The Christmas Meat Train

The Christmas Meat Train
A collection of micro tales
 
 
By Budgie Bigelow:
Prologue 
Deathslug
Peppermint Choke-a
The Reindeer Drones
Grandma Gets Quarantined
Ding and Ling
Penny
Sparkles Reports to the Big Man
Achmed Claus
Epilogue
 
By Harbingerr:
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Be Good for Goodness Sake
Gonna Find Out Who’s Naughty or Nice
He Knows if You’ve Been Bad or Good
 
By Jim Watts:
I’m the Gift that Keeps on Giving
 
 
 
 
 
Prologue
 
Each and every year, Santa Claus sends out magical invitations to those lucky enough to be chosen to ride his Christmas train, and this year was no different. Cards were sent all over the world, finding the recipients and inviting to join him and his elves for a relaxing ride of wonderment, celebrating the Christmas spirit. The train was loaded and the seats were filled. The hot cocoa bar was stocked, and the elves were ready. Santa himself sat in his own private car near the front of the train, eager to start his annual excursion.
 
The train’s whistle blew, and it started moving, puffing white clouds from the smoke stack as it rode atop its tracks. Evergreen trees started to fall behind as it picked up speed, heading toward their forest route.
 
This was going to be a ride none aboard would ever forget.  
 
 
Deathslug
 
Elven-year-old Deathslug stared out the window as his mother returned from the next car over from theirs. “Our restroom has been locked for the last hour,” she said. “I had to go to the Vixen car.”
 
Deathslug grunted. He was uncomfortable, and his bitch of a mother knew it. She had him clad in a red sweater and khakis, and he had to comb his hair neat. She had forced him to become someone he wasn’t, and he missed the black clothing, white face makeup, black eyeliner, and nail polish. He wasn’t a nice young man named Timothy Smith Junior; he was a bisexual gothic prince known only by Deathslug by the people who understood who he truly was.
 
“Are you enjoying the ride, TJ?” his mother asked. Her name was Martha. Deathslug refused to even think of her as “mom”.
 
That was what she called him: TJ, Timothy Junior. She had always refused to call him the name he had chosen for himself. Why would anyone want to be named after a man who couldn’t stand to be around his own son since he was three years old? The thought of being called Timothy, Tim, or Timmy sickened him, and the name “Timothy Junior” (or “TJ”) made him wish he was violently ill.
 
“Fuck TJ,” Deathslug muttered, stroking the handle of the emergency exit by his window seat. “That’s not my name, Martha.”
 
Martha let out a sad sigh. “We were privileged enough to get an invitation to ride Santa’s train,” she said. “I thought you’d be happy to be a normal little boy again, even for a single trip.”
 
There she went again, droning on about how she wished he was “normal”. All he wanted at that moment was to die. He wished a boulder would tumble from the nearby ridges, killing him along with his mother and everyone in the stupid, fucking train. He was considering opening that emergency exit as the train sped along, allowing himself to slide off and enter into whatever dark void followed the puppet show of life.
 
“There sure are a lot of people on this train,” Martha said, attempting to once again have a normal conversation with her son, as if it would force him to be normal like she hoped.
 
“This is a meat train,” Deathslug muttered, “a goddam Christmas meat train.”
 
“Excuse me?” Martha asked.
 
“Humans are nothing more than animated meat,” Deathslug replied.
 
“I wish you wouldn’t say things like that,” Martha said.
 
Deathslug scoffed. He was only there because his mother had threatened him, leaving the red sweater and khakis on his bed. The invitation to ride on Santa’s train had come, and the threats soon followed. He was to dress normal, act normal, and ride the fucking train. Otherwise, he’d be shipped off to catholic school, and Martha didn’t give a shit how much it cost her.
 
“I wish you were dead,” Deathslug sneered. “By the time this train ride ends, you’ll wish you were dead too.”
 
“I can’t do this any more,” Martha said, looking down and shaking her head into her hand. “When we get home, I’m going to leave a full bottle of Ambien on the bathroom sink. Do whatever you want.”
 
Martha looked out the window with no sign of being angry or sad. Deathslug looked at her for only a moment before doing the same, watching the trees whip by, waiting for it all to be over.
 
 
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
 
“Meet me in my room,” she whispered in his ear. His grasp on her shoulders loosened just enough to allow her to slide from the sliver of space where he held her pinned against the bathroom door, just out of site of the other passengers. She smiled over her shoulder impishly as she sauntered away.
 
“I did it. I finally did it!” he thought to himself as he excitedly trailed behind her. She played coy at first, but he knew if he was persistent enough she’d give in, they always did. Experience taught him that “no” never meant “no”, it meant “no…for right now”. It’s how he conned that kid’s mom out of her Santa Train passes. It’s how he convinced his ex to get back together with him; she was awaiting his return in the dining car as he stalked the little lady with the golden locks right now. And it’s how he was finally going to bang one of Santa’s elves. His dream of dreams was coming true. He couldn’t pat himself on the back hard enough.
 
She led him through the maze of train cars, braving the loudly jabbering crowds of hyperactive children and exhausted parents, until they reached her compartment far away from prying ears and eyes. He strode into her quarters as if he belonged there, confidence and entitlement oozing from his every pore. She closed the door and locked it, making certain no one had seen him enter. His pants were already wrapped around his ankles by the time she turned around.
 
“Lie down,” she instructed and he waddled over to the mattress without question. He stretched himself out as comfortably as he could, but it was obvious that the bed was not designed to hold anyone taller than a toddler. Even with his head pushed all the way to the top, his knees dangled from the end of the foot-board, feet nearly touching the floor. He fidgeted wildly like one of the candy-stuffed adolescents buzzing around a few cars over. She pulled out two knitted scarves from a small drawer hidden at the bottom of the wardrobe in the corner; one was printed with various Christmas lights and the other was a tasteful red and green argyle pattern, both were ugly. Scaling him like an alpinist, she deftly secured his hands to the low headboard with the light-bulb design and his body could no longer conceal his arousal.
 
“Oh, you naughty little elf,” he giggled gleefully.
 
“He sees you when you’re sleeping,” she said, climbing down his chest and arranging herself on his thighs. She then forced his knees apart and fastened them to the bottom corners of her bed with the remaining scarf, feet left free to wiggle. She hopped down and stepped back, admiring her handiwork.
 
“Does Santa know how bad his little helper is?” he asked, a comical grin plastered to his face.
 
She returned to the wardrobe. “He knows when you’re awake,” she continued as she retrieved an overlarge candy cane from the drawer; it appeared to be half the measure of the elf holding it and roughly three inches in diameter.
 
“Elves have toys,” he muttered, wide-eyed. “I had no idea devil’s dick-sized candy canes even existed.”
 
She studied the sugary cylinder for a moment, then shifted her focus to him. “He knows when you’ve been bad or good,” she seethed. A malicious expression crept across her features and a flicker of fear pinched him deep in his gut.
 
There was a knock.
 
A smile tugged at the corners of her lips as his faded away. She unlatched the bolt and turned the knob. Beaming, she swung open the door and maneuvered aside. Kris Kringle stood at the entrance to her tiny chambers, his girth filling the doorway. He entered slowly, taking in the scene laid out before him. The man tied to the elf’s bed stared up at the crimson clad beast of a being with a mixture of confusion and awe.
 
“Shut the door, Starla. There’s no need to alarm the children,” he boomed, his voice deep and commanding. She obeyed.
 
