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Odin and Loki Save Christmas (Contest Winner!)

This story won the “Odin’s Christmas Miracle” Writing Contest, which you can read about here. I had a blast reading this! The writer, Nebula Star, won $50 to Amazon.

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Odin and Loki Save Christmas

by Nebula Star

*

Ginger Nut couldn’t go on.

If he had to paint one more Barbra Doll Dreamhouse in stupid shades of cotton candy pink and lilac, he was going to throw up all over his red and green elf suit.

Ginger Nut hated the colors red and green. He also hated pink and lilac. He also hated plastic dolls of women and of men that gave modern children completely unrealistic expectations of femininity and masculinity, setting them up for lives of quiet disappointment in themselves and their partners.

The first time Ginger Nut had laid eyes on a Barbra Doll, he had said to himself, “No good can come of this.”

But he painted her stupid eyes and stupid smiling mouth like all the other elves.

Ginger Nut even hated his elf name. “Ginger Nut?” How stupid.

There wasn’t even any such thing as a ginger nut.

But he hadn’t gotten to pick his name.

*

The chief elf, Santa (who was oddly enough the only true elf involved in this entire god-forsaken operation) gave cutesy names to all the incoming worker elves. Sometimes he asked what name they wanted, but sometimes he just made one up on the spot. It seemed to depend on how tired he was.

More elves were always coming in because there was a really high turnover rate in the workshop. It wasn’t that Santa hired extra help during the Christmas season. It was just that the worker elves were all really dumb, and they died in horrible, stupid workshop accidents at a pretty consistent rate, leaving Santa’s workforce thin. One elf decided to check how the latest batch of glass marbles was going, and he climbed in the furnace and was incinerated. Another wanted his insides to be candy cane colored and ate crayons until he died.

So Santa was always hiring new elves. That’s how Ginger Nut had gotten in.

The one who had been in line before him had been allowed to pick his name.

“And what do you want your elf name to be?” Santa had asked in an indulgent, good-natured tone.

“Hat Stand!” said the elf excitedly, jumping up and down and turning a cartwheel. (Most of the elves just named themselves after things they liked. There was one called Sandwiches. Ginger Nut had never been able to determine what they called themselves before they got to Santa’s workshop.)

Santa’s indulgent manner had deflated. He blinked and sighed, but did not protest or ask any clarifying questions. He wrote something on his long scroll of paper, gave Hat Stand his elf suit and nametag, assigned him to the Barbra Doll Division, and then moved on to Ginger Nut with an air of exhaustion.

“Your name’s Ginger Nut. Here’s your suit, nametag, you sit next to Hat Stand in the Barbra Doll Division.”

What the hell?

Whatever. This position would suit his mission as well as any other. What they called him did not matter.

Ginger Nut had quickly come to the conclusion that his mission would not take much effort to accomplish.

Therefore, he had spent a significant amount of attention on attempting to determine whether Hat Stand knew what an actual hat stand was. The elf did wear a hat, which he seemed to like very much, so maybe that was behind it. He also liked to do gymnastics, turning cartwheels on the assembly belts and flipping around the workshop as though he had a malfunctioning spring mechanism. So maybe he’d meant Head Stand.

In a quiet act of revolt, Ginger Nut painted graffiti on the next Barbra Doll Dreamhouse.

He used a darker shade of pink (mauve, it was called mauve, and Ginger Nut hated that he knew that). In Runic characters that no modern parents would comprehend: REVENGE ON THE WEAK.

Then he passed the house down the assembly line to Hat Stand who painted the lilac roof and began to sing his own name over and over to the tune of “Jingle Bells.”

How much longer would Ginger Nut have to do this?

*

That night there was a thunderstorm.

The clouds hung low and heavy, dark green and boiling like the contents of a soup pot. Lightning split the sky and thunder resounded like the strike of a hammer.

Ginger Nut watched from a window in the workshop and smiled. It was the sign he’d been waiting for.

He turned back to face the busy workshop and climbed on top of a half-finished carousel horse. Sticking two fingers into his mouth, he whistled loudly. The elves all stopped their petty tasks and turned their round faces up to him.

“It’s Ginger Nut!” cried Hat Stand.

Then the elves started talking at once.

“Hi Ginger Nut!”

“Did you fly up there?”

“Can you see my other shoe?”

Ginger Nut whistled again and yelled, “Quiet everybody, be quiet!”

They all began to agree, very loudly, to be quiet.

“I have to ask you a question!” Ginger Nut interrupted. “It’s . . . a game!”

They liked games. All the elves ooh’d and ahh’d, and actually started to pay attention.

“It’s called, What do you want to be when you grow up? Here’s how it’s played: You all take turns telling me what you want to be when you grow up!”

“What do you mean, ‘grow up’?” asked Sandwiches.

“When you grow into a bigger elf,” Ginger Nut said.

