Assault on Workshop 13 – Part 4
Part 4 – Blue Christmas
“Well, lookey here,” Rooster grunted. He backed away to let the boss into our dank, dimly-lit hideout. “A regular back-door Santa.”
Santa gave him a look as he moved through the door. An elf-shaped figure followed him into the room, wearing a tailored black suit.
“Kwanzaa! You’re alive!” I ran over and gave the dark-skinned elf a big hug.
“Fairy, please,” he rumbled in a voice far too deep for such a small body. “Takes more than a cracker lawn ornament to keep me and my boy Santa down.”
He managed to throw a caustic glare at Rooster as he pulled away. Kwanzaa had been part of our training group before transferring out because of Rooster’s constant harassment. Lucky for him, too, because he’d been scooped up pretty quick by Santa’s Secret Service as an intern bodyguard. The tiny dark suit looked good on him, accentuating all the right bulges.
Hermey sidled up to the front and grabbed the door, making sure to prop it open. “How did you get away?”
Santa sat down on the floor with a groan. “They had the Big House surrounded. They didn’t attack us, not like the other workshops, but I knew it was only a matter of time before they stormed the place to take me prisoner. I sent Nurse Heidi out to negotiate and then we snuck out through the underground tunnels.”
Spray Tan perked up and glanced down the empty tunnel behind the newcomers. “You left Mrs., err, Nurse Heidi there?” she protested. “Alone?”
Santa shrugged. “I’m not real proud of that. But I needed a diversion, and she’s been butching up lately anyway. This guy, though,” he patted Kwanzaa on the back, his large, pudgy hand nearly swallowing his sidekick, “he stayed by my side the whole time. Fortunately he knew where these tunnels went, because I’d damn near forgotten about them.”
“We’re just glad you’re okay,” Hermey grinned. “Once I realized who was out there I was worried sick. I thought for sure they’d either kidnap or kill you. Last thing we can lose during the holiday season is the big man himself.”
“Especially to that muffled maniac out there,” Rooster added while attempting to see to the gunshot wound in his side. He’d torn off a piece of his shirt and was using it to sop up excess blood. “That pipsqueak’s had a hard-on for you for two thousand years.”
Santa motioned to the glittery stain on Rooster’s shirt. “That looks pretty bad. How are you holding up?”
“I still got some hooch in the tank. I’ll be fine. What’s got me curious is whether or not there’s a plan to get us out of this mess?”
Santa smiled knowingly. “I have a secret weapon. The same one that deterred them the first time around.”
“Ahhhh,” Hermey nodded. “The reindeer.”
Santa nodded. “They thought they were smart this time. They blew up the stables, but the reindeer were already out hunting. Beard didn’t count on them being feral these days, which makes them impossible to keep locked up. But that’ll just make them even more bloodthirsty when they get their teeth on those chunky little gnome necks. Only problem now is that I need to find the damn things. I’m technically still their alpha… unfortunately. So you’d think they’d let me know when they head out, but I don’t hear jack from them these days. Anyway, once I figure that out, I can coordinate with the other workshops and try to mount a counterattack.”
Santa chuckled, a haughty gesture. He nodded to Kwanzaa, who pulled a 2-way radio out of his jacket. Hmmm. I guess that explained one of the bulges.
“We’ve been using this to keep tabs on everyone,” the Nubian elf said. “We’ve got a network of resistance leaders set up at nearly every workshop, as well as the kitchens and the storage sheds. When it’s time to spank that hairy little bitch, we’ll be ready.”
Santa nodded in agreement. “We’ll make Beard sorry he ever came back for me.”
“I don’t understand.” I said. “What does he want? To take us over, or to kill us? Or both?”
Santa made a face that made it clear he didn’t know, either. “Well, I don’t know how much you know about him, but Beard is more than just the emperor of the gnomes.”
“Hermey told us the story,” Snow said, still twiddling that drumstick in his fingers. “You chose the elves over them.”
“I had to. When Beard became my apprentice, he didn’t just try to learn from he. He tried to be me. We were a boat oar away from ending up like The Talented Mr. Ripley. You know I actually caught him watching Single White Female with a notepad? Nothing good comes from taking notes of that movie. Sending him away was the best thing for both of us.”
“I don’t understand,” Feliz said. “Does Beard want to replace you or kill us? If he wants to kill us, why does he keep talking about tyranny and oppression and freedom? Why is he telling us to defect WHILE shooting at us? None of this makes any sense!”
Spray Tan shook her head. “This is NOT what I wanted to do on a Monday night.”
Santa nodded. “Who knows what Beard really wants? He used to be somewhat predictable. We all knew what his end goal was, but how he’s getting there is different this time. Regardless, this has gotten out of hand. As conniving as Jack Frost was, he’s got nothing on this guy when it comes to shock and awe.”
Feliz buried his head in his hands. “Jack Frost… How does Santa Claus have so many enemies?”
“It’s hard being top dog, son. If you’re ever successful at anything, which I doubt, given how much you complain, then you’ll understand.” Santa nodded at the ceiling, ignoring Feliz’s deflated expression. “Upstairs is Workshop 13, right?”
Hermey’s face darkened. “They came after us hard. We had to blow most of the upper floor using the Black Label Egg Nog stash.”
