• Jeff South

The Kilroy All-Star Christmas Spectacular: Chapters Roasting On An Open Fire

Funny thing about rain is the how it can be warm and soothing and help you sleep but also be cold and harsh and stress you out. The cold, harsh rain keeps coming down. Not pouring. Just a relentless, steady shower of icy depression. God, it sucks. This isn't Christmas weather. Movies and television always present Christmas with snow. Kids fly down fluffy hills on sleds. Carolers serenade while bundled in scarves and mittens. I've never been on a sled. I have never been caroling.


And I've rarely experienced a white Christmas. The rare late December snowfalls in Poplar Bluff are slushy and messy and drab because only a couple of inches accumulates. Mom tells me that this town used to get more snow, but now not so much. Mostly rain. Sometimes, when it's brutal cold, we get ice, which is a special kind of shitty. I want a shit ton of snow.


Maybe that's why I'm not in the spirit of the season. Leigh Ann ghosting me has me down, too. There is just a general ugh-ness to my life right now that I'm not into. I need a vacation or a party or week long vacation party.


Tony sulks in the front seat while the baggie of Herpezoid taunts us about the grand plan to ruin Christmas. We need to drop this guy off at Corporate so analysts can get intel out of him. At this point, I could care less about getting intel. I just want the dick out of my van and life.



***



l use the backdoor, which is not a euphemism, but a literal way for me to access Corporate HQ without going through the main lobby. Dad created his Rube Goldberg Protocols as a high level security precaution.


"Retinas can be stolen," he once told me. "A person could also skin your face off and use it as a mask. I know. I saw Silence of the Lambs."


Dad always felt that the best way to make sure only the right ones get in was to curate scripts that must be followed verbatim. Failure to get the scripts right would alert the Corporate authorities and the attempting parties would be escorted off whatever property they were wanting to access. Mom says the reason Dad created these scripts was simply because he had always dreamed of being a screenwriter. This particular script he wrote for me and uploaded it into Corporate's database so that only I can use it to get in.


"I'm getting a weird vibe here," Tony says. "Lots of cars but very quiet."


We drive along the edge of the parking lot and he's right. Looks like most everyone is at work today doing whatever they do for Corporate. Not everyone hunts aliens or guards portals. Most everyone here has some kind of mundane, run-of-the-mill gig punching numbers, analyzing reports, blah, blah, blah. They don't know about what I call "the real Corporate." I pull around to the back of the building, a multi-level, state of the art facility, and find the gated entrance to a parking garage no one can access without using this Rube Goldberg Protocol. I roll down the window and press the talk button on the intercom at the gate.


"May I help you?" the voice answers.


"I'm here to clear some pipes," I say.


"That sounds like a line from some disgusting porno."


I swear this is the script. I take my turn.


"It's not and I'd rather you not malign the sex worker industry. Work harder on your biases."


"I'll stigmatize who I wish," the voice says. "You think disembodied voices like me don't deal with our share of marginalization. We're not trusted, but we serve a vital service."


"Then you should understand the oppression others experience, no?"


The intercom is silent for five seconds, per the protocol, before responding with, "of course. Please proceed."


The gate opens and I steer the van to a reserved spot by a private elevator. I grab the baggie containing our alien and exit the van with Tony. My Corporate ID card gets me on the elevator and I press the button to take us to the executive suite where Mom is. The doors open to Mom's office, but I don't see her. Instead, I see Randi Williams, the Chief Operating Officer of Corporate and some random dude I don't know looking at tablets with panicked expressions.


"Thank god you're here," Randi says. She was my boss at one time. "We have a situation."


"What's the sitch?" I ask. "And who's this guy?"


"I'm Dean Larson," the man says. He has perfect hair, perfect teeth, and is dressed impeccably. Human Capital Strategist. We have encountered a rather robust challenge in our planning of the day's festivities. We will need all hands on deck to deliver a best-in-class rescue and recovery effort."


"Rescue and recovery?" Tony asks. "What do you mean?"


"Jeff." Randi grabs my shoulders and locks her eyes on mine. "They have her. The Herpezoids have your mom."


My blood boils and my face burns with anger. "Where is she?"


"We're not sure. She was talking to someone who was hired to be Santa at the Christmas party. That person turned out to be a Herpezoid. Morphed in front of her and ran out shouting something about ruining Christmas for everyone."


The Herpezoid in the baggie giggles some more so I hold it up for Randi and Dean.


"Can I pour this down the garbage disposal?"


To be continued...





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