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372 Pages Saves Christmas

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Ernest Cline spun around in his oversized gaming chair. “I’ve been expecting you two: Conor Lastowka and Michael J Nelson!” He said this menacingly while petting a stuffed-animal Nibbler from Futurama. Classic. As he stroked his Nibbler, Cline let out a hoarse groan. “And now I’ve got you two cornered.”

A giant cage appeared from the ceiling and slammed down around them. There was no way out.

“You’ll never get away with this, Cline!” Conor shouted, shaking his fist at the bad author.

Throughout Conor’s insult, Cline had begun a low chuckle. It carried on for a few uncomfortable minutes until finally he stopped. “You don’t get it, do you? We’re the same, you and Me.” Cline stood up from his desk and walked around it until he could lean his butt on the edge.

“We’re entirely different!” Mike stammered. “Y-you write bad books, we just make fun of them!”

Cline nodded with his Cheshire grin once more. “Yes, and you’ve talked about your displeasure with my work. My life’s work. The work that’s brought joy to millions of underappreciated nerds.”

“Liking The Goonies doesn’t make you a nerd.” Conor responded.

“Yeah, Star Wars too. Those aren’t some obscure interests that set you apart from “normies”, especially nowadays.” Mike added.

Cline’s grin faded into a frown. “Well, then I liked all this stuff before it was cool to like it!”

“That just makes you a hipster.” Conor said.

Cline began stomping around the room, waving a piece of metal equipped with a big red button in his hands furiously. “No no no! I’m cool! No one understands Me except cool people !!!”

His finger was dangerously close to the button.

“Hey Cline what does that button do, exactly?” Mike asked, cool-headed.

Cline’s anger paused for a moment because he appreciated it going back to him.

“I put my manuscript on a missile that, when I press this button, will launch it into the Internet-o-sphere.

“Not the Internet-o-sphere!” Conor and Mike gasped even though they barely knew what he meant by that.

Cline nodded, seeing they finally grasped the full situation.

“So you finally grasp the full situation. This pleases me.”

“We’ll stop you somehow, Cline!” Conor shouted. “Even if we have to make fun of it for fifty years, we’ll get you back!”

Cline started laughing a nasal, hearty laugh. “If you even try, you’ll blow yourselves up! The only thing that will stop the missiles and the bomb-cage from exploding is a passphrase that only I could ever possibly know!

Conor thought for a moment. He looked at the missile. It was decked out in all the cool stickers and patches Cline could have found. It even had a battlestar galactica sticker! It truly was a…

Helluva Rig.” Conor said out loud, merely finishing his thought.

Cline stopped laughing. The bombs detonated -- ON THE MISSILE, and the manuscript was no more.

“NOooooo!!! I forgot to auto save!!!!”

The town of Red Herrington held hands and sang around the miraculous rubble that was formerly Calvin Tower. A lot of them looked at each other and smiled while shrugging, which meant they would canonically bang by the time a sequel comes out.

Mike and Conor held each other up, barely able to stumble out of the wreckage.

Ho ho ho! What a good job, boys!

“Hey, Santa?” Mike asked feebly. “Could you, you know, not be a demon that merged with us? It’s taken a lot out of us not getting blown up and all.”

A jolly fat santa floated out of each of their mouths and merged into one giant floating gaseous form.

“You boys did so well, I will send you home now. But not before dealing with him.”

Santa looked beyond them, and as Mike and Conor turned they knew who they would find.

Ernest Cline.

But it wasn’t Ernest Cline. It was another gaseous form. Mike’s eyes twinkled.

“Santa?!” Mike exclaimed.

“Yes, Mike, your Crimmus wish has come true. Ernest Cline is dead.” Santa put his finger to his nose and winked, dissipating forever.

Ernest Cline was fading fast. Mike had one more thing he had to say to him first.

“Wait, Mr. Cline?”

“What is it, Mike?”

“I have a question for you that’s been bugging me for years.” Mike said as Ernest Cline’s likeness faded away. “Why did you leave out MST3k from the list of classic tv show lists in Ready Player One? You did like seven pages on every single show you watched, and MST was pretty famous.”

A light shone in Ernest Cline’s eyes and he thought for a moment. “Never heard of it.” Cline said, and with that he was gone.

Mike’s face twisted in anger. “Son of a----”


Alejandro closed the Crimmus Book. Ginger, Kweh, Kupo - three kittens who were sick in bed for Crimmus - looked up at Alejandro. “Is this where they kiss?” Ginger asked with disgust.

“Yeah, No kissin’ stuff!” Kupo and Kweh chimed in in unison.

Alejandro smiled a cheshire grin and sighed. “And that’s how Conor and Mike, two lowly podcasters, saved Crimmus for all of us. Don’t they deserve a Crimmus Cheer?”

“Cheer for Crimmus! Cheer for Conor! Cheer for Mike! Crimmus Cheer!” The kittens shrieked in delight.

The End.