The Impuratus Collocutio (or How We Killed Christmas)
So the leap year fell upon us this year, and—as per regulations—we held the Presidential election on the 29thof February, like generations have done before us (or so father-darling likes to lecture me, anyway.) It was my first time. Father wouldn't let me participate until I turned six hundred and sixty-six. Official adulthood. Go figure.
This year the ceremony took place upstairs in one of the Baron's casinos. It made sense, since the former President, the Fuhrer, wanted us to trek all the way out to Germany... again. And it can be hard to travel...when you're dead, or have fur, or might accidentally kill someone with a touch. Travelling attracted attention; and besides anything else, the Fuhrer was finishing his fourth term now and couldn't run again for at least another decade. Just because we are villains does not make us uncivilized, after all. And so we met where most could attend, instead of where the current leader wanted us to. We piled into a casino in Vegas and were ushered upstairs by ladies in long red dresses with even longer slits up the front. I'd never been to a casino before (I don't get out much) and I was quite charmed by how suave it all was. From the plush red carpet to the pleasant tinkling of the winning machines. It was fabulous, it was glamorous, and it felt a whole lot like home.
I wore the backless black lace with the front that dipped all the way to my naval. I don't think I would call it a dress, exactly... more like the female version of a loincloth, similar in 'volume of coverage' but of slightly higher quality than the simple animal skins used by my forefathers. It was a ploy, of course, a tactic and nothing more. Father was long since due another shot at the Presidency. His last reign hadn't been since the 1600's, and people still talked about the fire he started in London. OK, so it might have been accidental, and he oughtn't to have been playing such cruel jokes on the lamplighters, but it had made the headlines the world over. London was indestructible, after all. The Fuhrer hadn't been able to destroy it and even Neptune's attempts at flooding the place had been hitherto unsuccessful. There were just too many doogooders there, the rumour said. Too many idiots in capes who didn't know that pants are worn on the inside of your trousers. Father had been the one who came the closest out of all. The trouble with father was, people just didn't take him seriously any more. People used to hear his name and cross themselves for biblical protection. Now they knew him as the comic book bad guy, and, considering the effort he put in to get to where he is now; that just wasn't fair at all.
So the first thing I noticed was the woman across the room. She's buxom, blonde, beautiful, and wearing exactly the same dress as me. I turned pink while she (obviously more socially experienced than I) attempted to kill me with hateful glances from across the room. If I were a delicate flower I might have wilted under that glare. Fortunately 'delicate' has never been a word I associate myself with...if the bitch wanted to stare let her stare, and maybe when we finished I could introduce her to my old friend, Medusa.
‘That's Helen of Troy. Oh dear. I think we just lost her vote.’ smiled father. I ignored the beautiful bitch and proceeded to stop him from spiking the punch bowl.
‘We talked about this... No pranks Dad, you promised. And no jokes either!’ I hissed in his ear. He gave that annoying giggle of his in response.
‘A little mead won't hurt.’ he protested. I pursed my lips and examined the glasses... There was always more to it, with Dad.
‘It will if you cling film over all the glasses. Dad, please, you want to endear yourself not make trouble.’ I pleaded, removing clear wrapping from goblet mouths as I spoke. We had been there two minutes and we were already in danger of alienating the whole delegation. I don't even know where he got that food wrap from... It's almost like he has endless pockets. I decided there and then that if he pulled out the rubber chicken- I was going home.
‘Loki! I didn't think The boss would let you out for this one!’ greeted a fat man with real whiskers and a Tuxedo. He wore a bowler hat and monocle, and all looked like regularities when compared to the whiskers. They stuck three inches from his face in a fan, reminiscent of a pussy cat.
‘Ah! Baron Sparklepuff! How very nice to see you again... and Odin doesn't exactly know I'm here!’ father jested, and stuck out a hand. I spotted the electric ring on his middle finger and intercepted just in time. It was a long night...
‘Father don't be so rude! Introduce me at once!’ I insisted. The Baron looked flushed and at once enamoured with me, or perhaps with the lace tie on my dress where the material fastened together. He played with it fondly whilst father made introduction.
‘My wonderful daughter, Hel, six hundred and sixty six this January past. Isn't she divine?’ father poured over me. He liked to gush over his children. He considers us the one thing he ever created that didn't go wrong. Noting my position in life, I do not know why he thinks that.
‘Ahh she is an angel. My dear I could claw that little black dress from your body and devour you in a single gulp, so startling is your beauty.’ the Baron purred.
