Finding Dinner

A capricious wee man surprises a mighty ogre, who surprises the little man in return.

“Terrible hungry,” the ogre muttered to himself. “Just terrible. Got to find a closer village. I…”

The ogre lumbered to a stop. He looked down, way down, on the ground. A very small something was standing in his way.

A wee man, no taller than a foot is long, stood with his tiny arms crossed over his chest. His bright red tri-corner hat partially obscured his face. His one visible eye glared ominously at the giant.

“Oi! But you look a bit cross…” The little man picked distractedly at his pale blue tunic, but otherwise remained transfixed. The ogre bent over, rubbing at his stubbly chin. “Hmm… Do you talk, then?”

The look on the wee man’s face faltered. “Waking up, are ye?” The little man’s arms started to drop. “That’s it. Out with your words!”

“Ha!” The little man squeaked. He firmly crossed his arms once more. He stared down the giant more ominously than before.

“You’re likely to pop an eye out, doing that. Look…” The ogre stood erect, scratching the back of his head. “You can either talk to me, or I can punt you across the wood. What have you, then?”

The ultimatum clearly caught the wee man’s imagination, if the look on his face was any indication. He let his arms fall to the side. “Have it your way, then!” He stomped his tiny foot, sending a minute cloud of dust wafting into the air.

The ogre laughed. “Who’s to say my way doesn’t see you flying through the air like a bird?” The little man trembled at the thought. “Easy, now. I’ve not come to that just yet.”

The little man sighed dramatically. “It’s just so embarrassing, you know.”

The ogre grinned. “So you do talk! Splendid!”

“Well of course I talk!” He lowered his head. “It’s just that I wasn’t supposed to, is all.”

“Not supposed to?” The ogre sniffed. “Bad manners, to stand and stare at someone you meet… Especially when they can eat you.” He grinned broadly.

This set the wee man to trembling once more. “Please don’t! I’ve not finished my quest, yet!”

“A quest, you say?” The ogre crossed his mighty arms. “It’s a bad start you’ve had, crossing an ogre such as I.”

“Begging your pardon sir, but that’s precisely what I was supposed to do… Well, I think.”

The ogre lowered his brow. “I’d think once more, if I were you.”

“I’ve thought many times.” The little man lowered his head and dragged his foot through the dirt. “Many times I thought I shouldn’t do this, but the village elder commanded it.”

“Ah! Answering the will of your elders, are you? Hmm… What exactly were you told, little one?”

“Well… He said I was to seek out the ogre. That’s you, I suppose. Then I was to stand and face you, which I did. I probably should have asked what came next, but it all seemed so simple.”

The ogre was smiling. He crouched down. “So you thought you were to literally stand before me.” The wee man nodded. “Then you were to face me.” Another nod. “Then gods know what happens next?”

“I suppose that’s a fair way to call it.”

“Suppose, then, that to face someone also means to oppose them in battle.”

A look of horror eased onto the little man’s face. “Surely not! I wouldn’t stand a chance against an ogre in battle. Just look at my sword!”

The little man produced a petite sliver of wood, sharpened to a point, with nary an edge to be found. The ogre guffawed. “That? A sword? More like a splinter, I’d wager!”

“A splinter!” The little man looked scandalized. “I spent a good hour honing this fine blade!” The ogre hooted. “You offend me, good sir!” The wee man jabbed at the ogre’s bulbous nose.

The weapon stuck fast. The ogre stood up, slapping at his nose. “Gah! You terrible little man!” He plucked the makeshift sword from his nose with thumb and forefinger.

He briefly examined it before snapping it in twain. The ogre dropped the pieces before the frightened little man and glowered. “Tell me, small man… Why shouldn’t I eat you and be done with it!”

The little man looked about him as if looking for the answer written in the sand. “Because, um… Because… Because you don’t know my name!” He sounded sure, but appeared uncertain.

“Don’t know your name? Are you mad! Shall I name my cooked goose Jennifer before I feast upon her breast? Perhaps the chicken would taste better should I salute it as Thomas before supping!”