“What are…” the fettered gentleman began nervously, but he was shushed straightaway by jolly ol’ Saint Nick.
 
Santa held out his hand to Starla. She simpered up at him and produced the peppermint monstrosity. He held it, feeling its weight then began suckling on the end. Looking down at the detainee he began to cackle with a twinkle in his eye.
 
“So be good for goodness sake,” he guffawed as terror engulfed the restrained fellow’s soul.
 
 
 
Peppermint Choke-a
 
Jill handed the woman at her counter the two hot cocoas she had ordered. She had worked on the train, mainly at the Comet car cocoa stand on the second tier, for the last six years, passing out mugs of cocoa, curtesy of Santa himself. It was one of the jobs for which a full-sized person was needed, so Santa didn’t intrust it to one of his elves. She turned her face, toothy smile and all, toward the next customer, a tall man with mangy-looking hair and a beard to match. “What flavors do you have?” he asked.
 
“I can make mostly any flavor you can think of,” Jill said, trying not to let the stench of the man in front of her her deter her normal smile. She wondered if a vagrant had snuck aboard. She tried to see from the corner of her eye if any of Santa’s security elves were around.
 
“What do you recommend?” the vagrant asked.
 
“A lot of people seem to like the peppermint mocha today,” Jill said. “Can I get you one?”
 
“How about a peppermint choke-a?” the vagrant said, laughing dryly. 
 
“What?” Jill asked, finding it hard to keep her smile.
 
“Peppermint,” the vagrant repeated. “CHOKE-A!”
 
The vagrant lunged over the counter, grabbing Jill by her neck with both of his hands. He dragged her over to his side, knocking over the tumblers full of long candy canes to the floor with a clatter. She was slammed on the floor, and the vagrant kept his grip, straddling her and choking the life out of her.
 
Jill saw people moving away from the corner of her eye. If she was able to get air in and out of her lungs, she would have screamed for help. Mothers dragged their kids away and men just watched, looks of horror mingled with fascination on their faces.
 
“Get it?!” the vagrant shouted, spittle flying between his teeth, apparently proud if his pun, despite his rage. “Peppermint choke-a?!”
 
The world started to fade to black as Jill tried fleetingly to peel the hands from her neck. The end was coming, she knew it. She was ready to close her eyes, sleep, and leave the agony of strangulation behind. 
 
There was a jolt, and the vagrant was on his back beside Jill, staring at the ceiling, a small trickle of blood coming from his ear. Jill gasped for air, greedily filling her aching lungs. She looked at her savior, a burly man with a thick beard, holding the fire extinguisher like a weapon.
 
Jill inhaled and exhaled, her sore throat unable to make the words “thank” and “you”.
 
 
The Reindeer Drones
 
Janice sat with her six-year-old daughter, sipping her hot cocoa. They were both enjoying the ride on Santa’s train immensely, and more fun was promised to be coming soon. “Look at this,” Janice said, her double chin jigging as she spoke. “Santa is employing drones to bring the kids their presents this year.”
 
“What’s that?” Janice’s daughter, Hannah asked, turning from the window, steam building from her own cocoa.
 
“A drone?” Janice asked, smiling smugly, eager to tell someone something they don’t already know, even if it is her own daughter. “They’re robots that fly through the sky, carrying boxes under them.”
 
“And they’re coming on the train?” Hannah asked, awed.
 
“Yes,” Janice said. “They’ll be painted like Santa’s reindeer, and they’ll be dropping off your gift.”
 
“Wow,” Hannah said. She turned back toward the window as the train slowed down. “I think I see them!”
 
Hannah indeed saw the drones. They flew above the trees, painted brown with the face of a reindeer hand-painted by Santa’s elves. Dozens, maybe more, made their way toward the train, all carrying a brightly wrapped box under it.
 
“Here they come!” Janice said, moving closer to the window to see as well.
 
The drones approached, watched by the eager children on the train. Arrows came from the trees, ropes attached. The drones were whipped toward the ground and dragged away from the train by men in fur coats and ushankas. They clubbed at the drones that were still trying to get away, taking the gifts from under them.
 
“What’s happening, mommy?” Hannah asked.
 
“I don’t know, baby,” Janice replied, watching with a look of horror and fascination.
 
Nets flew through the air, tangling the drones, causing them to crash just a dozen or so feet from the train as it kept on moving. More poachers appeared on the backs of huge reindeer, screaming wildly as they tossed their nets into the air. Some simply threw rocks, not caring that they were hitting the train and the windows.
 
Hannah began to cry as a drone bounced off the window before hitting the hard ground and sending the gift rolling.
 
Birds of prey, bells tied around one of their legs apiece, swooped from the sky, grasping at the drones with their talons, beating their wings wildly to pull them away from their intended targets. They brought the drones, gifts and all, back toward the trees and the waiting men.
 
“What’s going on?” Janice asked, turning toward a small elf who was walking down the middle of the car.
 
The elf stood near the window, putting his head near Hannah’s and squinting to see. “Present poachers,” he said. “We thought we got them all, but apparently not enough.”
 
“Present poachers?” Janice asked.
 
“I must notify security,” the elf said, running off the way he came.
 
Janice looked out the window, watching the poachers collecting the last of the gifts from the fallen drones, putting them in large wooden barrels near the edge of the forest. One of the poachers put two of his fingers to his temples and gave the train a mock salute as it went over a bridge. No gift had made its way onto the train.
 
Hannah cried, wailing along with the other children who had witnessed the travesty of the present poachers. “Mommy,” she said through the sobs, snot falling from her nose. “Did those bad guys get my present.”
 
“I’m so sorry, baby,” Janice said, stroking Hannah’s hair. She had no words that would comfort her daughter.
 
Hannah’s sobs doubled.
 
 
 
Be Good for Goodness Sake
 
Lynn sat alone in a corner booth in the dining car aboard Santa’s Train. Trent was supposed to have joined her after emptying his bladder, but she spotted him groping a blonde elf against the door to the bathroom.
 
She knew he wouldn’t be back any time soon. She felt like such a fool for believing he had changed. Jealousy bubbled at the thought of his hands all over that little holiday hoe and the styrofoam cup Lynn held exploded in her tightening grasp, spilling hot cocoa all over her glittery Christmas sweater. She swore loudly, catching the attention of the gnome-like creature manning the food station. He rushed over to Lynn, towel in hand.
 
“Are you ok, miss?” he squeaked in an accent that sounded vaguely Irish. He frantically blotted the wetness off the sparkly reindeer that crisscrossed her chest. Lynn looked at the bearded butterball sopping up her chocolate mess and she broke.
 
“No, I’m not ok!” she shrieked, startling the tiny round fellow. “My stupid boyfriend invited me on this stupid train because he said he wanted to get back together, and I was too stupid and lonely to say no! He’s been pinching elf ass all over the place when he thinks I’m not looking, and now he’s fucking one of the Santa Sluts while I sit here crying to a leprechaun!” she whaled, her head dropping into her hands.
 
The miniature gentleman wrapped his arms around the sobbing lass, and she collapsed onto his small shoulder. “I’m an elf, ma’am, not a leprechaun ” he whispered in his high-pitched melodic voice. Something about it turned Lynn’s weeping into hysterical laughter, and he soon followed suit. They leaned on each other, raucously giggling like children at an inside joke, unable to control themselves. Their mirth eventually subsided and Lynn was left with a large brown stain on her top and sadness in her heart.
 
The elf witnessed her expression transform. Feeling empathy for the puffy-faced lady, he held his hand out. “I’m Nosh.”
 
