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A Waster's Chirstmas In Cruft




A Waster’s Christmas In Cruft

Copyright © 2016 by Ian Dowd [Original author]

Cover Image Copyright © 2016 Wikimedia Commons

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One Christmas was so much like the other, in those years among the dense stacks of abandoned electronics. A thousand cables swaying in the stark desert wind that had found its way in despite the tightness of the silicon and plastic barricades. Depending on the direction of the breeze the swaying of the cable ends would clank against each other in varying ways. Sometimes that would sound off as a melodic chiming from the ends of serial and USB cables or a more mechanical symphony of bundled ethernet banging against routers long since abandoned.

All the Christmases plod across the parched crevices of the blasted wastes with the marvels of a lost age piled as high as I could see, and as I dug my hand into the piles of ancient refuse, I would pull forth a spectacle of light and the promise of a true visit from Santa.

It was on the afternoon of the day of Christmas Eve, when Taylor and I ran between the aisles of CRT monitors and half-crushed tablet computers, searching for shiny bits to add to our collection. As so many other afternoons we began our wanderings in the oldest part of the scrapyard, next to the televisions with dials and phones which actually had numbers printed on them.

Father often asked me to keep a keen eye for certain components, as he fashioned these into various contraptions. When found, away into my satchel they would go, eyes darting around at the next wonder of which to behold.

On this Christmas Eve most hallow, Father had requested a preponderance of raw material: potentiometers, 10K ohm dip switches, and capacitors of at least 500 microfarads. Taylor and I gleefully tore into the stacks with crowbars, breaking open plastic and aluminum cases alike in search of our quarry. Lacquered marquees flew in all directions reading names like “GE” or “Panasonic”.

“Bet this one will have a whole ton!” Boot-heel flush against the aluminum casing, Taylor pushed off, sending a spray of fragmented, emerald circuit boards into the fading winter sunlight. We picked them clean as ants before a summer picnic but sweating as hard as slaves.

“I bet people will think there’ve been raiders.” Taylor grinned.

Having had our fill of smashing the relics and stuffing our sacks, we did our best to brush the debris back so the scavengers would still be able to roll freely their squeaky wheeled carts between the stacks.

A fine meal would be before us this evening, but as to what, my imagination raced unbridled. Perhaps an assortment of lizard jerky and dried prickly pear fruit? Or maybe cockroach casserole with grilled agave?

Racing back into the center of Cruft, we saw the denizens of our little burg had begun to string the shiniest of the chrome baubles from the top of the makeshift radio towers to the guards post on the inner gates.

We were halted by the screeching voice of Mrs. Atwood, four doors down from my family’s little abode. Taking issue with our disheveled appearance, as she often did, we were subjected to a lecture of biblical proportions. As soon as we could squeeze in a “yes ma’am”, her rebukes were gone in a flash as I dashed into the corrugated steel hovel that I did call home.

My satchel almost emptied itself from it’s heft. A bevy of glittering treasures scattered across father’s workbench complementing the glistening pride in father’s pale blue eyes.

“Good haul, son.”

My expectations of dinner were far exceeded. Father had braised sardines just so and Mother seasoned the peaches with the exotic treat of cinnamon, perhaps acquired from the scruffy trader that had rolled through several weeks before on a haggard-looking mule. Mother served an agave pudding so divine, I scarcely noticed Father slip out the back door.

Then shouts began amidst the smell of burning. Between commotion and cries, mother ushered us to the center of Cruft.

Something was burning all right.

Above our little dwelling arced thousands of LEDs of all colors: amber, green, blue, white, and yellow. They twisted high into support beams of the second tier of homes above ours in the shape of a thing of legend: a pine tree. In brightness like an eclipse, Father lifted me and held me tight against his chest.

“Merry Christmas,” he whispered, tickling my ear with his stubble.

“Father, will Santa come? Mayhap I will meet him this year, truly!?” The possibility filled my hard-pumping tiny heart with joy.

Deep into my soul he stared. “I… don’t know.” Father kneeled. “I don’t know if he’ll have time to make it out here to Cruft. The highway’s been busy lately.”

“But…” I stammered, still clinging to a faint hope.

Father shushed my protestations. “We don’t need Santa. We have each other. We can protect each other and much better when rested.” Sand-hewn hands tussled my hair as he led me to my four-by-four bedroom.

The wall hooks squeaked rustically as he hoisted me into my hemp-knitted hammock. From the top shelf of my cabinet stacked high with half-burned tomes from another age, []

Aged paper curled into my palm as I turned them, as if they wanted to vanish into the desert wind. Pushing my brow equally distant from the light and the spine of my resident bard [one of those golden children’s books]

I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.

At least for a little while. Until I heard the engines.

Inner gates smashed and emergency flood lights ablaze, the sound of gunfire did rage. Past nine rollicking, patchwork sedans stood a man slathered in crimson from head to toe. A twitch of his eye and a snap of his neck soon let me to know I had nothing to dread.

The legends were true.

“Santa!” I dashed towards the figure back-lit by the lights of the flock, grabbing him about the waist.

“You know who I am little boy?” Leaning close, he smelt as father did in the evening on days of rest: of rye and tobacco.

“Yes, Santa. I knew you’d come.”

Santa cackled and from a satchel strapped against his back, he yanked a shotgun and handed it to me. “Merry Christmas, kid.” Then he whooped and boarded his sleigh. I stood aside the gates until the last glimmer of the headlights vanished over the ridges beyond.

Why mother and father looked so afraid as they huddled together under the still burning lights of the pine tree display, I will never understand. The whole community celebrated after our visitors left. Except Margaret Atwood and James Thatcher, they had no doubt been on Santa’s bad list.


Other works by Ian Dowd


Innominate [Book 1 of the Circumspection Trilogy]

Corporeal Nightmares

Umbrath Chronicles: One

Umbrath Chronicles: Two [Coming Q1 2017]





A Waster's Chirstmas In Cruft

  • ISBN: 9781370598403
  • Author: Ian Dowd
  • Published: 2016-11-23 13:20:08
  • Words: 1220
A Waster's Chirstmas In Cruft A Waster's Chirstmas In Cruft