The Enlistment Clause

“He’s making a list,
And checking it twice,
He’s gonna find out,
Who’s naughty and nice,
Santa Claus is coming to town…”

You know that list that Santa Claus makes? Well guys, it’s real. Read on and find out just how I know…

I know that Christmas is meant to be a season of good cheer, but since what happened, it’s one I fear. I daresay I was one of the lucky ones to get out… but I digress, let me start from the beginning.

My name is Joey McIntosh and when this happened, I was only 7 years old. I am 17 now. When I was younger I was a selfish spoiled little turd, and it shames me to admit it but it’s true. I was so ungrateful and no matter how much I got, I wanted more. I don’t know how my poor parents coped. Throughout the year, I was like the child from hell. Disrespectful, spiteful, cruel and totally thoughtless were just a few things on my list of qualities, so to speak. Yet despite all this, my parents never failed to do their best for me; come Easter, Birthday and Christmas. However, I’d imagine there were worse behaved kids than myself.

This particular Christmas, s**t really kicked off…

During my 7th year alive, I was such a little s**t. Frankly, I dunno how my parents managed to put up with all I put them through. My parents however, saw beyond my youthful hellish selfishness. They kept their patience and unbelievably cheery attitude despite my evil ways. They kept warning me Santa wouldn’t be pleased but would I listen? Would I hell!

“Santa doesn’t exist!” I retorted defiantly.

“Very well, Joey. Don’t believe in him and who beside you on Christmas morning!” replied my mum looking disgruntled.

I didn’t let up though. I continued right on, just being an a*****e and getting on my mum and dad’s nerves at any chance I had… until Christmas Eve that is.

Christmas Eve came along and I was as obnoxious as ever. I pushed my parents so far that I was sent to bed without any supper. That didn’t phase me though. I decided that I would stay awake and await the arrival of the so-called “Santa”… just so happened, I wasn’t the only one waiting.

Now, unbeknownst to me, this particular year wasn’t just a bad one for all the parents, as all of us dip s**t kids would soon find out.

So determined was I to prove that my mother and father were wrong and full of crap over their “Santa” claims, that I faked being asleep and waited until I was sure everyone was in bed asleep. It was only then I made my move.

Stealthily I crept along the darkened landing, being sure to avoid the creaky floorboards. I tiptoed down the stairs toward the living room, hoping that my stupid parents held up tradition enough to leave the usual milk and cookies. Christ, I got sent to bed without food so it was the least my sucky parents could do. I walked into the gloom filled front room and flipped on the light switch. Walking towards the fireplace and score!

I saw a mouth-watering plate of tasty looking cookies and a glass of milk, though I wasn’t sure how long it had stood there. I flopped down in the armchair my dad loved to sit in.

“Screw him,” I thought rebelliously. I started wolfing down the heaven on the plate and awaited the inevitable. Either one of my parents in a crappy Santa suit or the supposed big fat git himself. Personally, I wanted to see the look on my mum or dads face when I caught them out, thus proving them to be liars in my eyes. I made myself comfortable and waited.

At around midnight, the grandfather clock in the hallway struck the hour and made me near crap my pants. Damn that clock, I was already on edge being downstairs alone and all. Now feeling a little more alert, I wandered into the kitchen and opened the fridge, where I proceeded to open a can of coke to drink whilst waiting. Now, had I been in the front room, I would have seen it coming. But I was too busy chugging on my coke to hear anything approaching me from behind. I had just enough time to catch a low thud, then everything went black.

I came to after what seemed like hours later and in a place I didn’t recognise. I was in some kinda warehouse or at least what it looked like. I wasn’t alone. There were other kids there, as well as the kid from next door. He was just as much of a douche as I was and he too was just as confused.

“Where are we?” asked Darius.

“I dunno, but I think we should shout for help,” I replied. I started to yell for help at the top of my lungs. This inspired other kids to begin crying out for help too. After minutes of ear-splitting noise, our captor made her appearance. That’s right, you read correctly, our abductor was a woman. But not just any woman, as we soon discovered to our surprise.

A loud screeching emitted from the doorway as a huge metal door slid open.

