The Party's Over

Submitted into Contest #178 in response to: Set your story at a work holiday party,... view prompt

25 comments

Urban Fantasy Holiday Christmas

We just love seeing what they’re doing over in wind-up gadgets. The wind-up gadget department is killing it these days. The winding. The upping. The gadgetry. We’re amazed. We’re marveling. The rumors that we here at bathtime toys are jealous of the wind-up gadget department, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We are honored and overjoyed to be working under the same umbrella as our wind-up gadget colleagues. We are all here working towards the same goal. We are all part of the same beautiful quilt. Our square on the quilt may be a little bit smaller than the wind-up gadget square, but that does not mean we are lesser. We are vital. We are integral. We are starving. We were promised hors d'oeuvres.


We do think it’s a brilliant idea to have the holiday party the week after Christmas since attempting to celebrate prior to the Big Day would most certainly lead to slowdowns and missed deadlines. As it is, we are sorely understaffed this year. Why, just last week, we were concerned that our latest rubber ducky model wouldn’t be done in time for the 25th. The head of our department was called in for multiple meetings with the Big Guy. Multiple meetings. Words were used. Tones were tense. At one point, it was rumored that the Big Guy raised his voice. We were all worried that the department would be dissolved. That we would be transferred to other departments. Departments like Collectibles and Doll Furniture. We would never say that these are unimpressive departments, but they are obviously not as appealing as Doll Hair or Toys That Promote Violence or--yes--Wind-Up Gadgets.


The dissolution of our department would have meant the disassembling of what has become a family. We all love each other. We adore each other. Yes, one of us screamed at Binkles until Binkles cried and kept crying and went right on crying to the Big Guy, but that was an anomaly. It was unusual. It never happens. It was embarrassing when the Big Guy stormed down to our section of the workshop and demanded that the Head of Our Department--Good Ole Fricassee--get his house in order. That led to a heated exchange between the Big Guy and Fricassee, which left us all on edge. Elves do not typically talk back to the Big Guy, and there was Fricassee, talking back and asking the Big Guy what kind of productivity he can reasonably expect when he’s asking us to do twice the work with half the budget?


These cookies are quite scrumptious this year. Was this catered? Did we get it catered? We heard some scuttlebutt that the catering budget was cut and that Mrs. The Big Guy was going to make all the cookies herself, and while we would never say this out loud, I think we can all agree that baking is not her strong suit.


Considering how stressful this year was, it’s a miracle anybody wanted to come to the holiday party at all. Departments have been jockeying for resources. Layoffs have been doubling in size each month. The espresso machine in the breakroom was replaced with a poster that says ‘Coffee Is Bad For You, But You Know What Isn’t? Hard Work!!!”


It’s such a relief that we can put all that behind us and come together for an evening of fun and frivolity. The DJ is apparently Iggy’s cousin, but she’s not a full-time lawyer. During the day, she works at a reindeer daycare subsidiary. We like that she’s playing all the hits. Last year, the band they hired kept repeating the same four songs and two of them were variations of “Pete Pete the Elf Who Would Only Eat Raisins.”


Despite all the holly jolly smiles, we can sense that when the New Year arrives, changes will be made. Fricassee has already told us that the Big Guy wants to move us to a smaller section of the workshop. We’re going to be the only department not to receive new uniforms. Our daily supply of cookies is now going to be cut in half. It’s just not going to be like it once was. We remember the old days when bathtime toys was a top tier toy department. Others would walk by our desks and ask for our advice on new recreational inventions they were tinkering with, because they knew our advice was worth more than a glass of milk placed lovingly by the fireside.


Now when our colleagues walk by, they avoid eye contact. They have looks of pity resting on their faces. They don’t speak. They hurry along to better sections of the workshop that we are not allowed to visit. Our new ideas grow dusty. Our insights dwindle. We know our work is suffering because of the lack of respect for us throughout the NP. Remember when Dasher told Prancer that inappropriate joke about us, and by the time we found out about it, it had already spread all over the office? The Big Guy said he reprimanded them, but we all know he never disciplines the reindeer. They can say whatever they want, and even if it’s hurtful, they get away with it. Dasher especially takes advantage of the favoritism when he exercises that rancid tongue of his.


