting "I've got you now, gang!" and the special suddenly transforms into a mildly homoerotic Three Stooges routine. There's a lot of running around in circles and some handsy grappling between Sam, Clarabell and Bob, and while they're all thus engaged Howdy slips behind Santa's chair and releases him from his bondage with a pocket knife.

The safe word is "jinglebells."

Santa leaps up and turns the light on, and Bob realizes it's his slightly intellectually challenged pal Ugly Sam whose face he's just been sitting on in the dark for the past five minutes

When anonymous hookups go wrong.

Buffalo Bob Asks just what the hell Sam is doing at Santa's workshop/juice bar/bath house. He explains that he answered a message on Grindr and next thing he knew he was capturing the Bearded Bandit for the reward money.

Santa saunters in with a wink and a smile, hoping that the whole big wacky misunderstanding has finally been cleared up, but Sam is an imbecile and refuses to let it go. He came here to get laid, and reward money or no, he's not gonna leave until somebody tugs his tinsel.

I hope my wife doesn't catch me watching this.

Howdy must act as moderator and find a way to convince Sam that Santa Claus is who he says he is. He asks Sam what he wants for Christmas, and Sam says he wants a mirror so he can look at his own beautifully ugly face all day long. Santa, having memorized every Christmas list ever written, has anticipated Sam's desire and hands him the very mirror he's had his eye on, lo' these many moons. Thus finally convinced, Sam gives up his dream of a three way around the world with a cowboy and a silver bear and heads back home to preen and check his app notifications.

Also to bake a torte or a souffle. Possibly.

Santa takes off in his sleigh via a bit more borrowed animation and the rest of the gang congratulate themselves on having saved Christmas for God-fearing Christians everywhere.

The End.

The Elf & Mr. Little (1953)

Our second special of the day lacks the extensive provenance of the first, and although it has a much lower IMdB rating than Howdy Doody's Christmas, I personally enjoyed it more. It couldn't be further removed from the madcap slapstick Howdy and his pals engaged in, striking instead a quiet, sweet and appropriately pious tone for those who engage with the religious significance of Christmas more than the culture of festive secularity that's developed around it in the past hundred and thirty years or so. Clearly I am not part of that demographic, but I still liked its comforting "story time" feel and appreciated the timeless message of kindness and redemption it conveys.

There's not a great deal of information available about how and why it was made, but I was able to track down a few details. It was produced by Lew King, an Arizona broadcaster who hosted a talent show for children, first on radio and then on KPHO TV in Phoenix, Arizona. The Lew King Ranger Show (1951-1973) featured several young performers who would later have successful professional careers in country & western music, including Wayne Newton, Tanya Tucker and Marty Robbins. During the program's run, more than 200,000 children signed up from home to become honorary rangers, a position that came with a badge and a membership card, and required participants to take an oath to be a good citizen.

Lew King and some of his "Rangers.">

The Elf & Mr. Little appears to have been a project of The Boys' Club of Phoenix. It was made in their facility using puppets designed and built by someone named Rex Castle, the details of whose life and motivations seem to have been lost to time. A choir features prominently in the story, and recordings of the Club's own choir were used whenever the singers appear on screen.

And that's all I've got, so let's get to it.

We open with the choir singing "Jingle Bells" on a snow-girt street in Anytown, Anywhere, somewhere in the timeless realm of story-lore. Inside the town's toy store, called "The Little Story Shop," the elderly toy maker Mr. Little and his wife are entertaining some local children with heartwarming tales of the before-times, when food was plentiful, you could heat your home by burning oil or coal instead of human bones, and the dead stayed in the ground where they belonged.

Mr. Little stops to listen to the choir, his painted wooden eyes glistening with nostalgic longing, and Mrs. Little asks him what the singing reminds him of, the answer to which question she already well knows.

"Why, it reminds me of that day at the churchyard, my dear...the day when everything changed!"

Mr. Little says it reminds him of a particular Christmas long ago, and one of the tots who's there listening to them asks him to elaborate. Mr. Little feels that perhaps his wife might be a better narrator for this tale, what with his dementia and PTSD flashbacks and all...and thus she speaks, and so our story begins.

It seems Mr. Little wasn't always the kind, friendly and gentle fellow the kids know today, but was once something of a grumpus and a worry-wart, always griping about money and always anxious that there wouldn't be enough time to prepare enough toys for Christmas. When the choir would come by and sing outside the shop then, Mrs. Little assures us, her husband had nothing but harsh language for their noise and a raised fist of fury for their constant interruptions of his work.

