If ‘Die Hard’ Really Was a Christmas Story

I don’t know where you folks fall on the “Die Hard is a Christmas Movie” debate, but I have long maintained that it isn’t. Mostly because you could remove the few Christmas elements from the film and it wouldn’t make a difference. At best, it’s an action film set at Christmas. But a few months ago, I began to wonder what if it was a Christmas story. What might it look like? And that, dear friends, set my weird little brain to working. And, it spawned the following abomination. Did I follow the plot faithfully or did I take a few liberties? Well, you’ll just have to read it and see, won’t you? But I hope you enjoy this, whatever your side in the debate.

As they approached the main entrance of Flakatomi Plaza, Cecily McClane pulled her son John aside. She grasped his shoulders and bent down until they were face-to-face. “All right, you listen and listen good, John Aloysius McClane. Your father has been working his ass off this season and he’s up for a big promotion. Don’t you dare screw it up with any of your ‘antics’. Do you understand?” John nodded. “All right,” she said, adjusting his bow tie and smoothing the lapels of his coat. “There, you look very nice. Like a little gentleman.” She gave a curt laugh. “Now, if only you’d behave like one.” Before he could say anything, she pushed him toward the door, saying, “Let’s go.”

John McClane wasn’t like most other 11-year-olds. For one thing, he was somewhat smaller than average. Not a lot, but enough that he had been the target of bullying. Those bullies, however, found that John was not a good subject for their ministrations because what he lacked in size, he more than made up for with intelligence. He was also what one of his teachers had called a “borderline sociopath”. That came in handy and after a couple of would-be bullies met with his brand of justice (specifically tailored to their insecurities), he didn’t have problems with that again. He did, however, struggle with the rules and regulations of school and daily life. And that was where another of his differences came into the picture: He was aware that he was perpetually on the “Naughty List”. And while many kids his age were aging out of belief in Santa, John wasn’t. Because he knew Santa was real. His dad worked for the fat, old fart. Actually, his dad worked for the Flakatomi Corporation, but as they provided the lion’s share of Claus Inc.’s output, it worked out the same.

His mom guided him through the lobby with a not-so-gentle hand on his neck and toward the large room where the annual Flakatomi Christmas Eve party was just getting underway. He marveled at her ability to smile pleasantly at everyone else while maintaining her vise-like grip and whispering under her breath for him, on tonight of all nights, not to be a little shit. “Okay, Mom,” he finally said, “I’ll be good. I promise.”

“Oh yeah,” she said, “Like I haven’t heard that one before.”

He was about to reply that it wasn’t his fault people were stupid when he saw his dad standing beside a large Christmas tree. His mom steered him unerringly toward his father, the crowd parting for a woman so obviously on a mission.

“Hey guys,” Parker McClane said brightly. John was elated to see his dad, who’d barely been home for the past two months due to all the long hours required by Santa and Mr. Flakatomi. He knew it was the busy season but did they have to keep his dad from the family like that? His mom’s iron hold on his neck eased as his father leaned in and kissed her. Then, he reached down and ruffled John’s hair, saying, “Hey bud. You ready for the big day?”

John thought for a moment before answering. “The big day” often wasn’t that great for him since he was always on the Naughty List. The days of coal or switches for bad kids were long gone and Santa had updated. These days, kids on the NL got things like socks, underwear, or worse, educational toys. No kid wants an electronic math game when all their friends are getting Playstations and Lego Star Wars sets. But, he loved his dad and didn’t want to disappoint him so he smiled excitedly and said, “Oh yeah. I can’t wait to see what I get this year!” He must’ve kept the sarcasm out of his voice because his mom let go of his neck completely and pulled him to her side. Just then, a young woman in a Flakatomi blazer came by.

