Time for the results of another flash-fiction challenge! This one clocked in at 999 words, and was based of Chuck Wendig’s challenge that we take the War on Christmas literally. Link here: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/12/14/flash-fiction-challenge-the-war-on-christmas/
I’m not sure how happy I am with the results, but I haven’t written fiction since NaNoWriMo (just a lot of things for Nautilus), so it felt great to get back in the saddle. I hope you enjoy!
I was just doing some shopping when it happened, walking through the crisp winter air, trying to ignore the light burning in my lungs. I suppose if I stayed home, it would have been okay.
Fucking capitalism, man.
I’d been about to duck into the local bookstore when it happened. The street exploded in a shower of ice and snow, asphalt grey standing stark against frozen blues and crystalline whites. I was knocked off my feet and carried up above the level of the stores, their doors frozen over as the ice and snow filled the street up to the ceilings of first stories throughout the town.
I sat up, rubbing my head, when the bullets started flying, filling the air like hundreds of hornets made of thermite and hatred.
I scramble behind a ridge of ice, gloved hands over my head and tearing the pom-pom hat off of my head in an effort to make myself less of an obvious target. But eventually curiosity got the better of me, and I just had to pop my head up to see what was going on.
Crap on a cracker, that is not what I expected to see. The streets were full of beautiful people in green tights, belled shoes, and silly red hats, wielding kalashnikovs against what look for all the world like tiny horned devils. The devils seemed to be wielding nothing but bows so small a child would have trouble using them, but there’s cranberry-sauce red blood staining the snow as, dare I say it?, elves go down left and right.
Oh god. One of the elves pounded ice and snow towards me, leaped over my barricade in a single inhumanly-graceful leap. She, and it is a she as part of my brain registers adorably flushed cheeks, freckles, and a bob of red hair, slid down next to me, rolled over on her stomach and pops three headshots into the nearest red menaces. She looked over at me, eyes a-twinkle and all full of glee.
“Hi! Sorry for interrupting your holiday shopping. How’s Christmas going?” she said.
There was a scramble behind us and she flipped around, taking down two more of the horned ones before I could blink.
“Um…” I said, trying to get my thoughts together.
“Well, listen,” she said, still smiling. “There’s sort of a war on here. It happens every year, but this year the little bastards caught us off-guard, and we could really use some help. My partner bit it a few states back due to some bad luck and the idiocy of insisting he didn’t need a helmet.” She rapped the side of her hat. It sounded like it was made of steel. “I could use someone to watch my back. And don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye on you. There’s hardly even a chance you could die. What do you say?”
I weighed my options and decided to ask a few more questions before venturing forth. “What happens to me after? And, uh, what happens if I don’t help?”
She popped out her clip, checks the bullets left, and gave me a look. “If you help you get a spot as an elf, if you want it, or you come back here. No skin off our little red noses either way. And if you don’t help us, I can’t keep sitting here defending you against these monsters who want to destroy Christmas.”
She turned around and shot another one down the street just before it loosed an arrow into a downed elf.
“And what are those things?”
“What do you see?” she asks.
“Little red demon-looking things with devil horns. Very stereotypical, except they’re so small.”
She shrugged. “I see dragons. It all amounts to the same thing, really. They’re your usual forces of darkness, endless ones, cuthulus, demons, daemons, devils, whatever. They’ll be beyond your comprehension forever, so don’t worry about it too much.”
“And if they win?”
“Well, they destroy Christmas, and given that we’re the last major force against them, well…reality ends.”
She smirked. “I know, right? I didn’t believe it either.”
There’s a sound of jinglebells on the wind, faint at first but getting closer.
“I gotta go,” she said, getting up to a crouch and scanning the area. “You in or out?”
I sighed. Not like I was going to have a good Christmas anyways.
“I’m in. But on one condition.”
“You and I should get coffee after this.”
She checked the safety on her sidearm, handed it to me. I’d handled a gun before, but this one felt…off. Too light. And it smelled like peppermint. “What, why? I’m dragging you into a war.”
“Yeah, but you’re cute. So I figure it evens out.”
“You’re an idiot.”
I put my hands out to the side and gave her an expansive shrug. “Probably. But now I’m the idiot who has your back.”
She started walking down the street. I took the right, she took the left. Most of the fighting was over now, and we pick up a wounded elf on the way, supporting him between us.
“I didn’t even say yes to the coffee thing,” she said around the half-conscious elf.
“Your right to refuse. I just figured I’d give it a shot, see what happened.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“All I ask.”
We got down to the end of the street, and in an intersection where all the lights were red and green at the same time was a circle of elves in an outward-facing circle, guarding an enormous sleigh.
“Is that Santa’s?”
“It’s a troop transport, smartass. Now get in. You’ll get your tights on the way.”
We hefted the half-conscious elf into the waiting arms of what looked to be some sort of reindeer-medic and climbed in.
“Do I get a steel hat, too?”
“You’re already smarter than he was,” she said. “You’re going to do fine.”