The challenge: Three words chosen at random by someone on Twitter (in this case @atfmb) crafted into a story in minimal time. The words are in the tags. Enjoy!
“There shouldn’t be a Santa Claus.” Evan stared at the data on his multiple screens as the computer reconfigured it into countless visual iterations trying to find some sense in the numbers.
“I’ve got good news for you then.” Leonard, his grad student, said as he cut a slice off his meatball with the side of his fork.
“Funny.” Evan said. “I’ve been looking over this data for ages. Every cultural, mythical and legendary figure can be placed in the Cambellian matrix. Each has a place in the collective unconscious and serves a role. Sometimes their role is usurped, but they always have a hole to fill and holes will always be filled by new versions of the old concept. Except this one.” He tapped the screen where the computer had generated a dancing Santa Claus infographic whose limbs were proportional to the ages at which children in different cultures ceased believing in him.
“This is your guilt over making me work Christmas Eve isn’t it?” Leonard asked.
Evan ignored the question. He found it best to ignore most of what Leonard said. He’d been an unfortunately noisy sounding board. “The character just doesn’t make sense. He’s attached to the second most sacred Christian holiday, yet he eclipses it in popularity. He’s known in every culture. He has dozens of different names, Sinterklaas, Saint Nicholas, SIr Christmas but those that vary away from Santa Claus tend to be quickly lost. He’s evolved in other ways, too. He used to be a name with no face, but over the years he’s been imagined and reimagined until he’s come to this chubby old man with the red suit and white beard. The elves, the reindeer, the sleigh all are additions to the original story, but unlike other characters once a new aspect gets established it doesn’t change. It doesn’t get lost, forgotten or rewritten. I mean, just think about the meatballs.”
“What about them?” Leonard said while chewing a chunk of said meatballs.
“Did you ever eat Swedish meatballs as a kid for Christmas? Did anybody?”
“Here look at this.” Evan typed away and produced a Santa Claus timeline, showing where each aspect entered the lore. “Right there. Fifteen years ago, the tradition of Swedish meatballs began with a particularly vehement ad campaign and now everyone eats meatballs for Christmas.”
“Whass yo point?” Leonard said a glob of ground beef escaping his mouth at the tip of the t.
“It’s almost like almost two-thousand years ago, someone infected the human race with an idea, that has slowly germinated in the mind of every man, woman and child since. As the infections spread the idea became more defined until finally we find ourselves with the meatball-loving, fat man we all know today, but why? What’s the point?”
“You’re not allowed to work Christmas anymore.” Leonard licked his fork.
A familiar sound they’d never heard before filled the office, like sleigh bells and hoof beats. A blinding light followed. What appeared next could only be described in terms of a Venn diagram, in one field Santa Claus in the other human. This creature lie completely in the Santa Claus field. It’s face was pure white fur with a red nose protruding. The rest of its body was likewise furry, but the colors alternated from red on the belly and legs to white trim at the wrists and ankles and black on the hands and feet. Something like a sleigh/spaceship hybrid sat behind him, filling the rows between the office cubicles. A team of eight brown quadrupeds with antennae where their head should be completed the tableau.
Leonard dropped his fork.
The creature opened it’s great jawed mouth. A black tongue protruded with a bulb on the tip. The bulb opened and released a puff of some dark gas. He bit down on it and it reconfigured itself to speak. “Hello, ho, ho. Earth. We are Santarclas. We’ve come for Peace on Earth and offer goodwill toward men. We’ve waited long for this moment.”
Evan, Leonard and every other person on Earth that was having this experience found themselves speechless. The Santarclas knew only one way to show their kind intent. Each one produced from its bag a plate of warm rounded beef.
“May we offer you a meatball?”