Yes, its true. I’m back at it, after time off to heal. I have posted the events of March 21st – March 30th in three parts. This part is part 3, and the last installmentof this feature. And tho I was coy with my disclaimers in the previous posts, this time i really mean it. This time I get personal, really personal and write some graphic descriptions that those with modest mores might find a bit over the line. As always I tried to keep it in good tastse. But your boundaries are your boundaries – no judgement here. You be you and I’ll keep it as real as my fingers can type. Without further ado.. Wait! Where were we? Oh yes, I left us at a cliffhanger? Good for me. Dr. Wylie would be proud. And that cliffhanger was… oh, yes, that I had just had the bandages removed from the surgical area and was handed a mirror to see for myself what had been under all that white guaze. Ready? It’s Raised by Wolves 21’s conclusion? Well, anyway, it’s part 3 of 3…
Scottie Jeanette Madden , June 2017
For those of you who read my book know I love love love Christmas – and for the next few weeks, I’m taking a brief respite from the serious side of things to nibble a few Christmas cookies in the from of a a short story I wrote to cheer up my sister a few years back… and I’m hoping it works for us all. Here then is chapter2 enjoy!
Chapter 2 “and so it began…”
Rudolph, tanned, relaxed and eager to return to the glory and fame waiting for him at his North Pole home, arrived with the compulsory lei’s and chocolate covered macadamia nuts for everyone. After a big welcome home bash, Rudolph nestled down without a care in the world, content that he was finally accepted by his own, and never dreaming for one moment that all the reindeer didn’t love him or that he wouldn’t “go down in his-tor-reeeeeeee…”
In through the darkness crept two hulking black silhouettes, finding the barn door open just as Vixen has promised. And before Rudolph knew what hit him, he was bagged, gagged and spirited away, bound for the southern reaches, where no one could ever, ever, never find him. As the muffled snorts of Rudolph’s protests faded in the snow of the North Pole night, Vixen smiled and rested his head on the bag of silver tipped, frosted, sugar cookies, which, as you know, are like catnip to the reindeer.
Baba Raga, for her part, made good time as she headed across the Forgotten Valley, down the fouled river of Sludge and into the Craggs of Doom to capture the two-headed Mountain troll, named Malco & Disco — or the Tentz brothers as they are affectionately called by their dark brethren.
Baba Raga, truth be told, was known throughout the netherworld for her culinary skills, and the Mountain troll was only too happy to be called her Prisoner.
And while Rudolph was sold to a traveling sideshow with your hot and cold running sideshow professionals – you know, the standard: bearded lady, monkey-boy, snake-charmer kind, Baba Raga worked her fingers to the bone (with not so much as a peep of appreciation!) to feed Malco & Disco Tentz a steady diet of:
Little white lies,
and a soup of cooked-up facts,
until they farted and belched a hideous fog that enshrouded the earth, clouding the hearts of men, and dimming the light of hope and belief.
For almost a year, the foul, thick-as-pea-soup smog, sapped the very life from the entire world. Only Bah Humbug could know that the real weapon was not the fog, but the depression itself… Everyone knew that something was wrong, but nobody seemed to care to fix it… and with no end in sight, the world trudged on, trying to just finish its business and get home to curl up in the dankness, pull their covers over their heads and hide…
Oh, Yes, the times were bleak… oddly enough, down south, people found that the few grimy coins required for entrance to the sideshow were worth it – if for nothing else, to gawk at someone who was even less fortunate than themselves… The sideshow was doing the best business in years.
Rudolph, as you can guess, was miserable, he lay in a constant funk – a matted brown lump in the corner of his dirty cage, flashing his famous nose on demand, but hating himself every minute of it.
At night, alone and scared, Rudolph would cry himself to sleep, clinging to a shred of faith in his fellow reindeer. “It will all be over soon. My brothers will come. They will. They will.” The poor little nipper was never aware that it was his “brothers” and their fragile egos that had sold him down the river in the first place.
Red warning flags went up all over the Kingdom of Imagination. All who lived there could feel the power of the kingdom beginning to fade. The first to discover the problem were the sailors who ferried the citizens of the Kingdom across the ocean of dreams. Several boats had capsized, while others were mysteriously becalmed… adrift for weeks, their passengers stranded, unable to enter the world of children.
