Christmas In July Day 7, Holly Edition

This post is part of Teagan Geneviene’s Christmas In July blog hop. #Christmastime

During StoryADay May, Sundays are for Holly Jahangiri stories, so I’m going to use the Sundays of this blog hop to serialize one of the first Holly stories. This was published in an anthology still available on Amazon, and free on Kindle. LET IT SNOW! SEASON’S READINGS FOR A SUPER-COOL YULE!

Before the release of FORCE OF HABIT, my sf/cop/humor novel from Echelon Press, I ran a contest; one of the prizes was the right to name a character in a story set in the same universe. The winner was Holly Jahangiri, a blogger and online acquaintance. In the resulting story, “By the Book”, Holly became Assistant Librarian of the Old Earth Living Library of Council City on the planet Llannonn. I had so much fun writing Holly’s story, and she got such a kick out of it, we’ve become dear virtual friends because of it. She even interviewed herself once, but whether the real Holly was questioning the fictional one or the other way around is unclear. In this story, Holly has become Head Librarian.

The Pratty Who Saved Chrissmuss, Part The First

by Marian Allen

Dickens O’Henry was mad to begin with.

Not eyes-rolling-around-in-his-head mad, but steam-coming-out-of-his-ears mad. As had many of his fellow citizens in the primary city of the planet Llannonn, he had bought Earth names from a plausible rogue, only to learn that Earth names were free.

So, when his assistant, Humbug Plugugly, told Dickens O’Henry that one of his debtors was behind on his bill, O’Henry greeted the news with savage delight.

“Let’s go pay our friend a little visit,” said O’Henry, with a vicious grin. “After all, the Anti-Hot Solemnities are here, and isn’t that the time for friendly visits?”

“I do believe you’re right,” Plugugly agreed.

O’Henry was, insofar as his surface identity was concerned, the keeper of a Bar and Grill in Central City. His big money, though, came from the distribution of prohibited intoxicants, most notably the intensely inebriating Blue Ruin, smuggled in from Telluria fortnightly on tramp spaceships, the bottles wrapped in Fair Trade hand-knitted mufflers.

The debtor was a slight male named Nittleigh Witterr. At this time of the year, when families and friends gathered to celebrate the strength of affection that enables groups of people to share warm spaces during cold weather and share resources during anti-hot scarcity, and to do so with very little bloodshed, considering, Witterr was certain to be with his only relative in the city.

* * * * *

Head Librarian Holly Jahangiri tipped the packer, checked her timepiece, and scowled up and down the street. Her cousin Nittleigh’s luggage was here, but where was he? She had just climbed behind the steering stick of her hovercar, smiling at the book in the passenger seat and engaging the safety harnesses, when a runner panted to a halt beside her and handed her a note.

“Typical,” she told the book. “Nittleigh says to go ahead, and he’ll come along later.”

“We’d best be off,” said the book — for he was a Living Book, from the very library Holly oversaw. “The sky is overcast, and I fear there may be snow, e’er we reach our destination.”

Snow in the country wasn’t the pretty ornament it was in the city. In the country, there was no Snow Retrieval Board to clean the stuff up and convert it to usable water. In the country, when the snow fell, it meant it.

Holly swept the street with one final glance and swooped away.

* * * * *

Plugugly trotted back to his employer’s hovercar and slid into the driver’s seat.

“Just missed ’em, Boss. Head Librarian Holly Jahangiri left about an hour ago. Heading for their hometown, Boonieburg, out in Meadow of Flowers Province. Witterr always goes with her for some cornball hick drippy sappy family Anti-Hot Solemnities reunion thing. Just like on holovision.”

The hardened criminals snickered companionably and followed the Head Librarian out of town.

* * * * *

As the book had predicted, the snow began once they were well out of town. At first the flakes feathered down, sparkling in the thin light that filtered through the clouds. Soon, though, the flakes turned to clumps and sheets, and only Holly’s driving skills got the hovercar safely to a posting inn.

A couple of bracing cups of tea and a plate of cake for two soon put the travelers right, as did the news that the inn had a snow-wagon and a pratty from Boonieburgh itself to pull it.

In the stable, Holly and the book admired the pratty, a four-legged beast both tall and stout, covered with curly wool as white as any snowdrift.

The prattler harnessed his beast to the snow-wagon, helped shift the luggage from the hovercar, and waved his quaint rustic hat in farewell as Holly and the book drove away.

To Be Continued…




I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Christmas In July Day 7, Holly Edition

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 8, 2024 at 3:32pm

      I like audiobooks, but it would be so much cooler to have books that dressed the part and narrated themselves, wouldn’t it?

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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