And now, Scary-Crayon presents...
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the absolute strangest christmas story ever told
(Part 10)
by: Wes

It had occurred to Saint Nicholas, however, that this might have been a trap. That was the second problem. You see, in addition to various bands of vampires and werewolves that have sought the great, red-suited, jolly and fat old elf's Christmas-flavored blood and flesh at one time or another throughout the many years that he had been visiting the homes of good little children (and bad little children as well, I might add) and delivering presents in accordance with the complicated mathematical equations with which his heavy magic brown sack had been, in a sense, programmed, there were a number of other nasty creatures that had tried to bring down Santa Claus over the years -- and it must be noted that many of these creatures dwelled in dark, dank, and disgusting places, such as swamps, bogs, forgotten caves filled with rotting things, and so forth. And, of course, it must be noted that sewers were also high on this list, for any place in which a giant alligator can take refuge and, save the few times it was caught on film by those skillful weekly tabloid photographers, remain wholly shielded from the public eye is a place in which nasty things can lurk and scheme and occasionally snatch children for grisly purposes while maintaining the secrecy that they need to perform their nefarious deeds. So Santa Claus was not particularly pleased about the prospect of journeying into a sewer at all, let alone to see some creature whom he had never met and that was clearly not human (for otherwise he would have been able to "see" it and, among other things, determine whether its intentions were hostile or not).

Still, something about that brief letter written in shit on a used wad of toiler paper touched Saint Nicholas even more strongly than its putrid stench had affected his gag reflex, and he found himself unable to refuse the request of its author. Furthermore, it must be noted that Santa Claus insisted on making the journey despite impassioned pleas from Mrs. Claus not to go down into the sewer in search of this mystery creature, though, for her part, her insistence on this matter stemmed less from concern for the jolly elf's safety and more from the reality that she most certainly did not fancy washing the sewer's stink out of his red suit with the white fur trim about its cuffs upon his return -- for given the stink that emanated from even the tiny letter, the prospect of such a momentous task seemed almost like a punishment for her devotion to him over the years -- but eventually she relented. After all, he was Santa Claus, and if this creature truly was sincere, and had taken the time and effort and trouble to compose a letter in shit in order to reach the personified spirit and chief representative icon of the winter holiday season, it would probably be a good thing for Saint Nicholas to grant its request and pay it a visit.

Santa, milk, and cookies on Xmas Eve: Take 1000000000

So it was that Santa Claus, after polishing off the final plate of chocolate chip cookies and the glass of milk that he would consume that night (which had been left out for him by the Thomas family), and after placing the last gift underneath the last Christmas tree in the family room of the home of Jefferson Thomas, swung his heavy brown sack over his right shoulder and made his way into the restroom of that home -- which, as we have noted, is quite inappropriately named, for one hardly rests in such a room, and while there was a bath in this particular bathroom, not all of them contain one -- and, standing in front of the toilet, raised his red suede-gloved hand to his ruddy nose and pinched it closed. You see, little Jefferson Thomas had neglected to flush the toilet upon going to sleep that Christmas Eve night, and throughout the night hours the turd that he had left behind had liquefied and, with the dark yellow urine that he had also left in the bowl, had become an awful soup that filled the entire bathroom with a horrible stench, such that Santa Claus was tempted to march back into the living room and stuff little Jefferson's stocking full of coal -- or worse.

But alas, the magic brown sack had already spoken, and, taking into account the poor child's irrational fear of the flushing sound of the toilet, had shown mercy on him, though it had not given him the thing that he had wanted most on his list. Still, this scent was most displeasing, and Santa Claus thought that perhaps the sack would have chosen differently if it had been in possession of a nose, which it was not. However, it is true that the stench of the bathroom served a purpose, for it was useful in beginning to prepare Santa for the horrific stink that he would encounter once he journeyed down into the sewer -- though it must be noted that the sewer's stench would be at least ten times worse than the putrid amalgamation of little Jefferson's fermented shit and piss. And it was time for Santa Claus to find out for himself, for, standing before that gross toilet with his nose pinched in the-gloved fingers of his right hand, he lifted a polished boot to the silver lever on the toilet and, pushing down, gave it a flush, whence he gave a nod and disappeared down the bowl, following Jefferson's waste down, down, and down -- farther still! -- into the darkness of the sewer beneath.

