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  • Talon Stradley

S1E17 - Santa

Hello, and welcome to Newton’s Dark Room Presents: Broadcast, monthly updates from the Newton’s Dark Room collective. This episode takes us straight into the path of one Santa Clause and how the collective saved Christmas for Long Beach. We’ll get to that in just a second, but first, I wanted to say, thank you.

This is not only the last episode of the year, but the last episode of this format. Starting in January, we’ll be rolling out a completely rebranded and restructured Newton’s Dark Room. The collective will still be there, but we are trying new things with presentation and organization. I just wanted to say thank you for listening to the show thus far. This has been a crazy time for me and I’m glad you were able to join the ride. It only gets crazier from here.

Now, without further ado, back to the episode.


It was a stormy morning out here on Calisland, worst than most days. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this winter has been particularly stormy. I was inside, placing pots on the ground to catch the water from leaky ceilings, when I heard a loud crash. This wasn’t lightning, this was… dirt? And metal. It was very unnatural and quite concerning. I rushed outside to see if anyone was injured.

I didn’t see anyone out and about. Only a wreckage. A large, red wreckage with a large sack…

It was Santa! Santa had crash landed on our island! I didn’t see any reindeer. Instead, the sleigh had a giant motor on the back; More like the Santa from Elf than the Santa from Polar Express. I timidly walked up to the sleigh. I could see Santa’s legs and boots sticking out from underneath the sleigh, fixing it like a mechanic. I cleared my throat and spoke.


Santa Claus wheeled out from under the sleigh. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t caught off guard when I saw that Santa Clause was… a woman?

Now, I guess I never had any definitive proof that Santa even existed, let alone that they were a guy. I mean, there’s no real reason to be surprised, but still. I grew up in America! We had Santa locked down in the Zeitgeist as a large jolly ol’ white man with a puffy beard and a red coat.

“Are you Santa?”

“Yup!,” she stated, then She rolled back under the sleigh.

“But you’re a girl?”

She wheeled out. “Yup!.” Then back in.

“I always thought that Santa was a guy, you know jolly saint nick—“ She cut me off by rolling out one last time.

“Look, back in the day they wouldn’t let a woman oversee a giant factory and shipping distribution center. I created the myth that Santa was a guy so I could get toys to the kids. But now it’s looking like Long Beach won’t be getting any toys.”

I did some quick math in my head. It was only 5:00 PM on Christmas Eve.

“Long Beach? What about the rest of the world? Isn’t tonight when you deliver the gifts?”

She didn’t roll out, instead answering from underneath.

“You really think I could deliver all those toys in one night? No, that’s ridiculous. This is a year round job. I go to houses every day of the year leaving toys. I just set them on a temporal lock so they only materialize on Christmas morning.”

“Temporal lock? Materialize? A jet engine strapped to your sleigh? I thought Santa was supposed to be magical! You don’t seem very magical.”

A large spark popped from under the sled.

“Yeah, well, science is magic.”

I nodded, that made sense. “Oh. Well, is there anything we can do to help? We’ve got some technical knowhow and tools and stuff.”

She wheeled out and this time, stood up.

“Not unless you happen to have some jet fuel lying around. I ruptured my gas tank on the crash landing. I’m all out.”

I thought for a moment. “No, unfortunately we’re all out of jet fuel. We used it all last month during a performance art piece where we replaced vodka with the fuel. It was supposed to be a criticism of alcohol’s unhealthy effect on the body but instead it just made for some killer fire breathing performances.”

“Then no, you can’t help. I guess the kids of Long Beach just won’t be able to get their presents this year.”

She pulled out her cell phone and began walking back to the sleigh.

“Well hold on, we can’t just cancel Christmas!”

She looked a little appalled. “Well I never said anything about canceling Christmas. They still have their family and friends and Christmas isn’t about the gifts anyways.”

“So that’s it? Just no Santa for Long Beach.”

She shrugged “Nope, I guess not. It happens sometimes.”

“You don’t have any backup reindeer in that infinite sack of yours? No extra fuel? Nothing?”

“Well I normally don’t crash land.”

I thought for a moment, real hard. There had to be someway to save Christmas. We had to get this sleigh out across the ocean to Long Beach. While I was thinking, a little Roomba bumped up against my leg.

“Do you miss your Reindeer? I couldn’t imagine not having pets. That’s why we have these Roombas. Their real nice, very useful.”

That’s when it clicked. The Roombas!

“Santa, wait here! I have an idea!”

I yoinked up the Roomba and went dashing to the Calisland Caretakers. I had an idea, a crazy one, but one that might work. You see these Roombas were mechanical, they could be modified. They also fuel themselves with the dirt and grime that they pick up off the ground. Now, if we took some of the jet engines that we had drained for the performance art fuel, retrofitted them to be powered from Roomba batteries, then glued them to the bottom, we could turn our Roombas into Santa’s own modern day sleigh team!

The Calisland Caretakers thought I was crazy, but I told them we had to try. For Santa.

At the sound of Santa the caretakers started tearing up. They lived alone on Calisland for years before we found it. They were here ever since they were kids. With no one to celebrate Christmas with them, they always relied on the gifts and Company that Santa brought. Their eyes got stern, they nodded, and they got to work changing our humble little Roombas.

They grabbed screw divers and hammers and pulled the little buggers apart! Oh, and don’t worry, this wasn’t painful for the Roombas. They actually don’t have a brain or a nervous system, so they can’t really feel anything! Normally this fills us with an undefined sadness and thoughts of “does this Roomba really love me?” but now it allows us to rest easy!

After working all morning, the Calisland Caretakers emerged with a fleet of modified Roombas! They even welded little clasps onto the back so that we could easily clip them onto the front of Santa’s sleigh. We brought them outside and presented our solution to Santa.

“We did it, this should work.”

She looked them over, furrowing her brow in thought and saying things like “Hmmm” “Oh!” and “Yes, Yes, this could work.”

Without saying much else, she hooked up the Roombas, double checked their clips, and climbed into her sleigh.

“Hey, thank you. I’m not sure what caused the crash in the first place, but I’m glad I landed here instead of the middle of the ocean. The children of Long Beach would certainly be appreciative.”

I gave Santa a salute. “No problem!”

With that, she shouted the command word! Which was really just shouting anything at the Roombas. We had installed a mechanism that turns on the jets if they hear a loud noise. So Santa shouted and the Roombas lit up.

Nearly twenty Roombas, all lined up, began shooting flames from under them. They rose magnificently into the sky. Bright, like stars ascending to their rightful place. Behind them Santa laughed her jolly laugh. With a flick of her wrist, she went flying off towards the city of Long Beach to bring Christmas spirit to the burgeoning port town.

Back on Calisland, we let out a breath of relief. We tend to get busy in the winter, caught up in the gifts and travel and “Extra free time.” But having Santa literally stopping on our little island reminded us that there is a big ol’ world out there and you never what could happen, so it’s important to appreciate those around you before you go crashing mysteriously into the sea. I smiled, turned back towards the compound, and whistled a little tune. It was time to celebrate Christmas and after that, prepare for the New Year.


You just listened to Newton’s Dark Room Presents: Broadcast. Todays episode was written, produced, and narrated by myself, Talon Stradley, with additional help from Sumpra and Augie Pepnia. That was it for this year. We’ll be back the last Monday of January for next year of programing. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next year.

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