“Hi,” she chirped. “I’m Caitlin.” She looked down at John with a smile he thought was too big to be real. “You must be John. Your dad has told me so much about you!” Her enthusiasm, he thought, was probably supposed to be contagious. It wasn’t. “I’m sure you don’t want to stay in here with all these stuffy adults,” she continued. “We’ve got a special party space set up for kids that I think you’ll just love. C’mon,” she said with a wave. John looked up at his parents, hoping that they’d save him from traipsing off with this obvious lunatic.

“Go on, honey,” his mom said. “You’ll have fun.”

“Yeah,” his father said. “This is going to be a bunch of boring old work stuff. You don’t want to stay here.” Against his better judgment, John gave in.

For something that had been billed as a “special party space”, the children’s party was a massive disappointment. Flakatomi Enterprises was a huge multinational conglomerate and he expected something a little more spectacular than an ordinary conference room like you’d find in any office building.

“I know it’s not much,” Caitlin said as they entered the room. “But we put it together on pretty short notice.” She pushed in, saying, “You hang out here and I’ll go get us some refreshments.”

John took a look around. There were a few crappy decorations, including the saddest Christmas tree John had ever seen. He thought it looked like green pipe cleaners stuck into a pole. There were almost no ornaments and the few that were there had been made by kids. He knew this because there was a table near the tree with craft supplies and a sign that said “Ornament Making Station”. There were a couple of younger kids sitting there, studiously coloring bits of paper and stringing popcorn. One, a blond girl, waved at him. He ignored her. There was a wreath on the wall and pine garland strung around the room. Some older kids huddled in a corner on their phones, scrolling through social media. “This blows,” he said to himself, and once Caitlin was gone, he went exploring.

He was roaming around the building when he found himself not far from the big room where the adult party was taking place. Around a corner, he heard an indistinct voice coming his way and ducked into an alcove just as Caitlin rounded the corner.

“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” he heard her saying as she passed by. She was coming from the direction of the kids’ party and he figured she’d noticed he was missing. He’d hoped to have more time before they realized he was gone, but that was out the window now. She’d probably tell his parents and he’d be in trouble. Again. This is exactly what his mom had been talking about when she’d mentioned his “antics”. Maybe if he followed her, he could head the situation off before it got too bad, maybe claiming that he was looking for a bathroom and got lost. It was worth a shot.

They were almost to the main party room when he heard what sounded like gunshots. Like from a machine gun. Caitlin stopped so quickly that he almost ran into her, barely ducking into an open supply closet. From there, he had a view into the room. There were several small people, all of them armed. At least one was an elf. He could tell because they were taller than the others and dressed in the North Pole’s standard red and green elf uniform. The others were wearing the same outfit but it didn’t seem to fit that well. One of them turned and he saw they were gnomes. Ugh. Of all the magical creatures at the Pole, gnomes were the worst. Ugly, bad-tempered, and smelly, no one liked them. They were also greedy little things. The one who’d turned around saw Caitlin and motioned her over.

“You!” it growled. “Get over here.” She obeyed and the gnome led her over the elf who seemed to be in charge of things. While their backs were turned, John moved to get closer. He wanted to know what was going on. The elf met them just inside the door and John saw that it was Kringle Krangle. His dad had told him that one time, Krangle was in line to become the head elf but that possibility went down in flames years ago. It seems he talked Santa into including the Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab on the list of toys one year. It turned out that parents weren’t thrilled with the idea of a toy that put one of the most destructive elements known to man at their kids’ fingertips. His stock plummeted and he’d become a sour, grumpy troublemaker.

“What’s this,” he said as Caitlin and her captor walked up.

“Found her skulking around in the hallway, boss,” the gnome replied.

“I wasn’t ‘skulking’!” Caitlin angrily replied. “I was looking for a kid.”

“What kid?” the elf said.

“I don’t know, one of those privileged little shits whose parents are at the party.”

