12 Days of Christmas (Weekend Quickie Special)
(image - man jumping across train carriages, element - partridge in a pear tree, emotion - infinite possibility)
"Quick! Get him, before it's too late!"
Brad saw the attacker escaping from the carriage, holding a partridge?
"Are you okay?"
The attacker's victim brushed himself off.
"Don't worry about me! Worry about him! Him!"
"If he finds a pear tree, we're all doomed!"
Brad showed the man his badge.
"Detective Brad Shaw. What is going on?"
"Infinite possibilities are within his grasp!"
The train rocked as another passed by.
"I don't understand."
"He stole the Device, and the partridge! He must be stopped!"
There was a scream and Brad ran into the next carriage. He saw the attacker leaving by a side window. A woman was standing there in a state of shock. Looking out, Brad saw a maintenance ladder which led up to the roof. In spite of himself, Brad followed, to see the man leaping from this carriage to the next. Once up on the roof, Brad noticed they were travelling through a large orchard…of pear trees.
"What is going on?"
He watched as the man, still holding the partridge, jumped from the train towards a pear tree. A strange portal opened up and the man disappeared. In a flash Brad jumped through the same portal.
(image - woman blowing dust from her hands, element 1 - magic beans, element 2 - two turtle doves)
The first thing Brad saw was a woman. A nice looking woman, but she was covered in dust.
"Who are you, eh?"
"I...I've just come through some kind of wormhole."
She stared at Brad and shook her head.
"Next you'll be goin' on about magic beans and giants! Who the hell are you?"
The woman cleaned her jacket, bashing debris off herself and blowing dust from her hands.
"You'll be paying for that damage. You an' that other guy."
Brad got up and saw he was in an outhouse, now with a huge hole in the wall, in some country backyard.
"Where am I?"
"You're on my land, that's what!"
A loud fat man came into view, holding a shotgun.
"Detective Brad Shaw." He showed his badge. "I'm...I'm following a man."
"What, 'im? Oi! 'E's got two of my turtle doves!"
Brad saw the same man who'd jumped off the train leap over a large fence.
"My priced turtle doves! You! You're gonna pay for them!"
"Sure. But first I have to catch that man. Excuse me."
What was going on? Two turtle doves? A partridge? Did this man have something against birds? Brad gave chase.
(image - old bottle with sample tag, emotion - anticipation, element - three french hens)
Brad ignored the shouts from behind and followed the strange man over fences, gates, fields and outdoor toilets. He finally got within earshot.
He showed his badge once again but the man shrugged it off.
"No one can stop me."
The man grabbed three chickens from another yard.
"What are you doing? Why are you taking these birds?"
"Leave before I begin to care about your existence!"
"Are you making a bird stew?"
"A partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves and three french hens! Can't you see the plumage? Lovely plumage..."
"Are you collecting for a school Christmas performance or what?"
The man took out an old bottle with a sample tag and held it to Brad.
"With this pus from her ganglion cyst which she saved in this here bottle, I will bring her back to life! Muhahaha!"
"Who? With pus?"
"Not just pus! With this device and the twelve elements of Babarossa from the ancient incantation of Babylon, she will once again be mine! I am in excited anticipation of her glorious return!"
The man hit a button on the device and disappeared through another portal. Brad had no other plans for the day.
(image - old man and woman sitting at an upright piano, emotion - euphoria, element - four colly birds)
He was lost with no sign of the man. If this followed the twelve days of Christmas, then four calling birds were next. Walking down an almost empty street full of terrace houses, he heard a piano playing. The sound was coming from a house with an open door. Whoever it was, they were playing that same song! Was this…? It had to be him! Brad ran into the house and there he was, playing an upright as bold as brass.
"I'm arresting you for the theft of…!"
"You know, we used to sit together playing the old upright piano...ah, it was euphoria to hear her play Rachmaninoff."
The man had four blackbirds in a cage next to him on the stool.
"I thought it was meant to be calling birds?"
"Four 'Colly' birds, blackbirds. Common mistake."
"You learn something every day. Now, you're under arrest for…"
The man turned and fired his device at Brad. Apparently it doubled as a weapon. He went down like a ton of bricks. As Brad lost consciousness on the carpet, he noticed the man continuously pressing a button on his device and swearing. The last thing Brad saw was the man running out.
