This short story was posted as a silly idea of interactions between online readers and myself. The experiment gave some interesting responses and led to interesting conclusions.

A Democratic, Interactive Christmas Carol

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, excepting of course for the Power Overkill Warrior Ninja Robot 3000, also known as the Powner 3000, who had come to exact it’s vengeance on it’s arch nemesis: a six year old boy named Toby.Powner 3000 was well prepared for the upcoming battle as is becoming for a ninja robot. It entered the lair of its enemy through the chimney that had unwisely been left open to welcome the illusive Santa Claus, who, in the informed opinion of the killer robot, was unlikely to show. Powner 3000 had brought with it the Boy-Killer 900 C poison-dart rail/chain-gun, the toddler-slicer XM6 Lazer-blade (in case there was going to be trouble from Toby’s younger sister Emmy) and the subsonic, nuclear, bio-warfare, brat-seeker missile known simply as The Overkill. Toby was, on the other hand, quite a lot less prepared. He was armed only with his blue and white bear-themed jammies, his rather worn-down teddy-bear named Roxie (missing one eye) and sheer ignorance.

The reason for this upcoming, seemingly unnecessary match of deadly combat was an event that had taken place almost exactly a year before when Toby had received Powner’s childhood friend, the remote controlled toy-car named Herpie (spelled with a p as to not get into any sort of copyright dispute, of course), as a Christmas present from his mom and dad. Toby loved Herpie, don’t get me wrong, he went into the relationship with Herpie with all the best intentions. But alas, Toby’s good intentions were not matched by his motor skills, which could best be described as lacking. Therefore Herpie lasted but a night in the care of five year old Toby before taking a reluctant plummet to its death from the top of the master stairwell. Toby was at the time heartbroken, but only for a couple of hours, as is typical for his age. He soon found as much enjoyment in the large, shiny cardboard box, that had served as the last peaceful home of now deceased Herpie, as he ever did in Herpie himself. This was a fact that Powner 3000 found particularly despicable.

So, Powner had now come to deal out a little justice in the name of all the broken toys that have been lost over the years to the ignorant malice of six year old boys. But would the well-prepared tactics of Powner 3000 be enough to overcome the ignorance of Toby, The Oblivious Malice of Things That Can Be Broken?

(The following end to the story follows a democratic decision from the readers of this blog in the Christmas of 2009 and is fully beyond my responsibility. It tries to the best of my ability to accommodate as many of my votes as I can as well as capture the true Christmas spirit).

Powner 3000 landed silently in the living room, feeling the tension of the silent winter night as ominously as the smell of coming battle that hang crushingly in the air. Or was it the smell of brownies in the air? He looked around – it was brownies; put out with a glass of milk on a small table. Left there for that overweight illusion of Christmas joy that was Santa Claus. Where had the fat man been when poor Herpie fell to his demise, Powner thought. Where was the Christmas spirit then? Powner ate the cookies and drank the milk as a mocking gesture, even though robots really shouldn’t be able to either mock or drink milk, but that is what vengefulness will do to you.

In his room, Toby was sleeping surprisingly loudly. Powner could hear him all the way from the bottom of the staircase. The robot leapt from step to step with the elegance of a tiger and the dedication of an insurance salesman. As he reached the top, he squeezed through the bars of a toddler-gate placed at the top of the stairs and immediately felt the presence of his enemy in the air. Toby was in his bed only few yards down the hallway, sweating and sucking his thumb. Powner took the time to pause by the top of those damned stairs and pray silently in reverence of the lost Herpie. He shouldn’t have done that. Just as he was caught up in prayer, completely oblivious of his surroundings, he felt the clammy hand of death upon him – or more precisely: the clammy, almost slimy hand of a toddler reach out and grab him from behind. It was Emmy the Toddler!

She gripped Powner tightly as he was trying to reach the Toddler-slicer but couldn’t. What was she doing out of her crib in the middle of the night? Why was she roaming the halls? Powner had little time to contemplate these issues as Emmy lifted him up and with a sound beyond horrible (or more accurately similar to: “Aaamugabuuu”) and tried to bite his head off.

Emmy couldn’t bite the head of anything yet, of course, so instead she started suckling on Powner, while talking about it nonsensically in a language reserved for toddlers and imbeciles. The killer robot was trapped in the most slimy and foul of places – a baby’s mouth. She held on to him tight for what seemed an eternity before she went for the kill with a horrid gulp of apple-smelling baby food and milk that covered Powner in the foulest substance known to man. Then, finally, she had had enough and threw him out over the balcony.

Powner found himself plummeting to a demise ironically similar to that of his friend, just also covered in slime. But he was no toy car to be disposed of that easily; he was a killer, ninja robot. Unfortunately he was also covered in slime, which made it harder for him to reach down and find his Ninja All-purpose Black Rope ™ that would save him. Just barely, he got out the rope in time to throw it with deadly precision around a bar in the toddler-gate above and halt the fall. He swung from side to side, hanging over the lethal gorge of the master stairwell for several seconds before he started pulling himself back up, ignoring the sense of sublime grossness from being covered in baby slime and gulp.

