Features | Written by Kate Shenton 17/12/2019

Head Office – A Short Story by Kate Shenton


Santa Claus is a shit.

We all think it. Just a blundering buffoon who consumes one mince pie after another because he’s too egotistical to believe he’ll ever have a heart attack.

Two hundred and twenty-six years I’ve worked on that damn factory floor, wearing this stupid ‘elf’ uniform, laughing at his terrible turkey jokes, which are both offensive and borderlining on bestiality.

Two hundred and twenty-six years I’ve sat at that damn conveyor belt, adding the ribbons to each present, as they play that god-awful Christmas music in the background. If I ever meet Rudolf the red-nose fucking reindeer, I’ll skin him alive and turn his coat into a pair of moccasins.

But those two hundred and twenty-six years of shit are about to pay off.

I’m being promoted to head office.

Currently I’m sitting in reception, next to the old bastard's office, waiting for my induction.

I’ve heard good things about head office. Nine-to-five hours, six weeks' holiday, and no fucking Christmas music. Apparently everyone is given a kneeling posture chair, because when you're important, the company cares about your posture.

“Mr Claus will see you now,” says the receptionist, in her monotone ‘god I hate my job’ voice.

His office is like everything else about him - grandiose, extravagant, and vulgar. Hundreds of Santa statues surround his oak desk, all of them there to inflate his ego, probably compensating for a tiny dick.

“Elfie, you old cock!” beams Santa, scoffing his five o’clock Christmas dinner, gravy dribbling down his beard. “Good to see ya! Sit down, sit down!”

My name’s not Elfie. Santa calls all his employees this, so he doesn’t have to bother learning our names. It’s not like we play an important part in his trillion-dollar empire!

I sit down.

“So, Elfie… Before you make the leap, I need to know… do you love Christmas?”

“Yes, of course I love Christmas!”

“Would you do anything to keep Christmas great?”

Right now, I'd do anything to get out of this stupid fucking uniform.

“Yes, Mr Claus,’ I lie, ‘I’d do anything.” He smiles, blue eyes twinkling.

“Good. Because we’ve built up one hell of an empire here! I’ve gone from being a simple saint to a global icon. There are more look-a-likes of me than the fucking Queen! The kids love me. The parents love me. They all love the brand and we need to protect it, no matter what.”

Santa Claus heaves himself from his chair and walks over to the smallest, oldest statue of himself, which is stationed on the fireplace.

He twists the statue’s porcelain head.

The floor behind me slides back, revealing a small staircase, leading into the darkness.

“So … what’s down there?”

“Head office!”

Shit! No one told me it was a basement office. I wonder if I can claim for vitamin D pills. Still, it’s got to be better than working in the factory…

The further down we go, the narrower and more crooked the steps become. Torches on the walls light our way. When we reach the bottom, we are confronted by a simple iron door.

“Here we go!” says Santa as he slides a key into the lock, pulling the door open.

He gestures for me to enter. I obey.

“Now what you need to understand is, during my sainthood, Christmas was a very different business. Cakes and nuts for the good girls and boys, a whipping or a kidnapping for the bad…”

The room was dark, so dark I can barely see anything, but I can hear something rustling in the shadows…

“However, I saw the potential… with the right marketing and a bit of clever branding, Christmas could be more than just a stocking full of dried fruit. But, to do that, I needed him to stand down and let me take the reins.”

I hear the rustling turn to grunting. Then, the sound of hooves striking the stone floor. Terrified, I turn to the door, but Santa has already locked it. His dead, black eyes meet mine through the peep hole.

“The thing is, he really liked eating the children and as they’re my best customers, we had to make a compromise… A sort of severance package.”

I hear a roar.

Out of the shadows Krampus emerges, licking his sharp teeth, dried blood glistening on his horns. He scrapes his hooves against the floor, excited to see me.

Santa smiles.

“You did say you’d do anything for Christmas!”