Better for Bears; Bullets or Balls?

Deep in the North Polar Basin between the Lomonosov Ridge, a mid-ocean ridge running between north Greenland and the New Siberian Islands lay Elvis Sugar-Socks, eyes alert scanning the horizon through the scope of his Armalite AR-50 single-shot bolt-action sniper rifle. It was a bitter −40° C out in the basin but wrapped in the thick furs of his hide Elvis was snug as the proverbial bug in a rug.

Elvis was Captain of the whities; battle hardened elves that guarded the perimeter of Santa’s North Pole compound. The whities were named for their distinctive white uniform that allowed them to blend in with the frozen waste. The other tribes of elves were the redies, the toy makers and Santa’s inner circle and the greenies. Elvis tilted his head careful not to take his eyes from his scope and spat. The greenies were made up of those that weren’t tough enough to fight and not nimble enough for toy making or for sleigh maintenance. They were the bureaucrats of Santa’s little home away from home and Elvis hated them with a passion.

Polar bears used to be found primarily along the perimeter of the polar ice pack where the seals were plentiful; then Santa has shifted his main production site up from the South Pole for tax reasons and it had all gone to hell in a handcart. They had lost 100 elves that first night when the bears came boiling over the horizon and tore into the compound; Elvis could still hear their screams. He had led the counter attack the next day and driven them off, and so the whities were formed. While the redies saved the toys and the whities faced the polar bear menace the greenies cowered in Santa’s grotto.

It had been a quiet day so far and Elvis was just about to take a break for lunch – spaghetti Bolognese made with gummy worms and jelly babies smothered in thick raspberry sauce – when he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He swung his scope around finger poised on the trigger then let out a groan as he saw a green shape bobbing in the distance. “What now?” he muttered lowering his weapon and raising his flag so the greenie could find him.

It took a good 15 minutes for the bumbling greenie to make his way across the frozen  waste to Elvis hide – they weren’t used to being outside in the real world – and when he finally made it he was puffing and panting like he’d run a marathon.

“Captain Sugar-Socks?” asked the greenie slipping a notebook from his pocket.

“That’s me Sir.”

“Good. I’m Bureaucrat second grade Goodie Two-shoes.”

“How can I be of service?”

“Are those… live rounds?” he asked pointing to the rifle with the chewed end of his pencil.

“Seven-six-two millimetre. Full metal jacket,” replied Elvis pulling back the bolt on his rifle and catching the round that shot out in a gloved fist.

“Well this is just unacceptable,” replied Goodie. “We’re elves full of Christmas spirit not hot lead.”

“Well technically it’s the bears that are full of…”

“Enough!” cried Goodie. “There has been a meeting of the Council and we have decided to trial the new non-lethal countermeasures we had so much success with in our South Pole plant.”

“With all due respect sir, there we were facing penguins not polar bears.”

“I fail to see the difference.”

“You weren’t here when we arrived were you Two-Shoes?”

“Well I don’t see how that is relevant to this…”

“We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by elves with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Bureaucrat. Two-Shoes? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for the polar bears, and you curse the whities. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That polar bear deaths, while tragic, probably save lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on this wall, you need me on this wall. We use words like honour, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to an elf who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post.”

“Yes well, I’ve seen A Few Good Men to and I don’t really see how it applies here. I’m going to have to ask you to hand in your rifle. You’ll be issued with a standard snowzooka and…”

“Never!” shouted Elvis hugging his rifle to his chest.

“I thought you might…” started Goodie. “Wait what’s that? Argh! A Polar bear!”

Elvis spun his rifle coming up then he felt a thud on the back of his head and the world tilted and went dark.


Private Eddie Rosy-Cheeks lay sweating in his hide on the west perimeter of the compound hefting his snowzooka in his clammy hands. It had been all clear so far but the snowzookas were untested and Eddie didn’t want to be the first to try one. He took a deep breath and tried to calm his racing heart, with minimal success. Then he saw it crawling forward on its belly sniffing the air searching for him. His throat dry Eddie clicked on the radio at his neck.

