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Expand MallZombies: The Christmas Edition Table of Contents
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This is a total and complete work of fiction, taken straight from the obviously disturbed minds of two fan fic writers. Seriously, you shouldn't want to say this is yours. Really. Gin belongs to herself. I belong to me, though the Muses like to tell me that I don't.

There are bunches of pop culture references going on in this one, ranging from music to television to movies. We don't own any of the recognizable characters, songs and content that you might find in here. They all belong to their respective creators and we're simply borrowing them here because we can. And because we're being silly and it fits. We'll put them back when we're done, though they might be a little sticky when we do. Please don't sue. No money.

Also, we have likely ruined many of your childhood memories with this piece. Nothing is sacred to us. NOTHING. You have been warned.
Yes, Viriginia. There is a Zombie Claus
Chapter 1 of 1
Expand Author's Story Note

"Why are you dressed like that?" I stared at Gin, who was standing in the doorway to the living room. She was wearing festive attire and looked as if she was ready to go some place. This could not be a good sign. Anytime she and I got together to go someplace... Well, let's just say that I still hadn't been able to find a dry cleaner who could get brains and brain juice out of my clothes.

"Because I'm going Christmas shopping." She didn't sound particularly devious or anything, but that could change in the blink of an eye.

"And you had to come in and interrupt me to tell me this? I was totally in the middle of a steaming hot smut scene between a couple of the Muses."

"They'll have to wait." I lifted a brow at her tone. Whatever she was going to say next would not make me happy. I just knew it. She flashed an engaging grin my way. Oh, yes. It was bad. "You're coming with me."

"Am I?" It wasn't fair. I had just gotten my most stubborn Muse naked and he was about to give it to someone who was far more amiable to such things as slash. Whether this Muse liked it or not.

"You are. We're going to the mall."

The most feared words in the English language and she'd spoken them to me. Somewhere, the Norse God Loki was laughing his ass off at this turn of events. I crossed my arms over my chest and shook my head. "No fucking way. You know what happens whenever we step into the mall."

"Its Christmastime. Not Halloween. It isn't going to happen." She sounded so sure, so convincing. I shook my head again, planted my feet.

"It isn't happening. You are not dragging me out shopping. Not to that hell hole."

"Come on. You love to go shopping. And just imagine the decorations they'll have up everywhere. Lights and ornaments and all of that stuff. You know you love it."

"No way. I don't care if they've got the fucking Vienna Boys Choir singing carols. Its the mall!" I'd vowed to myself after the last trip that I was never going back there again. Ever. Do you have any idea how hard it is to scrub zombie smell from your skin? And brain juice tastes nasty.

"Its Christmas." She shot back. She had that determined look on her face that told me she didn't plan on giving in until I did. She was in for a long wait. "Whoever heard of zombies on Christmas?"

"Its. The. Mall!"

Gin frowned at me. "Its a well known fact that zombies are repelled by the scent of gingerbread."

I boggled at her. What the ever loving fuck was she talking about? She had to be out of her fucking mind if she thought I was going to believe her. "Where the hell did you hear that? Because I've never heard it. Or seen it."

"Martha Stewart. You know she knows everything there is to know about these things." Gin smiled, prompting me to throw a skeptical look her way. "Oh, come on now. Have you ever seen a zombie after Thanksgiving?"

I gave that question thought. Not that I visited the mall that much, but I couldn't recall ever hearing about a zombie attack after Halloween was over. "Nooo.. But by that reasoning, it could easily be the turkey instead. Or the stuffing. Or the cranberry sauce. Or..." Damn it! She was not going to sucker me in this easily. "No. I'm still not going. I'm tired of having to scrub dried blood and zombie guts off my skin and out from under my nails."

Gin reached into her purse and dug around a second or two, then brought her hand out with a small plastic rectangle. She waved it under my nose the way a person would wave a treat under an animal's nose to get it to do what they wanted. "I have a pre-paid Visa with your name on it."

"Oh. Shit." Damn her. She knew my weakness. Seeing that I was on the verge of giving in, she waggled the card at me some more. Bugger. I was done for. "Why didn't you just say that in the first place? Grab your keys. We're going."

Gin waited while I saved the file I was working on and went to get my shoes, coat and purse. When I was as ready as I was ever going to get, we went out to her car. As we were getting in, a sense of foreboding rolled through me. That couldn't be good. When I finally settled into the passenger's seat, she shot me a frown. "What's going through your head now? You're wearing that look again."

"What about zombies? Or horny pink bunny slippers. Or cheesy goth wanna-be witches?"

She muttered a curse as she turned the car over. I think she was swearing at me. "Um... Wrong season. Trial sized foot powder in my purse and the glove compartment." She shot a look at me before putting the car into reverse so she could back out of the driveway. "And come on. Don't you know that Christmas carols and eggnog are like kryptonite to cheesy goth wanna-be witches? They wouldn't be caught dead in the mall when its all Christmassy."

I shot her another skeptical nurse. "Yeah. And zombies don't show up at the mall every Halloween."

"Just you wait and see. The mall will be a nice, peaceful place with lots of decorations and carols playing. Things will be holly jolly and bright. And, if you're good, I'll even let you get your picture taken with Santa before we go."

"Gee. Thanks, mom. Just what I want."

"Wait and see."


The lot was jam packed with cars. We had to drive around for ten minutes before we found one out in the middle of bum fuck Egypt. Which meant a million mile walk to the doors. Didn't people have anything better to do than go to the mall and shop? I know I did. If the smut scene I was working on went south, I was going to place the blame solely on Gin. But because this was the mall and I didn't want to take chances, I stowed the foot powder in my purse and longed a moment for my ZombieBlaster In A Box kit. The glare Gin shot at me, suggesting I was taking too long, drove all thoughts of chainsaws from my mind and I hurried to catch up with her.

"You know, they should really get one of those trolley thingies to take people from the very outer reaches of the mall to the door and then back to their car again. Like you find at amusement parks like Six Flags."

Gin glanced at me. "The exercise will do you good. You've been getting a little too friendly with all those goodies you baked."

Her statement warranted a comment that I chose not to make. Instead, I lagged ever so slightly behind and idly stared at the rows of cars as we walked. Most of them were unworthy of notice, all newer models that pretty much looked like one another. For a minute, I thought I saw a big black beast of a car, one that looked terribly familiar, a few rows over. But the next time I looked, I couldn't see it anymore. So my eyes must have been playing tricks on me. Shrugging, I made to catch up when I saw that Gin was farther ahead of me than before.

The interior of the mall was rife with good cheer. Windows were hung with holiday decorations such as twinkling lights, garlands of tinsel and fake pine, glittery ornaments, and trees decked with all manner of things. Something bright and Christmassy was playing through the public address system. Shoppers crowded the hallways between the shops, filled the stores to almost bursting as they searched for that perfect gift for everyone on their list. Some people were wearing Santa hats or something similar. Children laughed and sang as they tugged at their mothers and begged to see Santa.

It didn't look as if anything was out of the ordinary. There was no droning chorus of "Brrrraaaaiiiinnnnnssss!" coming from deeper in the mall. No stench of the undead. No shambling, rotting masses. No evil fuzzy pink slippers. No Chucky. No Hello Nurse! Nothing that screamed of the undead. Maybe this trip to the mall wouldn't be so bad. Maybe, for once, we could enjoy the day and have a nice, uninterrupted shopping trip.

And maybe pigs would fly out my butt.

"Where are we going?" I asked Gin, taking note of the fact that Burl Ives was now wishing us a Holly Jolly Christmas. I couldn't help but sing along to the song, garnering me a look from my friend. "What? I like this song."

"Some Scrooge you are," Gin teased.

"I never claimed to be a Scrooge. You know I love the holidays. I just hate the mall."

She laughed and made for the escalator. I followed after her. "But look at all the yummy men we've picked up at the mall."

Yeah. After mutilating zombies. She had to be cracked. "Bah. Humbug."

We rode the escalator up to the second level. I wasn't sure where we were going, but that didn't matter. As long as there were no zombies in sight, I didn't care. Though I wasn't happy about the crush of people. Maybe I should start doing my Christmas shopping in March. Wait. There was a holiday in March. Zombie leprechauns were kind of frightening. Hmmm. Maybe a summer month. There'd be no way to hide them then. The heat would make them stand out in a crowd in five minutes. Wouldn't that be lovely? Did zombies take vacations to colder climates in the summer?

