—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

541 773-3373

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Santa woke up at the Pole with the news from Oscar,” his head stable elf, that Dasher, Dancer, Donner and Blitzen, were feeling poorly and he was afraid they might be coming down with the reindeer flu.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Santa said. Then, “So, you think they shouldn’t fly today?”

“It’s probably nothing, they’ve had their reindeer flu shots. But just incase, a day of rest couldn’t hurt. He shook his head. “I don’t wanna take any chances.”

“You’re probably right.” Santa sighed. “I’ll fly with five.”

“I’ll get them ready.” Oscar wasn’t worried about Santa. Five reindeer, especially with the extra strong Rudolf in the lead, could easily pull the sleigh. They just wouldn’t attain maximum speed.

“And, Oscar, I think Scotland today.”

“I’ll put on the Scottish harnesses.” Oscar laughed, then left to ready the reindeer, because Santa would be flying early. He always did when he went to Scotland, because he liked Glasgow so much. He usually arrived with the sun and stayed well past midnight. 

But right after Santa took flight, a thought call from God came through and it was just two words, “Paris, please.”

“Change of course, Rudy,” Santa boomed. “We’re going to Paris.” And he was worried, because God very, very rarely said please. So there must be something pretty bad going on in France. Something the Big Guy didn’t want his fingerprints on, so it must be something religious.

Maybe terrorists.

Santa shivered.

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They arrived to a cloudy, café au lait sky. The Seine was high, the color or the water was off, more green than blue, not murky at all, ghostly looking. It was like the river itself was a portent of an evil about to befall the city. Santa was chilled to the bone, but God wouldn’t have asked him to come, if He didn’t think he could handle it.

“Please see the Russians, Sergi and Sasha at Merciful’s.”

Again with that ‘Please,’ word. “Will do,” Santa thought back. Merciful’s, another of Lucy’s pubs. He wondered what the gaggle of tourists who drank and partied there would do if they knew they were drinking in one of the Devil’s dens.

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At Merciful’s, he want straight to the bar and was surprised to see Sergi and Sasha, both with smiles on their faces, something he’d never seen before, not both at the same time and not fake either. They were glad to see him. And that, Santa couldn’t understand.

“We’re working on the perfect martini,” Sergi said.

“We’re making them for you,” Sasha said. “One from each of us.”

“I think I’ll pass,” Santa said.

“That would be a mistake,” Sergi said.

“And why would that be?” Santa said.

“These are the Devil’s specials.” Sasha said. “We’ve added some of Lucy’s special ingredients.”

“He doesn’t like to be called that,” Santa said.

“He’s not here.” Sasha poured his concoction into a glass, half filling it.

“He’s afraid.” Sergi pour his mixture into the glass, filling it.

“Why?” Santa looked at the glass.

“The Devil is evil,” Sergi said. “That’s his job, to temp humans. They’ve got free will, they can reject him.” He picked up the drink, offered it to Santa.

“But there is an evil coming that’ll make Lucy seem as good as the Big Guy.” Sasha nodded at the drink. “Even with the powers Lucy is giving up and giving to you with this drink, you could still lose.”

Santa looked at the drink. Then looked in their eyes. They weren’t lying. He took the drink and finished it in a gulp.

“I don’t feel any different,” Santa said. But he did feel something, just what he didn’t know.

“You need to go walkabout,” Sergi said. “Lucy’s got all his minions and Dark Angels out looking. They’ll find you, they’ll help you all they can. That’s all we know.”

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Santa hit the streets, not knowing who or what was coming to Paris or what he could do about it.

“I don’t know either,” God said in a thought call. “You know all I know and that’s not good.”

“I’m not liking the sound of this,” Santa thought. “If Lucy’s up to his tricks?”

“Lucifer doesn’t bring the plague. He doesn’t rain down locusts. He doesn’t wipe out children. He doesn’t cause cancer. He’s evil, but like the minion said, humans make their own decisions. Whatever Lucy’s found out, it terrifies him, so we should be terrified too.”

“And all I can do is walk around Paris and wait to be contacted somewhere?”

“Seems so.” God paused. “I’ll keep watch and if I can help, I will.” He sighed His Heavy God sigh. “Good luck.”

And so, Santa walked and a half hour later, he was on the Champs-Élysées, heading toward the Arc de Triomphe, when he saw, Valeriya, Veronika and Viktoriya, Dark Angels all and three of Lucy’s favorites, and they were headed right for him.

“Afternoon, Santa.” Veronika was always the Dark Angel in the middle and these three were always found together.

“Afternoon girls.” He felt a stirring in his loins. Was he lusting after these women. He shivered.

“It’s okay,” Veronika said. “You’re part Satan now.” Most of the Dark Angels called Lucy that. “You’ll have to live with a little lust, till you give him his powers back.” She laughed. Then said, “You should go to Anna’s Paris Bar and see Reginald.”

“Him?” Santa was surprised, but then he supposed he shouldn’t have been after everything that had been happening. Reginald was the most powerful Dark Angel and the only male Dark Angel. It had been rumored at one time that he was after Lucy’s job. But he knew his place, barely.

