Friday, 18 December 2009

Phone It In Friday: Dear Santa

Oh, hi! Is it 3 o'clock already? How did that happen?

Anywho, we told you what we wanted from Santa this year, now it's your turn. Aaaaand, GO!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

here is how you half-ass a post

Jennie Here's the thing: I'm like RIDICULOUSLY happy right now. So ridiculously happy that, were I to describe this ridiculous happiness, you would all be retching all over your keyboards and that would probably be expensive to fix so I'm not going to describe anything and YOU'RE WELCOME.

Anyway, I feel like I shouldn't really ask Santa for anything big this year. To be honest, I don't even know what I'd ask for* so INSTEAD I want Heather Anne to get all those things she needs for the perfect date (with Agent Sarah Walker) and I want Abigail to get her kitty and I want Kat's Winston to be all better RIGHT THE HELL NOW and I want all of you to be as ridiculously happy as I am so we can all retch all over our keyboards together. It will be fun times, I promise.

*LIES! Puppy, teleporter, a bank account that never empties no matter how much I spend

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Dear Santa,

Have you heard? The Collective is celebrating its very first engagement this week! Aren't you excited for us? Uh, for them. I meant for them.

ANYWHO, that is not what I wanted to talk to you about today. What I wanted to talk to you about is the aforementioned Winston:

Now, I know he may look Jewish, but looks can be deceiving. Anyway, I'm not, and we're talking about what I want for Christmas this year, and what I want for Christmas this year is for Winston to stop being sick so I can stop worrying myself sick. Deal?


Monday, 14 December 2009

Peace on the earth, tidings of good cheer

AbsDear Santa,

Greetings from Collective HQ. As you know, we are animal lovers here. You're familiar with our three friends:



and Phoebe:

But there are four of us and only three kitties.

There is a kitty-shaped hole in my heart.

I think I've been pretty good this year. I mean, I tried to be. I started saving my money for a rainy day (instead of spending it all at Old Navy and bars). I went back to school to get smart (instead of lazying around like always). And I think I've shown lots of responsibility in pet care. I even pay full price for pet clothes at Old Navy.

So, what do you say? A kitten for Schilbo? I think so.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Holiday Heroes Alliance, Part Ten, by Matt and Vahid

The Godawful Conclusion,
brought to you by two least responsible guys you know,
who were somehow entrusted with wrapping this whole thing up and having it make sense.

-a short story-

Christina couldn't help it. Nervous energy maybe, the lightheaded feeling whiskey had put in her head, all this magic surrounding her, the curly-haired beauty of a stranger beside her... she reached out and grabbed his hand. This was going to work out okay, she was sure of it. The world, as messed as up it currently was -- Santa Claus tied up, elves asked to give up their imagination, and good god, the usual holiday horrors beside -- was still a place of beauty, a place of strange heroes who'd rush to the rescue of another, a place of magically refilling whiskey and wow, of gorgeous men... it made her head spin. Between Hubert and Cupid and her Nick... but she was getting distracted from the task at hand. Back to business, she told herself.

"So, Cupid. What's the plan here? You just gonna shoot a bunch of them arrows and make us all believe in love again?" Even as she said the words, Christina realized he didn't need his arrows. Even as she made the realization, she felt that fluttery feeling and Cupid was leaning in and they were kissing and ohmygodwhere'dthatcomefrom, but it was good, he was a good kisser (duh, Christina, she thought, he's Cupid...), and possibility was everyone, good god the magic of it all. Winter was melting, spring flowers all a-blooming and birds a-chiring and rabbits a-hopping and she could feel the trees stretching in the warm April sun, knew the joy of deers frolicking, felt the magic of the warm, clean light. Time stood still. It was one kiss or an hour, a minute or day. She had no idea. She had no idea what had just happened, but she liked it, absolutely loved the way it felt. If this was going to happen every Christmas... well, she'd get to like the cursed holiday season.

She opened her eyes. Was clearly dreaming. Closed and opened her eyes again. Maybe she was going mad. Pinched herself. Nope, it was really there. The frozen white had disappeared: flowers were everywhere. Birds chirping, bunnies hopping, deer frolicking. And, as if that wasn't a strange enough scene, people and animals had magically appeared all around them. Christina spotted a giant groundhog (Puxatawney Phil, she imagined), a guy with two faces, some dude wearing a norse helmet... all sorts of Holiday Heroes, she imagined, all of whom... had been captured by Mother Nature, perhaps? Her head was spinning, and she didn't figure it was just the kiss.

She turned to Cupid, all questions. "What happened?" He smiled gently, and Christina had the distinct feeling that he was talking to her as if talking to a small child, but she no longer cared.
"You believed in the possibility of love again, and what love is capable of. That was enough. Mother Nature was counting on your doubt, but she bet wrong."

Christina scanned the crowd once more. There were so many of them! She saw one she recognized.


"Special Agent Bryson." Hubert was cool, collected, but even so, Christina could feel herself blush under his even gaze. "I don't think I've ever been more relieved to two people than I am to see the two of you right now," he said, standing erect with a little bounce, trying out his newly thawed legs. "Cupid, by Jove, I am glad you could make it! I see the others are starting to come around. Between the lot of us, I believe we can rally and take Mother Nature by surprise. We've got to hurry though -- she still has Nick prisoner, and there's no telling what she plans to do with him."

"Last we saw him, she had him tied up and was feeding him milk and cookies," Christina said.

"Or, she was, before Patty waltzed in and started schmoozing her..."

Hubert blinked once, twice, and wiggled his nose in distaste. "Did you say Patty? As in Saint Patrick?"

"Well...yeah. He's a Holiday Hero, right? One of you guys?"

Cupid shuffled his feet and looked at the ground. "Um..."

"He is," Hubert sniffed, "and his holiday is celebrated here in America, but he spends most of his time in his native Emerald Isle, when he isn't raising a ruckus with his rather...unsavory friend from the continent. Tell me, Special Agent Bryson, did you happen to arrive on a boat?"
hristina started. "We did -- Patty's boat."

"Hmph. He'll be arriving on a boat too -- it's his way, the cad." Hubert turned to the tattered remnants of his holiday assault force. "T! Abe! Get it together! We've got to rescue Nick before his brother upstages us!"

