I decided to name the project after Cassandra. She, after all, had always been the one who had made sure we had Christmas every year. That was part of the reason it was so hard this year. But as soon as I stepped into the Christmas tree lot, I became determined to make this year just as good as anything Cassandra ever did.
The Christmas tree scent did me in. It smelled so good, very woody, and had that Christmassy smell. I wandered around the lot, looking at all the trees that were still available. Since it was Christmas Eve, there wasn’t very much.
When I saw the price tags on the trees, I thought I was seeing things. No tree was worth those kinds of prices. But they were real, and I began to have doubts again. I really couldn’t afford something like that.
I had to leave the lot without purchasing anything. There hadn’t been anything really good looking, and the prices were just outrageous. So instead I drove to the nearest shopping center. I loaded a lot of stuff into the cart as I pushed it around, a 4 feet tall fake tree that was also priced way more than I thought it was worth, a pine scented candle, some lights and decorations, a carton of eggnog, some fruitcake, wrapping paper, and a few small presents for each of the boys. I paid for it at the checkout, wincing at the total price, then packed everything into my car. It didn’t all fit into my trunk, which was outfitted like the GTO, so some had to sit in the front seat.
By the time I reached the motel we were staying at, I was in a good ish mood again. I quickly unloaded everything and began setting up. It took a lot of work, since the tree was in pieces and the directions were confusing, but by the time the sun started dipping below the horizon, everything was ready.
Now all I had to do was wait.
That, of course, was the hardest part. The sun disappeared and shadows crawled into the nooks and crannies not light by the dim bulb in the room. I sat in the corner staring at the lit Christmas tree, letting the time pass me by. I tried to imagine how they would react when they saw how the room looked, while trying not to think of how Cassandra would have done things differently.
When eight o’clock rolled around I began to worry. If it was taking them this long to get rid of that one nest, than something was wrong. I stood and grabbed my jacket, heading for the door. If they were in trouble then I had to go help them. Of course, it worried me even more that they hadn’t called.
As I reached for the door, the window to my right exploded inward. I shrieked, ducking to keep flying shards of glass out of my face, and before I could recover someone grabbed me from behind and threw me across the room.
Luckily I landed on one of the beds; otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been up to any fight. I quickly rolled off the bed and drew the one knife that never left my body. As I did so, I searched for my attacker. I could already feel the anger and hatred, so I knew it was a demon, I just didn’t know what kind of person it was in habiting. Knowing that would change how I fought the thing.
A tall, muscle bound man stomped towards me, an angry expression on his face. I wasn’t completely sure how he’d made it out of the warehouse alive, but at the moment it wasn’t my top priority. Surviving this thing was. While he felt like just a low level demon, being in a body several times larger than mine was going to work to his advantage, making me work harder.
As he approached I stepped a foot back so that I was in a better position, and as soon as he was in range I flung my arm out, slashing with the blade across his chest. Then, while he was cringing, I ducked under his arm, took a couple of steps forward, and kicked him from behind.
He crashed forward in to the bed with a shout, and I took a few precious moments to dive for my duffle bag, which held a few more blades that I hadn’t put into my trunk yet. As I struggled with the zipper and managed to get hold of my throwing dagger bandolier, the demon grabbed me and threw me across the room again.
This time I wasn’t so lucky; I landed with a painful crunch against the Christmas tree shattering the ornaments and breaking the flimsy pole. Then I collapsed against the wrapped presents underneath the tree, hearing and feeling CDs break and bottles crack.
Groaning, I tried to shift around without breaking anything else. I failed miserably as another box got smashed beneath my weight. I didn’t have time to feel horrible, though, because the next thing I knew I was grabbed again and thrown to the other side, against the door.Things were not going so well.