The ogre’s face softened. He began to laugh. This confused the little man, who nonetheless nervously joined with the ogre.

“You’re a strange little man, but you amuse me. What’s your name, then?”

The wee man stuck his chest out with pride. “William, of ShortEnd.”

“William the Wee Wanderer!” The ogre guffawed. “I like it!”

William didn’t. “And you, sir?”

“And me… I suppose that’s fair, isn’t it? My name is Edgar.”

“Just Edgar?”

“Just so.” Edgar chuckled. “Us ogres like things simple, you see.”

“I do see. Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Edgar the ogre.” William offered a brief but courteous bow.

“I wouldn’t be so sure. I’m going to your village for a midday supper.”

William tilted his head. “Well, I suppose the elders would be happy to feed you, but I’m not sure we’ve enough at the ready to… What’s so funny?”

The ogre stopped himself laughing, then sighed. “I’m more apt to eat your elders, than anything they offer me in a bowl.”

William’s face went white. “No! I mean, you can’t! That’s… That’s…”

“That’s what?”

“That’s uncivilized!”

“And I am uncivil.” The ogre strode past the wee man. “More so when I am famished, which I am!”

William sprinted to keep up with the lumbering giant. “Please! Don’t hurt my friends, Edgar! PLEASE!” The little man leaped onto the ogre’s mighty boot and held fast.

“Enough!” The ogre came to a stop. He shook his leg with gusto. Little William held on with all his strength and determination.

Edgar growled a bit and snatched the wee man up with one meaty hand. He held William before his face and frowned. “Should I eat you instead? You’d barely be a snack, wouldn’t ye?”

William gazed at Edgar with such a look of sadness that the ogre was given pause. The little man’s voice was small, even for his size. “Please, sir.”

The ogre sighed, ruffling William’s hair with a wild, somewhat fragrant breeze. “I must eat. What have you that would satiate the likes of me, hmm?”

“I, uh…” William looked about, grasping for a thought. Lucky for him, he found one. “A um… a whatsit. A… a double-cow!”

“A what now? You’ve gone daft from fear, haven’t ye?”

“You know! A huge creature of four legs. And a set of horns. And they eat grass and the like!”

“Double-cow…” The ogre burst into laughter. “You mean a bison!”

“YES! My goodness, but I was scared.”

“So you were. And your people have a bison to offer me?”

“We have many! Well…” William bowed his head. “They wandered near the village. And they may wander away again, yet.”

He raised his head, hope in his eyes. “But we’d be happy to let you have one!”

“You’d let me.” Edgar smirked. “Indeed.” He planted the wee man on his shoulder and resumed walking.

“Wait. Where are we going? Are you still going to eat us?”

“Perhaps. That depends on what your elders have to say about the bison.” Edgar grinned. William nearly swooned.

It was a short time before they entered the village of ShortEnd, and what an entrance it was. The guardsmen at the village gate gave only brief resistance. Many ran for their lives at the sight of the giant ogre easily straddling their defenses.

Other little men strung their bows and fired their missiles at the giant. Edgar grimaced at the pricks and pokes. One good, earth-shaking growl was enough to set them to other tasks, however.

Soon, Edgar stood before the chief elder of ShortEnd. A trembling William still sat upon the ogre’s shoulder. The elder waved his staff angrily. “William! You dare to bring an ogre to finish us, do you?”

The little man despaired. “No, your honor! Surely not! I tried to stop him. I stared at him just as hard as I simply could!”

“Stared? I told you to face…” The elder turned his eyes to the heavens. “Oh ye gods. William, you have your father’s brains!”

The ogre cleared his throat, cutting both men short. “I’ve no interest in squabbles! I must eat! Now…” Edgar plucked William from his shoulder and placed him next to the elder. “I’ve come to learn you have bison?”

The elder looked from the ogre to William and back. “Aye… After a fashion. They’ve wandered a bit, but they’re there. We don’t have the strength to herd them, alas.”

