MERRY XMAS, FANS AND FRIENDS!!
Today, I want to revisit my holiday short, appropriately entitled, Dead Holiday. Hehe. During this wonderful time of year, holiday greeting cards fill our mailboxes on a daily basis, and most of us are delighted when we have people who think of us. Well, this little story focuses on receiving a not-so-nice greeting card from two individuals who have vengeance at the top of their list to Santa Claus. Without further ado, here is chp 2 of Dead Holiday.
Mark Blankenship maneuvered the marked patrol unit through the cornucopia of holiday shoppers as they gave him an accusing stare. He scanned the parking lot, looking for an open spot. Great. Who does their shopping on the last day before Christmas? He thought for a second. Me, of course. Unable to find anything available, Mark drove across the street, finding the perfect place. He grabbed his cell from the console and squinted at the number of bars remaining on the battery. Wonderful. Hope nobody needs anything. He popped open the glove box, sorting through the mess. There you are. He shoved the cheap charger into the lighter and plugged in his phone. Mark pulled down the visor and ran a hand through his thick black hair. The wrinkles emerging on his face and the tired brown eyes reminded him of the recent struggle with divorce. Fuck, I really do look old. Mark flipped up the visor and exited the vehicle. He smiled, staring up at the sign on the building. After I get done shopping, I think I will need a drink. He hiked across the lot, blowing warm air into his hands. Didn’t think it would be this cold. As he approached his destination, Mark brushed off his coat, noticing a shabbily dressed middle-aged man standing outside of the giant superstore’s entrance. He sat next to a red kettle ringing a small gold bell, trying to get the attention of people as they walked past. Glad I’m not standing out here. Mark thought about bypassing him, too. Instead, he stopped in front of the kettle, reached into his pocket, and removed several waded bills.
He smiled at the man as he placed the bills through the slot. “Hey, why aren’t you inside the foyer doing this? It’s too cold to be out here.”
The man strained to look up as he exposed a toothless grin. “The store doesn’t want me in there…says I need to be out here.”
Not very holiday Joy-to-the-World, good-will-towards-men mindset. “Well, stay warm. Hope I helped a little.” Mark shrugged.The man stood up but still had a hard time reaching over to pat him on the shoulder. Mark bent over to receive the gracious gesture. The man slipped a foiled wrapped chocolate Santa into Mark’s large hand. “Every little bit helps…have a nice Christmas.”
“You too, sir,” Mark waved, pocketing the chocolate.
He walked through the sliding glass doors, and a rush of warm air gently greeted him. Now, that’s more like it. He stripped off his trench coat, smiling at the choice of shopping carts. Gotta love the holiday colors. A young red-haired girl wearing a black smock and Santa hat stopped his progress as she handed him a store flyer. “Happy holidays, sir. Welcome to Plaxton’s Superstore. Is there anywhere I can direct you today to fulfill your holiday shopping extravaganza?”
Who the fuck talks like that? Must follow a script or something. Mark shook his head, tapping his shirt pocket. “Um, no thanks. I have it all here.”
She smiled. “Alrighty, then. You have a good shopping experience.”
Please kill me now. “Thanks, I will.” Mark grabbed a green cart and removed the list from his shirt. Next year, everything online. He pushed the cart through several aisles until he found the rows of dolls his daughter had pointed out a few weeks ago. Now, which one was it? There were several choices, but he inspected the list, making sure this was the exact one she wanted. If he purchased the wrong one, Marcia, his ex-wife, would be sure to point it out to him. That was her way of getting back…it always had been. She would dramatize anything, no matter how small. A man can only take so much. Mark removed the doll from the shelf, placing it into his cart. Presley, I hope you love it. She deserved to be happy, especially since the breakup of the marriage was only six months ago. The little girl didn’t understand why daddy only got to see her every other weekend. Scanning the list, he realized he couldn’t just forget Marcia. I wonder what you get for the people who piss you off the most? He smiled as he headed in the direction of the end cap marked, “As seen on T.V.” He sorted through the absurdity of choices and finally decided on the perfect gift for Marcia. Studying the box of knives, his eyebrows rose as he read. Even cuts through a pop can… maybe I need one of those. Mark glanced down at his watch, realizing the store would be closing soon. The majority of customers appeared to have vacated the area, and he was one of the few remaining. Mark grabbed the last item he needed and marked it on his corresponding list. “Merry Christmas to me. I’m all done. Now, time for a celebratory beverage,” he muttered. Mark carted his purchases in the direction of the register when he noticed something odd.
A young, dark-haired woman, dressed in black camouflage, appeared to be guarding the exit. She was shoving people back inside the store and even pushed one elderly woman so hard that she tripped over her cane and landed face first onto the floor. What the fuck? Mark reversed his direction, looking for a vantage point. He reached down, and unsnapped the weapon on the inside of his right calf. He cautiously worked his way along the end cap advertising the latest thriller of the month. He finally found safe refuge behind a large display of fireproof safes, but was still close enough to keep his eye on the young woman. She kept yelling at some of the cashiers. Soon, a man dressed in a long-sleeve shirt and tan pants approached her. Mark took aim at the woman, but the man was in his line of fire, whic h made him lower his gun. The unknown man turned and pointed in the direction of the crowd, seemingly pleading with her to let them leave. He seems to know her. The woman then did something unexpected. She reached behind her back and withdrew something large, pointing it at the man. A fucking gun. The man tried to scurry away, but she lowered the firearm and fired two shots into his back. He slumped to the floor as blood started to seep from the freshly made wounds. The small crowd started to scream, and mass confusion ensued. Mark again trained his weapon on her, but the overhead lighting suddenly disappeared, and his vision was obscured by the darkness. She didn’t cut the lights, but somebody did. Mark heard several more shots, but this time, it came from behind him. He crouched down, straining to see where the rounds came from, but was unable to locate their origin. Mark started to inch forward when he heard the squelching of the store’s intercom system activate. A hoarse voice filled the interior. “If you want to remain alive, do what we say. I’m only looking for certain people today, but will kill anyone who gets in my way. And I do mean anyone! Put your fucking cell phones in the garbage can…now!”
At least two gunmen. Mark reached for his cell but realized it wasn’t there. Shit. He wondered why the male voice had mentioned the gunmen were only here to kill certain people, and then, a very disturbing thought filled his head. He has a death list, and usually, the only people who had those were former employees.