And now, Scary-Crayon presents...
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the absolute strangest christmas story ever told
(Part 1)
by: Wes

There are no such things as vampires.

Those were the words that the perspicacious child typed with absolute certainty as he sipped warm blood from a white Styrofoam cup through a disposable plastic straw. Yes, he thought, that will do for an introduction. Then he leaned back in his black vinyl chair and ran his black-nailed fingers through his slick, shimmering black hair. (Are you noticing a theme here?) He tongued his pointed canines for a bit, revolving his thoughts within that fleshy, wrinkled pinkish-grey organ that had been churning out ideas for a length of time much longer than his youthful appearance suggested, and again placed his pale, bony hands on the keyboard.

I know that there is no such thing as vampires -- which is to say that vampires most certainly do not exist -- because I have never seen one. Oh, I'm well aware that at this point someone will interject with a line to the effect of, "Have you no faith in the unseen? It's impossible to go about life without believing in some form of the unknown, you know. For example, you cannot know that the sun will rise each morning, and yet you stay holed up in your dark and quite depressing room with the lights off and the shades drawn. (What purpose does having the lights off serve, anyway? Artificial light cannot harm you, as you well know. Perhaps it is for effect?) In fact, you have not seen the sun in quite some time -- what makes you think that it still exists at all?" This, of course, is a very trite and rather commonplace objection -- not the line about the sun, mind you, but some form of the argument that merely going about our everyday activities and that making reasonable assumptions and predictions requires us to have a certain measure of faith in things unseen and unknown -- but simply because we must have faith in some unseen things does not at all mean that we must believe in all things unseen. That would be very foolish indeed, and we would all be believing in things like jack-o-lanterns with butterfly wings and fluffy rabbit tails and possessing the legs of extinct animals such as dodo birds and large carnivorous dinosaurs from the late Cretaceous period. It is a testament to the inadequacy and ultimate silliness of this objection, then, that we do not, though I should very much like to see a giant pumpkin with a terrifying image carved on its face, soaring past on brilliantly colored wings and leaving giant Tyrannosaur footprints wherever it touched down. Wouldn't that be a sight!

So I do not believe in vampires -- and, moreover, know that they do not exist -- because I have never seen one. However, it must be noted that most people (that is, the uneducated -- or even the educated -- morons and simpletons that make up the vast majority of the human race) would take one look at me, observe my peculiar habits (which I do not think are quite so peculiar, but then I am quite familiar with them, given that they are my habits and my routine has not changed in quite some time), and label me a "vampire" without hesitation. My kin would be similarly categorized. Surely, they would say, I have seen my family members. Surely I have seen myself. Thus my opponents seek to argue against me not by proving that vampires, in fact, do exist -- and that, therefore, I should believe in them, insofar as it is good to believe in the truth -- but by showing that my reason for disbelieving in vampires is false. I cannot claim to disbelieve in vampires because I have not seen them, my interlocutors insist, because I have.

''But, I ask, what *is* a *vampire*?''

But, I ask, what is a vampire? A corpse that has risen from the grave and wanders the night -- because it cannot be out and about during the day; sunlight is fatal to it -- feeding on the blood of the living. In appearance, the vampire has lily-white skin (unless, perhaps, the vampire was a "racial minority" in life, but I do not believe in such minorities either), gaunt, and is typically clad in black from head to toe. Oh, and it has fangs as well -- inch-long, pointed eyeteeth -- for the purpose of tearing open the throats of its unfortunate victims for the purpose of drinking the fresh, gushing blood from the open wound. That, more or less, is what a vampire is -- or, at least, that is the answer that, I think, the vast majority of people would give. But, I ask, can such a vampire truly be seen? Consider that there is virtually no way to visually distinguish one of these so-called "vampires" from a rail thin, pale-skinned adult with an unnatural appetite for blood and exceptionally long and/or sharp canine teeth -- and it makes no difference whether the "vampire" was gifted with such fangs by nature or cosmetic dentistry. If we consider the act of feeding, there is no way to tell the true vampire's actions apart from those of a deranged human who, believing that he is a vampire, bites holes in the necks of his victims and gorges on their blood in a similar manner. How, then, can anyone claim to have seen a vampire? Clearly, by our reasoning, anyone making such a claim can be shown to be in error. (I needn't even point out that, technically, I have not seen myself, owing to my inability to cast a reflection on any mirrored surface!)

