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  • It took five drafts and at least four readings out loud.

    I would like to thank the following:

    • Banned In CP
    • Bloody Spaghetti
    • NoTimeCreepy
    • RedNovaTyrant

    All of you have helped me so much with this story. Please keep those criticisms coming.

    Dr. Bob


    Nikolaus und Krampus Cropped
    My name is Seán O’Brien, and I am fourteen. It’s an awful feeling when you realize you don’t resemble your mother or father. I love Mom and Dad. If they had lied and told me they had adopted me through an agency, I would have believed it, end of story.

    My parents kept saying I would resemble them more as I grew, but the older I got, the less I appeared like either of them. They are tall and thin. I am short, with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a plump belly. Both have flaming red hair and green eyes. Their ears are rounded. Mine are deformed, with a pronounced enough point that I wear my hair long to cover it. They’re both great, but not very intelligent. I earned a full scholarship to St Joseph’s Preparatory Academy, the number one Catholic High School in Philadelphia. Dad still can’t grow a mustache. I began shaving when I was eleven. Razor burn on my acne made stop. Now I have the best beard in The Prep even though I am a freshman.

    When I mentioned my problem during confession, Father Mulcahy said I probably got my features from other ancestors. He said that he didn’t look like his parents but was the spitting image of his grandfather. I pulled out the family photo albums. Except that their hair was long, I didn’t look like either Grandma or Grandpa in their Woodstock era wedding pictures. I didn’t favor my great grandfather as he stood by his World War II P51 Mustang. Then I searched the family websites and found pictures going back to 1882. Every man had the same massive eyebrows. All my parent's ancestors had close-set little eyes, long, narrow noses with a bulbous tip, broad cheeks, and a rounded chin. Nobody had my upturned nose, big, twinkling eyes, square chin or delicate cheekbones.

    I did what any kid in my circumstances would do. When they were out, I searched for adoption papers. They’re both clutter bugs. When they came back they found me cleaning up and arranging everything.

    When I read on the Internet about people who were adopted and found their real family through genetic testing, I bought a 23AndMe test kit. I expected them to tell me something like I was Polish and have a second cousin in Chicago. Instead, they said the sample was unreadable. After I tried again with the replacement kit they sent, they emailed me the same thing. Finally, they said I was playing games with them by sending non-human DNA and refunded my money. That was bizarre.

    I had to find the truth. I asked to spend Thanksgiving Break with my Aunt Brigid, Mom’s sister, while her son Ryan went to Philadelphia. Her family still lived in Scituate, Massachusetts where Mom and Dad grew up. Our clan has been there since Miles O’Brien arrived from Ireland in 1847. If they adopted me, the record would be in Brockton, the seat of Plymouth County.

    Aunt Brigid asked me to take Bruno, her German Shepherd, out for a run, so I took him to Saint Mary’s Cemetery on Meeting House Lane. Our family has been buried there since the Civil War. As we played fetch with his squeaky green bottle, I walked back and forth and read the gravestones of my ancestors. Then I came to one that made me shit my pants.

    Seán Shamus O'Brien
    Beloved son of Ryan and Mary
    Nov. 2, 2005 – Nov. 8, 2005

    My name, my birthday, and my parent’s names. I was dead.

    Bruno understood my pain the way dogs always do, so he leaned into me and gave me a big doggie hug. When I recovered, I took pictures of the headstone. It was real.

    The town newspaper was named the Scituate Navigator. I read I had died of inoperable congenital heart disease. I printed out my obituary and my picture of the tombstone and showed my Aunt. “Tell me the truth,” I said. “Who am I?”

    She became white. “I can’t say.” Then she drove me to South Station in Boston and tossed me on the first train to Philadelphia.

    Ryan stayed the break with us. I was a stranger in my own house. Dad and Ryan played Destiny 2 together on the PS4. Shooting fake monsters bores me to death, so I hung in my room and did Raspberry Pi programming to make an Advent calendar for Mom. I enjoy creating things.