She put on her best saccharine smile. “Lynn,” she responded, shaking his Lilliputian mitt.
 
He proceeded to wipe at the last remnants of moisture on her face. “I won’t pretend to know your situation, deary,” Nosh orated, “but Santa did not invent this train for evil deeds or ill will. He sees all, knows all. That ‘stupid boyfriend’, as you call him, will get his comeuppance. Just you wait and see. The Big Guy is firm, but fair.”
 
“That’s a nice thought, but some things are beyond even the reach of Santa Claus,” she replied in a mildly sardonic tone. Just then the phone behind the counter rang. It played a 64-bit rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Lynn chuckled at the unexpected humor.
 
“Excuse me. I must get that,” Nosh flustered, nearly tripping over his own feet to get to the red receiver mounted on the wall.
 
“Cuisine Car, this is Nosh. How may I assist you?” the elf answered in the cheeriest timbre he could muster with a mostly inaudible tinge of nervousness. “Uh-huh,” he muttered, his head nodding emphatically. “Yes, sir. She is, sir,” he continued, his gaze swung to Lynn and she inexplicably straightened up. “Absolutely, sir. Whatever you say, sir. We’ll be right there.” He hung up the handset.
 
Nosh trudged back to the corner booth, stopping at Lynn’s side. “He has a surprise for you,” he stated, emotion draining from his face. Her eyes widened.
 
“That was…” she gulped. “Santa Claus? Like…for real?” unsure whether to feel excitement or dread.
 
Nosh nodded. “Remember how I said he sees everything?”
 
“Yeah,” she uttered.
 
“Well…” he measured his words. “The Big Guy doesn’t like when people aren’t good for goodness sake.”
 
“Oh” was all she managed, not really understanding what that could mean.
 
Nosh gently grabbed Lynn’s hand and led her through what seemed like an endless parade of overenthusiastic kids and their weary parents. They eventually made their way to the last compartment of an empty car, far away from the throng. As they approached, exclamations of “Ho! Ho! Ho!” issued from the closed door. Lynn’s lips formed a grin then she saw the strained expression on her little friend’s face and her exhilaration waned.
 
“What’s wrong?” she questioned, but a guttural scream coming from the same door answered. More “Ho, ho, hos!” followed but they were drenched in something much more malevolent, almost sadistic. She stopped dead in her tracks.
 
“He knows when you’ve been bad or good.,” Nosh mumbled then looked up at his charge. “It’s ok, Lynn. Knock. He’s expecting you.”
 
“That sounded like Trent,” she breathed, staring at the handle, her heart racing.
 
“Firm but fair, remember? Just knock, honey,” Nosh instructed.
 
Lynn hesitated for a moment and Nosh yanked tenderly on her fingertips.
 
She knocked.
 
