This is Joe Crowe, from ESO station RevolutionSF and DragonCon’s American Sci-Fi Classics Track. Twice now, ESO’s grand poobahs Mike Faber and Michael Gordon have rounded up a plethora of the fun folks behind bunches of shows on the ESO network and put together “Tales of The Station,” an anthology of fiction inspired by the Station and its hosts. I have had an absolute blast contributing to both of those anthologies.
So to start the year off right, here is an exclusive never-before seen look at a story I’m working on for the next “Tales of the Station.” Thank you, ESO!
Earth Station One and the Convoy of Christmas Crushers by Joe Crowe
“Have you seen my festive holiday fez?” Mike Gordon interrupted Earth Station One Director Mike Faber, loudly.
“Have you checked the top of your head?” Faber asked, without turning around in his chair.
“Found it!” yelled Gordon. “It was right over here by the chimney.”
Faber stopped working.
“The chimney. On a space station?” Faber said, turning around to see, indeed, a chimney with a fireplace, leading up to the ceiling of Earth Station One, beyond which lay the vacuum of cold, airless space.
Then an elf came down the chimney, covered in ashes from his head to his foot.
“Something rotten has happened. Santa sent me to put together a team.”
Faber and Gordon stood agape.
“I’ll need YOU with your nose so bright,” he gestured in the general direction of Mike Faber.
“And YOU, with your hat. There must have been some magic in it,” the elf said.
“Um…” said Faber.
“I think you have us mistaken for—“ Gordon said.
“We’re in. Let’s see where this goes,” Faber whispered.
“I’m Lipschitz, the angry elf. The boss sent me. Now get to work, you jerks,” the elf said.
“Isn’t an angry elf kind of a cliche?” said Gordon.
“Yeah, you’re right,” the elf said.
“Cliches are cliches because THEY’RE TRUE,” yelled Lipchitz, then scampered around behind Gordon and kicked him square in the butt.
“Um…” said Faber. “What exactly is happening?”
“Shut your fruit hole! Some jerk-weeds are always trying to stop Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and all seasonal holidays from happening, But this time, they teamed up,” said Lipschitz. “They call themselves…”
“THE CONVOY OF CHRISTMAS CRUSHERS.”
Lipschitz said, “That’s exactly right, how did you—“
Lipschitz, Faber, and Gordon turned to see a bespectacled man with rolled up sleeves and and suspenders, carrying a pen and a spiral bound notebook.
“What exactly is going on right now?” Gordon asked politely.
“OK, OK, I’ll talk! Just don’t use your magic hat on me!” the bespectacled man said, while recoiling in terror.
“Um…” Gordon said.
“I am an envoy of the Convoy, sent here to warn you about our holiday related reign of pain. For I am THE SONGWRITER.”
“Um, that last part did not rhyme, and why is your name about crushing Christmas when you want to crush all the holidays?” said Faber.
“Alliteration! It’s the greatest of all the iterations,” the Songwriter said. “Harrumph,” he added.
“The Convoy of Christmas Crushers will meet you on the field of battle, at the very North Pole headquarters of Santa Claus himself,” the Songwriter said.
“Don’t ask him what songs he wrote. That’s what he wants,” Lipschitz whispered to Gordon.
“So if you’re The Songwriter, what songs did you write?” Faber said.
“The one where I condescendingly tell you to have yourselves a merry little Christmas, like the sub-human reprobates you are? That was me. The one where I insist you “rock” around some Christmas tree. How do you do that? You cannot. That was me! But my personal favorite is a terrifying ode to death — the one about the kid wanting to buy shoes for his dying mother,” The Songwriter said.
“YOU MONSTER!” Gordon yelled, then lunged for The Songwriter, who dodged out of his way, then jumped through a wreath that appeared floating in mid-air.
“You said you were putting together a team. Um… how’s that going?” Faber said.
“It’s totally OK, guys,” said a voice from behind them.
