Santa's Claws

by otrstf

Remember, this is a fairyland, an impractical, fantastical place where animals talk, children can buy and operate mind-altering home entertainment devices; but where a vulnerable, underage member of a prey species can't carry a firearm for defensive purposes. (Also, the author tends to insert excessive parenthetical remarks into the text; under the belief they're funny.) Deal with it.

Apple Blossom Cottontail dropped his little brother Dewdrop (the two rabbit childrens' parents had been hippies during college. Now they're lawyers, of course. But it was too late to change the names) at Santa's Workshop in the mall, and raced off to the electronics department. The kid would be stuck in line for half an hour, and he'd have time to buy the game controller he wanted. He'd saved all year to get it. (His parents only bought traditional gifts like straw hats with ear holes cut in them, and vests.) Digging his broad feet into the carpet for traction, he began to push through the crowd to the counter.

Fox (Just Fox. His mother had been a vixen of such unsurpassed beauty that, were she to appear in this story, certain readers would be unable to finish, compulsively re-reading her description over and over again, drooling. His father was no good; because that's the kind the beautiful vixen always falls for. Not that we're bitter, no…) Anyway, Fox looked forward to playing the mall Santa each winter. With his red-white-black fur pattern, all he had to wear was a black belt and the hat. The crew at the workshop were a good bunch; the elves kept the kids moving, and the reindeer, in spite of being a bit foreign for his taste, often passed around a bottle of Jagermeister to keep the chill off.

And, of course, his parole officer preferred he play Santa. "De-sensitivity conditioning" she called it. As if a week of cute widdle bunny tails wriggling on his lap, precious baby squirrel eyes staring solemnly into his own, holding tiny mice in pink sweaters that would hardly make a decent appetizer would change his natural appetites. Still, it paid money, and wasn't really work.

The children came to him balanced on the edge of flight. They wanted to see Santa, to shore up the pillar of belief that older siblings were already chipping away, but afraid that he really would know their petty sins, or how shallow their belief was. He'd been the same at that age. (Although the nuns at the orphanage emphasized the 'sin' part of the holiday entirely too much.) He performed the ritual questions: "Have you been a good little boy this year?" and "What do you want for Christmas?" It gave you kind of a good feeling to restore a kid's faith in the old traditions. They'd get it beaten out of them once they got older, anyway, so it's not like it hurt anything. He didn't notice anything special about Dewdrop (other than the silly name), and gave him his 20 seconds before the elves lifted him and dropped him in the holding pen with the reindeer. Almost quitting time, he thought.

Apple Blossom picked up his brother and dragged him out of the store, his other paw holding his shiny new 'box. They took a short cut through the service alley to the bus stop (their parents encouraged the bunnies to use mass transit, despite numerous studies linking busses and crime) and here our story takes a darker turn. For waiting in the alley was Butch (his parents were the kind of rabbits that beat up hippies, and give their children names like 'Butch') and he'd decided to do his own Christmas shopping there in the dark.

"What cha' got me, pansy?" (Butch spoke in dialect because it sounded fierce, or at least as fierce as a rabbit juvenile delinquent can be.) In this case, it worked. Dewdrop was paralyzed with fear, and Apple Blossom knew he couldn't run off and leave his brother. He also knew he stood no chance against the bigger rabbit, and so was already mentally saying goodbye to his 'box. He'd never even played it.

The service entrance door opened about this time and Santa stepped out to observe this little tableau. His narrow eyes took in the empty alley, the darkness of the night, and the three rabbits before him. His mouth opened involuntarily, sharp teeth slick with saliva. He decided he deserved a treat himself, this holiday season. But which one to grab? Rabbits instinctively run when chased, so he'd better choose well. The little one? He might tire sooner, and the meat was likely to be tender. The one carrying the bulky package would be slower. What about the bigger one? More meat. Nah, probably fight back.

"Hey, dog breath, whatcha starin' at?" Butch declared belligerently.

With a 'snap' Fox's teeth closed around Butch's throat, gray fur quickly stained red, several drops hitting the white snow. The fox looked around, seeing nothing but the receding footprints of two bunnies that'd just learned an important holiday lesson in manners. He smiled, putting his new-found Christmas dinner in his big sack, and started toward the 'fishing' camp by the railroad tracks, where the stewpot was always on, and nobody asked questions about what you brought to share. And, after all, sharing is an important part of the spirit of the season.

Merry Christmas!

PS: No animals were harmed in the making of this fable, except for Butch, of course.

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