Episode 21: Jolly Old Saint Nicholas

[SCENE I. The office. MELISSA is still held captive by the SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS, currently shaped like Santa Claus in a business suit. The others stand around tensely before MELINA steps forward, swinging a flashlight like a cudgel. The SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS dissolves into a terrifying spirit form; she loses balance, stumbles past, and hits her head on a desk. She gets up and massages her eye, still scowling.]

CHRISTMAS: I really do just want to talk.

MELISSA: Is that why you are kidnapping me?

CHRISTMAS: I also wanted to make sure your friends would listen.

MELISSA: Yeah, well. Fuck you.

CHRISTMAS: Now, there is a problem my organization is experiencing that I think your friends are uniquely capable of handling.

CELESTE: Honestly, I have a hard time imagining that we, collectively, are capable of handling much of anything.

CHRISTMAS: You would be mistaken. (Beat.) Specifically, I have noticed that most places are not currently playing Christmas music. This needs to be rectified.

LINA: So you want us to play some Christmas CDs?

CHRISTMAS: I believe that you, collectively, can ensure that every public establishment in this town is playing Christmas music year-round by the time of the official Christmas holiday. If you succeed, I will return Melissa to you.

LINA: And if you don’t?

CHRISTMAS: I feed her to Krampus.

SARAH: (Aside to LINA.) I thought you killed Krampus with a fire poker.

LINA: I think that wasn’t the real Krampus.

CHRISTMAS: It’s your choice. I’m afraid I must leave you now, but I hope you will give my offer serious consideration. (He reverts to his terrifying spirit form, seizes MELISSA, and vanishes with her.)

GAVIN: So, we need to seriously consider whether we value Melissa over the sanity and well-being of our city. I mean, as much as I like Melissa–

LINA: Gavin?

GAVIN: Yes?

LINA: If you keep talking I am going to beat the shit out of you.

GAVIN: Ah.

SARAH: Isn’t the spirit of Christmas supposed to be jolly and, you know, giving?

CELESTE: Common misconception. I think I read somewhere that Christmas spirits are actually vengeful spectres of the unquiet dead.

SARAH: Then what’s with all the ‘season of giving’ stuff?

LINA: Everyone knows Christmas is an awful time full of consumerism and guilt. Tell me that’s now the work of vengeful spirits.

CELESTE: I think Christmas music and all the various seasonal trappings give them corporeal power. I bet old St. Nick here finally got enough power to enact this little coup.

KELLY: I bet Nick could help!

CELESTE: Uh, not your brother. I was talking about–

KELLY: I know. But still! He’s the mayor-elect now!

LINA: Turns out, if you run unopposed . . . (She begins pacing irritably.)

GAVIN: You aren’t seriously considering making everyone play Christmas music all year round, are you? That’s letting the terrorists win!

JEREMY: Well, okay, what are our options?

CELESTE: Well, there’s letting a bunch of vengeful spirits gain corporeal form in our city by giving them what they want, and hoping they actually release Melissa.

SARAH: I don’t really like that option.

CELESTE: Alternatively, we could try to ban Christmas music and Christmas decorations.

JEREMY: Why would we do that?

CELESTE: Well, if that’s how they get their power . . .

GAVIN: So we’re going to ruin Christmas for Melissa?

CELESTE: That appears to be the case.

LINA: It’s not like she hasn’t ruined Christmas before.

(A moment of silence. Everyone looks at CELESTE.)

CELESTE: Oh, fuck, I just made myself an expert, didn’t I?

LINA: ‘fraid so, kid.

CELESTE: Well, we should go home. I need time to . . . prepare.

LINA: Might as well head back to our place. Melissa wouldn’t want us to waste the booze she bought for tonight. (Beat.) You know. To help us prepare.

(They slowly file out of the office.)

[SCENE II. A terrifying hellscape version of the traditional North Pole residence of Santa. Everything takes on a nightmarish cast, and instead of elves and reindeer, there are horrifying spectres shaped vaguely like these creatures, constantly shifting from a physical form to the spectral one. MELISSA and the SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS arrive on a hellish sleigh.]

MELISSA: So, are you going to make me wear a Santa outfit and sing merry songs? Because that’s not going to happen.

CHRISTMAS: Don’t be ridiculous. You’re unimportant except as a tool to bring Christmas into the world.

MELISSA: Really?

CHRISTMAS: We’ve already weakened their resolve. You may have noticed that people start playing Christmas music and putting up decorations earlier every year. Now we just need that final push. Soon it will be Christmas year-round. It is inescapable. You should be honored, really, that you were selected. Imagine that I am the Paris to your Helen.

(MELISSA smirks.)

CHRISTMAS: Is something funny?

MELISSA: Oh, nothing at all. (She stares off into the distance.) Nothing at all.

[SCENE III. The mayor’s office. NICHOLAS is at his desk, doing nothing but staring off into space, when KELLY arrives.]

NICHOLAS: I’m pretty sure I told the staff not to let anyone in.

KELLY: They thought maybe you wouldn’t be a total dick to your little sister.

NICHOLAS: I suppose I can make an exception just this once. (He gestures at a chair.) I assume you’re not just here to chat?

KELLY: I need a favor. (She sits down.) Melissa got kidnapped by the spirit of Christmas.

NICHOLAS: I’m not particularly fond of favors that involve Melissa.

KELLY: They’re holding her hostage and want the city to play Christmas music year-round, or they’ll feed her to a horrible tongue-demon or something.

NICHOLAS: I’m not inflicting that torment on anyone, much less the people who elected me.

KELLY: I know, I know. (She gets up and leans on the desk.) We have to destroy Christmas. They can’t keep her captive if they lose all their power.

NICHOLAS: (Sighs.) Are you really asking me to do this? Is this, like, an elaborate prank?

KELLY: It’s not a prank, Nick. Please? Do it for me?

NICHOLAS: Fine. I’ll help you destroy Christmas.

KELLY: Great. We’re doing some planning back at Melissa’s place. (Beat.) It’s the sort of planning that involves heavy drinking, I think.

NICHOLAS: I’ve just got to finish up here. I’ll be along presently.

KELLY: Love you, Nick. (She gives him a hug and departs. After a few moments, NICHOLAS bangs his head on the desk and remains in that position for several moments.)

(TBC.)

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