Dash away all

“What the hell are we going to do with all these?” I asked, staring at the eight freshly severed heads lined up in the blood-stained snow. Their eyes had filmed over and the moonlit shadows of their antlers stretched like a phantom woods across the tundra. “They won’t keep,” said the sniper. “The magic has ruined them, as it ruins everything. Watch.”

He took a salt shaker from his pocket and sprinkled each of the heads. The effect was almost instantaneous: first the fur and then the flesh melted away, leaving nothing but the bones. The snow around them turned white again as we watched. I felt the hair rising on the back of my neck.

“This is your first time, isn’t it?” he asked. I nodded. The antlers were branched icicles now on skulls of crystal, skulls that shrank, antlers that withered, as if the temperature around them were 200 degrees warmer than it was. The skulls grew rounder as they shrank, and the gleaming teeth turned sharp as knives.

“These ones never actually belonged to the Caribou Mother,” he said. “They are the children of Sanna — the Inuktitut name for Sedna. That’s the kind of evil we’re up against here.”

The Iraq War veteran bowed his head. “Thank you for this victory, Jesus, temporary as it is,” he said. “I am your crusader.”

I shifted uncomfortably and looked at the ground. Some of the best soldiers in our unit happened to be pagans. We had signed up to defend North American airspace against terrorists, and that’s what the recruiter assured us we’d be doing. Rumors of a holy war had been dismissed as just another paranoid conspiracy theory from society’s perennial malcontents.

The marksman laid a hand on my shoulder. “The Pentagon can say what it wants,” he said, “but this is a war we Christians have been fighting for 2000 years. It took centuries just to kill off Saturn! Declaring December 25th as the birth of our Lord and Savior did little to fool the forces of darkness — the longest night of the year still occurs just a few days before, despite our best efforts.” He sighed. “This Santa character is a real shape-shifter. Give me a Sunni insurgency any day.”

He squinted at the faint pink glow that signalled high noon in the High Arctic. “Welcome to the War on Christmas.”

Video by Rebel Virals (hat-tip: Rachel Maddow Show)

For readers from outside the U.S. who think I might be exaggerating just a bit, see “Jesus Shoots Santa in Controversial Lawn Display.”

6 Comments


  1. FWIW, the story started out as a dream. In the dream, though, we ended up eating the reindeer.

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  2. Yes, I just knew I was in Dave’s dream world from the opening paragraph. Mind you, if there were hunters shooting deer around here, then I think I’d be having some fairly strange dreams too.

    This is intriguing. Although the Through the Looking-Glass-strangeness-of-a-dream is evident here, I wonder how much you’ve re-wrought it in the re-telling… apart from the end that is. Could you say whether the conscious creative process has made the written-down account now seem to you to be what you actually dreamed, or can you separate the origins of the material from the finished work?

    I have some fairly ornate dreams sometimes and find myself for an hour or so after waking trying to spin a narrative out of them as I go about the business of walking the dog, making breakfast etc. Never write them down though. Peter however always wants to tell me his dreams when he wakes. (I think it helps him shake off the tone of unease many dreams leave as a residue after the sleeper emerges from sleep.) His dreams, like yours above, seem so entirely plausible they stick stick in my head far longer than my own sleep-time conjuring. He once initiated a fantastic idea for a painting… yet to be done… when he told me of an autopsy dream in which both he and I were present as a partially eviscerated corpse sat bolt upright, restored to life. (He recounted this when it was still fresh on his awakening, gruesomely vivid enough to really rattle both of us.) As a result of the dream I’ve long been planning a Raising of Lazarus set in a pathology lab. The painting is clear in my head in nearly every detail so I really should quarry the time to get down to it. No-one will ever want to acquire it though. Far too unsettling! Mmmmmm. I really must get down to it.

    I assume the clip is from some episode of Twenty-Four. (Never watch it.) That Santa has a Welsh accent. Not an actorish assumed one either, but the real thing. I always find myself astounded that Welsh people are out there in the world. I thought we were all here!

    D’you know Dave, that bird felled by the wind turbine video you posted has exactly the tone of a nightmare/dream to me. Can’t shake it off even now. Even the distance seems familiar in the manner of dreams, where inescapable horrors often occur some way off from the dreamer. Well, they do in my dreams anyway.

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    1. Oh, I can probably remember most of what I added: almost all of it after the opening image. Other dream-posts here, though, would give me much more trouble, you’re right. I think to a great extent the very narrative structure of a dream is imposed by the conscious brain trying to make sense of it all, whether immediately after waking or during more lucid periods of sleep.

      I definitely think you should do that Raising of Lazarus painting — and then have your agent approach some of the more successful heavy metal bands to try and license it for a CD cover. I’m serious. You could reach a whole new fan base that way!

      The video isn’t from 24, but is simply a clever remix of scenes from the show with Rebel Virals’ own actor playing Santa. I suspect that they must be partly or wholly British, but their website doesn’t say. They’re a marketing firm dedicated to creating non-ad-like ads that people will want to spread around so they’ll go viral, which is actually a pretty creepy idea if you ask me.

      A lot of Welsh people settled in eastern Pennsylvania, but I don’t know how much of their accent has been preserved there. Traces might remain in the older folks.

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        1. Well, maybe. But I can always force myself to write prose. When I don’t post, it’s usually because I’m trying and failing to write poems.

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