What happens in November stays in November
. The greatest irony of them all was that his parents named him Christian Elfwood. Having the name Christian as an unbeliever raised so many unpleasant situations and chuckles along his audience that he introduced himself simply as Elfwood and denounced any attempt at being called in any other way. His audience, nevertheless, consisted solely of unwilling passer-bys and beggars. Mostly harmless all year round, he launched himself into long speeches about the futility of belief and abandoning all hope whenever the time for holidays approached.
. Many acquaintances – for he had no friends – argued that he suffered from some form of sadism where kicking people who were already down made him feel superior. Truth be told, he did feel content in his anger and delusion that he was changing “the world as we know it”. One may have suspected some early childhood trauma that made him embark on such a crusade against all forms of holiday cheer, but they would be gravely mistaken for there was none.
. That particular November day, Elfwood had had a wonderful morning and by noon he had embarked in his daily journey with the subway train. He felt uplifted thinking of all the metaphors he could make. On that particular moment he meditated at the dark and warm of the subterranean stations which reminded him of the pagan gods of fertility. He began making mental notes which he was to make into a special Christmas entry on his blog, titled “Why Christmas was better left a pagan holiday” in which he mixed a number of poorly-understood beliefs with Saint Nicholas turning afterwards to capitalism and Valentine’s day: “To me, those gods are truly amazing because they represent a metaphor: the god of the Earth – Gaia, for example – was just a metaphor for the fertility of the woman, the earth being the dark and warm womb. So that’s why I love trains”.
. Even so, a deeper thought, a moment of distraction and his world plunged into chaos. Did he misstep? Was he pushed? Was that a hand he felt on his arm? He would never find out, for all he saw was a pair of giant stars approaching rapidly and then an odd mixture of pain and awe. The next moment he was marching down on a pathway lined by stars towards a light he was unknowingly drawn to. What was it? Where was it? Oh, how much he dreamt of marching down the subway tunnels! The light grew stronger and stronger, blinding him yet forcing him to approach it. Was he going up, down, left or right? He remembered to refer to Icarus in his entry. Finally the light grew large enough to engulf him. As his sight accommodated, he would see five leather-clad humans holding what even he could tell were grenade launchers and automated weapons. They seemed to be guarding a door. Or a hatch, he could not tell. Before he could do anything a hand pulled him behind some crates.
. “Don’t say a word, Christian!” the childish voice ordered covering his mouth.
. Christian looked in awe at his captor. Dressed in an unbelievably realistic Christmas elf costume laid before him a blonde child with the most soul-piercing gaze he was ever given to see. The elf was 2, maybe 3 years younger than him, making her around 11 years-old. He could feel the child tremble, his sweaty hand and fear in his eyes. Oh, those oddly-coloured eyes, how they pierced his heart! When the uncertainty became too much for him to bear, he tried to free his mouth, but the grip only tightened, the expression of those eyes changing from scared to panicked and slightly irritated.
. “You will not say a word, Chris!” he whispered pulling him quickly behind another set of crates, closer to another door. Before he could understand the child’s intentions, Christian was pushed down through a hatch to a dark room, rolling just as the child came through and locked the hatch.
. “Now, what d’you want to ask?” The child said pulling a switch to light up the tiny room. “Oh, and have a seat, Chris!” he said with a smile pushing him to a dusty sofa.
. ‘Who are you? Where am I?’ were the questions he was aching to ask, yet all he could muster to say was “What’s you name?”
. “I’m Emilhe, call me Emmy!” the elf grinned. “So I guess you’ve been told everything?”
. “Told what? I was having a normal day and all of the sudden I’m in a tunnel, then those people with weapons, you and now I’m in my worst nightmare: trapped in a Christmas dungeon with Santa’s helper!” Christian snapped.
. “Oh, Chris – “
. “It’s Elfwood. Just Elfwood,” he coldly cut him out. The spell that lied into those eyes was dispelled by the overwhelming feeling of being surrounded by what he disbelieved, in an environment he did not understand with a creature that was the living embodiment of the first two, yet fascinated him.
. “Why not Chris? It’s a nice name!” he whined.
. “Boy, listen up! I demand to be told everything now!” Elfwood ordered, returning to his cold nature.
