Friday Flash: Tis the Season To Be Jolly

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly.

The chirruping of choristers niggles as I wander the icy streets. Why holly? Because it is a perennial. I am perennial, too, so why not lily?

“Tis the season to be jolly.

I am jolly when at my work and I am at my work now. As I amble along the crowded pavements, I carry out my work with the same good cheer I have displayed since … how long? Forever?

Here’s a jolly one coming towards me. Jolly and drunk, bidding everyone a gurgled, “Happy Christmas.”

Does he wish the same for me? Like most of them, he doesn’t even see me. They never realise I’m there until …

There’s a bus behind him, filled with more seasonal revellers. The driver takes his time negotiating the narrow street where shoppers and partygoers spill from the pavements into the road.

It’s so tempting. One nicely timed nudge and the jolly drunk will be …

I cannot. He is not the one. I never know who is the one until we meet. Then I know instinctively. Then I carry out my work. Then I am jolly, at peace in the light of a job well done.

“Merry New Year,” warbles the drunk as he passes me.

His greeting is not directed at me but at a crowd of young men and women outside the entrance to a busy bar. They return his compliment and laugh at his inebriation. Others will laugh at them in a few hours when they have drunk themselves into a stupor.

A brass band stands on the street corner. They play O Come All Ye Faithful. I scan their faces, red with the cold and respiratory exertion of producing the music. She’s there. I recognise her immediately. The one. She plays the flugelhorn, the notes resonating sweetly in my ears. Perfect pitch. More soothing than the warbling of the choristers further down the street.

She is young and pretty; slender, curvaceous, and I guess she would be alluring if it were not for the dour navy blue and gold braiding of her band uniform. Her fair hair sweeps gently over the collar of her jacket, her fine boned fingers, so delicate, deftly manipulate the valves in a manner that is at once skilful yet arousing. The baby blue eyes focus on the music, scanning the scales left to right, down, left to right, down.

Long buried memories of passion stir inside me. I want her. I want to possess her, let her possess me.

But I am beyond such lust. She is the one. I must carry out my work. It is the only medium through which I can be jolly in this season of joy.

All I need is the instrument. I study the flugelhorn. Could I? The inevitable pun strikes my mind. The flugelhorn is the instrument of …

A crowd of merrymakers are coming towards her. The young man at the head of the crowd, worse for wear from alcohol, staggers and leaps about in a bizarre imitation of jollity, showing off to his friends. He is not watching where he is going.

The instrument.

I cannot touch him. I can only walk by, let the chill of my passing divert his course. And as he sways to one side or the other, he bumps into her. His friends and other passers-by shout warnings. One man tries to put himself between the reveller and her. Even if he does, he will only be cannoned into her and the inevitable will take its course.

The push in her back thrusts her forward. She loses her footing on the icy pavement and topples, face down. The survival instinct removes the horn from her sensuous lips. She puts out a hand to save herself. It’s too late. As she falls, she lands on the trumpet, its stem striking between those fine breasts. She let’s out a cry, quickly stifled to the wheezing of breath forced from her tortured lungs. Her ribs are crushed in exactly the right place, and her heart is ruptured. Blood trickles from her mouth, stains the pavements a pale pink.

They turn her over. She looks up and she sees me. I smile and as she drifts into terminal shock, I move on.

My work is done and I feel jolly but the joy in my soul at a job well done will not last long. I have to be elsewhere to meet the next one. The thought takes the edge off my jolliness. Death’s work is never finished.

“Deck the halls with boughs of lily.

It has a certain ring to it.


15 Responses to “Friday Flash: Tis the Season To Be Jolly”

  1. done it again – well done

  2. I could picture this unfolding. Great portrayal of Death too, interesting take on that character.

    I particularly liked your use of the carol, that worked brilliantly, especially at the end.

    Welcome to #fridayflash.

  3. Welcome!

    I wondered what was going to happen and who exactly the narrator was … death or a psychopath. Nicely written!

  4. Jim Bronyaur Says:

    wow… am I the first to comment? Sweet.

    This is awesome… welcome to #fridayflash… keep writing and keep posting. Good old death, huh? 🙂

    By the way, my alter ego, Jack Roth, writes horror poetry based on death killing people… it’s here if you care to read it sometime!

    I love how death picked the right person to kill… calculated bastard that it is! 🙂

    Jim Bronyaur <– my #fridayflash this week!

  5. Scary indeed. Poor girl.

  6. Good one, David, nice lead in.

  7. Nice one David. Excellent story. Look forward to lots more.

  8. I think the “tell” was a little early in this tale, David. I knew less than a third of the way in who your narrator was. Otherwise, very good work here. Cheers!

  9. The image of jolly Death is an excellent contrast. Death enjoying a job well done. Gives me shivers. Nice story.

  10. This reminds me of someone I knew who would step forward at cross-walks trying to egg people into walking into the street even though the light was red. Nice capture of a slightly deranged point of view.

  11. Nice. Love the use of foreshadowing and how Death is portrayed. It’s a good happy story!

  12. Many thanks to everyone who commented. It’s a good few years since I last had a bash at short stories, and these responses are encouraging. Maybe I’ll have another go next week.

  13. Do have another go next week David. I enjoyed this a lot. It didn’t matter that I knew this was death stalking for his victim. The intrigue was in who he was going to choose and how they would meet him.

    • Thank you, FS (sorry, don’t know you’re real name.) I replied to a prievious comment that I’e concentrated on novels and book length NF fort so long that short story writer in me got rusty. There were giveaways in this tale.

      Have another bash? It’s all prepared. Don’t know that it’s any better than this, but as long as the feedback is as constructive as this, I’ll stick with it.

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