Seems like it's been ages since I've participated in a Flash Fiction Challenge, and, actually, it has been a couple of months. I apologize for this. I have noticed that with two children, you have significantly less time on your hands than with just one... Don't get me started on all the business with Christmas! BUT, no excuses! Our Flash Fiction Challenge this week was to write about a literal war ABOUT or AGAINST Christmas. I think I’ve done that, albeit the scope is a little smaller than your typical war. Enjoy.
Jack Vs. Christmas
“Tens of thousands of dollars in damages were accrued overnight in Greenview Terrace, where one or more parties were involved in destroying holiday decorations displayed on over twenty properties. Sergeant Will Joy was available for comment.”
“Thank you, Dana. We are searching for suspects, likely two or more, as this caliber of damage would have been quite difficult to cause on one’s own. We’ll be patrolling these and neighbouring streets diligently in the days until Christmas, and with any luck, the parties in question will be caught.”
The coffee in Jack’s trembling hand spilled over the lip, but he barely noticed. He was still running on the adrenaline of last night, of killing as much Christmas as he could.
It all started when Leanne asked him to fix the lights on the house that he had grudgingly put up. One strand had burnt out, and being the man of the house, it was his job to fix it. He found the faulty bulb, at hip height along the garage. It was loose, that’s all. She could have fixed it herself. Tighten the bulb, lights come on. Simple.
When he turned away, he slipped on ice and fell backwards into the lights. The bulb in question shattered. Blinding rage seeped into every pore of his body, and suddenly there went the light above it, the light below it. Before he knew it, all bulbs within a three-foot span were nothing more than filaments protruding from green wire, thanks to the broken brick at his feet.
Can’t afford to fix the house, but we can afford hundreds of dollars in lights, huh? Take that, Leanne. No, take THAT, Christmas, you son of a whore!
Each pop, each smash, the feeling of the glass crumbling under his force was pure euphoria. Laughing with elation, he dropped the brick and stumbled into the house.
When he stepped through the door looking like a crazed lunatic off his meds, Leanne asked what was up. He replied that kids had smashed the bulbs. She cried that they should call the police, and why was he laughing? One strand of bulbs cost them forty-dollars! Why in the hell was he laughing?
“Because it’s ironic, isn’t it? Everyone wants Christmas to come so badly every year, and then when it does, they just want it over. Kids even, going as far as trying to smash up Christmas.”
They ate in silence because all the while, he giggled. His eyes flitted to the front window. He couldn’t see his broken lights now in the darkness, but he knew they were there.
And there were so many more lights to take care of.
Two in the morning couldn’t come fast enough, and he found himself snickering as his wife slept. He’d already placed all the black clothes he owned in the hall washroom, ready to dress. The neighbourhood was dark at this time of morning, all but one house down the block, glittering with nauseating Christmas delight. He’d start there. That way, if anyone caught on to his scheme, he’d be closer to home with each house he hit.
Knife and hammer in tow, he was ready for war. A one-on-one battle. Jack vs. Christmas.
Jack was going to win.
Butane and matches meant reindeer blazed, and not metaphorically.
Any bulbs at ground level were smashed. Strings unplugged from their timers, ends of the cords sliced off. Male stubs lying limp in the snow.
He created a center point; five houses in each direction on one side and the other meant twenty houses in total. At that small point, he quietly piled decoration after decoration.
They all went up in flame, an awe-inspiring finale. He dashed down the street, just to the end of the twenty-house row he had chosen, and peered at his handy work. It would do for tonight. Christmas was weakened, and though tomorrow it might rise from the ashes, Jack was prepared to take its legs from under it.
Tonight, he had won.
His coffee spilled over his hand.
The newscaster returned. “Sergeant Joy and fellow officers will be making the rounds today at Sick Kids Hospital to distribute gifts that the citizens of our city have generously donated. The spirit of Christmas will surely be felt in the hearts of children who no doubt have great struggles to face in the near future. I’m Dana Spoke, for Channel 8 news… Oh, and one final message from me, personally. Whoever you are that declared this war on Christmas in Greenview Terrace, you cannot tear this magical holiday and its meaning from the hearts of our children. Busting a few bulbs and burning a few decorations is sending just one message: you are a Scrooge or a Grinch, and it pains you to see others joyful and grateful for what they have at this time of year. I have half a mind to come hunt—”
The newscaster disappeared and the news station logo splashed across the screen.
He jumped so high that most of his coffee landed on the floor. He spun around to find Leanne holding his black clothes and balaclava in one hand and an empty tin of Butane in the other hand.
“I’m going to ask you just once,” she said with a face lacking emotion.
“A…Ask me what?” It was probably written all over his skin, probably evident from the sober expression that he was guilty. More than guilty.
The kids. It was the kids that would pay for his war on Christmas.
“Are you responsible for what happened last night?”
The sadness in his wife’s eyes, and the deep relief that they had no children of their own to witness such a travesty, was so profound that Jack’s knees buckled. He fell into a chair and more coffee spilled onto his suit leg.
“Yes,” he whispered. “It was me.”
© Lindsay Mawson, 2012