The catapults lobbed another volley of poisonous presents over the wall of Santa’s stronghold…
Actually, maybe I’d better not start the story yet, but explain where it came from first, because it is a really weird story and I feel it should be accompanied by a… heads up, maybe?
So, background: about four years ago, I was inspired by a computer game my half-brother was playing where he’d changed the main character to a snowman that was using a flamethrower and it was freaking hilarious (that’s what the main image of this blog is). With me being a romance writer, though, I had to put some romance in the story. But I was also on the cusp of a divorce, so the romance went kind of whacked. And I don’t know what the heck kind of mood I was in when I wrote it, but when when I reread the story today, my reaction was: “What the freak did I just read?”
So just fair warning 🙂 I’ve hardly changed the story at all, so you are getting it in all its messed up glory as I wrote it over four years ago.
In any case, I hope everyone finds it enjoyable and has a happy, merry holiday!
The catapults lobbed another volley of poisonous presents over the wall of Santa’s stronghold.
“Everyone sing now!” bellowed Captain Sugar Cookie to his army of elves and snowmen manning the walls and to the reinforcements spilling out of Santa’s workshop fortress. The presents exploded as they hit the peppermint-paved courtyard. Venomous scrooge gas streamed into the air in voluminous billows of black and gray.
“Sing!” Captain Sugar Cookie roared again, leading the chorus himself. “Deck the halls with boughs of holly! Fa la la la la, la la la la!”
It was imperative that the men keep themselves in good spirits as the poison gas swirled up from the cracked presents to engulf them.
“’Tis the season to be jolly! Fa la la la la, la la la la.”
If they let the scrooge gas get to them, they would start snapping at one another, lose their Christmas spirit, turn their backs on Santa, and switch their loyalties to the dreaded foe attacking them…
“Don we now our gay apparel, Fa la la, la la la, la la la la!”
They had to resist the infamous, self-dubbed Missile-Toe, so called for the special boots he’d constructed for himself that shot out horrible gumdrop missiles. Those struck suffered greatly… already the infirmary was filled up with its victims, all trying to speak and eat with the dreaded gumdrop-shaped lips Missile-Toe’s gumdrops had cursed them with.
“Toll the ancient Yule-tide carol!” Captain Sugar Cookie belted out as yet another volley of depressing scrooge presents shot over the wall. “Fa la la la la, la la la la!”
“We have to do something, and soon!” shouted Santa. “Or else that moldy fruitcake is going to blast us all to the South Pole!”
Holly stood among the crowd of overworked elves and weary toy workshop slaves gathered around their leader, who was growing dangerously cherry-cheeked the longer no one supplied him with any ideas.
“What’s wrong with you, you measly rum balls?” Santa bawled. “Have the frigging scrooges got your tongues?”
Holly and the others gathered around winced. Those who remembered the good old days had known Santa when he’d been jolly, but time and stress had reduced him to a bitter, bloodthirsty old man too set in his ways to change and too obsessed with making children happy to realize he was making the adults who worked with him absolutely wretched.
This angry Santa was the only Santa that Holly had ever known.
Santa looked about ready to whip off his red and white cap and start whacking them with it when Lieutenant Stuffed Turkey waddled into the room.
“Santa!” he cried. “The Frosties have started flame-torching the outer barricades! Our candy-cane stone walls are melting! Soon they’ll have a straight shot into the candy-yard!”
Santa glared at Stuffed Turkey. “Snowmen wielding flamethrowers? What are you standing here for then, you cracked tree ornament? Find out why those bloody snowballs aren’t melting from the heat and make sure the suckers melt once and for all! Get out of my sight!” he growled, then spun back around, his eye falling on Holly. He jabbed one plump, white-gloved finger in her direction. “You! You’re our official mistletoe tester, aren’t you?”
Everyone’s head whipped in her direction and Holly nodded, embarrassed under the hostile glares sent her way. As if she’d chosen this profession! It had been the only job they would offer her and she’d been desperate to escape—
“You’re going out there,” Santa was saying. “Men love you like they love mantle decorations, so you go out there, you find Missile-Toe, you use your mistletoe kissing magic to degrade him to a blubbering lustful idiot, and you slip this into his hot cocoa!” He thrust out a vial of violet liquid.
