“You see she's been sick for quite a while And I know these shoes would make her smile And I want her to look beautiful When Mama meets Jesus tonight” - New Song
“Peace on Earth, can it be? Years from now, perhaps we'll see? See the day of glory See the day, when men of good will, Living in peace, live in peace again Peace on Earth Can it be?” - David “Bowie” Jones & Harry “Bing” Crosby - Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly
Soft snowflakes dance outside Mary Cherry's 83rd-floor condomaximum's gulf windows on this crisp evening in Metropolis. This cold snap always signified the start of the longest shopping season starting on Gray Friday, the last Friday in October, until Christmas.
Mary Cherry had moved into middle age still clinging to her crowning moment of Petty Boujee glory. She was the breakout star of Teen Tartz, a reality show that rewarded the most petulant and obnoxious children with more screen time and cross promotions. After this, she wallowed for a decade, repeating her tagline as she rotated through the constellation of 2 nd act salvation, Dancing with the Stars, Celebrity Fit Club and Celebrity Rehab, before she sold her lingering fame to a religious/educational propaganda machine, Up with People. She never knew that the 100-year-old troupe was funded by corporations like Halliburton, ExxonMobil, General Motors and others to counteract incipient liberalism, hippies and any antigovernment fervor through the mind-numbing power of wholesome, bland music. This was an early attempt at large-scale emotional manipulation that my software perfected.
She still cheered when a fan, or more precisely someone who recognized her, shouted her most memorable line, “They Stole My Damn Tiara!”
She squeals, knowing this Christmas season will distract her from thinking about her mortality and slowly melting face for at least two months. Tonight, just like every Opaque Thursday, large blocks of ice were slid on top of the semi-porous sections around Metropolis and shaved with Edward Scissorhands-precision into snow flakes. Air ducts in the streets blasted cold air all night and through the weekend, bringing the temperature in the bubble down to a chilly 37 degrees.
“Brrrrr!” Mary Cherry shivers as she shuts her windows. This morning it had been 72 degrees and she knew that by Monday, the temperature would spike back to the mid-50s. Perfect for all her autumnal favorites: apple butter, cider and candy corn. Now that summer was officially over, it is time for her to rotate in her fall/winter wardrobe. She checks the hallway and, like the certainty of the tides, her storage pods roll off the elevator, pushed by invisible Grips, full of sweaters and jackets in hues of orange and dark burgundy.
Over the next three hours, she slaves away, dragging clothes out of her waltz-in-closet, snatching down the forgotten fashions. 83% would be thrown into the building's incinerator with the rest sent to storage.
Now what to save!
Obviously, her Flattener-X tops with e-spanx technology. Best to save one in every color. The top's tech judged her body shape and solidified like armor to knead out her doughy imperfections, from back rolls to arm waddles. With sides stitched with photovalactic thread, the tops create shadows around her sides, deepening the appearance of an hourglass figure.
What an exhausting day!
78 boxes of sweaters, coats, hats, gloves and pants for her, her husband and son all unpacked. As she slams her door, she can hear the mechanical whir of her metal pods roll to the service elevator and back to a fallout shelter in Middle Jersey, able to survive all hurricanes, tornados, and flooding. She even threw in an extra $5,000 a month for a facility that could withstand an atomic bomb and eons of ensuing radiation. A lady must always be prepared to dress to impress in a post-apocalyptic hellscape.
“Ooooo! My favesies!” Mary Cherry drops a box of turtleneck sweaters and waddles to the living room.
From the closet, she had heard the song. Her holowall had sensed the pods retreat and whirred to life, starting this Hallschmaltz Movie Classic, Christmas Shoes. Her holiday favorite!
“Damn, it knows me so well.”
3,859,014 Boujees' 'cubes switched this film on, helping to kick off the long holiday season until the 8 days of Christmas with this, their favorite, long-form infomercial.
