“I know this is going to be hard to believe, but …” The massive man leaning against the doors paused. “… I’m Santa Claus, and I’m –”
“The weird, slaveholding hermit that reverse-stole from little kids?” asked the dark-haired clone, cocking an eyebrow. “I thought he exploded, like, fifteen years ago or something.”
“One, I paid the elves – and well. And, two, just because a person explodes doesn’t mean they die, Vicky,” said the enormous man, a twinkle in his otherwise clouded eye. “Aren’t you dating a cyborg who did just that?”
“I told you,” he said, stifling a hearty laugh, his belly jiggling like a witches’ cauldron made of Jell-O, “I’m Santa Claus. I see you when –”
“When what?” she threatened.
“Why the crap do you look like a walrus?” asked Boudica IX.
“How else was I supposed to survive at the North Pole, Bo? I was lucky if it broke freezing up there in the sum–”
A gnarled, wooden hand exploded through the glass next to Santa’s head. The long fingers, whittled to sharp points, began searching.
“Maybe we could backburner this, girls?”
“We’re almost thirty,” said Queen Victoria XXX. More quietly, she added: “Or the cloned equivalent, anyway.”
“Right, sorry,” he said, heaving his heft backward, “but, y’know, bigger fish.”
“Maybe from your perspective,” said Boudica IX, crossing her arms. “The systemic girlification of grown-ass women is far more pressing to us than whether or not you get eaten or … mauled? I’m not sure what’s going on here.”
Three more wooden arms burst through the tempered glass of the doors, accompanied by snowflakes curling on a cold breeze. A series of cracks spread across the remaining frosted glass, like a glacier in a heat wave.
“It’s the snowmen,” explained Santa Claus, clawed hands tugging at his coat. “They’re … upset that I detonated their homes, their habitat. Even if it was to save the world.”
“You’re hiding from snowmen?” asked Queen Victoria XXX, not even pretending to mask her derision.
“They’re not just any snowmen, Vicky,” growled the walrus-looking man, throwing his not inconsequential weight into the bulging door, “they’re Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons!”
Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons were, more commonly, known as Abominable Snowmen. Though the title “Abominable Snowmen” had previously referred to yetis and their kin, when the DMKMSG had emerged from their subterranean slumber after Santa exploded the North Pole, the Associated Press, along with the top bloggers and dictionary writers of the world, decided that the Snow Goons were far more deserving of the title.
Abominable Snowmen were, as the name suggests, snowmen that sucked real hard. Bloodthirsty, able to heal from almost any wound, and with hearts literally made of ice, they were ruthless opponents. Moreover, though they were rumored to be descended from the original Frosty the Snowman, the Abominable Snowmen were not reliant on a magic top hat – or any kind of bewitched accessories, for that matter – and were, therefore, almost impossible to stop.
Dark shadows writhed on the other side of the glass.
The metal frames of the doors were starting to rend and splinter, the panes of tempered glass, deformed, stretched to their breaking points, were starting to dislodge from the frame.
A harsh wind whipped in through the gaps, snow blowing through the lobby.
thunk thunk thunk
“There’s no time.” Santa Claus grimaced, gritting his teeth, his prodigious girth pressed against the door, his arms spread and feet digging into the carpeted runner.
THUNK THUNK THUNK
His belly jiggled like a stagnant swamp after a plane crash.
THUNK THUNK THUNK
The fat man was being pushed forward.
“I can’t – I can’t hold –”
The doors finally had enough. Scores upon scores of Abominable Snowmen began flooding into the Secaucus Holiday Inn, towers of massive snow balls, stacked three and four and five tall, bouncing forward like cartoon tigers and hurling snowballs like Major League pitchers.
Santa Claus screeched in terror and began waddling to safety, shoving his way past the Snow Goons surrounding him, chasing him. Snowballs sailed through the air, one after another after another. The onslaught was relentless, snow spattering against the fat man’s back and soaking into this jacket, or, sometimes, hitting something small on the hotel counter and knocking it down.
“Really?” said Queen Victoria XXX, her eyebrow arched. Snow whipped past her, almost ruffling her hair. “This is what your scared of?”
“Sometimes,” he yelped, “they put ice inside the snowballs!”
“Dude,” said Boudica IX, shaking her wild red mane in disappointment. The woman calmly walked over to the wall and spun the thermostat up to ninety, several snowballs splattering harmlessly against the faux woodgrain as she did. A few hit the floor, or broke apart in midair, long before they made it that far.
Within moments, the furnace could be heard warbling, and within a few more, heat could be felt rushing out through the ceiling vents. The Abominable Snowmen began panicking and rushing toward the exits.
“In my defense,” said Santa Claus, poking his head out from behind the counter, “I’ve been homeless for a very long time.”
“Wait,” said Thor, stopping on the sidewalk and looking at the window display beside him, “is this the holiday with the socks?”
“Then yes,” said Chester A. Arthur XVII.
“OK,” said Thor, looking into his bags, “then we need to make one more stop. “Would they be in the underpants section, or …?”