Holly accepted it automatically, recognizing it as reindeer venom – a substance that would turn Missile-Toe into another reindeer for Santa’s sleigh – a secret potion the bearded Yule-tide madman had devised himself as a neat way to take care of his enemies. Only then did she realize what portent his words held.
“Santa!” she protested vehemently. “You don’t know who I—”
“Are you refusing to do your part to help us?” Santa hollered. “Do you want to let him destroy Christmas? Do you really want to be responsible for all those sad little children out there? ARE YOU TELLING ME YOU’RE A SCROOGE?”
“Then you’re going. Frost! Frost, where are you, you cold scoundrel?”
Holly froze when Santa’s assassin stepped forward. Tall, gaunt, and pale with white skin, nearly translucent eyes, and snow-white hair, he had no heart. Reputedly, Santa had cut it out of him years and years ago when he realized he needed someone emotionless and heartless enough to do his dirty work for him, such as eliminating any other rivals for toy-making.
“Why can’t he just go out there and kill him?” Holly asked desperately.
Santa looked at her as if she’d grown antlers. “You think I’m going to risk my best man getting stuck with gumdrop-shaped lips? I’d never understand another word the man said! No. It’s not worth the risk. You’re the one going out there, and he’s going to make sure you do it!”
Holly took a quick step back.
Santa huffed. “Don’t tell me you’ve grown morals all of a sudden. You’ve kissed enough men in your tenure here doing mistletoe-testing not to care anymore.”
“You can’t send me! I’m—”
But Holly said no more, because Frost abruptly gripped her elbow, spun her around, and steered her through the cheering crowd of female elves who had never liked her and were rejoicing that she was going to her demise – because Missile-Toe’s men would certainly force her to overdose on candy-cane powder when they realized she’d turned their leader into one of Santa’s reindeer.
Holly’s elbow started to freeze over from where Frost was touching her, and she jerked her arm away before it turned into a block of ice.
“I’m going, I’m going,” she grumbled. “Just don’t turn me into a glacier before I get there.”
Frost slid an unreadable glance at her and stopped in a doorway. He didn’t smile. “Make sure you do as Santa ordered,” he intoned emotionlessly. “Or else I’ll find you and take your heart as Santa took mine.”
“Ha!” Holly released a caustic laugh. “You think I want a heart? You’re welcome to take it.”
He froze at her words, an intent look in his ice-pale eyes even though his tone was flat and dead when he spoke. “You’d give me your heart.”
“Take it,” Holly invited recklessly. “It’s never served me well.”
He glanced behind them—no one, then to either side—no one, then he looked upward… and smiled with his pale lips.
Holly followed his gaze.
They were standing under the mistletoe.
He looked back to her. “I’ll take it then.” His ice-cold hand slid behind her neck, sending chills up her spine. He lowered his head and murmured, “This’ll be our little secret.”
“Wait,” she gasped out. “Surely you don’t intend…”
“Aren’t you the mistletoe tester?” he inquired impassively, and kissed her.
Once his lips touched hers, she felt a wrenching in the vicinity of her chest, a tearing that should have hurt but that seemed muffled by a cotton glove wrapped around it.
When he pulled back, color had crept into his expression—and she grew aware that his palm on the back of her neck was warm.
What had she done? Had she just given part of her heart to Santa’s assassin?
Frost leaned down and whispered in her ear, “I left you half.”
Nuts and fruitcake, she’d really gone and done it now.
She tore away from him, spun on her heel, and dashed down the hallway. The violet capsule of reindeer venom felt hot on the skin of her hand, so she shoved it deep into the pockets of her red-and-white striped skirts, then pulled open the door to the Passage Outdoors and stepped into the tunnel. Candy-cane-shaped lights lit up automatically as she traversed the long-unused passage, and mint-scented rats garbed in tiny Santa hats darted about her feet, squealing out ‘Deck the halls with boughs of Holly!’
Holly hoped that wasn’t a premonition of what was going to happen to her.
She emerged on the fringes of the forest near the edge of Missile-Toe’s camp, her idea of fleeing and leaving Santa and Missile-Toe to their war going up in smoke when several flamethrower-armed Frosties posted in the wood surrounded her. They nearly gave her frostbite while tying up her hands, although all Holly could wonder was—how the heck had Missile-Toe given the Frosties fingers?
They took her to Missile-Toe’s tent, sat her in a chair, and bound her to the seat, excited about having captured their first prisoner. Then they rolled off to find their leader, their flamethrowers slung over their snowy shoulders.