 
I am the Gift that Will Keep on Giving
 
What the fuck have I gotten myself into?
It’s dark, and I can hear all sorts of anomalous sounds. I hear muffled cries, but I can’t decipher the directions they’re coming from. Actually, they sound like they are surrounding me. Judging by the rhythmic clunking sound that’s keeping steady throughout the cries, moans, and sobbing, I can only deduce that I’m on a train. My mind is still foggy, like when you’re startled awake after a night of heavy drinking. I’m trying to stay calm as I evaluate my situation, but my inner voice is just screaming: “WHY THE EVER-LOVING FUCK AM I ON A TRAIN?!
My senses seem heightened. I can’t see even the tiniest dot of light coming into this box of which I realize I am inside. I can smell that it is wood. Cedar, perhaps? I am not restrained, and I have room to sit up fully. I move my arms and calculate there is about a foot of space on either side of me. My bearings are pretty much gathered now. I feel my entire body with my hands and I am completely clothed, but I am shoeless. I feel no injuries. I do have a horrible taste in my mouth, though. 
Now that I have this much figured out, it’s now time to start finding a way out of this. Better yet, I need to remember how the fuck I got here. I know if I struggle or freak out, I’m only going to tire myself out and not remedy this debacle. I monitor my breathing to keep my heart from going erratic with fear. I keep calm and try to remember my last memory before finding myself in this confinement.
My head rests against the wood behind me. I think I closed my eyes, but I have no idea because it’s that dark in here. I try my best to ignore the cacophony of sorrowful sounds and concentrate on remembering. My memories start falling into place.
I was at a Christmas party. I was there with my girlfriend, Missy. All of our friends had been there, and the drinks were flowing freely. Missy had gone off with her friends to have a smoke outside, and I was in the kitchen with a group of people I kind of knew through her. I normally don’t tolerate her friends because they are mostly fucking idiots and she shouldn’t hang with them; but it was the holidays, and I wasn’t going to be a yuletide dick. Plus, it was free booze. I tried to have a good time despite the shitty music and not knowing anybody there. I just kept my drink topped off and feigned a smile on my face. Missy would flip the bitch-switch if I ruined tonight. I looked around, hoping to see somebody with some coke.
Missy returned to find me in the kitchen of this house as the front door exploded open. There in the doorway down the hallway stood Santa. I found it a bit odd; this being an adult party and Santa being there. Everyone was cheering and crowding around him as he made his way into the living room. Missy hooked her arm around my elbow and dragged me along with the rest of the revelers.
We stood in the back, and people were hopping onto Santa’s lap and taking selfies or posing as their friends fired off photos of them. It was as if they were children again. Regardless of whether they were sitting on his lap mockingly, ironically, or even genuinely, they were having a great time. Missy pulled me down to her ear and said, “Ryan, I want a picture of you sitting on Santa’s lap!” I shrugged it off and offered a decline to her request. She made the face that let me know I had better do it or else. She and I had been on rocky ground for a while, and I had to play the game to keep her. Our entire relationship I knew I had her, but she still loved her ex I had stolen her from. But fuck that guy. I’m the one pushing the dick into her. His loss is my gain. I looked her in the eyes and told her I’d do it. I forced a smile, slammed the rest of my drink, and handed her the empty glass. 
I walked over and sat on Santa’s Lap. He put a hand on my back and looked me in the face. “Ho Ho Ho,” he laughed. “Have you been a good boy, Ryan?” How the fuck did he know my name? Did I know this guy? I examined his beard and mustache to identify whether or not he was a fake, but seeing the little white hairs that were higher up on his cheeks shot that assumption down. It was a real beard. I don’t know anyone with a real white beard. I looked over at Missy, who was snapping photos, delighted. I waved to her and mugged for another flash from her phone. I heard Santa say quietly: “You have been a very bad boy, Ryan. I know what you have done, and tonight you will be on the naughty list. You have my word on this.” There was a tone of seriousness in his voice. I swung my head around to face him and he wasn’t smiling. “Take one last look at Missy. Memorize every detail of her face, because you’ll never see her again,” he said, his beard flittering at every word. 
I jumped off Santa’s lap. “You wanna catch these fists, you old fuck?! Who the fuck do you think you are, talking to me like that?!” Hands grab my upper arms and my shoulders, pulling me backward. My head swings side-to-side to see who had me in their grasps. It was two very large dudes, quite possibly members of Santa’s entourage. I saw Missy as they led me away. She was pissed, and I knew from her facial expression that it was the last straw. She gave me the finger and started for the front door, grabbing her coat. She waved at me and said: “We are done. Fuck you and your tough guy image.”
They led me through the living room and into the kitchen. The took their hands off me, and one wiped my shoulders to undo any wrinkling of my shirt they might have caused. He then blocked the kitchen door with his arms folded. “We are sorry you didn’t take that news lightly from Santa,” he said. The other guy pulled a couple of bottles from the refrigerator and made a drink on the counter beside me. 
I tried to make a dash toward the door. “I have to go talk to my girlfriend!” I yelled. Drink Mixing guy reached out swiftly with his Green Mile sized hand and reeled me back next to him. “Big Man wasn’t kidding. You won’t be seeing her again. Now have a drink and calm down for a minute. Big Man will be seeing you shortly and will explain the rest. We’ll be here to keep you company.” 
I took the drink from his hand and pounded it. He gently placed the tumbler in the sink, where he rinsed it, putting it in the dish rack when he was done. I found his manners impeccable, yet strangely alarming. I looked back at the other guy, who was the Kitchen Bouncer right now. He had turned a few people away while Drink Mixer stood in front of me. “Ryan, We will now be going outside, you and I. My associate here will go and grab your coat for you and meet us out there. I advise you to just keep staying chill with me and everything will, for the most part, be alright. Do you understand me?” I nodded to show I comprehended and agreed. His voice was one that was soothing and reassuring, but accented with a tone that was straight professionalism. He placed his hand at the small of my back and led me to the hallway, leading toward the front door. I pointed out my coat to the other guy, and we all went out into the snowy cold.
I was escorted down the street, past all of the partygoers’ vehicles. We walked about three blocks to a bright red SUV with reindeer horns adorning the front. The door was open and I was motioned to get in. The entire interior upholstery was red satin. It took me a moment to drink in the fact that the motor wasn’t running, but the inside of this SUV was extremely warm. This revelation was fleeting as I felt like every drink I had had doubled, hitting me all at once. A severe exhaustion overtook me, and my eyes close. My consciousness faded. I heard Drink Mixer’s soothing voice in the enveloping darkness. “This was quicker than I expected. Go let Big Man know we will rendezvous at the train. Also let Good Boy know to meet us there as well, as his present is ready.” The last of these words trailed off as I drifted into sweet oblivion.
Now I have more questions: Was I drugged? Who is Good Boy? I was right to assume I was on a train, but what the hell train am I on, that corny train of Santa’s? 
I let the fear take over and I join in with the caterwauling as I kick and punch at my wooden encasing. I scream until my throat feels like it’s shredding from the inside. I’m terrified. What the fuck is going to happen to me? I know this is all in vain. My strength is no match for this box. The darkness just isn’t helping, but I keep on kicking at the walls and pushing at the ceiling. 
WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? In my tantrum for release, my foot comes into contact with something. I feel it and hear it as it hits the floor. I freeze. My hands unthaw from their paralysis and they start feeling all over until my fingertips locate this object. Its smooth and rectangle. IT’S AN IPHONE! I roll it around in my hands, feeling along the edges for a button. I find it and take a breath as I press it. The screen lights up and my retinas burn even with this small amount of light. The lock screen is that of gift-wrapping like it’s a present. I see on the tag in the photo the number 64779. I swipe right and enter this number. The home screen pops up. There are no icons except for a text notification. Reluctantly I tap it. The message pops up. It shows that it is sent from “Good Boy”.
It reads: 
“By now you should have realized that you are in a box and this box is aboard Santa Claus’s train. You and many more like you are contained in the box cars headed toward your final destination. You see, Ryan, you stole something very, very precious from me: Missy. I know I had lost her, but you didn’t give me a fair chance to win her back. You never had her heart though. So I spent the last year doing selfless deeds while you did lines off the tits of all the girls you cheated on Missy with. I stayed on my best behavior and gave back to the world while you stayed belligerent and just took from it. By being a good boy, I got to be on Santa’s Good List, and he rewarded me with one wish. I wished big, you can bet on that. I asked Santa if he could answer the Christmas list of people needing organ transplants this year. Based on my selfless wish, he told me he would do that and he also said he would bring my heart back to me, my heart being Missy, of course. With this all being said, I hope you had the cognitive capacity to realize how this all plays out. You have a universal blood type. You will be harvested. Granted they will detox you from your addiction to booger-sugar first. You will finally not be a waste to society anymore. 
Merry Christmas.
– Cooper”
Is this for fucking real?! I swear to God when I get out of here, which I will, I will kill that little son of a bitch! There is no way I’m going to have my organs harvested. This is just an elaborate prank to scare me. It’s not going to work.
Oh fuck… I can hear the train’s wheels braking against the rails. That metal on metal squeal is the train stopping! Oh holy shit, what am I going to do? I can feel, despite being in the box, that the train has stopped and the muffled screams are reaching a fevered pitch as they, too, are coming to the same realizations. 
A door has just opened! My ear is pressed to the side of the box to hear better. I’m holding my breath. I hear footsteps and…
“Ho Ho Ho…”
 
 
Grandma Gets Quarantined
 
Emily sat in the Prancer car with her son and mother. She had received three tickets for her son, husband, and herself, but her husband had to go away for work suddenly. She asked her mother to come, and she was more than happy to join her grandson on Santa’s train ride.
 
“Have you ridden the train before, Grandma?” Aiden, Emily’s eight-year-old son, asked.
 
“I did when I was nine,” Grandma replied with a nostalgic smile. “It was every bit as magical as it is now. I’m so happy I can ride it again.”
 
Emily smiled. Aiden didn’t know, but his grandma didn’t have long to live. She’d likely be gone by spring if her doctors were right. Maybe it was a blessing that Larry had to travel to Washington at the last minute. He had given her mother one last Christmas wish answered.
 
Grandma coughed, pulling a handkerchief from her purse to cover her mouth. The coughing fits weren’t uncommon, and they lasted minutes sometimes.
 
“Are you alright?” Emily asked.
 
“I’m fine,” Grandma said between coughs. “Just grab me a hot tea with lemon when the elf comes by.”
 
Emily nodded, looking for the nearest elf. One came prancing down the aisle. “Excuse me,” Emily said. “Can you bring my mother a hot tea with lemon?”
 
The elf looked over the old woman sitting in the middle seat, still coughing into her handkerchief. “Oh dear,” the elf said, trotting off.
 
“Is he going to bring me my tea?” Grandma asked.
 
“I don’t know,” Emily replied. “These elves are so peculiar.”
 
A moment later, the elf came back with two more. He pointed to Grandma. “That’s her,” he said. “She was coughing up a storm into her rag.”
 
“Come with us, ma’am,” one of the newer elves, still short but muscular, said.
 
“I’m with my grandson!” Grandma said, putting an arm around Aiden. “It’s his first time on the train. I was here when I was nine.”
 
“Please, ma’am,” the original elf said. “We’re going to take you somewhere where you can get better.”
 
Grandma started coughing again, clearly trying to stifle it. When she was done, she nodded. “Alright,” she said.
 
“Mom, no!” Emily snapped. “Stay with us. It’s just a little coughing. They’re being ridiculous.”
 
“Don’t worry about me, dear,” Grandma said. “I don’t want to be a bother to anyone. I’m sure they’ll give me a lozenge and send me back up here in a jiffy.”
 
“Don’t go, Grandma,” Aiden pleaded.
 
“Don’t worry, pumpkin,” Grandma said, kissing Aiden on the forehead. “I’ll be back before you know it.”
 
