Merry Christmas or happy holidays to all of you. Just like every year since I joined NextPit, I had fun writing my traditional Christmas tale filled with dubious jokes and obscure geek references.
For Christmas 2022, I imagined a futuristic and dystopian world where a tyrannical government forbids anyone to watch the movie Die Hard on Christmas. The idea is to play on the internet meme and the false debate about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. As a backdrop to this story, I also tried to parody elements of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and George Orwell's 1984.
This article serves no other purpose than to entertain you and take your mind off the potentially stressful holiday season. I wish you a good reading experience and a happy new year in advance.
Act 1: A cult movie
- "Yippee ki-yay, you poor schmuck!" - Wow, that's so cult-like.
- "Yeah, well."
- "Wait, what are you sulking about now? Do you know how long it took me to locate that geocache, bring the SSD to life, and decrypt all the files to find this gem of a movie?"
- "With all the bans and firefighters burning every single copy for decades, I expected better from the movie, that's all."
- "What? Are you serious, dude? We're talking about Die Hard here! THE ultimate Christmas movie. That movie was released over 80 years ago. Why do you think the Consulate still won't let anyone watch it until December, huh? Do you think if it was a stupid movie, that this Theodren bastard...
- "Proconsul Theodren..."
- "... Yeah, that fucker Proconsul Theodren, well, do you think he'd have fun sending his fire departments to raze entire buildings, torture people, and burn anything that even remotely resembled a copy of Die Hard if this movie was that lame?"
- "I don't know. In any case, I don't see why the government would go to all this trouble, seriously. It's clearly not a Christmas movie."
*boom boom schlack*
- "Huh? It's the firemen again. They broke down Hiro's door this time. Oh!"
- "They're taking everyone away. Even his parents. Ah, shit. There's one coming your way."
- "Cut the crap. I scanned my wristband at the gate before curfew. I'm clean."
*boom boom boom*
- "Mr. Elias Wood, apartment 24b. Open the door!"
- "Do you think they're coming for the movie?"
- "You bet! Delete everything! Hurry up. They're going to break down the door!"
*boom... boom... schlack!
- "Woah, hey, calm down, we didn't do anything!"
- "Elias Wood?"
- "Uh, yeah, that's me. And this is Sarah, my girlfriend. What exactly did we do wrong? We have all the proper credentials and curfew isn't for another three hours. So if you think you're impressing me with your plastic armor and Darth Vader helmet, you can go fuck yourself..."
Elias must have been still thinking about his insult a good two seconds after having taken a blow to the head from the fireman's stick without any warning. He collapsed to the ground, mouth agape and totally unconscious.
- "That's Kevlar, you little prick." The fireman who just knocked Elias out removed his chrome helmet that boasted a golden visor and ample protection around his cheeks. In his other hand, Sarah could make out the shape of his incinerator rifle, dyed a grimy black like the rest of his uniform. It's the firefighters' tool of choice, perfect for erasing all traces of the movie Die Hard, but also of their presence.
- "Sapper Sonntag, get your ass in here! Take the kid and all this electronic stuff. Burn the rest."
- "Yes Corporal, what about the suspect?"
- "I said, burn the rest."
Act 2: A Christmas movie
- "500 fires. You're going to break the squad record again if you keep this up Sonntag. Hey, are you listening to me, Winston?!"
- "Hmm? Yes, Corporal. I'll do my best, Corporal."
This would be the third time in a row that Winston Sonntag would break that famous record since he was promoted to Sapper 1st Class. But he's stopped counting Christmas Eves spent chasing anti-socials who confuse movie-going with political dissent anyway. Well, not really, but he preferred not to think about it too much. We're talking about real people. People he knew, sometimes. People he liked, sometimes. And all this for what, a stupid movie? Sonntag immediately interrupted this dangerous train of thought.
- "By the way, Corporal. Did you find... the film in the equipment we seized from the suspect?"
- "Yeah, the kid finally spilled the beans and we didn't even have to look far. But why are you asking me that? Do you want to see this movie?"
- "What? No, I don't."
- "Come on, we've all seen at least one clip. It's almost inevitable when you're a fireman."
- "Not me!"
The corporal smiled, but the subtle frown Sonntag noticed betrayed a more pernicious intent than mere mockery.
- "You know, when I was still a young sapper like you, I had to respond to an emergency cremation. An ex-Consul's little nephew had been turned in, and we found a whole facility to copy and distribute Die Hard en masse.
- "I think I heard about that at the academy."
- "Yeah, a real textbook case. Gotta say, the kid was a hell of a little genius. Precocious type. His gear was state of the art, not surprising given the uncle's wealth. And his hand delivery, with thousands of geocaches all over the city. Hah! He was totally under the radar. But worst of all, he almost had me doubting my mission that little prick. "
- "What? Oh come on, don't look at me like that; I bet you've had your doubts too sometimes, right? It's a counter-intuitive mission. Burning things when you're a firefighter, it's the world upside down. But that day I really questioned myself. While his world was falling apart, this rich kid looked down on me. You know, that look that only the rich know how to do with his haughty nostrils flaring and his eyes squinting. And he told me he can scientifically prove to me that Die Hard is a Christmas movie."
- "Another one of those."
- "Nah, the guy was really smart. I almost believed his bullshit. He started off by pulling out a lot of numbers for me. Did you know that in the movie you can see nineteen Christmas trees altogether? You can also see fifteen other different Christmas decorations."
- "Did he really count, corporal?"
- "Wait Sonntag, that's not all. You can also hear twelve different Christmas carols and the word 'Christmas' was mentioned thirteen times."