In the doorway there stood a middle-aged woman wearing one of those god awful Christmas jumpers. She had brown eyes and long wavy brown hair. She was a round chubby looking lady with a stern expression on her face. It was now we were to find out who this b***h was and why we were here.

“Hello children. Does anyone know who I am?” inquired the serious looking lady. As there was no reply, the burly woman continued.

“I am Mrs. Claus, and I am Santa’s wife. You are all here for one reason. As you know, Santa has a naughty and nice list. Every single year this list keeps growing with every child that is born.”

“The list as you would imagine, is very very long and to check it twice takes longer every year,” she continued.

“This task in itself is a hard one and keeps Santa busy for months on end. The naughty list is growing bigger with every passing year and reading it is more and more upsetting and heartbreaking for Santa to read. It’s growing because all you little brats refuse to behave and be good for your mothers and fathers. As Santa is getting older and the list making him ill to keep reading it, I decided to take care of this problem myself,” she said with a sadistic grin.

“Seems my husband is far too gentle and kind hearted to sort this out. Back In the 1800’s and 1900’s, at least he held his side of the promise and left coal in all your stockings. But because of the size of the list, he gave up as he felt there would be no teaching you ungrateful little fools a lesson anymore. That’s why I am here. That’s why you are here. I realised putting pieces of coal in your stockings is ultimately pointless as you will never learn. This led me to thinking. So I also noticed the list of items you all want grows with every new child that enters this world. Our elves struggle to make everything in time.”

“That’s rubbish! Our parents buy our presents!” retorted a blonde haired little boy from amongst the huge crowd of young faces.

“Silence! E****t that kid to the incinerator room and put him to work cleaning the ash pit!” screamed the lady clearly enraged by the boy’s ignorance.

“To cut a long story short, you are all here to work for a full year in the workshops making the toys that you all receive at Christmas. Maybe from the hard work, you’ll realise just how hard it is to make you happy. You should all know two things: a year in lapland takes only an evening to go by in your world. Secondly, you’re here to work. Behave yourselves and you will go home. Let me make it easier to understand. You will all go home once the year is out. Behave and stay as children. Be naughty and become one of the toys you all will learn to make. And your parents will forget you were ever their children. Your choice. Elves, take them away!” announced Mrs Claus.

We were all taken to our rooms that only had a bed and wardrobe with several sets of the same uniform. Not exactly an elf uniform, as it lacked in colour, browns greys droll greens and other miserable colours. Jeez, that woman was out to prove a point! We had to put these ugly outfits on and then we were herded into the main workshop and split up.

The workshop was more like a garage workshop, all dark and dreary. Nothing like I seen in all those Christmas movies!

I was taken to a part of the workshop where wood came through in log form. I had to pick up these logs with two other kids my size and feed them into a machine that cut it into smaller parts that made them easier to work with. Darius was one of the kids in my group.

After a few days of solid work, I had came to a decision. As I actually loved my parents, I wanted to go back to them as their son. I had to be good from now on!

A week or so went by. Same job everyday and I was beginning see just how hard it was to keep making toys for kids all over the world.

“Joey… pssst!” whispered Darius.

“Hey Darius, what’s up?” I whispered back.

“A few of the kids on our floor are looking at escaping this place tonight… you wanna join us?” asked the boy in a hushed tone.

“No I daren’t. I wanna go back to my mum and dad when we’re finished here. I don’t wanna make Mrs. Claus angry,” I replied with fear.

“You’re a chicken!” he jeered at me.

“Well you saw what happened to that kid when he was naughty,” I explained.

“There are loads of us here, who’s gonna notice a few of us gone?” asked Darius.

“Well you can try, but I wanna go home to my mum and dad,” I replied fearfully.

“Fine, suit yourself then, don’t cry when we get home before you!” Darius retorted, quite disappointed.

