Into the fire

From the Story Arc: Green and Red: A Christmas Story

Next Story in the Arc: A Fire and Brimstone Christmas by Carpathia (Friday, December 10, 2004)

(posted Thursday, December 09, 2004)

“Oh my God, this is going to be ugly…”

Zach stood atop the staircase, looking into a roiling sea of foes. Savage combatants struggled with each other over their ill-gotten gain, standing with clawlike nails extended, ready to slice off the hands of any who would come to close to their precious hoard. A sea of humanity, and yet inhuman at the same time, yawning out before him in a view which chilled him to his core. Each fought with the other for the few prizes, intimidating all but the most fearless.

Zach stepped up to a man in a uniform to the side of the entrance. “Is it always this rough down there?”, he asked. The man in the uniform laughed and shook his head at the question. “You obviously haven’t done your Christmas shopping at Bloomingdales before.”

Slowly, trepiditiously, Zach made his way down the staircase. He had never felt so awkward and afraid in his life. This was unlike any battlefield he had ever seen, and yet no less dangerous or frightening. Everywhere, women fought with each other with the intensity of lionesses defending their brood. In this case, however, their brood consisted of Burberry coats and Ralph Lauren pleated slacks.

“Okay, stick to what you know…stealth, stay out of harm’s way.” Zach tried to navigate the chaos without disturbing the natives, so furious were they in their pursuit of their objectives. He kept his hands in his pockets, so as not to arouse their fear that he was trying to swipe their Kate Spade bags, and he kept his eyes lowered, so as not to inadvertently challenge any of them.

Trouble found Zach, however, in the form of a woman in a fake lab coat. Was this a Crey researcher? No, far worse, it was Clinique saleswoman. “Would you like to try the new fresh fragrance of the season?” Zach was surely going to anwer no, but she brought her weapon to bear before he could react. Spritz....Spritz….Spritz….

Before Zach could react, he was bombarded by blasts of perfume, ostensibly in an attempt to convince him that he was compelled to purchase the fragrance, it was so compelling. All it made Zach do was cough and gag. Besides, Zach wasn’t interested in buying perfume. The only reason he was there was to find some presents for Carpathia Peregrim. Carpathia always smelled great, like a mixture of fresh fruit and honey, and Zach got a chill as he remember the first time she was close enough for him to pick up her fragrance. Besides being his superior in the CCCP, Carpathia was quite possibly the greatest thing that had ever happened to the mutant known more for his odd looks and wisecracks than his success with women.

But Carpathia was different. For whatever reason, she seemed to genuinely enjoy Zach’s company! When Carpathia invited him to spend Christmas eve with her, he was so stunned that he just assumed that he had misheard her. Sure, he had made flirtatious comments to her in the past, but deep down Zach’s over the top flirting was just a cover for his deep insecurity over his appearance. Now, all of a sudden, a Czech goddess had fallen into his lap, and Zach wasn’t sure if he was dreaming.

The coughing fit dispelled Zach’s stealth plan to a large degree, as the sight of a Greenskinned, muscular mutant with pointed ears coughing up a storm in the middle of Bloomingdales gave even the veteran shoppers pause. The sight of him didn’t scare off the saleswomen, however. Obviously some had recognized him from a news piece regarding his exploits in the CCCP, perhaps from the most recent attack on the reactor in Terra Volta. From the looks on their faces, they figured they skipped the part of the news program about the CCCP being communist. They clearly thought they had a big spender on their hands, and they practically drooled when they looked at him.
Zach sized up the approaching army of saleswomen, and gulped. He fought down his fear with images of a tall, red-haired Czech girl smiling at him. “Only for you Car, only for you….”