CC: If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love

Rachel Swirsky‘s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” started getting award buzz almost the moment it came out.  Controversy followed shortly thereafter, and the controversy blew up a little bit when the nominations came out.  I don’t know how Rachel Swirsky feels about controversy surrounding her stories, but one of my personal career goals is for people to get into bar fights over my stories, so in my head canon, she’s smug.

For anybody who missed the brouhaha, the high level (and very charitable) rendering of the argument is that the people who read the story and went “OMG, Rachel Swirsky, you just broke my heart,” got into a fight with people who looked at the story and went, “Uh, that’s not speculative.”  I have opinions about the respective camps, but they’re not pertinent here, so I’ll ignore them.  (Hint: for commenting on this purposes, you should, too.)

As with many other pieces to run through the Crucible, the element I really want to stare hard at is its structure.  The only other place I can think of off-hand that has a structure like this is a lullaby and I don’t think that’s an accident.  It’s an extremely popular lullaby, and by subconsciously triggering associations with it, Swirsky is immediately lulling her readers, as it were, and invoking a sense of deep, unwavering love.  This is handy because, as we’ve noted in other structurally interesting pieces, the story is short and having the structure do some of the work keeps that from being a handicap.

If you were a dinosaur, my love, then you would be a T-Rex. You’d be a small one, only five feet, ten inches, the same height as human-you.

This is an opening line that does a ton of heavy lifting.  It establishes the structure of the story as a series of If/then statements.  It also sneaks in exposition about what’s going on in the (completely elided) frame story.  Not to mention that it sets up the repeated motif if establishing an image with one set of preconceived notions and then immediately providing detail that undermines them.

Let’s talk about that elided frame story for a moment.  There’s an inherent distance with this story that is very important to the success of its emotional impact.  It’s in a quasi-second person, but there’s no pretense at all that the “you” addressed in the story is, in fact, the reader.  This draws attention to the fact that the story is a story, the very effect that leads to some people ragging on second person.  What it does in this case is create a relationship between the narrator and the reader.  We know the narrator is telling us a story, and we’re listening to it because it’s quirky and has a 5’10” T-Rex who is loved.

I’d stare at the two of you standing together by the altar and I’d love you even more than I do now.

This might be my polyamorous heart talking, but if you don’t love the narrator, just a little bit, by that line, I question either your reading comprehension or your capacity for human sentiment.  We’ve been hearing a story from somebody who, we now know, is a really and truly decent person to the important people in her life, and something is not right.  Because this hypothetical fantasy?  It is sad.  Tragic sad, not pathetic sad.  She’s happy, but her heart is breaking, and this is her fantasy.  This is your “Danger, Will Robinson,” moment, but you probably don’t notice on your first time through because you’re a little in love, and you’re sad, and the if/then logic of the story is relentless and carries you on even as the warning signals start.  There’s explicit frame story, but you’re about to find out what happened anyway.  And since you come at it sideways, with the grief breaking down your fantasy instead of coming at you directly, you’re so much more vulnerable to the impact of the frame story than if there were a proper frame.

Your claws and fangs would intimidate your foes effortlessly. Whereas you—fragile, lovely, human you—must rely on wits and charm.

Here’s where we start to get the explicit explanation of what the missing frame story would tell us, and it’s done through the technique introduced in the first sentence of establishing a set of expectations and then thwarting them.  He’d have the power and ferocity of a dinosaur, not to do violence, but to avoid it.  In fact, it’s not the T-Rex who goes on, in hypothetical if/then-land, to instigate violence, but his zookeeper partner who leads him to the enemies.  And do we blame her?  No.  What we know about him is that he’s relatively short, gentle, loved by a woman we love, fragile, lovely, and in possession of wits and charm.  In other words, thoroughly likeable.  Wanting to protect and defend somebody like that is admirable.  We like her for that.  We applaud her.

So, of course, undermines us again, and chastises us for that very thing.

I’d avert my eyes from the newspapers when they showed photographs of the men’s tearful widows and fatherless children, just as they must avert their eyes from the newspapers that show my face.

Her compassion here is relentless, but it’s also a bit of her downfalls, because it breaks her out of the safe space of her fantasy.  The story structure stumbles after this, breaking, for the first time, into a discussion of the real here and now instead of the implications of a world where her love is a dinosaur.