Christmas might last forever, but the decor will shift. It will adjust. It will find us slowly clearing out our desks. Throwing out our wrenches. Dumping our dazzle into the dustbins. Once we reach the golden age of 8,021, we will retire to the Home for Somewhat Elderly Elves and spend the rest of eternity thinking about all the baths we improved with our many, many toys. The toy boats. The floating toy hippos. Bobo the Bath Bear That Squirts Water Out of His Eyes for No Discernible Reason. We had some real hits over the years.


Now, we stand here and wonder what happened to the canapes of years gone by. The office parties where there would be special appearances from the Easter Bunny and the Flag Day Fairy. The limbo contest where the winner would get to ride with the Big Guy on his ride around the world. Mrs. The Big Guy doing the Electric Slide with all of us like we were all one big, happy family.


Well. We…are one big happy family, aren’t we?


It’s just that some families grow apart over time. Some send their least useful members to other departments. Some get their budgets cut. Some are no longer allowed to participate in the limbo contest, but they don’t want to anyway, because the prize is now an alarm clock shaped like a broken candy cane.


Isn’t it always a little sad the week after Christmas?


Oh sure, we’re getting a New Year, but what will the New Year bring?


There might not be any point in worrying about it. We may as well just sip our punch, admire the ice sculpture, and hum along to “Pete Pete the Elf Who Would Only Eat Raisins.” It seems even this superior DJ has succumbed to playing it. Not that we blame her.


Some traditions are hard to break.

December 25, 2022 04:58

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25 comments

Lily Finch
21:00 Jan 08, 2023

Kevin, this story is witty and captures the ever-changing demands of the consumer versus the producers. The Big Guy, Santa, doesn't really sound assertive. My favourite lines are: "Well. We…are one big happy family, aren’t we? It’s just that some families grow apart over time." and "The espresso machine in the breakroom was replaced with a poster that says ‘Coffee Is Bad For You, But You Know What Isn’t? Hard Work!!!” It really shows the mentality of the workplace for the elves. Kind of difficult to realize but so true about families growing...

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Story Time
05:48 Jan 09, 2023

Thank you! Hope it gave a little post-holiday cheer.

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Amanda Lieser
16:00 Jan 07, 2023

Hi Kevin! Oh gracious, this story was fun and sad and deep all at the same time. I have to tell you, just this past holiday season I was running down the aisles looking for bath toys for a friend’s kids and I couldn’t find any! It drove me bananas. I suppose this story is the explanation for that experience. I loved the way this story had superb humor-my favorite line: Yes, one of us screamed at Binkles until Binkles cried and kept crying and went right on crying to the Big Guy, but that was an anomaly. But I think the way you ended things w...

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Story Time
18:23 Jan 07, 2023

Thank you so much, Amanda. I was trying to find a story that would work for post-Christmas while still being Christmas-themed. Glad you enjoyed it.

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S N
00:14 Jan 06, 2023

Really fun read. I love that Santa's just, "The Big Guy." And Rudolph being a trash/dirty talker? Hilarious! Coffee is not bad for you lol... hardworking is. Light and well spirited.

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Story Time
00:32 Jan 06, 2023

Thank you so much, Sasha.

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Amelia Fortunato
12:47 Jan 05, 2023

What a creative idea! I loved it :)

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Story Time
17:02 Jan 05, 2023

Thank you so much, Amelia.

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Delbert Griffith
10:45 Jan 04, 2023

What an amazing tale, Kevin. I once wrote a Christmas story about Santa Claus, all coked up and sleeping with scads of elf prostitutes. It has nothing on your excellent tale. And you didn't even have drugs or sex! LOL Favorite passage: "Christmas might last forever, but the decor will shift. It will adjust. It will find us slowly clearing out our desks. Throwing out our wrenches. Dumping our dazzle into the dustbins." This is the perfect distillation of the entire tale. Short, sweet, melancholy. Most savage passage: "The espresso machine ...