His brother? Christina wondered.

"I pity the fool who thinks he can rescue Christmas better than T!" growled an enraged Cap'n Kwanzaa. Beside him, Abe's stovepipe hat seemed to be quivering with similar rage.

"Come on then -- let's go!" His nunchuck raised, Lincoln led the charge back towards the house, followed closely by Mr T. Hubert Hare bounded after them both, and Christina reflexively drew her pistol as she ran to catch up with Cupid, who was joining the charge.

"Hey -- hey Cupid! Nick has a brother? What's this all about?"

Looking over at her as he ran, Cupid quickly explained, "Before there was your American Santa Claus, there was Nick's big brother, who still does a little work in Europe, though he's mostly been retired for years in pursuit of his new career."

"And Hubert doesn't like him? What's the story?"

Cupid sighed. "Just a little bit of holiday rivalry, I'm afraid. Hubert has never been fond of the flamboyance of his European cousins. Ah...I think you're about to see what I'm talking about."

Dead ahead of them was the big picture window of the lake house; inside Patty and Mother Nature seemed to have gotten even closer, Nick almost completely ignored by the two of them in his chair. Patty leaned in for a kiss, taking the swooning Mother Nature in his arms and leaning her back....

...and then all hell broke loose.

A white horse kicked open the front door of the house, directly opposite the window, and in rode what looked like an older version of Nick, clad in red robes, diamonds glittering from his robe and his pointed hat. Raising his hands over his head, he shouted "Sinterklaas aall up een the motherfuckin' haas!"

At the same time, a man in a red jumpsuit leapt out of the fireplace, wielding a long stick, "And Black Pete got yo' back! You'd best check yo'self before you wreck yo'self, Mother Nature!"

A heartbeat later, and Mr T and Abe Lincoln crashed through the window and into the house. "REPRESENT!" Cupid and Hubert bounded in after them, Christina arriving last, and she briefly considered raising her gun and telling Mother Nature she was under arrest before realizing that might be the most ridiculous thing uttered so far that evening. And that's saying something.

Mother Nature, startled, tried to extract herself from the magic of St Patty's Irish kiss, raising her hands in the air as she prepared to summon another freezing winter storm, but found that between Patrick's kissing prowess and his bottomless flask of whiskey she wasn't quite able to get it together. "M-m-m-monkeys!" she cried, finally freeing her mouth long enough to call for back up. "Monkeys! To me!"

"You mean my monkeys, don't you, my pretty?" said a new voice. Christina turned and saw one of the most astounding things she'd seen yet: a tall green-skinned woman in a pointed black hat, riding a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer into the room from the far end.

"How the hell do you get a sleigh and eight reindeer into this house?" Hubert mumbled under his breath.

"Artistic license, man," Cupid whispered back. "You've got two drunk guys writing this story. Just go with it."

The flying monkeys flocked back into the house then, seemingly all at once, their terrible wings beating the winter air. Recognizing their true mistress, they ignored the other occupants of the house and roosted at the room's far end, where they chattered to themselves and calmly cleaned one another's feathers.

Finally recognizing that she was thoroughly outmatched, Mother Nature slumped in Saint Patrick's arms. Christina thought she looked very small then, not at all like someone capable of flooding a city or causing a blizzard. "Easy there, lass, it's over now," St Patty said, holding her firmly.

"So, does someone want to catch me up on what's going on?" Christina said.

"We heard ye were having a spot o' trouble on this side of the Atlantic," St Patty said, "so I called up me drinking partner, the original Santa Claus, and we got in his boat and set out from Spain to come see if we could lend a hand. We hatched a simple plan: I'd go in first and distract Mother Nature with me smooth-talkin' and me charms, while Sinterklaas and Black Pete here made their move."

Hubert looked incensed. "Oh, with your charms? Lucky, that's all you are."

Saint Patrick shrugged. "I knew she'd kiss me, I'm Irish."

Nick chimed in. "It was a great plan. Now I think we're at the part of the plan where you untie me."

Christina looked up at the figure seated on the back of the white horse, resplendent in his red robes and a ridiculous amount of bling. "The original Santa Claus? From Spain?"

"It's where I live these days. I only work the Netherlands anymore along with my partner, Black Pete."

She was having trouble tying it all together. "Sinterklaas, if you're the badass Christmas hero you say you are, how come Nick gets all the Christmas glory? I don't understand how you'd be able to just sit back so idly."

The red-robed giant just laughed. "Oh, Christinaa, how little you know! Nick is my little brother. I gave up the business becaause he waas eager for it, but also so I could go baack to raap."

Hubert recognized her confusion. "Sinterklaas is also known as Dutch rap sensastion, Vaanilla Ice to some."

Sinterklaas / Vaanila Ice nodded. "Yeaah. My paal Flaavaa Flaav and I aare working on a new, how you say, collaaboraative work? He loves that word, Flaavaa Flav does, collaaboraative."
Christina nodded. Some things she was okay with not understanding. "Okay, so Wicked Witch... err, what'd you say your name was again?"

Her voice was velvety smooth. "Silvia. I never told you what it was before. You never asked. As usual, you ignored the 'Witch.' Everyone does, you know. Ignore me. Maybe because they're afraid, maybe because they think I'm evil."

"Hey, you know who else is totally being ignored right now?" said Nick, struggling against his binds. "Me."

"Whoah, I never said anything like that," Christina said, holding up her hands. She really needed some more of that magic whiskey, or even some of the cheap kind. This was all a little much. "I'm just trying to figure out how you tie in with all this-- with Christmas, and Nick, and Mother Natu-"

Silvia raged. Nostrils flared, her face went hard and angry. "That bitch!" She was spitting words now. "As if forever rubbing in what a fool Dane was wasn't enough, she had to steal my effing monkeys, too."

Seeing the puzzlement on Christina's face, Sinterklaas explained. "Dane Cook -- the Aapril Fool -- waas Silvia's son. Mother Nature and the Wicked Witch, excuse me, Silvia, are sisters. There may have been words a long while back... and none since, if you get my drift."

