Santa, that jolly old elfin motherfucker, he’s just too delightfully sacred not to mess with. There’s probably no cultural figure more pristine and tempting-to-mess-with than Santa. Other than Mother Theresa, I guess. But considering the depths to which you brought these Santae in the stories below, I shudder to think what you all would do to Mother Theresa if SHE were the subject. I fear for the potential of striptease nuns and orphan tossing.

Crap, now I’m worried that I just provided inspiration for one of you weirdos. Let’s get to the results before I do more damage to the literary world.


1 – Erik S

“Santa” sighed.  He’d been sitting here for hours, still had quite the surplus of implantable trackers, and the human skin was unbelievably itchy.  Having been charged with tagging the finest specimens for later harvesting, he was amazed and chagrined at the glut of obese, spoiled brats with endless lists of demands.  At this rate, he’d never make his quota.


2 – Ian Pratt

“Whaddaya want for Christmas, little-”

Santa’s words were drowned out by an ungodly roar, a terrific sound not heard for a hundred million years.

“Whoaaa, get the fuck off me, kid!”

Santa scrambled for an escape as the dinosaur tore through the mall, but later on, scientists found bits of synthetic white beard mixed in with the stool sample.


MATTHEW: Wow, I have to say Story 2 sounds like it was going somewhere pretty interesting. I liked the sudden shift in tone, but as far as it being a fleshed out story, it left a little too much unstated. It’s a nicely gripping scene, though, and I liked that about it. But story 1 really had me going from the start. There’s a nice unstated menace beneath the surface that’s expertly suggested without too much attention brought to it. WINNER: #1

Novak – Wow, so much for autobiographical, huh?  I love that these two got paired up.  It’s the first match, and I still feel comfortable calling this my “Close Call” of the week.  Both of these are wonderfully imaginative, both have fun language, both just generally rock.  In the end, I like dinosaurs more, and there’s a better “showing” dynamic, so #2 wins.

ANDY: Two interesting sci-fi concepts here. Full marks to both for creativity. The concept in #1 does a much better job fitting the theme, whereas #2 just felt a little random. Winner: #1.




1 – Eric Schapp

Sid snuffed out his cigar. Its the reason he was fired. For some reason wearing a red suit at The Steam Town Mall entails turning in your genitals. At least that’s what she said.


2 – Zack Sauvageau

Julie was furious when she received the call. “I’m sorry, but we’re hiring for SANTA Claus, not MRS. Claus,” he said. She was already embarrassed enough to have to apply to a job like this. Being denied because she was a woman was the last straw.

“Fuck this.”

Julie called her dealer for the first time in nineteen months.


MATTHEW: Oof, have yourself a merry little Christmas indeed, Story #2. It’s not a great story, nor a great twist really, but it’s intriguing and it makes me think about what this would lead to, and where this poor girl was that made her try to apply for gender-bent Santa. Story 1, however, doesn’t really offer me much. “Its the reason he was fired.” What is? The cigar? The emasculation? There was still a lot of words unused in this entry, and it feels like they should have been employed to have the story explain a bit more of itself. WINNER: #2

Novak – Huh.  Another very even match up.  I think #1 could have been more effective if we’d have seen the conversation, but the questions raised in my mind by the few lines show that #1 touched on a world of possibility.  #2 makes me stop and think, in a good way.  I think the last sentences is sort of a let down actually, almost anti-climactic, in that it’s unrelated to the conflict itself.  Still, it’s a great concept, and #2 wins.

ANDY: #1 needs more development. We get a hint of an interesting character in Sid, but I need more. #2 shows more effort, and an original concept. Would someone really do this? I’m not sure, but I’ll go with it and declare you the winner, #2.

WINNER: Zack Sauvageau



1 – Dean Carlson

After moving back to Serbia, Darko Milicic spent his first Christmas home as a Santa at the Belgrad Robne kuće.  Although the kids liked his gentle demeanor and the cigarettes he covertly palmed off, the department store owners thought his notoriety would bring in more sales.  They were mistaken and Darko wasn’t asked back for a second year.


2 – Kelly Wells

“I’ll get you Fireman Sam, too,” Richie told Braden, glancing over in the hopes of seeing more children.  “Be good this year, okay?  I mean it.”

“Okay, Santa!” Braden said, hopping into his smiling mother’s arms.

Richie posed for one last photo and scratched under his boot at his ankle bracelet.  Work release was always over much too soon.


MATTHEW: I like the bit of dark fan fiction that Story 1 presents; it’s kind of post-modern in its way. A little more inspired strangeness over the negativity and it might have taken the win here. But Story 2 gets me with its wistful tone and the sadness of a man getting his annual reprieve from life in the clink. WINNER: #2

Novak – #1 has some really strong language – good word choices (that don’t feel thesaurused…), natural use of the Serbian, etc.  There’s really no “showing” to speak of though, it’s all just a summary, and feels a little hollow for that.  #2 is fantastic.  There’s a whole world and very strong character here.  Well freaking done.  #2 wins.

