Authors: Darren Humphries
Tags: #Short Story
By Darren Humphries
apologies to Charles Dickens)
U.N.D.E.A.D.: The Curious
The Kidnapped Chemist
U.N.D.E.A.D. – Zombie
U.N.D.E.A.D. – Do Dragons
One Small Step
The Man From U.N.D.E.A.D.
New York City Legend
The Great Rock N Roll Doomsday Tour
An Orc Not
To Infinity (and maybe that’s far enough)
Short Story Anthologies
Fence With The Twilight Zone
A Goodreads Gallimaufrey (contributor)
A Splendid Salmagundi (contributor)
The Sci Fi Freak’s Guide
Goodnight Dear: The Unsentimental Diary
A Bereaved Husband.
This book is a work of fiction (which should be obvious to anyone reading it) and all characters, events, and names are fictitious. Any resemblance to real world places, companies, people or events is purely coincidental except where people may have been mentioned for comic effect. In these instances, no inference should be made about the real person from the contents of this book.
There are some real world locations used, but these are used in a fictitious context and no inference should be made about the real place from this book.
All the stunts in this book are carried out by specially trained fictional characters and should not be attempted at home (especially messing around with rocket jetpacks without even reading the manual).
All rights reserved. Please don’t reproduce or distribute any part of this book without the express permission of the author.
s Christmas Carol
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all over the house nothing was stirring ... except Veronika making eggnog in the kitchen.
I had learned
the hard way
he Bevilacqua clan take their
seriously and Veronika
had marked out the room as her personal territory until she had
gotten this batch
just right. I could see her through the window, her brows furrowed in concentration. It was endearing
that a woman who every day dealt with the most dangerous, vic
ious, evil and downright mischie
vous creatures on the planet got so stressed over
as mundane as
the preparation of a party drink.
Sometimes folk are just strange.
I deposited the bag of rubbish into the wheelie bin
down by the garden wall and headed back to the house. Internat
ional man of mystery and kicker of
arse I might be, but I still have
to take out the rubbish. As I approached the house
, I couldn
t fail to notice the eerie orange glow that surrounded the door knocker above the holly wreath. It was a brass knocker shaped in the face of a lion with a rin
g hanging from
. I didn
t like the thing myself
and had always made do with a doorbell
, but my Brazilian girlfriend had thrown herself into the whole traditional British thing with a vengeance
since coming to live with me.
Hence the holly wreath
nd the tree lights twinkling through the living room window.
t get me wrong, I
m no Scrooge who believes the whole Christmas thing to be humbug of the most commercial kind (although there is certainly more than an element of
his particular fes
is overlaid onto a whole bunch of older
, pagan winter
s and t
means there are
supernatural elements that are more than a little
peed off at
this time of year for
being set aside to make way for
a man in a red suit with
a team of
These are the kind of s
upernatural elements that come with the usua
teeth, claws and magical powers, but also a side
order of burning, since Yule happens to be
one of t
eltic fire festivals (which is why you get a
yule log and not a yule candyfloss
They can get more than a little uppity at this time of year.
Since my job is resolving H
s differences with just these kinds of
atures (usually by resolving said kinds of creatures into
s of ash
), my enthusiasm for the season is somewhat dampened.
Seeing an ethereal glow washing over even a small part of my front door was not a welcome occurrence.
t a usual occurrence either.
Any sensible person would have given the entrance a wide berth and call
ed the appropriate authorities. Unfortunately, I happen to be
authority in situations like this and so
I approached the door carefully. The glow
t seem immediately malevolent (evil usually prefers a blood red or sick green for its glows
rather than comforting warm orange hues
), but I wasn
t taking anything for granted.
Inside the glow, the shape of the door knocker was being twisted, bent out of shape and slowly morphing into
features that I recognised.
the face of ex-Director Grayson (though surrounded by a lion
which was a look that not many people could have managed to carry off
) called in unnecessarily ghostly tones.
Then, suddenly, whoever (or whatever) was handling the astral transformation managed to get a fix on things and Grayson
s face snapped into shape and his voice took on its normal, clipped form.
Oh that is so much better,
he commented, contorting his face through a series of exaggerated expressions to work the kinks out.
This is a very strange experience
I have to tell you.
Oh no you don
I promised him.
You should try it from this side.
Oh, no I really don
t think I should thank you very much,
I demurred before asking,
Is there a problem with the phones where you are?
You think I
d be doing this if I didn
t have to?
he demanded irascibly. I supposed that being fused with a brass door knocker in the shape of
a lion would be enough to make most people irascible
. I didn
t have any empiric data to support the theory though.
I guess not,
Damn right not!
“You couldn’t just happen to have been standing by a TV or in the same room as a radio now could you? Oh no, that would have been too easy.
Now listen to what I
ve got to tell you because
they’re not all that good at this
over here and
t think that I
ll have time to tell you twice. A lack of interruptions would be appreciated, though hardly expected.
Grayson and I had shared a strained relationship during my time as an agent under his Directorship
on a mutual dislike and lack of respect. The respect part had grown a little, but the dislike continued.
m currently stuck in, well I
m not supposed to say where
s cold and snowy,
the lion/ex-director/door knocker continued.
ve been tak
en by something claiming to be the spirit of Yule
It wants me as the centrepiece to its followers’ celebrations.
Apparently they like to burn someone alive as an affirmation of their faith.
Sucks to be you
Yes it does,
but there is one caveat in the whole
human sacrificed as kebab
thing. I am apparently allowed to
nominate a champion to undergo a few trials
to save me.
I suggest Mettles,
I said, quickly naming the Agency
s Chief of Security in the hope that this
t going where I rather thought it was going.
he said with a grin that could have been described as leonine,
I already nominated you.
Oh well, thanks a bunch,
I said sarcastically.
Call it an early Christmas present,
Now listen, during the night you will be visited by three spirits...
Are you kidding me with this crap?
Did April Fools
Day come early in your time zone?
“Three spirits … pay attention!”
I am deadly serious here, the
applying to me and you both. If you overcome these spirits then I get to walk free and they burn one of their own
. If you don
t ... well we both pay the price.