Right. So few years ago I took part in the “Countdown to 2015” Challenge on Absolute Write. For every day of December we were given a prompt and the challenge was to write a piece of flash fiction every day. Some of those prompts turned into a series about the (mis)adventures of Nick & Ginny (aka Mr & Mrs Claus) around the Christmas season.
Shenanigans, sarcasm, and silliness ensue. Enjoy 🙂
Being the Adventures of Nick & Ginny (aka, Mr & Mrs Claus)
(Shenanigans, sarcasm, and silliness ensue)
Anna F. Humphrey
1-The elves are building…
“What,” Nick growled, “is that infernal racket? Can’t a man have a little peace and quiet around here?”
“It’s the elves, dear,” Ginny answered, pouring the tea. “They’ve got it into their heads that they need to keep themselves in practice or they’ll fall behind on orders when Christmas gets here.”
Nick rubbed his forehead. “Why did I choose elves?”
“It was the ‘Help an Elf’ program, dear. You were saying you wanted to give back to the community.”
“How’s about I give them back to the community.”
“Oh, be nice. They’re building you a swimming pool.”
He lowered his glasses. “They do realize this is the Arctic, don’t they?”
Ginny shrugged. “I never said they were terribly bright.”
2-Not the usual office party
“Who,” Nick growled, “invited the bloody dragon? And don’t tell me it was the elves.”
Ginny looked at him over the rim of her punch. “For someone who gives gifts to children, you are a remarkably grumpy old man.”
“Did you see the naughty list this year?”
“Yes, well, it’s over now dear. Smile and enjoy the party.”
“There’s still a dragon. And someone brought gremlins. I can feel them waiting to make off with my best mittens.”
Ginny smiled and handed him the punch. “Here. Have some of this.”
He scowled. “Is it spiked?”
Throwing back his head, he drained it.
“Has the dragon started to look cute?”
He held out the glass. “That’ll take at least two more, love.”
3-Something On the Roof
What the hell?
Nick forced his eyes open, now convinced that the incessant drumming was not just the after-effects of too much punch. How much had he drunk? Not enough for the bloody dragon to look cute, especially after it had torched the hall.
Dragging himself out of bed and over to the window, he threw up the sash and stuck his head out.
“Rudolph, I really don’t think this is a good idea right now…”
Nick groaned and retreated back to bed.
“Nick, dear, what’s going on?”
He pulled the covers over his head. “Rudolph had too much eggnog, that’s what.”
“Oh.” Ginny rubbed her eyes. “Well. At least he knows how to fly.”
Nick snorted. “Tell him that.”
The elves were hard at work making toys. The painters were painting, the craftsmen were crafting, the sculptors were sculpting…all in all, Nick was forced to admit that when they had a focus, elves were good workers.
Not that he would ever say that.
He strode through the workshop, practicing his ho-ho-ing (couldn’t disappoint the kiddies, no matter how ridiculous he felt), until he came to the Wrapping Room.
“Ginny, what are you doing here?”
She rocked her chair, which was right in front of the door. “Knitting.”
“I can see that. Why?”
“Because you can’t go in just yet.”
His stomach plummeted. “Why not?”
With a sigh, she set down her knitting and looked at him over the rim of her glasses. “Because one of them decided it was a good idea to wrap the boxes before they were filled. To save time afterwards.”
He stared at her. Then he let loose a long string of words that were very unsaintly.
“Next year I’m hiring dwarves.”
Nick cracked his eye open and stared at the date on the clock: December 21, the winter solstice.
With a groan he hid his head under the pillow. Maybe it would go away if he wished hard enough. Hell, wasn’t it time some fat man in a red suit brought him a present?
“Time to get up, dear,” Ginny said, gleefully pulling the blanket away. “The reindeer games won’t wait.”
He tugged on the blanket. “That’s what I’m counting on.”
Ginny gave a violent yank and the blanket fled from his grasp. “If you don’t referee then Rudolph won’t play, and then he’ll sulk, and don’t you remember the last time that happened?”
“Rudolph is a diva.”
“But he’s a diva with clout, dear.”
There are many ancient rites surrounding Christmas and the winter solstice, many of which were so old no one could remember why they started or how.
This was one Nick bloody well wished they’d bloody well do away with. There were only so many cookies he could eat in one night without making himself sick. And giving them to the reindeer was out of the question, since sugar rendered them high and useless.
Just once, he wished someone would leave him a nice bottle of whisky – maybe a Scapa 16 – or a really old French red.
With a sigh, he stared down at the plate of chocolate chip cookies and glass of milk.
“Bottoms up, Nick.”
7-101 Easy Tricks You Can Teach Your Druid
“What,” said Nick, speaking very slowly so that the elf would understand him, “is this?” He held up the book.
“Oh,” said the elf, so brightly it hurt. “You weren’t supposed to see that.”
Nick smiled. It was the type of smile that would have sent a polar bear running, but the elf seemed not to have received the memo. “Why not?”
“Because I haven’t finished it yet. I’m in training to be your own personal druid!”
“And what makes you think I need a druid?”
“Sir, you fly a sleigh in the middle of winter. As your personal druid, I can control the weather to give you optimum flying conditions.”
Nick flipped to the table of contents. “They don’t list controlling the weather in here.”
“That’s because it’s in the second volume. Right here, sir: 101 MORE Easy Tricks You Can—”
“I don’t need a druid.”
“No. And if you even think about messing with the weather, I will replace you with a dwarf. Am I clear?”
“Yes sir.” The elf rose and leaned forward, lowering his voice confidentially. “Actually, sir, I’m glad you said that. It’s a lot of work.”