Silvia nodded, "Yeah, that temperamental bitch said that my failure of a son was a reflection on me. It's not enough that I always take the fall for her bullshit. Really, why do you think they call me the 'Wicked Witch?' It's all her damn doing."

"I should never have said that about you," Mother Nature said. She sighed, and slumped even further. "I was so in the wrong. Silvia, I'm so sorry."

Silvia stiffened. "And should I believe you? I don't get you at all, how you can go from being so temperamental and manic one moment to so passive and calm the next. Why do you do it? It's almost like you're two different people sometimes."

Mother Nature looked around, searching, meeting everyone's eyes, looking for understanding. She found it in Christina, who said, "I think I understand. You almost have to be, don't you? You do the weather over the whole of the Earth. It's winter here, and we're getting ready for the snow storms we expect in the Christmas season, but it's summer in Brisbane, clear skies in Buenos Aires."

"It's totally the Christmas season," Nick piped up. "The season where we untie Santa Claus so he can go do his job."

"You have to be one entire season in the northern hemisphere, and completely the opposite in the southern hemisphere," Christina went on, understanding beginning to dawn on her. "Having to keep up two entirely different seasons like that -- well, it's no wonder you can be"

Mother Nature nodded, relieved that someone finally got it. The other Holiday Heroes looked on her with new eyes, taking in this simple revelation that should have been so obvious to them all.

Then they all grew silent as Silvia cleared her throat. "Look...sis. Dane was sort of a colossal dumbass. I don't blame you for not liking him. Maybe...maybe we can try starting over again, you and I. It's been a long time." She got very quiet then, and said, "A really, really long time."

"You know what else has been a long time?" Nick said. "The total amount of time I've spent tied up to this chair. To which I am still tied. Just sayin'."

"Yes," said Mother Nature. "I think I'd like that. Silvia."

"I think I'd like for someone to cut this Christmas ribbon now," said Nick. "In fact I can guarantee I'd like that."

"I think there's just one more thing I don't get, but...Silvia, why did you have Santa's sleigh and eight magic reindeer?"

"Oh, that. Well, you see, Nick took my broom out for a spin, and he broke it. He promised to bring me a new one for Christmas, but until then he loaned me his magic sleigh so I could still get to my Pilates class on Mondays and Wednesdays. He doesn't use his sleigh much in the off-season."

"And I will bring you one," Nick said. "It would be easier to go about doing so if, you know, someone could help me get out of this chair."

"A Nimbus 2000? You promised, Nick."

"I will. Say, maybe someone can grant Santa's wish this year, and untie me. How about that?"

"Yikes! Sorry about that, partner." Christina holstered her pistol and moved to start untying the knots that bound Nick to his chair. He shook off the Christmas ribbon as she loosed him, and stood up, slowly, staring at Mother Nature.

"Sorry about that, Nick."

He held his breath, about to say something, and then let it out in a long exhale. "Oh, fine. I mean, it wouldn't exactly be in the Christmas spirit of me to hold a grudge, would it? Let's just move on, and focus on what's important: Christmas is coming." He looked up at his older brother, still seated on the back of his horse. "You're not wanting to take the franchise back, are you?"

"No, Nick, I gave thaat aall up a long time ago," said Sinterklaas. "You make a fine Saanta. Besides, I've got to go lay down some phaat traacks in the studio. I'm getting ready to release my next album, DutchyStyle."

"Okay." Nick looked down. "But if you wanted to stick around and help out..."

"I feel baad for you, son, but I gots ninety-nine problems and your Christmaas ain't one."

"Look, I can manage," Nick said heatedly, "but maybe you just want to hang out sometime? I hardly see you anymore."

Sinterklaas nodded. "Why don't you come visit me in Spain aafter Christmaas, Nick? You caan bring your paartner Christinaa."

"Okay," Nick said. "It's a plan. I can make time for that. See you soon, bro."

"Take care, Nick." And with that Sinterklaas and Black Pete rode off, back to their boat.
Christina looked around, unsure of what was supposed to happen next. Nick had been saved,

Mother Nature had surrendered peacefully... "So, I guess that's a wrap?"

"Dear, you've given me my sister back. I know this is going to strange, especially because you know first-hand what a douchebag my son was -- and I'm sorry that you were subjected to that -- but, well, how would you feel about me adopting you as a daughter?"

Christina felt her face go blank. Of all the crazy things that'd happened, a witch asking to adopt her was not one she'd foreseen. But, as far as families went, she already felt closer to all these crazy heroes than she did her own folks back home. Ugh, Christmas, she thought, before catching herself.

"Silvia, I'd be honored." The not so wicked witch beamed. "Christina, thank you. Really, you have no idea how much it means. And that brings me to a second request." She paused, looking a little unsure of herself.

"Really, Silvia, please... just ask."

"Well, I was wondering if you'd like the April Fool position. We do need someone to fill it now. Of course, if you can't, or don't want to, I completely understand."

Christina blushed. "Really, I'm honored. But I don't think the FBI would be to happy if one of their agents was also the April Fool. We have enough trouble getting good press as is. Thank you, though."

"I understand, of course, dear. Thank you for considering it."

Hubert spoke up. "You know, of course, that there are privileges that go along with saving Christmas. You are of course an honorary member of the Holiday Heroes now."

Reading Christina's face, he continued. "And no, you can't argue that. Just take better care of Nick, okay?"

Christina felt Nick's eyes on her, and under that steady gaze, her cheeks growing warm. There were worse jobs, she was sure. "Yeah, I can handle that."

She looked at the group assembled. "Thank you all for your help. I'm glad to have Nick back, and it wouldn't have happened without you." She hooked her arm through Nick's, and started

walking him towards his sleigh. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a duty to make sure Santa Claus gets home safely in time for Christmas."

...and that's the entirely true tale of how Special Agent Christina Bryson saved Christmas. In her honor, we hope you will all drink copious amounts of whiskey this year, and wake up with a hearty holiday hangover this Christmas season.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Holiday Heroes Alliance, Part Nine, by Broke Bertha

FBI Criminal Investigation Specialist Christina Bryson had always been afraid to fly — until tonight.

