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The Dark Side of the North Pole

An excerpt from the novel, “Froggy Chocolates”

Froggie woke up curled upside down in a fetal-ball; pretzeled in a tangle of arms, legs, feet and elbows with his nose pinched between the split of another child’s bottom. He had no idea where he was or how he had gotten there. He only knew it was dark, clammy, and cramped. And other children were crammed inside the darkness with him.

Dark Side of the Moon 1

Jóhanna Ellen

The last thing he remembered before blacking out was staring into the enormous eyes of a creature clad in an outfit like the one worn by the mechanical elves tinkering in the mall’s Christmas-themed cyclorama. The creature was the same height as himself and had a wrinkled gray orbicular head the size of an inflatable beach ball. It also smelled like a can of bad tuna.

What he remembered most, however, were its tremendous disk-like eyes. They sparkled like pools of water rippling in moonlight; their opaque gaze arresting his own. Spellbound, he watched his reflection multiply then spin like bicycle wheels on the surface of the creature’s eyes. A sibilant voice hissed inside the chamber of his skull: “Froggie is a bad boy! Santa does not love Arabs! Froggie loves Arabs! Therefore Santa does not love Froggie! Froggie is a bad boy! Froggie will get a nice wet lump of shit in his stocking this year!”

Froggie deduced, from the paranoid nonsense spout by his web-surfing dad, that the steeple-capped creature was not a ‘Peewee Herman Goblin’ at all but an ‘Elfin Grey’ – a malevolent non-human entity of extraterrestrial origin given to eviscerating cows, probing prostates and dressing up like Santa Claus. Otherwise, he had no further recollection of what had gone on before his eyes popped open, and tumbled out of an upended sack into frigid, teeth-chattering clime; landing in a clump of children sprawled on a floor of solid ice.

The clot of children were quickly surrounded by a battery of Elfin Grays and rolled into a huge ball of interlocking arms and legs. The children on the ball’s outside surface had turned a ghastly shade of blue. Froggie was squashed in the center. He felt like the chocolate filling inside a Tootsie-Roll Pop. Froggie peered through an opening in the jumble of criss-crossed limbs and looked out on to a vast and snowy tundra. His eyes were round with horror.

Dark Side of the Moon 2

Jóhanna Ellen

Strewn across the stark landscape were thousands and thousands of ice-blue balls. Each and every one composed of children. Each and every child frozen in a grotesque blue pose.

Froggie’s stomach was, of course, distressed. The best he could manage, however, was coughing up a few cubes of ice.

A great airship darkened a bleak expanse of Arctic sky overhead.

Shaped like a clam with a circular rotating-wing, the airship was a classic ellipsoid design of nineteen fifties’ vintage. It was neither scout ship nor mother-plane. It was a gigantic cargo carrier airlifting blue-hued balls to god knows where.

Froggie paid no attention to the airship. He had no idea how much time had past since he’d been abducted by Santa’s Schutzstaffel. It might’ve been twenty months or a single day.

In the end, it didn’t matter. Time had lost its meaning. The airship’s presence was just another of the malignant aspects of life under Santa’s Elfin Grays. It was simply there. He didn’t care.

Johanna Ellen

Jóhanna Ellen

Besides, Froggie couldn’t care. There was a brain-implant drilled into the back of his skull. It looked like a tiny Christmas tree light and blinked like Rudolph’s shiny red nose. All of the children had one. Sometimes, out of boredom, the Elfin Grays fiddled with the buttons of a hand-held remote and raced the children around the ice like radio-controlled bumper-cars.

When the Elfin Grays had finally freed Froggie from the ball of frozen children, they hung him by his thumbs in a room made entirely of ice for three days and nights. After this ordeal, Froggie was zapped back to consciousness with the vibrating ‘black cucumber’, dragged by his feet to the Elfin Gray’s version of a parade ground and forced to stand at attention with rows and rows of other children.

An Elfin Gray in high-ranking military garb walked up and down each and every row, and inspected each and every child; his boot heels clicking on the ice. Finally, the high-ranking Gray faced the assembly of shivering children.

