Christmas Story Continued Part Seven
So, I figured it was time to see where Kriss is really from. What he’s meant to do, and you know, maybe shake things up a bit.
Part One: Santa’s New Line: http://dontkickmycane.livejournal.com/146309.html
Kriss stood on the doorstep for only a second before wrapping his arms around himself and stepping down. He glanced up at the sky. It had been overcast, now it was snowing, and the stuff was falling thicker and thicker by the second. The temperature dipped so fast he thought he could feel it stripping away all the warmth left over from his trysts with Cody. He shivered.
“Screwed that one up right good, didn’t ya?”
He looked down to the source of the sharp, stinging words. “Clive.”
The little man, elf, actually, pixie-perfect with his curly brown hair and almond-shaped eyes glared up at him. “Come on, then. Let’s get you back to the shop and re-tuned. Maybe you’ll get the next one right.”
“What?” Panic flashed through Kriss. “Wait! No. I did. This was right.”
“Sure.” Clive reached up and grasped Kriss’s arm. “That’s why he kicked you out.”
A bright searing light cut across Kriss’ vision. The ground dropped out from under him, and the world tilted him, churning his gut. Bile rose and spewed out, then he was stumbling back onto his feet and almost to his knees. The bitter taste of vomit clung to his tongue. “Geez, Clive. You could warn a guy.”
Clive snickered. “Just be glad you didn’t get any on me.”
Kriss yanked his arm free of the elf’s hold and glanced around. They stood outside the little man’s shop. The bright red walls rose up three stories above the snow-covered ground, a patchwork of windows, gears and pulleys and chimney stacks protruding from the walls. A large satellite dish swivelled to and fro on the green-shingled roof.
“What are we doing here?” Trepidation crept into Kriss’s voice and he hung back when Clive took a few striding steps forward.
Clive stopped, looked back. “I told you. Reprogramming. We’ll give you another project. This one was obviously too much for you.”
“No.” Kriss planted his feet firmly. “No, I can do it. Send me back.”
“He tossed you out on your kister, there big guy.”
“It was a misunderstanding. I can fix it.”
“Through a closed door?” Clive lifted one finely tapered brow. “For an emissary of the season, you kinda suck at your job.” his eyes glittered. “Or did you not suck and that was the problem.”
“For an elf, you’re jackass,” Kriss shot back. “It’s his family. He’s scared to let them in. Let me go back. I can help him.”
“You’re lucky the Old Man let me bring you back here, Kriss. He could have had me exile you to The Island. Or worse.”
Kriss flushed. There was worse than The Island? “I’m not a toy, misfit or otherwise.”
“No. You’re a construct.” Clive turned and headed toward his shop. “Come inside. It’s freezing out here.”
“What do you mean ‘a construct’?” The slip of information was just enough to get Kriss curious, make him want to know more, and he inwardly cursed Clive for dropping it and walking away, practically forcing him to follow if he wanted answers.
“The Old Man had this idea,” Clive explained as they reached the door. He opened it, held it for Kriss who had to duck to get inside, and followed him in.
Inside, the cold winter cast its white-blue glow through the many windows. The large main floor was cavernous, the ceiling rising, open to the rafters. Balconies and platforms at various levels around the outer walls explained the gears and pulleys. They served to lift and lower the huge creations being constructed up there down the outside of the building when they were done.
“You were born here,” Clive told him, his voice dropping from the high, digging tone to something a little huskier, maybe even with some fondness in it.
“You don’t remember?”
Kriss shook his head. “No.” He moved further into the building and craned his neck to look up at the glassed in laboratories on the upper-most level. “Not really.” Though as he gazed up, he did have something like a vague recollection of the endless view down into the winter-lit workshop below.
“The Old Man decided a while back he needed to branch out. Too many people were forgetting, too young, what the season was supposed to feel like. He thought he should find a way to remind the grown-ups.”
“A new line,” Kriss whispered, still gazing up, memories slowly filtering back through his more recent recollections of life among people.
“Yes, exactly. He picked older kids and young adults to try out the first prototypes.”
Kriss lowered his head and blinked at Clive. “Is that what I am?”
“Aye. One of the very first. In fact, all the other units sent out same time you were have already been recalled.”
“Why wasn’t I?”
A wry, grudging smile twisted one side of Clive’s mouth. “Because you seemed to not only be working, but improving your skills as you searched for your target. Since you were spreading the feeling even to people who weren’t your problem, we decided to let you go and see how long you’d last. The others, when they didn’t find their targets after a few years started losing it. Went a little ballistic, some of them. We had to bring them back before they did more harm than good.”
“Ballistic? What do you mean?”
“You ever see the movie “ELF”?
Kriss nodded, a grimace pulling his lips off his teeth. “Bad movie.”
Clive nodded. “Made by one of your contemporaries who was sent to a young man who wanted to find his birth father. He took the kid’s wish on as his own, convinced himself this was the way to get the Old Man’s attention.” He winced. “It worked. Took a lot of doing to convince him to let me keep you in the field as long as we did after that. He wanted the whole lot of you brought back, tweaked, fail safes put in.”
A long sigh escaped Clive and he leaned on a nearby workbench. “The new unites have one year from their release to find their target and get the wish sorted. If they fail, they convert to static.”
Kriss’s eyes narrowed. “What does that mean?”
“You notice an increase in the number of slightly disturbing, realistic-looking mannequins in the past few years?”
A chill ran just under Kriss’s skin. “That’s…” He studied Clive and for the first time, saw an emotion other than cool indifference.
“That’s the way it is, kid.”
Kriss backed a few steps toward the door. “You’re going to do that to me?” He was still shivering, felt thin and vulnerable.
Clive looked decidedly unhappy. “Orders are orders, Kriss. I’m to give you a new assignment and reset your parameters to shut down after a year if you don’t finish.”
“What happens if I do finish?”
“You never have to come back here. You get your own life. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how that would go. The theory is, you’d slowly take on more and more human traits, your magical ones would fade. You’d be human.”
Kriss frowned. “Theoretically?”
An uncomfortable shrug lifted one of Clive’s shoulders and he dropped his attention to a fascinating hang nail. “We’re still working out the kinks.”
“So none of the prototypes have worked?”
“It’s an issue,” Clive admitted, still not looking at him. He chewed on his inner cheek and picked at a callous.
Clive didn’t look up.
“Clive, send me back. I was working. I got it right.”
“What do you mean?”
“I got hungry, Clive. I needed to eat, sleep, piss. I…”
“You what?” Clive was looking up at him now, interested, excited, even.
“Uh.” Telling Clive he’d had the best orgasms in all the fifteen years he’d been out there suddenly didn’t seem all that pertinent. Heat flashed up Kriss’s neck. “Just trust me. I know I was almost there.”
There was a long pause. Kriss held his breath, sure Clive would agree he had to go back. Then the elf shook his head. “Sorry.”