Here, the child removed his hands from the keyboard and turned away from the glowing monitor, raising the white Styrofoam cup from the metal tray table at his side to suck nonchalantly at the plastic straw that dipped into its dwindling contents. He made a face -- the blood was cold -- and continued to suck until the hollow grating sound that essentially cries, "Hey, you blithering idiot! Stop stop stop your slurping; the bloody cup is empty already! GET A GODDAMNED REFILL!" issued forth from that lowest point of the cup's interior where the straw met the shallow layer of sticky red fluid and presented the blood-drinking child with one of two choices.

Choice the first: He could forsake the darkness of his secluded bedroom to enter into the darkness of the adjacent hallway, float past the ancient, withered, peeling portraits of his blood-drinking ancestors in their fantastic gilded frames -- it was quite the contrast, really, and not the least bit unintentional -- and into the kitchen, where the bags of blood hung from a rack within the refrigerator like Christmas stockings over the fireplace. (It must also be noted that this comparison is not entirely arbitrary; the title and ultimate subject matter of this work notwithstanding, both Christmas stockings and bags of blood are, or will eventually be, filled with delectable treats that would delight a youth who enjoyed those particular edibles. A child who despises licorice may not be glad to find a bottle of Anisette liquor lodged in his stocking, but a child who enjoys the sensation of getting high after smoking marijuana might be overjoyed to find a plastic baggie with a handful of lovingly baked pot brownies tucked into his holiday sock. And, of course, the philosophically inclined blood-drinking child would be very happy to find blood in his stocking, provided it were housed within a proper container. Otherwise it would be all over the place -- very messy -- and would not taste very good, for not only would it likely have begun to clot in the open air, but what precious elixir the child could get would have to be wrung from the blood-soaked stocking, and therefore would also taste strongly of cotton. Fun fact: Few things ruin the taste of blood like cotton, which is why blood-drinkers have never been known to attack persons wearing turtlenecks or scarves. This also explains why the inhabitants of Transylvania are known to wear such clothing even in the summertime.) The child would then select a blood bag from within, tear it open and empty a portion of the contents into the white Styrofoam cup, and microwave it on high for roughly ninety seconds. Then he would replace the plastic straw, make his way back down the dark hallway with the crumbling antique portraits of those great bloodsuckers of yesteryear from whom he was descended, and, having returned to that quiet room in which he slept and where the sun never shone, sip from the contents of the cup for a bit before returning to the dissertation that hovered on his computer screen, awaiting completion.

Choice the second: He could forego the trip and continue working on his essay, sans the blood refill.

But which to choose? To be sure, the child was hungry -- not intensely hungry, mind you, but with the exception of that single moment of calm that precedes overpowering a large, robust creature and draining every last drop of sweet, sweet red life from its body, blood-drinkers are always hungry -- but, in the daylight, to venture into the kitchen could prove dangerous indeed. The kitchen, you see, was adjacent to the recreational room, which had wide windows that reached from the floor to the ceiling. At night, the view was beautiful, but during the day the sunlight shone through so brightly that for the child to come within twenty feet of those great panes (which would have been a necessity, if he was to reach the refrigerator) was to burst into flame, die a quick and agonizing death, and lie still on the floor in the form of a heap of ashes until one of his blood-drinking kin discovered his chalky, blackened remains and, with a sad sigh, swept him into a jeweled urn and set him atop the memorial shelf amidst the manifold of urns that housed the ashes of his numerous relatives who had previously suffered the same lamentable fate. And as the child could not remember witnessing any of his housemates draw the curtains the night before -- and he was quite certain that he hadn't drawn them -- he decided it would be much safer for him to stay within his dark little room until the sun grew tired of hanging in the sky and providing light to the masses and descended into its comfortable nightly resting spot several thousand leagues beneath the horizon line.