Let me say that again.  Her compassion for the families of the people who nearly killed her fiance is so relentless that it interrupts the coping mechanism she’s using to deal with that same tragedy. Reader, Rachel Swirsky just stabbed you in the guts by breaking a pattern.  You have been shivved by a master.

For no particular reason, I would like to hereby publicly state that while nobody I love is a dinosaur, I have no compassion for anybody else’s family, and I do an uncanny impression of a wrathful god.

FogCon 2015 Schedule

This weekend I shall be at FogCon and, as is my tradition, I shall be on many panels.  Not quite all the panels, but all the best panels, certainly.  I know this, because I got teamed up with all the best panelists.  Take a look at the schedule and you’ll see what I mean.

And Then My Underwear Went OverboardFri, 9:30–10:45 pm Salon C 

Tales of traveling drama! What are some of the crazy adventures you’ve had while traveling around the world? Our panelists will tell their best stories, and talk about how to handle travel adventures that may not be what they intended.

M: Sunil Patel. Marty Halpern, Anaea Lay, Effie Seiberg

How to Intervene The Right Way: The Culture, the Federation, and the Future – Sat, 3:00–4:15 pm Salon C

If there’s intelligent life out there, and if we humans ever end up more advanced than others, we will probably need to figure out our morals and ethics for intervention in alien cultures. Our history provides us many examples of how not to do it, and our fiction presents us with many other examples, both good, and bad, and also brings up the question, “can this be done ethically at all?

M: Steven Schwartz. Darrin Barnett, Jed Hartman, Anaea Lay, Nancy Jane Moore

Embracing “The Other” – Sat, 4:30–5:45 pm Salon A/B 

Fantasy and Science Fiction have a long history of asking us to empathize with the Other — the alien, the fae, the one who Isn’t Like Us. Sometimes that “not like us”ness is done really well, and other times it’s easy to see the human culture under the rubber “alien” suit. How can we present cultures we are not part of with depth and respect? How can we avoid writing yet another *Fill In The Blank Human Culture Not the Author’s* With Purple Scales story?

M: Debbie Notkin. Nabil Hijazi, Anaea Lay, Bradford Lyau, Juliette Wade

Job Interviews

I just had what is, without question, the single most humiliating job interview of my life.  It was awful.  I am shamed, so very shamed.  I’m so shamed I never want to talk about it again, which is usually a prelude to telling the whole world.  (Nobody else can shame me if I beat them to it!)

First, a preface: I love job interviews.  A lot.  I get to talk about me, and it’s not only “okay” but I’m actually doing it wrong if I don’t.  I like talking about me, but I also like not being a grandstanding asshole, and these two things frequently conflict.  Not so in job interview land!  Also, they ask me challenging questions, interesting hypotheticals, want me to tell them stories off the cuff, and all the while I pretend I’m a civilized, friendly human being, not a self-absorbed, misanthropic wrath-monster.  Also, at the end, I win!  No really.  Either they give me the job (fooled you into thinking you want me, ha!) or they don’t (oh thank god I have so many jobs why did I think this was a good idea?).  In summary, job interviews are the best.  (Note: I submit for publication because I like rejection letters.  I acknowledge my strangeness.)

This particular job was for tutoring.  I like teaching things.  Teaching things is a chance for me to talk about something I like (I like most teachable things) and then twist the brains of whoever’s listening until they get it.  It’s manipulating people into a new state, FOR GOOD.  Or, at least, for a minor net reduction in global ignorance.  The point is, it’s more of me talking, and meeting spontaneous challenges, with added on messing with peoples’ heads.  It’s awesome.  It’s also something I have functionally no outlet to do since moving, which has led to some pouting, and some thoughts of, “Why was it I decided not to get a masters? Am I sure that was the right idea?” (YES. YES IT WAS)  I have long since learned that when I start flirting with ideas of going back to school, it’s time to get a new job.

Fortunately, I’m also a frequent Craigslist browser (don’t ask why, because I don’t know) and there just happened to be a tutoring company advertising there.  And I just happened to apply because, hey, reasons.  And they asked me for the subjects I want to tutor.

