The Gifts of Kristöfer Kröngl

An imaginative and controversial new perspective on the jolly man in a red suit who, once a year, visits the world's children.

Available only for e-readers.

Excerpt from "The Gifts of Kristöfer Kröngl" by Jon Case

The two-deer team nervously pulled and jerked, just as they had on the trip over. Plodding through the mud annoyed them. They seemed to want to walk on top of it, but their hooves sunk into it anyway. The deer on the right was particularly jumpy, trying to pull ahead and lifting her front legs up and holding them in the air as she pushed ever harder with her hind legs. Her partner took the hint and began doing the same. With each attempt, their front feet remained in the air longer, and Kris thought he saw their rear feet stay above the mud for several strides.

With a forward thrust that threw Kris's head back, the two animals, now galloping in sync, gave a sudden leap. Kris pulled his head back and looked down. To his shock, he saw all eight hooves rise off the muddy road and paw at the air. They slapped down again for only a second, then were off again, rising higher, causing the cart to creak and strain. One final smack of hooves against the muck and the team lunged mightily. Their legs raced in the air and they rose above the road as if they had wings. The mire released its hold on the wagon's wheels and miraculously the nimble duo, the wagon, and Kris lifted into the air. Exhilarated, Kris stood up, snapped the reins, and shouted, "Huräat! Go Blitzën! Go Dönner!"

Excited by their new-found ability to fly, the two deer gained strength and increased their speed. Kris pulled the reins as hard as he could to keep the pair directly above the road, but no amount of yanking convinced them to obey. Higher they soared. Uncontrollable, they veered to the right in an arcing path, ever higher, toward the island's edge and the sea. As they gained momentum, their frantic gallop eased to a graceful canter. Kris sat down and lessened his hold on the reins. He gazed to the left and right, taking in the astounding view below. The island's houses shrank to the size of toys, and deer grazing in the fields looked like ants. His sleek team led him on a circular route out over the ocean, then gracefully back toward land. With expert agility, the couple returned to a course directly above the road and set the cart and themselves down, exactly at the point they had become airborne. Satisfied with their excursion, they snorted and stood in place awaiting further commands. Kris's chest heaved as he regained his breath. His face beaming and eyes twinkling, he gave the reins a gentle snap, and the entourage moved again along the road, back to Hälona's cottage. Kris decided not to mention this adventure to anyone, just in case he had imagined it, even though he knew it was real. Who would believe him anyway?