Kringle scratched one of his pointy ears. “Okay,” he said. “Get back there and keep all those little bastards contained and we’ll look for the kid.” He turned back to the adults in the room as Caitlin hurried back to the kids’ party. “Okay,” he addressed the room. “We are the People’s Revolutionary Executive Syndicate to Expertly Negotiate the Termination of Santa.” He paused as there were some stifled laughs around the room.

“Seriously?” someone said. “P.R.E.S.E.N.T.S.? That’s the best you could come up with?” John recognized the man as a guy from Marketing that his dad hated.

“Yes, I know it spells P.R.E.S.E.N.T.S. And that it is extremely tortured. I didn’t come up, okay? But, that’s beside the point. Our goal is ending the oppression of that greedy fat man Claus and his capitalist lackey, Edward Sakai Flakatomi. You are all now a part of the fight to free elf-kind from the shackles imposed by these two bourgeois despots!” One of the gnomes came up and whispered something in his ear and he nodded. “Now, my comrades are going to search each of you to see if you have anything that might contribute to our cause. And, of course, to ensure you can’t derail our plans.” John had heard enough and retreated to the closet to think.

John crawled as quietly as he could through the ductwork. He had no idea what he was going to do short of getting back to the kids’ room and getting his bag. I never should have left there, he thought, but he’d hoped it might back up whatever story he came up with if he got caught. He couldn’t believe he’d let his parents drag him to the stupid thing. “Come to the party,” he muttered to himself, “we’ll have a few laughs. It’ll be fun.” He laughed harshly. “Fun, my ass,” he said. “I hate parties. I especially hate parties that are broken up by terrorist elves.” On the other hand, he realized that if he could stop Krangle, he would be assured of a spot on the “Nice” List forever. That was the motivation he needed and he kept working his way along the passage. He didn’t want to be in here but there were gnomes out looking for him and this seemed like the best way to avoid them. Fortunately, his destination was just ahead.

John crawled up to the large register in the room’s ceiling and waited for a moment. He needed to know where Caitlin was and if she was involved with Krangle and his crappy gnome pals. There was nothing overt in her interactions with those turds, but the more he thought about it, the more it didn’t feel quite right. After a moment, he could hear talking but couldn’t quite make out what was being said. Then, she came into view and he saw she was on a walkie-talkie.

“Okay,” she said into the device, “I’ll handle it.” Then, she looked over the assembled kids before saying, “All right, you little monsters, here’s the deal. My friends have some business to attend to and while they do, we’re all going to sit here nice and quiet. Understand?” Everyone nodded. A couple of the older ones, however, didn’t seem very enthusiastic about the prospect. Probably because she’d taken their phones, which he could see piled on a table. She continued, “Now, who wants to tell to me where that McClane asshole went?” No one said a word. “Really? Do I need to get rough with you little fuckheads?”

One of the older kids spoke up. “We don’t even know who you’re talking about, lady.”

“Okay,’ she said, “He’s a little redheaded kid, kind of small, seemed quiet. I brought him in here about 20 minutes ago.”

“Oh,” another girl said. “I saw him. I waved at him but he didn’t wave back. And, he didn’t say anything. He just left.”

“What’s your name, kid?” Caitlin asked.

“Chloe,” the girl said.

“Okay, Chloe,” Caitlin said, almost sweetly. “Where did he go?”

“I don’t know,” the girl said. “I looked down at the ornament I was making and when I looked back up, he was gone.”

“Humph,” their caretaker said. She looked around and noticed his coat and bag. “Well, he’ll be back. He left his stuff.” She walked over to gather it up. As she did, she passed under the register and John saw his chance. He slammed it open and swung down, catching her in the back with both feet.

John could hear the air leave her body as he made contact. Landing on top of her, he yelled to the kids, “Someone grab my bag, quick!” Most of them just sat there stunned but the little girl who’d waved at him jumped up and brought it to him. Caitlin started to squirm under him and he banged her head against the floor, hoping to buy a couple of seconds. He rummaged around in the bag and came out with a roll of duct tape. He tore a length off and wrapped it around Caitlin’s wrists. Another went around her ankles. At this point, she had shaken off the effects of his assault.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing, you bastard!” she shouted. “I’m gonna kick your little ass all over this room!”