    Our family has several unusual Christmas traditions. Mom always told me Santa Claus wasn’t real as they brought out the presents. They also left a fifth of Green Spot Irish Whiskey and a glass on the coffee table. Every Christmas Morning, I found the bottle on the floor and empty, yet Mom and Dad smelled fresh and acted sober as judges.

    I was dying to know what strange ritual they did every year with the whiskey. So I plugged a cheap digital camera into the Raspberry Pi Advent calendar and hid it in the gold bow and holly.

    I sat in my room and read, watching the living room on my computer. I waited and watched, and nothing happened. By two in the morning, I was dead tired and convinced that I was an absolute moron. Right before I was going to quit, I saw the impossible on my computer. A man in a red fur suit crawled out of the fireplace. His face blew my mind. He looked just like me.

    I rushed out to the living room, my jelly belly trembling with rage. “You,” I shouted.

    “Seán, you have been a very good boy,” he said condescendingly. “What toy would you like?”

    “Answers,” I yelled. “Who am I? Why am I here?”

    He looked me square in the eye. “Wouldn’t you rather learn how to make that bully Stan Kowalski’s head fly? I guarantee he will never bother you again.”

    I shook my head. “Answer my questions.”

    Santa held up his hand, and the bottle leaped into it. He took a long drink and left the bottle hanging in mid-air. Then he pulled out a pipe from his jacket and lit it with a snap of his fingers. “Things are different at the North Pole than you imagine. We work and snuggle to stay warm. And we share the love if you catch my drift.” He winked and then took another hit. “It was early 2005. We had been working hard at tooling up production of the Tamagotchi Connection virtual pets. Finally, Tina, the manager of the project, solved the problems. That night we celebrated. She partied a bit too hearty and started to massage my shoulders. One thing led to another. Tina had no interest in you or anything else that would slow down her rise to CEO. When she gave you to us, Mrs. Claus told me to get rid of you, or she would toss you outside for the polar bears. I couldn’t let that happen.”

    “You cheated on your wife. I am your love child, and you dumped me off here.”

    “Yes, but no. First, my wife cheated on me centuries before I returned the favor. She’s made 24 bastard children of her own. My bitch of a mother banished me to Bulgaria just because I have a club foot. I watched both your parents their whole lives, and they were such good people. They had a terribly hard time getting pregnant. They even wrote me and said a baby was the only present they ever wanted. The first Seán Shamus O’Brien dying shattered them, and I wanted you to have adopted parents like mine. When you consider it rationally, I did the best thing for everyone. Your parents are so grateful for you that every Christmas they give me a gift.”

    “My mother is an elf, so you shagged a little toymaker?”

    “Hardly." He pulled back his hair, showing an ear shaped like mine. "We are the Dark Elves. Don’t underestimate our power. With a word, I could destroy this planet.”

    “Like Darth Vader, the dark side of the Elven force?”

    He snorted, whiskey and smoke spraying from his nose. Then he rolled up his sleeves, showing his Incredible Hulk huge arm muscles. “Darth Vader is a pussy," he said in a deep rumble. "My cargo load this year is over a million tons and I fly it at almost the speed of light with my magic. I would ram that lightsaber so far up his ass it would come out the top of his head.”

    “That doesn’t sound like the Santa Claus I know.”

    He laughed wickedly. “You have been watching too many TV specials. Who do you think my boss is? Who funds the whole operation?”

    “What do you mean? Isn’t Christmas supposed to be about Christ?”

    “Oh no. That’s why the Dark Lord set me up in business. There is a God-shaped hole in the human heart. At Christmas more than any other time, humans know they can only fill it by serving others. My master wants them to try to fill it with things.”

    “The Dark Lord is your master?”

    “He certainly hasn’t kept it a secret. My real name is Hephaistos, but he makes me use his names. SANTA is SATAN. Just move two letters. Take "saint" out of Old Saint Nick and what do you have? Another name for Satan.”

    I knew he spoke the truth. Everything from Christmas shopping shootings over Walmart parking spaces to the government banning Jesus proved it.

    “That Advent calendar is fantastic. Such imagination. I could use you in corporate HQ. Learn who and what you really are. Get into the family business.” He took a hit on his pipe and blew smoke rings that turned into dollar signs. “There’s a reason I can keep a full workforce up at the North Pole. Our Lord pays better than anyone.”