Powner had been careless, he admitted to himself, allowing time for sentimentality which is unwise when confronting an enemy that has no sense of mercy at all. He got out the toddler-slicer and started to climb back up – there would be no mercy next time – when he heard a booming, terrible voice from behind him. “WHO HAS TAKEN MY MILK AND COOKIES!”, it cried out accompanied by the sound of a shotgun being loaded. Santa had arrived after all.

Powner barely had time to speed-climb to the top of the stairs before Santa made it into the hallway, big, red and jolly vicious. Powner turned to face him and recognized the Santa Candyfilled Shotgun in the fat man’s hands. “I have come for the boy, Mr. Claus, and there is nothing you can do to stop me”, Powner said, clinching the toddler slicer and keeping a close eye out for Emmy. “Ho ho ho! You ate my cookies, little ninja, I will have your ass instead!”, replied Santa as he aimed and fired a buckshot of frozen gummy-bears towards Powner who scarcely had time to throw himself out of harms way.

The ninja robot ran as quickly as it could down the hall towards Toby’s room while the haunting sound of Santa’s booming steps up the stairs rang in his ears. He was almost there when the cruel sound of “Aaaabuchagukamuoooo” flooded towards him from the darkness down the hallway. Emmy was back, crawling, waddling towards him with big, happy eyes and a toothless smile. She was between him and Toby’s doorway. “I don’t have time for this!”, Powner cursed as he made whipping motions with the toddler slicer to drive the menacing figure of Emmy in her pink-bunny jammies back. But it was too late, suddenly he heard the sound of Santa’s steps coming to a halt behind him and he whirred around to face him in the hallway. “Ho ho ho, little robot, time to find if it was naughty or nice to steal a fat man’s cookies!”, he boomed with jolly malice as he loaded the shotgun with the worst sort of ammo there is: candy-corn. Corn made from candy. It was repulsive beyond words. A death too horrid to imagine.

“No!”, Powner yelled out, “it is not over yet, Mr. Claus”. He reached into his backpack and drew out a small, black book. A tiny, editor’s summary of the legendary book known as Necronomicon Ex Mortis. “I have justice on my side tonight!”, he yelled as he flipped to page 66 of the book and yelled out: “Klaatu Barada Niktooooo!”. There was a pause where everyone, even Emmy, looked around the hallway to see what would happen. For a moment nothing seemed to, but then there was an echoing, eerie sound of a small, electric engine being fired up from beyond the grave. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Herpie the remote-controlled zombie-car emerged, going straight for Santa. The fat man started firing candy-corn at zombie-Herpie, who swerved and twirled to avoid them. “Ho ho ho! Eat my shorts!”, yelled out Santa even though he was actually wearing red trousers.

Herpie would not hold the fat man for long, Powner knew this. But perhaps it would buy him just enough time to finish the job at hand. He turned and whipped the toddler-slicer at Emmy again, who slowly withdrew with a sound like “Ammmmmm-fafuwabaladu”. It left Powner with just enough time to storm past her into Toby’s room, pushing on the door from the inside to slam it shut. It closed slowly, but quick enough to keep out the menace of Emmy. Just when the door closed, the sound of Santa’s shotgun faded marking the end of his battle with zombie-Herpie. Powner knew he had little time before the door would be forced open by the fat man, so he had no choice but to jam the Boy-Killer 900 C poison-dart rail/chain-gun under the door to keep it shut.

It worked! Santa started pushing the door, but it would not come open. Powner looked around, he was in Toby’s room just in front his bed. Perfect. He drew out the Overkill Missile and placed it on the floor. He turned the target dial to “6-year old brat” and initiated the firing sequence. Just at that moment a bright light suddenly filled the room. Powner was shortly blinded by Toby’s bed light as it came on, but only shortly. Soon he was again covered in shade, but it was not a good kind of shade; it was looming, and growing. A voice cried out, more terribly to any toy than anything else – the voice of a kid. “Moooo-ooooom! I have to pee-eeee!”. Powner turned to the missile… “3,2,1”, he read of the small interface, while the shadow of Toby’s foot grew and the scent of impending, sweaty doom filled his nostrils.

Toby thought he heard a short sound of a sputtering jet-engine just before his foot hit the ground with the recognizable feeling of something plastic being squashed beneath it. It happened almost every time Toby stepped out of bed, and he barely even wondered what toy he had stepped on this time. He really had to pee.

Toby got up, drunk with sleep and went to the door. Some sort of toy weapon was blocking it, but he quickly threw it into a pile of Heman-weapons near his dresser. He stumbled into the hallway yelling out for mom again. In the hallway he found, to his surprise, Emmy, sitting with a big smile on her face eating candy corn, which would have surprised Toby even further if he wasn’t so entirely oblivious of his surroundings. As Toby made it to the bathroom, Santa finished placing Toby and Emmy’s gifts under the tree. It was almost Christmas morning.

There would perhaps not be any justice for Powner or Herpie this night, or perhaps on any night. But there would be new presents in the morning, more toys made of plastic to live out short, frantic lives in the hands of oblivious malices just like Emmy and Toby. There would be delighted screaming, over-eating and things being broke and other things not having batteries included. And after all, isn’t that the spirit of Christmas anyway?

By Jeppe Grünberger