Over the years, I’ve contributed to a number of seasonal (winter holiday) anthologies. One of the ones I enjoyed most was Red Tash’s LET IT SNOW! SEASON’S READINGS FOR A SUPER-COOL YULE! It’s perma-free for Kindle and Kindle apps.
My story in this one was a Holly Jahangiri adventure, set in the universe of my eventually-to-be-rereleased sci-fi cop farce, FORCE OF HABIT, “The Pratty Who Saved Chrissmuss.” The fictional Holly Jahangiri is named for the real one, who won the “honor” of having a character named after her in a contest. She won the honor in a contest, I mean, not that she won the honor have having a character in a contest named after her. That would be silly.
ANYWAY, the fictional Holly is a Librarian in a Living Library, in which people memorize books of old Earth, generally in English, and recite themselves to anyone who has a library card and doesn’t owe a fine. A pratty looks like a sheep the size of a llama.
Holly Hatches A Plot
excerpt from “The Pratty Who Saved Chrissmuss”
by Marian Allen
What could she do? These men had at least one weapon and she had none. Or … perhaps she did.
“No sense riding in silence,” she said. “Why don’t you read yourself to us, Compendium?”
Like most Living Books, A COMPENDIUM OF CHRISTMAS CLASSICS lived to repeat himself to patrons. It was, after all, his job.
“Crissmuss?” O’Henry eyed his henchman until it was clear Plugugly hadn’t a clue. Then he felt secure in admitting his own ignorance. “Never heard of the stuff.”
“Christmas is a holiday they have on Earth,” the book said. “It’s a time very like our own Anti-Hot Solemnities, and takes place in the same time of their solar year in the same sort of weather.”
With that introduction, A COMPENDIUM OF CHRISTMAS CLASSICS launched into his repertoire. There were poor little match girls. There were people giving one another gifts they could ill afford, people learning The True Meaning of Life, people opening their crabbed and calloused hearts to tenderness, and any number of tough guys turning out to be real softies.
Neither Bar and Grill Owner Dickens O’Henry nor Assistant Humbug Plugugly had ever done much reading, and lifetimes of avoiding sentimentality had left them easy prey to it. They were, as Head Librarian Holly Jahangiri had calculated, defenseless before it. The heart-tugging tear-jerkery of Victorian-era Earth’s emotional kitsch riveted them, enthralled them, held them spell-bound for the entire journey. Holly helped things along by giving them peppermint sticks to suck upon. The eggnog from the jug she had brought with her didn’t hurt, either.
As the sun set, the sky cleared and a full moon gleamed on the fallen snow, making everything glitter and gleam like a set of opals. The pratty shook itself free of the clumps atop its insulating curls and followed the road like a GPS device that actually worked.
“A GPS device that actually worked.” Did I mention that this is science fiction?
LET IT SNOW! SEASON’S READINGS FOR A SUPER-COOL YULE! is available in print for $7.99 but, as I said above, it’s permanently free for Kindle and Kindle apps.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: What’s your favorite winter holiday story or movie?