ALL THE SUBJECTS.  I WILL TUTOR EVERYTHING.  I WILL SHAPE THE WORLD INTO MY SPECIAL IMAGE AND IT WILL BE GLORIOUS.  Or, you know, Literature, Writing, Beginning and Intermediate Spanish, maybe a bit of math (no, not arithmetic, numbers don’t combine properly when I use them.  And nothing where you learn trig first.  Let’s stick to subjects I’ve tutored before, not things where I needed OMG all the tutors.  Those middle sections with the fun variables and whatnot though?  I’m on that.)

Sure, says their application process.  That looks great, says their application process.  We’d love to talk to you, says their application process.  But first, how about you take a math assessment just, you know, to check that you know what you’re talking about.

I hadn’t flunked a math test since Calc went 3-d and started moving on me.  Until yesterday. Hooboy, did I flunk that test.  “Look,” I explained to the test, “I know how to use the formulas we need to use.  And I know how to ask Google what the formula for the thing is.  Clearly that’s good enough, right?”  The test was unsympathetic.  “Come on. I haven’t done any of this math since high school.  I think my retention here is actually really impressive.”  Flunkety flunk flunk, fail.

I was bummed, but also empowered.  This company is serious.  They are not, no way, no how, going to let me teach a thing I’m too rusty on.  So let’s go back to plan A.  TUTOR ALL THE SUBJECTS.  If I had ever, at any point, tutored anybody in a given subject, I put it on the list.

“So, you’ve got quite the list of subjects here,” the interviewer said at the beginning of the interview.  I nodded proudly.  I am pan-tutor, teacher of all the things.  “You understand that just because you’ve taken a class doesn’t mean you’re a good fit for teaching it, yes?”

“I was the smart kid growing up.  If I took it, I tutored it,” I did not say, because that’s not how you get a job.  “I trust your assessments,” I say instead.

“Why did you think you could teach math?” my sister asked me when I talked to her immediately after the interview.

“I taught you pre-algebra.  I don’t remember any complaints.”

I still have no idea what the first question they wanted me to break down was actually asking.  I’m sure it’s just a change in vocabulary thing.  I haven’t looked at that material in the better part of two decades, and the curriculum I was being taught from was at least ten years old, but still.  Also, my tablet is a terrible virtual conference device, a thing I should have anticipated (it’s a terrible everything) but had never actually tested until job interview time.  Normally I virtual conference, when needed, on my webcamless desktop, but they wanted to see my cheery smile.  Or something.  Everything was terrible.

Let’s move on to biology!  “Define the pertinent vocabulary in the question, then answer it, please.”  I got this!  I mean, come on, I write SF.  I’m messing with biology all the time for fun.  I can explain to you what an organelle is.  And I can talk to you all day about what chromosomes are and how they work and also are you up to date on epigenetic marking?  I didn’t think so, but it’s neat.  Right, topic at hand.  Cytoplasm, I got that.  I’m a little sad you didn’t ask me about mitochondria since they’ve been a favorite topic of mine since forever, but hey.  As for the answer to this question I….

I…

What is this blank space and why is it in my brain?  You know, the part of my brain where sixth grade biology belongs.  Can we pay attention to the clear demonstration of knowledge I just gave you and pretend this moment isn’t happening?  Please? Oh god please, I have so much shame already from the math.  (The answer, I realized when sharing this story with Uni, was “nucleus” which I would have realized if they’d specified eukaryotic cells, which was sorta implied based on the context of the question but really, I’m a dumbass.)

So that Spanish evaluation.  I know me some Spanish.  I have done a ton of tutoring people in Spanish.  I have also got a very long history of not knowing Spanish as well as I think I do, and not realizing the error until I’ve made an ass of myself.  I was insecure about my Spanish performance before I was mid-interview that consisted entirely of me failing at everything.  I’m used to being a rock star made of awesome during an interview.  Blatantly sucking like this, not so much my thing.  And now we’re at a subject which I’ve actually used in the last three years and I am certain I’m going to screw it up, too.

But!  This assessment is filling in worksheets.  This is what my first 5 years of Spanish training consisted entirely of.  I can fill in a Spanish worksheet like nobody’s business.  I can also butt in to conversations strangers are having about how distressingly sunburned I am on a bus on Buenos Aires, but nobody wants tutoring in being a brash tourist.  I am set, so long as they don’t ask me for future conditional or subjunctive.  I might be able to brass my way through future conditional, but I am sunk, so very sunk, if their Spanish level markers aren’t where I think they are, and subjunctive is part of the intermediate curriculum.  And, frankly, my ego is not going to handle much more fail before I actually wilt into a tiny ball of thwarted egomania and the video conferencing interviewer just hears a cat yowling for cuddles in the background because the work-at-home human has ceased to exist.