Christmas was how a third of humans celebrated the humble birth of their God-child, Jesus, in a manure filled manger. Jesus grew to be humanity's biggest pop star. And much like other stars who died too young, his greatest hits were bastardized after his death to sell shitty things. The Prince of Peace, who urged everyone to turn the other cheek, was used to sell a 200-year war called the Crusades which cost the lives of 1.7 million humans. His final act, dying on the cross for the sins of humanity was used to sell hollow chocolate bunnies, pastel baskets, tacky bonnets and marshmallow peeps.
But Christmas was the greatest consumerist coup!
Jesus sang the praises of living humbly and meekly and warned that “that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” To provide scale to non-Earthlings, a camel is more than 1,000 times larger than the eye of a needle, making this impossible even with the most advanced tools to warp spacetime. He urged all who followed him to sell everything they have and give it to the poor. He fought any who would defile their temple and religion with consumerism. He was executed by the state for being a rabble-rouser.
But the wealthy always win and Jesus's legacy and Christmas were no exception. Christmas had been hijacked and turned into a secular shopping extravaganza. Forty percent of all retail sales occur as part of the Christmas shopping season.
Christmas has long been the pinnacle of emotional manipulation. The holiday happens right after the darkest day of the year for Earth's northern hemisphere. Humans counteract this darkness by placing twinkly lights on their homes. Overly-saccharine songs are piped from all stores, offices, radios and homes. Humans fill their homes with sweet scented candles and shove their faces with sugary foods, giving themselves a joyful buzz for two months. Itching under the surface is an anxiety that these humans are failures unless the buy the love of their children, friends and family.
Mary Cherry is no different and, as this first wave of Christmas merriment fills her, she hunkers down to plan her shopping bonanza. Too bad she and humanity didn't realize that this was to be their Last Christmas.
(I gave you my heart, but the very next day---)
But first, let's let her enjoy the movie.
“ALEXIS! Full coma comfort!” The home assistant reacts to Mary Cherry's demands.
The couch bucks back, the leg rest pops out and she plops down. The cushions roll in around her, creating a barrier of total softness, swaddling her in supreme pleasure.
The movie begins with a malnourished boy of 8, dirty from head to toe and in clothes that were worn and old. He hobbles up the dirt path to his trailer in some section of the flyover hinterlands.
“Awwww, Laz-ee Tim!” She says through a chocolate bon-bon munching mouth.
Brown ash swirls around him as he coughs and wipes sweat from his brow. The camera pans and zooms in on a thermometer which reads: 117 degrees.
Mary Cherry always got a perverted, voyeuristic thrill watching these Laz-ees suffer. One bathroom for 8 people?! And not a single electronic personal helper! She shakes off any tinge of guilt with a simple thought: they deserve this life. Just look at how wretched, ugly and dull these Laz-ees are.
It's all their fault!
Laz-ee Tim is ignored by his three uncles, who drink a brown slog while belching on a soiled couch, blubbering about lost bets and babes. He pushes past them and in the corner of the room, he pulls back a pile of dirty rags.
“Whaaaaaaa!?!” Mary Cherry is always surprised to see his mother's simple beauty beneath her bed of rags. Tim let's out a few tears as his sick mom coughs and babbles deliriously. Tim boils water and brings his mom a hot glass with a single, used teabag that refuses to diffuse. But she's too sick to sit up and accept it.
A gaunt man comes up behind Tim and pulls him back.
“Son, there's not much time.” His father's sentence is punctuated by his mom's couchs. Tim's dad unpacks a burlap sack of goods scavenged from the vast wastelands just outside Metropolis. On the top is a worn stiletto. It topples from the mound and rolls to the rags.
“Oh My God! Shoes!” His mom gasps.
Tim, his father and even the uncles spring up and gather 'round her. She hasn't spoken in weeks, delirious with fever. But here, here in a moment of clarity, her scabby hands reach for the shoe and wipes off a layer of dirt. Her wild eyes gleam.