“I suggested to the ogre… Edgar he is. I told Edgar perhaps he could take a bison instead of us for his supper!” William smiled.

The elder turned white. “For supper… Please, Mister Edgar! Take a bison, take them all! We do not wish to be eaten!”

Edgar laughed. “I suspect not! Hmm…” The great ogre thought for a time. He turned to the elder with a grin. “I’ve a better idea.”

The elder spread his hands before him. “I will hear it, Mister Edgar.”

“I will take one to make into a fine meal, but…” He knelt down on one knee. “I’ll help you to herd the others.”

“You will?” Both wee men stared at the ogre, dumbfounded.

“I will… so long as your villagers feed them and care for them as best you can. Farming is a fair bit easier than conquest, especially on an empty stomach.” He winked at William.

The elder scratched at his lengthy beard. At last he nodded. “It will be so!” He offered the ogre his tiny hand.

Edgar allowed the little elder to grip his finger. He gently moved it up and down. “Indeed it will. Now let’s be quick. I’m famished!”

And thus the deal was struck. That day, a wee man showed a village elder that not all fools are such. And a gentle ogre showed a whole village that a measured discussion is worth a thousand arrows.


Fred and Jacob Save Christmas: Part VI

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V

His competitor slain, Godzilla had turned his anger on a number of nearby buildings. His energy spent, the lizard king had pounded off to the city park. The giant monster laid down, crushing trees as he went, and fell fast asleep.

Jacob stared off at the horizon from Santa’s sleigh, his chin propped up on his fist. “It’s been twenty minutes, Fred.”

“Miracles take time, boy.” The old man was rummaging around in Santa’s sack.

Jacob turned around. “Come on, Fred. Haven’t you messed things up enough?”

“…No.” He shoved his head into the bag and continued rooting around.

“Of course not.” Jacob sighed, returning his gaze to the horizon. He heard a very faint boom. He felt the building beneath them tremble slightly.

Fred popped his head out of Santa’s sack. “Did you let one?”

“That wasn’t me…” An impossibly large shadow loomed over the horizon in the distance, dimming the glow of the city. Jacob half-stood. “What the…”

The shadow grew larger. Two glowing, blood red eyes breached the skyline. Jacob stood and stared. “Fred, what is that…”

Fred crawled out of the sack and stood on the roof. He pulled a telescope out of his back pocket. He gave it a shake, extending it several feet. He held it up to his eye with shaking arms.

He let out a chuckle. “Didn’t I tell ya! It’s our Christmas miracle!”

A sound like a mighty horn sounded across the sky. The air itself shivered, and the massive creature was closer twice over. The massive beast’s eyes cast fear and sorrow on all who fell within their devilish glow.

Its head resembled that of a squid. The many tentacles stretched out into the night, flicking a thick, dark ichor onto the ground below. Perched precariously atop its head was a bright red Santa hat.

The air shimmered again, bringing the dark god Cthulhu before the slumbering Godzilla. The lesser beast stirred, then cried out as he took in the sight of the old god. The lizard king pushed himself to his feet, but still fell several stories short of the mighty Cthulhu.

Despite this, Godzilla roared in defiance. The dark god only stared, tentacles silently whipping at the night. Godzilla roared atomic fire at Cthulhu, temporarily lighting his immense black body.

Cthulhu now answered back. His mighty roar was both mournful and rage-filled, sorrowful and ripe with vengeance. Godzilla stumbled back, the dark green of his scales fading to a deathly gray.

A massive, slimy hand shot forth, capturing the once-mighty lizard. Cthulhu held the creature before him and stared. Godzilla screamed in agony as he was bathed in the hateful red light of the old god’s eyes.

Cthulhu chucked the drained creature into the night. Wherever Godzilla fell that night, it was far enough away that Fred and Jacob never heard him return to earth nor water. The old god turned his attention to the two gentlemen, perhaps hearing their very souls.