Cupid quickly stowed his bow over his shoulder and grabbed Christina’s hand. He hoisted her into his arms and spread his wings. And there she was, flying through the night sky in his strong arms. He gazed out into the sky, pointing out all the stars. She gazed at him.

She so hearted him.

“That clear one there is Polaris, obviously. Those there are Betelgeuse and Bellatrix,” he explained. “And over there is Alcyone and Aldebaron,” he muttered matter-o-factly.

Christina could care less what the man was saying. She was flying through the clouds with him. All of this mess, she thought, is so worth this moment. Her heart pitter pattered so violently that she almost forgot about Nick’s predicament.

Cupid reminded her. “We need a plan of action, FBI SCISP Agent Bryson.”

“Oh yea?” she loved hearing him say her businessy name. Her mouth hung open; consequently, her lips were getting chapped from all the cold night air combined with the open mouth swooning.

“Yes,” he began, and then a look of absolute terror overtook his adorable face.

“Why are you pouting?” Christina whined. She wanted him to gaze into her eyes, “Look at me, Cupid. What’s the matter?” She followed his line of vision and her face took on the same look of terror.

Not half a mile off in the sky, were the flying monkey minions. Not only were they fast approaching, but they were each wearing ruby red slippers. Really, they should rethink their wardrobe, Christina thought to herself. Then she realized they were flying straight for them! Cupid panicked and tried for an emergency landing. They zigged and zagged toward the ocean and landed with lavish amounts of loudness into a small boat that happened upon the end of their path.

Captaining the boat was none other than St. Patrick.

“Hello there,” Captain Patrick hollered with a thick Irish accent impossible to translate onto paper especially because it was being bellowed between swigs of whiskey.

Cupid smiled and said, “Thank God. Patty, I’m so glad you’re here. Are you on your way?”

Christina plucked herself from the floor of the boat and waltzed right over to St. Patty.
“Who the hell are you?!” she yelled ripping the whiskey from his hand and taking a big swill.

Patty looked at Cupid and smiled, “I like this one.”

Just then the boat shuddered hard as they hit land. Christina, irritated that the monkeys and a very large, boisterous and drunk Holiday Guy had interrupted her date, carried the flask and herself onto solid ground. Cupid and St. Patty followed.

Up the hill and around the hedge line they crept. Becoming more and more depressed about the loss of imagination, the loss of Santa Claus, the potential loss of Christmas, Christina sipped from the flask which never seemed to get any less full.

“It never goes empty, dear,” Patty explained. I love magic, she thought.

They reached the trough of the hill, and spotted the clan. To the right and down the valley stood a small ranch style home surrounded by a lake, old oak trees and many ducks. Amid the ducks and trees sat their friends, who seemed to be frozen solid.

They crept closer. Mr. T sat petrified with his biceps flexed. Hubert was fixed in a crouched position as if ready to spring into a full hop. And Abe lay on the ground like a rock with one nunchuck in hand; the second must have been lost in the scurry.

“The monkeys must be around here somewhere,” Christina whispered.

They stepped lightly toward the house. Slowly, the three of them peered into the front window. Inside stood Mother Nature, who seemed to be finishing a lecture to the monkeys. They exited the room through the chimney. The trio quickly huddled beneath the bushes as the monkeys flew away deep into the night sky. They repositioned themselves at the window.

“Where is Nick?” pondered Cupid aloud.

“There,” replied Patty.

Nick was bound with Christmas ribbon to a plush red velveteen chair in the corner.

Mother Nature walked to him with cookies and milk. Patty had had enough. He sprang up from beneath the window and in one quick motion grabbed the flask from Christina and entered the house through the front door. Cupid and Christina, alarmed and nervous, stayed put and watched the scene unfold.

Mother Nature screamed, dropping the milk and cookies all over the floor. The plate shattered into a bazillion pieces. Nick frowned. Patty just laughed, “You don’t need those anyway, Nicky. There’s more of that in your future. Why, hello my dear, Mother. Care for a night cap?”

“Patty, it’s been a while.” Mother Nature was blushing. Patty wrapped his arms around Mother Nature, who giggled.

Soon, she was swigging away at Patty’s flask.

Cupid smiled. Christina sat in confusion. What a slut! I thought she wanted Nick! "What’s going on?” Christina questioned.

“Shhh! They used to have a thing,” explained Cupid, “Patty knows what he’s doing. That woman can’t ever hold her liquor. Let’s awaken the others.”

They slunk quietly into the yard.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Holiday Heroes Alliance, Part Eight, by Joe G.

FBI Special Criminal Investigation Specialist Person Christina Bryson was nervous. Having allied herself with the mythical creatures that symbolized and inspired the world’s holidays in an effort to rescue her partner who was also Santa Claus, Christina worried that she might be going insane. Seeing her family for Thanksgiving always seemed to set her on edge and make her a little crazier than she usually was, and she had always considered the possibility that they might actually one day drive her over the edge, particularly her mother’s constant ‘When are you going to find a husband?’ comments, which just seemed to become more and more frequent each year. Could it be, though, that they had actually done it this year? Had Christina’s sanity slipped away, replaced by the dull drone of a hangover that would not go away and an assortment of holiday characters that, in a rational, orderly world, she knew didn’t exist?

Regardless of whether she was sane or not, Christina was rolling with it. Dane Cook, Hanukkah Shlomo (whom had replaced Hanukkah Harry following a terrible menorah accident), and Hubert Hare had taken Mother Nature’s call and arranged a meet. They would feign a trade of Hubert for Nick, and once Nick was clear, Mr. T and President Lincoln was launch their attack against Mother Nature’s flying minions. Believing that the two of them might require some backup, Abe had called in a dozen more presidents to aid in the fight. Would this be enough to defeat a woman who wielded the power of the elements? Christina fervently hoped so. This was the plan, for better or worse. Now they just had to wait for the trade.

In the meantime, though, Christina had a plan of her own. She had traced Mother Nature’s call, and it had led her, just as she suspected, to a remote location near the North Pole. A quick phone call to Metropolis by Hubert later, and Christina had a ride. “I can take her as far as the Fortress of Solitude,” Superman had explained over the phone, “but from there she’s on her own. Nick and I have had some…neighborly disputes.”