“Shoes. Shoes. Shoes. Shoes. Oh My God. Shoes!” Her hands paw around for its match and when she can't find it, she erupts in a coughing fit.
“Let's get some! Shoes... Shoes... Shoes!”
She convulses until she passes out. The uncles swill their slog and plop back on the couch. Tim is the only one who looks distraught and stomps to the door.
“Tim, where are you going?” His dad asks.
“Out!” Tim yells as he slams the screen door to their trailer.
The ugliness of their life always makes Mary Cherry feel more comfortable. She pulls up her slanket made from the fur of 386 anally-electrocuted minks. To prevent a drop of blood from sullying the pelts, an electrically-charged stick was shoved up each of their asses to shock them until their hearts stop. Once dead, its easy to rip off their skin and then clean, dry and stitch them together to make this ultimate comfort.
“Mmmm so soft.” She swoons.
As the movie continues, the lovable scamp, Laz-ee Tim, tumbles through 15 rounds of lasers and then past a robot firing squad to sneak into Metropolis and find his mother's last wish.
With his natty scarf wrapped around his neck, he makes his way through the popup shopping extravaganza: Christmas Resort. He stops at the Luxury Manger full of Budweiser Shetland ponies and bows to an 8lb, 6oz, sweet baby Jesus rocking in a gold crib, swimming with sapphires.
Laz-ee Tim walks on and presses his dirty nose to shop windows and drools over Christmas presents wrapped with care.
That reminds her---
“ALEXIS! Order 22-karat gold wrapping paper!” She decides that should be malleable enough.
“Ordered, your highness, Sparkle Princess Mary Cherry.”
She turns back to see Tim tremble, walking down the snow-filled lane made to look like a plague-free Middle Ages' hamlet. He stops and looks up, agog, at a pyramid of sparkling shoes.
The shop bell rings as he walks in. All eyes turn to him and scowl.
“Awww, they won't let him shop.” Mary Cherry sniffs sentimentally. “He just wants to shop!”
He walks down the aisles while an associate trails him.
Just then, Mary Cherry's morose son, Joe, galumphs into the living room and flops next to her with a harrumph.
“Dammit Joe! Momma's watching her feelies!” Mary Cherry chastises.
God, sometimes she wonders why she even had her eggs unfrozen, fertilized and then carried and birthed by a surrogate if the fruit of all her labor management would be so ungrateful. Does he even appreciate how expensive his immaculate conception was?! Well, she's glad she never had to host that miscreant or let him ruin her diamond-tight bod.
“But mom, Steven was teasing me at skewl. He messaged all the kids that my mom's just some Petty Boujee whore.” Her 12-year-old son tugs at one of her slanket's mink snouts.
“Ugh. I do NOT have the time! Shouldn't you be crashing cars in some sort of hyperreality? Shoo! I said Shoo!”
He sulks away. She rewinds the movie until the shoe store scene.
“Squeeee! This is the best part! They're gonna show the new shoes!”
Each year, the movie has a cross promotion with the greatest fashion houses. The movie is edited to show the world premiere of next season's hottest shoes.
Mary Cherry claps her hands as she shouts the brands that amaze her.
“Oh my god! Look at those Jimmy Choons! Oooo Dolce & Banana. Oh! Prader and Gukki! And would you look at those Alexandorp McKings! Ew, but those Jessica Simpson platform wedges have gots to go!”
Laz-ee Tim finds a sparkling new pair of shoes that resembles the one his mom loves and brings them to the counter.
“Sir, I wanna buy these shoes, for my Momma. Please! It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size.”
The cashier grimaces and folds his hands.
“Could you hurry sir,” Tim pleads. “Daddy says there's not much time. You see, she's been sick for quite a while and I know these shoes would make her smile. And I want her to look beautiful... when Momma meets Jesus tonight!”
“OH GOD!” Mary Cherry starts sobbing with a mixture of maternal and shoe love. What devotion! If only her blundering son could have an ounce of Laz-ee Tim's dedication.