. “Boy? What boy d’you think is named Emmy? I’m a girl!” the elf replied sulking and continued, not taking notice neither of Elfwood’s stunned expression nor of the pink shade of his cheeks. “Well, I thought they explained it to you when they guided you here! You were brought here by the Superiors as punishment. All the Unbelievers are at one point brought here for mending. Anyway, as you can see, they are unaware of what’s happening here...”
. “Wait. Unbelievers? Mending? Where... what is this place?” he said, his voice trembling and his eyes spinning aimlessly around the room.
. “It’s Saint Nicholas’ home, you dummy! Y’know, Santa Claus!” she grinned. “An Unbeliever is someone who does not believe in the Christmas spirit or doesn’t respect the Christmas Spirit. Y’know, it’s the worst sin of all ‘cause it means breaking more rules at the same time: you have the “be nice to others” rule, the “be generous” rule, the “don’t badmouth the Lord, or anyone else, by that matter” rule, the “don’t anger mommy and daddy”, “don’t envy others” rule... Oh! Also the “don’t do stuff on holidays” rule. Then you also have the other, harder to break rules, like don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie and so on, but those are the top ones that get broken. Do y’get it now?”
. Elfwood tried not to think that he broke all those rules repeatedly, instead asked: “So, I am an Unbeliever, I won’t deny it, what will happen to me?”
. “Well, you would have had a number of kids assigned to you, to fulfil their wishes and guard from harm, but with all this mess, y’know, I haven’t the slightest hint of idea. Hell, I don’t even know what’ll happen to me!” she said with her earnest, letting for the first time her face mirror the worry in her soul.
. The boy looked at the blonde elf in front of him with strange eyes. He had never met someone who shook all of the beliefs he held so dear. Should he hate her? Was hate that feeling on his chest? He thought of putting his hand on her shoulder to console her, but lacked the courage to do so. Instead, he swiftly changed the topic to the first image he had seen upon arrival.
. “If it’s Santa’s shelter, then what’s with the people with the guns?”
. “Oh, those guys!” She said in a sad voice. “They’re Willy’s men. Y’know, years ago the UN funded an expedition to uncover the way to the centre of the Earth. Only several months ago they found one of them, and they took us all hostages, saying we’re accused of being Nazis. Do we look like Nazis?” Emmy said, her childish face turning angry.
. “No, you definitely don’t”, Elfwood assured her with a smile. “So, they wanted to find an entrance to the centre of the Earth and they found Santa’s home? Are the stupid?”
. “Dummy, they did their job right, Santa lives at the centre of the Earth. We’re set in the North Pole area and we guard the entrance to the Land of Beings, just as The Bunny guards the South Pole. Of course we welcomed them when they came, but as soon as they found out we’re Santa’s helpers they captured Santa then forced us to work for them. They’re so cruel! I managed to escape them, though, because I’m agile and I hid.” Emmy said with a smile that could no longer conceal the tears soaking her grey eyes.
. “You’re telling me that not only there was a Santa this whole time, but also that now he’s captive and you’re forced to work to employees of the UN?! What kind of twisted dream is this?” the boy said rising his voice.
. “Don’t shout or they’ll find us!” She whispered placing her hand against his lips. He blushed, secretly hoping it was more than a nightmare.
. “Y’know, they’re keeping Santa hostage so we won’t rebel. If they didn’t, they’d be in shreds by now!” she said in a low voice boiling with anger. Elfwood looked at her in disbelief wondering what Santa’s little helpers could do against a horde of armed men. “We need to find him. We need to.” she concluded rising swiftly before he could utter a sound.
. “What do we do first? You’re a boy, you should be better at war, you say!” Emmy said while she ransacked the small timber room in search of something.
. “I-I’m a wiseman, not a strategist! I can’t concoct a plan, no matter how much I try! Besides, I never fought anybody, how am I supposed to know? I always talked myself out of problems!” Elfwood flusteredly denied.
. “Then talk yourself into a plan!” she insisted. “Ah! Found it!” Emmy said joyfully showing him an old coloured piece of paper.