The elves all gasped. One, called Eating Candy Every Day, said, “That’s going to happen?”

“Yup.” Of course it would not happen. These elves were already as mature as they would ever be. Their life expectancy, without stupid tragic accidents, was only about five years. It was how they were engineered. “It’s going to happen tomorrow. So what do you want to be when you grow up?”

“I want to be a pony,” cried one elf.

“Sandwiches!” cried Sandwiches.

“I want to be a million zillion hats owner!” cried Hat Stand.

“Maybe you could have a million zillion heads,” offered Sandwiches, “and then you could wear them all at the same time!”

“Oh yeah, that’s good!” Hat Stand liked this idea.

“That’s all really great,” yelled Ginger Nut, “but what if I told you that you could never be those things?”

“We can’t?” Hat Stand was confused and scratched his head under his hat.

Ginger Nut said, “Well, you can’t . . . because Santa is making you work all day, all the time. Isn’t that sad? You can’t be what you want to be, or do what you want to do, because Santa enslaves you to make toys for greedy children all over the world, who already have a million zillion hats and already . . . are ponies.”

The elves’ gleeful demeanors sank.

“That’s not fair,” said Hat Stand.

“I’m sad now,” said Sandwiches.

“I hate children,” said Eating Candy Every Day.

This was too easy.

“But I have the solution!” cried Ginger Nut triumphantly. “All we have to do . . . is revolt against Santa!”

“Yay!” cried all the elves. They all jumped around and clapped. Hat Stand did cartwheels. One of the elves, called Spit Bubbles, began blowing spit bubbles.

“Yay, let’s revolt against Santa!”

“Set fire to the workshop!” Ginger Nut yelled.

“Yay revolution! Yay ponies!”

Hat Stand began singing the word “fire” to the tune of “Jingle Bells.” In a fervor of delight, he and Sandwiches ran toward the marbles furnace and tried to tip it over. Of course, they couldn’t. “You push from the inside!” Hat Stand said.

“Okay!” Sandwiches said.

“No, no, wait—” Ginger Nut said, then gave up as the third elf this week crawled into the furnace. It never stopped being sad . . . but it never stopped being funny, either.

He wound up having to start the fire himself. The elves all tossed toys into it to feed the flames, and danced around it like little demons having a bonfire.

Outside, the storm raged on. Thunder rattled the workshop windows. Lightning flashed.

*

The door to the workshop flew open and Santa burst in, his belly jiggling and his face a brilliant shiny shade of red.

Seeing the fire, he exclaimed, “OH HOLY NIGHT! Quick, Hat Stand, Ginger Nut, grab the fire extinguishers!”

“We’re having a revolution!” yelled Hat Stand. Then, to Ginger Nut’s complete and utter delight, Hat Stand issued a wild, high, ululating cry, and ran at Santa like a wild pygmy warrior, clinging onto his leg and chewing on his ankle.

Santa shook his foot in the air. Hat Stand couldn’t possibly chew through the leather of his boot, but the situation looked annoying. Especially when he was trying to make it to the fire extinguisher.

“Ginger Nut,” Santa said, “Get the fire extinguisher! We have to save the toys for the children! They are depending on us!”

Ginger Nut began to laugh. This was the most fun he had had in ages. In fact, he didn’t have to keep his disguise anymore. He let it fall away, and stood in his full glory in the middle of the workshop.

Santa gaped, entirely forgetting about the small elf still gnawing on his leg. “You!” he cried. “You’re supposed to be lost to the realm of myths and oblivion!”

“And you are supposed to be in Niflheim,” said Ginger Nut, feeling his true identity settle over him like a cloak. It was good to feel himself as Loki again.

“I got out,” Santa said.

“Clearly,” Loki said.

“Niflheim is the worst place,” Santa said. “Even the North Pole is better. And I don’t see why you and your lot even care—it’s not as though you’re the gods of Midgard anymore.”

Loki raised a brow. “Tell that to my foster-brother.”

Santa’s red face went white. “He’s not . . .?”

“Here,” Loki said, just as the south wall of the workshop exploded in flames, leaving the workshop open to the cold, wild winter night. The elves all ran around in fear and confusion until they realized there was snow, at which point they began rolling around in it and making snowballs.

In strode a man in a plain black robe, his gray hair wild like a cloud around his head, one eye covered with a black patch. His walking staff was well-worn.

Of course. Odin had been traversing the globe.

“Took you long enough,” Loki said.

Odin said:

“I had a lot of walking around to do.

“In the wild places I roamed

“And the city streets alone.

“Of this new world I have learned much

“To speed the hour of our return to power.”

 

“Yeah, I get that,” Loki said. “I had a lot of annoying bull—it to do, too.” He eyed the melting remnant of the Barbra Doll Dreamhouse in the fire. “You owe me.”