So it was that he steeled himself against the dull yet persistent ache in the pit of his stomach and continued his work.

At this point in the story, my dear and darling reader, I imagine that you are slightly confused. Perhaps, at this very moment, you are saying to yourself, "Self, dear self, dear sweet self whom I love above all others in spite of that silly and abominable song they forced us to learn in Sunday school when I was just a wee child -- the one that went

J-O-Y
J-O-Y
this is what it means
Jesus first, yourself last
and others in between

and thereby admonished us to love and value Jesus above all others, then everyone else, and then finally ourselves -- as if such a thing were even possible! For example, how can I hope to love persons whom I have never even met more than myself, when I do not know these people at all -- having never met them -- and when I know myself so well, being forced to spend literally every moment -- whether spent in consciousness or fast asleep -- in my own company? (Though given the reality of multiple personality disorders and memory lapses and what have you, in addition to the veil of denial and willful ignorance with which most people shroud themselves to avoid facing the reality of who they really are, I suppose it is possible to not know oneself as well as one thinks.) And, taking this into account, imagine how much more difficult it must be to truly know the Almighty -- God incarnate! Methinks that old song asked impossible tasks of us, which is really the nature of Sunday school songs in general. Why, now that I think about it, it seems almost criminal to send children there! Such songs -- not to mention stories of horrible drownings perpetuated by the good God who loves us, no less -- are not for a child's ears.

But wait, self, and consider this -- while it seems rather difficult indeed to love Jesus and God above all others, given that love of a subject seems to require a comprehensive knowledge of that subject and given the inherently unknowable qualities of the infinite -- is it possible not to love God above all others? Recall that God, being omnipresent, is in all things, such that even if the thing that I loved and cherished more than anything else in all this great, wide, crazy world were garlic bagels slathered with strawberry cream cheese, that would entail my loving God as well? Because God is in the bagels. But in such an instance, do I properly love God, or, rather, do I love to eat God? How strange that sounds! And yet when one recalls the Catholic Mass, in which rice wafers are supposedly transformed into the very flesh of Christ Himself through mystical means, it seems rather appropriate. Yes, God resides even in our food, and we receive His blessings by devouring His succulent, holy flesh. Bon appetite. And if we drink enough of his blood, we'll get drunk on his DIVINE POWER!!! Perhaps, instead of in art galleries and posh apartments, wine tastings should take place in ancient churches with high, vaulted ceilings and magnificent stained-glass windows. Yes, that would be more appropriate."

Or perhaps you were thinking something totally different. I never claimed to be a mind-reader, after all. But whatever the case, the fact remains that the above ideas did pass through your thoughts at some point -- namely, when you read them -- because in order to interpret the text at all, you had to take in the words and consider them within the confines of your own mind. So it makes sense, then, to say that you were thinking those thoughts after all! Ha! I knew it! And naturally so, because what other discourse could possibly follow more logically from the opening of The Absolute Strangest Christmas Story Ever Told?

''...and at the same time making love to the Lord, because, supposedly, He is in all things...''

Let us return to your thoughts. At this moment, you are (or very soon will be, owing to the above explanation) thinking:

