To prepare you for my story for Patti Abbott’s flash fiction challenge Monday, I’ll be posting some of my favorite’s from the past few years over the next 36 hours or so. I’ll start with a couple of the holiday flashes I’ve written.
By Bryon Quertermous
Dolly thought the Pilgrims coming down the hall were cute until she noticed instead of muskets they were carrying assault rifles.
Two women and three men were charging down the main hallway of the WDTE building in Detroit, looking like they just stepped off the Mayflower. Dolly ducked back into her office and crouched behind the window to watch them make a direct line for the studio.
* * *
“Welcome to WDeeeeeeTE, your official Motown Christmas station. We’ve got nothing but wall-to-wall jolly cheer leading up to your—”
Walter “Wee Wally” Wilkins was interrupted by an explosion of gunfire across the studio door. He spun his chair to face the noise and saw a gang of Pilgrims aiming guns at him. He raised his hands in the air at let loose on his bladder.
“You forgot Thanksgiving,” the biggest Pilgrim said.
“If you would have let me finish my station ID, you would have heard me say—”
“Thanksgiving is not part of the, quote, Holiday Season.”
“You don’t say Merry Christmas anymore either,” one of the shorter female Pilgrims shouted.
“Shut up Mary Lou,” the big Pilgrim said to the girl.”That is true though. You’re big on the Happy Holidays. But that’s not why we’re here.”
“You need to talk to my manager,” Wilkins said. “He’s the one who decides—”
“We’re the ones who decide what’s being played from now on,” the Pilgrim said. “What happened to the good old days when fall decoration were left up after Halloween and only taken down the day after Thanksgiving? That’s when the Christmas season truly begins.”
“Everybody in Detroit doesn’t celebrate Christmas though. We have Jews and Arabs and—”
The Pilgrim pointed his rifle at Wilkins’ head.
“This is a Christian nation, pal. But this isn’t about religion, it’s about the music.”
“I’m not even a Christian,” the girl Pilgrim said, “But if I have to hear that damn Chipmunks hula-hoop song for the next two months I’m going to blow my head off.”
“Actually,” the big Pilgrim said, gesturing to Wilkins with the gun. “We’re going to blow your head off.”
* * *
The SWAT commander pondered what the uniformed officer just told him about the situation.
“I can’t say I blame them,” he said.
The uniform nodded in agreement.
“I don’t mind a few of them on Christmas Eve or somethin’ like that. But who the hell wants to hear “Frosty the Snowman” when I’m still trying to get “Monster Mash” out of my head.
“But we don’t negotiate with terrorists,” the commander said.
“Seems like a pretty thin line between terrorist and public servant in this situation.”
The commander lit a cigarette nonchalantly and leaned against the hood of his van.
“Maybe we should see how it develops.”
* * *
It took the owner of the station about an hour to get to the office by helicopter and by the time he was ushered into the studio, he’d decided to do whatever the hell these wackos wanted.
“You don’t play fair,” the owner said to the big Pilgrim. He pointed to the pilgrim wearing a helmet and flight goggles over his costume. “He played nothing but bad Christmas music for an entire hour in my headset.”
“And you probably wanted to jump out of the cockpit halfway through, didn’t you?”
“But that’s not what we do to our listeners,” the owner said. “We’re not the only station in the Detroit market. Anybody who doesn’t want to listen to Christmas music can change the channel.”
“Not when we’re at the mall. Or at the grocery store. Or anywhere else in public. You led the way. Since you started playing Christmas song this early, everybody else starts playing Christmas songs early. Before long the entire year will be one long lead-up to Christmas Day.”
“And you want us to remember Thanksgiving?” the owner asked.
“Metaphorically of course.”
“Fine. Whatever. We won’t play it until Christmas Eve.”
* * *
Santa Clause was watching bits of the press conference on CNN when he heard the magical words. “Not until Christmas Eve.’
“It’s about time,” he said to Mrs. Claus.
