‘Twas the Night Before: Chapters 14-16: The Crash, Giant Earthworms, and the Elves
Hang on to something, folks, things are about to get weird!
But first, a bit more on the crash, because of the questions in the comments:
Tom starts out at the Stuttgart Airport. Given the number of airlines at that airport, why he takes a chartered, rickety four-seater across the Black Forest is anyone’s guess.
As to the cause of the crash, that is also anyone’s guess, and probably why Tom slept through most of it.
The engine is a two-engine, and the trip on it is only supposed to take ONE HOUR. So Tom’s concern when he comes to after the crash seems more than a bit unwarranted. I mean, I get that Tom is panicked and quite possibly in shock, but…
Look, I’m no survival expert, but Tom just seems to do EVERYTHING wrong.
He knows the pilot got off a Mayday, and he knows the flight was short. Surely it will only be a matter of (very little) time until searchers find him.
He’s in the forest, in the snowy winter. He has no knowledge of the area. Why would he not just STAY PUT? Especially since he has some injuries. Considering he’s the only survivor, he’s pretty lucky, but he does have a possibly-broken ankle, wrecked knee, cracked ribs and collarbone, and assorted cuts and bruises.
WHICH MAKE IT EVEN DUMBER TO MOVE, BECAUSE HE WOULD MOVE INCREDIBLY SLOWLY
The biggest danger is hypothermia. But you know what Tom has? A wrecked plane for shelter, his own and everyone else’s luggage for warmth (and possibly fuel).
His first priorities should be to gather the supplies together and get a fire going. The fire would signal rescuers, keep him warm, and melt snow for drinking water. (Tom whines in his head about there being no food onboard, but this is really the least of his worries. He could survive weeks without food.)
And I know, I know. It’s spooky and ghoulish to hang out there with dead bodies. Plus there is the very human impulse to do something, to move.
Tom is supposed to be smart. But he spends his energy retrieving personal items from the bodies of the pilot and passengers, and dragging his injured body across the snow. He wears himself out, makes himself dizzy, and worsens his pain.
I would accept this if this was Tom being panicked and stupid because of it. But we are repeatedly told that he is being “pragmatic” and has “no other choice.”
So, off he goes. No map, no knowledge of German, only one working foot. He gets a few hundred yards in ONE HOUR.
I hate to repeat myself, but this is SO STUPID. Tom is using up precious reserves of strength, making himself colder and wetter, and greatly reducing his chances of being found.
On top of it all, he eats snow. THIS IS A BIG NO-NO.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, Noella briefly toys with the idea of letting go of the
Jesus Santa thing.
It had been the only issue between them. Could she renege? Could she mean it?
She fingered the medallion.
That’s our Noella!
In the forest, Tom is hungry. Sadly, the snow presumably makes it impossible for him to locate one of the MASSIVE FRAKKING EARTHWORMS that live in the Black Forest, and which I’m sure would feed an army.
I’m serious. There are these huge-ass earthworms, and they only live in the Black Forest.
Picture from Naturpark Sudschwarzwald
But Tom is about to discover something better than HUMONGOUS EARTHWORMS:
NO NOT THAT KIND!
I take that back. Actually, they’re just that kind.
Tom slips in and out of consciousness: elves, Noella, and a bit I kinda like about snow:
Was he dreaming? Hallucinating? Remembering the snowstorm that hit Chicago? It would be just like Mother Nature to pelt him with the same flakes. No two alike? They were probably all duplicates!
Okay, never say I don’t give credit where it’s due. That’s pretty clever and funny and very much like the thought process of a person who’s semi-conscious.
Tom decides (albeit in the throes of his hallucinations) to lie about Santa forever if it means he can marry Noella.
Simultaneously, in Chicago, Noella decides that she should discuss Santa again with Tom:
If nothing else, that would give her an excuse to see Tom. She would not hold him or kiss him or tell him she loved him. But she could see him.
Stay classy, Noella. Withhold that affection! It’s the only way to have things the way YOU WANT THEM, and that’s the most important thing of all, isn’t it?
Back in the worm-infested Black Forest (I am NEVER getting over this!), Tom blacks out, and the elves save his ass! They drag him back to their home and their little beds.
They change his clothes (saaaaay…) and tend to his wounds with Magic (TM), then they load him onto a sled and drag him up to the Claus residence.
Guys, I am not even joking about ANY of this.
Tomorrow, Tom meats the Clauses!