Barry felt Krampus’ hand on his shoulder and knew the gig was up; knew his running was over... knew he was screwed in the biggest way, “Oh no way.”
Odin glared at the young-looking elf, “So, you’ve been the one who was behind this... this... horrible abduction of us?”
He nodded looking at his feet, “Yessir.”
The Norse God looked over at Santa, then back to Krampus, “Well, it has to do with you two, so you can clear it up.”
“Not really, Odin.” Mother Nature said, “Barry here, put a whole lot of things out of order. My planet has been crying out to me since I vanished, and the Fairy Folk have been suffering without the Blue Fairy... and the Tooth Fairy? Well, he’s just been sitting over there in the corner counting how many children he’s missed out on visiting and keeping quiet; not knowing what to do or say.” He glanced over at the strange-looking man dressed up in a ballerina costume with fairy wings carrying a tote bag which contained a scroll with a list on it.
Santa looked at him, “That’s why he’s been so quiet and none of us noticed him until now.”
Mrs. Claus pushed past Krampus and Barry, “Let me see my... oh my...” she stopped and stared at Santa, “Santa?”
“Yes it’s me. Please do something about this.” He looked over at Krampus.
The tall, dark demon looked down at Barry, “Well, I can’t do anything about the spell, only Barry can. He cast it, so he can only end it.”
Barry pulled out his blue phone, opened the screen and the app he was fiddling with before, and as Krampus watched over his shoulder, he tapped on an ‘undo’ tab and the app uninstalled, then he looked around, “That should do it.” The three at the door looked at the five inside the basement, but they all stayed the same. Santa was still looking like his cousin, the Blue Fairy and Mother Nature were still standing there and not in their own realms, and Odin was becoming frustrated that he hadn’t left the room either. The Tooth Fairy had yet vanished to his next assignment. Barry’s mouth dropped as his stomach did, “They should all be back to normal!”
Krampus glowered at him, “Is that so? What did you uninstall on your phone?”
“That doesn’t mean it’s finished.” Mother Nature walked over to the elf, snatching the phone from him, dumping it on the floor and stomping on it. As she did, Odin and the Tooth Fair both disappeared, the Blue Fairy went back to her own realm and Santa turned back into his own jolly self, “Now, I have a planet to care for, but I’m sure Santa and Krampus can think of a punishment which will be good enough to keep you out of the way for a good long while.” Smiling, she too vanished from sight.
Santa walked over to Barry, not smiling, not happy and looking very sad indeed, “Why did you do this to me?”
“You pass me over on promotion every time.” The Head Elf sulked.
“It’s because you do a brilliant job at what you’re doing now... I’d be lost without you; and if you had too much on your plate, you’d burn out.” The large, bearded man said, “Barry, you’ve been on my team for a very long time; I don’t want to lose you.” He shook his head, “But after this stunt, I’m afraid you’ve lost my trust.”
The elf looked to his feet, then back up at the man in the red suit, “So, what are you going to do with me?”
“You cannot work at the North Pole anymore; you just can’t be trust with such a big place and so many people – or my wife.” He shook his head, “No, no, no... I think working with Krampus would keep you in line more.”
“And not on the list either. There’s other jobs besides that I work on.” Krampus said, “There’s the festival Santa and I attend every year, on 5th, December, where I grab awful children and take them to Hell... but I don’t want you there. You’re going to be in Hell greeting them.”
The colour drained from the elf’s face, “No please, not there.”
Santa ignored the plea from the elf, and turned to Krampus, “And what about your helper?”
He half-turned to her, “Oh, she can return to you, if you want. She’s been working harder than expected and I think she really does need to go back to you... besides, she misses the North Pole; and I think she’d make a better Head Elf than this little turd.” He squeezed Barry’s shoulder with his hand, “So, what do you say, Santa?”
The jolly, big man grinned, “That sounds like a great thing!”
Mrs. Claus walked over to the young female Halfling, “Would you like to come back with us to the North Pole to work?”
“Oh, would I!” she grinned, “So long Krampus doesn’t mind.”
The tall, dark demon shrugged, “Nah... you’re too good to be working here anyway.” He regarded her, knowing he was losing a good worker, but also knowing she was beginning to get on his nerves, “Besides, you’re a little too cheery for me.”
“Thank you so much, Krampus!” she hugged the demon, who pulled away, “I’ll never tell anyone how wonderful you really are!”
“Oh get lost you little ball of sunshine!” he grumbled.
And so, life went back to normal for Santa, Mrs. Claus and their new Head Elf. The North Pole ran better than ever with her around – better than when Barry ran it. Everything was prepared for the next Christmas months in advance, there was no rushing or hurrying around and nobody spoke about where Barry might be.
But then, on 5th, December, Barry was rushed off his feet with his new job of greeting naughty children and adults at the doors of Hell... you know the ones who say they’ve been good all year, when really they haven’t. This is because Krampus knows if you’ve been bad, even if you’ve said you’ve been good; simply because he’s got the list and he can tell when he looks at you if you’re good or bad – then he tells Santa.
Yep, that’s how the Family Business runs in those parts.