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Shtriga's Mayhem Holiday - {Chapter 1}

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

Mariana


The world is a dark place. In my many years on this planet, I have experienced grief far more tragic than anyone could imagine. Yet, I continue to try and see the beauty in the world because if I didn’t, I would not have lasted as long as I have.

In my long life, I’ve learned that finding beauty in the smallest things can be the most rewarding. Like the dew on flower petals, the chirping of crickets, or one of my favorites...snow.

It is one of the only things that always brings a smile to my face. When the world was crushing me in its tight grasp, I had snow and rain and the beauty of midnight storms to make me smile. Sometimes it was all I had.

I awoke from my slumber, getting ready to head over to Kevin’s office. After our last case where I...lost Angela, I had been avoiding him. I knew he just wanted things to go back to normal and I was really going to try.

As I was sliding on my coat, that I didn’t really need, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. I turned towards the balcony, my face lighting up at the sight of snow glimmering under the pale moonlight.

I watched the flakes of snow hit the glass, an idea coming to mind. I knew Kevin was waiting for me, but I was too excited. I rushed out of the door, almost forgetting to lock it behind me.

I made my way to the main floor, quickening my pace with each step. I knew Kevin would wonder where I had gone, but I needed this; I truly did.

I waved at another tenet who glanced in my direction and then looked back down at his phone, not even cracking a smile. I ignored his unamused look and approached the main door, grasping the handle tightly with my fingers.

With a quick pull, I stepped through onto the sidewalk. From the looks of it...it had been snowing all afternoon, leaving the outside world a wonderland of white. I had seen it snow thousands of times and yet the beauty of it never waned.

The streetlights sparkled off the snow as it fluttered down from the navy blue sky. I caught one in my hand, watching the beauty of its design before it melted on my bare skin. I could no longer feel it's cold touch, only the mere sensation.

I noticed the snow had collected heavily on the grass nearby. I walked across the street to a small park that was empty at this time of night. The dim light of the moon tried to break through the clouds, but the snow kept it muffled just as it did with sound, making everything seem silenced.

I took a breath of fresh air, falling backward into the snow, a cloud flying upward at the weight of my body. When my body hit the snow, I thought back to the last time I had laid in the snow like this.

Angela and I were on a date and the two of us ran out into the snow to make angels. I smiled at the memory, swinging my arms and legs to create a snow angel just like we once did. That was the last time I truly enjoyed the snow.

Angela had enjoyed the snow just as much as I did and would have loved to lie here for hours with me, not saying a word. I felt a tear roll down my cheek as I quickly brushed it away before it could freeze...like the last snow angels we made together. I had to focus on the happy feelings instead of letting the sad ones consume me.

When my snow angel was finished, I laid there and just stared up at the sky. Clouds covered every inch, but my vampiric vision allowed me to see through them; to see the brightly lit stars behind it. As I scanned the sky, a shooting star flew past.

I closed my eyes, making a silent wish. I stayed in that position and enjoyed the silence around me. The noise of life could be deafening, but for a little while, it all went away as if put on mute.

I laid there for quite some time when the silence was disturbed by the crunch of snow. I opened my eyes to find feet beside my head and when I looked, I saw a bundled-up Kevin staring down at me.

Kevin raised a brow in question. “What are you doing out here?”

“Watching the snow fall.” I muttered, moving my gaze from him back towards the sky.

“How is watching snow fall interesting?” Kevin asked

“Snow is beautiful and stunning and cold and glorious. Every time it snows I smile at the beauty of it.” I said, a snowflake landing on my cheek.

“I thought by now you would be sick of the snow?” Kevin questioned

I quickly jumped to my feet, shaking the snow from my hair like a dog does when it enters the house. Kevin cringed back with a laugh as the snow hit him in the face.

“How could I ever tire of something so beautiful?” I said, meeting his gaze with a smile.

I began walking off down the road towards Kevin’s building as he scrambled after me. Of course, with his human speed, he had no chance, but I tried to slow down so I wouldn’t leave him down the block.

“I thought after 1,600 years you would be bored with such trivial things.” Kevin said, shoving his hands into his pockets.

I shook my head. “I’m 1,681 to be precise and no...j...just listen for a moment. What do you hear?”

We stopped walking as Kevin closed his eyes. He listened intently, his face scrunched in concentration. I noticed this look and smiled just as he reopened his eyes to meet mine.

“I don’t hear anything.” Kevin admitted

“Exactly.” I said, causing more confusion to appear on his face. “The snow acts as a barrier to the sound. There is no silence like that of snow. The sounds of the world are muted. It's...peaceful.”

I began to walk again as Kevin did his best to keep up with my stride, while trying to keep the conversation going. “Did you ever experience snow when you were...?”

“Alive?” I finished, Kevin slowly nodding in response. “No, we had rainy winters rather than something as beautiful as this. I didn’t see snow for the first time until I was a vampire for nearly a hundred years. You should’ve seen the excitement and wonder in my eyes, I think I even cried.”

“You cried over snow?” Kevin questioned with surprise.

“I cried over its beauty. I had never seen anything so pure than in that moment. I had been alone for so long with the noises of the world crashing in on me. Laying there and having everything, but the snowflakes, disappear...was like nothing else.” I explained with a smile.

I glanced over to Kevin and noticed he was beginning to enjoy the silence just as much as I did. Without looking at one another, Kevin spoke. “Have you ever celebrated Christmas?”

“Yes, when I was human we had this week-long festival called Saturnalia in December.” I smiled in reminiscence. “And in many years my friends have invited me to their festivities, but it's been quite a long time since then.”

“Since...Angela?” He asked, peering over at me.

