THE ruby glow crept under the door of the stable, an early warning to Blitzen. The reindeer raised a hoof, pushed the dark goggles over his eyes, and sighed.
The door burst open and in trotted Rudolph, his mutant nose turning the whole shed crimson. He shivered. “Brrr,” he said, “Bit parky.”
“Yeah, well, North Pole, innit,” said Blitzen. “Oi, were you born in a field?”
“Sorry,” said Rudolph, and he closed the door. “As it happens, I was,” he chuckled. “Listen, do you fancy a game of . . . ?”
“Busy, mate,” Blitzen cut him short. “Christmas Eve, in case you’d forgotten.” The begoggled reindeer turned away and continued packing his bag, which is really hard when you’ve got hooves.
“I’ll just, er . . .” said Rudolph, the sentence dying on his tongue. He looked at Blitzen, trying again and again to pick up a Scotch egg with his hooves, before spearing it with an antler and attempting to shake it off into the bag. He left the stable.
There was no way he was imagining it. Comet and Cupid had been just as cold. This was how it had been before the Night of the Implausibly Big Fog. There were reindeer games going on, and Rudolph was not a part of them.
“Rudolph, I need to speak to you.” The reindeer turned around to face the fat man. “Aarrgh!” said Santa, shielding his eyes. “Don’t look at me directly.”
“Sorry,” said Rudolph. “Santa, things have changed. The other reindeer no longer love me. There’s no more shouting out with glee.”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about,” said Santa. He rubbed the back of his neck. “There’s no easy way to say it. I’m letting you go.”
“What?!” cried Rudolph. “But what if there’s another Implausibly Big Fog? What about the children? How will they get their presents?”
“Yeah, well, basically, satnav,” replied Santa. “Look, Rudy, you will go down in history, no question. But I’ve got to think of the others. You’ve already blinded poor Vixen with your mutant nose rays.”
“But where will I go?” asked Rudolph. “It isn’t as if there’s much work around for reindeer with incredibly bright noses.”
But Santa was already walking away, a trail of footprints leading to a cosy cabin. “Try Hollister,” he called over his shoulder.
Rudolph stared at the frozen ground, his anger building. How could Santa do this to him? It was an outrage.
And then he realised he was standing in a steaming puddle, the snow beneath melted away. For his anger had unlocked the destructive power of his nuclear hooter. A dark thought formed in his brain: “Claus will pay…”
The first laser blast hit the toy workshop at 3pm on Christmas Eve. “Take cover,” yelled Santa to the elves, as flaming Xboxes crashed down around him. The old man looked out of the window. In the swirling snow stood Rudolph. “Come and face me, Claus. Come and face your death.”
“We will protect you, Santa,” said the elf foreman. And hundreds of elves poured out of the workshop.
But these weren’t hard elves, like the ones in Lord Of The Rings. They were rubbish elves, like the ones in the film Elf, with no combat skills, and consequently were no match for Rudolph’s death ray. They tore back inside, their pants aflame.
Yet Rudolph had taken a glancing blow from a stripy candy cane, and retreated into the woods to conserve his strength. “Who’s there?” came a soft voice.
Haltingly, a beautiful doe stepped into the clearing Rudolph had made with his schnozzle of destruction.
Rudolph looked away, so as not to incinerate her. “Just a reindeer,” he said.
“What’s your name?” asked the doe. And Rudolph recognised the voice. It was Vixen, the reindeer he had blinded. “Ru… Terence,” said Rudolph, ashamed. His anger abated. And they walked off into the woods to live happily ever after.
There are three morals here. One, never annoy a mutant reindeer. Two, Santa might appear jolly, but he’s a ruthless sod. And three, if Santa doesn’t have your postcode, you’re getting nothing this year.