First Monday Free Fiction: Revolt at the North Pole

Revolt at the North Pole by Cora BuhlertWelcome to the December 2021 edition of First Monday Free Fiction.

To recap, inspired by Kristine Kathryn Rusch who posts a free short story every week on her blog, I’ll post a free story on the first Monday of every month. At the end of the month, I’ll take the story down and post another.

December 6 is St. Nicholas Day, so this month’s free story is a holiday horror tale named Revolt at the North Pole, in which Santa’s myriad helpers conspire against him. It’s no happy holiday season for Santa, but rest assured, cause Christmas will be saved.

Even though there is a…

Revolt at the North Pole

Discontent had been brewing in Santa’s workshop at the North Pole since September.

“The old man is working us to the bone,” Frosty Busynight, elf second class, whispered to his colleague Noel Happyglitter, as they stood on the assembly line, painting an endless succession of wooden toys.

“Sixteen to eighteen hour shifts, shitty pay, no overtime, no days off till January…”

“I know,” Noel Happyglitter whispered back, painting a red nose onto what had to be the thousandth nutcracker today, “But what can we do? Jobs ain’t exactly easy to come by, here at the North Pole.”

“Unionise,” an elderly elf named Yule Ciderspirit said, as he inserted glass eyes into an angel-haired baby doll, “If we’re all unite and threaten to strike, the old man has to hear our demands.”

“Are you crazy?” Noel Happyglitter hissed, “Don’t you remember what happened to the last elves who tried to unionise? They were kicked out into the cold and the snow to starve.”

Noel Happyglitter took off his cap in remembrance of those poor elven souls. Frosty Busynight and Yule Ciderspirit did likewise.

“What’s the matter, you lazy bums?”

The fore-elf Rusty Shelfelf cracked his jingle-bell studded whip, causing Jolly and Frosty to flinch. Only Yule, who’d seen it all, did not flinch, but glared icicles at Rusty.

“If you don’t finish your quota by shift end, I’ll make sure to have your pay docked.”

“What pay?” Frosty whispered, once Rusty was out of earshot, “We’re already working for a pittance.”

“Fucking class traitor,” Yule grumbled, still glaring icicles at Rusty, “Used to be that he only spied on the kids, not on his own.”

Noel shrugged. “You know Rusty. Always brownnosing Santa and always eager to rat out anybody for a pat on the head. I just hope he didn’t overhear us talking about…” He cast a glance over his shoulder. “…the u-word.”

“We shouldn’t bother with the u-word,” an elf named Cinnamon Firelog said, her fingers forming air quotes, “The u-word doesn’t work. What we need is the r-word?”

“R-word?” Frosty asked, “R as in reindeer?”

“No, R as in revolution,” Cinnamon replied.

“Be silent,” Yule hissed at her. Frosty clamped his hand over Cinnamon’s mouth and Noel all but fainted.

“You don’t say that word, not even in jest,” Yule continued, “Cause if the old man should hear…”

“Or Rusty Shelfelf,” Noel added ominously.

“Then what?” Cinnamon replied, shaking off Frosty, “He’ll dock our pay, increase our work hours and kick us out into the cold to starve? Wake up! He already does that. He does it all the time.”

“Exactly,” Noel hissed, “And if you keep talking like that, you’ll be next.”

“And we’ll get kicked out into the cold, too, just because we happened to be nearby, when you said the… the…” Frosty couldn’t even say the word out loud.

“Yes, maybe the old man will kick us out,” Cinnamon said, “But our lives are already miserable, brutish and short. Every week, at least one of us succumbs to a workplace injury. And the old man doesn’t care. He never cared and he never will. That’s why we need a r…”

“Shush,” Noel and Yule hissed as one, while Frosty clamped his hand over Cinnamon’s mouth again.

“Get back to work, you lazy bums, and keep the heavy petting to your off-hours,” Rusty Shelfelf called in the distance.

***

This story was available for free on this blog for one month only, but you can still read it in Revolt at the North Pole or in The Christmas Collection. And if you click on the First Monday Free Fiction tag, you can read this month’s free story.

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