It was just as crowded on the upper level as it was on the lower one. We made our way past Hot Topic, where a large crowd of black clad angsters had gathered to purchase their silly and strange little things for themselves and others. Hot Topic had a black tree decorated with purple lights and garland, while tiny figures like Jack Skellington and evil looking bunnies hung from the branches as ornaments. It was kind of a cool tree. I'd have had it in my house.

We passed a photo place that was packed to the doorway with people. A glance at them all suggested they were getting family Christmas photos shot. Maybe you should have had those done six months ago, folks. Then they'd all be sent out and you'd be done with it. On the other side, I could see when looking over the railing that there was a long, snaking line winding its way off into the distance. There were bored looking parents and anxious little kids. Must have been the line to see Santa. Damn. It was moving slow. Mental note: Avoid Santa this year.

Even Spencers was busy. Glancing through the window, I could see that people were buying up the practical joke items like they would soon be out of style. I wasn't sure if those things were meant to be gifts. If they were, would they be serious gifts or joke gifts? It really wasn't any of my concern, but it made me wonder not only about the mentality of the people buying those things but about the mentality of those receiving them. I was just about to pass the edge of the shop's windows when I thought I spied a familiar face. I reached out and grabbed at Gin. "Hey. Check this out. Do you see what I see?"

"Said the night wind to the little lamb," Gin sang. I made no reply, simply waited for her to take a look through the window. Her eyes scanned the crowd inside before stopping. "Am I seeing who I think I'm seeing?"

"I think you are." I nodded my head in confirmation.

"What are they doing here? That can't mean anything good."

"I don't know. Let's go in and find out." We retraced our steps to the entrance of the shop and slipped inside, weaving in and out of the crowd as we worked our way to the back of the store. The entire time, we kept our prey in our sights. And a nervous flutter took up residence in my stomach. This really couldn't mean anything good.

They were at the back of the shop when we caught up with them. Sam looked bored to tears while Dean was interested in something he held in his hands. Since it was hidden by his body, it was hard to see what it was. Almost before Gin announced our arrival, Sam had spied us. A smile let us know he was glad to see us. Probably they were wondering why they were there, too. What was it about this mall, anyway? "Sam! Dean! What are you doing here?"

At the sound of Gin's voice, Dean jerked and turned to face us, his hands tucking whatever it was he'd been looking at behind his back. I lifted a brow at the man's reaction. Judging by the look on his face, he didn't want anyone to know what he'd been studying so intently. "We don't know. You tell us." Sam's response didn't make me feel any better.

The last time we'd seen them had been right after Halloween. Nearly two months ago. After an obligatory trip to IHOP, we'd found the nearest beds and done our best to break the springs in them. The Winchesters had been off into the sunrise the very next morning after promises of phone calls and emails. Guess who hadn't picked up a phone or typed out an email yet? Dean shot me a look that said he knew he was in it up to his eyeballs. Good. Let the boy stew for a while.

"We haven't heard anything about zombies or all of that other crap," Gin replied evenly. I was praying that things would stay that way. Things would really suck if we were once again faced with the undead masses. Besides, I still had nightmares about zombies wearing bell bottoms. What the hell kind of horror would Christmas zombies get us?

"That's good. But that doesn't explain why we're here." Sam frowned. Maybe he was putting things together in his head and he wasn't any more pleased with the results than I was. He was supposed to be the smarter of the two. I shot a glance toward Dean and made sure he saw it.

"I can think of a couple of reasons."

Before Dean could say anything in his defense, Gin stepped between us. The look she gave me wasn't very happy, suggesting she thought that she might have to take me aside and beat me senseless. Good luck with that, honey. "Obviously, whatever power or force there is that controls this mall thought that you two should come back. Which means that there's some business left undone. Or something."

"Zombies, Gin. Not ghosts." I crossed my arms over my chest and glanced around. The people seemed blissfully unaware of their surroundings and any possible danger that might come their way. It was the perfect setting for an attack of MallZombies. Shit. "I'm going to go to Sears. I won't feel better until I have a chainsaw in my hand."

"Don't borrow trouble. I keep telling you its Christmas. There won't be any zombies." Gin sounded as if she was tired of repeating herself. She also sounded just a little unsure, as if maybe I wasn't being really paranoid.

"I'm not borrowing trouble. I'm being cautious. There's a difference."

"Can't we just enjoy a day at the mall?" she asked. I shot her a look before turning to stomp my way out of the shop. I was starting to hate myself for letting her draw me away from my writing with a cheap bit of plastic.

Gin and the Winchesters caught up with me outside Spencer's entry. Dean still looked mildly uncomfortable with the whole situation. Sam looked as if he was trying to figure out what was going on and Gin was more or less ignoring my displeasure. Fine. See if I told her the next time one of those nasty little bunny slippers was humping away on her butt. Oh, who was I kidding? I'd forgive her for the trip to the mall shortly after we left. The older Winchester brother, on the other hand...

"So where are we going?" I asked, trying to push the dark clouds and the general sense of unease away. Gin shrugged and glanced up at Sam and Dean. Sam shook his head, letting us know he didn't care. Dean opened his mouth to make a suggestion, so I decided to beat him to it. "I know where we can go. My most favorite place in the entire mall. Bath and Body Works. I hear they're having an amazing sale and I could use some more body wash."

I saw Dean roll his eyes. Yeah. I knew that would happen. He totally didn't want to spend his time in what he considered a chick store. Too bad, so sad, buddy. Had he bothered to pick up a phone or send an email, I wouldn't feel as if I had to put him through this kind of thing. Evil? Who, me?

I grinned at him and turned, heading in the opposite direction we'd just been going. Gin fell into step with me easily enough and I was sure Sam was either right beside her or only a step or two behind her. I knew without looking that Dean was bringing up the rear.Of course, that could change in a heartbeat if he caught sight of some busty Asian beauty. Maybe Sam would keep an eye on him.

We made a fine little parade as we headed for the intended shop. The air around us was filled with boisterous chatter and never ending Christmas carols, the scent of colognes, perfumes and hot foods. Children laughed and mothers called after them. Babies cried and, as we neared the center of the mall, a chorus of voices raised in song. Passing by the big open space in the middle, we could see that the mall had hired in a group of carolers to entertain the shoppers. They stood before the mall's giant tree, decked out in the style of dress that men and women had worn in the late eighteen hundreds. It might have been enjoyable if not for the press of bodies on every side. I did my best to ignore everyone and keep going forward.

There were just as many people inside Bath and Body Works as there were in any other shop we'd walked past. It seemed as if everyone and their mother wanted to give something smelly and girly. Gin and I strolled from one display to the next, taking our time to stop and sniff each and every bottle of lotion we came across. I swore I could feel the frustration building from the men with us. It crossed my mind that they could leave and go do whatever they wanted without us. So there had to be a reason they were sticking with us. Hmmm. What would keep the two of them from running off to do whatever they liked?

Maybe they figured they'd see some supernatural action if they stuck with us? It was a safe bet.

I think we must have been in there for half an hour before Gin and I selected a few things and took them to the cashier so she could ring us up. "What the hell kind of Christmas music is this?" someone asked. Which had me listening to the music being piped over the PA. It took a moment to register what it was. I knew that cackling, rotting voice. The Crypt Keeper. Someone had put The Crypt Keeper's Christmas on. I shared a look with Gin. She was obviously thinking the same thing I was. This was definitely not a good sign.

When we'd paid for our purchases, we headed for the door. "Want to head to Sears now?"

"It doesn't mean anything," Gin insisted. But there was no conviction in her voice. Yeah, baby. That's right. Chances were good we were going to run into zombies before the day was out.

Even though she hadn't admitted that there might be a zombie problem, Gin steered us in the direction of Sears. No doubt she was thinking it was better to be safe than sorry. I wondered if we'd be able to make it out of Sears' tool department without paying for a chainsaw. It would help if the zombies would start attacking people. Screaming and running for their lives always helped decide shop owners on whether or not they should be easy going about shit like that.