John pulled another length of tape off the roll, saying, “My, someone has a potty mouth.” Before she could say anything else, he placed it securely over her mouth. All they could after that were muffled curses and very frustrated screams. As they rolled her over, he said, “We need something to tie her up with. I don’t want to use up all my tape on her.” Just then, one of the older kids, a boy of about 13, came over.

“Will this work?” he said, handing him an extension cord.

“Perfect,” John said with a grin. They finished securing her and left her sitting against the wall.

“What’s going on?” an older girl asked. John thought she was about 12 and had that cheerleader look. She also had that “I’m terrified” look.

“An elf and a bunch of gnomes are holding our parents hostage,” he told the group. “They said something about Santa and Flakatomi being oppressors and how they were going to stop it.” He thought for a minute. “It doesn’t add up, though. Why would Dumbass over here,” he motioned toward Caitlin, “be involved with that? Elves don’t work with humans.”

“Elves don’t work with gnomes, either.” It was the boy who’d brought him the cord. “And, did you what she said a few minutes ago: her ‘friends have some business to attend to’? That doesn’t sound like radicals to me.” He paused a moment. “More like someone trying to steal something.”

“Yeah, it’s weird,” said John. He glanced over at Caitlin who stared back at him, daggers in her eyes. “Think she might know something?” he asked.

“Maybe,” the older kid said. “I’ll see if I can get it out of her.”

“Okay,” said John. “While you’re doing that, I’m going to take a look around. We need to know what’s going on.” The older boy nodded and they both got to work.

John was back in the hallways, armed with his trusty backpack and a can of Flakatomi Flocking. Billed as the most durable flocking on the market, the fake snow had been banned in multiple countries due to the toxic mix of chemicals that made it hold up so well and the fact that failed every fire retardant test miserably. But those chemicals were cheap and Flakatomi was all about padding the bottom line. “Non-toxic” and “flame retardant” didn’t pad the bottom line. He moved as stealthily as he could, on the lookout for patrolling gnomes. It was nerve-wracking and not how he wanted to spend Christmas Eve.

He was coming up to a junction when he heard voices. Slowly, quietly, he eased up to the corner and tried to pick up what was being said. He chanced a peek to see who was there. A pair of gnomes, both armed with candy cane guns. The red and white weapons looked like toys, but John knew they could spit out 400 high-velocity sharpened candy canes a minute. He did not want to be on the receiving end of that. He slowly pulled back and eavesdropped on their conversation.

“You seen anything, Gigget?” one asked.

“Nope, nothing,” the other said. Then, “Why are we even out here, Banxi?”

“The boss wants us looking for some kid. He wants to keep a lid on everything until we get into the vault.”

“Oh, man,” Gigget said, “I can’t wait till we get that all that peppermint. Just imagine what our share will be!”

“Don’t go counting your chickens until they’re hatched,” Banxi said. “There’s still plenty that can go wrong.”

“Why are you always such a downer, Banxi? This is why no one ever wants to work with you.”

“I’m not a downer, I’m realistic. And, if no one wants to work with me, fine. I like working alone. I know who I can depend on then.”

“Whatever, gnome. I’m gonna continue my rounds. I’ll see you next time.”

John looked around for a place to hide but saw nothing, just an empty hallway. He pulled the tab on the flocking and got ready for action. In just a couple of seconds, the gnome turned the corner and John gave him a face full of fake snow. He sprayed so much that it caked the gnome’s eyes closed and stopped up its nostrils.

“Arrgggh!” it gagged.

That caused it to open its mouth and John gave it a blast right down its throat, choking it. It may not have been dead when it hit the floor, but it was close. He peeped around the corner to see if the other gnome had heard anything but it was long gone. Just then, Gigget croaked out some noise while trying to breathe so John picked up the candy cane gun and fired a short burst into its chest. Then, he got an idea. Yeah, he thought, this will fuck that elf’s head up good.