(image - woman pushing a trolley/pram with twin boys and a christmas tree inside, emotion - an irresistible urge to disco, element - five gold rings)
"Are you alright, dear?"
Brad woke up to a cup of tea.
He sat up and took the drink. The old woman offered a plateful of biscuits.
"Are there any jewellers in the area?"
"Jewellers? Why yes, in the town centre. I took my pearl necklace there some months ago. Lovely man."
Feeling better for the tea, Brad said goodbye and once outside instantly tripped over a trolley filled with twin boys and a christmas tree. Other than the swearing from the mother, he heard a distant alarm. The jewellers. Reaching a pedestrianised square, he saw the place, with its alarm screaming above the door. The owner was there, doing the giddy-down and looking bemused and exhausted.
"Detective Shaw." Brad showed his badge. "What happened?"
"I was robbed by a guy who zapped me with a strange raygun. I now have an irresistible urge to disco."
The man changed to a bunny slope.
"He took five rings, right?"
"How did you know? Five gold rings. He could've taken it all."
Which way did he go?"
Brad had to stop this before it went too far. He knocked the man out and ran after his prey.
(image - ginat hand picking up a car from a carpark, element 1 - Six Geese a Laying, who will only lay to the sound of ABBA, element 2 - Uncle Boom-Boom, your mother’s sister’s second husband)
The street led out to a riverbank frequented by OAPs on benches. A few of them looked shocked.
"Excuse have you...?"
They all pointed downriver, and Brad saw the man some distance ahead.
"You! Stop! Stop this nonsense now!"
The man turned to him and laughed. This was not the same man he saw playing the piano. Yes, he looked the same, but something had changed, something inside.
"Who's going to stop me? You and your Uncle Boom-Boom, your mother’s sister’s second husband? Muhahaha!"
The man was completely crazy!
Brad tried to grab him but he moved too fast. The crazy man hit something on his device and the man's hands grew to an immense size. Ignoring Brad's attempts at stopping him, he picked out six geese who were brooding on eggs in the reeds.
"I will take six geese and they will lay!"
He now danced a strange jig along the riverbank, while holding all six geese in one hand.
"Six geese a laying! Six geese a laying only to the sounds of ABBA!"
Before Brad could think, the man picked up a car from a nearby fisherman's carpark with his other enormous hand and threw it at him.
(image - caravans in a 'spend the night party', emotion - a numinous feeling, element - seven swans a swimming)
The man threw like a girl. The car rolled into a nearby caravan park. A sign said 'Spend the Night Party 8pm start'. There'd be a few less tonight with the wreakage spread across the lot.
"Swans, swans, glorious swans!"
More buttons pressed, more insanity. The river rose like a large water snake, writhing in the air. Seven swams were on its surface. They tried to fly away but seemed stuck by some unseen force.
"Seven swans a swimming! Haha!"
Brad didn't see it coming. The river swayed behind and caught him in its wake and the force that held the swans also held Brad. Upside down. It didn't take long to start drowning. He panicked, his lungs emptied and he was helpless, all alone. A curious peace came over him, a numinous feeling, a feeling you get when you entered a church. Was this the afterlife? Was he dead?
A tree hit his head and somehow the force that held him disappeared and he dropped through the branches and leaves and fell onto the ground.
Rubbing his head, Brad knew a direct approach was not on the cards any longer. But he had to keep going, no matter what.
(image - Santas wearing beards in a Santa school, emotion - Psithurism, element - eight maids-a-milking)
When he'd got to his feet, he was alone. All he could hear was the sound of the wind in the trees, the rustling of the leaves. Psithurism. Funny how certain words stuck in your head during literature classes. Brad enjoyed the brief moment until a cow broke the spell with a moo. Of course, eight maids-a-milking! There were farm buildings some distance away, and Brad got to them as fast as possible, only to be surprised by the sight he saw when entering a barn. Eight Asian girls with white beards sitting on stools and milking cows.
Brad spotted the man in the back of the barn and hid in the shadows.
"Help, please! We au pairs. We from down woad, we help out Santa school. He take us and we milk cow."
Maids were far and few between nowadays. He had to give it to the man, au pairs were a sensible choice. Now, how to stop...too late, the crazy man had already opened another portal and the au pairs and cows were being sucked in. Oh, for a few moments to think! Brad grabbed hold of the last cow's tail and was taken through.