We found ourselves in Sears' tool section, eyeballing the newest and baddest of the chainsaws. I ran my hand lovingly over one that looked like it would chew through even the freshest of the undead. As if she'd been reading my mind, Gin spoke. "Do you think they do gift receipts for chainsaws?"

I shrugged. "Why not? They're probably a popular gift after the last couple of years."

"But you've never had zombies on Christmas. You said you only had them on Halloween," Sam pointed out.

"That we know of. I try not to come up here during the Christmas holidays. There are too damned many people here." I frowned. "We haven't heard anything on the news about MallZombies at Christmas, but we only just heard about the Halloween ones this year. If they've been here on previous Christmases, we didn't know anything about it."

"What the hell is it about this mall that this shit happens here?" Gin asked. I could tell it was a question to which she didn't expect an answer. But I couldn't let an opportunity to be a smart ass pass us by.

"Maybe someone brought deadnog and gingerbrain cookies to the mall this year. Instant zombification."

"Deadnog? Gingerbrain cookies?" She shot me a pained look. "Those are bad. How long have you been waiting to use them?"

"Oh, it just came to me. You know me. Always thinking on the fly."

"You mean always running your mouth." Gin snorted, but she was smiling.

"I can think of better uses for your mouth," Dean volunteered. Sam turned a look toward him, one that said he couldn't believe his brother had said what he'd said.

"Dude. Reality. Porn. There's a difference."

"The reality is that there won't be any porn going on where Dean's concerned," I interjected.

"I think he's been reading too much of his own fan fiction." Gin grinned at me.

"Maybe I should have you dark fic him. That would teach him a lesson."

"I've been to hell," Dean said, as if we didn't know he'd been to hell and yanked out by Castiel. Mmmmm. Images of hot, scruffy angel smex rolled through my head. Hmmm. Maybe I'd have to give in and write Dean and Castiel together. Oh, yeah. Baby, that's the good stuff. I cast a look at Gin to see that she was thinking along the same lines, though it was probably Wincest instead of angel slash. "I don't think there's anything you can do to me that will compare."

"How about being ass raped by a raging mutant with a penchant for hurting pretty boys? Victor would positively love you." Okay. I admit that I might have put a little too much pleasure in my voice on that one. The woman beside me came to an immediate halt and the look on her face suggested that she was trying really hard to picture that. Oops. My bad. Maybe I'd have to convince her not to write it. And maybe I'd become a nun.

"I know that look. Run, Sam. Run." He cast me a look that had me laughing. Obviously he and Dean both thought they'd already been through the worst things they could ever experience. They didn't know Gin very well if they thought they were safe from her special brand of evil.

Gin sighed and shook her head. "Remy still hasn't really forgiven me for doing that to him. Let's not hurt someone else like that."

"Damn it. And I was all set to totally enjoy that."

"Son of a fucking bitch! Get this fucking thing off of me! Someone shoot it or fill it with shit or something!" The loud voice caught everyone's attention and, as one, we turned to find a short figure with wild red hair coming our way. I blinked.

"Isn't that...?" I began, only to trail off.

"It is," Gin replied.

"What the hell is he doing here?" Sam asked. Apparently he hadn't quite grasped the idea that shit just kept coming back here, as if the mall was the portal to some other dimension. If demons and shit started showing up, I was moving out of state.

"Chucky keeps coming back, dude. You can't kill him. Haven't you seen the sequels?" It was Dean who offered up the explanation. That was as good an explanation as the idea that the mall worked as a mode of interdimensional travel or some shit like that. "What the hell is on his head?"

"Holy crap!" I burst out laughing. Gin was only a breath behind me. Chucky ran past us, obviously of the opinion that he wouldn't find any help here. He was getting smart. As he did so, I took a good look at him. He was clad in a green velvet suit with short pants and a pair of white and red striped tights. The shoes on his feet were green velvet with curled toes. Bells hung from the tips, jingling like mad as he ran. I was willing to bet there had been a hat to go with the rest of the elf outfit he was wearing, but the slipper on his head had likely knocked it off.

Said slipper had a brown body, made from the kind of material that was fuzzy like felt but softer. It was obviously meant to resemble fur. A pair of large, glassy brown eyes were stared up from the toes, with a glowing red nose on the front of the slipper. And a pair of antlers sprang from its head, just behind the eyes. The antlers were red and green checked, with tiny gold bells on them. The bells were jingling away as the slippers back end humped at Chucky's hair. The other slipper was glued to his backside, its bells tinkling out of sync with its mate's

"Tell me you brought the Gold Bond," Sam said as Chucky tore past us. I reached into my bag and pulled out the bottle I'd stashed in there.

"Do you think it'll be enough?" Dean questioned. "These are Christmas slippers, after all."

"Hmmm. We'll have to see," Gin replied. then turned to face the other end of the mall. "Let's go. Our work here is only just beginning."

"I told you!" I crowed triumphantly. "You totally owe me alcohol after this."

"I'll buy you whatever you want," Gin told me. "Let's just get through this new nightmare."

I nodded and started forward. I was on the alert, looking for the rotting undead. The problem was how to deal with them when we found them. I had nothing in my hand or in my purse that would fend off a shuffling corpse. Once upon a time I'd carried scissors with me everywhere I went, but I didn't have one anymore. Not that I thought it would be effective against a holiday zombie. I'd have to stab the son of a bitch in the eye and I was determined not to end up caked with zombie juice and guts this year. There wasn't a dry cleaner in town who would let me through their doors anymore.

As we retraced our steps toward the center of the mall, I began to notice that there were fewer shoppers. But there seemed to be an awful lot of elves running amok. Hmmm. Curious. And frightening. Was there anything worse than a Christmas elf? Those sons of bitches were usually jacked up on egg nog and cookies and shit. How the fuck else could they make toys for every child in the world in just eleven months? Especially for a slave driver like Santa. Damn it. I wished I was packing some vegetables. Broccoli and cauliflower would have been awesome. More awesome would have been asparagus and Brussels sprouts. There was nothing better to drive away Christmas elves like fresh vegetables from the garden.

"Is it me or is this place starting to look empty?" Dean asked. He and Sam had already taken their hand guns out and were holding them at the ready. Would a nine millimeter work on a Christmas zombie? There was only one way to find out.

"Have you seen all of the elves running wild? Either they're driving people out of the mall or the toy store has a really big fucking sale going on." Gin shook her head. I could tell she was wishing that we had something to fight the zombies with. I was more than unhappy with the fact that the ZombieBlaster in a Box kit was at home, tucked away in a closet in anticipation of the next Halloween. Who the hell was I kidding? I knew we'd end up cleaning up the next mess, so there was nothing wrong with being prepared. Besides, what if there was a zombie apocalypse? The people I saved would thank me for being ready. "This is totally fucking wrong. There shouldn't be any zombies on Christmas! Some holidays should be sacred."

"You're Wiccan. You're more into Yule than Christmas," I mentioned casually,

"So are you. But that's beside the point. Its the principle of the thing."

"Does this mean we're going to go kick some zombie ass?" Dean asked. Based on the expression he wore, he likely figured that fighting zombies would save him from the inevitable ass chewing that was still simmering between he and I. Poor boy. He'd learn. Eventually. I had a long damned memory. He wouldn't get off that easy.

He'd definitely have to work at it.

"Yes. We're going to go kick some zombie ass." Gin nodded and motioned to the guns they held. "One of you take the lead. One of you bring up the rear. I don't want anything sneaking up on me. You don't know how hard it was to get those evil slippers off me. I can only imagine the tenacity of the reindeer slippers."

I shuddered. I didn't really want to imagine the tenacity of the reindeer slippers. The evil pink bunny slippers were bad enough.

By the time we reached the middle of the mall, all of the shoppers were gone. A glance down at the ground level showed us that the carolers had obviously gotten attacked. There were faux muffs, stained red, tossed all over the floor. Someone's top hat was swimming in the fountain's bright red water. The tree lay on its side, ornaments broken and scattered across the floor while the lights fought vainly to remain lit. They flickered and flashed, but eventually gave it up and went dark. There weren't any bodies to be seen, but that didn't mean that the carolers had gotten away. For all we knew, the zombies could have eaten all of them. The amount of blood spattered across the floor suggested that this was what had happened.

