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"Mommy! Mommy! Santa came down the chimney!"
Mommy ran over to find that a rather odd-looking fellow had appeared in the living room, covered with soot. He was a lot more skinny than the stereotypical Santa and looked somewhat pale. He was grinning much like Santa would be on Christmas Eve, but due to this grin, one could see a pair of large fangs sticking out of his mouth.
"Hey, wait! If you're Santa, where's your bag of toys?"
Mommy just eyed "Santa," somewhat confused.
"My bag? Oh, I left my wife at home! Ah, ah, ah, ah!"
Mommy thought she heard drums and a cymbal. Mommy fainted.
"If you don't have any toys, you're not Santa...you just suck!"
"Why, yes! Yes, I do! Ah, ah, ah, ah!"
From outside the house, one could hear a young child screaming.
"Here, come sit on Santa's lap! Ah, ah, ah, ah!"
The little pig-tailed girl got on top of a somewhat-lanky, pale-looking Santa Claus. Her father wore a confused look.
"What's your name, little one?"
"My name's Jenny!"
"Oh, hello, Jenny! Nice to eat you! Ah, ah, ah, ah!"
From across the food court, two teenage boys were eating lunch. They were used to lots of video game violence, so they didn't even look away when they heard the screaming.
"How's the horseradish sauce on that sandwich?"
"It's... alright, but...much weaker than I expected. I was hoping it would have...more of a bite."
"I can solve that problem! Ah, ah, ah, ah!"
It was easier for the boys to notice the screaming when they were the ones producing it.
"All you have to do is sign here. Ah, ah, ah, ah!"
Joe was feeling pretty down, having just been laid off from his job, and needing to take a temporary position as a mall Santa to make ends meet. After all, nobody says "I want to be a mall Santa when I grow up," right?
So naturally, he grumbled a bit and hesitated before signing at the dotted line.
"Ah, good! Now I can eat you! Ah, ah, ah, ah!"
The manager, clearly not your conventional Santa at all, revealed two large fangs protruding from his mouth.
"Wait, what...what the hell?!"
"You missed a clause in the contract! I call it...the Santa Clause! Ah, ah, ah, ah!"
Joe was feeling even more down, now. Down, and out.
"They think I'm just a mall Santa. But no! I'm the MAUL Santa! Ah, ah, ah, ah!"
Be careful in your dealings with pale, somewhat-skinny Santa Claus look-alikes on Christmas...
#20: No more mistletoe
It was perfect.
All she wanted to do now was kiss me.
So it happened, again and again, as she giggled almost non-stop.
"Heeheehee, what a great excuse!" she purred, as her lips embraced mine once more, and then once more after that.
I threw my arms around her, and the embrace happened again.
This could only be described as pure joy. And it all came about because I'd taped a small piece of mistletoe to my forehead. The simple act of a goodbye kiss had been transformed into something much more.
She went home, and I went to sleep...leaving it on. Maybe it could happen again when I see her tomorrow?
I was awakened by an unfamiliar sound.
It somewhat resembled my stomach, after it'd been struggling for many hours without a proper meal. But I didn't feel hungry.
Then...another unfamiliar sound. Like a hundred saliva bubbles had come out of my mouth and popped in unison. And gurgling. What on earth?
Following this, a tapping noise. I didn't believe in monsters, but it really sounded like something was under my bed. What is this, a children's book?
I turned over onto my stomach, pulled the pillow over my head and attempted to block out whatever it was. But then...I felt something, too. The bed shook. Finally, a tap on my foot.
I sat up, startled. Then, I froze.
It was the only possible reaction. Nothing could prepare me for this situation, in which my face was suddenly inches from...another face, belonging to...a creature I couldn't recognize. Well, not until I looked more closely.
It was constructed of garbage. I could tell instantly because all of it had been lying in the various trash cans spread around my apartment. Its chest consisted mostly of crumpled papers I'd tossed out after botched work and junk mail sorting. I noticed the broken umbrella my girlfriend had tossed two days ago was now forming something of a spine. Cardboard tubes from my new posters? Arms. I eat a lot of bananas, but never imagined I'd be looking at banana-peel hair. The omelette I made for my girlfriend last night? The eggshells were back, and now they were staring into my eyes, just as my girlfriend would. And, while preparing a salad for myself yesterday, I'd come upon some rotten lettuce. How, exactly, it was now formed into the shape of lips, I will never understand.