So it was that later that night, with his heavy magic sack slung over his right shoulder, Santa Claus trudged through the sludge that coated the floors of that dank network of waste-filled tunnels deep within the bowels of the city. Light from above seeped into the grates and cast a glare on the murky green water in the adjacent canal, throwing eerie, slithering reflections across the greenish-brown walls. The stench would have been unbearable for a normal human being, but Santa Claus was no ordinary man. It is true that his senses were, and are, much more perceptive than a regular person -- so, in reality, the smell was, to him, fifteen times more potent than you or I would find it. We would have been killed on the spot. But for Santa Claus, being immortal, this was an impossible outcome. Moreover, while intuition would suggest that, though he would not die from the intolerable stink, he would be rendered unable to do anything, for the stench could quite accurately have been described as "paralyzing" or "petrifying".

But one would only be so frozen by the stench if one were unable to divert one's attention from it, for, at its best, a powerful mind can overcome any opposition presented by the body or sensory hindrances -- and Santa Claus, in accordance with his position as a great and mystical figure, was gifted with extraordinary powers of focus. The smell of crumbling feces and urine and swamp water and the rotting corpses of all manner of rodents and reptiles and insects barely fazed the jolly old fat man. I say barely because, it is true, Santa Claus, despite his almost godlike powers, is not in the best of shape, and from time to time found himself so winded that he was require to pause and catch his breath in long, drawn out gasps -- and at these moments the foul smell that floated along the air was so dizzying that Santa staggered and nearly collapsed, but each time he righted himself, and without resorting to using the walls for support. Oh, he would have -- and it certainly would have been easier than swinging his sack around to the front in order to regain his balance -- but he was very cautious of staining his red suede gloves, which he most certainly would have done had he dared to touch the moist and grimy corridor walls. The walls of the sewer, you see, were covered in mildew... and worse. Very unsanitary.

As he maneuvered through the waste, his boots making disgusting, stomach-turning squishy noises with each successive step, Santa Claus encountered two wharf rats perched on a corner of the subterranean walkway. Being wharf rats, they were huge. Seated on their hind legs, the rats were each a full two feet tall, and their tails, which hung over the soiled concrete ledge and dipped down into the nasty water below, measured a circumference of approximately six point three inches (each tail having a diameter of roughly one inch). Their fur, slick and wet with the slimy water from the sewage-filled canal, glistened in the dim underground light and, coupled with the miniature black leather jackets that they wore, this approximation of excessively gelled hair gave them the appearance of very cool rodent dudes. The two would only have needed black tiny combs for their tiny clawed hands to complete the image, but everyone knows that rats don't comb their fur.

There was, however, one other thing that threw the image off -- unlike the usually stoic and cool demeanor of the leather-clad cool guys whom they so closely resembled, these two rodents seemed to be engaged in a fierce argument, with each alternately spewing lengthy bouts of hissing and chattering at his companion and then furiously twitching his nose and whiskers while the other took his turn to "speak". In the water, their hanging tails thrashed furiously, sending splashes of water onto the "sidewalk" and sending small waves and ripples coursing through the sewer channel. The metal studs and zippers on their jackets glinted on their black leather jackets like stars in a dark night sky -- or like alien warships hovering in the distance, their flashing lights communicating hostile intentions and sending fear of a potential intergalactic battle of epic proportions coursing through the collective hearts of the planet's population. Such was the aura that the bickering rodents gave when perceived from a distance -- though, naturally, on a much smaller scale. And although they paid him no mind whatsoever, Santa Claus moved towards the wharf rats with caution, lest they resolve their differences at the sight of the fat man in red's approach and spring upon him with ravenous hunger.

Of course, being the great and powerful living symbol of yuletide cheer, Santa Claus was not afraid of the creatures -- after all, he was an immortal warrior for the forces of good and could easily strike them dead with a forward thrust of his gelatinous belly or freeze them solid by opening his mouth and exhaling a single icy breath -- but he preferred not to harm living creatures unless it were completely necessary. Moreover, there seemed to be a certain rhythm to this chattering that made it sound not unlike language, and Santa wondered if the rats might not be debating some serious issue. Having encountered his share of pet rats in his manifold years of delivering gifts to the good little children of the world, Santa had known for quite some time that rats are far smarter than most people believe and actually make good pets -- many a time he had descended into a family's home via the chimney only to hear a tinkling sound and scrabbling across the hardwood floor and look down to see a rat rushing towards him with a jingling bell and a name tag fastened around its tiny neck. And, of course, the elves were quite fond of rats as well, for, owing to the small stature of elves, rats of medium size were, in relation, akin to small dogs.