Nick pinched the bridge of his nose. “Dismissed. Go take a holiday.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you sir!”
And then the elf bounded out the door.
Nick picked up the phone. “Ginny, please tell me the bags are packed.”
“Ready and waiting,” she said, cheerfully. “Let me guess, you just had your yearly “I want to be a druid”?”
“Yes. Please tell me we’re going somewhere very far away.”
Ginny sniffed. “Of course, dear. I can’t wait to see you in your swimming trunks.”
Nick smiled. “Why Mrs. Claus, whatever are you planning?”
“Why don’t you come home and I’ll show you?”
Nick laughed. “On my way, love.”
And with that, he hung up. He reached for his coat, grabbed the druid books – leaving them in the open with a hundred silly elves running around the place was a bad idea. How did the damn thing keep turning up, anyway? – and headed for the door.
It was time for a holiday. Just him, Ginny, and a beach.
He couldn’t wait.
8-At the Bottom of the Stocking
The plane landed and Nick stared out the window, grinning at the heat waves that shimmered on the tarmac. Four weeks of sun, sand, and Ginny and no bloody elves or extended family knocking on the door.
The hotel was perfect – they’d stayed there last year – and they paused only long enough the dump off their bags before they wandered down to the beach, hand in hand.
“Why,” Ginny asked, “for the love of frost, are you wearing stockings? We’re on the beach, dear.”
His grin grew wider (he hadn’t stopped grinning since they’d landed and he was worried he might have pulled something). “Because, Ginny love, I love the feel of sand at the bottom of my stockings. It’s bloody irritating, but it reminds me we’re not at home.”
Ginny laughed. “You strange old man.”
“You married me.”
“Well, it was either you or the Easter Bunny.”
And with a roar that put his ho-hos to shame, he chased her down the beach.
Time slipped by rather too quickly and it was nearing the end of the third week when Nick began to worry.
“Let me get this straight,” Ginny said, sipping her martini. “Everything is going so well you’re sure the other shoe is about to drop.”
Nick glared into his scotch (a lovely Scapa 16. Damn but the Scots made a fine whisky). “Doesn’t it always?”
“Usually because you expect it,” Ginny answered, dryly.
“Damn!” Ginny set down her glass. “Nick. Out. Now.”
“What—oh.” He downed his scotch (no sense letting it go to waste) and ushered Ginny out the side door.
His cousin, Father Frost, had just entered the restaurant, complete with bodyguards.
A life in organized crime tended to require that of a person.
“Kolya! Cousin! What are you doing here?”
Nick groaned and Ginny made a face. “Better face the music, dear,” she muttered.
He snorted, watching as Father Frost – Boris – drew near. “The last time we met I almost did, or don’t you remember?”
“Of course I remember; you looked good in orange. But you’re not exactly low-profile. You can’t hide from him.”
“Wanna bet? Borya!” he cried, and plastered a huge grin on his face. Yep, he had definitely pulled something there. “What a surprise.”
“Konechno!” Boris gripped his hand in a bone-crushing handshake, then enveloped him in an equally bone-crushing hug. Ginny, he noted sourly, seemed to be having trouble not laughing.
“So what brings you and your…friends to this island?” Nick asked.
Boris looked up from kissing Ginny’s hand. “I heard you were in the neighbourhood.”
Well, damn. “What do you want, Borya?”
Boris nodded his head over at one of his bodyguards. One was tall and broad, his scalp plastered with Russian prison tattoos, and the other was smaller than Nick, muscular, and clearly grumpy behind his beard. “I need you take Igor with you to the North Pole.” He motioned at the shorter one.
Nick felt his heart sink. “Why?”
Boris coughed delicately. “Don’t ask questions, Kolya. You should know that. Besides, I think you’ll like him.”
Nick glared at him. “What makes you say that?”
Boris smiled. “He’s a dwarf.”
Ginny burst out laughing.
Ah, yes. The North Pole. After a month’s vacation, Nick was almost ready to see the place again. “Well, Igor, what do you think?”
Igor sniffed and stepped outside the terminal. “Xolodno. Cold. Good. Very good.” He stomped on the ground with his boot. “There is good rock here. I can build. Very good.”
Ginny nudged Nick in the ribs, her mouth forming the word “elves”. Nick winced.
“So, Igor…did Kolya tell you I work with elves?”
Igor froze. “Elves? Why you work with elves? Elves silly. Elves—” He stopped, staring at the waiting sleigh.
Nick frowned and looked over. Rudolph was leading the team, and waiting outside were the less ridiculous members of his enterprise: Green, Everest, and…oh damn.
The pretty little elf with the red hair and rosy cheeks and a surprisingly sarcastic sense of humour.
“Elves pretty,” Igor murmured. Then he stepped forward, swept off his hood, and bowed low over Ginger’s hand. “Krasotka!*”
Nick groaned. Damn. And damn again.
Ginny took his arm, shaking with laughter. “Welcome home, love.”
*babe, lovely, cracker, bombshell, cutie, beautiful
Bonus-About those gremlins…
The Chief Gremlin set his Santa hat at a jaunty angle (‘twas the season, after all) and strode into the room.
“Task force!” he barked.
As one, the assembled gremlins jumped into formation and saluted. “Sir!”
He whipped his pointer stick against the map on the wall. “Tonight, we tackle the Upper West Side of the city. Shaggy’s Task Force has the Lower West.” He narrowed his eyes. “We are 2-0 and we’re keeping that lead.”
One gremlin raised his hand.
“Sir, some of the humans have been investing in idiot-mittens.”
“What is this, training school? Snip them. Any other stupid questions? No? Good. I want a pile of mittens on my desk in the morning. Dismissed.”