I nodded. “Yeah, she was the last person who wanted to spend Christmas with me and so…it’s been quite a while since I enjoyed the holiday.”

We arrived at the front steps of his office building when out of the corner of my eye I saw Kevin’s face light up. I knew that meant he had had an idea, whether it was a good one or a bad one I couldn't tell. He moved down off the steps and onto the sidewalk. I turned back towards him with a confused look.

“What are you doing? Aren’t we going in to discuss the next case?” I asked with a raised brow.

“That can wait. I have a better idea of how we can spend our time.” Kevin said, smiling from ear to ear.

It went silent as if I was supposed to know what he meant, so I shrugged. “And that would be?”

“Right...just take my hand.” Kevin said, offering his hand to me.

“Why?” I asked

“Just trust me.”

I looked down at his outstretched hand and placed mine in his. I could tell he shivered at my cold touch, but he was getting better at hiding his reaction so I would feel better and that meant more than he would ever know.

Kevin began pulling me towards the parking garage without explaining a thing. I allowed him to pull me to the car before I demanded answers. I easily pulled my hand from his, causing him to look back at me.

“Where are we going?” I asked with curiosity.

“I’m going to give you a proper Christmas.” Kevin smiled

“I’ve celebrated Christmas many times before.” I laughed. “Proper and improper of the like.”

He smiled wide. “Maybe so, but you haven’t celebrated with me.”

Kevin grabbed my hand once again and pulled me quickly to the car. I rolled my eyes as I got into the passenger’s seat and he got into the driver’s.

With a quick switch, the engine came to life. Kevin put the car into drive and we headed towards the entrance. As we were turning, the car slid quite close to hitting another car. Of course, I would be fine if we crashed, but Kevin may seriously injure himself or the car as it was his baby, and losing it would be a great tragedy.

After regaining control, Kevin drove down the dimly lit road. I asked where we were going, but every time I asked he would respond with the same two words...you’ll see. After an hour of sitting in pure silence, I could no longer sit idle. Kevin was focused on the road, but I still had no idea where we were going and at this point, I was curious if he knew.

“Do you even know where you’re taking me?” I asked with crossed arms.

“Yes, of course...I do.” Kevin said, uncertainty in his voice.

“We’re lost, aren’t we?” I asked, laughing beneath my breath.

“No, we’re not.” Kevin said as his face lit up. “We’ve just arrived.”

I looked where he was looking and found a ginormous store, the type of store that sold anything your heart desired. Kevin pulled into the lot, which was dead at this time of night.

Kevin parked and we got out at the same moment. He led the way to the main doors as I realized I had not seen this store when driving on the road in front of it until Kevin said something. That thought was odd, but I pushed it out of my mind because Kevin was excited and I wasn’t going to ruin it with my worry.

Just before we got to the door, he grabbed my hand and pulled me through. The store was way bigger on the inside than it had looked on the outside with aisles going on for what felt like infinity. We noticed a sign for the Christmas section and we were off.

Kevin grabbed a cart from a collection of them near the front of the store. The creaky wheels squeaked as it rolled over the laminated tile floor. We stopped at the edge of the aisle with jaws dropped. Trees, wreaths, and decor of any caliber lined the shelves to the point of overflowing.

“I’ll get the tree and wreath. You get some lights and ornaments. We’ll meet back here in 10 minutes.” Kevin said, meeting my gaze of wonder.

“Alright, see you soon.”

I squeezed his hand before running down the row. Near the very end, I saw thousands of different colors and styles of string lights. I chose a set of multi-color lights as I made my way to the ornaments.

I noticed some cute stars, cartoon characters, and glass balls. Instead of choosing one or two, I grabbed all of them and put them in a basket I found nearby. I continued to look for ornaments until I heard glass shatter.

I quickly turned around to find a disheveled old woman standing near the end of the aisle, a broken ornament at her feet. Her eyes met mine with excitement as she ran towards me, forcefully grabbing at my arm.

“What day is it?” She muttered through her continuous sobbing.

“Um...it's December 20th.” I said, grabbing her hand and slowly removing it from my arm with awkwardness.

The color drained from her face as she sighed heavily. There was shock in her eyes I could not even begin to describe.

“It can’t be...no. I didn’t think it had been that long.” She muttered beneath her breath.

Curiosity got the better of me. “How long have you been here?” “A month.” She admitted

“A month?” I questioned with confusion. “Why haven’t you left?”

“The store won’t let me.” She sighed

“What do you mean the store won’t let you?” I asked

I set the basket of ornaments on the floor as I approached the woman. I placed my hands on her crossed arms, her puffy red eyes meeting mine.

“It changes. I go in one aisle and wind up across the store. I’ve continually tried to get to the door, but nothing I do gets me any closer.” She explained with a sigh.

“A store does not have the power to change.” I said with a shaking head.

The woman’s eyes went wide. “Don’t say that. It will hear you.”

“It's a damn store, it can’t hear me.” I replied

As if in response to my disbelief, a weird feeling came over me. Like nausea but not quite. Then I felt hands on the back of my shirt push me forward. I turned around, confused as all hell. The woman on the other hand looked like she was going to cry again.

“I told you.” She muttered

I shook my head, still thinking she was crazy. That was until I noticed my basket was gone and we were no longer in the Christmas aisle. We were surrounded by pet products, this aisle being on the exact opposite side of the store.

“What the..?!” I muttered, looking around with shock and confusion.

“You shouldn’t have come here.” The woman said, getting to her feet. “Now that it has you, it will never let go.”

I stood there, looking around with worry and confusion with one name coming to mind. “KEVIN!”

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