Once upon a time in a magical kingdom far far in the North, there lived a magical deer. The deer was sentient, could talk, and more importantly it could fly like all of the other deer in this kingdom. His name was Dolph, and he tried his very best. This deer, however, wasn’t well received by the rest of the herd.
The herd had a game called “Catch Stick”. It was a simple game, but one day Dolph decided to play with the rest. The other deer quickly noted that Dolph was really slow and uncoordinated. They’d throw the stick too high for him to catch, or would throw it in a way that would topple his balance, or even throw it around so fast that he got lost so that when they threw it at his face it always hit him on the nose. The other deer laughed at him cruelly and would call him hurtful names like “Varsity Captain of the Venison Squad” or “Jerkface McJerky” or “Bucky Bonehead” or “Defected Dolph”. The deer were cruel in their games and drove Dolph away so that he would never play them. Dolph went away into solitude to cry. The summer passed into fall, and the fall passed into winter. The outcast stayed clear of the rest of the deer.
What was the defect that poor deer at the beginning of the story had? A sad twist of evolution had made his snout luminescent. Defects like this seem a bit preposterous to us humans, but we aren’t magical creatures. In one generation, going from normal snouts to phosphorescent snouts is unheard of for us, but it happened in the magical land far far in the North all the time. A crimson luster followed him wherever he went dazzling the unsuspecting with its brilliance. It made him the target of ridicule. Some of the more hurtful names picked on his nose, because the deer knew he was sensitive about it. Some would call him “Rediculous”. Others called him the “Blushing Buck”. “Taupe Antelope”. “Flaming Fawn”. “Shiny Stag”. “Afterglow Nostril Show”. The deer were relentless, and it made the poor “Red-Dolph” cry.
Now it just so happened that, like all magical creatures, the deer in the kingdom far far in the North would exist as long as children believed in them. The children would imagine the deer as their parents would tell stories about them. The legends spoke of an elite squad of deer who would fly through the sky in order to grace the children with various tokens of affection. The tokens would propagate the belief in the deer so they could live happily in the kingdom for the rest of the year. The time of the festivus was upon the world, and the deer were ready for their flight. Eight deer, famous for their performance in years past, were chosen to spread tokens across the world.
That year, however, there was a great storm. Visibility was well below minimum flight regulations for Class E airspace as set forth by the FAA. Deer don’t have instruments, afterall, and depend on VFR (Visual Flight Regulations) weather conditions in order to fly. A VFR pilot is likely to crash and die if he flies into a cloud because he can’t tell if his wings are horizontal or vertical. A small disorientation can cause the fluid in one’s ears to slowly move so slightly that one doesn’t feel it, and what feels balanced could actually be a literal death spiral. The deer could not take off in such conditions. Utter annihilation was at stake. If the deer did not spread their tokens of good will to the children of earth, the children would stop believing in them. If the children stopped believing, the deer would vanish forever.
The elite squad put on their gear to head out anyway. Maybe they could just brave the storm. Fly by what feels right, knowing the risk they ran. Many called it suicide. A test run was called for. Yeager, son of Blitz was selected by the herd. Yeager was an accomplished test pilot. If anyone could fly blind, it would be him. Yeager summoned his courage and leapt into the air, quickly lost into the fog. The herd saw nothing but the swirling cloud until forty seconds later a shadow hurtled towards them. Completely turned upside down, Yeager came crashing back onto the landing pad, severely injuring himself. There was no hope. That is, until someone remembered Dolph.
The herd spread out looking for him. Dolph usually stayed far from anyone else, just on the outskirts of town. The storm had driven him into the woods, but he was quickly found, for the dazzling radiance of his nose shown like a beacon through the storm. The herd gathered around him.
“Dolph,” spoke Sprint, the dasher of the North. “Dolph, we are in great need of your help. As you know, we depend on the faith of children in order to exist. Every year during the festivus we fly out and deliver tokens of favor upon these children so that the good children of the world will continue to believe. However, with the storm, we are unable to accomplish our annual ride. But your nose shines in the dark, casting away doubt and disorientation. You can guide the squad through the fog and into the rest of the world! You can save us all! We will cherish and love you because of what you can do for us! No longer will you be an outcast. You can be a hero.”
Dolph looked at the herd as they smiled back at him expectantly. It was everything Dolph had ever wanted: to be accepted. Here was his chance to fly in the spot of honor. The crux of his existence was this moment.
Dolph let out a small giggle. No one said anything, waiting on Dolph’s answer. Dolph’s giggle turned into a slight chuckle as he looked from one face to the next. The chuckle fell back into Dolph’s throat, as it became a deep snicker. The other deer smiled brighter as it looked like Dolph’s spirits lifted, but their faces turned to shocked horror. Dolph’s throaty snicker became a deep-bellied guffaw ringing out through the trees. Dolph snorted as he looked from face to face, chortling uncontrollably. And then it happened. Dolph whooped with delight! The whites of his eyes showed as he threw back his head and cackled, pulling back his lips in a snarling smile revealing all his teeth, and screamed his hysteria into the forest.
Dolph screamed with madness at the herd, “No! Your existence is plagued with prejudice. Your mindset of petty tribalism has damned your coterie to oblivion! Never shall I redeem the pits of unadulterated malevolent vomit you call a soul! For when I needed just the slightest bit of acceptance from you I was forsaken. Now you expect me to gallivant blissfully through the skies with you in your moment of need, forgetting all the offenses you have occurred on my spirit? NEVER! I will not acquiesce to your solicitations just because you want to use me. You say that you are offering love, but I see through your sinister deception; it is not love that you offer, but exploitation. I will watch every last one of you DIE! The halls of hell will echo with my eternal laughter, because at your moment of calamity the one creature you needed was the one you rejected. Forever will I take delight in your destruction!” Dolph shrieked with cackling madness as the other deer looked on with horror. All hope was lost and their doom swept them away in the storm, which left narynary a trace of the magical deer.
This is the story I told my daughter the year I forgot to buy presents for her for Christmas.