“You are now on the dark side of the North Pole” he said. “This is a special place designed by Santa to teach bad children the joy of service to others. That is the true meaning and spirit of Christmas. Service to others. And you will learn Christmas spirit by serving Santa.”

It wasn’t long before Froggie learned what was meant by “serving Santa”.

The Elfin Grays tattooed a number on his arm, drilled an implant in his head and gave him a job at Santa’s Magic Work Camp. He also learned there were two Santas. One ‘good’. One ‘bad’. ‘Good’ Santa was an ineffectual fantasist; living on the ‘light side’ of the North Pole. He worked in his toyshop, tended his reindeer and played with his elves. Once a year, he performed his worldwide trip of good will. However, contrary to popular song, ‘Good’ Santa didn’t know who was sleeping or awake. He didn’t know who was bad or good. In fact, ‘Good’ Santa didn’t know anything. Fat bastard didn’t have a clue.

‘Bad’ Santa lived in a city far below the polar ice caps. The city was built shortly after World War Two. This vast metropolis was planned by a screwball many believe blew his brains out in a secret bunker located underneath what is now a gaudy Berlin shopping-mall.

However, the screwball managed to fool those wacky Russians. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, a delegation of Elfin Grays showed up in a shimmer of reassembling molecules. They offered him a life-saving deal. They also brought along the screwball’s equally screwy look-a-like barber – who, apparently, on behalf of the screwball, was willing to blow his brains out on the promise of a hot night of testing the elasticity of the newly-wedded screwball’s bunker bride’s surgically-altered vagina.

“Snaps back like a rubber band!” the delegation winked.

The Elfin Grays supplied the screwball with the necessary technology to construct his city. He was also given anonymous material and technical support from the Disney Corporation. This is why the city looked like a high-tech amusement park built on the skeleton of a massive ant-colony. The city was called “New Berlin”. ‘Bad’ Santa lived there with a writhing white blob of Marshmallow Fluff.

‘Bad’ Santa made toys just like Good Santa. But ‘Bad’ Santa’s toys were designed to break after only minutes of play. Then the toy would blow up like an unplugged hand grenade. Boom! a finger, an eye or a lower lip. Sometimes the whole face. Often, there was nothing left at all of the unsuspecting child. Just a smear of black ash under the merry lights of the Christmas tree.

‘Bad’ Santa gave his toys to children in underdeveloped 3rd World countries. He didn’t give them his defective toys because they were bad. He gave them his toys because they were poor. ‘Bad’ Santa was very bad, indeed! Ho! Ho! Ho!


Jóhanna Ellen

Under the watchful eyes of the steeple-capped Grays, Froggie made balls that didn’t bounce; kites that didn’t fly and marbles that wouldn’t roll. It was an around-the-clock assembly line of broken toy in and broken toy out. And the only thing Santa’s magic slave-workers were ever given to eat were bowls of syrup-flavored snow.

Froggie trudged through the shadow of the airship stationed overhead, passing under a cone of light beaming from the underside of the airship’s hull. This was a special magnetic light used by the Elfin Grays to draw the thousands of blue-hued balls up into the airship’s cargo hold.

It was while passing through this light Froggie suddenly heard a buzz. At first, he thought it was an Elfin Gray approaching with one of those horrid ‘black cucumbers’. But, no, this sound was more like the hum of a beehive. He couldn’t determine its source until it became evident the sound was emanating from his head. His head growled like an electric razor and spewed puffs of black smoke. Tines of electricity crackled around his neck and surged through his frontal lobes in a molten-white flash.

Dark Side of the Moon 7

Jóhanna Ellen

His brain implant had suddenly short-circuited. And it was then Froggie had a vision. It was a vision like the biblical prophets of old. Froggie gazed up at the sky. And the sky was a ceiling of glass. Behind the pane of glass was an enourmous face. It was the last face Froggie remembered seeing Christmas Eve on his clunky old TV. It was the goat-horned head of Sammy Davis, Jr. Sammy held an electronic device in the diamond-ringed fingers of his right hand. It looked like one of the Elfin Gray’s remotes. He smiled down at Froggie through the sky of glass.

