Here's the thing about Santa Claus: I was always skeptical. My earliest memories of the whole St. Nick thing involved the usual questions. How does he get around the world in one night? How do reindeer fly? How does he get in our house when we don't have a chimney? Mom's answers to those questions were "Christmas magic, Christmas magic, and Christmas magic." One year I asked her why the tags on my gift from Santa was always in her handwriting. The next year the tag was printed from a computer. Clever girl. Sure, I wanted to believe, but it didn't add up.
Then, I went to work for Corporate and learned about portals and Herpezoids. I've seen all kinds of shit that would normal people would not be able to explain. I've seen a race of anthropomorphic cats who worship a monolithic scratching post. I've traveled to a planet made entirely of green cheese. Legend said it was our moon, but turns it's just a planet in a uncharted quadrant in another galaxy. The Santa Claus stuff is not only likely, but plausible.
The likelihood of Santa being Herpezoid, though, is complete bullshit. No way the man who brings the toys is one of those giant lizard assholes. That's why it's so infuriating to see a Herpezoid appropriate the Santa mystique while it chases shoppers around a parking lot.
"This is bold and unprecedented," Tony says. "Herps don't attack in broad daylight like that."
"That's what I was thinking when I took down that one earlier." I grab my Multi-blaster and check the batteries. "Ready to roll?"
"First of all, I don't have a Multi-blaster on me. Second, are we gonna just counterattack in broad daylight?"
I reach behind me and grab one of my extra guns and toss it to him.
"First of all, always carry one of these. You know that." I lean over and pull another weapon out of the glove box. "Second, yes, we are." "What's that?" Tony points to my second weapon, a small crossbow pistol. "I don't know that one."
"Karenator," I attach a blunt arrow it and pull back on the string to load it. "Made it myself."
"What does it do?"
"You'll see. Let's move!"
We jump out of the van and sprint toward the melee. Santa Herp is chasing a soccer mom toward her car and she is admirably maintaining a sold grip on her boxed wine as she flees. My guess is she is putting in some solid hours at Planet Fitness with a personal trainer probably named Todd that she would totally fool around with if she knew she wouldn't get caught. The other shoppers have dispersed to their vehicles except for one who is recording everything on their phone. The Gulliball in my pocket will take care of that in a moment.
Tony fires a shot that skims the top of the Herpezoid's Santa hat and the alien stops and turns toward us. Clearly, my friend is a bit rusty and his aim is off.
"Damn," he says. "It's been a while."
"No worries." I send the Karenator's arrow and hits this fake St. Nick in the chest. A dome the color of blue ice envelops the creature and he freezes for a second.''
"Now what?" Tony asks.
"Wait for it." The Herpezoid strikes an annoyed pose and starts pointing at us.
"You two. There. That's right, I'm talking to you two. Do you actually work here or do you just stand around looking like idiots because I have been waiting for my triple shot caramel latte with espresso for over three minutes and I am already late for my mani-pedi. Seriously, this is an outrage. You know what? Get me your manager!"
I laugh because the sight of a nearly seven-foot tall lizard creature ranting like an entitled middle-aged woman is funny. Tony giggles, too.
"Nice. Love it."
"Seasonal item." I kiss the crossbow, proud of my creation.
"I'm waiting!" Karen the Herpezoid continues. "My god. Do I need to just come back there and make it myself?"
"Okay. Shoot it," I say. "That gets old real freaking fast."
Tony fires off two more shots and this time he obtains a direct hit. The Herpezoid explodes in a puddle of goo on the pavement.
"Well, Merry Christmas to you bastards, too!" the green slime yells. "And a Shitty New Year."
"Grab the clean up stuff from my van," I say to Tony. "I'll take care of our cinematographer over there."
I jog up to the person recording all that on their phone and pull out the Gulliball, a golf ball shaped device that releases a mist that, once it reaches the naval cavity, seeps into the brain renders the intended target completely gullible for thirty seconds or longer. Enough time to do what needs to be done.
"Dude." He is a guy in ratty hoodie carrying a bag of carry out. "What the hell was that all about?"
I press the button on the side of the Gulliball and drop it in front of him. The mist releases and sprays him in the face. His bewildered stare morphs into a blank expression.
"You're phone is on my fire!" I say to him. "Throw it down! Stomp it! Holy shit, put that fire out!"
He throws his phone down, stomps it furiously, and then kicks it into a shallow puddle a couple of feet away. I jog back to the van as Tony accumulates our alien and loads it up.
"KInd of a dick move to make him ruin his phone," he says.
"Desperate measure, I admit, but this is why people should have insurance."
"Do you think anyone else saw anything? And what about that soccer mom with the box wine?"
I exhale as the adrenaline winds down. "I'll let Mom know. Corporate will take care of it."
"That is a thought that provides me no comfort," he says.
To be continued...