Gin stared at the mess a moment. "There's always one critic in the bunch."

"I bet they were singing that Paul McCartney Christmas song. I hate that fucking song. Probably the zombies do, too. Maybe that's why they ate the carolers."

"You can listen to Burl Ives but you can't listen to Sir Paul McCartney?"

"I hate that song. I've never liked it. Too many times hearing it over the PA at work," I grumbled. "Just because he was knighted doesn't mean I have to like every song he puts out. I'm selective about my Christmas music."

"You must be some kind of communist to not like Paul McCartney." Gin shook her head.

"Whatever. Let's just go kill some zombies. I want to get out of here."

That seemed to be a common desire because everyone nodded their heads. Then Dean took the lead again. Gin and I followed after him. I admit to shamelessly admiring the way his jeans clung to his ass as we walked. Why avoid it when he presents me with the opportunity? Right, ladies? Right?

We hadn't gotten very far when a childish scream caught our attention. Crap. That couldn't mean anything good. We stopped again, each one of us on the look out for whatever trouble was coming our way. It took a bit, but we finally spotted it. A group of green velvet wearing elves were shambling rather rapidly after a boy that looked to be about eight or nine years old. He was wearing a winter coat and hat and he was screaming bloody murder. There was something oddly familiar about the boy, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was.

Until he stopped in the middle of the hall, turned to face us, slapped his hands to his cheeks and yelled in fright. Holy crap! I'd seen that face a time or two. What was he doing out of his movie? And had he brought the bumbling crooks with him? If so, was he going to run them through one of his home made obstacle courses? That would be funny as shit and so worth watching. Then the zombies caught up with him and he was once again running, screaming his blonde little head off. Hmmm. Maybe I should watch that movie again.

Overhead, the song changed. The song about juggling bills ended. The song that started nearly had me pissing myself with laughter.

Deck the halls with parts of Charlie!

"Fa la la la la la la la la!" I sang the refrain with the Crypt Keeper. Okay. I was sick. I willingly admitted it. But I loved this version of the song.

"You need help." Gin was shaking her head again.

"Oh, you like it, too. Don't tell me you don't."

"That isn't the point," Gin replied. We were on the move again, steadily making our way forward. "Given the situation we're in, that's kind of sick."

"Your point?" I asked.

"I don't think I had one. I..." Her voice trailed off and I watched as something caught her attention. Stopping, I tried to figure out what she was staring at. For the first few minutes, I didn't see anything. But then... Wow. The mall was getting really fucking weird. "Tell me I'm not seeing Albus Dumbledore in that candy shop. Tell me he isn't standing there, trying out the different candies. Tell me he knows there are zombies running around the mall."

I opened my mouth, shut it and shrugged. She was seeing Albus Dumbledore in a candy store. He was wearing a set of deep maroon robes, his white hair and beard a stark contrast against the darkness of his garb. With the cap on his head, he bore a mild resemblance to Britain's Father Christmas. "I think the mall got its wires crossed. We don't usually do Father Christmas here in the States."

"You know, I never thought of it that way. He does look kind of like a Santa stand in. But why aren't the elves after him? They should be trying to rip his brains from his skull."

I stared at the man, idly sampling each and every kind of candy the shop had on display. Zombie elves were practically drooling all over him, but none of them got any closer than a few feet. Hmmm. Curious. I was about to write it off as some kind of magical force field or something because, dude.... Dumbledore. But then I saw the sprigs of mistletoe tied to his belt. Hmmm. Even more curious. I pointed at the greenery adorning his attire. "Maybe it has something to do with the mistletoe."

All three of them looked. "Mistletoe? Really?" Dean sounded as if he couldn't quite put two and two together. Why was it I always liked the pretty ones with no brains?

"Because the mistletoe repels the zombie elves." The voice came from behind us, prompting all four of us to turn and face the speaker. I waited to be shocked. It never came, leaving me a touch disappointed that it didn't seem as if anything could shock me anymore. Standing behind us was a reindeer with a bright red nose and a small blonde elf in blue. Rudolph didn't look as cute and cuddly as the Rankin/Bass version. In fact, he reminded me of the reindeer version of Rambo. Just the rack of antlers he sported could be considered a deadly weapon. And Hermey was... damned scary. It looked like he might have had a scar left by a bullet puckering his cheek just a bit. I think I was surprised that there wasn't a stogie clenched between his teeth.

"What are you two doing here?"

"We've been tracking the zombie elves' ring leader for months. He's been one step ahead of us the whole time. We were doing training missions with King Moonracer," Rudolph told us, turning just enough so that we could see a set of fresh, wicked scratch marks across his left rear flank. I thought they might be a little red and infected. Damn. "We came here as soon as we got word."

Gin poked me. "Remind me to cancel that visit to the Island of Misfit Toys."

"No shit," I nodded.

"Uh, guys?" Sam interrupted. We turned to look at him, only to find that he was pointing at a small group of zombie elves who were hurrying our way. Boy, those fuckers were fast. A quick look told me that Dumbledore was still tasting candy. The smoking carcass of a zombie elf lay twitching at his feet. Apparently Albus Dumbledore knew how to deal with annoying little gits after all.

Without conscious thought, Sam and Dean took aim. They sighted down the barrels of their weapons. I half expected to see one of them do that Danny Glover head roll thing from the Lethal Weapon movies, but neither one did. They fired almost simultaneously. The explosion made by the gun powder igniting was loud and echoed up and down the mall.

The swarm of zombie elves were still heading our way.

"That won't work," Hermey said, his voice husky from smoking three packs a day. He sounded like he should be doing enforcement work for one of the mob families. And that was when I noticed that he had a kind of utility belt on that was packed full of all kinds of goodies. Including grenades. Wow. Hermey had obviously given up his desire to be a dentist and had become a soldier of fortune. I knew a few Muses who might be scared enough by a threat from him to behave themselves. Maybe I could get him to put the fear of Santa's Little Hellions into them.

"Why not? They're zombies. Zombies usually go down with a head shot." Dean was confused. So was I, but I wasn't about to give voice to it. I really had to start being attracted to a smarter type of guy.

"They're zombie elves. You can only kill them with mistletoe and gingerbread. Cookies, house, men... It doesn't matter. It just has to be gingerbread." Hermey sounded as if he thought we should already know this.

"Or my nose," Rudolph stepped in front of us. I figured he'd just flip the switch and make it glow and that would be the end of it. The zombies would shuffle off in fear and all would be good. The nose did glow. It got brighter and brighter. And brighter still. And then a bright red beam shot from the reindeer's schnoz. It slammed into the elves like a tidal wave pounding the shoreline. They went down, screaming and smoking. Soon enough the laser beam died, leaving behind a mass of charred zombie elf flesh and singed velvet clothes.

I think all four of us turned the same look on the reindeer.

"So what are you? Some mutant freak? A failed genetic experiment? A figment of our imaginations?" This came from Dean. Had we just killed one of his childhood memories? I know one of mine had just gone up in flames.

"Rudolph is a genetic experiment conducted by your government. They were looking for ways to combat the Communists back in the Fifties," Hermey explained. "They figured that they could use a cute, harmless looking reindeer to get close to the enemy. And that a laser would be the best way to deal with any hostiles. They tried doing it with a laser strapped to Rudolph's back, but that didn't work. So the scientists decided to go with the story and the song and hide the laser in his nose. Bingo. Rudolph, the mercenary reindeer."

"Are you a genetic experiment, too?" Gin asked the obvious question of the elf. Hermey smiled. The kind of smile that said he wasn't a person you wanted to meet in a darkened alley. When he didn't speak right away, Gin crossed her arms over her chest. "Let me guess. You could tell me, but then you'd have to kill me."

"Something like that," Hermey confirmed with a brisk nod.

"What kind of kill count do you guys have? And do you just fight zombies or do you go after other unfriendlies?" I couldn't help it. I had to know.

"Classified, babe." Hermey shook his head. I threw a pout at him. It earned me a chuckle. "I shouldn't have told you anything about Rudolph, but you need to know that we're here to help you."

