Thursday, December 18, 2014

When Santa Lifts Off

    Santa’s sleigh lifted off into the night, bells jingling, reindeer cheering.

    One by one, the elves returned to their igloos to rest their weary heads.

    The moon followed Santa across the horizon — and the North Pole fell silent.

    The writer leaned back on his chair, irritated that a whimsical festive story about Santa’s abandoned pet trout had become embroiled in evident shittiness after only three lines.

    The whole trout thing was a masterstroke, a flash of inspiration, but something about ‘returning TO their igloos TO rest their weary heads’ annoyed him.

    And in any case, if this was to be a story about an abandoned pet trout, looking on forlornly as Santa disappears, and the elves depart for their beds, then where — in THE NORTH POLE — would a trout call home?

    Any pond or stream or river would be frozen over.

    “Perhaps,” mused the writer, ready to edit all he’d written so far, “perhaps the fish is frozen in ice, and therefore trapped in addition to being abandoned.  It’s certainly a cool dynamic.”

    But the rules of fiction are harsh and unyielding.  Any fish in that predicament would be dead without the aid of magic or some kind of thermally heated all-body sock.

    So the writer began afresh.

    Santa’s sleigh lifted off into the night, bells jingling, reindeer cheering.

    (Yes, that’s a decent opener.  Nice image, and non-committal about anything fishy.)

    One by one, the elves bedded down in their igloos, snug and snoozy after weeks of toil.

    (The elves never featured much in the original vision of the story, but this line infuses them with such character that the scope may be on for a standalone elf-themed mini-series after the trout story is finished.)

    But Santa’s trout was filled with sorrow.


    Sure, there was now plenty of explaining to do, but the writer felt content with the precocity of his edits and poured himself a pint of coffee.

    As he stirred the brew, images formed in his brain, as if beamed onto a cinema screen.  Was this a potential CGI family Christmas blockbuster movie in the making?

    “So beautifully rendered you can see every fibre of the trout’s technicolour sock.”
New York Times???

    Now, the writer had the makings of a plot to rival Finding Nemo.  This was no longer some run-of-the-mill weepie about an abandoned fish who reconnects with its milieu: here was a fish on the run from a vile, sheep-eating demon whose lust for flossing with the hair of its victims knew no bounds.

    Finny (because that’s the name of the trout: eureka!) flapped his fins as the demon unravelled his sock.

    “Please stop,” he cried, “for without that thermally heated technicolour miracle, I shall surely freeze to death!”

    A grin played on the writer’s face like the All Blacks stomping over the Twickenham turf.  Here was an idea that could run away with itself.

    The coffee cooled in its cup as words flew onto the writer’s page.  The trout’s plight, the demon’s surprise arrival, the elves’ mutinous sublot: all was here, and more.

    For days, weeks, months, years, decades, the writer wrote, turning out quadriplegic trilogy after nintupletic heptapentathingummaserial.  He tapped every emotion, renewed every possible plot, sent shares in anything trout-related SCREAMING with every new release.

    But in spite of their dreams, all writers are mortal, and one day the writer awoke to find himself dead.
    He stood at his writing lecturn with pen in hand, another pulse-pounding Finny spectacular poised to leap from brain to nib to parchment, when an angel grabbed him full on round the neck and barked, “you shoulda been here in 2006 with influenza, pal, but this writing bug has been keeping you alive better’n vitamins, steroids and viagra.  But it’s time to go, now. Lemme take your arm and flap you up to Heaven.”
    A look of incredulity rippled over the writer’s face like a day old bowl of custard on the Orient Express.  “Aren’t you forgetting something?”

    The angel coughed.  “Yeah...uhm...and...great fish stories, btw.  Even Satan loves ‘em.”

    The air swilled like snow in a Santa sleigh slipstream.

    And the writer was gone.


fairyhedgehog said...

I read it.

I liked it.

I have no intelligent comments to make.

(So basically, good story, pity about the audience.)

Whirlochre said...

Maybe the trout will make it to print next year.