Grandma left, being led by the three elves, toward the back of the Prancer train. Minutes past, turning into hours. Aiden watched out the window and enjoyed the festivities of the train (except for the horrible time when the presents were taken by those odd men wearing fur). Finally, after three hours, Emily had enough waiting and worrying,
 
“Hey!” Emily said, reaching into the aisle and stopping an elf rushing past with a scroll of parchment in front of him. “I need to see my mother.”
 
“I don’t know what you mean,” the elf said.
 
“She was taken because of her cough,” Emily said, “but she’s been gone for a few hours.”
 
“Nobody can leave the nurse’s car until they’re cleared to return,” the elf said.
 
“Well can I check on her at least?” Emily said. She lowered her voice and made sure that Aiden wasn’t paying her any attention. “She has cancer, and I just want to make sure she’s OK.”
 
The elf gave Emily a loving look. “Follow me,” he said. “I’m sure you can see her.”
 
Emily nodded. She put her hand on Aiden’s head. “Come on, honey,” she said. “We’re going to see Grandma.”
 
“Yay!” Aiden said, hopping off his seat and following his mother and the elf. They walked through two cars, finally making their way through the sliding door of the nurse’s car, near the back of the train. 
 
“What is your mother’s name?” the elf asked.
 
“Petunia Florence,” Emily replied. 
 
The elf looked over a listing on a clipboard and found the name. “Follow me,” he said, walking down an aisle of closed compartments. Emily stole a glance inside. Most of them were empty, and some had children or people with minor injuries or maladies, being looked at by elves in white coats. She spotted a regular-sized worker with a neck brace and wondered what could have happened to her. Near the end of the car was a door marked “quarantine zone”.
 
The elf went inside the quarantine zone, and Emily followed with Aiden. The walls here were covered in thick plastic, and the compartments were replaced with cubes of the same material. They found Grandma near the entrance, sitting on a blue cot with her feet on the ground. When she saw her family, she stood up and walked to the plastic wall.
 
“What are you doing to her?!” Emily snapped.
 
“Your mother is sick,” a nurse elf said, walking into the quarantine zone. “We will not risk the health of the other guests on the train by releasing her. When the ride if complete, we will turn her over to the proper authorities.”
 
“She has cancer,” Emily said. “She’s not contagious.”
 
“Grandma has cancer?” Aiden asked, looking through the plastic at his grandmother. Tears started to roll down his cheeks.
 
“We don’t have the means here to determine if she’s safe to return or not,” the nurse-elf said. “We are to quarantine anyone with a sickness that could spread.”
 
Grandma spoke, but her words were muffled due to the plastic. Emily and Aiden couldn’t understand her.
 
“I can’t hear you,” Emily said, enunciating her words as if Grandma could read her lips. Grandma looked defeated and sat back onto her cot.
 
“What are we supposed to do?” Emily asked as Aiden cried next to her.
 
“Go back to your seat,” the nurse-elf said, “get some hot chocolate, and enjoy the rest of the ride. Santa will be out once the train begins its trip back home.”
 
Emily looked toward her mother, who looked more depressed than she ever had before. She coughed into her fist. Emily then looked toward the nurse-elf, who gave her a reassuring, yet misplaced, smile.
 
“Hey,” Emily said, kneeling and facing Aiden. “Let’s go get you a hot chocolate with extra marshmallows. Santa will be making his way to us soon.”
 
“Yay!” Aiden said, running out of the quarantine zone. Emily gave Grandma one last look before following her son out. If she had stayed, she would have seen the look of hurt on Grandma’s face before she put her head down on the cot’s lumpy pillow and cried herself to sleep.
 
 
Ding and Ling
 
Twin elves, Ding and Ling, stood next to each other, waiting for their boss to tell them why he had them called into his small office so urgently. The train rolled along the track, keeping its pace as it sped through the forest, making it’s way to the large bridge. 
 
“You’re two of my best,” Sparkles, an elf with a large gut and a pointed nose, said. “I have a task of the utmost importance, and you’re the only two I trust.”
 
“You can count on us!” Ding, Ling’s twin brother, said.
 
“There’s no task too big!” Ling, Ding’s twin sister, added.
 
“I love your enthusiasm,” Sparkles said. “I need you to dispose of a body.”
 
Ding and Ling stared at Sparkles, both temporarily shocked into silence. “What?” Ding finally asked.
 
“A vagrant snuck aboard the train,” Sparkles said. “He tried to strangle and kill one of the cocoa wenches, and he was killed by a passenger. His body is behind the cocoa stand of the Comet car, and we need it removed as soon as possible in order for it to re-open. You know how Santa feels about snags like these.”
 
“I don’t know,” Ling said. “What are we supposed to do with it?”
 
“We’ll toss him off the bridge!” Ding said, hitting his left palm with his right fist. “If we can get the body over to the maintenance car, we can open the door, and toss him out.”
 
“We can’t let any of the kids see us,” Ling said, her hands on her mouth. “Oh no, we can’t.”
 
“Oh dear,” Ding said. “However will we move the vagrant’s body without being noticed?”
 
“Figure it out,” Sparkles said. “I have bigger candy canes to fry. There’s rumors of poachers coming for the drones.”
 
Ding and Ling stood behind the temporarily emptied cocoa stand, looking at the body of the hobo who had tried to throttle a woman, his mouth open, revealing yellow and brown-stained teeth. “He smells really bad,” Ling said.
 
“This won’t take long,” Ding said, pushing the vagrant’s mouth closed. It fell back open. “What are we going to do?”
 
Ling thought for a moment, looking at the vagrant while rubbing her chin. “I know!” she exclaimed, running off. She returned a moment later with a silver cocoa cart. “We can get him loaded onto the bottom of this!”
 
Ding positioned himself at the vagrant’s shoulders as Ling pushed the cart next to the body. Ling moved to his legs and crouched, putting one leg under each of her chubby arms. “Ready?” she asked.
 
“Ready,” Ding replied, putting his arms under the vagrant’s shoulders. They both heaved, trying their best to roll him onto the bottom of the cart. The body started to move, when its bowel’s emptied, filling the car with the sound of a wet balloon deflating. The stench of the vagrant’s last meal, post-digestion, filled the car. The twin elves dropped the body. Ling grabbed a trash pail and vomited into it.
 
“Dear me!” Ding said, pinching his nose. “This will be harder than I thought!”
 
“I have another idea!” Ling exclaimed, pointing a finger into the air. She rummaged through the counter, pulled out a couple of marshmallows, and shoved one up each nostril. She handed her brother two as well.
 
“That’s a great idea!” Ding said, taking the marshmallows and doing the same. With their noses blocked, they heaved again, rolling the vagrant onto the bottom of the cart. 
 
The cart rolled through the cars of the train, the dead vagrant on the bottom in the fetal position, covered by a white and red table cloth. “Sorry folks,” Ding said as everyone turned toward the source of the stench. “We’ll be out of your hair momentarily!”
 
“What is that?!” a man asked, pulling his kid away from the cart.
 
“Just some rubbish that got a little out of hand,” Ling said. She gave her brother a look, rolling her eyes slightly. Ding returned it.
 
“The reindeer drones will be here soon!” Ding shouted. “Maybe you’ll see them coming over the trees if you look out the windows!” The kids all ran off, looking for the coming drones.
 
The vagrant was wheeled to the maintenance car, and Ding pulled open the door to the outside, cold air whipping him in the face. The tablecloth blew off the vagrant’s body, but his sister was the luckily only other with him. “Don’t worry,” he said, raising his voice over the wind. “If they ever find him, they’ll think it was a suicide.”
 