(image - lightning strikes on Bay Bridge, San Francisco, emotion - exhiliration, element - eight ladies dancing)
Lightning struck the bridge across the bay. Where was he? When following the man through the portal there was no way of knowing where he'd find himself. San Francisco? Did he catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate far off to the north?
"Ha ha! I feel the exhilaration of victory! Soon she will be mine again!"
The madman was oblivious to the world, with his huge hands helping him leapfrog along the bridge and leaving Brad behind.
Brad kept to a steady jog and followed the long line of stunned pedestrians and motorists he found. Resting to catch his breath, he saw men being thrown out of a nightclub. That must be it. As he opened the doors, screams filled the place. There was chaos inside as people scambled to escape. In the centre of the dancefloor, his man was surrounded by a group of dancing woman. Nine ladies dancing. Time was running out. What was it the first man said? 'We're all doomed, infinite possibilities are within his grasp'. What did that mean? Why were we all doomed if this man succeeded? A portal opened up again, and the dancefloor was empty. Brad jumped into the closing dimension.
(image - night sky with stars and a church, emotion - wonder inspired by a miracle, element - ten lords a leaping)
He lay on the heath under the night sky among the stars and near an abandoned church, now only a remnant of what it once was. To his right was a mansion, with its windows lit up by the party inside. He didn't need to count how many lords there were, he already knew. Ten lords a leaping, jumping across the long table in the lavish dining room, singing and drinking to the music inside. The crazy man was with them, dancing and laughing, so close to his goal. Brad turned back to the stars.
What was the point? In only hours, Brad's sense of reality, right and wrong, had been blown out of all proportion. Was he doing the right thing? Did he care anymore? With all the insanity he'd seen and experienced, was it worth continuing on with this wild goose chase, literally, or any other come to think of it? As he gazed on looking up at the sky, three green shooting stars swooped by. For a moment, it was like he had been inspired by a miracle, the wonder of the universe, in all its entirety and infinite possibilities. He knew what he had to do.
(image - girl and boy kneeling in front of Christmas fireplace, emotion - joy and anticipation, element - eleven pipers piping)
The front door was wide open and the music spread out into the darkness. Brad ran inside, not wishing to miss the next move. On entering the dining room, he saw the lords a leaping, and also the source of the music. Bagpipes, eleven pipers piping.
Brad hid behind a chair as the crazy man danced on the table.
"Soon! Soon, I will see her again!"
Yet more of his ramblings!
"Oh, Daphne! To hear your voice once more, to play as we once played together!"
The crazy man stopped dancing and his attention was taken by the great fireplace covered in Christmas decorations and stockings.
"We used to kneel by the fire in joy and anticipation of the morning to come, our Christmas morning. The presents, the chestnuts! Oh, I miss you so, my dear darling sister!"
This man was doing all this for his sister? They must've had a strong bond, Brad guessed. Through instinct, he thought about taking the man by force though stopped when he saw the hands. He knew what he should do.
But once again, the man pressed more buttons on that damn device and a portal appeared. Brad had only one chance left.
(image - people in church at the Midnight Mass, emotion - the peace that passeth all understanding, element - twelve drummers drumming)
It was all there at the Midnight Mass, the partridge in a pear tree, the doves, hens, lords, maids, everything and everyone. The church was full of people. The final piece to the puzzle, twelve drummers drumming, a group of children from the local school, were making one hell of a racket performing. The crazy man with huge hands was standing nearby, watching a light in front of him grow larger and larger. The image of a woman appeared and was beginning to solidify.
Then it happened. The roof disappeared, the sky opened up, lightning struck, thunder, torrential rain, snow, fish, locusts, cats and dogs. People screamed and ran. Brad was reminded of the premonition of doom.
Brad acted quickly. He jumped in amongst the twelve children, found a pair of bongos and sat down. Anyone can play the bongos. Brad caught onto the rhythm and was playing along with them in seconds.
"Oh, my darling, my lov...what! What is this?"
The woman faded, the skies cleared, snow fell. The clock struck midnight.
The man saw Brad.
Brad felt the peace that passeth all understanding as the man strangled him."And a Merry Christmas to you, too."