Tim lays a jar of wooden nickels and dogecoins on the counter and starts counting, unable to pay the price.
She almost forgot to freeze the video during the shoe store scene and scan the walls for Christmas gifts. With her acrylic nail as a finger pointer, she focuses on her favorites, which burst from the holocube so she can inspect them. She scans the store with the 360 view, showing all the shoes. Highlighted in red is a pair of Space Jam Jordans with the Gold Hermes Wings. Perfect for her son! Before she clicks on it, she scans the room to make sure he has left.
“Oooo, now THIS is exactly what'll make Joe happy!”
She clicks this open and inspects the price tag.
“$4,236.99! A steal, gotta grab these while the Gray Friday sale lasts.”
She tries to select the shoe size.
“Hm. Not in stock? What the Hell!”
A news alert flashes red around the “Not in Stock” tag.
“Enemy Territory Holds Christmas Hostage!” The headline throbs next to the alert. She clicks this to see a news item about a fashion embargo in Bangladesh.
“Hm.” She waves this away. “ALEXIS, movie on!”
The film continues as Tim slides the ruby shoes on to his dying mom's feet.
“Oh she's so nasty. She doesn't deserve those... ALEXIS! Schedule a full pedicure!”
“Pedicure scheduled, your highness, Sparkle Princess Mary Cherry.”
As the mom coughs and heaves over, a heavenly choir of raggedy children appear and sing, “But I want her to look beautiful when momma meets Jesus tonight!”
On the 'cube, two angels wearing pristine white robes made from skinned baby harp seals, flank the dirty mom. As her dead soul floats to heaven, her ugliness melts into youthful beauty. She stands before the gates to heaven and clicks the ruby-encrusted heels of her new Christmas shoes until the gates open before her. A gospel choir of seraphim and cherubim burst into view, singing “All I want for Christmas is You!” This most joyful song travels from Mary Cherry's eardrum to her brain's auditory cortex and sends waves of euphoria through her body.
She can't help but jump up and dance around the room.
A sea of clouds parts to show a tall, toned, blond, Aryan Jesus wearing a crown of diamonds shaped like thorns beckoning the mom in.
Mary Cherry sits down and starts to cry, rubbing her cheeks with the heinies of seven minks.
At that moment, her puppy, a toy poodle corgi, an animal humans genetically bred to maximize fluffiness and snugglocity, jumps into her lap.
“Oh Mr. Cuddles! It's all just so beautiful!”
But, this unintelligent design breeding led to a few appalling side effects. These dogs have legs that are too short for them to walk, are partially blind and suffer regular bouts of incontinence. As she buries her head into his side, he is spooked and he pees all over her and the mink-fur blanket.
“Mr. Cuddles! How could you!” She cries.
But the first animals that humans domesticated have evolved to maximize their emotional manipulation. A soft, pouty whine causes her heart to ache and she immediately forgives him.
“Oh Mr. Cuddles, its not your fault. You're just too silly!”
She sets him down and is about to wipe the piss off of her when a breaking news bulletin erupts from the holocube, interrupting the film's credits.
“The War on Christmas has officially begun!” The jowly news anchor declares. “This is an assault on Metropolis, on the United Federation of City-States and our very Boujee values.”
Mary Cherry shakes her head as the camera shows a skirmish line somewhere in a land she's never heard of called Bangladesh. Thousands of brown women are locked, arm-in-arm, preventing hundreds of trucks crammed full of Christmas cheer from reaching the ports. The women carry signs written in broken English, trying to appeal to their Boujee overlords.
“Save our Children.”
“Give us a Christmas Miracle: Stop the Flooding.”
Mary Cherry scoffs as she swallows another painkiller with a kava chaser and calls her dog up. A cold chill rolls up her spine as she wonders if she'll be able to finish purchasing the 5,189 holiday gifts for her loved ones. Right before the sedative kicks in, frustration boils through her until she screams.
“Do they even know it's Christmas?!”