Twelve Drummers Drumming – (day 12)


Eric J. Krause

     Something woke Danny. He sat up, scanned his room, and found something silvery and shiny standing at the foot of his bed. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and discovered a short man (or was it a woman?) staring down at him.

     “Hello, Danny,” the man (or woman?) said in a squeaky voice. “Are you ready for your trip?”

     Trip? “What trip? Who are you?”

     “Santa got your letter. He’d be delighted if you met him at the North Pole.”

     Danny’s eyes went wide. Santa? The Santa? And he wanted to meet him? He hopped out of bed to join what he now guessed was an elf. The elf held out his (or her–Danny still couldn’t tell) hand, and Danny grasped it. Before he could brace himself for anything, his room blinked and he stood in a large room with a bunch of other kids.

     “Ah, wonderful, the last one has arrived. We can get started now.”

     Danny looked towards the speaker and found her (he was almost positive this one was a girl) standing in front of a large wooden gate. All of the children were focused on her. He looked back and saw the elf that’d transported him had disappeared.

     “I’ll be your tour guide through the workshop, so stay close. I promise, after you meet Santa, you’ll have all the time you could possibly want inside the workshop.”

     Danny and the other kids, already leaning forward, almost toppled over their feet at this news. They’d get to see the workshop! But more than that, Santa was here. He really was, and they were going to meet him!  

     The elves opened the gate, and the kids rushed in. It was huge! Danny didn’t know where to look first. Hundreds and hundreds of elves flooded the floor, creating toys and playing games.

     “Look,” one of the girls said. “They have slides and swings and monkey bars!”

     “Of course,” the guide said. “We can’t make fun if we don’t have it ourselves.”

     The elves on the playground equipment climbed on the bars, slid down the slides, and swung on swings. An elf next to the group cleared his throat, and Danny glanced over. “Don’t be fooled,” the elf said.

     “What do you mean?” Danny asked.

     Before the elf could say anything else, others grabbed him and dragged him away. They stuffed some sort of gag in his mouth so he couldn’t yell out.

     Danny turned to the group, who were all focused on the twisting and turning slides, high-flying swings, and multi-shaped monkey bars. “Did you guys see that? They took that elf.”

     They looked at him, all with blank stared. The guide laughed, but he could hear a twinge of nervous energy under it, like Mom when she denied taking a nip from a liquor bottle. “Quite an imagination on this one,” she said to the group. Everyone but Danny laughed.

     The group walked through the rest of the cavernous room. Danny couldn’t help but think of Mr. Wonka’s candy factory, but with toys instead. Elves sang songs as they pounded toys together, and the group got into the act and hummed along. Except Danny; he couldn’t put his finger on it, but not all was right with these happy elves. He could see it in the eyes of those few who ventured a quick glance his way.

     “Ready to meet Santa, kids?” their guide asked when they got to a big set of double doors at the back of the workshop.

     The kids squealed and even Danny perked up. Santa would make it all better. Maybe they’d all get early Christmas gifts. They’d at least get to sit on his lap–the real Santa’s lap, not some faker in the mall–and tell him face-to-face what they wanted.

     The new room was empty except for twelve enormous drums which lined the back wall. Excitement crackled through the ranks of the group as everyone searched for Jolly Ol’ St. Nick. When the door to the left opened, they all jumped for joy.

     Instead of Santa, however, twelve gigantic men rumbled out. They looked nothing like the elves; each stood at least ten feet tall and wore only a pair of fur shorts. They had more muscles than any of the professional wrestlers Danny liked to watch every Monday night.

     The huge men each stepped up to one of the drums and picked up a big club. No one said a word; all eyes were on these monstrosities, who lifted their clubs and smacked the drums. The beats assaulted Danny. This was what the elf tried to warn him about. It had to be. The sound vibrated through his skull, and he clutched his hands over his ears to stop it.

     The others in the group felt none of it. They watched the twelve huge drummers with looks of wonder plastered on their faces. Each stepped forward, and Danny watched them change. First their ears enlarged, growing points at the tops like all of the elves he’d seen in the workshop. Next their clothes changed. They went from jeans, t-shirts, and tennis shoes (or, like Danny, pajamas and slippers) to the extravagant styles of the elves. Their pants transformed into multi-colored tights, their shirts to green tunics, and their shoes to curly-toed booties, complete with bells on the tips. Their cheeks burned rosy, and wooly caps grew onto their heads, right through their hair.

     The twelve drummers continued pounding out their beats. Danny kept his hands plastered over his ears, and though he felt strange, he hadn’t changed like the others. The guide came up behind him and pulled his hands from his ears. “You can’t meet Santa without listening to the song.”

     He felt the transformation at once. It didn’t hurt, not really, but it wasn’t pleasant. His ears bent, his insides shifted, and his clothes swapped out. The driving drums pounded through his skin, his flesh, his bones, his soul.

     It all took only seconds. When it was done, he had the urge to make toys. Though he’d never done it before, he had some great ideas for awesome toy racing cars, and he couldn’t wait to get started. He looked to the guide, hoping she’d send them out to work. She smiled at him and pointed to the door the drummers had rumbled through.

     Santa, in all his red suit, jelly-belly, and white beard glory walked out with a hearty “Ho-ho-ho!” He looked at Danny and the other new elves, and then at the drummers. “Ah, nothing like the sound of twelve drummers drumming.”


9 Responses to “Twelve Drummers Drumming – (day 12)”

  1. Susan May

    This is a fantastic story to read on Christmas day! I love it! Great description of the transformation too.
    Good twist, well done Eric.

  2. David G Shrock

    Cool elf-recruitment system. I like those drummers.

  3. Tweets that mention You can check out my story in #12days2010 here: 12 Drummers Drumming --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David G Shrock. David G Shrock said: RT @ericjkrause: You can check out my story in #12days2010 here: 12 Drummers Drumming […]

  4. Cecilia Dominic

    Oooh, freaky! Great visual imagery here, and you stick the foreboding in a perfect spot.


  5. Tony Noland

    Wow, the magical enslavement angle is a new one on me. Nice one!

  6. Eric J. Krause

    Thanks for reading! I’m glad you all liked this one!

  7. ganymeder

    Awesome stuff here! I suspected something was up with those elves! Sort of like when Pinocchio turned into a donkey for skipping school. *shiver*

  8. Chuck Allen

    Very cool story!

  9. Patti Larsen

    Wicked! Love the twist… I always wondered where Santa got his elves… 🙂

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