Now it was Santa’s turn to look crestfallen. “No! That was our best stuff!” He leaned back, dejected. “That’s the whole reason we came this way, to get smashed before Beard found it. All that work to hide it in 13, and now it’s gone. We were going to have an epic pre-Christmas rager, too.”
“At least it smelled good,” I offered meekly.
“It damn well better have.” Santa huffed. “I had to import it from Venezuela. It’s hard to get anything in or out of there in one piece.” Santa sighed again and looked at Kwanzaa. “Well, I guess I’m staying sober for a while. Might as well get a report.”
Kwanzaa nodded and clicked the mic button on the radio. “All units, this is Big Posse, requesting status. Over.”
A burst of static followed, then silence. I leaned forward, as if that would make it easier to hear nothing. A moment later, the radio squawked back to life.
“Big Posse, this is Glisten from Workshop 17. Five elves have taken the beard. Repeat, five have taken the beard. They left to join the gnomes, and now we have chatter inside the workshop. Everyone is wondering if they should do the same. It’s near mutiny over here!”
Kwanzaa glanced worriedly over to Santa, who shook his head sadly. Kwanzaa held the mic up to his face.
“Hold tight, homies. Big Sack is with you. This is not over. Over.”
“What?” came the static-laden reply. “It’s over? We should just give up?”
“No, man! Don’t give up! That’s not what I said.”
Glisten’s voice became distant, as if talking to someone else. “He said we should give up. Give me a damn beard.”
Rooster sighed loudly. Hermey’s shoulders sagged. The radio clicked again.
“This is Honey Butter from Workshop 10. I have terrible news. Glitterface has taken the beard. As soon as he did, nearly everyone else in the Workshop followed him out. I’m the only one left! They tried to make everyone go, and they were chanting these terrible slogans about how soul patches don’t count, but I slipped away in the confusion and now I’m currently hiding in a cupboard behind the Christmas Tree snacks and the Gardner Brand Rum Balls. My only hope is that they don’t come back for something to eat or drink. I need someone to rescue me from this… wait. I hear someone coming. No. No! Please, don’t do this! I need that arm! Noooooooo-“
Static followed. Hermey shivered. “This is just like that one act play I wrote back in the seventies.”
“Glitterface.” Santa scowled. “Should have known. That little bastard is about as loyal as the middle son of a mobster family. Or a 1950s L.A. police captain. Or a Cloud City administrator.” He squeezed his meaty hand into a fist. “Two-timing little bastard.”
Rooster coughed. “Sounds like they’re pressing their attack. Time to start pushing back.”
Santa sighed heavily. “Give me the radio.” Kwanzaa handed over the mic. Santa clicked it on. “All units, this is Big Sack. I’m officially moving us to Christ-Con 5. I repeat, we’re at Christ-Con 5. Implement Black Friday procedures immediately. Passcode X-Ray Mike Alpha Sierra, capital P, lowercase a, five, five, w, zero, r, capital D, exclamation point.”
Hermey eyes widened and he sat up straighter.
“Black Friday? Are you sure?”
“What’s Black Friday?” I asked.
The radio buzzed. “This is command. We have a Black Friday order on deck. Please confirm.”
“This is Big Sack confirming Black Friday.”
“Roger that. We are a go for Black Friday.”
“What’s Black Friday?” I asked again.
“Special ops,” Kwanzaa said. “Wet work team.” I shrugged. “Elf assassins. The kind of fairies who will leave your ass bloody.”
“Oh.” I cringed. I didn’t even know we had a special ops team. I thought we just made presents. Of course, I didn’t know we were in the middle of a two-millennia-long war with gnomes, either, so I was learning all sorts of new things.
“Enough of this.” Snowed In suddenly lunged forward, driving his drumstick through Kwanzaa’s back. The narrow end pierced straight through his heart and out the front of his chest, spraying minty blood all over the small room.
“Kwanzaa!” I screamed. So did someone else, possibly Spray Tan, or maybe Hermey. It’s really hard to tell with us. Without thinking, I jumped forward to save my friend but it was too late. He fell to his knobby knees, his face betraying the shock at such a gruesome and untimely demise. Snowed In pulled the drumstick free and went straight for Santa, but Kwanzaa had enough presence of mind in his last moments to grab Snow’s pointy hat, pulling it back so that the stretchy strap caught around the traitorous elf’s neck. Instead of reaching Santa Clause, Snow stumbled backward, clutching at the elastic around his throat.
“Sonofabitch!” Rooster scrambled to his feet, aiming his gun for Snow’s face. Before he could get a shot off, though, Snow reached out for the closest thing he could find.
He hauled me away from Kwanzaa, wrapping one arm around my boobs and jabbing the bloody drumstick against my neck.
“Don’t shoot!” he yelled, using my body as a shield. He pulled us both back toward the tunnel door. “And don’t follow, or she gets it!”
“Snow!” Hermey cried out. “What are you doing?”
“What I should have done earlier.” Snow pulled the drumstick away just long enough to wrangle something out of his pocket.
He slipped it around his face, then jabbed the drumstick back against my neck. He took a step through the doorway, pulling me with him.
“Long live Beard, you materialistic mother fuckers!”
With that, he pulled the door shut with a loud clang, separating us from the others.