After months of disappointment, the power of the Toothfairy, the Easter bunny, and those darn leprechauns, became nothing more than an ugly joke, and as the year came round again to the Christmas season, that special time of the year reserved for goodwill, silver bells and hot chocolate, Bah Humbug was gearing up for the killing blow… the biggest legend, of them all, Santa, Kris Kringle, St. Nicholas, Sinter Klaus himself, would renege on his promise to every child around the world, which will snuff out the light of hope and close off access to the hearts of men forever.
And then the summons came: Bah Humbug would see the Witch Baba Raga…
“Everything is as you wish,” reported the witch as she peered through the slightly less-intense bars of light that throbbed menacingly between her and her foul Master.
“Everything?” challenged Bah Humbug, who tossed an unfortunate hobgoblin, into the bars of light — “AHHHHHH” PPPFFFT! The Hobgoblin was zapped by the blazing light, turning instantly to stone on the other side of the cell wall.
Bah Humbug counted the seconds the Hobgoblin screamed before turning into stone and noted it on the wall. Hmm… yes, in fact, there was… a discernable diminishing of the power of his prison bars.
Baba Raga had had enough. “Did I stutter? Everything. The fog as you can see has covered the earth like a cow turd covers a daisy — you couldn’t find your nose on your own face — as for Rudolph, he’s currently touring some backwater village as the warm-up act to a broken down Lizard-boy routine for Frostelli’s Fabulous Freakshow and Lavish Lot of Legerdemain. The red-proboscis’d Rudy is so danged depressed that he hasn’t eaten in weeks and even his legendary schnoz is fading. The toothfairy hasn’t made a delivery in months and the Easter bunny’s debacle last spring sent the world’s children spinning.”
“So…” sneered Bah Humbug. “Why is that I detect another shoe about to drop?”
The witch smiled a toothless grin, “because, Hummie, baby, you and I, as they say, are cut from the same cloth.”
“Let me guess,” said the Evil Bah Humbug. “You see the genius of my plan working better than we expected and want a bigger piece of the action.”
The witch batted her lonely eyelash — coy was not one of her strongest spells, “Not only are you a genius, but you’re smart too.”
“Name your price, witch.”
“Now, Hummie, dearest, is that any way to talk to your bride?”
“I’m, flattered.” He lied, “But I’m a confirmed bachelor.”
“Don’t piss me off, Humbug,” warned the hag, “I can be a real witch when I get angry.”
“I’ll consider it.”
“You’ll promise it or I stop feeding the trolls right now.”
Humbug paced behind the white-hot bars of light, feeling sooooo close to victory he could taste it… but try as he might, he could not keep his eyes from staring at warts on Baba Raga’s nose twitching with lust. But what’s an evil genius to do? She had him right where she wanted him… and she knew it. So, like all good poker players, he swallowed hard, looked her right in the wart, and declared: “I… promise. As soon as I’m free, it’s all about you and me.”
She left happy as loon, and Bah Humbug returned his attention to stewing on his evil plan.
And so it was…
For Rudolph was, as the witch had promised, depressed and downtrodden. His hope had shriveled to almost nothing. The only rays of light in his pitiful existence came from a young orphan named Hannah, who cleaned his cage and fed him each night, and a young mouse, named Ecko who shared his cage and brought the reindeer remnants of the popcorn and cookies that the visitors of the sideshow dropped on the ground. They made a funny group, the orphans club they called themselves, and Hannah was probably the only little girl in the world who ever knew that reindeer could talk.
But comforting as their nightly talks were, it was Ecko’s streetsmarts that finally wizened the reindeer up for good. “Get with the piture, Rudy ol’ boy. If they really cared about you, they woulda’ busted you outta here a long time ago. My money sez they never did dig the fact that you saved Santa’s arse, and they finally found away to get the spotlight back from you and your schnozola”
It worked. Between that and the fog that was starting to blot the sun out everyday, Rudolph was convinced that Ecko was right. And as time wore on, the kids that came to see the infamous reindeer stopped looking in on him with wonder and instead laughed and called him names.