Kringle felt pretty good about the way things were going. This whole thing was coming off smoothly, he thought. There was that kid running around but, hell, he was a kid. What could a kid do against some hardass gnomes? Yeah, this is going to work, he thought. I’ll get the peppermint, make my getaway, and corner the candy cane market. Then, that fat old bastard will see what happens to people who try to screw over a Krangle. Just then, the elevator dinged, interrupting his thoughts. He looked over and as the doors opened, he found out what a kid could do against some hardass gnomes.

“What the hell?” one of the gnomes said.

Kringle turned and saw Gigget in the middle of the car, hanging from a strand of tinsel. There were four candy canes in his chest and a sign hung from his neck that read: Now I have candy canes, bitch. He stared for a moment, then lost it completely. “Find that little son-of-a-bitch! Find him right fucking now! I don’t care what you have to do, just fucking find him!” Gnomes scurried off to carry out their boss’s wish.

John made his way back to the kids’ room to see what the others had learned. The walkie-talkie he’d taken off of Gigget had alerted him to some approaching gnomes and he ducked into an open office space to let them pass by. He was standing by a window when he noticed a member of the North Pole’s Reindeer Security Patrol. It wandered around, apparently checking out the building and grounds. John knew this could be the break they needed. Everyone thought reindeer were these cute cuddly little animals that pulled Santa’s sleigh and a few were just that. But, they were bred for that purpose. Real reindeer were big and actually closer to an elk in size than the popular conception. The ones on RSP were the biggest of the big. Having just one of these guys on their side could be huge.

Randolph Reindeer strolled around the parking lot of Flakatomi Plaza. Reports had come in of some weird happens in the building and he was sent to check it. He was tall enough that he see in the first-floor windows and everything seemed to be okay. Another false alarm, he thought.

As John watched the reindeer start to leave, candy canes began shattering on the window above him. He spun and saw another gnome struggling to reload his gun. John popped a couple of canes in his general direction and rolled behind a conference table just in time to avoid another burst.

“Come out, you little shit,” the gnome growled. “Uncle Babo has some lovely candy with your name on it.”

“Bite me, you lumpy fucker,” John snarled.

“Oh, that’s not nice.”

“You’re trying to kill me, ‘Uncle Babo’. I think nice has gone out the window.” He could see the gnome maneuvering to get a clear shot at him.

“Well, you have taken out a couple of my friends,” Babo said. “It’s safe to say you started it.”

John, moving to keep the table as a shield, realized that his opponent was directly between himself and the window and saw his chance. He threw his shoulder into the wide table leg and began pushing it as hard and fast as he could. It hit Babo right in his chest, both table and gnome crashing through the window and landing at the reindeer’s feet. John stepped to the window to survey his handiwork. When the reindeer looked up, he waved the radio at him and said, “Welcome to the party, pal.”

John continued his journey back. The walkie-talkie was a big help. It let him evade most of the patrolling gnomes. There were, however, two which couldn’t be avoided. The first one, he shot. The second rounded a corner at the same time he did and was too close to bring the gun to bear. That meant hand-to-hand. While gnomes aren’t very big, being about the size of a 5-year-old, they are strong and it was quite a fight. Eventually, John got a strand of Christmas lights around its neck and choked it out. It, too, got a burst of candy canes in its chest to make sure it was dead. He was still trying to catch his breath from his last fight when got back to the room. But he stopped dead in his tracks when he surveyed the scene before him.

It was like nothing he’d ever seen. Caitlin was tied facedown on the ornament decorating table and one of the older kids was lashing her with a rope of garland pulled down off the wall. Chloe, the little girl who’d waved at him shouted, “Hit her again! Harder!” She leaned down to Caitlin whose face was streaked with tears and said sweetly, “I can make this stop if you tell us everything. Just talk and it will all go away.” Caitlin looked up and sobbed.

