Thursday, 22 December 2011

A Suitably Seasonal Story

Well, it has Santa in it, at least. Sort of. Enjoy. And I hope you enjoy the holidays too. Oh, and I should probably put an official disclaimer on it: no Santas were harmed in the making of this short story. Probably.

A Very Evil Christmas

Lord Edwin the Moderately Unpleasant sat upon his Throne of Darkness and bit his fingernails in not very villainous anticipation. The anticipation was mostly because of the pair of goblins dragging a very large and very squirming sack into the great hall.

“You managed it then?” Edwin demanded.

The goblins stood to attention. One did so with gleaming elegance, the dinner jacket he always wore perfectly arranged. The other narrowly missed being squashed by the sack when his cousin let go.

“Grot assures me that he has succeeded, Sir,” the well-dressed goblin said.

“You didn’t go with him to make sure?” Edwin demanded, in what he hoped was his most boomingly villainous tone. It probably wasn’t up to much, even though he’d been practising.

“I believe I explained, Sir, that I would not be able to do so, owing to the duty coinciding with the Christmas party for the Society of Slightly Supercilious Servants.”

“Oh, yes,” Edwin said as he remembered, “that. But doesn’t that mean that your cousin did it all by himself?”

“I am sure cousin Grot is very capable, Sir. Indeed, I know from personal experience in the slime pits that he is capable of almost anything.”

Grot, on hearing his name, capered towards the front. “Grot done well,” he said. Edwin saw Tilesbury wince at the performance, though frankly, he thought it made a nice change. A henchman who actually behaved like a henchman, and who hadn’t been thrown out of hench-ing school for excessive politeness, could only be an improvement on… well, whatever Tilesbury was.

Edwin looked over to his manservant. “I didn’t know goblins even celebrated Christmas, Tilesbury. I thought they celebrated the Festival of Sludge, or something.”

“Slime, Sir.”

Grot capered some more. “Festival of Slime! Festival of Slime!”

“One likes to show willing, Sir,” Tilesbury explained, carefully keeping clear of Grot.

“Well, at least it gave me the idea for my Great Plan,” Edwin said, slotting the capitals into place with the ease of long practise.

“Yes Sir, though I feel I must point out-”

“Oh, you always want to point something out. Just because I came up with the idea to kidnap this ‘Santa Claus’ and thus hold an entire world to ransom, while simultaneously gaining stacks of presents.” Edwin rubbed his hands in satisfaction. The Big Red Eye would have to take notice of this one. Edwin might even move ahead of Lord Nasty in the league tables for villainy at last. That reminded him, he really should call round and see old Nasty at some point, it being the season, and so forth. Perhaps a small invasion?

“Even so, Sir I feel I should mention the fundamental flaw in any plan to capture Santa-”

“No. No even so-ing. Just open the sack.”

Tilesbury didn’t sigh as he opened the sack. He quite pointedly didn’t sigh, Edwin felt. A figure tumbled out. It was fat, wearing red, and sported a bushy beard. All in accordance with the explanation Tilesbury had given him.

“Aha! I told you we would get Santa, Tilesbury. And here he is! So you see, you aren't the only clever one around here.”

“Yes Sir, though I must point out that this particular Santa is wearing a false beard.”

Now that Tilesbury had pointed it out, Edwin could see that was indeed the case. Also, the Santa appeared to have a pillow case shoved up his jumper to make him look fatter. “Do they do that? You there, Santa, explain yourself or I will…” Edwin tried to think up a suitably unimaginable torment. As usual, he couldn’t quite imagine one. “Well, I’ll be pretty miffed, I can tell you!”
The man in the false beard, who looked faintly stunned, stared up at Edwin. “’m not Santa. My name’s Dave.”

“An imposter?” Edwin looked to Tilesbury. “Do they do that, Tilesbury?”

“I believe so, Sir.”

“To foil kidnappers and assassins and so forth?”

“Possibly, Sir.”

Edwin focussed on Grot for a moment or two. Given that Tilesbury was the only goblin Edwin had heard of with any concept of personal hygiene, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. “You. Where did you find this Santa?”

“In a…” Grot’s hands moved as he tried to put the concept into words. “Place. Place with shops. People. Place named after me. Grot-o. Man asked Grot if wanted to sit on Santa’s knee. Grot hit him.”

“I believe my cousin may have inadvertently abducted the wrong Santa, Sir,” Tilesbury pointed out. “Though in fact, this brings us back to the fundamental flaw I was talking about earlier-”

“Nonsense, Tilesbury,” Edwin said. “We just have to push forward, keep going, and jolly well put our noses to the grindstone until we find the right Santa. How exactly does one do that incidentally?”

“Sir-”

“One more objection from you, Tilesbury, and you’ll be spending Christmas polishing all the spikiest armour in the castle armoury.”

“I do that anyway, Sir.”

“Twice then. Now, obviously these shopping places are set up just to distract us, so we’ll just have to try a new tack. Where else did you say this Santa character might be found?”

“I believe various locations in the Arctic Circle are considered traditional, Sir,” Tilesbury explained.

“Good, then we’re going to need a sled, some suitable Things to pull it, and a map of the North Pole. Oh, and someone do something about that imposter.”

“Very well, Sir,” Tilesbury said, and pulled the lever to drop the Santa into what would have been the Big Pit of Spikes had Tilesbury not replaced them with mattresses some time before. Grot, who had been standing close by, attempting to explain that he wanted a big club with nails in it, and a pot of slime and..., fell through with a yelp.

“You know, Tilesbury,” Edwin said, “I really think this might finally be a piece of Evil worth doing. This will really show people what kind of evil overlord I am, don’t you think?”

Tilesbury sighed the sigh of someone who knew that the near future would almost certainly involve him having to rescue his employer from marauding reindeer. Not to mention digging him out of snowdrifts. Still, it was the season of goodwill, and at least all this attempted evil kept his employer out of actual trouble.

“Yes, Sir. If you don't mind, I’ll just fetch my warmer dinner jacket.”

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