“This is Eddie RC I have a visual.”

“Copy Eddie, fire at will.”

“Copy that control, wish me luck.”

Eddie lined up the snowzooka, took a deep breath, blew it out and then fired. There was a crack and a fluffy snowball arced across the waste and burst into a shower of snow right on the polar bear’s nose. The bear tilted its head confused.

“Direct hit,” said Eddie. “The bear appears confused.”

“Hit it again.”

“Roger that.”

Eddie lined up another shot scoring another direct hit on the polar bear who swatted at his nose with a giant paw, shook its head then turned and lopped off.

“It worked! I can’t believe it but it worked!”

“Roger that Eddie RC. We’ll spread the word the snowzooka is a success.”


Eddie was in a half-doze one eye open a crack looking down the scope when the two polar bears popped up over the ridge. He came instantly awake and clicked on his radio.

“This is Eddie RC I have two more hostiles on the horizon, am I clear to engage?”

“Fire at will Private.”

Eddie took aim and fired two shots both landing direct hits on the baffled bears, they looked at each other then let out a spine-chilling howl. Eddie fired again scoring two more direct hits but the bears shrugged them off with a grin and started to advance on his position.

“Control! Control! They’re not working they’re coming right for me request backup.”

“Keep firing Private, they worked once they’ll work again.”

Eddie fired off two shots, then two more but the bears continued to advance pausing only to howl, a noise that turned Eddie’s guts to water. Eddie was reaching for the radio again when there came an answering howl and a wave of polar bears boiled over the ridge, a white tide of teeth and death.


Elvis awoke with to the sounds of screams. He rolled over and shook the cobwebs from his head, they’d locked him in the pantry,there were mince pies and candy canes stacked high all around him and behind them a neat row of all the weapons confiscated by Goodie and his fellow bureaucrats. Elvis loaded himself down with two pump action shotguns, two 9mm M9A1’s and his trusty Armalite AR-50

“I’m coming Santa; hold on,” he cried before blasting his way out of the locked door. The whole place was chaos; there was blood, candy and bits of toys scattered everywhere and all around the screams of the dying and the roars of the bears.

Elvis pelted down the corridor towards Santa’s grotto taking out a couple of bears that had lingered in the dorm to nose through the elves belongings with a single blast of his Weatherby SA-08 Waterfowler 12G. He could hear them, closer now, the baying of the bears and the shouts of the beleaguered elves. He rounded the last corner and slid to a halt at the carnage on show. The elves had fought a desperate rear-guard action but their snowzooka’s were no match for the polar bears. The few remaining whities were now locked in vicious hand to hand combat with the bears while Santa sat behind them trying to calm the terrified reindeer.

Elvis ran forward firing both shotguns from the hip taking the bears by surprise, but there were just too many of them and he looked on in horror as the last valiant elves were overwhelmed.

“Santa!” cried Elvis hurling one of his M9A1 over the heads of the bears. Santa snatched it out of the air just in time to blow a hole in a bear as it reached for him. Under attack from both sides now the bears panicked fled for the doors at either side of the hall.

Santa slumped to the ground breathing heavily and Elvis ran over.

“Are you OK Santa?” asked Elvis.

“Thanks to you I am Elvis,” replied Santa. “You’ve saved Christmas.”


Little Johnny ran down the stairs on Christmas morning ahead of his parents to find a huge mound of presents under the tree. He leapt bodily into the pile and started ripping off paper left and right.

“Go easy Kiddo!” called his father. “You  don’t want to break anything.”

“I don’t get it,” said Little Johnny as the flurry of brightly coloured paper started to slow.

“What is it son?”

“Well I asked for a mountain bike…”

“And what did you get?”

“It looks like a polar bear skin rug…”


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