And Hannah wasn’t fairing much better, either. The owner of the freakshow, Balderdash Frostelli, was a cruel and cantankerous man, who lavished his own daughter with gifts and praise while taking out his anger on the young orphan girl.
It must be said that Hannah’s parents had once owned all that made the freakshow: the tents, the wagons and scores of glorious and wondrous animals. It was, at that time, a magical circus. But that was years ago, and Hannah’s parents were lost under mysterious circumstances. Their will stipulated that everything be left to their closest kin, and Balderdash Frostelli became the owner, changed everything to a freak show, cut the wonderous animals loose and took on the charge of raising the young orphan. His plan was like that of every unimaginative secondary character. He would raise Hannah until such time as he could cut her loose into the cold, cruel world. Until then, she was cheap labor, didn’t even have to be paid and she grew to know no better… her life was dirty cages, insults from a spoiled cousin and constant badgering from a cruel (as we’ve said) skinflint uncle.
Hannah and Rudolph were of course made for each other, and though Eecko painted a bleak picture of life as they knew it, Rudolph would try to get Hannah to give that cousin of hers a good bump on the nose for all her schenanigans, while Hannah would hug her hoofed friend, saying that he shouldn’t let anything get him down, after all, no one could ever take away his accomplishments.
And so it was.
And back in the Kingdom of Imagination, “the piture,” as Eecko would say was bleak as all get out…
“Something has got to give! Look at us!” Cried the beleaguered Toothfairy as she stared at her fading reflection in a silvery pond. Her companion, Peter Cottontail, normally hopped at the chance to gaze at his dapper form in anything reflective, but was very reluctant to see if his fading good looks were as transparent as hers, “I’ll take your word for it, Toothie.”
“If we ever get our hands on the rogue who’s behind all this we’ll take the shillelagh upside their heads!” roared the leprechauns who ringed the pond. They formed an odd band, a posse if you will, of seasonal characters. To the outside world, they appeared like a mix-up at the Hallmark store, but with the right attitude (and a straight-up helping of Bling) they might be able to pull off the posse part. But I digress as usual…
“We better get word to the Empress, she’ll have an answer for this.”
Chapter 3 “Her Highness, the Empress of Grace…”
I started this blog to have an outlet for all my work. And if you’re like me, you could use a little holiday cheer. What I maybe have’t confessed in recent posts is that I started down this crazy road as “a creative” because I grew up on steady diet of Saturday Morning cartoons, and always knew I’d be, one day making them.
Which I did.
For four glorious years I wrote, directed and produced, along with my dear partner, Andy Jones and a band of merry pranksters, a children’s television series called Pug & Zero’s Field Trip.Which for those of you who haven’t seen it, was, as we described it, “Lucy & Ethel meet Steven Hawking.” Wherein, we proved every Saturday (in syndication, remember that?) that pratfalls and string theory do mix quite nicely. Yes, we let Schrödinger’s cat out of the bag… and our 6- 10 year-old audience loved it as much as we did.
And… yes. I miss it very much.
Somehow, I got so… serious in these last few years of my career. And tho’ I wouldn’t trade my current track of serious (well, okay, we are still talking me) adult subjects, my book and the lectures, the workshops and doing everything I can to make our world a little more tolerant, a little more accepting of the diversity that is human beauty, for anything — especially since it’s become even more about life and death (is that even possible?) in these last few weeks. But, I need to refresh my spirit, so I will fight our fights with a renewed sense of purpose. I need to take a breath so I can Radiate Light, Laughter & Love anew.
And what better way time to recharge than the season of light?
So, for the next coupla’ weeks, that is my gift to us both. A big bright sugary cookie sprinkled with an extra dollop of holiday cheer. To refresh our spirits together in the form of some Christmas stories I wrote a few years back to cheer up my sister who was lonely in her new adopted England. A postcard from home (if your home is next door to Dr. Seuss, maybe).
I wrote these Christmas stories to be read aloud. The first up is an imagining of what might have happened as a sequel to a story that seized my imagination at a very early age and only furthered my addiction to animation, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer… so without further ado… Merry Christmas & Enjoy! And I promise to get serious again as soon as the sugar high wears off, cross my heart!
Rudolph to the rescue… again!