"I hope you all die in bridge collapse!"

On one particular morning in early December, the infernal din of the choir's caroling sent Mr. Little into a rant, much like my many rants here at MMT, where he complained about this and that, about people in general being toxic douchebags, about how they leave piles of half-empty sugar packets on the counter at work, about how his cats have to immediately jump in the litter box and make a huge fucking shit the instant he's just changed out the litter, and especially about the dwindling time left between now and the holiday to build all the toys. "I'd give anything for some good help!" he cried.

A strange, squawking voice responded to him with "Did you say 'anything?'" and the old couple turned to find a funny little Elf sitting in a chair by the door of the shop.

I hope his name isn't Mephistopheles.

The Elf extracted a promise from Mr. Little to give him whatever he wants from inside the shop at the end of the season, promising in return to work day and night making the very finest toys he's ever seen. Deperate and pressed for time, Mr. Little agreed.

So the Elf was off and running, making toys with his deft and nimble hands so fast both the Littles together couldn't keep up with him. He worked day and night, only stopping now and again to eat a little bread, to listen to the singing of the choir, and to befriend a little girl who would stand outside the shop window looking at a beautiful doll in the display window.

She's got horrendous posture.

The Elf and the Little Girl became fast friends, and she returned with the carolers every day to look at the doll and chat with her pal.

As Christmas neared and business was booming at the shop, Mr. Little began to worry about his agreement with the Elf. "What if he wants all our money?" he complained to his wife. "The little fucker will ruin us!"

But Mrs. Little had faith that everything would work out for the best and dismissed his concerns as the ravings of a shell-shocked lunatic.

"First it was Omaha Beach, now it's this!"

Finally Christmas Eve arrives, and Mrs. Little informs us that it had been a bumper season where they'd sold almost every toy in the shop. After the deluge, and as the three toymakers sat resting, with the Elf at his customary seat by the window, the Little Girl walked by, peered in and waved to her friend, then headed off to the town church for the evening service.

As soon as the Girl was out of sight the Elf leapt to his feet and demanded his pay.

Mr. Little asked him nervously what exactly he would like of him, and the Elf reminded him of his promise to give him anything he asked for from inside the shop. Instead of the gobs and gobs of money he legitmately earned through his herculean toymaking efforts, the Elf asked only for one small boon: to have the doll in the shop window.

"Also your immortal soul, but that goes without saying."

Mr. Little was naturally thrilled to be let off so easily, but when the Elf took the doll and ran off into the night with it, his curiosity got the better of him. "I must follow him to see what he does with it," said Mr. Little to his equally baffled wife, and off he went to spy on his erstwhile employee.

Mr. Little followed the Elf and the Elf followed the Girl, and they all ended up at the church, where Mr. Little sat in a pew at the back and watched in wonder as the Elf handed the doll to his friend.

"So whadya say, baby? Maybe we could get a drink sometime."

Mr. Little had a sudden epiphany about the hectic pace and moral quality of his life, the working and slaving and chasing after the almighty dollar, and all for what? Just to continue to work and slave and chase money? In his obsessive quest to build and sell he had forgotten some of the other, far more important things about Christmas, like loving and giving and thinking of the happiness of others.

"Also cookies."

Mr. Little left the church that night a changed man. No more a worry-wart and wage-slave, he vowed he would now be kind and caring to one and all, to get out of the house more and engage with people, to eat less red meat and get more exercise, to read a book every now and then, maybe take some night classes at the community college, to catch up on that true-crime podcast he used to enjoy and do some travelling. He'd heard Boca Raton was nice at this time of year. Maybe he'd call his cousin Morrie the travel agent tomorrow and see what he might be able to do for him.

"It'll be a one way ticket, though and I'm definitely going alone."

The End.

Shitmas Bonus!

Tales from the Northside:
One Present Too Many

In the telling of his previous tale Dongle the Elf had worked himself up to a fever pitch, and it was clear that the events he had just relayed held a profound and personal meaning for him. "The news of the walkout at Factory 487, where I had myself worked for the bulk of my first thirteen years at the pole, spread across Santa's enormous operation in a flash, and it was scarcely an hour before one of my coworkers in the Promotions department rushed into my office, half-winded and panting, with word that fully half of the manufacturing sector was at a complete standstill and many thousands of our brother and sister Elves were protesting in the streets. I had been several decades removed from the heavy labor of my first few positions in the organization, but even in the ivory tower of our lofty business facility our hearts, and if necessary our hands, were with our downtrodden friends.