He strode into the tent seconds later, a man with a wild mane of yellow-green hair and boots with open muzzles at their toes.
He stopped short once he saw her. “Holly?” he asked, gaping.
“Hi, Mistletoe.” She summoned a quavering smile, wishing Santa had listened when she’d tried to tell him who exactly ‘Missile-Toe’ was—her ex-boyfriend. Her first love.
She wondered whether she actually had it in her to give him the reindeer poison.
She had a creeping suspicion that she didn’t.
Mistletoe narrowed his eyes. “You left me!” he said. “You weren’t supposed to leave me!”
Holly snorted. “You hung me on the wall and then proceeded to kiss every girl that walked by!”
“You’re Holly.” Mistletoe gestured pompously. “Your place is hanging on the wall. My place as mistletoe is kissing the girls.”
“Your place is being a voyeur hanging above smooching couples!” Holly shot back.
“I don’t like to live vicariously!” Mistletoe shouted.
“I don’t, either!” Holly yelled back. “Why do you think I ran away? You think I wanted to hang on the wall my entire life before I withered away?”
“You turned me into what I am!” Mistletoe pounded his fist on his chest. “You took all my Christmas spirit when you abandoned me and made me want to ruin everyone else’s holiday cheer, as well! Why do you think I’m waging this war on Santa – to make everyone as miserably wretched as I am, that’s why! I haven’t kissed a single girl since you left!”
Holly sniffed, wishing she didn’t feel that tiny pull in the place her half heart remained. “Have you taken to kissing boys then?”
“I’ve taken to kissing sprigs of holly, that’s what, but they can’t replace you!”
Holly’s jaw dropped. “You…”
He ran a hand through his wild yellow-green mane of hair, looking away. “I want you back.”
“More than anything.” He strode closer, dragging his hand from his hair. “I want you to hang on my wall forever, Holly.”
“Do you realize how creepy that sounds?” But she was sounding breathless now, because of the way he was looking at her—as if she were a precious ornament.
“I’ll kiss you every day.” He was leaning down, his voice going husky.
“Only me?” His mouth was nearly on hers.
“Only—” He choked and staggered—and collapsed in her lap, his yellow-green hair splayed over her thighs and tickling her bound wrists.
“Mistletoe?” Holly cried, staring in horror at an icicle sticking out of his back, his blood spreading out where it had punctured him.
Frost emerged from the shadows in the corner of the tent, lowering the hand that had flung the icicle. While Holly watched with her jaw dropped, he drew another icicle from the sheath at his hip, stalked over to where she was bound to the chair, and cut through her bonds.
“What? Why—?” Holly began.
He gripped her wrist and hauled her to her feet. “I only have half your heart,” he said roughly. “I’m sure as popcorn balls not going to share the other half with him.”
Thanks for reading! Happy holidays to everyone!
(Also, as usual, I’m adding more petitions below for anyone wanting to sign!)
(And if you really like the humor in this and want more, you can check out my novella Never Trust a Prince that was written around the same time as this; I think it’s got a similar sort of exuberant humor in it. Or you could get an advance reader’s copy of About That Happy Ending – just e-mail me if you’re interested. You can find my e-mail address here. Or if you like darker stuff and romance, these two are also up for advance reader copies: We’re the Bloodstained (Gorgeous Ruin) and The Ever Spirits)
- They’re trying to put a toxic coal complex next to the magical Great Barrier Reef
- Tell President Obama: Permanently ban all offshore drilling in federal waters
- Urge President Obama to Protect the Endangered Species Act
- Tell President Obama: Don’t let Arch Coal destroy Colorado’s forests
- Sign the petition to all 17 banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline: Stop supporting DAPL.
- Tell President Obama: Stop the Trans-Pecos pipeline
- Save animals:
- President Obama: Save Dusky Sharks Before Leaving Office
- Help us save endangered species
- Stop the Slaughter of Pangolins
- Demand an end to poaching: Save Tigers
- Save Sharks and Rays
- Protect the monarch butterfly
- Stop the Slaughter of Lions
- Save Polar Bears
- Stop the Brutal Murder of Rhinos
- Stop the Worldwide Slaughter of Elephants
- Sign your name to thank the EPA for protecting endangered animals
- Thank Congress for Passing the Endangered Species Act