ANDY: Something about the way #2 is structured confused me a bit as I read it. The way that each character is introduced makes it confusing about their relationships. I was actually surprised by the end at how straightforward everything was. Otherwise, it’s a solid entry. I like the matter-of-fact tone of #1. Although I had to look up Marko, I think this piece works and it’s my winner: #1.

WINNER: Kelly Wells



1 – Will Young

It’s not the hours.  Seventy hours a week’s rough, but it’s only for a couple of months.  It’s not the cryin’ kids.  You get in’a trance an’ barely notice ’em.  Even the costume makin’ your balls sweatier’n hell ain’t so bad.  Nope.  Worst part’s havin’ your lap reek of piss at the end of every fuckin’ day.


2 – Beau

Leaving Old Country Buffet, Santa continued his search for an heir.  Many a naughty girl had received the gift of his jolly seed, but the offspring refused to come north when they became of age.  Where could he find a woman willing to send her child away, never to return?  Passing an Army recruiting office, he got an idea.


MATTHEW: Both of you should be disgusted with yourselves. In the best way. What tips this one for me is the fact that at this point, neither story is all that surprising, despite the inherent surprise behind a complaining Santa and a lecherous Santa…except for the addition of the Army recruiting office at the end of Story 2. I don’t know exactly where it’d go from there, but I like the possibilities. WINNER: #2

Novak – #1 has a very distinct – and believable – voice.  I’d like it better if the character were actually talking to another character though.  #2 is a funny dilemma.  Heck, it’s just funny (OCB, etc.).  And I’m glad there’s some semblance of resolution too, as it would have fallen short without that.  #2 wins.

ANDY: Oooh, tough one. Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long to get a “naughty Santa” story. I get the sense that the Santa in #2 is the real Santa, and not a department store Santa. Does he just think he’s the real Santa? #1, props for writing in the first person and going for the stylized speech. I’m not sure many others have tried it this season, but it works here. Great job establishing character. I think I’m going to give this one to #2 in a close call.




1 – Christina Pepper

How did she talk you into this? You give Carlos your Saturday shift at Macy’s and let that woman drive you to Sing Sing all costumed up.

The kids mostly ask for the same toys and crap, but a few want their daddies to get out. They don’t know a good Santa doesn’t make any promises he can’t keep.


2 – Erik Dikken

The little girl fell to the ground as Steve abruptly stood.

“I can’t take this anymore! What happened to the good old days when kids asked for teddy bears or BB guns? One more brat asks for a Jersey Shore DVD I’ll shoot their eye out for them!”

The gathered crowd applauded as Steve crumpled, tasered by mall security.


MATTHEW: Another prison-related story. This time regarding the kids of the inmates, I presume? It wasn’t explicit enough for me to really understand who “she” was or who the guy was providing Santa services for, so I hope I guessed right. I liked the insight in the final sentence quite a lot, though. Story 2 was nicely structured, but the sentiment wasn’t new, nor incredibly well delivered. The tasing at the end felt unwarranted too. WINNER: #1

Novak – #1 is excellent idea (another criminal thing… interesting), but it’s tale of two different entries.  The first part feels like it was trimmed down and essential pieces were cut, and the flow feels broken and awkward.  The second part is tight and emotional.  #2 does a great job of showing, instead of telling.  I’m curious as to who the crowd is applauding, Steve or security?  Excellent execution, but the idea doesn’t quite have the strength of #1, so #1 gets the edge here.

ANDY: Another pairing with two nice, original concepts. Well done by both. I’m giving the slight edge to #1, which conveys the emotion of the situation quite well.

WINNER: Christina Pepper



1 – David Larson

“So little girl, have you been naughty or nice this year?” the mall Santa asked, only to be answered by a round of quiet giggling.

Five minutes later Santa emerged from the bathroom stall and then nodded to Tina the Elf, who was still adjusting her bra and top.  Definitely naughty, Santa decided, with a twinkle in his eyes.


2 – Melissa Diamond

The men rushed into the mall bathroom.  “Unzip it, fat man,” the elf shouted, “we’ve got five minutes!”

Santa unzipped it.  “You’re going on my naughty list tonight, baby!”

“Should I lick your candy cane?”

“Mmm.  Santa’s coming to town!”

The bathroom door slammed open.

“…Mommy, what’s that elf doing to Santa?”

Mommy’s screams decked the halls for hours.


