‘Hello, elves, it’s Christmas Eve again,’ Santa said to those around him. ‘Time to get the presents ready for those on the Nice List. Elves, let’s do our best again this year!’ The elves responded with a mixture of cheers, groans and silence.
‘Do we really have to work again this year?’ Santa’s top elf spoke while his eyes traced lines on the floor.
‘Of course, each year we must bring cheer and joy to every deserving person on this wonderful Earth. Santa needs to give a good Christmas to everyone who deserves it.’
‘Okay, Santa. We’ll do our best again this year. You hear that everyone? Let’s do it again and get everything ready!’
Everyone in the room gathered around tables in the workshop and constructed their very best toys while Santa watched. Jimmy, a new elf in Santa’s workforce, entered the workshop and seemed unsure about what they were doing. Curious, he asked Santa.
Santa chuckled. ‘Why, Jimmy, we’re making toys for every good child in the world. You weren’t briefed in elf training? Join everyone else and make the best toys you can, I’ll even gift you a special present tonight.’
‘Okay… That sounds lovely,’ said Jimmy.
‘Doesn’t it just? Well, get to work!’
‘Of course… Santa.’
The new elf immersed himself in his work along with the others. They continued until night came and then returned to their rooms.
A knock on the new elf’s door woke him, and Santa came into his bedroom with a hastily wrapped present.
‘I prepared this a while ago, and it has some rare parts. Only open it once Christmas has come, okay?’
‘Thank you, Santa!’
Santa handed over the present and left. The new elf laid his present beside his bed and went back to sleep.
Jimmy, along with the others, stood beneath a banner with the words Christmas Day 1968 written on it. They waited for Santa’s congratulations for their last day of work. Unable to wait any longer, the new elf loosened the bow on his present, carefully ripped the tape and neatly folded the paper. He opened the box.
The utter stench made him drop it. Inside rested a glued up, glitter-covered decomposing rat. Vomit erupted from the new elf’s mouth and splattered across the floor.
‘It’s time.’ A man in a white coat interrupted their wait.
Santa entered the room and smiled. Together, with his elves, he followed the man in the white coat and lined up at a counter. Each of his elves received medication, washed it down with water, showed their mouths and then left to do their own thing. When Santa’s turn to take his medicine came, it was gone in a flash, and he turned to resume his work.
Instead of elves that filled the workshop on Christmas Eve, men and women in white gowns shambled around. They assembled glue, glitter, and ice cream sticks on top of pieces of paper. ‘Twas no longer there, that Christmas glow.