Fred was still smiling. He walked towards the edge of the roof, even as Jacob buried himself in Santa’s sack. Fred slow-clapped. “Now that, was fucking, awesome!

The air shivered once more. The massive head of Cthulhu hovered before Fred. The red glare did not appear to bother the old farmhand. Jacob peered nervously from his hiding place, shivering uncontrollably from what, he knew not.

“You always did know how to put on a show. Love the hat!” Fred held up his hand for a high-five. One of Cthulhu’s many tentacles arced down and slapped against the offered hand.

Fred rubbed the black ichor onto his pants. “Ayup… Now, for the rest of the miracle, if you don’t mind?”

Cthulhu’s black fist hovered over the edge of the building. It opened over the roof, dropping a crumpled figure covered in dark green slime. The figure stirred. A bright white light emanated through the slime covering its body.

A humming came from the figure. The slime exploded off of the figure, revealing the nude body of “Santa!” Jacob popped out of the sack and stumbled onto the roof. “You’re alive!”

Santa Claus stood shakily, covering his jingle bells. He turned to Fred and scowled. “No thanks to HIM!”

Fred frowned. “Aw, now… Don’t be sore, cousin! I fixed ya, didn’t I?”

“Fixed? FIXED! You killed me, took my clothes, and then systematically destroyed Christmas!”

“Well, not all of it! Just for these guys.” Fred vaguely gestured at the carnage down below.

Santa grimaced darkly. “Give me my clothes.” Fred blew a raspberry and flopped his way out of the loose-fitting outfit. The clothing glowed faintly before travelling through the air and onto the grateful Claus.

Much better. Now…” Santa stomped over to the sleigh. “Excuse me, Jacob.” He reached past the stunned man and into his toy sack. He came out with a small green package adorned with a red bow.

He paced back over to the edge of the building and held it up. “Merry Christmas, Cthulhu. Thank you for the uh, interesting assist.” The old god rumbled in thanks, plucking the package from Santa with a tentacle.

“Back to the depths with you, old friend.” Cthulhu shrugged his massive shoulders. The ungodly horn sounded once more, the air shivered, and the god of old was gone from sight.

Jacob walked to Santa on rubbery legs. “You… Him… Cousins?”

“Unfortunately!” He glared at the old farmhand. “Right now though, we have a holiday to save!”

“But, how? It’s so late, and…” Jacob gestured sadly to the destruction below.

“Late! Ha! It’s never too late for Santa Claus! As for the unbridled devastation…” He returned his attention to Fred.

“Aw… Do I have to?”


“Maybe they’re better off dead! You never know…”


“Oh, fine.” Fred stuck his thumb in his mouth and started to blow. His body began to fill out like a balloon. He became airborne as he grew larger.

“Jacob, my boy! Would you do me the honor of slapping your unfortunate friend out over the carnage below?”

The young man grinned. “With pleasure!” He ran towards the rapidly growing Fred-balloon and gave him a good whack. Fred cried out, floating out over the side of the building.

“There he is. All right! Jacob, into the sleigh, and quickly!” Jacob did as he was asked. Santa urged the reindeer into the night sky as soon as the young man was seated.

Santa circled around the giant Fred balloon. He handed Jacob a slingshot. “Have at it, boy!”


“Really. He’ll probably enjoy it, the sick bastard.” Santa scowled.

Jacob smirked, knowing the jolly old elf was probably correct. He aimed true, firing a pebble into Fred’s side. The old man went off like an overstuffed pinata.

Sparkling snow fell over the ravaged town. Everything it touched shimmered and became whole again. Victims stood, cars fixed themselves, the liquor store was uncrushed once more.

Santa swooped the sleigh downwards, deftly catching Fred’s disembodied head in Jacob’s lap. “Oh, man! GROSS!”

Fred stared up at Jacob, cackling. “I always wanted to be a head in life!” Jacob juggled the head to a spot between him and Santa.

“Will he… um… be okay?”