The continuing adventures of our beloved “misfit” with his infamous red nose, or what happened the morning after his famous ride…
We all know how Santa’s “ninth buck” saved Christmas back in the day… but what we didn’t know (until now) was how that storm was started or by who… and of course we also never knew how this same you know who never got over his evil plan being foiled by a rookie reindeer on his very first ride.
No… that’s his name. Bah Humbug…well, you’ll have to sit down for this one….
“what you didn’t know…”
Though you didn’t know it, the Christmas fog, the near disastrous storm of ’62 in which Rudolph with his nose so bright, guided Santa’s Sleigh that night, was in fact, a sinister act — of Evil… Uh huh! It was an ill-fated deed by none other than Bah Humbug, himself! The Nastiest, cruelest, ne’er-do-well this side of the ocean of dreams, to ever haunt the shadows of childhood.
Oh, it was him all right, accompanied by his cult of dark followers, Humbug’s motis operndi was usually to wait just outside the thorny gates of puberty — setting traps of fatalism and cynicism, to drive the myths and fantasy from the Kingdom of the Imagination with lies and conceit — destroying the magic of Christmas and Childhood. Sadly his dastardly plan had worked for years with small, ahem, success if you will. And some unfortunate souls never truly ever recovered – these unfortunate souls usually went on to lives of dreary servitude – willing slaves to a fatal view of reality, not unlike wicked school headmasters, stuffy loan officers or ostrich pen cleanliness inspectors. But as with all evil-doers intent on conquering the world, Humbug wasn’t satisfied and he wanted it all…
Truth be told, the storm ’62 was to be his greatest act ever — the final nail in the coffin, a way to once and for all destroy the very foundation upon which the warmth of Christmas had been built — belief in Santa Claus.
Oh no, you say?
And like most supervillains, his plan was almost too simple:
If Santa was thwarted by a great storm, he wouldn’t complete his rounds –
If he couldn’t complete his rounds, children the world ‘round, would cease to believe.
If the children stopped believing, their hearts would be broken and their minds would be fertile fields for the propaganda of cynicism…
And the warmth of Christmas would die forever.
It almost worked.
But while Rudolph, Santa, and team were fighting through the storm valiantly, a posse from the Kingdom of Imagination got wind of Bah Humbug’s sinister plan and caught him red-clawed in the act — they tossed him and his gang of putrid hobgoblins into the prison of desire, which, incidentally, sits atop the storm-tossed coast of the sea of confusion, perched like a festering sore on the border between Rationality and the Beyond.
And there he sat,
as the world woke-up to find that Santa had once again prevailed, aided by Rudolph and magical nose… a story we all know intimately.
Now, Bah Humbug, as you can imagine, was not about to take this lying down, and in the darkness of the prison’s slime-covered walls, he wracked his twisted, evil, alleged brain for a way of escape.
His blood-red claws scurried spider-like over every crack and crevasse in the granite and rust… searching, searching… searching… but… nothing.
Gingerly, he tested the white-hot bars of light that formed the cell door and window of his much-deserved cage…
but no… nothing.
In fact, the blazing torches of light were laser beams that fricasseed anything that strayed into their path. (A fact discovered when Bah Humbug pitched one of his hobgoblins into the door as a test pilot – his pitiful screams echoed throughout the prison for weeks after…)
It looked like Bah Humbug would have to spend his eternity under lock and key after all. But then one day…he flew into a rage and stomped about the entrance screaming to no one in particular:
“I don’t believe that mere bars of light could enslave me, of all creatures!”
“Boss, did you see that?” Asked a timid hobgoblin who cowered behind the toilet hole in the back of the cell.
“See WHAT?” thundered the incredulous Humbug, his sinister teeth flashing in the shadows.
“The bars. They flickered when you said the word belief.”
They both turned and saw that the bars remained steady. Humbug raised an eyebrow in warning.
“I don’t believe you”
The bars flickered ever so slightly. Humbug smiled an evil grin and shook his head with disdain. “You colossal IDIOT! It isn’t damaged by belief… I don’t know who is more stupider, you or the whole kingdom of goody-two-shoes. The bars are controlled by NOT BELIEVING!