“I’m going to scroll through a page that covers several topics on it,” the interviewer says.  Imperfect particples, no sweat.  Conditional, I’m fuzzy but I can swing it.  Subjunctive.  SHIT.  Future Subjunctive. ON A STICK.  Don’t get me wrong, you put those things in front of me, I know what they are and how to interpret them.  But I cannot produce them on my own without a resource.  I have never produced them on my own without a resource.  It’s some grand compromise my brain made for not flinching when a whole new mood got introduced – I can handle the concept, but it will not remember the endings and rules for generating it.  And now it’s two sections, on the first bit of the interview that has gone at all well.  “Tell me,” the interviewer continues as I weep inside, “Which of these would be the hardest for an English speaker to learn.”  Choking noises escaped my throat.  “And why,” she concludes.

Ego. Saved.  For some reason, I managed astonishing eloquence on this point.

“So, teaching reading,” she says.  “Explain to me Jargon Jargon Jargon thing.”

“Uhm,” I say.  “Look, I’ve taught reading.  I TA’d an elementary school class my first year in college and the remedial reading groups were mine.  I did well.  But I have no formal training and I have no idea what you just asked me.  Maybe we should skip this section?”

“Phonics then.  Explain to me RULE.”

Funny thing about me and phonics.  I learned it.  I did the smart kid in class thing and taught my peers.  And I haven’t touched it since.  “Er, it’s been over twenty years since I taught phonics,” I say.  Also, I’ve gotten a degree in Linguistics in the mean time.  Want me to explain the phonotactics of the thing you’re asking me about?  How about a generalized survey of similar rules across language families?  There’s a neat cognitive ling study on how visual data can interfere with brain processing of those particular phonemes I could talk to you about!

No?  You want the answer from how it gets taught as English phonics?  Are you sure?  Because the visuals with the study are really neat and once you can read you don’t really need any of the jargon they teach you in phonics…

We moved on to writing and Literature from there.  It got better.  Much better.  I didn’t notice at the time because, well.  I’m in chronic need of humbling, but I can’t really say I’m a fan of the experience.  At all.  Even a little.

I got the job, though.  I’m all official and greenlit to teach Spanish (up to intermediate), Language Arts, Literature and Writing.  I’m a little surprised she didn’t hang up and put us both out of our misery when I couldn’t summon NUCLEUS as the obvious answer to a question, but I’m guessing she took a look at my resume and knew exactly what was going to happen.  Good for her.

Also, all you people who talk about how much you dread job interviews and I usually stare blankly and don’t understand?  I GET IT NOW.

Return of the Craft Crucible

This has been on hiatus for a long time, but no more!  I really liked doing this, and based on responses here and via email I think others liked it too.  I’m revamping it a little bit to make it more sustainable and hopefully improve the interactivity.  I’m always a fan of my own ramblings, and emails are nice, but by gods, I want a crafty party on my blog!

For those of you who don’t remember or never knew, here’s what we’re doing: Once a month we’re going to take a story and figure out why it’s good.  Obviously we’ll be filtering for good stories.  Preference will be given to stories available for free online.  Then, on Craft Crucible Day, I’ll put up an essay where I tease apart one or another aspect of the craft of the story, how it’s used, and why it works.  There’s a whole category here for previous CC posts.  Future ones will be like that, too.

Everybody else is encouraged to argue with me in comments, propose their own theories, or even do their own analysis elsewhere and drop a link here to let me know about it.

For me, I don’t see these as a “How to” so much as a “How did.”  In other words, this isn’t an instruction manual for writers, but an extended notes section for readers.  Writers are cool, but I’m a mercenary creature and ultimately need readers more.  So this is for you, lovely reading folk.  Let’s stare at how the sausage gets made.

Here’s our upcoming schedule:

March 16 – If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)

April 13 -The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)

May 15 -Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)

June 12 -The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

If that lineup looks familiar to you, that’s probably because I stole the short story Hugo ballot for 2014.  What can I say, all the nominees were published in online markets.  It made my life easy.