. “It’s a map”, she said answering his dumbfounded look. “I’m showing you where everything is, y’know,” Emmy added. “Look, there’re three levels. We’re on the first, called ‘The Out’, since it’s outside, y’know. Here, there’s a guestroom, the one where you saw the 7 soldiers and this old room, see, this little smudge here. The soldiers guard the stairway to Floor Middle ‘The Factory’, where we have the various toy factories all around the farm, where we grow food, y’know. There is one soldier in each of the 7 factories and 5 around the farm, overseeing those in the factory, just in case. Also, in the farm we have another staircase, which leads to Floor Guard ‘The Living Quarters’. Here, we have concentrical circles. In the center, there’s the mess hall and the living room. Then we have our rooms, where we sleep and keep our things and stuff, along with the hospital and buildings like that, y’know. And on the outside we have the guard posts, to guard the entry to the Land of Beings. I don’t know how many soldiers they have there, because I couldn’t get there, but I know they made it their headquarters, so Santa must be there, y’know.”
. “Now, the question is: how many elves can we count on and what can they do,” Elfwood asked, unwillingly trying to think of a way out of this whole mess.
. “Well, there are 15 elves in each factory, y’know, plus those who were working at the third floor, and who are now working at the farm. Each factory’s elves have a special ability, y’know. So those in packaging have telekinetic abilities, the blacksmiths have amazing physical strength, the toymakers have technological abilities – they can build an army of toys, the carpenters are amazing shooters - they shoot nails from afar, out of fear of the risk of shooting nails implies. Also, the zookeepers – those who raise animals and care for the reindeers - can have an army of animals at their disposal, y’know. And nobody likes meeting a crocodile up close! The joyous cooks are as good with sugary foods as they are with poisons and the tailors are as agile as cats and as deadly as... people who wield scissors, cutters and strings, y’know. And in the farm we have the 15 farmers plus the doctors and cooks and so on; they should amount to about 30. The 40 guards and roughly 100 elves are still down, probably held hostage, y’know. Does that help you? Look, I made notes on the map. The red dots are the soldiers and the blue dots are the elves,” she added gleefully.
. “Well, it is rather unpleasant that all stairs are guarded. Anyhow, we need a method of mass communication with all elves. Do you think the tech elves could do that unnoticed? In addition, we must find a way of descending to the third floor. It is imperative we do that,” Elfwood said in a stern voice. While Emmy explained the whereabouts of both soldiers and elves, an idea came to life in his mind: This might be the one and only chance he will ever have to prove his intellectual superiority to the world. And what better way than outsmarting the UN? Such an idea grew and grew becoming his driving force and mobilizing him to think coldly and logically as if he was playing a huge game of Tetris. Without any knowledge of the events taking place in Elfwood’s mind, Emmy gasped in surprise, thinking he finally grew to believe in the power of Christmas. As a result, she kindly disclosed that the information she gathered was from a secret room right beneath the one they were in, in which data from surveillance cameras was gathered and led him there.
. “What about the air vents? Could one move freely through them?” he asked slightly disappointed that he could not gain knowledge of a way to get to the scene physically.
. “Oh, I didn’t think of that!” she exclaimed, grabbed a screwdriver from a pouch which dangled along her thigh and opened an air vent nearby. Afterwards, she crawled her slim body inside, resembling a poisonous striped snake. “Be back a.s.a.p.!” she said before disappearing completely through the cold, metal hole. Using the remaining time, Elfwood studied the unfamiliar place with the use of cameras. Soldiers guarding the elves were more armed than those he met upon arrival and looked stronger as they grew closer to
the entrance of the third level. Yet, what surprised the boy so was the sheer vision of Santa’s helpers, as varied as the humans they were gifting. Though, each factory’s elves had specific characteristics. For example the tech elves all wore glasses with detachable binoculars while all blacksmiths were tanned and had muscles. An idea grew in Elfwood’s mind and checked the old map left behind by Emmy hoping it would hint what he wanted to know, yet had to return disappointedly to the surveillance cameras for the possibility of an answer, hoping the air vent theory would prove any feasibility of succeeding.
. Elfwood became so immersed in studying the compound and the placement of air vents that he failed to notice Emmy returning covered in dust, cobwebs and coal.
. “Hey! I could get to the third floor,” she exclaimed gasping for air and creeping behind him.
. “You could? How close did you get to Santa?” he asked quickly recovering his concentration after her return startled him.