I continued my work in silence that night, just praying for the time when I get to see my parents again.
While I was working there, I found out other kids had been naughty and heard the fates they suffered. Two girls got work in the kitchens and stole some food from Mrs. Claus’ private pantry. They were turned to gingerbread girls and ate by the elves. One kid who got painting duties on the toy line, refused to work and paint the tricycles, so he was turned into a painting and mailed to his parents. As far as I could recall, at least twelve kids had been turned into toys and packed away into the sack. I noticed Mrs. Claus had stayed true to her word so far!

A week later, I was woken up one night by a huge commotion out in the hall. Someone was banging on the doors to the rooms and calling out names. It got to my door called out my name.

“Joey McIntosh!” called a name from begin my door, followed by a huge bang.

I got up and walked out into the hallway and looked around. I think Darius’ escape with his friends had been discovered. This struck me as a role call, to work out who was missing.

Mrs. Claus strode down the hallway and looked furious.

“Everybody downstairs to the workshop… now!” bellowed the angry lady.

We were herded downstairs to the workshop and made to stand in a circle around a huge machine. I heard screaming and shouting and glanced over on that direction.

“Let me f*****g go!” shouted Darius. The other escapees weren’t so resistant.

“Please let us go, we are so sorry,” wailed the young boys, clearly distressed. They were being carried by gnomes.

These guys weren’t anything like the jolly little dudes you see in the back gardens across the world. These looked really tough and were very muscular and definitely not to be messed with. Mrs. Claus spoke up;

“For the good girls and boys who are trying to change, I am very sorry. It turns out there are still some amongst you who just won’t behave. Bring the naughty boys here!”

Darius and the two other boys were carried in front of the annoyed woman.

“These three bad little boys decided to try and escape this punishment. I’m afraid you’re all going to see just what happens!”

“Please let us go, we won’t do it again. We’re so sorry!” cried the boys in panic.

“Indeed you shall be. But I’m afraid no one will learn if I don’t make an example of you… put them in!” announced the lady in an eerily calm voice. They were tossed in one by one. Although the screams were deafening and the image was harrowing, the noise soon died down as they went through the machine. A loud rumble was emitted by the contraption as the boys went through their transformation. The two boys emerged from the machine and there were big gasps from the assembled group as they saw what they had become. One was a jack in the box, with the boy’s very lifelike face. Another boy came out as a nutcracker doll with a lifelike face nestled beneath a huge guards hat. Darius had became something very fitting for his stupid behaviour… a donkey. He was about the size of an Alsatian and looked better than any toy you could buy in a store.

“As you can see, this is what will happen if you are naughty,” Mrs. Claus explained.

About half a year went by when I was walking back to my room after a long hard day of working when I noticed something on the wall that I had never seen before… The Naughty List! As I browsed the names upon list, something strange happened. A name on a particular page I was reading completely disappeared! Now I wondered if that’s what happened to kids on the list when they were too naughty and turned into a toy or something else. As I was reading, a gnome passed me, also on the way to bed.

“Excuse me, can I ask a question please?” I said to the tired little man.

“Sure, what is it?” he replied.

“You know what happens to the names on this list when they disappear?” I asked. The gnome smiled a knowing smile at me and said;

“I think you already know the answer… but do you wanna know something the big lady don’t want you to know?”

“Yeah, what’s that?” I enquired.

“You know how Santa is a good man? Well she is his bad side come alive. Legend has it that Santa refused to take toys to the children of a certain name of gypsies and had a curse placed on him that he must live with the darkest part of his ego and that’s exactly who Mrs. Claus is. She has made our lives hell too. We used to be happy people before coming here. Most of us have been changed for the worse by being here. Santa doesn’t really have a wife. That’s what everyone believes. But please don’t tell anyone what you know because she will kill us one by one until she finds who told you,” he said with a shudder.

“Oops, there’s another naughty kid off the list!” said the little guy, pointing at the disappearance of yet another name from the list. I was later to discover the name to go was a girl, who foolishly punched Santa’s alter ego. She was then changed into a punching doll, the kind that rocks back up when you hit it.

I chose to keep my head down and work hard to leave and see my mum and dad again. The time went fairly fast and soon it was time again to leave. Boy, was I excited! Before we were to leave, we were gathered together for a final time. It was at this point we were all suspecting something bad was going to happen.

