Annabelle looked at the smiling red-suited man currently stuffing the stockings placed around the old mantle. "S-S-Santa?" she whispered in shock. The man turned and winked at Annabelle from her hiding place near the staircase. He gave a jolly smile as wide as his belly and beckoned her closer. The young girl approached, her eyes a-twinkle in wonder.
"Santa, you're real! You're really real!" The man gave her a big, warm hug.
"I am real as long as there is love in the world," said the bearded Kringle kindly. He pulled a large sack filled to the brim with gifts and knelt down to little Annabelle. "And what is your Christmas wish, Annabelle?" he asked.
"Santa, could you please bring my mommy back to life?" the girl asked, her heart pumping with hope. Santa smiled, hugged her again, and reached deep into his sack, from which he removed a brand new purple Furby with over twenty unique phrases. "Those are almost impossible to get," said Santa before departing up the chimney.
Annabelle looked down at the Furby. She supposed this was just as good. "Doo-Moh" said Furby.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, but there was no guestroom available to them.
"I'm sorry, sir," spoke the concierge, "but I do not see a reservation for House of David here."
And Joseph sighed deeply and spoke, "Lo, I booked with priceline.com. I have my reservation number."
And Mary spoke, "Perhaps it is under my name? Sometimes you do that." And Joseph rolled his eyes for it was much like Mary to think he would forget something like that even though he did not.
"Ah, here we are! Sorry, we had your name on the wrong scroll. It's a new system," sayeth the apologetic concierge, who reminded the weary pilgrims to hold onto their breakfast vouchers or the hot bar would cost two Caesars.
And while there, Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in monogrammed towels and did not tell anybody about it, as Joseph was sure the damn hotel would levy a mighty charge for sneaking in a third occupant. Later they would order in pizza and watch Cinemax, which they still did not get in Nazareth.
Thebordin stood his lonely vigil over the northern tower. He was sure that this might be the last sundown he would ever gaze eyes upon. A large host appeared on the horizon in the last dying embers of light. Had the horde of Orcs and their Wight allies already arrived to wage their unending war against man? No, these figures were not Orcs.
"Ser Thebordin, a troop of elves arrives at the gate!" came the herald's cry. "Let them in!"
So, despite their betrayal the elves still honored the old alliances. Perhaps they would yet live! Thebordin climbed down to meet his saviors.
"Be welcome, friends! Thou art much smaller and more brightly-attired than any of elven-kind I have met. Art thou wood elves or mountain elves?"
The bearded leader of the troop replied in a squeaky voice, "Neither. We're Christmas elves!"
"So you're good with the bow or-"
In unison the elves revealed shiny little hammers and sparkling saws. "We make toys!" they all shouted in glee.
"Do none of you have any other skills?"
One tiny hand was raised. "I'm a dentist!" Silence fell. "At least, I wish I was a dentist."
And so it fell to the men of the realm to prepare the defenses, heartened somewhat by the merry dancing and joyful yuletide songs of the elves who set their little hearts to making toy trains, wind-up soldiers, jack-in-the-boxes, candy canes and little dolls in record time. All of which would soon be enjoyed by dread legions of orclings and Wights, who are all children in their black hearts.
Truly it was the happiest Orc Christmas ever.
Brad Campbell had been a coroner long enough to not be surprised by anything, but something like this happening, and today of all days. He opened the fridge and pulled out the old woman's corpse. Detective Troy MacShane had a hinky feeling about this one and Campbell wasn't sure he could stay out the shit storm that was brewing over the town.
"You've read my report, detective. Like I said, the woman was elderly, she was practically soaked in eggnog and the family claims she had missed her medication. She clearly just went into the woods and died."
The detective was not in the mood for more bull shit. "And the hoofmarks on her forehead?"
"Okay, look, it was probably an animal. Lots of animals in the woods."
The detective smiled and flashed a photo of a reindeer. "An animal like this? Take your time."
Campbell swallowed hard. "Possibly. Maybe. Sure."
"I should say so. Forensics already got a match on it. And I've got eyewitness testimony from two sources that saw a bunch of these characters go down, run over the old woman and take off into the sky and get this, you'll love this pulling a sled. My question, who's pulling the reigns here?"
"Testimony? Come on Troy, you can't believe the kid and the dame's old man are reliable. And even if it were true this was clearly an accident."
MacShane smiled. "Really? Well, you're the expert " MacShane then turned the body over. "But what do those look like to you?"
"Really? Huh well, how could the old lady get claw marks on her back and hoof prints on her noggin like that?" Campbell was silent. "Not unless she was run over twice. So the guy hits her. She gets up. Then he backs up and hits her again. What would you call that, doctor?"
"Look, Troy, I don't want any trouble-" MacShane grabbed him by the shoulder.
"Don't fuck with me Brad! This is a homicide, isn't it?"
"Listen, I've got three kids and Carly wants a Macbook Pro next year. I can't get involved."
The detective released his grip and headed toward the exit. Campbell yelled after him, "You think you're such a big shot! You should have listened to your partner nobody beats the North Pole, Troy! Nobody!"
Sally could not wait until Christmas Day to show Kevin, her dear Kevin, his gift. Kevin was just as eager as he handed a shabby box wrapped in red paper. "Okay, let's open them at the same time," Sally said, excited not so much for her own gift as to see the look on Kevin's face when he saw hers.
"Why, they're combs they're beautiful!" exclaimed Sally. She then looked sadly at Kevin.
"What's wrong? Don't you like it?" asked Kevin.
"Oh, Kevin, I love them, but- but-" She removed her hat. Her hair, her beautiful hair was gone. "I sold my hair to buy you a gold band for your watch."
"My watch " Now it was Kevin's turn to look sad. "I sold my watch to buy that hairpin."
They looked at each other, the love that only comes from the spirit of the season set deep in their eyes. Then Kevin opened his mouth and said, "You got a receipt, right?"
"I mean, we're gonna return the watchband, right?"
"What? No! It's your gift!"
"And it's great. And I love it. And I love you. But what am I going to do with a watchband? I mean, didn't we just go through this?"
"Fine. Then you can also return the combs."
"Why? Unlike watches, hair grows back."
"I'm just saying "
"You clearly got the better deal here."
Sally walked into bedroom and closed the door. Kevin ran over to the door.
"Okay, fine, I'll return the combs. That way nobody wins, nobody's happy, just the way you like it! Or maybe we can really be novel for once and do the sensible thing and return the damn watchband!"
But Sally was already in bed streaming "Modern Family" on their laptop, so clearly the conversation was over. Later that night he and Sally had sex and then slept in to like 2 or 3 in the afternoon because when you're 27 who the fuck really cares about Christmas morning?
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