‘Oh stop.’ I demurred half-heartedly. The Baron really was a charmer, but the very fact that he was hosting the election indicated that he meant to present himself as candidate. He twitched his whiskers and excused himself when black clad servants wheeled out the buffet, and wandered off muttering something about shrimp.
Other guests were arriving by then so father and I got to the buffet before anyone else had a chance to finger it. We had to avoid the shellfish however, since the Baron hissed at us if we got too close, but we made short work of the meats, maggots and mushrooms. We had our fill before Pestilence got himself anywhere near that food, but others were not so lucky, and the raincoat wearing villain sneezed all over the Melba toast.
‘Stay here, just in case Death accidentally touches you.’ father warned, and then crossed the room to where the other three horsemen milled around, trying (and failing) to hide famine, who was filling her pockets with bread rolls. I knew them instinctively, although we had never met. After father had spoken with them a while, one of them (War, I deduced, from his lack of teeth) offered a wave alongside a grin that could de-virginise your average nun. I gulped, suddenly acutely aware of the LBD and its lack of material. I had no jacket and that was sort-of-the-point in my wearing it anyway, so I smiled politely and surveyed the filling room.
There was a man in the corner with a briefcase and a grey suit on, he produced a laptop even as I watched and started hammering the keys as if he had learned to type on an old-fashioned typewriter. Across the table from him an overtly flamboyant and obviously gay man in a dusky pink shirt and green chinos was trying to chat up a rather nervous looking young soldier, who wore the swastika armband. He must be Corporal Hinchsk then, the Fuhrer was too busy orchestrating the third world war to present himself, especially when he knew he wasn't going to win. The young man making him uncomfortable was probably Oberon, the king of the fairies. I'd heard a lot about him in the past...scandal tends to travel in the underworlds. At the second table there was a man clad in less material than even I was. He had more make-up on too, although it was difficult to tell what was war paint and what was tattoo. He must be the Doktori, the creepy witchdoctor father had warned me would be his worst competition. I watched him rattle a stick made of bones at his glass of water, and raised a solitary eyebrow as it bubbled and frothed over onto the table. The boy across from him picked up his wooden puppet and turned very pointedly away from him lest he get it wet. The all-in-black boy must be the Puppet Master, judging by the wooden contraption on his knee. It wore a baseball cap and a suit with training shoes that cost more than my entire wardrobe. I sighed, because it is a sad day when a lady is out-dressed by a puppet. The rooms other occupants comprised of the Four Horsemen, father and myself... Lady Helen was pointedly absent. I correctly guessed that she had gone to change her outfit, and she reappeared soon after wearing an altogether different black lace number with slits to her armpits and a gravity defying bosom... If it came down to sexiness alone father and I were doomed. Father might be quite popular, but human fan girls didn't count in an Otherworld election, and so here we all were.
There was one further interruption before Baron Sparklepuff could tap his glass for attention, and that came in the form of a blind man with a red and white stick, who fumbled his way precariously into the room and straight into the buffet table. There was a momentary rucus as servants dashed here and there firstly to right him, and then to clean up the mess. The ceremony couldn't begin until all the mortals had left the room, and so, while we waited, I asked father about the blind man.
‘Oh, that is Moleman. He shows up every year to vote, never to run. He's too busy distracting The Golden Eagle to be President. Make sure he sees your dress.’ he answered. I stared at him incredulously.
‘Father, that man is obviously blind.’ I rebuked him in a whisper, but he shook his head.
‘No, that's his power. He's the only mole that can see.’ he explained in the same hushed tone. I didn't understand. I should know by now that very little in our darkened lives made sense... Particularly when it came to father.
‘Then why carry the stick?’ I foolishly persisted. He sighed heavily at my stupidity.
‘How else would The Golden Eagle know he was Moleman?’ he replied, and hushed me back into silence as the Baron clinked his glass with a silver fork.
Whilst he spoke I still stared at the glass he drank from... It was milk. It was a well known fact that the Baron was once a cat; father had briefed me on the way over. He had belonged to the son of a typical mad scientist, and his was the predictable story. Cat gets into machine alongside son, sparks fly, a monster comes out of the other end, son kills father in rage, cat takes over and becomes...whatever the Baron was. He might run casinos now, but not so long ago he made his millions in the not-so-evil trade of kitty litter (and those little mice on sticks that cats can never quite catch) and that was the chink in his armour... That was where father and I planned to smear him.