When Christina asked him about it, the man of steel had become slightly irritated. “The guy leaves his Christmas lights up year round,” he explained. “And those elves of his turn them on every night. It just makes the whole neighborhood look tacky, y’know?”

Christina had nodded, and when they landed she thanked him for the lift and began the two-mile trek from Superman’s crystalline stronghold to Santa’s workshop. As she plodded through the thick snow, a strong wind kicked up, and soon the whirling snow left Christina forcing her way through a wall of whiteness. Mother Nature’s doing, I’m sure, she thought. Could she be any more over-dramatic?

The wind calmed as she neared Santa’s workshop. It was much larger than she had imagined it would be, with multiple adjacent buildings that made up a sprawling compound. It was the kind of operation that, now that she thought about it, would be required in order to produce gifts for every man, woman, and child on Earth.

To her amusement, a simple picket fence made of oversized candy canes surrounded the entire campus. Christina hopped the fence and circled the massive structures, trying to find an entrance. Finally she came upon what appeared to be the front door. She pushed open the front door with her gloved hand and stepped inside cautiously. After removing her scarf, stocking cap, and two of the four coats that she was wearing, Christina could finally move comfortably again. She reached into her coats, pulled her gun from its holster, and took a deep breath. If it’s a flying monkey, shoot it, she reminded herself.

Just as she had started to get a handle of her surroundings, a small group of elves came rushing towards her. “Thank Santa you’re here! You need to tell us what to do!”

Christina stifled a laugh at their high-pitched voices before addressing them. “What do you mean?”

Before she could protest, the elves grabbed her hands and led her down a series of hallways, explaining along the way. “They came in and took Santa right out of the workshop,” one elf explained. “We were making toys like it was any other day and then just like that he was gone.”

“Santa tells us all what to do,” another elf chimed in. Christina noticed that all of them spoke very frantically. “Without him here,” the elf went on, “we have no instruction, no guidance. We’ve still been building toys, but they’ve been terrible, TERRIBLE! They’re revolting against us!”

“The toys are alive?” Christina’s voice was filled with disbelief.

“Of course they’re alive,” the first elf replied as if Christina was an idiot. “All toys are alive! They’re powered by imagination! This whole plant is!”

Christina sighed. I don’t have time for this, she thought, her mind racing. Mother Nature’s call couldn’t have come from here. She must’ve bounced the call from her location to here, and then to my office. These guys are never going to let me leave unless I can help them somehow… She thought quickly.

The elves and Christina finally arrived at a large catwalk that overlooked the factory floor. Toy soldiers with three arms crawled along the floor, chasing terrified elves with their pointed bayonets. Zhu Zhu Pets with razor-sharp teeth were massacring two and three elves at a time. Footballs with only one pointed end cried quietly in the corner, bemoaning their hideous existence. The elves surrounding Christina looked up at her frantically. “What should we do? Tell us what to do and we will do it, please!”

“If the toys are powered by imagination,” she mused, “then can’t you shut them off by just not imagining that they’re alive?”

The elves pleaded with her. “But if we stop using our imaginations, then the whole plant will shut down, and Christmas will be ruined!”

“Kids, Santa’s been kidnapped,” Christina snapped, “so I’d say Christmas is pretty much boned anyway unless you guys can calm the hell down and let me go find him. So just stop using your imaginations, okay?”

The elves looked at each other nervously before nodding in agreement. One of the elves stepped forward to the railing and shouted for all the elves to hear. “BROTHERS, SISTERS, STOP USING YOUR IMAGINATIONS!”

A few moments later and all of the attacking toys fell lifeless to the floor. Likewise, all of the machinery in the workshop ground to a halt. Christina felt terrible for bringing Christmas production to a standstill, but she could think of no other way of defeating the rogue toys.

Santa’s workshop was a dead end. Led by a group of eternally grateful elves back to the front door, Christina looked at her watch. It was five minutes past the time of the swap meet. She had almost forgotten all about it. She reached for her phone to see how it had gone when it began to ring wildly in her hand. Christina recognized the number as belonging to Hanukkah Shlomo’s cell. Still surrounded by elves, She answered as quickly as she could and put the call on speaker phone. “Hello?”

The sound of gunfire was the first thing she heard. “Hello?!” Shlomo’s voice was frantic. “Oh, God…It was an ambush! They were waiting for us! Dane Cook, the April Fool, is dead!!”

“Hooray!” the elves shouted as one.

Shlomo’s shouting grew louder. “Grover Cleveland was just assassinated by two non-consecutively-fired bullets! The monkeys took Hubert and Lincoln!”

“Slow down, Shlomo!” Christina shouted into the phone. “How many of them were there? Did they say where they were taking them?”

“One of them said something about a garden, I think. I don’t know, though, it was really--Oh, God…they’re coming this way! You have to save us! Call in reinforcement! Call Cu-"

And with that, the line went dead.

Christina threw her phone in frustration, and it shattered against the wall. “Dammit! Call Q? I don’t even know who Q is!”

“I think he meant me,” a voice from behind her said masculinely. Christina turned to see the source of the voice standing a few feet away, and any thoughts that she had had about Hubert Hare were out the window at the sight of the perfectly-built man before her. He was muscular in all the right places, had a head of curly blond hair, and was completely naked. He held a longbow in his left hand, and a quiver of arrows was slung over his shoulder.

Christina struggled to find her words. Some how she mustered, “Cupid, I presume?”

Cupid bowed before her and smiled. “Indeed. I know where Mother Nature is holding our friends, and I’ve come to aid in their rescue. Between my bow and your gun, we should have no trouble saving them together. Are you with me?”

Christina looked him over once more and smiled. “Absolutely.”

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Holiday Heroes Alliance, Part Seven, by mysterygirl!

FBI Criminal Investigation Specialist Christina Bryson didn't want to answer the phone.

"Doesn't Mother Nature call us, like, every three minutes? I don't think she actually has a plan," Christina said to Hubert, wondering how unprofessional it would look to take another long belt from the whiskey bottle in the bottom drawer of her desk.