He whirled around, his sharp cutting words had done the trick again, and he saw a slight, almost imperceptible interruption — a mere hiccup in the white-hot bars of light — but enough to confirm his dangerous theory.
He crept up close and with the fever of discovery, and foul-smelling beads of sweat collecting on his brow, he whispered to the silent sentinels that formed his prison, “I don’t believe in you.”
The bars of light flickered as if an evil draft had brushed the flame of a candle. “You see, my pathetic hobgoblin. My wardens are so bent on their faith in the goodness of all, that they hinge their entire Kingdom on the belief of even little ole’ me. My troubles are OVER! Squelch the belief in the hearts of men and not only am I free once again, but I will control their hearts FOREVER!”
And so it was that Bah Humbug learned of the source of the Kingdom of Imagination’s power and the key to his freedom.
As you can guess, he hatched a wicked plan of revenge…
Rudolph, the rising star of Santa’s elite Reindeer team was enjoying his vacation (a special bonus from Santa himself) in the Hawaiian Islands. It was during this lull in the action that Humbug called for his lawyer, a slimy river troll, named F. Flea Bailout and exercised his prisoner’s rights — after all, the prison was established by the Empress of Fantasy, who herself was not an unreasonable gal — and so the river troll paid his illustrious client a visit.
“Arrange to have the witch, Baba Raga brought to my cell. Tell her that I have a job for her that will repay all of her gambling debts to me.”
The River troll looked up from his faux crocodile skin briefcase and stammered, “As you wish, your despicableness.”
And so it was…
The witch, Baba Raga, reluctantly made the arduous journey to the fell prison, fearing the awful summons, of course, but eager to relieve herself of her mountain of debt. Their meeting was brief and scary with all of the usual theatrics that had formed Bah Humbug’s reputation of being an evil genius but pathetic b- grade actor. And as she stumbled back over crag and bramble to her humble abode, She had to admit, Bah Humbugs’ reptilian mind had hatched a scheme so evil, so… oh, I don’t know, what’s the word? Genius, yes that’s it! It was so pure genius, that even she, herself had wondered why she hadn’t thought of it years before.
So, of course, she took the credit for it when she gossiped with the other witches at their annual Samhain’ cotillion…
“I’m to be Humbug’s gal Friday, captaining his forces and carrying out his foul plan.”
“Oh, do tell” they shrieked with delight.
“Well if you must know, it works like this…”
And so the witch described in great detail (and far too many diversions I might add,) how they were going to “Water the seeds of discontent that everyone knew the older reindeer had for Rudolph, especially since he stole their thunder when he saved the day.”
“Oh, that’s so… effective – those ego-maniacs would do anything to get back to being Santa’s top dog… if you know what I mean. “
Baba Raga’s yellowed eyes gleamed with lust, “Donner and Blitzen especially will be ripe to help us sell that freak off to a sideshow circus, that’ll effectively get ‘ol Rudy out of the way… into a rusty old cage, giving him a taste of the medicine that Bah Humbug has to swallow every day. A HAH HAH HAH!….”
Oh… he’s so… so… deliciously evil… what then? Tell us, tell us!
Well, said Baba Raga, relishing the slimy green spotlight of her witchy sisters’ envy, “With Rudolph out of the way, Hummie will create an even bigger storm, (personally, I think he’s still convinced of his earlier genius, he really wanted the “storm-thing” to stick as his calling card, but that’s just me) he’ll send forth a fog so foul, so heavy, so heinous, that the hearts of men will shrivel under the murky mists of depression… There won’t be a “Merry,” a “Joy” or a “Ho Ho Ho” to be found for love or money.
“PERFECT!” The witches cackled, “can we help?” And Baba Raga became a celebrity in her own right.
“Of course you can,” she said between gulps of Trader Joe’s “Eye of newt pate'” We need to get the Reindeer on board to help us get Rudy out of the picture.”
“Leave that to me,” said a nasty northern witch, “Vixen, is an easy mark, nobody can ever remember his name, he’ll be happy to leave a gate open some dark and lonely night.”
And with that, Baba Raga left the cotillion that night, the talk of the coven – “the first Sistah” and feeling quite full of herself.
Chapter 2 – “and so it began…”