’Welcome, one and all, to the five hundred and third Impuratus Collocutio. I am your host (and don't forget I am a candidate this year- please enjoy your free champagne and hotel rooms) for the duration of the evening... I do hope you all like a bit of pussy, or this will be tedious for you. Anti-histamines are available upon request, for those of you with more delicate affectations.’ he mewled. There was the subtle turning of the room, the ripple of discomfort at his 'reminder' that he was a candidate.
‘He's broken the first rule... Never let them think you are bribing them. Especially not when you are.’ father whispered in my ear in glee. ‘Just watch.’ he added, and I tensed, because at that point I knew he was up to something. I held my breath.
‘And so, Ladies and Gentlemen...Gods and Goddesses, rodents and er- others... Without further ado, Let the candidates announce themselves and present opening arguments!’ the Baron declared, and, with a flush of embarrassment, I registered that there was a whoopie cushion on his chair. I put my head in my hands just as he sat on it full force, and the noise rang out around the large room in an echo. There were a spat of barely concealed giggles, quickly followed by full blown laughter. Beside me, father beamed. I simply cannot take him anywhere.
Helen of Troy stood amidst the laughter, flashing her winning, white toothed and perfect smile for all to see. The men in the room paid close attention while Pestilence and I shared a withered look.
‘I propose myself as candidate.’ she smiled, beautific and picturesque, and nobody challenged her, so she continued. ‘I put it to you that it has been many a year since a female took charge, and, given that Queen Mab kept most of Europe in the dark ages for an extra hundred years, I think that you overlook us, consistently, year after year.’ she argued. Father dug me in the ribs, my prompt. Helen of Troy presented herself every election, and every election she was defeated with the same, simple argument.
‘Sit down!’ I catcalled at her. ‘You're not even a real baddie!’ I proceeded. Father gave me a hidden thumbs up and the Lady Helen turned an unbelievable shade of purple that seriously risked overshadowing her preposterous beauty.
‘How very dare you! Men were massacred in my name, and all I did was this!’ she raged, and pouted her lips. She pushed her voluptuous breasts upwards in some kind of trashy mime. Father elbowed me again and so I stood, gave a huge, over-exaggerated yawn and clicked my fingers. In a split second Lady Helen was staring at herself, as if in a mirror, except I was demure, calm and distinctly not purple. I pouted at her, as she had just done to me, and I swear I saw smoke come from her ears.
'Don't copy me Hel! Cut it out! Stop it!' she screamed, and then lunged at me. I stepped neatly away from her, changed back to my own visage and laughed at her fury from a safe distance. One down... Next.
And then Santa walked in.
All eyes turned to the jolly man in red. He cut a fine figure, all fat and gleeful and with the buzz of Christmas magic in the air about him.
'Ho ho- ho?' he greeted.
'Get him!' demanded father.
'He's mine!' shouted the puppet (yes, the puppet.)
'What's he doing here?' asked the Baron.
A room full of super villains attacked, the Doktori herded with his rattling stick, Death threatened with a pointed, bony, finger, The man in the suit held his briefcase aloft, as if he might hit the fat man with it... It was a mess. War jumped on him and clubbed him one around the back of the head, and then the Corporal was producing cable ties and wresting him into a chair. In the background Moleman demanded to know what was happening and father danced about the room in delight at all the mischief. It's true to say that it follows him everywhere.
Once the jolly fat man was secured, the Baron patted down his pockets and found the invitation.
'Cedrick?' he inquired of the man in the suit. I knew of only one Cedrick; the internet sensation who sought to enslave the world to cats, and who was the Baron's right-paw man. The accountant/cat video specialist looked embarrassed as he read the invitation. 'Why does this invitation say 'Santa' and not 'Satan'?' the Baron persisted. Cedrick grimaced, then suffered a swipe to the back of the head.
'I believe, your highness, that it was a spell-check error.' he sullenly divulged. The Baron groaned. The mistake would surely cost him the race...unless he could salvage the situation.
'HE will be furious.' I muttered. Satan was the boss, I might guard the gates of hell but he ran the whole ship... If he ever found out his invitation had been misplaced there would be (quite literally) hell to pay. I grinned, because nobody would vote for the Baron now, not with a mistake so glaring in the organisation of his event. However, much as I was delighted to see my fathers competition wane, I was still concerned about the fat man's presence. There were absolutely no jolly fictional characters allowed at these things (with the solitary exception of the tooth fairy, who was only jolly when procuring new teeth... The rest of the time you could find him cruising the internet for fetish porn. What do you expect from a guy who hoards teeth?)