But to his elves back home at the North Pole, these wharf rats that now sat hissing and twitching at one another before the great Santa Claus would have been ponies. Large ones. With twitch noses and sharp, vicious teeth. Not at all friendly-looking, unlike the numerous My Little Pony toys that the elves had set their hands to manufacturing en masse so many years ago -- which makes one wonder if, in fact, it makes sense to compare these slick and furry monsters to ponies at all. After all, to call something a pony is to imply that it is a friendly creature that likes sugar and can be ridden easily -- so easily that even a child could do it. But no elf could (or would even dare to) ride one of these snarling beasts, and even if they could they would ruin their clothes doing so, for the beasts were coated in shimmering sludge from the underground river that flowed through the bowels and dark nether regions of the sewer. So in the case of these oversized rodents, perhaps comparisons to other animals -- especially friendly animals beloved of little children -- are inappropriate to mention by way of comparison when describing these giant sewer-dwelling beasts. They were giant rats wearing leather jackets and chattering violently at each other as if involved in a heated argument over some incredibly important subject. Santa moved slowly towards them, hoping to move past the bickering rodents without disturbing them and thereby avoid a confrontation. That is enough to describe the situation.

Santa's cautious efforts, however, were not sufficient to keep the rodents from noticing him, for while their impassioned chattering was more than loud enough to drown out the squishing sound that his boots made as he made his way through the sludge that coated the sewer floor, the fat man had the incredible bad luck to press one foot down into the muck just as one rodent concluded his turn and just before the other rodent could cease his indignant nose-twitching and begin to hiss his own counterargument. It was during this brief moment of aural inactivity, then, that the squelch came, and, upon hearing this, the rodents wheeled on Santa, growling fiercely with their red eyes glowing brightly in the subterranean darkness, like festive, colored light bulbs or mystical orbs of congealing blood illuminated from within by the unholy glow of some otherworldly essence.

Santa Claus froze.

The monstrous rats regarded him for a moment in silence, their eyes narrowing and their noses twitching as they seemed to size him up and assess the threat of the red-suited fat man with the bulging sack slung over one shoulder. For his part, Santa Claus braced himself for the fierce battle that he expected to ensue momentarily. For while it is true that he could have destroyed the wharf rats with only the slightest exertion of his holy might, that would be rather unfair to the creatures -- and Santa Claus, being a good power, would hate to be seen as a cheater by anyone, even a couple of dying sludge-gelled rats clad in leather jackets. Besides, Santa was well aware that he was overweight, and fighting off the wharf rats would, at the very least, make for a good bit of exercise. He imagined them rushing forward on all fours, snarling, their tails whipping back and forth in the air, flinging lingering moisture and forming vapor trails as they sped towards him with murderous intent. Santa imagined swatting the first away as it leapt for his face and, moving out of the way of the second rodent's flying attack, catching it by the tail and slamming it hard against the grimy green sewer wall. At this point the first rat would begin to attack his left leg from behind, whereupon Santa Claus would kick forward, bringing with it the clinging rodent and positioning the creature in such a way that he could easily grab its tail with his right hand and hurl it into the sewer water, momentarily making the battle a one-on-one bout between the great Saint Nick and the second vicious wharf rat.

Here Santa would take the offensive, stomping forward as if to smash the rat but really using his charge to force the rodent to dodge left or right, whereupon he would turn in the appropriate direction and stamp down on the tail, thus pinning the rat in place so that he could spin on his heel -- painfully grinding the rat's tail against the rough brick floor beneath the muck (though the thick goo would, admittedly, make the pain less intense than it might have been on a dry floor) -- and then, repositioned, fall backwards and deliver a crushing elbow drop to the rodent's back. This blow, he reasoned, would probably break the rat's spine, killing it and making Santa Claus the winner of this singular match. And then, just as he got to his feet, he envisioned the first wharf rat rising, raging mad and dripping wet from its recent plunge into the murky depths of the thick, waste-filled sewer canal. And the stench! Despite his incredible powers of focus, Santa imagined the sheer potency of the awful smell staggering him just for a moment, thereby allowing the soaked wharf rat to leap into the air and score a hit across his face with its thick, ropelike tail, leaving a throbbing red welt across his pink cheek and staining part of his snow-white beard red with a tiny bit of blood -- but not Santa's own, for in the heat of battle the normally soft beard hardened to brushlike bristles, and for anything to lash this coarse hair with such force would undoubtedly have caused injury to the striking instrument -- in this case, the attacking rodent's thick, segmented, pinkish-grey tail. And then, both Santa and the rodent smarting from the attack, the rodent would land and discover the corpse of its fallen comrade.