Ling only nodded, and Ding turned back toward the door. He looked ahead, and he saw the bridge. He pulled the body off the cart, assisted by Ling. They moved it right to the edge, waiting for the right moment to push.
 
The ground was gone, making way to the gully under them. There was a river, but the body was going to smash on the ragged rocks. “Now!” Ding shouted. The two started to push, and the body moved slowly, teetering on the side.
 
“I can’t,” Ling said. “He’s too heavy!”
 
“Heave!” Ding shouted, the end of the bridge quickly approaching.
 
The body finally fell over the edge, spinning toward the rocky earth below, followed by Ling, who had tumbled out of the car when she pushed to hard.
 
“Ling!” Ding shouted. He only saw his sister for an instant before she was out of sight and dead, smashed upon the rocks. He fell back, put his arms on his knees, and sobbed.
 
 
Gonna Find Out Who’s Naughty and Nice
 
“I am a jolly man. I have a heart molded out of yuletide and a soul forged from holiday cheer. I have devoted my entire existence to spreading joy to all the world. Imagine my dismay when self-centered, overconfident, asshats, like yourself, insist on testing my goodwill toward men.” Santa spoke in his ire-tinged baritone.
 
The man laid wide-eyed in his modified spread-eagle position, restrained to the diminutive bed. His slack-jawed expression irritated the rosy-cheeked behemoth who stood next to his prone body. Santa gripped the nightstick-like candy cane in his hand a little tighter. The bound fellow’s eyes wandered to Santa’s whitening knuckles then to the attractive, blonde elf whose room in which he was now trapped.
 
“You seem to be rendered speechless, Trent.” the elf squeaked from her perch by the door, a malign grin affixed firmly to her lips.
 
Shock brushed his spinal column. “How do you-” he started.
 
“…know your name?” Santa finished. Trent’s gaze jerked back to The Big Man. “How do you think I know, Trent? I’m Santa Motherfuckin’ Claus. I make lists, I check them twice, and I ALWAYS find out who’s naughty or nice.” He raised the candy cane to his mouth and languidly licked at the blunted end. Realization dawned on Trent.
 
“I didn’t do anything, Santa. You gotta believe me.” he pleaded, childlike anxiety coursing through his veins. “We were just having a good time. Right…um…elf…girl?” he continued, unsuccessfully grappling for her name.
 
“It’s Starla, dick.” she responded incredulously. “You would have known that had you asked. And no. I don’t call being forced against a bathroom door by someone twice my size ‘a good time’.” she spat, miming air quotes.
 
Nervous laughter burst forth from Trent, astonished at his predicament. “I’m not even supposed to be here.” he whispered under his breath through gritted teeth. At this, Santa’s anger flared.
 
“No, you’re not!” he proclaimed. “You tricked a poor mother out of the tickets I SENT HER so she could share one last happy memory with her dying son on this train!” Santa began lapping furiously at the candy cane, spinning the end around on his tongue. “You smarmy shitheel. You didn’t know that little boy had leukemia?”
 
Trent gulped audibly. “Um, no. I don’t think I-“
 
It was Starla’s turn to cut him off. “Are you really trying to lie to Santa Claus right now?”
 
“No, ma’am.” Trent stammered. “I just-“
 
“Stop talking!” Santa yelled, his voice reverberating through the elf’s tiny compartment. “You knew about the child’s condition! I was giving you one last opportunity to utter some semblance of truth, and you squandered it!” He struck the palm of his left hand with the sugary cylinder he held in his right. Face flushed with rage, he turned to Starla.
 
“Get my Frosty phone.” She fled the room in a flurry of yellow locks and tinkling bells. Moments later Starla bustled back into the room carrying what appeared to be a miniature snowman statue. Without a word, she took the candy cane from The Big Guy and offered the figurine in return. Santa beheaded the snowman revealing a receiver in the neck that he then held to his ear and a transmitter in the body into which he spoke.
 
“Hello, Nosh!” He said delightedly, his voice not betraying the rage that simmered beneath. “I understand you have a young lady alone with you in the Cuisine Car.” He paused as the person on the other end of the conversation responded. “Is she still upset?” He asked gingerly, then paused again. “I see. How unfortunate, she’s such a nice girl. I need you to do me a favor. I’m in Starla’s roomette with the lovely dear’s…boyfriend.” His eyes flitted wrathfully to the human garbage that laid before him. “Don’t reveal anything to her, but I need you to accompany sweet Lynn to my location.” Another pause. “Thank you, Nosh.” He then snapped the two pieces of the snowman back together and traded it with Starla for the candy cane.
 
“What are you doing?! Lynn can’t come here! She can’t see me like this!” Trent yelled hysterically, straining his limbs uselessly against the well-fashioned knots. “Untie me now!” he screamed, righteous indignation replacing the consternation that shook his being only minutes ago.
 
Santa chuckled wildly. “You? Making demands? You haven’t a leg to stand on.” The joke caused Starla to joined in with her own raucous chortles. Trent continued to scream profanities at the pair as they reveled in their merriment. Their guffaws eventually died away and so did Trent’s colorful pronouncements. A distinct air of seriousness filled the space.
 
“You’ve been very naughty, Trent.” Santa stated in his disappointed fatherly tone, wetting the end of the newly rounded candy cane one last time.
 
“Fuck you, Santa.” Trent retorted then hawked a loogie at jolly ol’ Saint Nick, hitting one of his coat buttons.
 
Santa blankly eyeballed the creature before him. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” Santa resounded mirthlessly, wiping the nasty chunk of phlegm away. He meandered toward the foot of the bed where Trent’s legs were fastened by a single red and green argyle scarf. Santa admired Starla’s knot-work, then without warning he drove the overlarge object into the unwilling rectum of the man fettered to the elf’s bed. The wail that broke from Trent’s lungs was bestial. A string of baleful “Ho, ho, hos!” rang out from Santa Claus in reply.
 
There was a knock at the door.
 
 
Sparkles Reports to the Big Man
 
Sparkles, manager to the elves employed on the train, sat in his small office, joined by Bon-bon, a small elf who made his living as the work elves’ union steward.
 
“All I’m asking for is a bit of your time,” Bon-bon said, his white hair brushed neatly to one side. He pushed his small spectacles up his nose. “An elf has died, falling from the train performing a task you set upon her.”
 
Sparkles sighed. “What happened to Ling is tragic,” he said, “but she’s far from the first elf who has died on this train, and she won’t be the last. I don’t have time for this right now.”
 
“You’re going to need to make time,” Bon-bon said. “Do you have any idea of the state of her brother, Ding?”
 
“Find Ding,” Sparkles said. “Find him and keep him locked up. I don’t need him on my train upsetting Santa’s guests.”
 
“We’re looking for him,” Bob-bon said. “He’s very distraught. He saw his sister die, and I just want to talk about what we’re going to do about it!”
 
“Look!” Sparkles snapped. “A wild vagrant was killed as he tried to strangle a cocoa wench, the cocoa wrench is in the infirmary car with a bruised trachea, the reindeer drones were poached in front of the guests, a dead body was reeled past the guests disguised as garbage, an elf fell from the train, there’s a Santa impersonator nobody will address because he’s a minority, an old woman literally cried herself to death in the quarantine zone, and the bathroom on the Donner car has been locked since this train left the station. The guests have been traveling to the Vixen car to use the restroom, and the line trails halfway down the car! To top it all off, I need to make my report to Santa in ten minutes! So excuse me if I don’t have time to talk about this just now. You can file the mother of all grievances if you want, but please do it after this trip.”
 
