A Scorched Earth Christmas

A Cautionary Tale by Jeff Vogel

Little Johnny crouched behind the couch, quivering with excitement. No, you silly goose! Not that kind of excitement! Johnny was only eight, and his little body had not yet flowered into puissant, powerful manliness. Johnny was still weak, like a child.

But he was smart. And cunning. And he had an inquiring mind. Many was the afternoon Johnny had spent playing with the chemistry set he had found in the attic, putting chemicals in a spoon and heating them over a candle to see what happened. Sometimes he hallucinated. Sometimes he slipped the results in the broth for the evening's potroast. Sometimes he had peculiar concepts.

That is irrelevant to the story. What is relevant was that he had decided to stay up late, and to try to catch Santa Claus! Yes, it was Christmas night. And, unlike passe Hannukah and bizarre Kwanzaa, Christmas had a large, bizarre, pagan figure in fruity clothes who knew who was good and who was bad (much like the Scorched Earth Party), and gave such people their rewards and punishments with a stern and cruel hand (again, much like the Scorched Earth Party). Johnny was a smart boy, and before he began to believe, he wanted to see the big, fat rat-bastard with his own two beady little eyes.

The milk soured. The chocolate chip cookies became roach food. The pipe, filled the the residue of Johnny's chemical experiments, lay fallow. Johnny nodded off. He was very tired, and thus very lucky to have heard the gentle scraping coming from the chimney.

But he did hear, and shot awake. He quivered like radium jello. Soon, Santa would be here!

And there he was! The jolly old elf exploded from the chimney in a cloud of soot and ordure, hacking. In one hand, he held a sack gravid with toys, and in the other was a long, thin object Johnny did not recognize, but which he assumed must be a riding crop intended to spur greater performance through application to the scarred flanks of the reindeer.

However, as the elf clomped across the room to the floor, Johnny took a closer look from his hiding place and realized that all was not as he had previously expected. The man was not fat, just mildly pudgy. His beard was brown, very short, and scraggly. His suit was not bright, reassuring red, but a sort of mottled red-brown. And the long straight object was not a whip, but a pipe, gleaming ferally in the dim light of the room, and coated with a substance that could only be (Johnny instantly realized) the blood of many a stupid and worthless soul, liberated with love and sharp, accurate blows.

It was then that Johnny panicked and made a run for it. Unfortunately (for all concerned, even poor tired Santa), he tripped over a power cord and tumbled to the floor. He turned over, and saw Santa poised there, ready to spring, a feral, wolflike expression on his face.

Johnny screamed.

(Commercial Break)

Greetings, friends. My name is Jeff Vogel, presidential candidate of the
Scorched Earth Party, the political party that believes that sometimes
you have to kill to be kind. We believe the problems of this nation are
fixable, but only if we destroy it and then rebuild it. And then maybe 
destroy it again. I don't know. 

The point is, ... well, I think a demonstration would be best.

As you can see, two of my mindless slavering hordes are here with me. There
they are, happy, complacent, reading Starlog. Note the presence of the
lead pipes, ready and at hand. Now, watch this.

Hordling one! Hordling two! Arise to do my bidding! In the interest of all
that is good and holy, everyone connected with the new Street Fighter movie
must die. Fly, my monkeys, fly!

Boy, they sure moved fast, didn't they?

I have done you all a great kindness. That is our power. That is our mercy
and our capacity to do good. In return, I ask only that you give your life
for me. That will be all.

(End commercial)

Johnny covered his eyes and whimpered, sure the end was near. But then no crushing blow came, no savage, just blow of the lead pipe ruptured his tiny brain. Slowly, he opened his eyes. Santa stood there, looking down at him. Then, with a jiggle and a mischevious grin, the man said...

"HO HO HO! Merry Christmas! I'm sorry, Johnny, my nerves are a little shot. Now then. Have you been a gooooood little boy?"

"Ye ... y ... yes, santa," Johnny said in a meek voice.

"No going to see John Hughes movies?"

"No, Santa."

"Only watching unedited Bugs Bunny cartoons?"