. “Well... about 1-2 meters at least, I’d say. But there were bars, y’know, so I can’t be sure. Anyway, he was all tied up. And they made him wear a weird red suit, I wouldn't have known it was Santa if I hadn’t heard him talking!” she whined but returned to disclosing he information. “There were a lot of soldiers there – 30-40, all looking tough and armed. If only we could have protected Santa better! I couldn’t see the guards, though, but there was one room I didn’t get to, and that was the storage cellar. They’re probably there! Oh, poor guys... that cellar is so cold and creepy...”
. “Could you get close to the elves in the 7 factories? Could you tell the techs to make communication device?” he coldly interrupted her.
. “I could get close, but I was in a reconnaissance mission y’know, so I had to collect info and give it back to you,” Emmy replied swiftly.
. “Alright. This time we’re going together. You lead me to where I want to go and I come up with a suitable plan,” he decided.
. Emmy looked at Elfwood with strange eyes, but he became immune to her beautiful gaze on account of the fact that he was forced to be alert and thinking at his fullest. Eventually she entered the dark tunnel again, followed by the taller but slimmer boy. He was not as agile as the little girl but compensated with well-thought movement so they managed to reach the factory of the technician elves without raising an alarm. There they ducked until an elf passed close to the air vent and they could pull the emerald shoelaces from his red swirly shoes. When he got down to tie them back, the made a low ‘shh!’ noise to attract his attention and quickly explained that they needed communication device and that the elves should prepare for an upcoming battle. The little man explained mostly through gestures that the device will be ready in as much as an hour. As a consequence, after unscrewing the nails holding the grate in place, the little boy and the girl waited in the small, cold place attempting not to freeze while they were struggling to remain as silent as if they cast of the same iron the vents were made of. Precisely an hour later the small elf pretended to have his shoes untied and quickly passed a bag of bean-shaped devices along with a note stating that ‘Once they’re inserted in the ear, they pick up sounds from all other Communicators. Don’t worry, we’ve all got ours inserted.’
. Emmy and Elfwood visited all other factories prompting elves to prepare to retaliate and also distributing communicators. As more elves became connected, more and more voices and unrelated conversations were heard, everything becoming one large bazaar of voices and sounds. Emmy seemed disturbed by this, but the boy knew communication was a crucial part of the plan. After they managed to pass through a zookeeper several communicators to those trapped in the farm, the boy and the girl descended to the third level with one thought reining their minds: freeing Santa Claus.
. Yet, upon arrival, Elfwood realised the impossibility of freeing the large man in a red suit without the guards noticing. As a result, he decided on a gamble he had seen in cartoons and numerous movies called talking the monster to death. In this specific case meeting the leader and talking to him. They moved through the ventilation shafts until they arrived to Santa’s house, now the private office of the two men from the UN. There, Elfwood jumped out with hope that, if his speech failed, he would at least make a good diversion. And indeed he made, for the guards captured him immediately, tying him right next to Santa who appeared to have already been tortured. The game appeared to be lost for him, but Elfwood never resigned, thus he began his speech:
. “Oh, wow, Santa! I never would have expected you to be alive – barely, but alive!” he began by offering information for the rest of the elves who were listening. “Anyhow, it would appear that Santa’s not alive enough to answer me as to why I didn’t get my pony back, so I would ask what kind of terrorists would kidnap and imprison Santa. Are you making a video asking for ransom?” he asked deciding instantly that he had not enough information about his enemies.
. “We should ask you what the ******** is a kid such as you is doing here! Do we look like ******** Al-Quaeda? Nope, we are genuine enterprisers – don’t you dare think of Star Trek, kid! We’ll take Christmas back from Coke and make it ours, ours for ever! But instead of sugary blackness we’ll sell holiday spirit directly. What’d you say, isn’t it brilliant?” One of the tall men in grey suits said excitedly while the other seemed focused on reasons not to punch his partner.
. “In other words, Santa here and his creepy little elves will work to make us richer than anyone to ever walk on Earth!” the other man added with a smirk while his eyes still appeared to measure every mistake of everyone else, especially the green hat of his partner.