We Elves are notoriously, almost pathologically loyal to our own kind, and the ancient motto of our people, 'when smote is one, all will bleed,' was as true on that morning as it had been in the ancient olden times, when after the great wars of the Tuatha de Danann our ancestors had entered the fairy realms through their forts and raths and had withdrawn from the world of man.

Still, there were bigger battles ahead of us, and we well knew they would be hard-fought. Santa had terrible forces at his command, should he be tempted to use them, and as the day unfolded, he would have to make a desperate choice, to either give up willfully that which he held most dear or lose his empire forever."


Early in the afternoon of the day of the uprising Santa called an emergency war conference with General Leadfoot of his Tin Soldier army to strategize about how to combat the rolling waves of walkouts and protests that had spread throughout his facilities. Only that morning Taft the walrus had performed the impulsive act of defiance that had set the long-smoldering tinder box ablaze, and already the conflagration had spread to nearly every factory, warehouse and distribution center. Elves were leaving their posts and marching in the streets of the North pole by the tens of thousands, and Santa feared that the fever of revolt was already beyond the power of his forces to bring back under his control.

"What's to be done, General? The Elves are marching and it seems not one of them will remain loyal to me. To know what to do I need to know who I can trust. Will the penguins and cormorants be next? Will the walruses stay with me or march with the Elves? What forces can I muster to send against them?"

The stiff old warrior stared at the monitors in Santa's tower control room and took in the chaos unfolding in the streets and avenues of the realm, scanning each location with the critical strategic eye of a man who'd cut his teeth on the battlefield hundreds of years before and had reveled in conflict and chaos ever since. Look where he might on this day, however he saw only impossible odds and bitter defeat.

"There's too many of 'em. I could send in my men to mow 'em down in a firing line, but we'd be overrun by the second or third volley and you'll have lost not only your army but damn near half your workforce. The bulk of the penguins might keep to you, for the ha'penny they'd be worth as soldiers, but the cormorants are cowards and have no taste for partisanship. If the bullets start flying they'll fly, too, far out to sea where they'll bob happily on the waves, waiting things out to see who might win the day."

"And the walruses?"

"Taft is the head of their union and the most esteemed of their kind. If he's already gone over the rest will follow him. They're a prideful people, fierce in battle, and they've never fully respected your authority. It'll be 1925 all over again, but with three times the forces standing against us."

Santa took the grim news calmly. There was nothing in it that surprised him, but rather it confirmed what he already suspected. He knew there were other forces that might be put to use, forces he had never dared unleash for the terrible bargain he would have to make to awaken them, but he feared he would soon have no choice. This was no passing wave that would spend itself out over time, but a tsunami of rage that would keep gathering speed and strength until it destroyed everything in its path. In his mind's eye he saw his empire in ruins, his home razed to the ground, and himself destitute, or worse, but he feared almost equally the potential salvation that would taint his soul forever. Perhaps, he mused, there might still be a middle path.

"Stay here, Leadfoot. Monitor the situation and report to me immediately of any change or escalation," he commanded, then turned on his heels, marched out of the tower and straight to a lavish apartment in the North Wing.


When Santa entered Rasputin's apartment he found his former advisor midway through the rather complicated process of feeding his seventeen cats. The old polar bear continued to parse out portions and add supplements, additives and helpful herbs for them as he greeted his former boss.

"It's a long time since you've visited me here, old friend. I know why you're here. The inevitable holes have appeared in the dyke protecting your empire and you're all out of fingers to stop them up with."

"Yes. The factories are all standing idle, the Elves are marching, and it seems the walruses will follow them."

"Undoubtedly," said the polar bear, "in fact, Taft has already been to see me and confirmed that he'll put the union to an immediate vote, to take sides in your little problem and to give aid and comfort to the party they choose. I think we both know how that will turn out."

Raputin turned suddenly, distracted by a flash of movement at the far end of the room. "Tinsel, you rascal! Come back here with that ribbon!"

A little kitty with grey fur so sleek and silvery it shimmered in the light had caught the end of a roll of red satin cloth and run off with it, trailing it across the living room and through an archway into the kitchen.

Santa shook his head sadly to see the terrible Rasputin, once his most trusted ally and most feared enforcer, gently doting on his cats and kittens like a mother hen with her chicks. It was his last best hope that perhaps some of the old rancor and fearsomeness remained, that he might appeal to the old bear's former loyalty and bad temper and enlist he and his fellows in putting down the rebellion that now threatened to shatter his supremacy over the Pole.