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Story Time
17:30 Jan 04, 2023

Thank you so much, Delbert. Glad you enjoyed it.

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Laurel Hanson
13:04 Jan 01, 2023

You completely had me at "The winding. The upping." The whole intro paragraph delivers so much information, establishing such a great narrative voice, so much attitude, such a vivid sense of place sketched in through inference. I really enjoyed this. Much respect that along with being a fun spoof on business up at the N.P., it also reflects on the cynicism that businesses run as "happy families" but workers are put in competition with each other, are often asked to do more with less, etc. And the sly social commentary: "but they are obviou...

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Story Time
03:25 Jan 02, 2023

Thank you so much, Laurel. Glad you enjoyed it.

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Rebecca Miles
22:46 Dec 30, 2022

We might all have the touch of the christmas-come- down elf about us this week. I need to hit the hay as it's late in Germany but I just wanted to say I loved the short clipped syntax of the opening to capture that rather forced joviality and then the subsurface strain throughout. We're really enjoying this and of course it's all worth it, muttered through gritted teeth. I'm looking forward to my first full year on the platform in 2023. Wishing you lots of successful scribbles in the new year Kevin.

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Story Time
00:00 Dec 31, 2022

Thank you, Rebecca. Glad to have your work to enjoy this year and next year!

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Wendy Kaminski
20:56 Dec 30, 2022

Light-hearted with a touch of melancholy for the good ol' days; exactly what we're all feeling these days, it seems - I love it! And Santa's elves having their Christmas meal is such a fun and delightful idea for the prompt! This story was just all-around fantastic. One quick notice: "when Dashed told Prancer". I don't think it's too late to change that. I wanted to throw in a quick congrats on seeing your name high on the lists at Post-Apocalyptic Media today, too, by the way! I hope we will get to read that story one of these times? :)

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Story Time
21:28 Dec 30, 2022

Thank you, Wendy! A good catch. I didn't know I was high on the list haha Do you have the link? I must have missed an email.

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Story Time
21:31 Dec 30, 2022

I found it! Congratulations on your story winning 3rd! That's wonderful. I can't wait to read it.

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Wendy Kaminski
21:34 Dec 30, 2022

Thank you, as well!

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Wendy Kaminski
21:31 Dec 30, 2022

You are listed as the first runner-up! https://www.postapocalypticmedia.com/announcing-the-post-apocalyptic-short-story-writing-contest-winners-for-2022/

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AnneMarie Miles
15:23 Dec 30, 2022

I like the voice in this, Kevin. Casual, but distinct and familiar. Just like a family member. You managed to work a lot of detailed references into each paragraph, this showing us what's going on rather than telling us. Of course the elves have to have their party after Christmas. And then you captured that strange post -christmas limbo feeling we all feel (including the elves apparently)once the holiday is over. This was a nice light and easy read, thank you.

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Story Time
17:47 Dec 30, 2022

Thank you so much, Anne. I try and alternate light and loaded ha. Last week was a lot to put out, so I wanted to have some fun before the end of the year. Glad you enjoyed it.

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AnneMarie Miles
17:57 Dec 30, 2022

I appreciate that. I also try to alternate and mix up the tones and tenseness of my stories. It helps! And I think it highlights how diverse we can be as writers, and gives us a space to practice new ideas and styles.

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10:30 Dec 25, 2022

You capture getting old at an elven work christmas party well. Happy to read they at least played some oldies elven tunes at the end.

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Story Time
09:56 Dec 26, 2022

Thank you, Scott! Ain't no party like an elven party, as they say.

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Marty B
07:07 Jan 02, 2023

I loved these lines- 'We are all part of the same beautiful quilt. Our square on the quilt may be a little bit smaller than the wind-up gadget square, but that does not mean we are lesser.' Happy New Year!

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