This face, with its eggshell eyes and lettuce lips, was held together mostly by ground beef packaging. It still smelled like ground beef packaging, so it didn't smell particularly wonderful. But it looked at me as affectionately as ground beef packaging could. The lettuce lips curled into a smile, then parted slightly.
The lips then drew closer. I then realized what had happened here. This thing actually had been under my bed. And I was still wearing...
...I ripped the mistletoe from my forehead and tossed it into what was now an empty garbage can. Well, someone had been kind enough to empty it, at least.
But the creature did not back off.
I responded in the only way that seemed appropriate.
"Uh... no thanks?"
The eggshell eyes raised upwards, and the lettuce lips formed a circle, as if it was processing what I'd said. And then...
Only, this thing didn't exactly have a voice box, so instead of a scream, it was more of a really loud breath/gurgle. To be blunt, it sounded gross. And, even worse...it hadn't backed off even one inch. The raw ground beef smell was as unappetizing as ever.
"I took off the mistletoe. No thanks."
"But WE WERE UNDER IT!" it gurgled.
"I just...really don't...want to."
"BUT WEEEE WERE UNDER IT!!!!!"
The sad thing is, its reasoning was sound. We were, in fact, under the mistletoe...so by all accounts, we were practically required to lock lips.
"Is there anything I can do to convince you to back off?"
"NOOOOOOOOO!" gurgled the creature. I could swear that I saw the remnants of egg white on the bottom of the shell start to bubble as it gurgled. Gross...
I pinched myself. Yes, I was awake.
I had no idea what this creature was capable of. For all I knew, it could end my life in a single movement. And while your typical human-shaped monster would have either killed me already or robbed me blind, this thing only wanted...a kiss. So by comparison, for a second, it didn't seem all that bad...
"Okay, one kiss."
The wilted lettuce formed a smile.
Best not to think about it, right? Best to just get it overwith.
It started to lean in closer.
The smell of dead cow engulfed me. I almost retched, but managed to regain my composure.
I could see the wet, rotten, wilted, poor excuse for lettuce drawing near. It looked to be about as slimy as seaweed. I've eaten seaweed before, it's not so bad, right?
I hadn't noticed up until this point, but its nose was made out of an apple core. It had been the first thing I threw away following the last time I emptied the trash, so it had been there the longest. I thought I spotted a bit of mold growing on it. I then forced myself to look only at the lettuce. I mean, seaweed. Just think of it as seaweed...
Wait, wasn't there more of i--
--I had no more time to think. The "lips" surrounded mine, almost consuming them entirely. They felt cold, wet, and generally unattractive. I felt a pair of cardboard tubes grab my back and pull me closer, into the seaweed.
And then, it happened.
What felt like a solid block--well, as solid as slimy, wilted, rotten lettuce could be, I suppose--threw itself past my lips, into my mouth, and assaulted my tongue.
It took every inch of my fortitude not to gag.
The happy-sounding noises of gurgling passing through my ears were simply repulsive.
Its "tongue" began to caress mine.
I made the mistake of breathing through my nose, as my mouth was busy. The dead cow smell filled my head and overwhelmed what was left of my resolve. I could feel myself losing consciousness...
Oh, right, that's my doorbell.
I stretched. How long had I been asleep, exactly?
I stumbled out of bed and began to make my way towards the front door of my apartment.
I tripped over a broken umbrella. ...wait, what was that doing here?
Then, in an instant, I remembered everything.
"Hey, are you there? Where are you?"
Simple, sweetie, I'm looking around my bedroom, which is covered in garbage. Everything that the creature had been made of was strewn about the room. How would I explain this? I didn't even have any pets. Oh, well, maybe she'll believe my story. Either way, a kiss from her could really help right now...
I stumbled over the piles of trash, made my way to the door and opened it.