Odin said:

“Your deeds shall be repaid

“As they have been done, and brave.”

 

“Oh f—,” said Santa. “This is some kind of takeover, isn’t it?”

Loki said, “You’re just figuring that out?”

Odin said:

“Santa, you were exiled from Alfheim by your once-kin,

“As punishment for genetic experimentation,

“Creating a race you could control and enslave,

“Doing naught but your work while they are alive.

“Condemned to reside in frosty Niflheim in chains;

“I don’t know how you escaped, with your race of slaves.

“You made them all stupid, content with work to do,

“And never thought their small minds could be turned against you.

“But you underestimated us, the gods, the Aesir.

“And here is your lesson:

“Don’t f—with us. You’re going back to prison.”

 

Loki hooked a thumb toward Odin and said, “Yeah, what he said. You’ve created a pretty nice stronghold from which to rule the world. So thanks for that. We’ll take it from here.”

For a moment, Santa looked horrified, then he gave a belly laugh that managed to be nervous and jovial at the same time. “You can’t possibly take over my position! Do you know what the world expects of me? It’s a huge job! Who’s going to deliver all these presents to the children? Who is going to make them?”

“Yeah,” said Loki, “about that, we’re not really planning to—”

But Odin interrupted. Loki had almost forgotten how his foster brother was always interrupting him. He’d gotten so annoyed by infiltrating the stupid workshop that he’d forgotten how annoying his own family was.

Odin said:

“Under my rule, only the eldest child of each home

“Shall receive gifts and goodness.

“The other children will go Viking, seizing their riches

“From the neighbors’ kids.”

 

Santa said, “That’s barbaric!”

Odin shrugged.

Loki said, “Come on, Santa. You’re operating a system of equal wealth distribution that plants the idea in every child’s head that they’re entitled to gifts from a magical entity. This is not so. Nobody is entitled to anything, as you well know.” Oh, crap. He was starting the rhyming thing. Loki took a mental step back before he continued. “Nobody is entitled to anything. The worthy must seize their wealth from those too weak to keep it. That way, the world becomes strong. Your way, the world whines a lot.”

Santa said, “Your way leaves half the world impoverished or dead!”

Loki chuckled. “More than half the world, actually. There aren’t that many people cut out for going Viking these days, but the ones who are are pretty badass. Anyway, you’re hardly one to be preaching ethics to us.”

Loki leapt back onto the carousel horse and whistled to all the genetically engineered elves, who were all either singed from the fire as it ate away the side of the workshop, or soaking wet with melted snow.

He thought he was going to have to make up some story about how he was Ginger Nut and his new form was what he’d always wanted to be when he grew up. But it turned out that just standing in the same place made the elves think that he had magically transformed. (Which was, oddly enough, right.) Loki probably could have put a doll up on the carousel horse, and they would have assumed he had somehow transformed into it.

“Ohh!” cried Hat Stand, finally scrambling off of Santa’s leg and pointing. “Look at Ginger Nut! He looks magical now!”

“Yay, Ginger Nut!”

“Yay!” cried Loki, stirring up their fervor. “You are all so good at revolutions!”

“Yay, revolution!”

“Now for the final stage, we have to send Santa to prison! Who wants to tie him up with me?”

“Me! Me!” cried Hat Stand.

“I’ll get some ribbons!” cried Eating Candy Every Day.

“Um,” said Loki.

“And bows!” cried Hat Stand.

“We might want something stronger than that,” said Loki.

But the two elves had already run off together, a small crowd following them, and when they all returned with their arms overflowing with spools of holiday ribbon, and began running around Santa and wrapping him up like a maypole, Loki decided their plan might actually work.

“You know,” he said to Odin, “they’re not entirely useless.”

Odin shook his head and said:

“A slave with half a mind is only half a slave.

“The world is full of plenty of weak hearts

“Ready to be conquered by the brave.

“They will serve better, and longer,

“And weak hearts are more loyal to strength than weak minds.”

 

Loki had to admit, as annoying as his foster brother was, he was also right.

The end.

*

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest! I know it veered away from my usual archetype contests, but I just couldn’t resist this one, and since it’s still in the theme of mythology, I decided to do it.

I’m trying something different for 2016, which is only holding archetype writing contests every two months (instead of every month). This means the prize will be $100, not just $50, and you’ll have longer than a single month to work on your entry. The first one will be announced the first few days of January, and will be about Persephone. Subscribe to Mythraeum to be updated!

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L. Marrick is an author, ghostwriter and suitcase entrepreneur, which is a hipster way of saying she travels and works from her laptop. She writes about archetypes, spirituality, and history at Mythraeum.com. Follow her on Twitter @LMarrick, and on Facebook.

© Leslie Hedrick and Nebula Star 2015. The content of this article, except for quoted or linked source materials, is protected by copyright. Please contact the author at the above links to request usage.


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