- "Okay, Corporal, but that doesn't mean anything."
- "I know Sonntag, I know. But what confused me was that the kid had a lot of other statistics on a lot of other movies. And he pulled up the numbers for the movie Mommy, I Missed the Plane."
- "A Christmas classic. And?"
- "And, sorry to break it to you, there are more Christmas references in Die Hard than in Mommy Missed the Plane. Yet one has been declared apocryphal by the Consulate and viewing it is very severely punished. And the other one is seen as a real and legal Christmas movie. Isn't that funny?"
- "It's crazy how far these fanatics are willing to go to justify their crimes. It doesn't matter how many references there are to Christmas. The Christmas spirit is not a mathematical or scientific concept. Die Hard has nothing to do with the Christmas spirit."
- Whoa, Sonntag, relax. Who are you trying to impress with this? Or maybe you're trying to convince yourself?"
Act 3: A Christmas cult movie
*Successful scan. Welcome home, Mr. Sonntag*
- "Thank you, Siri. Turn off the alarm and preheat the oven."
This Corporal's numbers thing kept running through Sonntag's head. Was this supposed to be a lesson? A metaphor? Or maybe a test? Did he suspect something? No way!
- "Hey, Siri, de-sac-tify the a-lar-me."
- "The alarm was de-activated today at 5pm. Would you like to turn it back on?"
- "Huh, what do you mean? I just got home. What the hell, I'm sure I didn't forget to activate it when I left for surgery this morning. Siri, call the firehouse!"
Montag turned back to the entrance of his apartment, looking around for his service weapon. Too late.! He felt his legs give way beneath him, just before he experienced a stabbing pain in the back of his head.
- "Hey. Hey! Wake up, asshole!"
- "Huh? What? Who the hell are you? And what the hell are you doing in my house?!"
Sonntag spent the first thirty seconds after waking up blinking with a blissful look in his eyes, just enough time to remember the monumental headache caused by his assailant. Ah, no, his apparent assailant.
- "You're the kid we picked up this morning."
- "Well done, Sapper First Class Winston Sonntag. I'm Sarah. And the guy you let burn in your glorious 500th fire this morning was Elias. I've learned a lot about you since we first met."
- "Look, uh, Sarah. I don't know how you got out of the firehouse or into my house. But do you know what you're risking by taking on a consular officer? What do you want? Revenge? Your Elias made his choices."
- "Winston Sonntag. You're a real superstar at the firehouse. The crown jewel of the Ninth District, I hear. A real little minion of the Consulate, totally convinced that Die Hard isn't a Christmas movie and that watching it should be punished without exception, right?"
Sonntag was about to answer, but the frightened kid he'd seen this morning breaking down the door of that 24b apartment didn't look so harmless anymore. He guessed the silhouette of his service weapon, perched at her waist, hidden under her top. The girl's dark eyes may be focused on him, but her gaze seems to pierce through him, to the point of ignoring him.
- "What's your point?"
- "Why do you have a copy of Die Hard at home, Sapper 1st Class Sonntag?
- "Cut the crap. Get to the point."
- "And not just any copy. Collector's edition, metal Blu-ray box set. It's a rarity. It's a miracle the data on the disc remains readable after all this time. Have you tried watching it?"
- "Of course I have. As it happens, we often preach against our own sins. But if I told you that I could prove and convince you that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Would you let me walk away with your copy and not say anything to your dear corporal?"
- "Are you going to do it too? You're going to come up with another one of those wild theories and tell me how many times you see a fucking Christmas tree in this movie, aren't you?!"
- "No. Only those Consul sheep believe that the spirit of Christmas can be reduced to mathematics or scientific formulas. I'm talking about the essence of this movie. It is intrinsically linked to Christmas."
- "You're wasting your time, I've already called the firehouse. My brigade will be here any minute."
- "In Die Hard, John McClain would never have gone to Los Angeles if he wasn't coming to try to see his kids and fix things with his wife for Christmas.
- "Shut up and get out while you can."
- "What about the terrorists? They needed the Nakatomi Tower to be mostly empty, but still have a few people they could take hostage. The office Christmas party was essential to their plan. This attempted heist could not have taken place on any other day than Christmas Day."
- "Ah, you see? You're beginning to understand Sonntag! But I'm not done yet. John McClain also went through the quintessential Christmas protagonist arc. He started out not being in the Christmas spirit, had family problems, and loathed the Christmas atmosphere everywhere. He then began a journey of initiation that made him realize the importance of his family, and he found the love of his life and overcame his difficulties. The film ends with a classic Christmas song."
*boom boom boom*
- "Ah, I think your fellow firemen are here. Are they coming to save you or are they coming to burn the traitor who's been keeping a copy of Die Hard home all these years?
*boom boom boom*
- "You see, Sonntag, I think that like John McClain, you're at a crossroads in your life. You've spent your whole life hating the Christmas spirit and you never really knew why. And now you're about to embark on that journey of initiation. You have to make a choice now. Choose to burn your copy of Die Hard and everything stops, then you can have sweet dreams and think whatever you want. Choose to watch Die Hard at Christmas, you stay in Wonderland and we go down an endless hole with the white rabbit."
*boom boom boom*
- "So? What's your choice, Sonntag?"
That's it for this Christmas Carol 2022. I hope you enjoyed it. If you didn't, you might want to check out the previous two episodes. The first one is a parody of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and the second is a delirium of references to Mommy, I Missed the Plane, and Horizon Zero Dawn.