"Wait? Help us? You're not here to take care of this yourselves?" Sam asked.

"This is their territory." Rudolph motioned to Gin and I with his antlers. Again, I thought that it was the largest rack of antlers I'd ever seen. Which brought giggles. And earned me looks. "What's so funny?"

"That's the biggest rack I've ever seen." The statement earned me chuckles from the three people with me. Rudolph didn't look impressed. I shrugged.

"So you're here to help but not to clean things up on your own because that's our job?" Gin asked. Hermey and Rudolph both nodded in response. "Why is that, if I may ask."

"Because you two have been cleaning up the zombie messes here for three years now. Its your turf. We're just highly skilled back up." Hermey reached into a pouch that had thus far remained hidden and pulled out a map. Unsurprisingly, it was of the mall. Spreading it out on the floor, he tapped a large, open space down on the other end of the building. "The zombie elves' ring leader is down here. We have to hit him there because he won't leave his territory."

"Wait a minute." Sam had a hand on his head. The expression he wore behind that hand suggested he'd just gotten one hell of a headache. "You're telling us that the leader of the zombie elves is Santa Claus?"

"Not Santa Claus. Zombie Claus. He's Santa's evil twin brother back from the dead. He's a sneaky son of a bitch and has managed to keep one step ahead of us for a lot of years. But he's also easy to kill. Eggnog will do him in. You have to find some egg nog and then find a way to throw it on him. And fruitcake. Fruitcake bombs and eggnog grenades will help end him." If Rudolph and Hermey hadn't looked so serious about it, I would have laughed my ass off. As it was, the two of them had such stony expressions on their faces that I knew they were telling the truth.

Damn, this would make one hell of a movie.

"So what you're saying is we need lots of frigging eggnog, fruitcake, mistletoe and gingerbread." Well. At least Dean had that part down. Again, Hermey and Rudolph nodded. Hermey pointed to the map still laid out on the floor.

"There's a specialty shop here." His stubby little finger touched the map. "Its between a toy store and a lingerie shop. They have the eggnog and fruitcake. Bring as much of it as you can carry."

"Doesn't it have gingerbread?" I frowned. Why would a specialty shop have eggnog and fruitcake but not gingerbread.

"No. One of the restaurants in the food court has a ton of it. And we'll need to raid the Cinnabon. We need some of their cinnamon for the slippers." Hermey glanced up at us. "Split up. Two of you go get the eggnog. The other two go get the gingerbread. Rudolph and I will gather up the mistletoe. We'll meet back here in half an hour. There's no time to waste, either. As soon as the mall closes, Zombie Claus will be on his way somewhere else."

"Sam and I will go get the gingerbread. You and Dean gather up the eggnog." Gin spoke before I even had the chance. Damn. What was she planning? Hermey nodded at that. I shot her a look but turned to go, fairly certain Dean would trail after me.

"None of that nonfat shit," Rudolph called after us. "It has to be the regular stuff. Bring as much as you can carry."

I waited until we were by ourselves and well out of ear shot. Dean looked as if he was deep in thought, which meant he was trying to avoid me. Too bad, so sad, honey. I hadn't forgotten yet. And now was as good a time as any to call you on it. "So... um... How come you never called me?"

He twitched, ever so slightly, before lifting his shoulders in a slight shrug. "I was... uh... busy." Really? It was a lame excuse and  I shot him a glare to let him know. His lips went flat. Obviously he got that I wasn't buying it. "You know. Hunting demons. Killing shit. Saving the world. Busy."

"Too busy to drop me an email?" I shook my head. It wasn't like I expected him to buy me a drink. Just one lousy bullshit email would have been good. I'd gotten two things from him since he'd motored off in the Impala two months ago. Jack and shit. "I know for a fact Sammy's been emailing Gin."

I watched as color crept into his cheeks. "I, uh... I'm not so good with computers..." He trailed off. My ass. Try another lie, Dean. He looked away from me, as if he was seeking out danger. Finally, he stopped and stared into a shop. There was a shadowy figure at the back that, on first glance, could have been a real person. "Hey! Is that a demon? I think its a demon. I should really go check that out."

He started to move, as if he was going to step into the shop. I took hold of his arm. "It isn't a demon. Its a cardboard standee. Santa, I believe. And I can't believe you're going to be a little kid about this. If you weren't going to keep in touch with me, you should have just said so. I can handle the truth. I hate being lied to."

It was all the chastising I was going to do. Despite his penchant for acting as if he was a small child, he wasn't. And he knew what he'd done just as well as I did. There was no need to bring it up further and I wasn't going to read him the riot act. Yelling would only see him tuning out. Letting him know that he'd hurt me was good enough.

One of the shops we passed had carts in it. I hurried in and grabbed one, eyes peeled for velvet wearing corpses. I saw none, but that didn't mean they weren't around anywhere. Dean said nothing to the cart, simply kept walking. I stayed at his side, more than uncomfortable without my chainsaw in hand.

"Hey! I wanted one of those when I was a kid." The words left Dean's lips as he spied the display in the toy store's window. I looked at it and rolled my eyes. Displayed prominently in the center of a large group of toys was an actual, honest to gods Red Ryder BB gun. An unholy gleam shone in Dean's eyes. Probably he was thinking of the first gun his father had ever given him. Or his first kill. Chances were good he'd had that same look on his face the first time he'd spied the damn BB gun.

A tingle up and down my spine saw me looking around for that Ralphie kid in his pink bunny suit. It was a relief to find that he wasn't there. I turned my attention back to Dean. "You'll shoot your eye out, kid." I popped off with the line and brought Dean's gaze around to me. Offering him a big smile, I finished the line off. "HO! HO! HO!" Then I walked away, pushing the cart before me.

"You enjoyed the hell out of that, didn't you?" Dean asked when he caught up with me.

"Who? Me?" I turned my best innocent face on him. Then I pushed the cart into the specialty store Hermey had told us about.

The damned place was dedicated to all things Christmas. There was a wall of cold units that housed pints, quarts and half gallons of eggnog. One aisle was filled with cards and decorations. One had all kinds of Christmas delicacies. There was wrapping paper, bows, gift sets. I headed straight for the food aisle and loaded up on fruitcakes. Then I joined Dean at the refrigerated units. He began piling eggnog into the cart. When we'd emptied the unit, we went down the aisle with the decorations. I grabbed as many boxes of ornaments and yards of tinsel garland as I could find. Hermey had said eggnog grenades and fruitcake bombs. The ornaments could be filled with eggnog and lengths of the garland could be used as fuses for the fruitcake. Or we could tie Zombie Claus up with it. Either way, it was a winner.

Once we had everything we thought we could possibly use, we made our way back to where we'd first spied Dumbledore and met up with Hermey and Rudolph. Sam and Gin had beaten us back with a rolling rack loaded down with trays of gingerbread cookies. Obviously they'd taken it from the cookie place. There were two or three giant jars of Cinnabon cinnamon, several bottles of Gold Bond and a huge pile of mistletoe on the floor. Hermey took one look at the Christmas decorations and shook his head.

"Tinsel to act as a kind of fuse. It should burn, right? Tie it around the fruitcake, light it and let it go. The rum in those babies should catch on fire so that they'll be engulfed when they hit Zombie Claus." I opened one of the packages of ornaments, pulled a bulb from its plastic cradle and tugged the lid off. "Pour eggnog into the body of the ornament and it literally becomes a grenade. The glass will explode when it hits Zombie Claus and douse him with the eggnog."

Hermey and Rudolph looked at one another. Apparently, no one else had thought of this. Why wasn't I surprised by that? Finally, Hermey nodded and motioned to all of the gathered components. "Let's get to work."

We were each assigned a task. I thought it funny how Rudolph and Hermey were supposed to be there to help us, but we were the ones being bossed around. Shouldn't the two of them been giving us a hand or hoof?  Gin got to stuff pieces of mistletoe through a gingerbread cookie while Dean poured eggnog into the ornaments. Sam wrapped lengths of tinsel garland around the fruitcakes and I mixed Gold Bond with Cinnabon cinnamon. When we were finally finished, we loaded everything up into the cart.