. “Making Cristmas into a business... that would make me rich too, actually,” Elfwood said with a foxy smile, deciding to move the recipients of his speech from homeless people to villains. As the two men and Santa looked at him dumbfounded, the kid continued. “You see, I am the proud owner of an Internet blog called ‘Immaginary trips from the Elf of the Wood’ from where I change the world as we know it. I also claimed in about four entries – five with the one I am still planning to write - that Christmas is turning into a festival for consumerism and should have been kept as it was – a pagan holiday. In those articles I claim that the future Christmas would be exactly like the one you are presenting now: corporations will sell ‘cheer in a bottle’ – I did imagine it would be narcotics in that bottle, though – and oblivious children will continue to ignore the holiday spirit until they will see Christmas only as an app on their expensive phones and one of the times of the year their parents buy them unmerited gifts. Christmas messages, movies and anything subjected to author rights would then be claimed by Santa’s lawyers and be integrated into pay-per-view systems or on special DVDs, only available for a limited time. I have actively made Christmas the epitome of my message to the world: there is no Santa, there has never been and will never be, so there’s no God, never has been and never will be, so quit hoping for better, start working and pay for it!” By the time the boy finished his speech, everyone who could hear him had fallen silent, each for their own reasons.
. “Kid, I must admit, you’ve given me quite some ideas there,” said one of the men with a condescending smile. “I never thought of a lawsuit over author rights. Or an app, by that matter,” he calmly admitted. The other one remained silent but his face expressed surprise and excitement, his rosy face matching his green hat. Elfwood could hear elves growling in anger and the trembling voice of the little girl whispering his first name.
. “But you know, one thing I failed to understand: why did you beat up Santa if you weren’t going to make a video Al-Quaeda-style?” the boy asked partly to cover the sounds in his ear.
. “To tell us how to get to the centre of the Earth, of course!” both men replied as if it was the most logical answer.
. “You found a way to get unbelievably rich, why in the name of sanity do you want to get to where molten magma makes its home?”
. “Why, because this shelter here proves Hitler’s men were right and the Earth is hollow! And if the Earth is hollow, there’s a reason it hasn’t been discovered until now: unbelievable richness!” the man with cruel eyes replied.
. “Look, the fact that a three-story building exists underground is by no means proof of the Hollow Earth Theory. I’m just a kid and I know it doesn’t add up. Unless you guys are from Thule and want the Hollow Earth to be true, of course,” he added mockingly.
. “You have a point, but the geezer didn’t say ‘you’re ******** crazy’, he said ‘I’ll never tell you’, so this must be proof that...”
. “Oh, no, please tell me you’re not thinking of interpreting statements you got with torture! If you’re knowledgeable of history, or just have common sense, you’ll know a man can say anything under torture just to escape from the ordeal,” Elfwood interrupted them hoping they still were under the impression that he was a cold, logical man. He realised they believed him at least temporarily and so decided to push further with his dialogue when he heard the words ‘Santa’s free!’ uttered with Emmy’s suave voice followed immediately by the sound of metal hitting metal, of horrible scream and shots. He decided to think of a plan to keep the main forces concentrated where he was, to leave time for the elves to regain control of The Factory.
. “Did you ever think of what would ensue if children find out their beloved Santa has been taken hostage and his elves forced into slavery? Because that’s exactly what kept me from laying traps for Santa when I was little,” Elfwood asked coldly while Santa looked at him in disbelief.
. “What kind of devil are you, kid?” the old man asked. “Have you been sent here by Satan himself?”
. “I haven’t the faintest hint of idea as to who or what brought me here, but I can honestly answer you that, just like the gentlemen here, I have always been immune to holiday cheer, yet received gifts every year,” the boy answered looking sternly at the men, then added “though, these men must have held the belief in your existence so dearly that when they found you attempted to take their gift by any means – even torture.”
. “You’re one weird kid.” the man with cruel eyes said, but the boy did not finish, determined to keep this dialogue until the elves would have freed themselves. Although, he had started worrying about the reason none of the soldiers came to inform the men of the uprising above.
. “It is rather obvious, actually. Free me and I will show you proof,” added Santa.
. “You had your chance, old man!” the man with green had said cruelly, but Elfwood interrupted him:
. “No, the old man is right: he is the only one with the ability to prove my words. But you are afraid to admit that you believe in Santa, are you not?”
. The men looked at one another and ordered the soldiers to untie Santa. The moment the last chain was unlocked, chaos ensued.
. “Santa’s somewhat free, I might say,” Elfwood said for the elves to hear and the next moment loud bangs were heard coming from the middle of the floor, screaming and gun shots resounded.