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At Anna's, Santa was surprised to see it full of humans. Not a sign of Anna, not a minion or Dark Angel in the crowd, save, of course, for Reginald, who was on the customer’s side of the bar, sipping a drink and staring at Santa.

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“None of your kind in the crowd.” Santa had a sudden urge to grab the drink and break the glass across Reginald’s face. But he fought it. He had never been this angry before and he recognized that it was that drink. Good grief, lust and anger, what next?

“My kind is walking the streets, ears to the ground. What’s coming threatens all of us.”

“Do you have anything for me?”

“It’s coming tomorrow night.”

“That’s it? That’s all you know?”

“The minions are hanging out around the Moulin Rouge. Check in there throughout the night.” He held his hand out. “All you have to do is touch it and I’ll give you everything I can spare.”

Santa grabbed and gripped his hand and held tight as Reginald’s power flowed into him.

“All at the Moulin Rouge will do the same.” He bore into Santa’s eyes. “We’re trusting you’ll give back what was loaned, if you’re still alive after tomorrow night.”

And, all of a sudden, Santa knew why God couldn’t fight this fight. Those on the Dark Side wouldn’t trust him to give back what they’d given him. And that frighten him, not because they didn’t trust God, but because they didn’t think he had enough power to defeat what was coming.

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Santa needed time to think, so he took a walk on the Champs-Élysées. It was raining. All was calm. People were happy. Many were Christmas shopping and Santa wondered if they’d be just as happy the day after tomorrow.

He thought called to God and the Big Guy answered straightaway. “I’ve been watching.” Then Santa felt a white hot surge of power. “That was from me,” God said. “I’ll give you more just before I break the connection, then I won’t be able to talk to you till this it’s over.”

“It’s that bad?”

“If you fail, we’ll all be mortal, me and Lucy, his and my Angels, the minions, all of us. And so many will die that Death won’t be able to handle it all.”

“You and Lucy, the Angels, all of you, you’re giving me everything, all of you powers, all of it?”

“Go by the Moulin Rouge, get more.” One last God sigh. “We won’t be able to talk again, till you give me back what I’ve loaned you.”

Santa felt another surge of power, then the connection went dead.

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At the Moulin Rouge the minions were out, posing as happy tourists as they slapped his hand, one after the other, till he’d drained them of all their power.

“You need to go to the Eiffel Tower,” the last minion to slap his hand said. “When you get there, it’ll light with all of the power from all of the Angels in all of the Heavens. And it’ll all be going to you.”

“All of it?” Santa still couldn’t believe it. All of them, giving him everything?

“Don’t fail us.”

Santa nodded, then left.

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And what the minion said was true. The Tower lit up when he arrived. And when he touched it, he felt the white hot heat of the all of the Angel’s combined power. Then the Tower went dark again.

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An hour or so later, Santa stood in the middle of the road, staring down at the Arc de Triomphe. He found he could slow down time, at least his time. Cars went by at what seemed like the speed of light. They drove right though him, like he wasn’t there. He was a phantom, because he’d willed it.

And then it dawned on him. He was the most powerful being who’d ever lived, more powerful than the Devil and the angels combined. More powerful than God.

But maybe not. Maybe he wasn’t more powerful than whatever was coming.

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And then the snow started to come. And then he received a thought message from Glorianna, A powerful Dark Angel. Santa had always liked her, because she was a little to good to be bad, but not good enough to be good. Both God and the Devil liked her and they mostly ignored her. She did no one any good. But she did no one any harm either. And if the Big Guy would’ve lowered his standards just a little, she’ve been one of his Angels.

But still, Dark Angel or not, she didn’t really work for Lucy. She was like a free agent. Or rather, she was still trying to find herself.

Santa was glad to take the call and was a bit surprised, because he’d never been able to thought talk to an Angel before. That kind’ve power belonged to God and the Devil alone. Apparently it belonged to Santa now too. At least till the day after tomorrow.

Glorianna wanted to meet him in the Bois de Boulogne, the large Park Parisians loved so much. So to the Bois he went. And once there she floated down, sheltered under his umbrella and kissed him on the cheek.

“Now I’m mortal like so many of the others.”

“Thank you.” He grabbed her in huge hug. Everybody loved her. She was like all of their daughters. Even Death felt that way about her.

“You need to go back to the Eiffel Tower, because it’s gonna light up one more time.”

“The Dark Angels,” he said.

“Yes. All but Devon, Diana and Cinder. They’ll keep theirs. Just in case you fail.”

“Incase I fail?”

“Mrs Claus would want your body back. We figure we can afford three of us to keep our powers. Besides, they might be able to help.” She squeezed his arm. “They’re all you’ll. Them and your five reindeer.” She kissed his cheek again. “Now go and save us all.”

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Back at the Eiffel Tower, he saw it light up as he approached and he took all the power the Dark Angels had to give. And now it was all up to him. It was coming.
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