The more that Christina learned, the less she understood. She had never heard of any kind of Kwanzaa or Channukah fairies, or an actual April Fool. The presidents of Presidents' Day were real historical figures. Were these really the Holiday Heroes? Were there other Holiday Heroes? Hubert seemed to know them, but if Mother Nature couldn't be trusted, could Hubert?

Oh, my child, things are not as they appear.

The fine hair on the back of Christina's neck stood on end as she recalled the way that that shrill cackle had rung in her ears. Who was she to believe?

"Hey, are you going to get that, or what?" Dane Cook's voice shattered her reverie. His tone grew increasingly eager. "You need me to give Mother Nature the superfinger? 'Cause you know I can do it."

She paused for a moment, slowly surveying the motley crew filling her office. They were looking at her expectantly, with the exception of Abe Lincoln, who seemed to be in a kind of trance, slowly twirling his nunchunks while painstakingly moving through what appeared to be a series of tai chi positions.

"No," Christina said slowly, almost disbelieving her own refusal. Was she putting Nick's life in further danger? She briefly wondered if she could actually ad-lib an entire plan to the team. Well, she was about to find out.

"You guys are going to take the call and set up the meeting. Hubert, Shlomo, and Dane will be the primary response team. They'll bring the bananas and orchestrate the exchange. T and Lincoln will be the second line of defense, ready to pounce with their gold chains and their sense of justice, respectively."

"I pity da foo' who stands between me an' Nick Noel," Mr. T intoned solemnly.

"And I am going to try to find where she's calling from, where she's holding Nick. The eye of the storm, as it were," she said flippantly, not noticing everyone but Dane Cook cringe at the bad pun. "Maybe I can head this meeting off before it has to happen."

Christina remembered Nick telling her of the loft apartment he had bought as an investment property during the first year of their partnership. In the years since, she had often walked past his desk to find him shopping online for all kinds of tools and carpentry supplies, which ostensibly he and some of his friends used to renovate the place in order to flip it. The events of this morning, though, had shed new light on this hobby.

It's his workshop,
Christina thought. It's got to be his workshop. And what with Mother Nature's love for drama and bold display, it would make sense for her to hide Nick in plain sight, somewhere with significance. She wouldn't want her strength and her cleverness to go unnoticed.

The phone continued to ring, on and on, the elapsing time making Hubert's perfect eyebrows knit with agitation. Damn if he didn't look lovely sporting just a fine trace of worry.

"Hubert will call me when you establish the meeting place. I'll be there with some FBI tricks up my sleeve," she finished vaguely, hoping she sounded appropriately confident and blase.

Without waiting for anyone's approval,Christina slipped her gun into her holster and began rummaging through her desk. She filled a bag with sunglasses, scarf, hat, mittens, umbrella, and poncho, until she was prepared for most any kind of weather. Grabbing her car keys, she headed for the door, not looking back to see their reactions. She heard Hubert's low, silky voice answer the call as she headed for the parking lot, wondering for a split second whether her desire to save Nick was only professional. She hoped Cupid was on their side.

I'll trust them when trusting them becomes imperative, she thought to herself. Until then, I'm going rogue.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Holiday Heroes Alliance, Part Six, by Sir

Upon answering her phone, Agent Bryson heard, 'WHORE!', and felt confidant that it was Mother Nature calling back to inquire about the sexual Hare.

'Yeah, hold on', she said into the phone, then looked at Hubert and said through clenched teeth, 'Listen, you need to make nice with the bitch long enough to find out where she is so we can find Nick, can you do that?'

'Fine', he said, taking the phone.

The constant knocking on the door had snapped the last of her whisky-frayed nerves and upon finally whipping it open and losing her cool long enough to scream, 'WHO THE FU....', saw a sight that kept her from finishing her expletive.

'Oy!', stated the Hasidic Jew standing in front of the quartet. 'So the shiksa's a screamer!'

'Stop bein' rude, sucka!', screamed Mr. T, inexplicably standing alongside the curly-headed son of Abraham. 'Stop puttin' the 'ew' in Jew!'

'Buh', was all Christina could muster at this point.

'I'm Kwanzaa!', stated T, then pointing at his Jewish compadre explained, 'He's Channukah!'

“It's pronounced 'Channukuh'', stated Shlomo, curls all aquiver.

'SHUT UP, FOOL!', replied Mr. T. 'I'm tired of yo' jibber jabber! Always 'Torah' this and 'Menorah' that! It's just a candlestick holder, sucka! You put candles in it! You set them on fire! They make light!'

Christina slowly pointed a finger at the people behind Shlomo and muttered, 'Is that …'

'I AM GONNA FUCK SOMEONE UP!!!!', screeched a bare-chested, hat-wearing, nunchuck-wielding Abraham Lincoln.

'President's Day', Shlomo acknowledged. 'George had a thing so we had to unleash the Abe. And this,' he said pointing to his left, 'is the April Fool.'

'Hi!', yelled Dane Cook. 'I enjoy delicious sandwiches!'

'Natch', muttered Agent Bryson, who composed herself long enough to turn to a recently un-phoned Hubert and ask, 'Honest Abe is going to fuck someone up. What did the ice queen say?'

'She wants to meet me ASAP, so we need to figure this out', Hubert replied, rubbing his chin and driving Christine to the point of bliss as he innocently fondled his stubble in contemplation.

'Is she willing to trade Nick for you? Where does she want to meet? Abraham Lincoln? Seriously?', she asked.

'She says she's willing to give Nick up for my sweet lovin', but Mother Nature is fickle, so I doubt her sincerity', replied Hubert. 'She wants to meet in a public place, the location of which she'll call back and provide. And as previously stated: George was busy and Abe's a badass, so it was a no-brainer.'

'PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BLEED!', screeched our 16th president.

'We need to split up', Christina thought aloud. 'Attack her from multiple angles.'

'Right', Hubert muttered. 'Listen, you take Mr. T and ninja Abe. I'll manage Shlomo and the douchebag.'

'I put cashews on my Wiener!', screamed Dane Cook.

'We play the cards we're dealt', Hubert said to Christina, getting all philosophical on her ass. Just then, her phone buzzed with the ominous vibration of smug weather. She and Hubert looked at the phone, then looked at each other before spying Abe pacing back and forth and shaking his head very slowly.