"Well, good afternoon, s--EEEP!!! UGH, WHAT THE HELL?!!"
She slammed the door in my face.
Purely by instinct, I ran into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I could hear my girlfriend's car starting.
My face was covered in lip-marks. Clearly, someone had been kissing me. And judging from the color and texture of the lip-marks, obviously I'd been cheating on my sweet girlfriend with a ball of seaweed.
I turned to my left to face the full-body mirror on the opposite wall. Oh, good, it was just on my face...
...except for the large wad of dried, rotten lettuce in a certain place. Where my pants had been, when I'd gone to sleep.
As I felt myself losing consciousness for the second time, only one thought dominated my mind:
"No more mistletoe..."
#19: 'Twas the night before...
'Twas the night before Cranemas, and all through the site,
Crane-Elves were working with all of their might.
Digging and scurrying this way and that,
with each one wearing a very cute hat.
They shoveled, they struggled, they rolled and they ran,
"Quickly! We must work as fast as we can!"
But why were they anxiously clawing at earth?
Tomorrow, there'd be a miracle, a birth!
Uncovering two ears, two cheeks and a nose,
Working their way from the head to the toes
amongst singing, rejoicing, celebration and fun.
The City shall see the birth of its Son!
Hark, can ye hear the Cranegels sing,
as they pave the way for the birth of our King?
This chorus, so blissful, for you and for me?
Sing, "I am Reach, I will be, I will be!"
So lift your voices and join in our song,
Whether or not you can follow along,
Announce His birth with this little ditty:
Reach, our King, the Son of our City!
Think of this greatness as you lay in your beds,
as pretty, young Scaffwolves rest their sweet heads,
of our King terrorizing the humans with fright.
Happy Cranemas to all, and to all a good night.
#18: Aged to perfection
He doesn't notice you right away, so you take some time to look him over.
You immediately notice that he looks different from the others. Some parts of him are obviously put together differently...possibly, evidence of an earlier design. He clearly has been maintained well, but rust is prevalent in several places. He creaks a bit when he moves in certain ways. But for some reason, you have a feeling that he can still get a job done, just as well as the others...
At last, he notices that you're...uh, checking him out.
"Oh...hello. I don't get a lot of attention these days...especially not from beauties such as yourself."
He says it using a very matter-of-fact tone, as if he's not so much flirting as making conversation.
"So, sweetie, what can I do for you?"
- I was wondering if you were up to a certain task...
- Actually, I'd like to get to know you better.
- How old are you?
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#17: Tweet, tweet
"So, was there something you wanted to ask me?"
- No, not particularly.
- You don't seem like the others.
- Aren't you a bird?
"You don't seem like the others."
"Wait, what? What do you mean...not like the others?"
- You're...built differently, I think.
- Aren't you a bird?
"You're...built differently, I think."
"Ah...well, you've got that right! I'm built for ultimate mobility! You won't find a pair of wings like these on anyone else!"
- I didn't think cranes generally had wings...
- Aren't you a bird?
"I didn't think cranes generally had wings..."
"Ah, but this model is super-advanced! Ultimate mobility means there's no getting stuck AND no waiting around! It's this model's best feature!"
- Does this model have any drawbacks?
- This model...of what, exactly?
- Aren't you a bird?
"Does this model have any drawbacks?"
"...drawbacks? What more could you want from a crane besides ultimate mobility? I can reach anything, just dare me! I'll never get stuck! I can poke into any nook or cranny, no matter how high up or low down it is! I'll grab anything there is, wherever it is!"
- But... how much can you lift?
- Grabbing is useless if you can't LIFT anything!
- Aren't you a bird?
"But... how much can you lift?"
"I'm the fastest! I'm the coolest! I'm... I'm..."
He starts bawling his eyes out. The volume of tears threatens to drown anyone in the vicinity, but as this is an outdoor construction site, there is thankfully plenty of good drainage available.
(sniffle) "...all I wanted...all I ever wanted, was... to build things, like the others... I always do my best, but... am I stupid, for wanting this so badly?"
- Maybe...you *are* stupid.
- If you have a dream, you should follow it...
- You're a bird. You should embrace what you are...
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