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Words by Aron Simkins
Art by Andrew Hackett


Noelle Hardcandy is a waitress at a local greasy spoon by day and a strip club dancer by night. Believing herself to be a bit of a magnet for deadbeats with one-night relationship attention spans, she dreads the reality of being alone—never to find a “Richard Gere” who will wondrously whisk her away from a life on the streets to a world of love, happiness, and endless shopping.


One fateful Christmas Eve, Noelle stumbles into her dump of an apartment to find a sooty, strange man nosing around. Thinking he is either the landlord come to collect or a rando from the club, she decisively pulls the mace from her rhinestone-bedazzled bra and sprays him right in his rosy-red face, causing him to spill backwards and crack his head on the table.


As he lay unconscious on her apartment floor, Noelle is shocked to discover the incapacitated intruder is none other than Santa in the flesh. Noelle immediately begins to panic, thinking she just killed him. All the sudden, the once jolly man begins to groggily regain consciousness but with no memory of who or where he is. Seizing the opportunity that has fallen right into her lap, Noelle immediately devises a way to make all her wishes come true by convincing the dazed Kringle he is her fiancé, Kris Kringleton, and that he slipped while the two of them were engaging in a bit of Christmas nogging.


With Kris now obliviously playing the role of the doting fiancé, Noelle’s newly concocted scheme initially seems to be paying off. However, it isn’t long before Kris starts showing brief flashes of memory recovery, requiring Noelle to find new ways to “accidentally” re-dent his dome and clear his mind like an etch-a-sketch. Additionally, with the inconvenience of having to vigilantly kill off a steady stream of search and rescue elves  desperate to find their lost boss, she can’t help but wonder if any of this is worth the hassle—especially since all this supposed happiness is coming at the expense of a now Christmas-less world. And to make matters harder, Noelle discovers she is developing true feelings for her captive.


Will Noelle willfully continue living this fairytale charade, knowing she’s living a lie and slowly erasing Santa, or will she come clean and restore Kris and Christmas to their rightful places, likely dashing any hope of the two of them sharing a bright and shiny future together?

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