“We’ve both been doing this a long time, and I respect you,” Bon-bon said. “I understand this has been a stressful year. Agree to have a sit-down with me as soon as this trip is concluded, and the union will be satisfied for the time being.”
 
“Fine,” Sparkles said. “We’ll talk about Ling as soon as this trip is done.”
 
“Thank you,” Bon-bon said, standing. “Don’t leave the big man waiting.”
 
Sparkles sighed as Bon-bon left. He had a report to make, and it wasn’t a good one. He hadn’t exaggerated what had gone on, and he was minutes away from reporting to Santa.
 
And Santa hated getting bad news.
 
Sparkles walked from his office through the cars, delightfully named after Santa’s reindeer. He approached the lead car when he was blocked by a woman, holding a sleeping baby. “Is Santa in there?!” she demanded. “I heard screaming!”
 
“Elves only after this point,” Sparkles said. He was supposed to stay cheery and polite in front of the guests, but Santa didn’t like to be left waiting either.
 
“Tell Santa I’ll be waiting for him here!” the woman called as Sparkles shoved past her. “Tell him I’ll be here with our child, the one he refuses to acknowledge exists!”
 
The door of the lead car slammed behind Sparkles, and he was thankfully in silence. It was only going it last another minute though. He climbed a spiral, gold-ornate stairway leading to the second tier of the car. There was where he found Santa, sitting in his large, red-cushioned chair, a silver stein of steaming cocoa in his left hand. It was a tradition for him whenever he was finished with a particularly naughty boy or girl.
 
“You’re right on time, Sparkles!” Santa said, his deep voice booming. Sparkles was always in awe of his boss, no matter how many times he found himself in the same room. “Ho, ho, ho,” Santa laughed. “Give me your report.”
 
Sparkles stared into Santa’s face. He didn’t know anything that had happened on the train other than the personal business he conducted, and Sparkles wasn’t one of the elves privileged to help with the most secret of Saint Nick’s private dealings, other than cleaning up the occasional mess. Santa hadn’t even looked outside to see the poachers take the drones. The jolly look on his rosy face was void of any knowledge of the many disasters that had happened since the trip began.
 
“Nothing to report,” Sparkles said, losing the nerve to be the bearer of bad news.
 
“That is good to hear,” Santa said. “I’m glad. Ho, ho, ho!”
 
Sparkles forced a smile.
 
 
Penny
 
Penny sat on the toilet lid in the bathroom of the Donner car, her arms bound behind her back by leather straps, her mouth blocked with her trusty ball-gag, her eyes blindfolded. She had lost track of how long it had been since she was left in that state; three hours, maybe four? She had pissed herself at some point, and the small train restroom reeked of her urine, but her captor had said he was into that. She had no idea how much longer she was going to have to wait in this position, and it suited her just fine.
 
An invitation to ride Santa’s train reached her home right around Thanksgiving, giving her two tickets: one for her daughter and one for her. Penny held onto the tickets, keeping them a secret from her daughter, posting an ad on Craigslist instead.
 
Penny had an odd fetish. She liked to be bound and left alone, unknowing when her master would return to free her and fuck her. The thought of being tied up and made to wait in a locked restroom on Santa’s train made her so horny that she prayed for someone to answer her ad.
 
The ad was answered, and Penny’s daughter was set up to stay with her cousins for the weekend of the train trip. She kept everything a secret, telling her own sister that she had to go away for work. She felt a little guilty keeping this trip from her own daughter and taking a random guy from the internet on the train, but she got over it quickly. An opportunity like this only came around once in a lifetime.
 
Penny met Jacques, the man who had answered her ad. She figured it was a fake name, seeing as he was dark-skinned and didn’t speak with a french accent, but she didn’t care. He had even dressed like a brown Santa Claus for the occasion, turning the naughty dial up a few clicks. As soon as the train left the station, he had done as she had asked, tying her up in the restroom with leather straps, gagging her, blindfolding her, and taking her clothes. She was now completely helpless, save the one man who would eventually return to fuck her, untie her, and return her clothes.
 
The hours ticked by, and Penny loved every minute of it.
 
“Hello?” a woman called, rapping on the door. She wasn’t the first, and she wasn’t going to be the last. The car only had the one restroom, and the amount of people trying to get in made Penny’s excitement grow every time they came knocking. The chance that a maintenance elf might cut Jacques’s lock to find her in there intensified her excitement.
 
The woman knocked one more time, and Penny stayed silent. She vowed to stay silent every time someone knocked, waiting for the moment of Jacques’s return. She wanted him to return so bad, to take her and free her from her bondage. She imagined him sitting on the train next to an empty seat, thinking about what he was going to do to her when he unlocked his lock. He must have been going as crazy as she was, waiting for the right moment.
 
More unmeasured time past, and Penny waited.
 
 
He Knows If You’ve Been Bad or Good
 
Trent’s voice was horse; he could no longer scream or fight against his bonds. Any pleasant sensation he had ever experienced in his life was a distant memory, there was only torment now. Tears still streamed steadily from his bruised and swollen eyes but his body had given out.
 
“I think I’m done.” Lynn said breathlessly. Her arms ached from such rigorous, pro-longed exertion. Tendrils of her dark hair had escaped their previously kempt ponytail and stuck to her sweat covered face and neck.
 
“I think he is too.” Starla giggled as she tasted the wetness that glistened on Trent’s cheeks.
 
“That’s enough.” Santa declared then knelt to help Nosh attach his suspenders to the back of his pants. “Starla, will you please find my Frosty phone? I think I lost it in all the hub-bub.”
 
“Sure, Boss.” she responded and hopped down from the bed with extra pep in her step. She began digging through the strewn pile of floggers and used condoms as everyone else finished getting dressed.
 
“What do we do now?” Lynn asked a little trepidatiously, pulling the worse-for-wear reindeer sweater down over her head. Santa stood and buckled his belt, weighing his words before he spoke.
 
“Well, I have to get Starla’s room thoroughly disinfected. My elves deserve clean and comfortable living quarters, safe from dirt and grime.” his gaze darted to Trent’s trembling form then back at Lynn. “Starla will go about entertaining the children aboard as usual. And Nosh will take you back to the Cuisine Car. He is to serve you anything you wish, as I am quite sure you are famished.” a genuine smile lighting up his features.
 
A smirk touched the edge of Lynn’s lips then dread set in. She gathered her courage. “What about him?”
 
Santa knew what she was really asking. He responded in a measured tone. “He is naughty, Lynn. He has always been naughty, even as a child. You are not the first to be hurt by his deeds. Trent has a long history of inflicting pain and traumatizing women.” He put a comforting hand on Lynn’s shoulder. “Just know, that he is getting what he deserves and you need not feel any guilt or regret. You will suffer no repercussions from this day. You are free to go about your life as if he never existed.”
 
Lynn’s demeanor brightened as if the darkest clouds had lifted. She threw her arms around Santa Claus and hugged him tight.
 
“Thank you.” she whispered into his ear as a single tear fell.
 
“Firm, but fair.” Nosh piped up. She let go of Santa’s neck and followed the rotund elf back to the Cuisine Car.
 
“Found it!” Starla exclaimed from beneath the mound of objects covered in bodily fluids. Santa nipped the Frosty phone from Starla’s outstretched hand, snapped off the snowman’s head once more, and spoke into the headless body.
 
