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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Reindeer Games

A few years ago, I entered an online flash fiction contest that had a photographic prompt very much like the one I've included below.  I won first place with the story "Reindeer Games."  I'm sharing it here in honor of the Christmas season.

Ho, ho, ho.


“Yo, Verdie Mae.”


“Them reindeers is movin’.”

“It’s ‘reindeer,’ George,” Verdie Mae said, not turning from the kitchen counter, where she was putting together bread stuffing.

“What is?”

“The plural of reindeer.  Ain’t reindeers, it’s reindeer.  Ain’t ‘Santa and his eight tiny reindeers,’ is it?”

George stood, looking out of the window.  “Didja have to put up so many of ‘em?”

“The more the merrier, I say.  It’s festive.”

“I dunno about festive, but they’s movin’.”

“Well, I know.  They got motors inside ‘em, I had to plug ‘em in with an extension cord.”

“That ain’t what I meant,” he said.  “I meant they’s movin.  Like gettin' closer to the house.”

“That’s impossible,” Verdie Mae said.

George’s sloped shoulders registered defeat.  When Verdie Mae said something was impossible, it was, even if it was currently happening in front of his eyes.

“And for god’s sake, George, put a nicer shirt on.  Bonnie Jean and the kids are gonna be here in fifteen minutes.  You can’t be at Christmas dinner wearin’ an old t-shirt with oil stains.”

[image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

George went and changed into a clean shirt.  When he came back, the reindeer were closer to the door, as was the inflatable Santa.  Santa was wearing a diabolical grin.  George thought of the line, “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.”  He shuddered.

“Verdie Mae, I think them reindeers, they’re, whaddyacallit, undead.”

Verdie Mae snorted.  “How can they be undead, George, when they never been alive in the first place?”

“All I’m sayin’ is they’s movin’.  I told you.  You better call Bonnie Jean and tell her to park around the back.”

“Why on earth, George?  I swear, god’s honest truth, you make me mad sometimes.”  Verdie Mae slammed down a measuring cup. 

George stared out of the window.  One of the reindeer, one with a bright red light bulb nose, had come up next to another, smaller reindeer, and had decapitated it.  The pieces of the wire frame head were hanging from the red-nosed reindeer’s jaws. The headless reindeer had fallen down on its side.  Another reindeer was watching it warily.  Santa, from a distance, appeared to be having a belly laugh at the whole scene.

“They’s killin’ each other, I think,” George said.  “Them reindeers.  They’s killin’ each other.”

“All right, that’s it,” Verdie Mae said.  “You are not watchin’ no more reruns of The X Files.

There was the sound of a car pulling up, and the reindeer with the red nose swiveled around to look, murder in its eye, and dropped the half-eaten head of its fallen fellow.  George could hear the metal in its neck creak as it turned, silvery teeth bared, antlers lowered.

George had just sat down in his recliner when the screaming began.

Verdie Mae dropped a mixing bowl with a crash, and ran to the window, her mouth a perfect O of horror.

“I guess,” George said, “poor Rudolph got to play in his reindeer games after all.” 

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