Check it Twice

Archibald-Wangarrison-Todhunter-Wensleydale-Finchley III and Chester-Buxley-Fitzsimmons-Wolverwover-deKnobes were escape artists of the highest and most rarefied quality. They made Frank Morris and the Anglin Brothers look like a group of halfwits, and Frederick Mors look well-balanced. This wasn’t because they had found a way of escaping from a sealed concrete bunker, or some ultra-maximum security penitentiary.

They’d found a way of escaping from something that was impossible to escape from.

This wasn’t hyperbole. They hadn’t found an escape method, thus rendering the ‘impossible to escape from’ label inaccurate and forcing a rephrase to merely ‘almost impossible to escape from’ or even ‘really very difficult indeed to escape from’. The prison in which they were held was ghastly beyond the comprehension of mere mortals, and there had never been a way to escape, and there still wasn’t. The fact that the loophole they’d found was ‘destroy the universe’ should be a clue to this.

There were no gates or walls or moats in this prison, no dogs or guards. No horrifying Rover to drift out and smother you to death. You were free to walk out whenever you liked. Okay, there was a certain amount of frozen wasteland and a number of other obstacles, but they weren’t intentional. They were just geography.

When Elves ran away from Santa’s Workshop, though, they didn’t get away. They could spend the entire year slacking off to their little heart’s contents, but when Christmas Eve rolled around they were summoned back to the Workshop and – if they hadn’t met their quota – punished. Punished dreadfully.

There was no escape.

There were also no second-time offenders. Until now.

Archibald-Wangarrison-Todhunter-Wensleydale-Finchley III and Chester-Buxley-Fitzsimmons-Wolverwover-deKnobes had run away some decades previously, over a question of some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It had been a matter of principle. They were of the opinion that while toys didn’t necessarily have to make sense, every man should have a line. Their vacation had only been about three weeks in duration, but it had been at a critical time and they had missed their quota and been disciplined accordingly. The other Elves spoke of it in whispers, as always. Most of them had fled at one time or another, and had suffered the consequences, and none of them had opted to face it again through the long march of years.

Then Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came back into fashion.

This time it was early January when they ran again, and this time the other Elves didn’t speak of it at all. They thought about it, but only when they thought nobody was watching. They wouldn’t speak of it until they saw what happened next. What happened to a repeat offender when Christmas Eve rolled around and the quotas were tallied and the summoning brought them screaming and sobbing and begging back to the Workshop? What happened when a full year’s quota was missed? Would it be something they would ever want to talk about? They watched The Claus, of course – they always watched The Claus – but he didn’t seem to react to the desertion. He was his usual jolly self, and that was the most frightening thing of all.

And so the two conscientious objectors ran. They ran and ran, and they didn’t stop until they had crossed the globe. They disguised themselves as mortals and went thoroughly to ground. They got themselves into a low-effort university bachelor’s-degree-stream and rented a flat. They went native. But they weren’t hiding from pursuit or trying to avoid detection. That wasn’t something they needed to worry about anyway. When the time came, no amount of running or hiding would protect them. They were just lying sufficiently low that the human population wouldn’t bother them while they executed phase two of their plan.

This wasn’t a matter of principle anymore. It wasn’t enough to escape for a year or survive the unspeakable chastisement. It certainly wasn’t enough to avoid it in the future by following the rules. These weren’t disorganised reactionaries. They weren’t fleeing blind, like wild animals gnawing their way out of their cages all unaware of the tracking collars around their necks.

They knew they would be called back. They were depending on it. This time, when they returned to the Workshop, they would bring the End of Days with them.

Archibald-Wangarrison-Todhunter-Wensleydale-Finchley III and Chester-Buxley-Fitzsimmons-Wolverwover-deKnobes were very, very naughty little Elves.


“And that,” Carl drew a breath, “is where you two come in.”

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
This entry was posted in Chuck Dickens’s “A Christmas Carl”, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Check it Twice

  1. dreameling says:

    You’re a clever bastard, Chucky! I’m really, really enjoying this. It’s like the best of both worlds.

    PS. Creepy and Hatboy’s world is batshit crazy.

  2. aaronthepatriot says:

    “YESSSSSS. Glad I was able to oblige.

    Merry Christmas!”

    Happy Christmas to you as well! Now, of course, I have plenty of time to re-read and check both backstories for inconsistencies(1).

    MORON! that later….(2)

    (1) Just kidding

    (2) I can’t be the only one who says/thinks that sometimes. It’s too fun not to share.

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