“Hello, Sparkles! I need you in Starla’s room for cleanup immediately.” He stopped to wrenched the giant candy cane out of the dying man’s sphincter. A gurgling sound of agony escaped Trent’s lungs as a spurt of blood-laced fecal matter issued from his anus. “You might need some backup, I suggest Ding and Ling. They always have interesting ideas for rubbish disposal.” He paused, listening to Sparkles accept the order. “Thank you. And don’t forget to report in to me later. I need a shower and some hot cocoa, you can stop by after that.” He reconnected the two pieces of the phone.
 
“If I can make one suggestion, sir?” Starla queried, still surrounded by the assemblage of deviant devices.
 
“Of course, dear.” Santa answered.
 
“Can we…keep him?” she requested.
 
Santa took one last look at the setting around him. 
 
“That should be fine. Just don’t forget to put away your toys when you’re done.” He leaned down and kissed the little elf on her head.
 
The sound of a throat clearing interrupted the touching scene.
 
“Sparkles!” Starla squealed clapping her hands, excited to see her friend.
 
Santa righted his posture and address his Head Elf. “There’s been a slight change of plans. Far be it from me deny my elves a little Christmas fun.” he said cheerfully. “Starla will fill you in on the particulars.” He handed Sparkles the slimy candy cane and walked out the door.
 
Achmed Claus
 
Achmed sat on Santa’s train, staring out the window, waiting. He was dressed like Santa Claus except for the white beard. His own beard of short, coarse, black hair would suffice.
 
“Are you sure you don’t mind me sitting here?” the elf next to him asked.
 
“I do not mind,” Achmed said. “The woman I came with is in the restroom. She is an American whore, and I have no respect for her kind.”
 
“Oh,” the elf said, stirring his cocoa with two candy canes. “I’ll move when she returns, I guess. I’m Ding, by the way.”
 
“My name is Jacques,” Achmed said. He gave a snort of a laugh. “I don’t need that name any more. I am Achmed.”
 
A young boy came running toward them, looking at the elf named Ding. “I want to go to the Rudolph car, but mommy says there is none,” he said. “Why isn’t there a car named after Rudolph.”
 
“Because there is no Rudolph,” Ding said, sipping his cocoa. He was the least cheery elf Achmed had seen on the train.
 
“What?” the boy asked, confused by the answer he received.
 
“Rudolph was never one of Santa’s actual reindeer,” Ding said. “He was invented by ad executives working for huge department stores. Ever see Mad Men? He was created by cigarette-smoking, booze-swilling scumbags like the ones from that show.”
 
“Come on,” the boy’s mother said, dragging the boy away by his wrist. “This elf doesn’t want to be bothered.”
 
“You know what’s really fucked up?” Ding asked, staring into his mug. “They always tell you it’s wrong to fuck your sister, but they don’t tell you how right it feels when it’s not fucking, but making love.”
 
“You’ve had it rough,” Achmed said. “This is why I despise the west. Their very ideals sicken me! They’ve invaded lands that do not belong to them, forcing their way of life onto others, killing children and poisoning the minds of those who live.”
 
Achmed was done sitting. He stepped over Ding and walked into the aisle, opening his red and white Santa coat. “You infidels have spread your filth among humanity long enough!” he exclaimed, turning so everyone could see the sticks of dynamite strapped to his abdomen and the trigger he held in his hand. “Today you die so my message will be heard!”
 
The car was filled with screaming as everyone panicked, trying to climb over each other to escape. “Open the emergency exit, TJ!” a woman shouted, trying to climb over her own son to get to the red handle under their window.
 
“No,” her son said, staring into the dead eyes of Achmed. The boy’s lips parted slightly as an eager tongue licked past his teeth.
 
“Allahu Akbar!” Achmed shouted, grasping the trigger. He was ready to blow everyone in the car to hell when Ding jumped onto his shoulder, grabbing at his hand, stopping him from hitting the button.
 
“No!” Ding shouted, clawing at the trigger mechanism to stop Achmed from detonating the bomb strapped to his chest. The mother next to the emergency exit panicked at the sight, punching her son in the face and yanking the red lever, opening the emergency door. Wind rushed into the car as her son fell out, smacking into the ground as the train’s emergency alarm blared.
 
The train lurched as the brakes were applied, and Achmed lost his footing while trying to balance himself and the clinging elf on his shoulder. He fell backward, sliding out of the opening as the kid had done a moment before.
 
“I’M COMING, LING!” Ding shouted as the two fell outside of the train, slamming into the hard ground. The whole train shook as Achmed’s bomb detonated. The passengers screamed, sure the train was going to be derailed, but it righted itself, trudging along as it slowed. Rocks and soil fell from the sky, hitting the trees in the distance.
 
Soon, the train was moving at full speed again, making its way to the loop that would send it back the way it came. The return trip was when Santa came to greet the children.
 
 
Epilogue
 
Santa’s train came to a stop at the station, its trip completed. The people got off, walking back toward their various modes of transportation, back to their everyday lives, knowing they may never get the privilege to ride Santa’s train again. “Ho, ho, ho!” Santa waved from his place on top of his private car, a jolly smile on his face. “Merry Christmas!” People observed him as they left, wondering how oblivious he was to what was happening on his own train. He seemed loopy as he greeted the kids. It appeared that he didn’t even know a boy fell from one of the emergency exits during a terrorist attack.
 
Sparkles walked through the cars, making sure there were no stowaways trying to take a free trip to the North Pole. They’d be surprised if they were successful. The train sat in a warehouse until it was time for next year’s invitations to be sent.
 
“Who put a lock on this door?” Tinkles, a maintenance elf said, fiddling with a small padlock on the bathroom door in the Donner car.
 
“Cut it,” Sparkles said, stopping and crossing his arms. At least one mystery would get solved on this godforsaken trip.
 
Tinkles took a chisel and a hammer from his tool box and popped the lock off with one swift motion. He opened the door and stepped back, the smell of piss filling the car. “What the hell?!” he exclaimed.
 
Sparkles stepped forward to see what was inside, and he saw a blonde woman, nude except for the leather straps around her wrists and ankles. She looked at the elves, ball gag still in her mouth, blindfold askew. The floor was covered in her piss.
 
“Get out of here,” Sparkles said. “I’ll deal with this one.”
 
Tinkles did as he was asked, picking up his tool box and running to the next car.
 
Sparkles observed the woman in the restroom, reading a look of embarrassment and dismay on her face. He moved inside, undoing his belt. “I’m going to show you what we do to perverts like you on Santa’s train,” he said.
 
The woman let out a moan, sliding against the wall.
 
 

 

The End
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Young Cinderella

Outline 1 is in the book. Literally. Actually it’s a series of sticky notes stuck into a page in my drawing pad outlining the events in what I’m calling the “Young Cinderella” portion of my epic “Askharoth”. Since the story isn’t told in chronological order these sections will be scattered throughout my story.
Did I mention this story is narrated by the evil and manipulative demon Askharoth? Askharoth who’s sole mission is to cause Cinderella and Prince Henry to fall in love and fulfill a prophecy of Great War using their child? That Askharoth is a crazy guy!

BUT WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?!?

Fuck. I honestly have no idea. The Young Cinderella portion will take me from The Demon Askharoth’s beginning of his adventure and up to the ball he sends Cinderella off to.
Next up I’ll be outlining the second piece of the story (that will also appear out of order): Queen Cinderlla.

And thanks to my friend Liz who I’ll be harassing a lot more in days to come for more of her creative input. 🙂