    I said something I never thought possible, but I meant every word. “No. My family is here. They’re the ones who love me.”

    “You have no idea what you’re missing, but I won’t force you.” He stretched out his hand and a golden whistle appeared. “Blow this if you ever change your mind.” With that, he finished the whiskey, dropped the bottle and climbed back up the chimney.

    I sat, trying to absorb everything. Then I realized I didn’t hear Dad’s band saw snoring. He was down the hall, just out of my sight. “I’m sorry, Son. You had to find the truth yourself. You would never believe us if we told you.”

    I smiled. “You’re right.” I picked up the discarded bottle and put it in the trash in the kitchen.

    “Go back to bed. It’s almost morning, and tomorrow will be the best Christmas ever.”

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    • In the first paragraph - Daidí, brought back memories cause I'm from Ireland and that's a irish word.

      5th paragraph

      I had to find the truth. Fall break was two weeks.

      Is it "Fall break was in two weeks" or "Fall break was two weeks long"

      14th paragraph

      Santa uncapped the bottle and took a long drink. “It early 2007.

      Is it supposed to be "It's early 2007" or is Santa drunk and he said "It early 2007"

      Other then that I like it. I felt like it was missing something but not sure what.

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    • No Time Creepy,

      I should have caught those errors. I rushed somewhat. If you can figure out what it is missing, please tell me.

      Dr. Bob

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    • So, this kid's an American from Irish descent? Okay... Why on earth is he talking like an Irish person trying to sound American? I mean, there are about 35 million Americans who can trace some ancestor to Ireland. None of them use Irish spellings and ittirations for English words, unless they have migrated themselves from Ireland. 

      I might be confusing something but isn't Sean supposed to be from an American born Irish American family? 

      Overall, he doesn't come off as genuinely Irish either way, just because he uses only "Mam" and "Daidi". I'm kind of doubtful people in Dublin or Cork actually use "clan kinship" anymore, so why would an American? There is a sort of cultural revival in that regard in Ireland and there are 240 registered clans as of now, but most of them are modern dating back to the previous century or so. Other than that, again, they don't mean quite as much as they used to - because in pre-fully England controlled Ireland they were the lords of the lands and such. Now if anything, it's more of a pure kinship thing. I think you were just trying to grab hold of "The Irish spirit" and came off almost racist. I say this because your Irish kid came off like a 1890s weirdo more than anything.

      I don't know if kids who are 12 know about 23AndMe and other such sites, because you know, they wouldn't have an interest in such things, even if they weren't sure of their parantage. 

      Now these are all minor issues, the major issue is where is this creepy or scary? Yeah, sure, not telling a kid in his formative years that he had been adopted could be consequential but... still where are the spooks? My suggestion, make Santa and his fellows less human, at least in outward appearence, now Tina could be a human working with Santa... she gets to skoodlipoop with him and they get that boy, Sean who at first comes off completely human but with age becomes more like his actual father which could drive the whole story. You can play this off by taking inspiration from celtic mythological races like Aos Si or Fomorians who have similar attributes to the Norse Jotnar, not exactly humans but can't be really pinned off as "just giants". 

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    • BloodySpghetti wrote: So, this kid's an American from Irish descent? Okay... Why on earth is he talking like an Irish person trying to sound American? I mean, there are about 35 million Americans who can trace some ancestor to Ireland. None of them use Irish spellings and ittirations for English words, unless they have migrated themselves from Ireland. 

      I might be confusing something but isn't Sean supposed to be from an American born Irish American family? 

      Overall, he doesn't come off as genuinely Irish either way, just because he uses only "Mam" and "Daidi". I'm kind of doubtful people in Dublin or Cork actually use "clan kinship" anymore, so why would an American? There is a sort of cultural revival in that regard in Ireland and there are 240 registered clans as of now, but most of them are modern dating back to the previous century or so. Other than that, again, they don't mean quite as much as they used to - because in pre-fully England controlled Ireland they were the lords of the lands and such. Now if anything, it's more of a pure kinship thing. I think you were just trying to grab hold of "The Irish spirit" and came off almost racist. I say this because your Irish kid came off like a 1890s weirdo more than anything.