"I'm afraid you've come to me on a fool's errand. I'm too much changed to go back to being your attack puppy, and I'm pleased to inform you I've already joined the ranks of your enemies, the identities of some of whom may surprise even you. Should you choose to fight you'll be facing not only the Elves and the walruses, but an army of my polar bear brothers and sisters...and all of your reindeer as well."

"The reindeer, too?" cried Santa, "Will everyone stand against me, then? I never should have done it, Rasputin, brought you that first little kitten who robbed you of your cruelty."

"Ah!" said the polar bear with a broad, toothy smile, "So it was you, eh? All these years I've suspected it, and now it's finally confirmed! Thank you, my friend, for all those many years ago having shown me my true self. You have always been a master manipulator, plotting and scheming yourself into greater and greater power and authority, but who would have thought that in giving me back my soul you would also have sown the seeds of your own undoing?"

Rasputin turned back to his cats and Santa turned to go, but as he reached the outer door he heard the gruff voice of his former friend offer a final word of advice.

"Remember, Santa Claus: I know your secrets, even the most obscure and shameful of them, even the one you fear the most. I know what it is you plan to do. Give away your gift if you must, but you may find that it's one present too many."


Santa entered the deepest basement of the Great House through a hidden door set directly in the foundation and came to the huge stone trap that had been shut and locked since he had last entered it five hundred years before. The trap had already been there for many millennia before Santa came to the barren and enchanted land he would make his home, and it was set directly atop the North Pole itself. Once he had done his business below it all those many ago he had built the house around it and then his entire empire around the house.

Santa took out an enormous and ancient iron key and fit it into a worn hole at the center of the slab. As he struggled to turn it, three times widdershins and a half-turn back, he heard an deep and distantly familiar clank as the timeless mechanism of some forgotten craftsman unlatched itself in a chamber beneath the floor. The slab rose on a fulcrum, revealing a spiral stone staircase that stretched deep into the darkness beneath the Earth. He took a long breath, exhaled slowly, then began his descent.

Seven hundred steps below he reached a circular chamber with a single archway, which led into a cavernous rotunda with walls lined with alcoves of an irridescent red gemstone, lit from within with inextinguishable fairy-flames lit by the oldest inhabitants of the inner Earth. At the side opposite the door sat a throne of the same material, and in front of that stood a small altar made of wood taken from the first forest of the world. Atop the altar stood a box of about seven inches cubed, wrapped in thick, gold damask paper with a red velvet bow.

The throne, too began to glow, and a mighty voice, at once terrifying and sardonic, began to speak.

"You have come back to me at last, Santa Claus, as I always knew you must. Is it to reclaim your gift or to yield your claim to it?"

Santa swallowed back his rising fear and answered, as boldly as his trembling breath would allow. "I come to yield it, great Polekeeper. The crisis you predicted has come, and I require dominion over your two remaining armies to defend my realm."

"Think carefully, Santa Claus. When you left your heart with me before it was only for safe-keeping, until which time as you might need it again, if I grant you this boon you will never feel it beat within your breast again, and you shall belong to me forever, heart, body and soul."

"Everything I've worked for, everything I've built with the powers you gave me is now in peril. If I don't have command of all three of your armies, it will all crumble to dust."

"My Tin Soldiers are not enough, then?" mocked the all-knowing Polekeeper.

"You know they aren't or I wouldn't be here. All the disparate forces of the North Pole are arrayed against me. Only the combined strength of the Tin Soldiers, the Gingerbread Men and the Nutcrackers can prevail against them. If I must forever yield my heart to you to have their help, so be it."

"Give me what you value most dearly, and you shall have what you desire. Take your gift from the altar and place it on my throne."

Santa stepped up to the altar and lifted the box. He had forgotten the heaviness of the heart within it, and when he felt its beating for the first time in five centuries he was afraid.

Still, he did not falter. He placed the box on the throne as he had been told.

Santa suddenly felt an unimaginable emptiness as if everything that made him who he was had suddenly drained away, leaving only a distant echo of his identity behind. When the last drop of it was gone the space it left behind began to slowly fill with the hatred and rage of a thousand thousand millenia.

"Now you are my vessel," declared the Polekeeper, "Take my three armies and do with them what you will. Kill. Burn. Destroy. Wipe clean the scourge of all living things forever, and together we shall rule in the darkness of the empty Earth." [to be continued...]

All "Tales from the Northside" stories
copyright 2022 Bradley Lyndon

Merry Christmas, folkses.

Next Installment: December 25th!

As always, Cheers and thanks for reading!

Written by Bradley Lyndon in December, 2022.

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