. “What’s happening?” the men asked while the sound grew louder and louder, signalling to Elfwood that he must also take action. And so he did. He asked Santa to untie the ropes around his wrists then took from the bag given by the tech elf a small gun.
. “Now, king gentlemen, nobody wants to die in this room, am I right?” he said pointing the gun to wards the men. “So, would you kindly ask these soldiers to surrender their weapons?”
. “Are we supposed to worry about a kid wielding a gun?” the man with cruel eyes said, but the worry in the other man’s eyes showed they were not as fearless as they tried to appear. So when Elfwood claimed to shoot a statuette behind the men and succeeded, the man with green hat ordered the soldiers to surrender.
. In the meantime, the elves announced conquering more and more parts of the floor, steadily approaching the Guard Tower where Santa and the boy were. When Elfwood announced the surrendering of the enemies, the pace at which the elves eliminated their enemies increased and in mere minutes they reached their leader.
. Confronted with an army of elves, both the soldiers and the two men in grey suits had little choice but to allow themselves be tied and taken prisoners.
. “You really are some strong people, are you not!” Elfwood said congratulating the elves, his eyes looking for Emmy.
. “So, kid, joking aside, who are you?” Santa asked him while he helped him stand up while a team of doctors rushed to his aid.
. “My name is Elfwood and I am nothing but an ordinary kid. I do believe I am among those you call Unbelievers, though, and this is why I was brought here.”
. “Oh, and, tell me, kid, have you learnt anything from your stay here?” the old man asked with a jolly smile.
. “That Santa is real?” he said but immediately saw that this was not the expected answer. “Joking aside, I now realise my ways were wrong and that Christmas is more than a reason for receiving gifts and keeping speeches about abandoning all hope. Because even Santa can receive help if he doesn't abandon hope, so maybe us, normal people also receive gifts when least expecting: maybe my pony didn’t return because if it did, I would have slipped on it and broken my leg or because it was used to make a kid happier than it ever made me. Oh, what an entry this would make!”
. “Now, now, it would appear all it took was a hostage crisis to sort out your ways,” Santa said laughing. “But why do you look worried all of the sudden?”
. “What happened to the guards? I never heard the elves found them anywhere on this floor, they were not assigned to work on the fields, so... where are they?”
. “Now that the boy says it, it’s true, we couldn’t find them anywhere,” a tailoring elf noticed.
. “Oh, that’s ‘cause they left when all this started, y’know,” a childish voice made itself heard from behind Santa. “You see, all this wouldn’t have happened if our guards wouldn’t have suddenly decided it’s a brilliant diversion and the perfect time for them to conquer the Land of Beings. That’s why I was late, I was searching the surveillance cameras for hints. Anyway, I talked to the Tooth fairy to tell her the siege is finished and we can open doors, y’know, and she told me she’s caught them and bringing them up as we speak,” she finished grinning. Elfwood realised just how elusive this grey-eyed elf has been sine the beginning.
. “So, what is going to happen to me?” he asked, deciding to remain level-headed.
. “I’d say you’ve done your rehabilitation well, Unbeliever, you may go to enjoy Christmas with your family and friends,” Santa said. “And wait for me, for this year you’re exempted from the naughty list!” the old bishop added with a heartily laugh. As the boy was thanking them, Santa added “But heed my words: you’re still being watched and if you return to your mischievous ways, you will be returned here next November, yet the treatment won’t be as kind!”
. “Thank you! It was a pleasure meeting you all!” Elfwood said suddenly deciding to return to his normal life as soon as he could. And so he left, with Emmy leading the way giving advice for him to keep a happy and clean life, yet the boy was no longer hearing her words, thinking of how he’ll miss the joyful elf.
. “Why did you need my help, anyway?” he eventually asked her as they approached the first floor.
. “I panicked,” she answered smiling. “Besides, even I need a sidekick from time to time,” she whispered into his ear right before pushing him through the door he came through and locking it behind him.
. Dazed and surprised, Elfwood decided he would change his life upon return: his cold, logical self scared people, yet he needed friends and a hobby besides his blog. As a result, when he got to the end of the tunnel and woke up on a hospital bed, being told that he was run over by a train, he decided he would take flute classes, or maybe painting, why not acting, or, better yet, writing, and, best of all, all of them. He had all life before him, anyway. Until next November, that is.
That's 13 pages in MS Word Courier New 13, by the way!