MATTHEW: Nice that these two stories were paired with one another. Not so nice that they made me wanna hurl a little. The first was pretty rote, which in a sense I’m glad for, considering where “little girl” can lead one in a sexual Santa story. Story 2 latched onto the bizarre and misbegotten right from the get-go, and unfortunately it was the insistence of putting all those yuletide puns in the story that kept it from working for me on a shock level. WINNER: #1

Novak – I definitely figured we’d get more of these topics than we’ve seen so far.  Y’all really haven’t disappointed with your creativity – I very rarely see too much of something expected.  And when I do see something expected, it’s always handled really effectively, just like it is here.  They both show instead of tell, and they both paint clear pictures.  #2 is a bit more creative (and crass, but it works here), so that gets the edge.

ANDY: Good old CdL depravity. Strange that these got paired together. I’m giving this one to #2, which doesn’t pull any punches, has a great last line, and keeps us in the moment.

WINNER: Melissa Diamond



1 – Colin Woolston

Forty-five minutes to talk to some asshole in a cheap suit, all supporting an institution of commercialism? 

Frank stepped up and handed over his dreams.

Next year will be different. I’m too old for this. 

The man in the suit smiled, patronizingly.

“Wells Fargo appreciates your business, Mr Claus.”

Next time I’m leaving the suit at the mall. 


2 – Peter Bruzek

Without warning, the living dead came to Ridgedale Mall.

The adults fell first. Soon, there were none to devour. Children huddled whimpering; waiting for the slavering dead until a man appeared in a sleigh, clad in red.

“Hop aboard!” their portly messiah shouted. Children in tow, he drove them to the North Pole. The Arctic would provide sanctuary.


MATTHEW: Okay, just asking…what would it be like if the living dead came to the mall WITH warning? Probably not much different? I dunno, whatever, the point is that Story 2’s reporting-the-facts style was an interesting choice that made it a bit less immediately affecting than I thought the story deserved. But what are you gonna do with 59 words and no room for error? Story 1 had a nice ending with the patronizing teller, but why would it take 45 minutes at Wells Fargo to deposit a check? Or was that suited man a different one than was mentioned at the start of the story? I dunno, and “handed over his dreams” felt a bit too lofty for a bank transaction, unless we’re talking about zillions here, or the deed to a house or whatever. WINNER: #2

Novak – Wow.  I love both of these.  In #1 the juxtapositioning of the characters, with their descriptions that could be equally applied, show real depth, and, frankly (eh? eh?), solid commentary.  #2 is just pure fun.  Where this idea came from, I don’t know, but I want more.  Ultimately, the depth of #1 wins out for me.  Just too much respect there.

ANDY: I really like the effort to go for something original, #2, and it’s written well. I’m right there, and it feels like a real action movie, well done. Unfortunately, you went up against my favorite piece this week. A twist that I didn’t see coming, and it doesn’t feel corny, or done just for the sake of it. Nicely done. Winner: #1.

WINNER: Colin Woolston



1 – AMR

“Jesus Fucking Christ, lady!  Did you have to feed your little bastard goddamned tacos before you brought his fairy ass to puke all over my suit?”

Then, to me, “You ruined my motherfucking beard, you pathetic piece of shit. Get the fuck away from me.”

Mom washed my parka in the women’s bathroom sink.  We never saw Santa again.


2 – Sarah Johnson

“But I already told Santa what I want for Christmas – I told him in the bathroom!”

“The bathroom?” An elf stumbled into a plastic reindeer. His tights were torn. Maria smelled gin.

“Yep! Santa had magic snow on a mirror. It didn’t even melt!”

Maria’s jaw dropped. “What?!”

“Don’t worry, mom. He’ll bring presents. I gave him our address!”


MATTHEW: Ha! Okay, Story 2, you got me. I knew there would be bunches of Santas-gone-wrong in this week’s stories, but I really think yours was the one that did it best. Piling misdeed upon misdeed, over-the-topping it without regret, and finishing up with the address reveal. Story 1, you tried your best to make the outrageous effective, but let’s face it: the move “Bad Santa” has stunted the angry Santa stereotype and made it less surprising and engaging. WINNER: #2

Novak – #1 might be overselling the aggression and underselling the narrator’s perspective.  I do like the way it’s delivered though, that first person not coming through until half-way into the story.  The last line feels too conclusory, though the second to last line is excellent.  #2, meanwhile, just kept getting stronger.  Alright, Santa in the bathroom… seedy.  Coke?  Getting worse.  Address?  Dingdingding, we’ve got a winner.  #2 wins.

ANDY: Sorry, #1, but you left me a bit confused. I’m not sure who is talking to whom, and what is really going on here, other than that Santa got puked on. It just didn’t gel, I’m afraid. I wasn’t blown away by #2, but it was good enough to win this week. Winner: #2.

WINNER: Sarah Johnson

Aight, Yule fools. You know the next topic and your next opponent. You’ve got till Sunday. Get on it!