Loads of little young faces looking round with a mixture of puzzled and frightened expressions on them.

“What’s happening? We’ve been good! We wanna go home!” several voices were saying frantically.

“Silence! Mrs. Claus has something to tell you all!” the squeaky voice of a bad gnome yelled over the gathering commotion.

Mrs. Claus made her way to a makeshift platform constructed of sturdy wooden crates, looked at us all and held aloft the list and finally spoke;

“I know you’re all excited and expecting to go home tonight, but the truth is, you’re all on the naughty list. That is the reason you are here after all. You see, there was another reason you came here,” she chuckled insanely.

“Santa’s elves have been struggling to cope with the increasing demands that all of you little brats have been making. And seems all you kids have shown such promise and ability when given something to work for, I have decided to keep only the best workers here, despite me saying you were going home,” she continued with a cruel sneer.

I was devastated. All my hopes of returning back to my mum and dad were smashed to bits.

“The thing with working in the actual workshop is you’ll never grow older or bigger. You’ll fit right in with all those other elves,” she announced with an air of abrupt self satisfaction.

“But there is just one more matter we need to address right now. There were other children on the list who were naughty whilst they were here, but it was never bad enough to be dealt with at the time. Those whose names I call up, shall return home… but not as they were expecting to. That’s right, you’ll return as toys or ornaments and as soon as your parents open the box containing you, they’ll forget they ever had you,” she said with eerie cheerfulness.

“Step forward when your names are called!”

That having been said, she started calling names and one by one they were brought forward, in various states of despair:

“Maisie Jones,
Christopher Bertrand,
Stefan Kraus,
Tang FiLung,
Josep Millovich,
Anya Kiptic,
Jonathan MTembe,” the list went on. I had to get out of here!

Slowly, I started to shuffle backwards through the huge crowd to try and hide behind a machine out of sight and wait for my escape. Once at the back, I noticed a door was ajar and it wasn’t guarded! This was my chance! I crawled out of the door without moving it, just as my name was called… what?

What did I do?

I heard Mrs. Claus repeating my name a second time but by this tine, I has reached the main door and I threw it open, triggering an alarm!

I was now outside, running for my life, in the freezing cold and heavy snow. I heard dogs barking and squeaky voices of elves calling to the dogs to go faster. I reached the outskirts of a huge forest and I knew that my captors weren’t far behind. Now I was darting between trees and jumping roots that climbed from the ground. I turned around, just as a leather whip struck my left wrist. I looked down to see a huge welt in the shape of a reindeer emblazoned on my skin.
I continued running, but failed to look up and slammed head first into a low hanging tree branch. Everything went black.

I woke up to the sound of a familiar voice calling my name:

“Joey, wake up… are you OK? Wake up, please!” It was my mum!

“Wha-what happened, where am I?” I asked, confused.

“You’re in your bed, Joey. You hit your head off your bedside table,” said my mother in a worried tone.

I was home… how? When did I get back? Was as it all just a bad dream? Nevertheless, I was overjoyed to be home again. My mum was wiping my forehead that was grazed from when I faceplanted the corner of my table.

It was bleeding at first, but now it was gone.

“Come on honey, let’s go downstairs and see if Santa has been!” said my mum excitedly.

She got up and left my room. I went to the toilet to was my face, brush my teeth and go to the toilet. As I was washing my hands, water ran over my left wrist and it stung. I looked down and what did I see?

The very same welt that was made by the engraved leather whip! I looked and there it was… the reindeer! Upon closer inspection though, I saw words beneath the reindeer there were words that read:

He’s making a list… Checking it twice… We will find out if you’re naughty or nice!

I decided to be good from that day forward. I made sure to be good. My wrist was a permanent reminder of my time with Mrs. Claus.

So yes, the list does exist, and we are all on it, so I would advise you all to be good… or suffer as I did.

Don’t mess with Santa, his wife will make your life hell.

  • Rose Morrison

    I loved this story, a very dark tale. I think you have potential here for a “Christmas” series.

    • Rob Wright

      Thank you very much, Rose. Already working on that idea too!