Faber and Gordon turned around to see a masked Kevlar-armored warrior, loaded down with weaponry.
“I’m the Christmas Commando,” he said, then removed his mask.
“Award-winning writer Bobby Nash!” exclaimed Faber.
“I thought you were on a book tour,” said Gordon.
“Whenever I say I’m on a book tour, I’m actually fighting holiday-related villains in the Deadly Reindeer Games,” Nash said.
“Cool, cool,” said Faber. “This is good. So you’re an expertly trained military tough guy, since you’re a commando and such.”
“Nope,” Nash said.
“Quit flappin’ your lips and save the holidays,” Lipschitz yelled, then tossed Faber, Gordon, and Bobby Nash, Christmas Commando, through the middle of the magical wreath.
They appeared in the North Pole.
“Well, this is pretty chilly,” said Faber.
“I have my rage about those horrible songs to keep me warm,” said Gordon.
“OH GOOD GRIEF, IT’S COLD. SO COLD. SO COLD. I’VE MADE A HORRIBLE DECISION ABOUT LACK OF UNDERGARMENTS,” said Bobby Nash, who then leaped back through the magical wreath.
“Harrumph! I see you’ve finally arrived! But what can YOU, despite your mutant nose and your magic hat, do with my CONVOY OF CHRISTMAS CRUSHERS,” yelled a bitter, crumpled old man.
“So say I, the right honorable Christmasbastard Bastardchristmas,” yelled the old man.
“Tremble in terror and behold my enforcer,” Christmasbastard said, pointing to a tall metal flagpole covered in ice.
“Why are you so evil, sir? Is it because you didn’t get the stuff you wanted when you were a kid?” said Faber.
“Nope. My childhood was awesome. I’m just a tremendous jerk,” said Christmasbastard.
“Let the battles begin, so the forces of evil can win again,” sang The Songwriter.
“Before we get started, I have a wager. I bet I can lick your enforcer,” said Faber.
“Whoa,” said Gordon.
The other villains likewise said, “Whoa.”
Except for the flagpole, who remained silent.
“Bet you can’t,” said Christmasbastard.
“Better than you,” said Faber.
“HOW DARE YOU MOCK CHRISTMASBASTARD BASTARDCHRISTMAS,” the miserable old jerk blustered.
“He can do it better than ALL OF YOU,” said Gordon.
“Whoa, dude, don’t get carried away,” whispered Faber to Gordon.
“Nuh-uh,” sang The Songwriter.
“Me first,” yelled Christmasbastard Bastardchristmas.
They both set upon the ice-covered flagpole with their tongues.
Two seconds later:
“MAH TNG!” yelled The Songwriter.
“AHM THTUCK,” yelled Christmasbastard.
Lipschitz The Elf popped in through the magical wreath. “The holidays are saved! Now hurry up before I catch my death,” he said.
“Whoo hoo! Who’s up for Chinese food?” said Faber.
“So we’re totally OK with leaving these people, as bad as they are, out here in the North Pole,” said Gordon.
“This guy wrote a death song about moms,” said Faber.
“No, no, I’m fine with it. Just checking,” said Gordon. Then he sloshed through the snow to The Songwriter and kicked him square in the butt.
Faber leaped through the magical wreath, dragging Gordon and Lipschitz behind him.
Back on Earth Station One, all warm and toasty, Faber and Gordon prepared to beam down for the holidays.
“Did it seem like there were enough villains in that so-called Convoy? It seems like we’re forgetting someone,” said Faber.
“Nope. We’re podcasters. We are always right about everything,” said Gordon.
“Nothing could possibly be amiss. At all,” said Gordon.
Both Gordon and Faber teleported away from the station.
Then a tiny, blond elf stepped out of the shadows.
He wielded a giant set of rusty tooth pullers.
“They can’t fire me. I quit,” he said.
“Seems I don’t fit in…”
Follow Joe Crowe at @ClassicTrack and buy both Tales of the Station often at the ESO Amazon link right here and here!