      I don't know if kids who are 12 know about 23AndMe and other such sites, because you know, they wouldn't have an interest in such things, even if they weren't sure of their parantage. 

      Now these are all minor issues, the major issue is where is this creepy or scary? Yeah, sure, not telling a kid in his formative years that he had been adopted could be consequential but... still where are the spooks? My suggestion, make Santa and his fellows less human, at least in outward appearence, now Tina could be a human working with Santa... she gets to skoodlipoop with him and they get that boy, Sean who at first comes off completely human but with age becomes more like his actual father which could drive the whole story. You can play this off by taking inspiration from celtic mythological races like Aos Si or Fomorians who have similar attributes to the Norse Jotnar, not exactly humans but can't be really pinned off as "just giants". 

      I was born in Ireland and moved here when I was 8, now I don't have the accent anymore due to me going to a English school for so long.

      I catch my self sometimes saying stuff that only my family will understand. The way I read the story he came from Ireland.

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    • NoTimeCreepy wrote:

      BloodySpghetti wrote: So, this kid's an American from Irish descent? Okay... Why on earth is he talking like an Irish person trying to sound American? I mean, there are about 35 million Americans who can trace some ancestor to Ireland. None of them use Irish spellings and ittirations for English words, unless they have migrated themselves from Ireland. 

      I might be confusing something but isn't Sean supposed to be from an American born Irish American family? 

      Overall, he doesn't come off as genuinely Irish either way, just because he uses only "Mam" and "Daidi". I'm kind of doubtful people in Dublin or Cork actually use "clan kinship" anymore, so why would an American? There is a sort of cultural revival in that regard in Ireland and there are 240 registered clans as of now, but most of them are modern dating back to the previous century or so. Other than that, again, they don't mean quite as much as they used to - because in pre-fully England controlled Ireland they were the lords of the lands and such. Now if anything, it's more of a pure kinship thing. I think you were just trying to grab hold of "The Irish spirit" and came off almost racist. I say this because your Irish kid came off like a 1890s weirdo more than anything.

      I don't know if kids who are 12 know about 23AndMe and other such sites, because you know, they wouldn't have an interest in such things, even if they weren't sure of their parantage. 

      Now these are all minor issues, the major issue is where is this creepy or scary? Yeah, sure, not telling a kid in his formative years that he had been adopted could be consequential but... still where are the spooks? My suggestion, make Santa and his fellows less human, at least in outward appearence, now Tina could be a human working with Santa... she gets to skoodlipoop with him and they get that boy, Sean who at first comes off completely human but with age becomes more like his actual father which could drive the whole story. You can play this off by taking inspiration from celtic mythological races like Aos Si or Fomorians who have similar attributes to the Norse Jotnar, not exactly humans but can't be really pinned off as "just giants". 

      I was born in Ireland and moved here when I was 8, now I don't have the accent anymore due to me going to a English school for so long.

      I catch my self sometimes saying stuff that only my family will understand. The way I read the story he came from Ireland.

      But his whole family came from North Eastern USA, I think... it's really weird to me the way it is written now... 

      I'm going to bet on you not being a twelve year old, thus his accent should either me more Americanized or more Gaelic, one way or the other. 

      and if makes ya happy, you've a rather prominent southern drawl to your speech, laddy. 

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    • I can take the Daidí and Mam out. That was something I had debated. I intended his parents to have been from an Irish enclave in the USA but to have been here for many generations. I could just as well make him Minnesota Swedish.

      What age would be more believable for a kid who googled around for info like this? I am assuming that since Santa Claus runs in effect a major corporation he's very intelligent. So is Tina.

      Is it too computer knowledge heavy?

      The change from an elf looking pretty much like a regular human to a cute, little form started with late 19th century Christmas stuff. Santa Claus is an elf according to line 45 of the Clement Moore poem, but to look at him you wouldn't know it. He was depicted as human sized. Perhaps I need to have Santa Claus explain that his mother was within the human size range and that Tolkein made up the cute little elf thing.