Let me know if there’s a story you’re dying to dissect or dig into, and we’ll add it to the lineup.  Also, feel free to let me know you’ve melted into squishy glee at the prospect of this coming back.  Just, you know, don’t get so squishy that you ruin your keyboard, k?

Conventional 2015

It probably would have been better to post this a couple weeks ago, but oh well.  Here’s my convention schedule for this year.  It’s conceivable there will be additions, but as of now I think this is it.

Potlatch – Seattle WA, Feb 6-8

Or, you know, this weekend.  I’m not on any programming because, as it turns out, I continue to be rubbish at planning ahead for cons that happen in my backyard, even with the change in back yard.

Fogcon – Walnut Creek CA, March 6-8

I am on programming here.  I’ll post my programming schedule later.  I’ll also be going out a couple days early, so it’s conceivable that I might be up for some sort of shenanigans in advance of the con. I already have many shenanigans planned, though, so no promises.

Sasquan – Spokane WA, August 19-23

I will probably be on programming.  The last WorldCon I attended was very generous about putting me on programming, and that was before I was on the masthead for a (utterly fabulous, multi-Hugo nominated) magazine.  Then again, with the way WorldCons work, previous performance is no guarantee of future result in a major way.

I will not be at WisCon this year.  It’s a “maybe” for 2016.

Turkish Loaves with Pumpkin Seeds

I know I must be mostly settled in to the new place because I’ve started getting cravings to bake bread again.  Dr. Unicorn has been routinely lending an assist with dinner preparation, and I’ve been having fun with learning what the hell to do with tofu and lentils, but some things just never change, and apparently my addiction to bread baking is one of them.  So one fine evening, ahead of a particularly experimental dinner (that didn’t work at all) I broke out a cookbook and decided to try a new bread recipe.IMG_7210I pulled the recipe for Turkish Loaves from “Baking: A Common Sense Guide.”  I’m pretty sure I’ve never used a recipe from it before, but I started our first encounter together off to a fine start, knowing that I didn’t have enough bread flour on hand and not bothering to check whether I had the required sesame seeds.

IMG_7218 This started off with having the yeast developed in a sponge.  At the time I was thinking this was a new technique because it described the process as adding the yeast to the sweetener and wet ingredients, then adding flour to make a paste, but on reflection, this is just making a sponge without calling it that.  I’ve found recipes that use sponges to be pretty simple and easy in the past, and this one followed that pattern.

IMG_7220I’ll tell you a secret about me and break making: it’s a procrastination tool.  I work from home and spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen.  If it’s been a while since I’ve had to leave for work (and January, after starting over in a new city, I’m not exactly bleeding clients from my ears) it gets really hard to sit still and keep working.  But there’s a lot of activity in making bread.  Mix flour and salt into a bowl and then shove your hands in to make a well?  My computer-addled self can do this!

IMG_7222There’s also a lot of waiting in bread making, which is why I can do it during a work day without all mayhem breaking loose.  Throw things in a bowl, wait for chemistry!  Just, you know, make sure the bowl is actually big enough for the results of your chemistry…

IMG_7224Here’s where the fun part of recipes that use a sponge really kicks in.  You’ve basically already got a starter dough, you just need to make it dough-y-er.  You’re just mushing your starting product into more of the stuff that makes it until DOUGH! IMG_7225 This was the stage where my mixy-switchy on the flour was going to show up as a real problem.  The recipe calls for hand kneading, and the all purpose flour I used when I ran out of bread flour doesn’t have as much protein in it.  That means I’ve got to work harder to get the dough to develop the structure it needs to be good bread, if it will at all.  It did!  And in about the same time frame the recipe called for on kneading (just five minutes) so I was pretty confident that even if the rest of dinner was a bust (did I mention that it was? It was.) the bread would be nice.IMG_7228This was the part where I went back to pretending to be a responsible adult and stared at the computer screen some more.  Go chemistry, go! IMG_7230 Dough after the first rise is really fun.  It’s puffy, and the instruction in the recipe is virtually always to “punch” it down.  Punching.  I can do this.IMG_7231Bread recipes seem to have a pathological aversion to producing a single loaf, and this one was no different.  Three loaves!  Absent a kitchen scale, I was at the mercy of my own judgment for getting the dough divided evenly.  Hint: Merciful is not the operative word for my judgment in these situations.  Incompetent is a better choice.  I did okay, though, yeah? IMG_7233The one that actually came out as a rectangle wound up that way because I messed it up so much I re-rolled it.  The others, with the help of the tape measure I keep in the kitchen, were close enough to the dimensions the recipe called or that I left them sorta ellipsoid.   IMG_7236You know those loaves you see in the grocery store that are nicely dimpled and have tasty things stuck in them?  These are one of those loaves.  You get the dimples by “pressing” your fingertips into the dough.  I’m pretty sure that “pressing” is baker-speak for stabbing the dough with your fingers while shouting, “Submit or Regret Your Insolence!”