'I propose...' the Baron purred, despite his major faux pas. 'That each of us presents a dastardly plan to foil this here, erm, goody.'
'Ah yes, and the most evil shall have the votes!' agreed the Lady Helen, and then she pulled her phone out and took a selfie with Santa... She might never get a chance again.
'Very well, then let's start with those of us who haven't spoken yet... Horsemen- and women?' I intervened, before the Baron could make good of his predicament. He narrowed his eyes at me while the four came to the centre of the circle.
'I would chain him, and starve him.' started Famine.
'And then I would breathe poisoned air into his lungs.' encouraged Pestilence.
'Afterwards, I would ride with him afront my horse, and use his fatness as a human shield.' contributed the toothless War.
'And then, when all was done, I would claim his soul for the afterlife, and leave his withered body to rot.' ended Death. There was a lull whilst their answer was considered.
'Right then.' said the Baron, eventually. 'And what would you do with him, Doktori?' The Witch Doctor made a face at the sound of his name. He held up his giant rattle and said something that I couldn't understand. It sounded like:
'Ibee eski arsty ost.'
Then he made an impressive array of hoisting Santa's beard between his tattooed fingers and slicing it clean off with a dagger made of pure human bone. Santa cried out, but there was no escaping, not from this particular group of reprobates. To be fair the Doktori merely clipped his beard. He didn't even draw blood. You could talk about it all you wanted, but you couldn't kill Santa Claus, not actually. Not only was the man a Saint but we also weren't heartless... and he was the only person who ever gave any of us a Christmas gift.
'Huh.' allowed the Baron, once the Doktori had finished making the whole room uncomfortable. And then he turned his green slits of eyes at me. 'And what would you do with him, Lady Hel?' he pressed. I shrugged.
'I am here in support of my father, and with no intentions of election.' I informed him, but then took hold of a cunning idea... 'But I'm sure I know what father would do.' I announced.
'You do?' asked the Baron.
'You do?' echoed father.
'I do.' I confirmed, and stuck my nose in the air.
'Well do tell!' insisted our cat host, a sentiment father echoed with a nod. Once I had everyone's attention I came forth with my idea. 'I would have my daughter Hel take his place in Lapland whilst I imprisoned him at the gates of hell. I would receive all of the letters from all of the little children all year long... And then when Christmas came, I would give all the little cretin's a human eyeball, or a dead kitten... and all of the ones on the naughty list would get all of the presents the good kids wanted. After all, an eyeball is so much more distressing than coal, don't you think?' I finished. There was a silence in the room that was ultimately pierced by the slow clap of Moleman. Around the room others joined in. The Baron's face grew redder as the applause took hold. He waved his hands over the proceedings and battled for calm.
'At any rate! At any rate! The Devil is not present tonight and so there can be no ratified election.' there were protests all around the room and one fat man in a red suit looking nervous in the centre, but the Baron forced his point. 'It can't be helped, rules are rules, and the Master has the deciding vote.'
For a little while there was a rabble, but then the Baron ordered servants to bring more free liquor and chocolate cake. Within an hour the party was subdued again, and within another the resigned guests were fading. Father and I had a brief chat before he disappeared back to his cave. He really couldn't stay overnight anywhere these days, not without Odin noticing his absence and finding some new and obscure punishment for him. I drank, mingled, made mental notes about who had what weaknesses, and then called it a night. When I decided to retire I suddenly remembered Santa Claus was still bound (and snoring) in the middle of the room. Death was the only other supernatural being still awake.
'Remember to untie him. Imagine we had killed Santa Claus, can you picture it?' I called to him as I left. The skeleton bent to untie the sleeping fat man and...well, it turns out I didn't think that one through very well.
So... There you have it: the story of the Impuratus Collocutio (or how we killed Christmas.) It wasn't through dastardly planning, nor a way to tease an adversary... It was nothing more than a silly accident. And, just for the record, I don't like mince pies much... So next Christmas maybe leave out some cookies instead. My favourite are peanut butter, and if you don't change your ways you might find yourself with an eyeball next year. You have been warned.
About the Author
I am an emergine writer based in Scotland who can't get her head out of the (storm) clouds. If you like my work and would like some more follow me on Hubpages or check out 'Edelweiss; Dark Science, part one' which is available through Amazon.
All photographs used are the property of the author.
All relevant facts checked via Google from which I rely heavily on both dictionary and thesaurus.
Any similarities to other works are purely incidental.
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