"This isn't going to be like any of the other times when you could just take a chainsaw to the zombie and cut it down. If you don't get that gingerbread into its mouth, it won't die. And Rudy's nose can only do so much." Hermey sounded as if he thought we would fail in this task. Well, that was terribly kind of him. "We need to hit them fast and hit them hard. The safety of the mall's patrons depends upon that."

"Oh, that totally doesn't sound good." The elf shot me a look, then motioned us forward. Rudolph took the lead. Hermey walked to the side and behind him. I went next with the cart. Gin was armed with some Gold Bond, as were Sam and Dean. I think one of the men was at the rear of the procession, but I didn't bother to stop and look. I was too busy making sure that Rudolph didn't leave any surprises on the floor.

Gin tapped my arm, prompting me to send her a questioning gaze. She motioned with her free hand toward the reindeer in front of me. "Wow. Check out the, uh, jingle bells on that one." A glance in the direction she was pointing showed me that Rudolph was still very much a boy.

"Damn. Now we really know why the other reindeer never let Rudolph join in any reindeer games." I shook my head as I spoke. She snorted out a laugh, which she promptly silenced when both Rudolph and Hermey looked at us.

It wasn't long after leaving the assembly area that we started to see a long, winding line on the lower floor. Obviously the line to see Santa. And it appeared to be longer than earlier. Maybe the elves had forced all of the mall patrons to bring their children down here. Maybe there was something subliminal in the music playing through the PA. A quick check told me it was still the Crypt Keeper and this time, he was crooning that he wished someone would bury their missus. Oh, yeah. That was totally chock full of subliminal messages.

Pretty soon, we could hear the screaming, wailing sounds of children shrieking in fear. Uh-oh. Someone had figured out that Santa was a zombie. All the kids would make our jobs harder. And listening to them scream was going to give me a headache. Maybe we'd get lucky and Rudolph's nose would "accidentally" go off.

"Mommy!" The little boy's voice was shrill. I stopped and glanced over the railing to stare down at the action unfolding beneath us. Impatient kids tugged on their impatient parents' hands, begging and demanding and even ordering that they get to see Santa next. One mother was dragging her child away from the front of the line. There was boredom and exhaustion on her face and the child's face was red from crying and screaming. He held a traditional red and white stocking in his hand and, even from across the distance, I could see that it hung funny in his grasp. Something was seriously not right about it.

"Hush, baby. We're going now."

The boy's face got redder. "Waaaaaah! Mommy, mommy! There's a dead foot in my stocking!"

The woman didn't look at him. She didn't even bat an eyelash . "Hush, dear. You're making a scene."

"But! Mommy!" The boy planted his feet, determined not to go any further until she listened to him. The mother only tugged him along behind her. "Its an icky dead foot!"

The mother sighed. "That's nice, dear. Now come along. Its time to go home."

"Zombie Claus and Jack Skellington work for the same boss." Gin's comment brought a giggle up my throat. Again, Hermey and Rudolph shot us a look, then continued forward. We followed after them, still giggling softly to ourselves. Rudolph led us into Macy's and toward an elevator. Of course. We were going to meet Zombie Claus on his own turf. Not like we couldn't throw fruitcake bombs and eggnog grenades from the second level or anything. No. We had to get close enough to smell the decay on his breath. If he had candy canes to hand out, I was going to shove them down his throat. And then I'd never be able to associate them with anything other than death after the fact.

The elevator was a tight fit. Hermey climbed up on Rudolph's back, which was just wrong somehow. But I didn't dare say anything. The government had apparently experimented the sense of humor right out of the reindeer. Dean, Sam and Gin took up one side and the reindeer and his rider got the other. I pulled the cart into the middle of the car between them. No one said anything, so there was either no plan or we were supposed to already know what it was. I didn't recall discussing how this would go, but that didn't mean someone didn't have something up their sleeves. I just knew it wasn't me.

Of course, if the planning was left up to me, I'd have opted to chain all the doors shut and light the fucking mall on fire.

We hit the first floor with a ding. The doors slid open and I wheeled the cart out onto the floor. I knew without looking that Hermey and Rudolph came behind me. Then Sam, Dean and finally Gin. It was time to face the big fat... zombie? As one, we started toward where we knew the store would exit out into the main part of the mall.

I think it was the smell that clued us in first. Some really funky odor slapped into us only steps from the elevator. The kind of smell that I remembered from summers driving to my grandmothers. The kind of smell that came from a chicken farm. That couldn't be a good sign. The smell was followed by a loud clucking sound that had a distinctly evil tone to it. As one, all six of us turned to see what was behind us.

I don't think any of us could actually speak for several long minutes. We were too busy trying to process what it was we were seeing. To me, it looked like a giant fucking chicken. It must have stood over seven feet tall. White feathers, three toed feet with sharp talons on the end. Beak. And beady eyes that seemed to see everything at once. It was the evilest looking fowl creature I'd ever seen.

"Dude, there's a giant, mutated chicken following us." Leave it to Dean to state the obvious. As one, we all looked at him. He gave a kind of shrug and attempted to look cute and innocent. He managed one of the two with ease.

I shook my head. "We're not going to pay it any attention. Its too late. Halloween was two months ago."

Gin frowned before turning a hopeful look toward the group in general. "Are you sure its not a giant, mutated Christmas goose?"

I sighed and rolled my eyes at her. "Yes, Gin. I'm sure its not a giant, mutated Christmas goose."

"How can you tell? Its mutated."

"Trust me. You'll know a cooked goose when you see one."

Gin scowled at the bad pun. "Bah! Humbug!"

Dean, who had been studying the beast at length, had to get the last word in. "No. Its not a goose. Its Cockzilla."

"God, Dean. Really? Do we have to talk about the difference between reality and porn again?" Sam glared at his brother. Dean just smirked and pulled out his hand gun. Apparently he was going to shoot it. Why did I get the feeling that doing such a thing would be a really bad idea?

"Put that thing away. You wanna put your eye out?" Hermey asked, shooting an extra special scowl the older Winchester's way. Dean would have argued, I think, but Sam glared at him. Dean slipped the gun back where he'd gotten it from and proceeded to pout. Joy.  

Assured the gun was stowed, Hermey gave a nod to Rudolph. The reindeer stared at the chicken a moment or two, then his nose started glowing again. Seconds later, a red beam shot from his nostrils. The chicken went down with a strangled squawk of surprise. When the beam shut off, there was a freshly cooked chicken. Extra crispy recipe. Yummy. If it wasn't radio active, that is.

Without another word, we continued on our way. It was long past time to pay a visit on Zombie Claus.

It was chaos when we finally stepped out of Macy's. We were more or less right in front of Santa's Winter Wonderland. Moms and dads and kids were lined up off into the distance, all waiting their turn to see the jolly fat man. None of the adults looked as if they were thinking. In fact, many of them looked as if they were nothing more than zombies. Hmmm. That didn't bode well. Something was afoot at the Circle K.

The kids were anxious to see Santa. But some of them were old enough to realize that there was something wrong. One of the zombie elves was escorting a youngster up to sit on Santa's lap. And the kid was resisting, his feet dragging as he pleaded with his mom not to make him sit on Santa's lap. "He smells dead, Momma! He looks dead! I don't wanna sit on his lap!" While the boy's anxiety didn't transmit itself to his mother, the other kids picked up on it just fine. That's when the shrieking started.

I turned to look at Gin, who must have been wearing a disgusted expression to match my own. "Man, that just ruined every Christmas show in the world."

"The fat undead fucker has to die." There was conviction in her voice.

"What about the kids?" Sam asked.

"They know something is wrong. They'll run soon enough." Dean motioned to the kids. I noticed that he had a candy cane in his hand. I wondered what tree he'd stolen it off of. "So how are we going to do this?"

"We split into three groups. One goes after Zombie Claus. One takes on the zombie elves. And Rudolph and Hermey cover our asses." Gin's plan. It worked for me. Rudolph and Hermey nodded in agreement. She began pointing toward Santa's Winter Wonderland, her finger motioning to dangerous spots. There was a large tree behind Santa's throne, all decked out in shining bulbs and blinking lights and sparkling garlands. Beside it was a fake fireplace, stocking hung from the mantel. Each one looked a little too bulky, like they had things inside of them. More stockings lay on a table beside Santa's throne, obviously gifts for the kiddos. And yes, there was a surplus of candy canes. Death breath and peppermint. Yuck.