'Oh, it's on, bitches', he muttered, then yelled, 'IT'S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG!!'

Friday, 4 December 2009

Holiday Heroes Alliance, Part 5, by Lindsay

FBI Criminal Investigation Specialist Christina Bryson managed to squeak out a "hello" between coughs and gasps when she saw Hubert Hare once again standing outside her door. He grinned at her, patiently waiting for her to recover.

"May I come in, Ms. Bryson?" Hubert asked her calmly after he'd been standing in her doorway for at least two minutes as she stared at him.

"She wants bananas," was Christina's answer before she realized she had been gazing towards Hubert’s crotch. "Oh. Shit. Yeah, come in." Completely aware of what had just occurred, Hubert reacted with nothing more than a small smile. She moved aside to let him into her office, his scent sending Christina to a place filled with melting snow, freshly cut grass, and blooming flowers. As he brushed against her, she thought she was going to lose it. Her knees become completely numb, almost buckling underneath her. Her headache was suddenly replaced with the all-too-familiar fuzzy feeling that usually accompanies a first kiss. Chills danced down her back and butterflies tickled her insides for the first time since...

"I beg your pardon, Ms. Bryson, but who wants bananas?" Hubert asked her as she closed the door, whipping her back to the present from her short daydream. The present in which the Easter Bunny was standing in her FBI office. Time to get a fucking grip, girl, Christina thought to herself. And probably with a side of more whiskey.

"Mother Nature." Christina straightened up, tossed her hair back, and put her game face back on. Enough acting like a twelve year-old with a bad crush. "She called me right before you showed up. She was actually kind of a bitch. Anyway, she has Nick."

"Yes, that actually doesn't really surprise me. She's always been a little obsessed with Nick. They dated one time years ago, but he dumped her for the Tooth Fairy. She never really got over it, and she's been trying to ruin Christmas ever since. First with all the cold weather, now I with his kidnapping."

"Okay, first. The Tooth Fairy?"

"Yes, Wanda White."

"Shut up."

"Excuse me?"

"Sorry. Okay, second, she's actually after you. Seems you're her new conquest and she wants me to bring you in exchange for Nick."

"Why me? I didn't even use my powers on her. There's a reason I stay far, far away from her!" Hubert Hare started in on his rant, looking more flustered and red-faced than Christina had seen. "Why does she always do this? She stalks a new guy each week, thinking that it's going to get them to fall for her and then she goes and does something crazy. It's like this EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I am so fucking sick of her flying off the handle and causing some crazy ass tornado or hurricane or earthquake. You know Mount St. Helen's years ago? That was when Cupid broke up with her! People DIE every time things don't go exactly her way! We don't need another Hurricane Katrina! She's a maniac and she needs to be stopped. TODAY!" He boomed.

"Er..." Christina was speechless, although this was not a new feeling when it came to Hubert.

"I apologize for my tone, Ms. Bryson. That was...inappropriate." Hubert looked down, appearing mildly embarrassed, as he regained composure.

"No! It's- it's cool. And the bananas. They're for the flying monkeys."

"Flying monkeys?"

"It's a long story."

"Well, it seems, Ms. Bryson, that we need a plan."

"It seems. Any ideas?"

"Well, I thought we could use some back up."

"Back up?"

"They're already on their way. Should be here shortly."

Just as Agent Christina Bryson was imagining the other Holiday Heroes Alliance members that were about to show up at her office, her phone started to ring and there was a hurried knock on her door.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Holiday Heroes Alliance, Part Four

Jennie FBI Criminal Investigation Specialist Christina Bryson took the phone from her ear, pressed end, and placed it on the desk. Her hands were trembling so she took another long drink of whiskey, relishing the slow burn spreading through her chest. She placed both hands on the desk, closed her eyes, and tried to remember the deep breathing exercises she'd learned from a long-ago employee wellness seminar she'd been forced to attend.

Her calm did not last long, however, because soon her phone was buzzing away on her desk.

"Hello?" she said, bracing herself.

"How DARE you hang up on me!" Mother Nature. Eff.

"I didn't!" protested Christina. "We must have gotten disconnected because of the, uh, storm?"

"Whatever, ho," said Mother Nature. "You didn't even let me get to my point. I have Nick!" Christina gasped. "That's right, you hussy! I saw that Nick was getting a little too interested in you, so I took him. And now you're after Hubie, too? I mean, I knew you were an alcoholic, but I had no idea you were such a slut. Although, I suppose the two often go hand in hand, you know, especially without a strong father figure. Did you get along with your father? Oh, you did, I see it right here in your file. I borrowed your FBI file, I hope you don't mind. Anyway, I guess that just means you're a slut for no reason, which is sort of sad at your age, don't you think?"

Christina bristled at the accusations. She and Nick had always had a purely platonic relationship, just like she liked it. She stayed far away from office romances ever since she'd had that brief affair at Quantico with the wingnut who thought aliens abducted his sister. And the worst she'd done with Hubert was a little eye sex! Honestly. Christina wanted to reach through the phone and strangle Mother Nature, but instead, she put her FBI face back on.

"Excuse me, Ms. Nature, but my relationship with Nick is completely professional. And as for the idea that you kidnapped him, I'm just not sure I believe that. Are you really capable of such a thing? We believe there were multiple kidnappers and you, well, you're just one person," she said.

"JUST ONE PERSON?!" Mother Nature howled. "I can control the weather! The WEATHER. You think that's easy? Because it's not. But I do it EVERY DAY, year after year, without complaint because THAT'S HOW MUCH I CARE. But whatever, OBVIOUSLY, it would be way too hard to cajole a couple of morons to kidnap someone for me."

"Who then?" Christina asked.

"I stole some flying monkeys away from the Wicked Witch of the West," she explained.


"It was surprisingly easy. All I had to do was offer them 401k. That Wicked Witch is such a tightass," said Mother Nature. "You know, we once went out for drinks and I had to pick up the tab? I mean, sure, she claimed that since I drank all those Cosmos and she only had water, I should pay blah blah blah but whatever happened to splitting the bill? We don't talk so much anymore, you know. It's sad, really. We were quite close once. I think she was always jealous of my luck with the fellas, if you know what I mean. Oh, of course, YOU know what I mean, how silly of me." Christina contemplated hanging up again.

