f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Amber Ferguson - "It's a Wonderful Meat"

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Amber Ferguson - "It's a Wonderful Meat"

Not many myths surrounding him are true. Sure, he wears the red suit, has that white beard, and he is plump. Disgustingly so.

And, yeah, I've heard him, "Ho, ho," a couple of times--after he’s had too much eggnog. But he's not jolly and his eyes don't twinkle. They glow with an evil light.

That's why I'm here, starving in this Tijuana prison. I tried to extinguish that glow. Permanently. The Man is a menace--cruel--he must be stopped! His fame lies in the bowels of the earth: his toy-making slaves in the gloomy dungeons beneath the North Pole.

Even this jail is better than those dungeons. At least it's warm here. Do you realize how sensitive pointy ears are to frostbite? How susceptible tiny lungs are to pneumonia? The Man knows--and doesn't care. My mother died right after the big Christmas push of 1971. The Man sent her on reindeer poop-scoop detail, though she told him she was sick. I lost Dad shortly afterward. One day he filed a grievance and the next day he was crushed beneath an avalanche of Easy Bake Ovens, deep within Warehouse #8. "Freak accident," The Man called it.

That's when I decided to make a break for it; go someplace warm and dance in the sunshine. But how? Though magical creatures, elves are raised from infants as slaves. At the age of five, we’re forced to memorize The Book of Rules: 231 Rules, designed to control our magic so we never understand our powers.

I watched for a chance to escape. Finally, by luck or fate, I overslept one morning when my rooster didn't crow. I was furious with the bird. Braiding Barbie hair was the standard punishment for being tardy. No one was looking as I ran by him, so I stuck my tongue out at him--a direct violation of Rule #142. The rooster exploded. As the feathers rained down around me, I suddenly realized why that was a forbidden practice.

A hundred of us escaped together. The locks on the dungeon doors exploded before our outstretched tongues like dynamite. The guards, those foolish enough to get in our way, did the same. Shouting, "Take this job and shove it up a chimney!" we gagged the others and ran for the golden rays of Tijuana and freedom.

The Man sent his Royal Guard after us. Before we even set foot on the beach, they had thirty of us. Those of us who got away leased a beach condo and laid low. We posted guards but we were edgy; the mere tinkling of a wind chime sent us scrambling for cover. Forty more disappeared after they received postcards announcing they'd won a free cruise. They went to a remote dock to claim their prizes and we never saw them again. The Man was that cunning.

The rest were captured when an e-mail started circulating, warning that a deadly ice storm was heading for Tijuana. I had suspected it was a trick, and hopped on-line to surf the web for environmental and climate reports. But I stumbled across a web game called Bounce Out, distracting me from my research. Two days later, my finger too tired to click the mouse even once more, I looked up from the computer and realized they had left me behind. They had run straight to the airport, where the Royal Guard awaited them. I was the only one left.

I realized I had to get rid of The Man for good. I only had one weapon to use against him, but it was a sneaky one. I knew his dirty little secret--the one only someone who's ridden shotgun with him knows:

Santa has a fetish for canned Spam.

The Man craves that spicy, meat-like food with a sickening lust. I remember one Christmas Eve--just as we'd finished in the Manchester countryside, heading for London--he got that wild, dazed look that signified a craving. I hung on by my fingernails for half an hour as he drove that sleigh through a sky heavy with sleet, often upside down, sometimes in a nosedive, until he finally found an open store. It was the worst ride of my life. I'd have killed him then, if I could have gotten away with it.

I planned to use his addiction to my advantage. A true connoisseur, he is not satisfied with a simple snack of fried Spam on white bread. No, The Man lusts for variety: Spam on toasted wheat with anchovies and a pinch of thyme; Spam on gingerbread with a hint of mint; Spam on a bagel, dripping in melted Roquefort cheese, a carafe of Cognac on the side. . . . Fortunately, these abominable binges make him sick. I could work that to my advantage, gambling that he could not watch his back while keeping his head positioned correctly over the toilet.

He had to be somewhere close, closing in on my location. It would be risky, luring him directly to me, but I laid my trap. Attaching a small satellite-tracking device to a Spam can's bottom, I set it on top of my chimney with a recipe I had created to be particularly brutal to his gut: roasted Spam with shallots and cayenne pepper, swimming in a jalapeno chili-cheese sauce. It would be new to him, a recipe I hoped he find irresistible.

I held my breath and listened . . . soon, I detected a soft thud upon my roof. Though the sound of each little hoof's prancing and pawing grew quite loud, I distinguished a heavy tread lumbering toward my chimney, then . . . a pause. And there was silence.

I tossed and turned through the night, waiting for morning--the best time to attack someone suffering from a Spam hangover. When the sea shined barely pink in the dawning sunlight, I made my move. Following the can's satellite-tracking data, I crept toward a beach front condo. Closer, closer.... When I heard him inside, retching, I made my move....

I flung myself on his back and held on tight. It wasn’t easy; The Man bucked like a Brahma bull. Shoving his head in the toilet, I flushed with all my strength. He sputtered--victory was within my grasp--and I giggled, a direct violation of Rule #107. I suddenly learned why that rule existed. In a poof of red smoke, Santa transformed into an exquisite butterfly and fluttered away.

So did the toilet, the sink, the ceramic tile, and everything else within ten feet. The wall separating The Man's bathroom from the neighboring condo's bathroom fluttered away as well. Was it luck the surprised gentleman shampooing his hair was a Tijuana cop? I think not.

The Man was more cunning than I'd realized.

Editor's note: Of course, this was just a fairy tale. Toys are really produced by well-paid, college-educated citizens in democratic nations.

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