"Well! That was quite the digression, if I do say so myself. Why, it was as if my train of thought left on schedule and was heading towards its destination -- at the station where it would have arrived, the status of the train was clearly marked 'ON TIME' and the would-be boarders were chatting on their cell phones and telling their business partners that, yes, things could go according to plan because, for once, the train would be on time. (It's always late, mind you, because I have a tendency to lose my thoughts in tangential musings, but in my defense they are almost always interesting tangential musings, and when they are not I simply invent interesting tangential musings to communicate whenever someone inquires as to my thoughts during those lengthy pauses that interrupt my speaking as I follow the tangled threads within my mind in mid-sentence, such that interesting tangential musings always result from my mental digressions -- and therefore these digressions are good! Even when they are quite confusing.) And then, much to the disappointment of the waiting passengers, the train derailed and went sliding past great steepled churches with elaborate stained-glass windows in which the Catholic Mass was being held and children were helping themselves to Jesus Juice and rolling around on the floor, singing songs with their hands in their pants -- making love to themselves, though some denominations believe that to be a sin -- and at the same time making love to the Lord, because, supposedly, He is in all things, and hands and private parts and even the discharge that results from such pleasurable solitary activities certainly counts as a "thing". For this those suits will be late to their meetings? Ah, hear them roar into their cell phones in rage and contempt! They're pissed indeed -- justifiably so, some would say. I, however, disagree, because they do not really exist, and so cannot be pissed off -- or, if they can, it doesn't really matter, because any complaints they make to the railroad administration will go ignored and unheard. After all, those business-oriented commuters are just products of my strange and unchecked train of thought (despite the fact that they rarely ever catch said train), which, as I've noted, derailed, and is sliding all over the place with no apparent direction whatsoever. The laws of physics do not apply within the confines of one's mind."

You, dear reader, think very strange thoughts. I should hate to be your therapist. But I'm not your therapist, so why should I hate to be him or her? I mean, really, I'm not, and not only is it rather odd indeed to hate to be something that one isn't, but to suggest that anyone has a moral obligation to hate to be something that one isn't is especially ludicrous. But supposing that I did happen to be your therapist, I would hate to be him or her. Or maybe I wouldn't. It is true that you think very strange thoughts, but I imagine it would be quite a bit of fun to analyze them, for there must be a common thread stitched through them all, even if the path of the needle is very difficult to discern, owing to the strange patterns and manifold colors through which it was drawn to leave this peculiar network of ideas in its wake. And if the thread is not, in fact, a thread at all -- but is, instead, made of some thin reflective plastic substance or what have you -- it would reflect the strange colors of the fabric through which it has been pulled, such that its path would be almost impossible to determine. (We can usually follow the course of such threads with little difficulty, owing to the fact that the color of the thread usually differs noticeably from that of the fabric. But perhaps that is not the case here.) But perhaps the analysis of your tangled mesh of thoughts would be better undertaken by a patient and dexterous tailor, not a therapist. And in that case, I should hate to be your tailor. Imagine how many alterations your thinking cap would require!

But before you lost yourself among the various wrinkles and curves adorning the surface of your brain and fell prey to the manifold temptations and snares of tangential contemplation, you were going somewhere with your mind. Somewhere specific, I mean -- not the strange and random train stations with irate business folk on cell phones and gothic churches with their colorful stained-glass windows and the like. And not the zoo, either, though everyone must admit that the zoo is a very fun place to visit. Why, they have all sorts of animals there, from spotted giraffes to slithering snakes to red pandas (which you've always thought look quite a bit like large raccoons) and Tasmanian wolves and various insects and slick, moist frogs clinging to the glass of their enclosures and even horny rhinoceroses that will rear up on their hind legs and rape your automobile by thrusting their grey members into your exhaust pipe. No, wait -- that happens on safaris, not at the zoo. There, the rhinoceroses are kept behind bars, and unless you're zoo personnel and ride around on one of those golf carts (except they're not golf carts, because golf carts are ridden on golf courses, and the zoo is not a golf course, though I suppose, if one could tolerate the horrible stench, one could play nineteen holes in the domain of the prairie dogs), your four-wheeled vehicle (or two, if you ride a motorcycle) would not be allowed inside the zoo itself, and would therefore be safe from the lusty and violent advances of a horny male rhinoceros. That is, assuming that the zoo in question even has rhinoceroses. Because some of them don't. Some of them don't have hippopotami either, for that matter. Can you believe that? A zoo without rhinoceroses or hippos strikes me as being quite lame indeed.

Forgive me; that digression was my fault. But now I see how easy it is to get sidetracked, so I won't berate you for losing your train of thought earlier. NO -- don't you go off on that train tangent either. Find your train of thought first! I refuse to go find it for you. This mess is your fault, after all. Go ahead, search! I'll wait. Take your time...

...read on to Part 2!
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