"So...what do you want?" asked Christina. "I assume you're holding him for some kind of ransom?"

"That's right!" shrieked Mother Nature, all business again. "I want you to bring Hubie to me, and then I'll consider releasing Nick. I'm over him anyway."

"Hubie," whispered Christina, with a slight twinge of jealousy that she quickly brushed away. She cleared her throat. "No problem. Anything else?"

"Um...YES! Bring me some...bananas, yes, bananas for my monkeys. And Jake Gyllenhaal."

"You know he's dating Reece Witherspoon, right?"

"I heard they broke up."

"No," said Christina. "I'm pretty sure they're still together."

"OK, fiiiine," sighed Mother Nature. "Just Hubie, then. AND THE BANANAS."

"OK, OK. Where do we make the trade?" asked Christina.

"I'll call you back with that, I have to go," said Mother Nature.

"Why can't you just tell me now?" asked Christina.

"I SAID I HAVE TO GO!" Mother Nature yelled and hung up. Christina frowned at her phone and placed it back on her desk. She wanted to lie down to sleep off the bit of hangover still hanging around but knew there was no time. She put her head down on her desk to gather her thoughts, her many confusing thoughts, until her reverie was interrupted by a knock on the door.

She dragged herself away from her desk and threw open the door with a grumpy WHAT, but her greeting caught in her throat when she saw who was standing before her.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Holiday Heroes Alliance, Part Three

FBI Criminal Investigation Specialist Christina Bryson whipped out her Palm Pre and frantically flipped through her contacts list, desperate to find someone, anyone, who might have a lead on her missing partner. But no matter how hard she tried to concentrate, the throbbing behind her bloodshot eyes blurred her vision so badly all she could was throw her phone back onto her desk in disgust.

Damn this infernal hangover, she thought, rifling in the back of her bottom desk drawer for the one thing she knew would put an end to her pounding headache. Pushing her battery-operated personal massager to the side she found what she was looking for; eagerly she wrapped her trembling fingers around the cold steel of a flask of whiskey. She took a long pull and wiped her moistened lips with the back of her hand, leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes in relief.

Christina's thoughts wandered to Hubert Hare's soft hands and smoldering, dark eyes. Though alarmed and confused by the news he shared, his commanding voice and forceful manner stirred something deep within her. "I have Spider-Man on speed dial!" he'd said; the remembrance made her chuckle with pleasure. And his glorious hair, his elbow patches! She was just reaching down to reopen her bottom desk drawer when her cell phone began vibrating urgently on her desk.

"Agent Bryson," she gasped, flustered by the interruption.

But no one was there.

"Hello, this is Agent Bryson," Christina repeated, but still no one spoke. All she could hear was the gentle whisper of wind and the sudden patter of raindrops on a tin roof, rusted.

"Nick? Nick is that you?" The wind began to howl as the rain seemed to drum harder.

"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY PARTNER, YOU SICK FUCK?" Her ear rang with a deafening crash of thunder and the steady whoosh of a torrential downpour.

And then it stopped.

Despite being unnerved Christina's years of FBI training kicked in. The sudden ferocity of the storm on the phone and its abrupt end could only mean one of two things, and Agent Bryson was pretty sure it had nothing to do with the Cassadine weather machine. "Mother Nature? Is that you?"

"It is, my child."

Christina was taken aback. She supposed that if she had thought about it before, she would have expected the voice of Mother Nature herself to be wizened, old, but most of all, motherly. The voice on the phone, however, was anything but. She was smug, high-strung, and just a bit vindictive.

"I see that Hubie has dropped by for a visit?" she sneered.

"He just left!" Christina exclaimed. "I can't believe someone would kidnap Santa Claus! And to find out that Nick Noel has actually been Santa all this time? Oh, Mother Nature, what are we going to do?" Her heart thudded with hope; finally she was going to get the help she so desperately needed to find her partner.

But instead of the eager reply she was expecting, her office filled with a high-pitched cackling that rattled her windows and tipped her grandmother's Newcomb vase from the bookshelf so that it shattered on the ground. "Oh, my child," Mother Nature spat. "Things are not as they appear."

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Holiday Heroes Alliance, Part Two

AbsFBI Criminal Investigation Specialist Christina Bryson's hangover was nearly gone.

She remembered this happening before. A long time before.

Sex had magically made hangovers dissipate way back--

She shook her head.

OW! Well the hangover isn't totally gone. Fair enough since I didn't actually have sex.

She shook her head again. Thinking about sex was a) very unlike her, b) totally inappropriate given the situation, and c) UNRELATED.

Or is it?

There she went again. Nick was kidnapped. She had watched the footage dozens of times now, frame by frame, looking for clues as to who had taken him. She had to save him. She might not be a Holiday Hero, but she was FBI and she could handle it.

At least, that's what she had told Hubert when they had said goodbyes-for-now earlier. She had had to say goodbye-for-now to him because he was distracting and quickly eliminating her hangover. With his eyes.

How can something as innocent as Holiday Heroes be so woefully inappropriate? she thought as she drew connecting arrows super high-tech spy wipe board:
-Nick's last day in the office
-Hits on his credit card from the weekend: auto shop, feed store, Toys R Us
-Four kidnappers
-Doorman fell asleep

Then, with her purple marker she worked on the Hero list:
Hubert = sex (#keepsafedistance)
Nick = time

She stopped again, lost in thought. Learning mind-blowing things about someone you thought you really knew really hurts the thinking part of your head. You have to reprocess all your memories in light of the new information.

Christina recalled the one fight. They had seriously argued and it was awkward and personal. They were stinging, so he said he was going to take a week and work a special case. It has been the worst week of her life because it never ended. She spent hour and after hour at her desk wanting to talk to him, but trying to give him his space. Now she realized he had done that on purpose.

There were other memories too. Like that look they shared. The sun rose and set and their eyes were locked.

She sighed. He was her best friend. She had to find him. But she was going to need to get Mother Nature in on the picture. She could not handle Hubert in a one-on-one scenario.