“Kid, I see you’re in trouble” Sammy said. “And I’m gonna help you out. But first let me tell you a story. Back in the seventies, I was out in Vegas. Christmas Eve. I was flat broke – busted. Couldn’t get work in the clubs of the big hotels. Small ones, neither. My girls weren’t even bringin’ me in any cash.”

“Ray Charles was in town. Posters everywhere, grinning in sunglasses. I went down to the club to show him the dust in my pockets. All he’s had to say was: ‘Damn right I’m a Black Republican! America must remain a power second to none!’ An’ then he starts poundin’ on the piano, legs flip-floppin every which way,playin’ “Hit the road, Jack!” for the umpteenth gazillionth time!”

“So where does that leave me? Out on my ass! I’m sittin’ on the curb with my hand out, beggin’. Me – Mr. Candy Man – askin’ for a handout like a skid-row bum!”

“It’s snowin’. I’m shiverin’ my ass off. All I got on is this red leather suit. Hippie walks by. I say, ‘Hey, buddy, help out an old hoofer down on his luck?’ Cat turns around and its Frank Zappa!”

“‘Hey Sammy!” he says, “My man! Gimme som’ skin! Look, Flo & Eddie came down with the clap. You wanna fill in?”

“I say ‘Yeah, what the hell, why not?’ A gig’s a gig, right?”

“‘Ok, study these arrangements’ he says. And he hands me some charts. I look ‘em over. And guess what he wants me to sing? Purple Haze, baby! Can you dig it? Sammy does Jimmy! I’m jazzed, ready to go! I’m seein’ myself in wild feathered shirts and leopard-skin bellbottoms with a little light show goin’ on in the back. And you know what Zappa says next? Completely blows my high! Says he wants me to sing it like Kingfish Stevens! Remember him? Amos-n-Andy? Took it off the air when Kingfish kissed Lucille Ball an’ got shot by Elliot Ness?”

“That’s what you gotta do, kid – sing Purple Haze like The Kingfish! The Amos-n-Andy version got some bass notes in it these creatures can’t stand. Its kinda something like how high-pitched whistles affect dogs. Makes their heads blow up.”

Froggie had no idea who these Amos-n-Andy Negroes were the satanic Sammy was talking about (he was still trying to figure out this ‘Peewee Herman’ character and why he was so scary) but he did remember the policeman’s impersonation down at the mall. All he had to do was imitate the stinky janitor who sat in the boiler room at school and drank ‘Sweet Lucy’ all day. His pot-puffing pop listened to Hendrix all the time. So that part was easy. He wasn’t going to bother himself with questions like “What’s a ‘haze’? Why is it ‘purple’? And what it doing in his brain?”

No, he was just going to sing. And watch the heads of those nasty old Elfin Grays explode into green pus. So he gave it a try. And, as Sammy fiddled with the buttons of the device in his hand, Froggie belted out the song in a leather-lunged voice:

“Purple Haze…!!!!”

Dark Side of the Moon 5

Jóhanna Ellen

On Christmas morning, Froggie’s father and grandfather were seated in the living room. They were watching their new flat-screen television set (no, gentle reader, Froggie’s father didn’t finally find a job and buy it. Froggie’s grandfather convinced him to go out and steal it). It covered half a wall. Froggie’s grandfather held the remote. Froggie’s father held the jar of vaseline.

“Would you look at that!” Froggie’s grandfather exclaimed.

“Yeah,” Froggie’s father agreed. “It’s so real you can reach out and touch it!”

The new flat-screen was tuned to the Playboy Channel. While Ray Charles banged on the keyboard of an upright piano, and a clutch of cotton-tailed women with goat-horned heads cavorted in leg-kicking unison, their massive breasts swaying this way and that, Froggie Chocolates romped on the TV screen in a red leather suit, bellowing:

…beeze in m’brain!
Lately things don’t look de same!
Actin’ Negro an ’ah don’t knows why!

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