To one side was a gingerbread house that was large enough for kids to walk through. On the other side were small houses that were meant to represent Santa's workshop and the elves' barracks. Fake snow was everywhere and one of those plywood sleighs with plastic reindeer took up the far end, on the other side of the gingerbread house. Zombie Claus was decked out in a lush red velvet suit edged with brilliant white fur. The belt was real leather, as were his boots. The only thing off with him was the slightly grey-ish pallor to his skin.  

All in all, it would have been a lovely place to take your kids to have their pictures taken with Santa. If Santa hadn't been a crazy assed zombie who wanted to munch on brains.

"Um... Is that who I think that is?" Gin asked, finger tapping my shoulder lightly.

"Huh?" I asked. She pointed so I followed her finger. to see who she was looking at. A rather buxom blonde had squeezed herself into a sex Mrs. Claus dress, complete with mini skirt and skin tight bodice. She had a hat on her head at a jaunty angle. Her legs were wrapped in fishnets and she wore leather boots with a five inch heel.

"There. Is that her?" she asked. "Is that Hello Nurse?"

"Damn. I think it is. I didn't recognize her without the uniform. How the hell did she end up with Zombie Claus?"

"Well, she isn't known for having brains," Gin shrugged. Point. She wasn't. She'd survived three Halloweens with MallZombies. No doubt Zombie Claus had promised her a lovely present. It was likely he was the one who'd be surprised. "So who gets the elves and who gets fatso?"

"Sam and Dean can have the elves. You and I get the fat boy. One of these days, the zombies will realize that they're not welcome here."

Rich, deep laughter rang out over the current Crypt Keeper carol playing. I'd stopped keeping track some time ago. "I was hoping you'd show up here today. The famed hunters themselves." We all turned to look at Zombie Claus. He was staring at Gin and I. Wow! We had a rep? Go us. "And you've brought us our arch enemies. Rudolph and that sickening elf, Hermey. How my brother puts up with you two is beyond me."

Crap! Zombie Claus spoke in full sentences. We'd never run into a zombie before that had. That was definitely new.

"Santa is a saint," Hermey replied, as if that was supposed to explain everything. Maybe it did. I'd have given it more thought if I hadn't been so concerned about the figures emerging from behind buildings and trees and shit.

"I brought company to help me take care of you troublesome women." One by one, they stepped up beside Zombie Claus. Ebenezer Scrooge, his ledger in hand, took his place beside the zombie. Snow Miser and Heat Miser were there, both playing with products of their side of nature. Snow Miser had a snowball in hand. Heat Miser was playing with a lightning bolt. But it was the fourth person who really bothered me. He took his place beside Zombie Claus on the opposite side as Scrooge. Clad in his red coat and hat was the Grinch, smiling an evil Grinchy smile at us.

"What is that?" Dean asked.

"A Who." It was Gin who responded.

"No. Not who is that. What is that?"

"Its a Who. Not a what." She was smiling. Oh, crap. We were going to be Abbott and Costello now.

"That is so not a costume. What the hell is that thing?"

I sighed and shook my head at him. "Damn! Didn't you ever read Dr. Seuss? That's a Who from Whoville. Duh."

Sam and Dean stared a minute, trying to figure it out. Then Dean pulled his gun and started walking away.

"What are you doing?" I asked. He stopped and looked at me.

"I'm going to exorcise the demon."

"Oh, for the love of... " I muttered, then tugged on his arm. He stared at me. "It isn't a demon. That's the Grinch. Don't you know the Grinch when you see him?"

"It can't be the Grinch," Dean protested. Loud enough that the Grinch heard him and scowled. "He's a character from a book."

Oh, right. Like that had ever stopped the mall. One year, we'd had a Monty Python re-enactment. I crossed my arms over my chest and glared at him. "Why can't it be him? You're here."

Sam laughed. "She's got you there, dude."

Dean muttered a curse and put up his gun. I motioned to where Scrooge stood. "He's a person. You can shoot him. But the Grinch isn't a demon. No exorcising."

"Damn it." Wow. Someone really wanted to perform an exorcism. Poor baby. Then he turned his attention back to the Grinch. "Dude. Isn't your butt cold like that?"

Gin grinned. "I've heard of blue with cold. But green?"

Zombie Claus roared in frustration. "Enough of this twaddle! Elves! Get them!"

Zombie elves came swarming out of nowhere, throwing us into action. The sight of so many undead little men woke the snoozing parents up and sent them running. They screamed the whole way. Most of them forgot their kids. And suddenly, I got what was going on here. Zombie Claus needed more zombie elves. He couldn't get his hands on legitimate elves, so he was making some for himself. No doubt he planned on turning the kids into zombies and then taking them as his own personal platoon of evil deed doers. But how was he doing it?

A table beside his chair held a platter of cookies and a glass filled with what was supposed to look like eggnog. It wasn't eggnog. I was sure I was looking at a plate loaded down with gingerbrain cookies. The glass was filled with deadnog. Zombie Claus was recruiting. The son of a bitch had to die.

The gingerbread cookies we'd gathered up and stuffed with mistletoe were shoved haphazardly into the open mouths of the zombie elves. They screamed in pain as they fell back, hands clawing at the poison in their mouths. But there seemed to be an endless supply and we were fast running out of ammuntion. Gin and I saw our saving grace at the same time. "House!" We made the exclamation together. Nodding, she and I charged toward the house in order to load up with more ammunition.

"Where was this shit when I had a zombie in my cleavage?" I demanded, kicking Santa's Little Hellions away.

"You know it wouldn't have worked. Those were Halloween zombies. Not Christmas zombies." Gin put her fist into the face of one of the undead. It stumbled back.

"And there's a fucking difference?"

"Of course there's a fucking difference. Have you ever seen a jolly Halloween zombie?" she asked. Come to think of it, I hadn't.

"Okay. Point. But you know how long it took to get the zombie out of my boobs last time. I wish the Halloween zombies were frightened off by candy corn or those icky peanut butter thingies. If they were, I'd drop some in my cleavage and leave it there until the next day."

Inside the house, we looked for anything that could be pulled off and force fed to the zombie elves. Someone had put a kitchen table inside the house and a kid was hiding under it, frightened out of his gourd. His eyes were big enough when we entered the house. They got positively huge when Gin ripped a gingerbread shelf from the wall. "What did you do that for"

"I'm hungry," she replied, then made a shooing motion. "Go on, kid. Get going. Get out of here. Save yourself."

The boy nodded, climbed out from under the table and slipped out the door. Chances were good he was running as fast as his legs could carry him. When he was gone, I turned a look on Gin. "What? I was supposed to tell him I'm going to shove this down some undead elf's maw so it'll lie down and be dead? Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas, Bobby!"

We left the house to find that most of the elves were had either been force fed gingerbread and mistletoe or they'd been crispified by Rudolph's nose. Scrooge was no where to be seen. Actually, none of the help Zombie Claus had brought was in the immediate vicinity. Hmmm. Curious. Had they run out the minute trouble had started? More than possible. None of them were really fighters. Okay. So the Miser brothers would fight amongst themselves. But what that meant for us was Zombie Claus was all by his little self. Good, that made it easier for us.

"Hey! Dead head!" Gin called. Zombie Claus, who had been trying to get Sam and Dean to either eat or drink from his table, turned to look at us. She lobbed the gingerbread shelf at him. We watched as it bounced harmlessly off his forehead and fell to the floor, where it cracked into pieces. "Shit. That didn't work."

"Any other bright ideas?" I asked. Zombie Claus was pissed and he was coming our way.

"Not a one? You?"

"I say we run like hell." Gin nodded her agreement. This was the wrong place to be without a chainsaw. Zombie Claus grinned at us, showing stained teeth, then put his fingers in his mouth and whistled. Almost immediately, a giant swarm of leaping slippers came at us.

"Catch!" Dean called. Moments later, two bottles of Gold Bond came flying our way. Gin and I each caught one, then opened the top and got ready. The slippers closed the distance between us and them until they were almost right on top of us. That's when Gin and I twisted the tops open and gave the bottles a good squeeze. Powder mixed with cinnamon puffed out in a big cloud, obscuring everyone's view of what was happening for a good two or three minutes.