      I tried to have a Santa Claus that fits the behavior of the common Clement Moore poem but not necessarily the personality.

      https://mythology.wikia.com/wiki/Elf

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf

      https://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/elves/

      https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/revealing-true-nature-elves-dangerous-beauties-and-diabolical-fiends-004978

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    • Sure, could make him a Midwestern Scandinavian. 

      I guess 15 - 16 if we're talking about 2018 in your story, it would make more sense. Looking at some members of the community that is as an example.

      Yeah, I know Elves and Faries are like nature/death spirits originally, but it just isn't really horror related as it is right now.

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    • I'm with bloody, I'd say 15-16 as well.

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    • Bloody Spaghetti and No Time Creepy,

      I have revised the story based on your feedback. Tell me what you think.

      Thank you for your time.

      Dr. Bob

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    • Every thing looks good. One thing though- He snorted, whiskey spraying from his nose. “Darth Vader is a joke. That sleigh flies at Mach 30 because I will it. 👈 What does that mean. "I will it."

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    • It means because he desires it to, he casts magic on it. He uses the Force on it. That sort of stuff. I'll rephrase that sentence.

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    • Ok I get it now. LOL duh starwars......

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    • NoTimeCreepy,

      I have rewritten the paragraph. Does that work better now?

      Dr. Bob

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    • I read the first draft, but decided not to comment as I would be reiterating previous points. So now, I'll finally get my piece in.

      Much better than draft 1. Creep factor is definitely better compared to the original, last time I had literally no reason to be scared. Interest in the truth behind Sean's existence? Sure, but I wasn't creeped out. The Santa/Satan thing is a classic thing everyone notices as a kid, but I like seeing it in a story.

      Something irks me about the pacing of the story. I believe it is how there’s very specific little details, but not like an more developed arc to Sean finding out his past for the first half of the story, and then the second half is an exposition dump from Santa/Satan.

      Also, when you had asked me about a game to play, seeing how Destiny 2 was used now doesn’t make sense to people who’ve played it (it is single person with online multiplayer). Just for accuracy, I’d say they’re both using their own PS4s.

      Minimal grammar issues, but overall that’s what I had trouble with when reading. I hope this helps, certainly ask for specifics if needed (they probably will be).

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    • RedNovaTyrant,

      Thank you for the review.

      What would be the best game to use for the two of them playing together?

      What type of details are missing and where do you think they are missing from?

      Where are the grammar errors?

      Respectfully yours,

      Dr. Bob Smith

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    • "She didn't want you. She is determinted to rise..." - Should be, "She didn't want you. She was (",and still is", if you want to add that) determined to rise..." 

      Elfs is improper, it's "Elves", Also apparently "Lightsaber" is a single word. 

      Well this one's better, comes off less like a typical Christmas story. I shall nitpick a little, if you are trying to include your own mythology into this, and you already use "you humans are so ignorant" as a reason for the explanation. Perhaps avoid using existing folkloric and mythological terms. I'd say "We are what you call dark elves" comes off better than "we are dark elves" because if people don't know, they probably just made something up that is close to the source but not it. 

      A Bonus fact; as much as you used an innocent word play for Santa, Saint and Satan there is an actual cult that believes Set (the Egyptian god) is the proper bringer of light and that Satanistic Satan is a corruption of Set, going as far as to claim that the Hebrew word Satan (adversery) is a corrupted of the Egyptian "Sth" which means something along the lines of "red" or "desert colored". (Even though there is a hebrew Word that is also "Set" and it means "annointed". So yeah, atymology is fun.

      I think you could improve Santa being Haephaistos a little more by adding something along the lines of "This isn't my real apparence, if I had to show you that, you'd be scarred for life" or something as a further nod to the supposedly deformed Greek forge god which does play into your Santa. 

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    • BloodySpaghetti,

      Thank you very much for the review. I appreciate the deficiencies list. Most are valid and will be repaired.

      Elfs means plural of Macy's Toy Store elf. Elves means plural of mythological human sized elf. That's a very common fantasy novel convention. That's why I used elfs in one sentence and elves in the next.

