Just in time for Christmas, a very seasonal instalment of my new serial. I am writing it as my #fridayflash and also as part of the #TuesdaySerial event. To begin at the beginning, you will find a list of all chapters by clicking here.
Merry Christmas everyone from the flyingscribbler (and the staff of the Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange).
The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange
(In which Santa gets an unwelcome surprise).
Fiona put down the telephone.
‘Still no answer; she must be out at sea.’
‘Why’s a werewolf looking for Alice in the first place?’ asked Neil.
‘I don’t know, but he hasn’t got her best interests at heart.’
‘More likely he’s got her heart as his best interest,’ said Neil, dodging an angry glare from his boss. ‘Hey! I can make jokes about my own kind, remember.’
‘Not if it involves another member of our staff, thank you,’ said Fiona, ‘anyway, I’ve put him off the scent for the moment.’
‘Not a chance,’ said Neil, ‘werewolves have a highly developed sensory system; he’ll have picked up her scent already.’
‘Shit,’ said Fiona, ‘I bet he knew Alice wasn’t here in the first place.’
‘Do you think this has got anything to do with her meeting with the Kraken?’
‘I’d put money on it,’ said Fiona, hurriedly punching Alice’s number into the phone, ‘hang on, I’ll leave her a message. Alice, it’s Fiona, call the office immediately and for God’s sake, don’t talk to any werewolves.’
‘What?’ cried Fiona.
‘She’s hardly going to know it’s a werewolf unless there’s a full moon, is she?’
‘Well, at least she’ll be on her guard. Talking of full moons, have you told Ms Pinky yet?’
‘No,’ said Neil, blushing, ‘I’m worried she’ll like me even more.’
‘She’ll have to know soon,’ said Fiona firmly, ‘in case I’m out of the office when it happens. Someone’s got to be here unlock the containment room.’
‘I’m quite aware of that, thank you,’ said Neil.
Turning to go back to his office, he bumped into the official from the Department for Efficiency and Downsizing.
‘Ah, Berty, how did you get on with Ms Pinky? Not too rough with you, was she?’
Berty stared vacantly at Neil, his previously lanky hair now looking oddly back-combed around his face.
‘I think,’ he said quietly, ‘I have all the information I need for the moment.’
Neil watched him leave the exchange then turned to the seven-foot, pink monster who had joined him in the corridor.
‘I take it he refused your advances Ms Pinky?’
‘Yes, although I can’t think why.’
‘Perhaps he’s gay,’ said Neil.
‘Ooh,’ shrieked Ms Pinky excitedly, ‘how exotic!’
‘Right you two,’ shouted Fiona from reception, ‘action stations!’
‘What now?’ asked Neil.
‘You’ve forgotten, haven’t you?’
Neil gave Fiona his very best blank expression.
‘Alice did tell us,’ said Fiona, checking her watch, ‘we have a live video link-up with Father Christmas in fifteen minutes.’
‘Crikey!’ said Neil, ‘the replacement reindeer job. They’re not actually coming here, are they?’
‘They are,’ said Fiona, pausing to listen for a moment, ‘and that sounds like hooves on the roof now.’
‘Wishful thinking,’ said Neil, ‘we’re in the basement, remember?’
‘Didn’t have you down as a yuletide denier, Neil.’
‘I’m not, and anyway, why can’t he interview them at the North Pole or Lapland or wherever it is he lives?’
‘Santa only uses agency animals now; he had a nasty incident with an unregistered Blitzen once.’
‘Makes sense,’ said Neil, ‘and THAT IS hooves, in the car park.’
‘Excellent,’ said Fiona, ‘Neil, you round the reindeer up outside; Alice left some hay and a sack of carrots somewhere. Ms Pinky, can you set up the video link please?’
‘Consider it done!’ said the monster, hurrying over to her desk where she knocked over her display of Malibu Barbies.
‘Drat!’ she said, bending down to pick up her dolls.
‘Leave that for moment Ms Pinky,’ said Fiona, ‘we mustn’t leave Santa waiting.’
‘Sorry, I’ll set the link up right away.’
After clicking a few buttons on her keyboard and adjusting the volume, Ms Pinky was soon staring at the unmistakable face of Father Christmas.
‘Oh hello,’ said Ms Pinky, ‘could you get me Father Christmas please?’
‘I beg your pardon!’ exclaimed Father Christmas, ‘how dare you! With whom, or what, am I talking?’
Ms Pinky’s eyes narrowed to two fiery discs and her three nostrils flared repeatedly.
‘My friends call me Ms Pinky,’ she said proudly, ‘but you may call me Stinky Snarkglob.’
‘Ughh!’ said Father Christmas, clutching his chest in disgust, ‘a monster.’
‘So what if I am?’
‘Where is Alice? I insist on dealing with her.’
‘Alice, ‘said Ms Pinky haughtily, ‘is on assignment. I am the new receptionist.’
Father Christmas crossed his arms and sat back in his chair.
‘I refuse to deal with a DUM,’ he said.
At this, Ms Pinky exploded into a torrent of tears and pea-green snot. Fiona rushed in, alerted by the noise of her receptionist’s wails.
‘What’s going on?’
‘Ask him,’ sobbed Ms Pinky, raising her paw to the screen.
Fiona looked at Father Christmas who was glaring out at her.
‘Mr Christmas,’ she said, ‘is there a problem?’
‘I will not deal with that thing!’
Fiona turned to Ms Pinky.
‘Please tell me you haven’t upset Mr Christmas?’
‘He..he..he called me a DUM,’ cried Ms Pinky, trying to wipe up a puddle of mucus from the desk.
‘A Dangerous Unspecified Monster.’
Fiona put her arm round Ms Pinky’s shaking shoulders.
‘There, there Ms Pinky, calm down. Leave this with me.’ She turned back to the screen. ‘Two things Mr Christmas: Firstly, Ms Pinky is not dangerous. Secondly, we at the employment exchange do not discriminate against non-mythical monsters. Indeed, we encourage an atmosphere of tolerance and are proud of our status as equal opportunities employers.’
Ms Pinky gazed at Fiona in awe and admiration. Father Christmas glared at her with visible fury.
‘Mixing myths and monsters,’ he announced, ‘it’s unnatural!’
And with that, Father Christmas terminated the connection.
Ms Pinky sniffed and gently brushed her fur down with a paw.
‘Thank you,’ she said quietly.
‘Not at all,’ replied Fiona, ‘ethics before profit I say; although it does leave us with twelve unemployed reindeer in the car park. And there’s a werewolf after Alice.’
‘Is it always like this here?’ asked Ms Pinky.
‘Yes,’ said Fiona, smiling, ‘usually.’
© flyingscribbler 2010