FBI Special Criminal Investigation Specialist Person Christina Bryson was nervous. Having allied herself with the mythical creatures that symbolized and inspired the world’s holidays in an effort to rescue her partner who was also Santa Claus, Christina worried that she might be going insane. Seeing her family for Thanksgiving always seemed to set her on edge and make her a little crazier than she usually was, and she had always considered the possibility that they might actually one day drive her over the edge, particularly her mother’s constant ‘When are you going to find a husband?’ comments, which just seemed to become more and more frequent each year. Could it be, though, that they had actually done it this year? Had Christina’s sanity slipped away, replaced by the dull drone of a hangover that would not go away and an assortment of holiday characters that, in a rational, orderly world, she knew didn’t exist?
Regardless of whether she was sane or not, Christina was rolling with it. Dane Cook, Hanukkah Shlomo (whom had replaced Hanukkah Harry following a terrible menorah accident), and Hubert Hare had taken Mother Nature’s call and arranged a meet. They would feign a trade of Hubert for Nick, and once Nick was clear, Mr. T and President Lincoln was launch their attack against Mother Nature’s flying minions. Believing that the two of them might require some backup, Abe had called in a dozen more presidents to aid in the fight. Would this be enough to defeat a woman who wielded the power of the elements? Christina fervently hoped so. This was the plan, for better or worse. Now they just had to wait for the trade.
In the meantime, though, Christina had a plan of her own. She had traced Mother Nature’s call, and it had led her, just as she suspected, to a remote location near the North Pole. A quick phone call to Metropolis by Hubert later, and Christina had a ride. “I can take her as far as the Fortress of Solitude,” Superman had explained over the phone, “but from there she’s on her own. Nick and I have had some…neighborly disputes.”
When Christina asked him about it, the man of steel had become slightly irritated. “The guy leaves his Christmas lights up year round,” he explained. “And those elves of his turn them on every night. It just makes the whole neighborhood look tacky, y’know?”
Christina had nodded, and when they landed she thanked him for the lift and began the two-mile trek from Superman’s crystalline stronghold to Santa’s workshop. As she plodded through the thick snow, a strong wind kicked up, and soon the whirling snow left Christina forcing her way through a wall of whiteness. Mother Nature’s doing, I’m sure, she thought. Could she be any more over-dramatic?
The wind calmed as she neared Santa’s workshop. It was much larger than she had imagined it would be, with multiple adjacent buildings that made up a sprawling compound. It was the kind of operation that, now that she thought about it, would be required in order to produce gifts for every man, woman, and child on Earth.
To her amusement, a simple picket fence made of oversized candy canes surrounded the entire campus. Christina hopped the fence and circled the massive structures, trying to find an entrance. Finally she came upon what appeared to be the front door. She pushed open the front door with her gloved hand and stepped inside cautiously. After removing her scarf, stocking cap, and two of the four coats that she was wearing, Christina could finally move comfortably again. She reached into her coats, pulled her gun from its holster, and took a deep breath. If it’s a flying monkey, shoot it, she reminded herself.
Just as she had started to get a handle of her surroundings, a small group of elves came rushing towards her. “Thank Santa you’re here! You need to tell us what to do!”
Christina stifled a laugh at their high-pitched voices before addressing them. “What do you mean?”
Before she could protest, the elves grabbed her hands and led her down a series of hallways, explaining along the way. “They came in and took Santa right out of the workshop,” one elf explained. “We were making toys like it was any other day and then just like that he was gone.”
“Santa tells us all what to do,” another elf chimed in. Christina noticed that all of them spoke very frantically. “Without him here,” the elf went on, “we have no instruction, no guidance. We’ve still been building toys, but they’ve been terrible, TERRIBLE! They’re revolting against us!”
“The toys are alive?” Christina’s voice was filled with disbelief.
“Of course they’re alive,” the first elf replied as if Christina was an idiot. “All toys are alive! They’re powered by imagination! This whole plant is!”
Christina sighed. I don’t have time for this, she thought, her mind racing. Mother Nature’s call couldn’t have come from here. She must’ve bounced the call from her location to here, and then to my office. These guys are never going to let me leave unless I can help them somehow… She thought quickly.
The elves and Christina finally arrived at a large catwalk that overlooked the factory floor. Toy soldiers with three arms crawled along the floor, chasing terrified elves with their pointed bayonets. Zhu Zhu Pets with razor-sharp teeth were massacring two and three elves at a time. Footballs with only one pointed end cried quietly in the corner, bemoaning their hideous existence. The elves surrounding Christina looked up at her frantically. “What should we do? Tell us what to do and we will do it, please!”
“If the toys are powered by imagination,” she mused, “then can’t you shut them off by just not imagining that they’re alive?”
The elves pleaded with her. “But if we stop using our imaginations, then the whole plant will shut down, and Christmas will be ruined!”
“Kids, Santa’s been kidnapped,” Christina snapped, “so I’d say Christmas is pretty much boned anyway unless you guys can calm the hell down and let me go find him. So just stop using your imaginations, okay?”
The elves looked at each other nervously before nodding in agreement. One of the elves stepped forward to the railing and shouted for all the elves to hear. “BROTHERS, SISTERS, STOP USING YOUR IMAGINATIONS!”
A few moments later and all of the attacking toys fell lifeless to the floor. Likewise, all of the machinery in the workshop ground to a halt. Christina felt terrible for bringing Christmas production to a standstill, but she could think of no other way of defeating the rogue toys.
Santa’s workshop was a dead end. Led by a group of eternally grateful elves back to the front door, Christina looked at her watch. It was five minutes past the time of the swap meet. She had almost forgotten all about it. She reached for her phone to see how it had gone when it began to ring wildly in her hand. Christina recognized the number as belonging to Hanukkah Shlomo’s cell. Still surrounded by elves, She answered as quickly as she could and put the call on speaker phone. “Hello?”
The sound of gunfire was the first thing she heard. “Hello?!” Shlomo’s voice was frantic. “Oh, God…It was an ambush! They were waiting for us! Dane Cook, the April Fool, is dead!!”
“Hooray!” the elves shouted as one.
Shlomo’s shouting grew louder. “Grover Cleveland was just assassinated by two non-consecutively-fired bullets! The monkeys took Hubert and Lincoln!”
“Slow down, Shlomo!” Christina shouted into the phone. “How many of them were there? Did they say where they were taking them?”
“One of them said something about a garden, I think. I don’t know, though, it was really--Oh, God…they’re coming this way! You have to save us! Call in reinforcement! Call Cu-"
And with that, the line went dead.
Christina threw her phone in frustration, and it shattered against the wall. “Dammit! Call Q? I don’t even know who Q is!”
“I think he meant me,” a voice from behind her said masculinely. Christina turned to see the source of the voice standing a few feet away, and any thoughts that she had had about Hubert Hare were out the window at the sight of the perfectly-built man before her. He was muscular in all the right places, had a head of curly blond hair, and was completely naked. He held a longbow in his left hand, and a quiver of arrows was slung over his shoulder.
Christina struggled to find her words. Some how she mustered, “Cupid, I presume?”
Cupid bowed before her and smiled. “Indeed. I know where Mother Nature is holding our friends, and I’ve come to aid in their rescue. Between my bow and your gun, we should have no trouble saving them together. Are you with me?”
Christina looked him over once more and smiled. “Absolutely.”