“How can it be a sweatshop at the North Pole?” yelled Santa. “It’s fucking cold up here! Too cold to sweat!”
Which was true. Santa hadn’t bought coal for the furnace for a century.
The elves bundled up in blankets as they worked the assembly lines.
If they didn’t lose their fingers to frostbite, they lost them to bandsaws or sanders.
The maimed were sent over to the infirmary.
Which was nothing more than a shack to sort out who was dying and who could work again.
The dead, outside, buried by snowdrifts, their corpses picked at by starving rats.
Santa’s elves all look the same.
They’re clones, grown in birth tanks in a lab under Santa’s workshops.
They’re poured out, dried off, injected with memory-rich protein bases, and sent through automated speed-training to learn the skills necessary to make toys.
When they’re ready, they join the assembly lines to make toys.
There’s always openings available, because clones only last a few years.
Eventually they wear out, or get injured or maimed, and they’re harvested for their memories, and pulped into a nutrient fluid.
Which is then piped to the birth tanks, where a new batch of elves are growing.
When I was young, I remember getting “practical” presents for the holidays, like socks and underwear and sweaters.
The worst sweaters ever.
Not like the soft, warm, and comfortable sweaters other people had.
These were itchy and uncomfortable and didn’t keep me warm at all.
“But it looks so good on you,” my mother said.
“I feel fucking itchy and cold,” I said. “I’m a person, not your fucking dressup doll.”
She sent me to my room without dinner.
I climbed out the window, went to the back patio, and set the sweater on fire.
The fire kept me warm.
It didn’t take long for Santa to die.
We tied him to a tree and tore off his clothes.
A gag in his mouth kept him from calling for help.
The next morning, he was dead.
Ankle-deep in snow, frozen to death.
We untied him and planned to bury him.
But the ground was too cold to dig in.
“Can we burn him?” one person asked.
We were going to have a big bonfire party anyway.
So, we dragged him out to the field, covered him with all of our scrap lumber, and watched it all burn as we danced.
With the population of the planet nearing eight billion people, Santa’s resources were pushed to their limits.
He had given up paper maps long ago, and now relied on a navigation computer with every delivery coded in.
Factors like the weather, visibility, cargo space, and proximity shaped his travels, and when the night was over, he downloaded his performance statistics for further refinement of the algorithms.
Eventually, he changed what it took to get on the naughty list.
Only the absolutely best people made the nice list.
And they were just too nice to expect gifts from Santa on Christmas.
When Santa isn’t supervising the work at his North Pole Workshop or delivering presents, he likes to take his sleigh around the world to enjoy natural scenery and beauty.
Men had cut tunnels through the Giant Sequoias of Yosemite, and only the best reindeer and pilot could fly through them at full speed.
But when drunk, Santa wasn’t at his best, and in February on 1969, he crashed into the Wawona Tree, bringing it down.
“The goddamned tree moved,” slurred a bloody Santa, stumbling through the wreckage, throwing an empty beer can aside and pulling the tab off of another.
The team had lost every game in the season.
For Christmas, all the coach wanted was a decent quarterback.
Santa, being a keen football fan, did his best to deliver some Christmas joy.
And on Christmas Day, when the coach woke up and went down to his living room, he saw a package under his tree.
The coach unwrapped the package to discover the Santa had left him a decent quarterback.
But the quarterback had suffocated from being wrapped in the wrapping paper.
The coach took the quarterback to the store, but they wouldn’t give an exchange without a receipt.
Superman walked north for miles and miles until he was far from civilization.
Pulling out the green glowing kryptonite crystal, he hurled it as far as he could.
It landed in the middle of Santa ‘s North Pole workshop village.
“What’s this?” said Santa, as the crystal melted through the snow.
A massive earthquake rumbled the village, spears of ice piercing every building.
Countless elves and reindeer were killed and maimed, toys scattered across the tundra as the Fortress of Solitude formed itself.
Santa rebuilt his workshop five miles away and put Superman on his naughty list in indelible ink.
When Santa wasn’t flying around the world delivering toys, he was flying around and banging expensive hookers.
“Wow!” they’d say, seeing the world rush by. “This is great!”
Some of them wanted to drink champagne, others wanted to do lines of coke.
“Do what you want,” growled Santa. “As long as you do me.”
And they did.
After zooming around skyscrapers and under bridges and through the Grand Canyon, Santa would fly out to the deep ocean and push the hooker out of his sleigh so he didn’t have to pay them or take them off of his naughty list.
George was a pirate, but he wasn’t a very good pirate.
While waiting for his ship to be repaired, he took a temp job at the mall as Santa’s helper.
He’d guide the children to Santa’s throne, help them up to Santa’s lap, and get their mother or father to pay for the photos.
Credit cards, preferred.
Then he’d send the credit card information to friends in Russia, who gave George a cut of the action.
George easily paid for his ship’s repairs, and he got the hell out of town.
He never did send out any of the photos.