It’s the day before Christmas Eve, and every Santa in all the known universes has gone missing.
With the help of a very hungry reindeer and her Santa-resembling partner Mike, Multiverse Investigator Alex Strand must travel to San TaClaus, stop an elf rebellion and free the Santas, real and fake, in time for Christmas.
Can she get to the Santas in time? Or will the elves mistake her as one of their own and force her to join their liberation army?
Find out in this tinsel-strewn, paper-snow-decorated festive comedy, available on Amazon.
Ho Ho Ho
It was the day before Christmas Eve, and for the love of Santa and all his evil minions, Alex Strand didn’t want to be working.
But here she was at the San Francisco morgue, having received an urgent call from her boss twenty minutes earlier.
She pushed through the double doors and spotted Monique leaning against a wall, muttering into her phone. She was a tall, willowy woman who exuded sophistication until she opened her mouth. Her voice was like the loudest and most obnoxious punk band you could imagine—on a day when they’d been munching on barbed wire.
“Where’s Mike?” asked Alex.
“At the MIU. Getting ready.”
Sergeant Mike Long, Alex’s partner, was probably trying to tame his facial hair. Last time she’d seen him, his beard was in the shape of an Adelie Penguin.
“I don’t see why you need us for Santa getting shot.”
As the Multiverse Investigations Unit’s resident physicist, Alex was normally only summoned to crime scenes with a trace of the inter-dimensional about them. A straightforward shooting wasn’t her concern, even if it was the Macy’s Santa, the pinnacle of Santadom for all the city’s impersonators of the red-suited man.
Monique waggled a finger at Alex. She muttered something that sounded a lot like pasta and meatballsinto her phone then hung up.
They passed from one patch of quivering fluorescent light to the next, stopping at a door that was suitably imposing and cold, like the doorway to the pits of doom. Monique pushed it open and called out.
“Doctor Sanchez, it’s Lieutenant Williams. I have my colleague.”
A short woman wearing a lab coat at least three sizes too big appeared from the shadows. She wore a heavy bloodstained apron.
“Hello,” the woman said, extending a gloved hand. Alex shook the fingertips.
“Hello, I’m Alex Strand. I work with Lieutenant Williams.”
“She’s told me all about you.” The pathologist shrugged her shoulders. “Short, ginger Scotswoman with an inferiority complex.”
Alex frowned. “I wouldn’t be quite so—”
“Don’t worry, lassie. That’s not what she said. Just my intuition.”
So this was what a doctor with the bedside manner of a mass murderer did for a job. At least the dead wouldn’t hear her making assumptions about them.
The pathologist turned away. “He’s over here. I’m not sure what to do with him.”
They followed her to a spotlit gurney. On it was an elderly man with a large stomach, pale skin and bushy white beard. He looked to be at least six and a half feet tall.
Alex wrinkled her nose. “Where’s the wound?”
The pathologist shook her head. “That’s just it. It’s gone.”
“Vanished. The first time he woke up.”
Alex looked at Monique. “You thought you’d wind me up to celebrate the holidays.”
Monique shook her head. “Wait. Watch him.”
Alex squared her shoulders, aware of the pathologist’s skin-piercing gaze. She probably had Alex’s bra size in her head and knew that she was wearing days-of-the-week underpants. Today was a Tuesday, and she was wearing Saturday. No harm in optimism.
They watched the body in silence. His skin was smooth, despite the white hair, and there was a hint of ruddiness to his cheeks.
She stepped back.
She looked at Monique, who nodded.
“Is this normal?” she whispered.
“Nope,” replied Dr. Sanchez. “No more normal than Saturday coming on a Tuesday.” She winked at Alex.
Alex looked back at the body. His cheeks were definitely getting redder. In fact, they now looked as ruddy as a drunk’s nose. Alex could hear Monique’s breathing, as loud and hoarse as her voice.
Then he twitched.
Not a big twitch. Not the kind of twitch you’d make if you were about to sneeze, but more the reaction to a mosquito flying exactly three inches away from your face.
Alex held her breath.
He did it again. It was a bigger twitch this time, as if the mosquito had come in to land. Alex batted the air. Maybe it was his reflexes. He’d fart next.
Then he opened his eyes.
Alex shrieked and jumped back. She slammed into Monique who pushed a hand into her back.
The pathologist barked a laugh. “Got me the first time too.”
“The first time?”
“He’s been doing it on and off for the last hour.”
The body sat up. He widened his mouth into a smile.
“Ho ho ho,” he said.
“Watch,” said the pathologist.
Santa fell back to the gurney. His cheeks paled and his body went slack. Dr. Sanchez placed a hand on his wrist.
Monique whispered into Alex’s ear. “One for the MIU, don’t you think?”
Christmas in the Multiverse is out now. It features inter-dimensional travel with the help of a reindeer, wandering facial hair, a roomful of argumentative Santas, and the discovery that Christmas runs on quantum physics.