I should probably never work as a professional baker.

It turned out that if we do have sesame seeds, I have no idea where they are.  Woops.  We do have a ton of pumpkin seeds though.  I’ve been having a lot of fun putting them in everything and seeing what happens.  (Hint: Tastiness.)  So I slapped on the egg wash and sprinkled the wrong kind of seed and figured that would be good enough.IMG_7237Oh, it was.

I decided to salt the top of the loaf.  The recipe didn’t call for it, but I figured, hey, I’m making a fancy bread with toppings baked on, and I’ve almost actually followed this recipe, so why not?  It was a good call.

I only baked one of the loaves that night and froze the other two.  The second loaf baked perfectly just with pulling it out to thaw while the oven pre-heated.  That one I covered more liberally in extra egg wash, and sprinkled powdered garlic on the top as well as the salt.  That was a good move, too.  Also, leftovers from that loaf made a very nice grilled cheese with the application of some cheddar.

The third loaf lingers in the fridge, but I think I hear it calling to me for rosemary and oregano.

This recipe is definitely going into my regular circulation.  Super easy, super tasty.

The War on Christmas

The War on Christmas is real, and I am its commanding general.

The move to Seattle was cover for establishing a new forward base to solidify our gains from last year’s success.  The battle has been a long one, but as we get closer to our final target at the north pole, our morale builds and our dedication remains steadfast.

Soon, not this year, but soon, I’ll have that cheery, terrifying head on a pike and display it for all the world to see, and feel safe.  No more constant surveillance, no more annual invasion, no more enforcement of a moral code formulated by the jolly, the optimistic, the naive.

I will drink Santa’s blood and rejoice.  Only then will I have the victory I crave.

“Do you ever have second thoughts?” asked my second in command, Captain-general Morse.

“Never!” I answered, my fist striking the air, my lips curling in a snarl of defiance.

“But, Christmas.  Peace on Earth, good will to men.”

“That’s the problem.  Peace bores me, and the good will thing is a lie.  Christmas is about stress, posturing, and telling other people to be cheerful or else.”

“I thought it was about American consumerism.”

“That too, and it’s spreading to infect other holidays.  It may already be too late to save my precious Halloween.”  At this I shed one, single tear out the corner of my right eye.  Halloween!  My precious, sacrosanct holiday of horror and darkness, mortality and despair.  They make inflatable lawn ornaments for you now and you, too pure and naive to defend yourself, have succumbed.

I rattled my saber, a gift from my sister on the occasion of her wedding, and issued the order for our attack.  At my command, hundreds of dog sleds bearing soldiers of the anti-yule began our charge, bearing down on an encampment of the Claus’s henchmen, his patsy scouts sent out to gather materials and supplies to support his ongoing campaign of terror and oppression.  The first moments of the engagement were bloody, with lives lost on both sides.  More on theirs.  I am a careful general, and I don’t spend my soldier’s lives frivolously.  There are so few of us left who can hold out against our pernicious foe.

Just as our victory appeared certain, reinforcements for the enemy appeared on the hill, their horns blaring across the night with the soul-chillingly mockery of triumph that is the enemy’s trademark.  A moment later I felt the searing punch of a knife sliding between my ribs.  Captain-General Morse had betrayed me.

“Why?” I gasped.

“They promised me a new iPhone.  And I really like gingerbread.”

As I lay here in the Canadian snow, my body heat leaving my body on a rush of blood, I accept that this year brings defeat.  But not final defeat.  We can never be permanently defeated.  Someday I will have the Claus man’s head, and I will free you all.

Someday.