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    • DrBobSmith wrote:
      BloodySpaghetti,

      Thank you very much for the review. I appreciate the deficiencies list. Most are valid and will be repaired.

      Elfs means plural of Macy's Toy Store elf. Elves means plural of mythological human sized elf. That's a very common fantasy novel convention. That's why I used elfs in one sentence and elves in the next.

      Honestly, I think it doesn't matter much considering the fact that we're going for ummm the Germanic elvenfolk more than anything here and English likes "lf" ending words to be "ves" in plural, but sure. Not a big deal really. 

      Also, this has inspired me to write a Christmas themed story of my own, which will deal with more Krampus shannanigens more than anything. So thank you for that :)

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    • Bloody Spaghetti,

      I am glad that you found the spark of inspiration here. It's wonderful when you hit that moment.

      Dr. Bob

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    • I have updated the story per feedback. Has anybody else got any advice for the story?

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    • DrBobSmith wrote: RedNovaTyrant,

      Thank you for the review.

      What would be the best game to use for the two of them playing together?

      What type of details are missing and where do you think they are missing from?

      Where are the grammar errors?

      Respectfully yours,

      Dr. Bob Smith

      Apologies for taking so long to get back. This is more in response to the new draft.

      I noticed the tenses of the story are off. At the beginning, Sean is speaking in present tense (They are average height and thin.), but then lean towards past tense as the story progresses, right around "I had to know the truth.".

      I also caught a few of the grammar errors for you:

      “Tina had no interest in your or anything else that could slow down her rise to CEO.”

      Your should be you, probably just a typo.

      “… and I wanted you to have as good adopted parents as adopted parents.”

      This sentence doesn't make a lot of sense. Is there a missing word, or perhaps just your brain on repeat? (I don't mean that as an insult, I usually catch myself writing ten words ahead of where I'm currently at a lot lol)

      “Your master the Dark Lord?”

      This one's self explanatory.

      Also, just to nitpick about the games section, you still have the line about "Shooting fake aliens". If you've changed the games to Red Dead 2 and A Way Out, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I'd simply change it to "Playing pretend doesn't amuse me", or some variant of that.

      Hope this helps. Otherwise it's looking good.

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    • Red Nova Tyrant,

      Most of your feedback is right on and I have corrected those issues. I've added some more, just a few bits. This is now beginning to fit together.

      Dr. Bob

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    • I feel like there's not a whole lot of suspense building up to the multiple plot twists. Also, wouldn't he start looking for pictures of his grandparents, great grandparents, etc. before assuming he was adopted? My uncle, for example, looks nothing like my grandparents, and my mom and other uncle used to joke he was the milk-man's kid, but later they dug up pictures of my great grandfather (who my grandmother tired to blacklist from the entie family out of pettiness), and he look just like my uncle.

      Another thing is, he doesn't seem all that shaken at finding a tombstone with his name on it. And I'm not sure how I feel about the whole Santa Claus and Satan thing, I feel like actually using the Kraumpus would have been more menacing. The dialogue is stiff, and I'm not entirely sure a 14-year old would have been so accepting of a man in a red suit claiming to be the real Santa. I would add more doubt in the character, and then make the Santa have to prove it, maybe with some kind of dark magic stuff.

      I'm also sure they wouldn't tell the kid his DNA isn't human, seeing as they would have no reason to think he's not. They likely just would offer a full refund for the trouble.

      I hate to rip into it so much, but I feel like a lot could be improved with this

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    • Banned in CP,

      Thank you very much. I appreciate the feedback. I post it here to get ripped into. That way I find out about all the things that I can improve in this story.

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    • Hey! Let me know when it's ready.

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    • DrBobSmith
      DrBobSmith removed this reply because:
      To write a better one.
      09:50, November 28, 2018
      This reply has been removed
    • NoTimeCreepy,

      Tell me what you think. I blended in some of Banned in CP's ideas.

      Nice job on the Russian Sleep Experiment. That has got to be in the top ten all time classic stories - good choice.

      Dr. Bob

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    • A FANDOM user
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