RATS MAN

At this point in the imagined battle, Santa Claus could foresee one of two very different outcomes obtaining. In the first scenario, he saw the lone leather-clad wharf rat menacingly ambling towards him and then, as it came within striking distance, raising a clawed, fur-covered hand, and thanking Santa sincerely for ridding the giant rodent of its hated sibling and rival. But in the second scenario, Santa Claus imagined the wharf rat throwing its head back and howling with fury and grief, swearing in its native rodent tongue to avenge the death of its brother and turning its full viciousness on the fat man with quintupled intensity. But Saint Nick would be ready. When the beast came scrabbling down the sewer corridor towards the not-so-jolly old fat man, snarling angrily and hissing curses that it would avenge its dead brother or die trying, the great Saint of Christmastime would simply leap over its charging attack and, hitting the ground and turning, heft his great magic sack of toys over to his left shoulder. He would perform this action not because this would shift his balance or make him able to combat the rodent more easily, but in order to mock the creature -- for this would be akin to a fighter who favored right-handed strikes suggesting that his opponent was so weak that he could successfully take on his opponent using the weaker left hand as his primary striking instrument.

It is also worth noting that, in Santa's vision, the sack had never once touched the slime-coated floor of the sewer -- despite the fact that in reality, the bag would likely have touched the ground during the crushing elbow drop that killed the other rodent (unless, of course, Santa repositioned the bag onto his stomach for the maneuver, which he did not do in this imagined battle) -- such that to swing it around to the other shoulder would also be to display its pristine splendor to the remaining attacking rodent. This, then, would effectively be saying, "I don't even have to get my sack dirty to beat you and your brother," which, to the wharf rat, would be like boasting that one's nuts didn't even sweat in the least, for it is commonly known that in heated battles, even if one's forehead or armpits do not break a sweat, one's underwear will always be at least a little damp when the fight is over. Unless, of course, one's opponent were a complete and utter weakling, in which case it would hardly make sense to call it a heated battle. In which case the total absence of sweat on one's testicles would make perfect sense. Hence the offense. To say such a thing, then, would be to tell the rat that its skill as a warrior -- not to mention it itself, and its sibling, and even its sibling's life -- was worthless, which would naturally only serve to infuriate the rat even further. This, you see, would have been Santa's reason for taunting the huge rodent in such an insulting manner -- not because he actually disliked the rodent or were, himself, an extremely cocky fighter, but because he would wish to provoke the rat into undertaking a rash assault attempt, thereby making fatal error in judgment and leaving himself open to a devastating counterattack by Kris Kringle.

And here, in keeping with his favored strategy for fighting rodents -- which you must now have noticed, nor was Santa thinking of this on the fly; he had battled giant rodents in the past -- Santa would duck low, roll, and catch the rodent by the tail as he moved. Then, with the rodent's path following his own, the great Claus would spring up from the ground and hang suspended in mid air, facing the ground, stopping such that the momentum of the giant rat would swing it directly underneath his massive gut. Then, just as the rat reached that point, Saint Nick would drop from the air and smash the rat against the gross subterranean walkway with his full weight, crushing bones, squishing organs, vital or otherwise, and sending a wave of blood splashing a radius of several feet in all directions from the point of impact. The battle would be over, and Santa Claus would stand victorious over the two wharf rats. He would then remove the two leather jackets from the intact corpse and the pile of smashed flesh and guts and, after cleaning the blood and bone fragments and fur and other biological goo from them with a bit of magic, tuck the tiny black coats into his wondrous sack. Upon his return to the North Pole, he would raffle them off as prizes to the elves during their annual post-Christmas celebration. German chocolate cake and spiced apple cider would be had by all.

...read on to Part 11!
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