“I’ve told you everything,” she said through her tears. “I don’t know anything else!”

“Liar!” the girl shouted. “Hit her! As hard as you can!”

He stood there for a moment, his mind unable to process the psychotic rage of an 8-year-old being taken out on an adult. It made sense the more he thought about it though. What kid didn’t want to torture adults the way adults had tortured them? He was still pondering the scene when Jason, the boy who’d brought him the cord they’d used to tie Caitlin up, came over.

“That is some shit, isn’t it?”, he said. “She’s been at it pretty much since you left.”

“She has?” John said, surprised. “But I thought you were going to handle this?”

“So did I,” Jason replied. “But Chloe let us all know right up front who would be running this show.” He watched for a moment. “It’s a good thing, too. She got the bitch to give up some of the plan almost immediately. Which reminds me, they’re not really terrorists, they’re th—”

“Thieves, yeah,” John cut him off. “I heard some gnomes talking.” Just then, the walkie-talkie squawked.

Kringle’s voice came through, saying, “I’m looking for the nosy little kid who’s screwing up my plan.”

“That would be me,” John answered.

“Okay. So, what’s your problem, kid? Why are you doing all this?”

“Why?” John said, incredulously. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe because you’re holding my mom and dad hostage. Or, maybe it’s that your nasty little gnomes keep trying to kill me. I mean, those two seem like pretty valid reasons to me.”

“Okay,” Kringle replied. “I get that. How about we make a deal? You come down here and give yourself up and I’ll let you and your parents walk away, scot-free. Deal?”

John paused for a moment, letting Kringle think he might be considering the offer. Then, he responded. “That sounds nice, Kringle. It really does. But I can’t do it.”

“Why not?” the elf asked. “I’ll make sure you have safe passage the whole way.”

John laughed into the mic. “Because I know you’re trying to screw up Christmas, you pointy-eared jerk.” Then, John heard Caitlin break.

“Okay, okay,” she sobbed. “I’ll tell you everything. Just don’t hit me anymore.”

“Well, that’s going to depend on what you tell us, Miss Caitlin,” Chloee cooed. She grabbed a handful of the woman’s hair and jerked her head up. “Spill it, bitch,” she growled.

“Once he has the peppermint, they’re going to steal Santa’s sleigh. Then, they’ll take everyone up to the roof and use them as human shields and make their getaway. But—.” She stopped to take a breath and Chloe stroked her face.

“Oh, you’re so close. Don’t stop now.” Then, she slapped her hard enough to leave a red mark. “Talk, whore!”

“He’s going to blow the hot chocolate reservoir and drown everyone. Hostages, gnomes, everyone.

That was all John needed to hear. It was Christmas Eve and if this hateful little sprite took Santa’s sleigh, then no one would be having a merry Christmas. And, he really didn’t want to drown in hot chocolate. “I know it all, elf-boy,” he said angrily. “What you’re stealing, your getaway plan, even how you plan to screw over your partners by blowing up the hot chocolate reservoir on the roof.”

“You little shit!” the elf screamed into the radio. “How did you find out?”

“Because your gnome buddies have big mouths,” he said. “Well, they gave up part. Caitlin told us the rest.”

“Damn it,” Kringle said. Then, “Us?” he asked.

“Yeah, ‘us’. I’ve got all the kids of Flakatomi here and we’re gonna fuck you up.”

“Try it, kid. Try it and see what happens.”

John used Caitlin’s cell phone to contact the security reindeer, Randolph, and tell him of Kringle’s plan.

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” the reindeer said. “Krangle went bad years ago, but Santa never did anything about it. He kept pawning it off on others. Too busy playing jolly old Saint Nick, I guess.” After a pause, he continued. “He should’ve put Flakatomi on it. That guy could fire the Tooth Fairy and not blink an eye if he thought it would help the bottom line.”

