Authors note: This takes place after the currant story arc.
(Part 1 of 2)
Howard wandered across the frozen wasteland known as the mall parking lot. Being New York in December, he had dressed for ungodly degrees of cold, but even so warmly bundled he still felt cold. At least he had found a parking space that wasn't in another state. "A f-f-freaking Christmas m-m-miracle." He muttered to himself, trying hard not to shiver.
Somehow he had forgotten to get Beverly a gift. He did not forget her reaction from last year though. "Never forget that" he shivered again, though not from the cold that time. Hence he was out here on Christmas eve to find her something. Anything. Even if it sucked as a gift, he could make it up after the holiday. Inside the cheerfully lighted mall was extremely warm, the sudden temperature shift causing his feet to ache dully as the feeling returned to them. His ear holes were immediately assaulted by overly cheerful music.
"Wonderful time of year my feathery @ss." He grumbled as people jostled past him, coming and going. "Wagggh!" He yelled as someone stepped down on his foot. "Watch it ya ape! I'm walking here!" No one seemed to hear him, or if they did, they chose to ignore him. After fighting his way to the escalator, he went to the second floor, which was equally insane and frantic.
Howard made a mental note to never, ever leave his apartment during the Christmas week again. He began to drift from store to store, looking for something that would be remotely acceptable to Beverly. He purposefully the clothing departments, as that was a mission impossible. Finally he found himself at a perfume counter. Howard looked over the various colorful, and oddly shaped bottles looking for that perfect one. The one that would fit his short price range. He finally made his selection, and got in line behind a few other people.
The line moved slowly, but it did move. "Now I just have to fight my way out, survive the parking lot, find my car...." He stopped as the person ahead of him bought the last bottle of the perfume he wanted. "Excuse me, do you have--" he started to ask the store employee, who had already turned and walked away. "She better be going to restock." Howard grumbled and waited. And waited. And waited.
Then he got tired of waiting. He decided to go find the girl, so he could make a purchase and get out of the mall already. Walking down the way he had seen the girl go led to the employee break room. "Hello?" He knocked at the door twice. No one answered, so he knocked again. This time the door swung open silently. "Hello?" He called again. The door didn't lead to any room. It opened into a maintenance hall behind the store wall. "Nope. No way. Not going to go exploring." He shook his head. "Not this duck."
Attention patrons: The mall will be closing in fifteen minutes. Please make you final selections now.
A voice said over the intercom. "Of course it is..." Howard replied sarcastically as he went looking for the store employee.
* * *
After a few turns the hallway opened to another brightly lit room. Howard poked his head into the room "Excuse me, do you have another bottle of..." he didn't finish his question because he felt a knife slip under his throat, from behind the door.
"Lord Equix, an assassin demon has came to disrupt the ceremony, just as you predicted. The holder of the knife said. Ironically, it was the very girl Howard had came looking for.
Howard's throat had gone dry, but swallowing with a knife at his neck seemed like a bad idea. "Um... This isn't the dressing rooms." He choked out.
"Nice try demon." The figure in the center of the room said. "Bring it in." Howard was roughly grabbed and dragged into the room.
"Hey hey! Watch the threads dammit. Do you know how much I spend on tailoring?" He said, but was ignored.
"Did you think you could disrupt us demon? Did you think I wouldn't anticipate this?" The lead nut strolled forward dramatically. His face hidden under the prerequisite dark hooded robe.
"I just wanted to buy a gift for my girlfriend. I didn't know about your kool aid cult here buddy." Howard shrugged off the grip of the girl, and straightened his coat.
"Oh yes demon. You didn't show up just as we were about to summon the Claus? How very lame. You will not stop us from getting what is ours tonight. Tonight brothers and sisters, we will bring the Claus to us, and we will repay him for our undeserved years on the naughty list!"
"Should have bought her a gift card..." Howard groaned.
To be continued!!!