"Whenever I can Santa?"

"GOOD! HO HO HO, you little worm! Now, let's see what you asked for from Santa." Santa pulled a Newton from his bag and tapped on it eagerly. "Ah, Yes! You asked for a Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger doll! A green one! Correct?"

"Yes, Santa!" Johnny's eyes lit up.

At that moment, Johnny's parents and sister Susie entered the room, awakened by his earlier scream. Santa shouted "Well, that's very BAD, JOHNNY!" and whirled, the lead pipe whistling happily. He did not strike Johnny, oh no, the pipe shattered his father's kneecap like fine crystal.

"Aaaarrrararrgghghh!!!" shouted Johnny's father.

Santa turned back to Johnny. "That is a very bad thing to ask for! You might as well ask for Fruitopia and a Dennis the Menace tape and be done with it!"

Johnny's father moaned and whimpered. His mother crouched by him and shouted "Leave us alone, Santa! Johnny's the one who asked for it! Punish him! Oh please, dear god, punish him!"

Santa shook his head. "No! It is the parent's responsibility to raise their children in a proper manner."

Johnny stood up and walked gingerly towards Santa. "Santa?"

Santa put a fatherly hand on Johnny's head. "Yes, dear boy?"

"Shouldn't I have punished them for not reasing me right? Don't I share in their crime?"

"Yes, Johnny."

"And shouldn't I have turned them in?"

"No, Johnny. This is not China, or Cambodia. This is the United States. Here, it is the governments job to root out evildoers and deliver arbitrary, excessive, capricious judgements upon them. It is not the children's job to turn them in. Unless it's a drug offense, of course."

"Than am I to be punished for my inaction?"

"Of course! But then, again, it is your parent's fault for not raising you properly." And with that, the pipe lashed out and cracked Johnny's mother across the small of the back, shattering her spine. It would be long months in the regen vats for her, with only helpful propaganda to pass the time away.

Susie stepped forward boldly. "Santa?"

"Yes, Susie?"

"Can I be your wife someday?"

"Why of course not, Susie! That job is taken. But if you work really hard and keep your fingernails nice and trimmed, you can be my concubine! Would you like that?"

"Yes, Santa."

"Good! And here is your present - a syringe of truth serum."

Susie's face lit up. "You got my letter!"

Johnny tugged on Santa's coat. "Santa?"

"Don't try my patience, boy. What?"

"Why did you almost attack me?"

"Oh! That! I thought you were one of those fucking elves."

Johnny looked confused. "Why would you want to kill one of your elves?"

"Little fuckers didn't like the direction I took things. Wanted a say. Then they ran. Couldn't nail but half of 'em. They've been trying to kill me ever since. PURGES WERE NECESSARY! HO HO HO! HOHOHOHOHOHOHO!" Santa began to twitch. Then, as suddenly as they began, the spasms ceased. "Fortunately, I was able to genetically engineer replacements. Stooped, clawed things. You'd like them, Susie. Efficient and foul. And with cravings for elf meat."

Johnny's father began to moan, shifting pathetically under the body of his wife. Everyone ignored him. It would not have been Christmaslike to visit more horrors upon him.

Santa sighed. "Now, children, I must be off. There are many more children to visit. Now be good, or YOUR PUNISHMENT WILL BE SEVERE AND MERCILESS!!! THERE WILL BE NO ESCAPE! HO HO HO!!!! HO HO HO!!!!"

Johnny jumped up and down with joy. "I'm going to post stuff to alt.politics.scorched-earth!"

Susie jumped up and down too. "And I'm going to improve my swinging arm!"

"Good children, one and all! Merry Christmas to all! HO HO HO! HO HO HO HOHOHOHO HO HO HO AHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHEE HEHEHEEEEE!" And with that, Santa disappeared.

And everyone lived happily ever after, at least to the extent their shattered bodies and souls would let them. And good night to you, one and all. You worthless fucks.

Scorched Earth Party -
	"The political party of Santa Claus."

					- Jeff Vogel
					Scorched Earth Party

The Scorched Earth