“So, what are we going to do?” John asked.

“Hmm,” the reindeer said. “Okay, how about this for a plan: I’ll stop them from stealing the sleigh and you guys see if you can get the hostages out of there before he blows things.”

“That’s your plan?” John said. “Kinda thin, isn’t it?”

“Hey, kid. I’m winging it here. If you got anything better, I’m all ears.”

John thought for a moment. “No,” he said. “I don’t. I guess this is better than nothing.”

“See you on the other side, kid,” Randolph said.

“Right,” John answered. “The other side.” Then, after unkeying the mike, “Whatever that means.”

All the kids, John in the lead and Caitlin—still secured with duct tape, extension cord, and garland— being led by Chloe, made their way to the roof of Flakatomi Plaza. As they stepped out of one stairwell, Kringle appeared out of one across from them.

“Hey, you made it,” John said.

“I did,” Kringle said. “I’m kind of surprised to see you up here, though. I mean, it was rough getting through all those angry gnomes. Oh, by the way, thank you so much for broadcasting it in the clear like that. I had to fight all the way up here.”

“Yeah, I think they were all busy with you,” John said. “But, you’re welcome.”

“So, what’s your big plan, kid? How are you going to stop me and save Christmas?” Kringle said, dripping sarcasm.”

“Oh, it’s already done,” John said. “I contacted the RSP and told them what you were up to.”

“So, you’re not giving up, huh?” Kringle asked.

“Not even a little, Short Stack,” John replied.

“Yeah, I kinda thought that might be the case. Maybe this will cool your jets.” He jerked on his own rope of garland and John’s parents appeared on the roof beside the malevolent elf. Kringle pointed his candy cane gun at Cecily’s head and said, “Back off or I turn her brains into peppermint jelly.”

Caitlin broke free from Chloe and went running across the expanse, saying, “Kringle, honey. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to tell them all you—.” That was as far as she got because the murderous pixie emptied almost an entire magazine of candy canes into her and she crumpled to the deck. He quickly brought the barrel of the gun back to John’s mom’s head. He laughed.

“Uh oh, Spaghetti-o’s.”

“So, what are we going to do here, Krangle?” John said.

“Well,” the elf said, “You’re going to go back downstairs and wait for some hot chocolate and I’m going to ride off into the sunset in Fatboy’s sleigh. How’s that sound?”

“Like something that’s never going to happen,” John said. Just then, they heard sleigh bells approaching. Kringle looked around for the sleigh and Parker took advantage of the elf’s distraction, pulling his wife away from the malignant fae. John also sprung into action, pulling a fresh can of Flakatomi Flocking and a lighter out of his pocket and running towards Kringle. As the elf looked back around, John pushed the button on top of the can and flicked the lighter, turning the Christmas decoration into a very effective flame thrower.

“Gaaaa!” screamed Kringle as the jet of fire hit him in the face, setting his clothes and hair alight. He staggered backward. Trying to beat the flames out, he didn’t see the roof’s edge coming up behind him and stepped off it, falling all 8 stories and landing at Randolph’s feet.

As John ran over to his parents, the sleigh landed on the roof and the driver gave a hearty, “Ho, ho, ho!” All the kids gave a cheer.


John stood with his mom and dad as the big man, in full regalia, climbed out of the sleigh and walked over to them. “Well, young man,” he boomed, “You’ve saved Christmas. It seems as if I owe you quite a favor.” He smiled down at the boy. “I think something like this should land you on the ‘Nice’ List for quite a while.”

John thought for a moment about all he’d been through. He realized that, after a while, he’d completely forgotten about what list he might be on. He just wanted to stick it to that stupid elf and see his folks again. And, he’d done that. He looked up at Santa and said, “Listen, you fat, old fart, after what I went through tonight, I better be on the ‘Nice’ List till the day I die.” Family is all well good, he thought, but any kid knew a sweet Christmas haul for as long as he lived was way better.