Robyn Slack is a multi-disciplinary artist from Edmonton Alberta. He is known for his webcomic Moonfruit (http://moonfruitcomics.com), his original...read more Fringe productions (http://rigbymuldoon.com), and for performing as half of the musical comedy duo Success 5000. Robyn is a big fan of the works of Chuck Palahniuk, so much so that he is never once broken the first or second rule of Fight Club (until just now).
After a chance encounter at a book signing, I have had the distinct pleasure of corresponding with acclaimed novelist Chuck Palahniuk (author of innumerable nihilist transgressional fiction classics, including Fight Club and Choke) over the past few months. What started I'm sure as an act of charity on his part has evolved into a working relationship, with Mr. Palahniuk sending me excerpts here and there from his new projects, looking for feedback. After some pestering, I was able to attain permission to submit the following piece for online publication. I present it to you here as it was sent to me, unedited and presumably unfinished.
A Visit From St. Nicholas
Written by Clement Clarke Moore
Adapted by Chuck Palahniuk
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse – they couldn't be bothered. Futility permeated the bitter December air so completely that even the vermin had grown lethargic, and when it came down to it, I was just another rodent.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that engaging in a ritual act might restore some sense of occasion, but it all felt hollow, empty. My attempts to recapture the seasonal joy I'm not sure I ever had in the first place only served to accentuate the assortment of neuroses weighing on me constantly, pulling me deeper into a perpetual downward spiral like a team of pack animals. On depression! On exhaustion! On seasonal affective disorder!
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, six hours and two states away (along with their mother and the majority of my last twelve paycheques) while visions of a father who wasn't a complete and utter failure danced in their heads. Well, at least we had that in common. On guilt complex! On abandonment issues! Dash away, all! I took another long swig of lukewarm, non-specific alcohol from a dusty, opaque bottle in an attempt to numb the constant dull ache in the back of my skull otherwise known as fatherhood. It didn't help.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I caught myself idly considering what I would do if I was ever forced to really defend myself. If whatever was out there on the lawn decided to clatter its way in here, what would happen? You never really know yourself until your back is against the wall. Would I have it in me to fight? Would I hide away, whimpering and pissing myself like a frightened animal? Would I embrace the opportunity to end it all without having to shoulder any of the blame?
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter, which was a mistake. My equilibrium was shot on account of the booze, and my body is in no shape to do any springing even at the best of times. I stumbled and went down, hard. The cold tile floor hit my face like a freight train being pushed by a bigger freight train, and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a blurry, spinning mess where the room used to be. On skull fracture! On concussion! On blunt-force trauma!
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof a sound that set my skin crawling like the roach infestation my landlord assured me he was definitely going to deal with some time in the new year. It sounded like footsteps, only footsteps have a sort of rhythm to them, a thump-creak as the heel hits and the rest of the foot follows. These sounded heavier, sharper, almost like... hooves? I thought back to the Sunday school classes I'd been trying to erase using liquor like turpentine. Something about the devil walking on cloven feet. Of course. If this was really the end, I don't know who else I should've been expecting. On torment! On torture! On eternal damnation!
Well, the bastard wasn't getting me without a fight. I heard the muffled sounds of movement echoing down the chimney, and with every ounce of strength I had left in me, I reached for the sharp, wrought-iron poker laying across the mantle. I gripped it tightly, stared at the fireplace, and waited.
NOTE: The preceding is (obviously, one would hope) an original work of fiction, and was not approved or in any way authorized by Chuck Palahniuk. No disrespect is meant towards Mr. Palahniuk or his works.