When the smoke finally cleared, we could all see that the Cinnabond had done what it was supposed to do. The slippers had all dropped to the floor like stones.

Zombie Claus turned to glare hatefully at Rudolph and Hermey. "You! You've been giving away my secrets! I'm going to kill you both!" Zombie Claus rushed at the two of them. Sam and Dean took the opportunity to each throw an eggnog grenade at him. They landed at his feet, the glass ornaments shattering so easily. Eggnog splashed up over his boots and soaked into the red of his suit.

And nothing happened.

Or so it seemed at first. Zombie Claus bellowed out an evil sounding "Ho! Ho! Ho!" His gaze was fixed on the boys. He had horrible plans for them, I could tell. Zombie Claus was not going to take away my chance to get into Dean's Impala again. I took note that his leg was smoking ever so slightly where the eggnog had hit him. Cool. Time to give the boys an opening. "Hey! Fuck face!" I yelled out. Everyone turned to stare at me, all of them wearing the same exact expression of disbelief.

"Are you talking to me, little girl?"

"Yeah. I'm talking to you." I hoped that the Winchesters would take the opportunity I'd given them to start lobbing eggnog grenades at him. Or maybe set off one of those fruitcake bombs. "Do your jingle bells still work?"

"Why do you want to know? I checked my list twice and it didn't say a word about you enjoying necrophilia. Well, there is the vampire. I suppose that counts." Zombie Claus grinned at me. Yeah, buddy. That was so not happening.

"I take it that's a yes?"

"Its a yes. Want to come sit in my lap?"

"No," I shook my head and darted forward. "I want to do this." The next thing anyone knew, Zombie Claus had gotten a foot to the family jewels. He let out a groan, his hands automatically seeking out his nuts, then dropped to his knees. His eyes rolled up to look at me.

"You've been a naughty little girl."

"That's what happens when you fuck with my town. Now take your zombie ass and get the fuck out of here." I stepped back, then looked up at Sam and Dean. Both looked a touch concerned. "Nail him. Melt his ass or whatever."

They nodded without saying a word and reached for an ornament. Before they could throw them, though, the Grinch returned. Snow Miser and Heat Miser were with him. They brought a new contingent of zombie elves with them. Zombie elves that were coming right at us. Shit.

Gin grabbed my hand and started running for where we'd left Sam and Dean. "Are you out of your fucking mind?" She had to yell the words to be heard over the screaming of the zombie elves that were being scorched by Rudolph's shiny nose. In the background, I could hear the Miser brothers singing their trade mark tune. Yeah. They were too much all right.

"Had to get in my kicks," I replied with a grin. A zombie elf flew over our heads, prompting us to drop to the ground with all haste. We wound up at Sam and Dean's feet.

"You started a fucking war! What is Santa going to think when he finds out you kicked his brother in the nuts?" she went on.

"He'll bring me extra special gifts this year. It needed done. Zombie Claus was getting too cocky." I rolled to my feet and scooped up a fruitcake bomb. Without having to ask, Dean put a lighter into my hand. I brought a flame to life, then lit the tinsel on fire. As I'd figured, the shit went up like kindling. After waiting a few seconds to give the tinsel time to burn down, I took aim and tossed the hunk of holiday horror toward the enemy.

By the time it hit its target, the fruitcake was engulfed in flames. And the cheap material that the Grinch had made his Santa coat out of caught so quickly that it wasn't even funny. Mere seconds ticked past and his green fur was covered in tongues of fire. He let go a high pitched scream and ran. A small group of zombie elves followed after him. "Stop, drop and roll!" They chanted it after him in a droning tone.

Maybe we'd get lucky and the son of a bitch would set the mall on fire. I didn't want to have to start doing this for all the holidays. What was next? Zombie cupids? I shuddered at the thought.

The fighting kind of turned into a free for all. We dealt with zombie elves, evil reindeer slippers, the occasional Miser brother and the big man himself. Zombie Claus had halted the effects of those two eggnog bombs by drinking the stuff that had been sitting on the table beside his chair. Just as I'd suspected. Deadnog.

Santa's Winter Wonderland was filled with chaos. There were children screaming. There were adults screaming. There were zombie elves screaming. Almost everyone was screaming. Some in fear and some in pain. Red lights strobed over the fake snow, giving it a bloody hue. Fruitcake bombs were flying, setting anything on fire that would take flame. Eggnog grenades were shattering, splashing the stuff all over hapless victims. Cinnamon tainted foot powder hung on the air. Zombies fell. Slippers fell. Scrooge showed up to "Bah! Humbug!" us. The Miser brothers kept singing and fought among themselves. It felt like the fighting would go on forever.

And then it was done. The powder filtered to the floor to coat scorched zombie and lifeless slipper carcasses with a fine, white dusting. Small fires still burned here and there. Scrooge was gone, as were the Miser brothers. The stench of the Grinch's burned fur was all that was left of him. Santa's Winter Wonderland looked as if it had been in the middle of a nuclear war zone.

Only the jolly old zombie himself was left standing. And he was looking much worse for the wear. His suit was more black than red and there were angry patches of raw skin that looked like acid burns on his face. His supply of deadnog was gone, taken down by a fruitcake bomb. The same went for his gingerbrain cookies. He was nearly dead on his feet.

Ha, ha. I made a funny! Zombie Claus. Dead on his feet. Get it?

"You're all going on the naughty list. And you won't like what I leave in your stockings!" He snarled the words at us.

"There won't be any stocking stuffing where you're going," Gin told him. We each picked up an eggnog grenade and aimed. "And if there is... Well, I don't want to know about it. You with us on this one, Rudolph?"

"I'm packing," the reindeer replied. If his jingle bells were any indication, he certainly was. And his nose was glowing, which meant he was ready to fire off a laser beam or two. Zombie Claus was hurt. We'd never get a better shot. It was now or never.

Gin nodded and, as one, the four of us threw the eggnog grenade we held. They all struck Zombie Claus, soaking his suit and bringing about more smoke. Rudolph's laser beam hit him, making the liquid boil against his skin. The zombie screamed and writhed. He dropped to the ground as he tried to escape the eggnog that ate at his skin. Sam and Dean tossed a pair of fruitcake bombs at him.

Zombie Claus went up in flames. Santa's Winter Wonderland was in ruins.

"We'll round up any stray slippers and zombie elves and deal with them," Hermey told us. "Thank you for helping us deal with Zombie Claus. We couldn't have done it without you." He and Rudolph were gone before we could say anything more. Gin and I looked at one another.

"Why do I get the feeling that we'll be to blame if something goes wrong?" I asked her.

"Bureaucracy. You know how that goes." She sighed and stared around at the mess we'd left. Her eyes came back to Zombie Claus. "Okay. So I was wrong about the gingerbread. But you gotta admit. The Eggnog grenades really worked."

"Yeah." I agreed with a nod. "Nothing says Merry Fucking Christmas like a flaming flying fruitcake."

"So... What do we do now?" Sam's question brought our attention to the Winchesters. Dean looked back and forth between his sibling and Gin and I.

"I don't know about you, but I could go for a  bacon cheeseburger."

"IHOP?" I looked at Gin.

"IHOP," she agreed.

"You're buying," I told her.

"I'm buying." She said it with a sigh. I glanced at the boys, who shrugged and gave their nods of approval. "Come on. then. Let's go."

We all started for the door, intent on putting this Christmas fiasco behind us. I watched as Gin moved over so that she could walk beside Sam. He put his arm around her shoulder without saying a word. Nice to know those two were still all peachy. I didn't bother looking at Dean. I decided I was still mad at him. So I left him behind and caught up to Sam and Gin. "I am so never coming here again!" I told her.

"Never say never," she quipped.

"What happened to the Miser brothers?" Dean asked from behind us."

"Who knows? Not that it matters. Those two would rather fight with one another than with someone else."

"What about Scrooge?"

Gin and I exchanged a look, then grinned. We responded to Dean's question in unison. "Bah! Humbug!"

Yeah. That just about covered the day.

Chapter 1 of 1
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