Claustrophobia

captain_doodle.jpgA short story from my Christmas anthology ‘Red Christmas’.

Oh bum. How the jingle bells did this happen? Bloody centuries I’ve been doing this; how come all of a sudden I get stuck? I mean, yeah, in this dark I can see the sum total of sod all, but that’s never stopped me before, even in really tight squeezes. The old Santa Wriggle usually gets me through any gap, as well as pleasing the elves at the Boxing Day Hullabaloo. Heh, it’s all in the hips, you know.

It’s become quite the dance at the party – great lines of elves and fairies, not to mention the missus, all doing the old Santa Wriggle. OK, yes, I call our celebration the Boxing Day Hullabaloo, and that’s a British thing and I’m originally Dutch, but I just like that name, you know? Boxing Day – the day after Christmas according to the Brits. It trips off the tongue, don’t you think? The Boxing Day Hullabaloo. Mind you, that won’t be happening this year if I can’t move myself.

The old Santa Wriggle is not doing it; not this sodding time. I can’t shift, neither up nor down. I blame the missus’ new mince pie recipe; the one with extra butter. I ate fifty yesterday. Might have gained a few inches, I suppose.

Bloody hell, it’s pitch-black, my nose is pressed against filthy rotting bricks, I’ve got soot up my nose and I do not like it. I feel pressed in, squished tight. I might never get out, and then what? No more toys for good little girls and boys, no more coal for the naughty sods. It’ll be a bloody disaster.

What’s that, you say? Santa shouldn’t swear? Piss off; you’d be letting out a non-stop stream of all the swears you know if you had to go through what I do once a year. Up and down all those sodding chimneys, and all within twenty-four hours? It’s not bloody easy! Yes, yes, my time-slowing ability thingy helps, and that teleportation device that Elf Ansafety came up with proved invaluable when people started living places without chimneys. But you know, that’s not the whole job, not by a long chalk.

Have you ever thought what happens when a reindeer decides to have a poo right up there on someone’s roof? Of course you haven’t, your minds are all full of tinsel and glitter at Christmas. Well let me tell you, you can’t just leave it up there, it’d stink for days. And imagine the questions once it was found. Nope, Muggins here has to shovel it all up and put it in the poo sack. Think yourselves lucky I don’t get that mixed up with the sack of toys. Ah well, at least the reindeer don’t drop their ‘doings’ in flight, cos that’d be a terrible Christmas present for anyone down below.

This isn’t getting me shifted, is it? I feel all closed in, trapped, and I’m sure there’s not enough air in here. And what the hell’s that sharp thing sticking into my bloody arse? Come on, Nick, see if you can reach round to have a feel. Ah, loose brick. Maybe if I can wiggle it out… OUCH! No no, bad idea, bad idea. Better leave it. No one wants a sharp brick corner poking them up there. I’d better see if I can call that lazy cow of a fairy down here, see if she has any bright ideas. Maybe she can magic me free.

OI! NUFF, WHERE ARE YOU? GET DOWN HERE!

Bet she’s sitting on Dasher’s antlers having a right old gossip. What’s the use of having a fairy PA if all she does is sit about swapping recipes and talking about soap operas with reindeer?

I bet my beard’s as black as, well, soot by now. I probably look more like Brian Blessed than Sinterklaas. You don’t know Brian? Give him a Google, then you’ll know what I’m on about. Mind you, Brian wouldn’t be up a chimney would he? Probably down the pub having a pint of ale, like a man with sense. Unlike me, with no sense, stuck up a chimney and probably never going to get out and I might stop breathing soon and oh no oh no…

NUFF, GET DOWN THIS CHIMNEY NOW OR I’LL STICK YOU ON THE TIPPY-TOP OF MY TREE NEXT YEAR!

Calm down, Nicky, calm down. Panic will do you no good at all. Maybe if I twist my arm like this – whoa, at least that dislodged something. I think I can get my fingers to it, I… ew! It’s all bony and feathery and, ew, gooey. I think it’s… ugh, dead bird, probably, and I poked my fingers into it. Ick ick ick.

NUFF! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU PLAYING AT UP THERE? BRING YOUR WAND DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT, YOUNG FAIRY!

Bumholes, got a mouthful of grit there. Tastes like burnt – wait, what was that? I’m sure I heard something. Yes, there it is again. Noises beneath my boots. Sort of a scraping and a tapping. Is someone down there?

“Yes, ma’am, it is early! Never mind, I’ll soon have the fire roaring and then the children can come down!”

Uh-oh.

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