“Hold on,” Creepy stood up, “we settled the whole Christmas thing. And where’s Carl, anyway?”
“Who is Carl?” Winona asked.
“I thought that was Carl,” Mister C of 9 pointed at Carla.
“No no no,” I said. “Carl is an associate of ours whose name is actually Ana-Lennox Medianu, her nickname was Lenny but her other nickname was Carl, a few years back she helped us save Christmas, except the entire cultural concept of ‘Christmas’ was actually a parasitic ur-meme sub-universe that had been living off this universe in different forms, and was capable of moving its denizens into this universe using cultural signifiers as anchoring points, stuff like reindeers and winter solstice rituals and commercialism and men with big white beards who share the bounty of constant production with a populace according to their social merits, but I digress, so anyway a pair of Christmas Elves tried to escape the dependency spiral and the eternal slavery they were locked in but the nature of omnisymbiosis meant that the only way they could get away was to destroy both universes, and they were alright with that but Creepy and Carl and I kind of weren’t, so Creepy and I took their places and this is important because we didn’t know it at the time but it established the precedent of travel between this universe and that universe by use of narrative surrogates like I was saying, only in the other direction as well, but anyway long story short we disconnected Christmas and cast it into slo-time, which basically means we destroyed it, but I’ve got to give the Elves, and Ian the Reindeer, credit there, but then after that, Carl found out something was trying to restore the connection so she went looking for it and she got stuck in slo-time too, only she wasn’t really stuck, we just thought she was, she was really just doing research and she was pretty cross when we tried to save her actually, because she didn’t need saving, but the point is she delivered a message to us by using the same surrogate displacement system to pour herself into this universe only she couldn’t occupy our places in this universe to get her message to us so she ended up occupying Carla’s place because Carla was sort of kind of the closest thing to Creepy and Hatboy in a certain narrative sense, so they swapped bodies but that’s a complete oversimplification and also everyone else in this universe was sort of nudged into the narrative structural placeholder of their respective Creepy and / or Hatboy sidekick allegory for a while too, then everyone went back to normal but it was pretty confusing for a while I can tell you, and that’s how we got to know Carla, and then it turned out that she was about to sabotage the Yuletide Corporation (Don’t Worry, It’s Just A Name) that was meant to be dumping waste into slo-time or some other thing that gets eco terrorists riled up, but we found out was actually a big shadow-government conspiracy – which by the way gets super-sidekicks riled up – and they were attempting to re-graft Christmas to this universe using Rudolph the Red-Nosed Differential Engine only I’m not entirely sure who ‘they’ are, but that’s what Carl was trying to warn us about so then Carla blew it up, and Carl said that should be the end of it because that was the last connection between our universe and Christmas even though I don’t see why more connections like that couldn’t be made all over again and she did also sort of hint at the idea that none of us, or the universe, or slo-time, were what we thought they were but since I had no idea what any of those things were in the first place I figured it didn’t matter too much but now you’re all here which suggests to me that some new phase in this whole confusing adventure has just kicked off or possibly has been going this entire time and we’re only just finding out about it, and that’s why it wasn’t really a surprise to see Carla show up, and now I’m wondering if Carl is on her way too even though she’s really not connected to Creepy in any way, she was just in Lapland at the wrong time and saw a flying reindeer once and refused to just shrug it off as a weird reaction to seven billion mosquito bites the way a normal person would, and I have no idea where she ended up because she never sent us a postcard although seeing as how the last time she tried to send us a postcard it Freaky Fridayed the entire population of the universe all the way out to Ωzz∞, I guess I can let her off the hook.”
I collapsed on my milk crates. Creepy burst into spontaneous applause.
Carla was less impressed. “Carl is wherever you left her when you completely failed to do a damn thing last time,” she snapped. “You went inside and watched TV.”
“That sounds like us,” Creepy said. Mister C of 9 nodded.
I had to admit that this was true. But she didn’t need to make it sound so … alright it was lazy. But she didn’t need to make it sound incidentally lazy. It was premeditated, considered laziness. There’s a difference. I just can’t be bothered explaining – which, when you consider what I just bothered to explain, might actually count as an explanation all on its own.
I’ll let you be the judge of that.