For this next round of posts, the gang at the Guild of Dreams decided we should each write holiday flash fiction. Before you read on with my quick story, and the subsequent offerings between now and the new year, you must remember something: we are fantasy writers. Dark fantasy, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, etc.. We write about monsters, and vampires, and zombies, and all sorts of other things that make for good Halloween stories, but tend not to lend themselves well to a more (am I allowed to say) Christmas theme. Just a warning…you may not read about many happy families drinking eggnog around the fire.
Now that the censor’s warning is taken care of, let’s see what Icarus Fell, harvester of souls, is up to for his holiday.
The snow fell around me in a swirl of white, blowing in my face one second and down the back of my coat the next. I pulled my collar up to keep the cold off my neck and held my hand out, waiting for her to give me the scroll and wishing I’d brought a pair of gloves instead of acting the tough guy.
“Sorry, Icarus Fell. Not much time for this one,” Gabe said as she put the rolled parchment into my hand. It felt warm on my palm.
I spun the scroll in my fingers. “It’s Christmas eve, Gabe. I was going to see Trevor. Can’t I–”
I looked up to find her gone—a regular occurrence for an angel, though Gabe was usually more cordial. Perhaps archangels have extra duties at Christmastime; more likely she wanted to get out of the cold—I did.
Snowflakes melted on the parchment as I unrolled it to check the details of the pickup. When I’m late to a harvest, bad things happen, and I don’t mean like when Santa puts you on his naughty list, though, like the fat man, the guy who’d pay a visit is often depicted in red. By my watch, I had a few minutes, and the address was close.
The snow blew in my face as I left the alley where the messenger angel accosted me. My destination was only a few of blocks away and, as I walked, it became evident what it was.
The glare from Southgate Mall could blind aircraft pilots during the summer, but with the added festively colored light to celebrate the season, it took on an otherworldly glow. It also consumed enough energy to power three Atlantic states.
“Shit.” This wouldn’t be easy.
A gust of wind sent kamikaze snow flakes directly down my ear tube to die a cold, wet, valiant death while I stopped and unrolled the scroll again. Better find out who I was picking up.
“Aw, come on. Someone’s screwing with me.”
The shoppers rushing by hugging their gifts looked at me like I might be a little crazy, but really, who isn’t at this time of year?
I read the looping letters of angelic calligraphy again to be sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me, then read them a third time for good measure. Same name every time. Either Santa’s secret identity was about to buy the farm, or a bunch of angels were gawking down from on high and having a good laugh at my expense.
Not good Christmas spirit.
Knowing the mess that would ensue if I didn’t harvest the soul, I figured I’d better take this seriously. There could really be a guy named Kris Kringle out there somewhere, right? Right?
Snow was collecting on the sidewalk and I felt it clogging the insufficient treads of my shoes, rendering each step dangerous. With the scroll tucked under my arm, I slipped and slid my way to the closest mall entrance, cursing myself for not wearing boots as I rubbed my hands together for warmth. A man in a red and white suit and matching hat stood beside the six sets of double glass doors, a long white beard on his chin and jingle bells in his hand. Most shoppers ignored his pleas for charity as he said his requisite ho-ho-ho’s, but I could see the desire for a drink in his bloodshot eyes from a mile a way, and he was a good eighty pounds shy of jolly.
Had to be my guy.
I leaned against the wall opposite him, out of the blowing snow, while last-minute shoppers hurried through the doors, obscuring my view of the not-so-fat Christmas elf. I looked at the scroll again to see where to dump the pathetic Pere Noel, then deposited the parchment in the garbage. Of course, while my back was turned, the action started.
The rhythmic jingle of Santa’s bells stopped briefly, then turned erratic, violent. I peeked at my watch and nodded: right on time.
Turning to make my way to Santa, I bumped into a small woman with an armful of packages; she paused to wish me the best of the season with a flurry of four letter words. I nodded and smiled, told her to kiss my ass, and pushed my way through the crowd of on-lookers.
A man with a snow hat pulled down over his ears had a hold of Santa’s charity ball and was trying to make off with it, but jolly old Saint Nick wouldn’t allow it. The two men jostled and played tug of war for fifteen seconds, then snow-hat-man’s feet slipped. He went down hard, landing on the back of his head with a crack that was audible even over the stomp of booted feet entering and exiting the mall.
A crowd gathered, but no one rushed to help the poor guy. Confused, I pushed through them and found his spirit standing to one side. He was easy to pick out—not only was he translucent, but he was also dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. I grabbed his arm and pulled him away.
“What’s going on?” He had that confused expression common among the newly expired.
I looked him up and down: blond hair, blue eyes, average height, average build. Nothing Santa Clausy about him.
“You’re dead,” I said, my grip on his arm firm in case he tried to bolt. He didn’t. “Are you really Kris Kringle?”
“Yeah.” He said looked down at his bare feet. “Crappy name I got saddled with.”
I rolled my eyes and led him from under cover, back into the blowing snow.
“You’re Kris Kringle and here it is, Christmas eve, and you rob Santa.”
“A guy’s got to eat.” He looked back over his shoulder at the crowd milling about his body. “Aren’t they going to do something.”
“Doubtful. A Merry freakin’ Christmas to one and all.”
“Where are you taking me?”
“But I just tried to mug Santa. I still get to go?”
I raised an eyebrow and got a chunk of snow in the eye for my trouble. “It’s like another miracle on 34th street.”
“Well, Merry Christmas to me!”
It didn’t make any sense, but who am I to argue with the archangel Gabriel and Kris Kringle?
Happy holidayus, everyone. See you in the new year (but watch for my new book, Spirit of the King (Khirro’s Journey Book 2) coming in time for Christmas!).