TIME AND A HALF
“This sucks,” Loki said. “My wings are chaffing.”
Sam lit an unfiltered cigarette and inhaled a deep breath.
“We’re not the only ones working on Christmas,” he said. “Why should we be any different?”
“Angels should not be working on Christmas. ‘Tis the season and all that.”
“It’s not like we’re flipping burgers or anything. We’re doing the Lord’s work and it’s his birthday. Now get over here and help me through this window.”
Loki shuffled over to the small bedroom window and tried to shift his body in the overcoat to alleviate the chaffing.
“Why do we have to sneak through windows and wear over coats?” he asked.
“It’s all for effect. You have no sense of the dramatic.”
“We’re angels. We can fly and go through walls and glow. That’s not dramatic enough for you?”
Sam grabbed Loki by the neck and dragged him down to another window, looking in on the living room. A wobbly, overweight man wearing a stained Santa Clause suit without the hat or beard was standing over a crying boy. The man had the wide black belt of the Santa suit wrapped around his meaty hand and was beating the boy repeatedly in the head with it. A small, pale girl with an exposed rib cage, wearing only a thin pair of Strawberry Shortcake panties was huddled under the Christmas tree.
“She’s next,” Sam said. “And he’s not going to just hit her.”
“So let’s do what we came here to do. Not break into his house like burglars.”
Sam threw Loki to the ground and turned away from the window.
“A guy like that doesn’t deserve angels with trumpets and glows,” Sam said. “He deserves to be gored in an alley somewhere for six bucks and some gum. But there’s no guarantee that’s ever going to happen so we’re going to do him. But it’s going to be dirty and nasty and I’m going to scare the hell out of him first.”
“Whatever. I still can’t believe we’ve got to do this on Christmas.”
Once inside the bedroom, Loki and Sam made sure nobody else was around and headed through the house to the living room where the stained Santa was still beating on the young boy. When Sam cleared his throat, Santa stopped hitting the boy with the belt but kept it swinging in the air.
“Fuck you want?”
“That’s no way for Santa Clause to—”
“Get out of my house.”
“The only people getting out of this house tonight are the kids,” Sam said, motioning for Loki to take them away.
When the kids and Loki were gone, Sam moved in closer to Santa and grabbed for the belt. Santa was quick though, snapped it away from Sam and smacking him in the head with it. Sam was dazed, but he recovered enough to get the small revolver from his overcoat pocket and point it at Santa.
“Naughty Santa’s don’t make it to New Years,” Sam said.
He had a whole speech planned out, but he’d expected Santa would be a drunk loser, not a competent fighter, so he was caught off guard when Santa nailed him with a series of hits that threw him into the tree and took his legs out from underneath him.
Sam was determined to stick with his plan and was ready to go another round with Santa, until Santa pulled a gun from his baggy velvet pants and fired. Sam dodged the bullet easily enough but it pissed him off. Santa continued unloading the clip and by the final shot, Sam was so angry he let loose his full angelic wrath.
His wings ripped the coat from Sam’s body as they spread their full width, knocking ornaments and decorations and furniture around as they unfolded. Santa cowered under the tree where his daughter had been previously, still pointing the gun at Sam.
No gun was going to stop the sword Sam pulled, though. The gleaming broadsword was the size of a surfboard and Sam’s body morphed to its full, angelic size, dwarfing the sword, and the Christmas tree where Santa was hiding. Sam didn’t bother with a message this time. He slashed at Santa twice, dropping chunks of his body under the tree like fleshy presents.
When he was done, and calmed down enough to leave the house, Sam caught up to Loki at the Breakfast Anytime Diner down the road.
“Social services ladies not much happier about working on Christmas than we are,” Loki said.
Sam nodded and munched away on a pile of scrambled eggs soaked in Devil’s Finest brand hot sauce.
“Bet these waitresses ain’t happy about it either,” Loki said. “But seems to be working well for us and for those kids.”
“I told you,” Sam said. “Why should we be any different than anyone else?”