“Unfortunately,” Santa grumbled. “The rest of him should grow back by the time we’re done delivering presents. YAW!” Santa cracked the reins, sending the unlikely trio soaring into the night.

So it was, through Santa’s holiday magic, that Christmas was saved. Cthulhu retired to the depths to enjoy his ultra-rare 1995 pink crab beanie baby. Godzilla nursed his wounds in the seas off of Japan. Fred? He eventually became more of a man.

And everyone else had a very, very merry Christmas.


Fred and Jacob Save Christmas: Part V

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

“This isn’t good.” Jacob watched with a mixture of fear and fascination as Godzilla gave Frosty a healthy bitch slap. “They’re going to destroy the entire town!

Fred nodded. “I know, it’s so cool! Popcorn?” Fred offered the bag to Jacob.

“What? No!”

“Okay, jeez! Thought you might be hungry.”

“No! It’s not cool they’re destroying the town!” Jacob spoke more quietly. “I am hungry, though.”

“TOO BAD! I don’t wanna share, now.” Fred ripped the bag out of Jacob’s hands.

Frosty the snow monster reared back one woody arm and swung his clawed hand into the side of Godzilla’s head. Godzilla snarled angrily and breathed fire into Frosty’s face. The snow monster stumbled backwards over a Greyhound bus and fell into an auto parts store.

Jacob pointed. “See? There had to be people in there! This is terrible!”

“I know! Now I have to wait to get the wheel bearing that I needed for my pal’s 1991 Buick Park Avenue.” Fred whispered, “He’s gonna be pissed!

“Those people have to be dead. This is serious, Fred!”

Fred waved a hand. “Oh… They’ll figure it out. Just watch.” Frosty pushed himself up from the ground, crushing a passing car with his hand as he went.

“Okay, there is no way that guy survived that!”

“He could be all right.” Frosty picked up the car as he went and hurled it at Godzilla. The mighty beast smacked it to the ground, crushing it further. “Well, maybe not.”

Godzilla pounded forward and grabbed Frosty’s head in both clawed hands. The snow monster screamed in pain and defiance as the lizard king lifted upwards. The scream cut off suddenly as Godzilla liberated Frosty’s head from the rest of his body.

The mighty green monster lifted the head high, howling in triumph. It unleashed its nuclear fire with unbridled fury. Frosty’s frozen rictus grin melted away, a hole rapidly melting through the snow monster’s head.

The rest of Frosty fell on top of an old orphanage. Gallons of red ichor jetted from where the monster’s head had been only moments before. Dozens of children screamed as they ran out into the street covered in the blood of the fallen.

Godzilla chucked the half-melted head to the ground, where it splatted into a white and red mess. The mighty lizard roared, then turned his sights on the Piggly Wiggly. “It’s all over…” Jacob slowly shook his head.

“Yep. I was gonna get some pork rinds from there.” Fred took off his Santa hat and placed it over his heart. “They had the best pork rinds. So crispy…”

“No, you idiot!” Jacob punched Fred in the arm.

“Ow! Christ, kid! You been shooting up again?”

“Christmas is over!” He lowered his head, tears in his eyes. “First you kill Santa Claus, then Frosty turns into a monster, then Godzilla kills him…”

“And the Piggly Wiggly…”

“I don’t know how even you can fix this mess, Fred.”

Fred rubbed at his chin. “Hmm…” He suddenly snapped his fingers. “What this story needs is a good old-fashioned Christmas miracle!”

“Like what?”

“Like… You’ll find out tomorrow!” Fred winked over Jacob’s shoulder at the reader.

“Wh… Who are you winking at…” Jacob looked over his shoulder.

“Never mind. Just wait and see!”


Fred and Jacob Save Christmas: Part IV

Part I | Part II | Part III

“Okay. So this isn’t so bad.” Jacob sat numbly staring at Frosty the snow monster as Fred slowly looped around it in Santa’s sleigh. “Santa’s dead. Frosty is a fifty-foot-tall snow demon destroying the town. It’s all good!”

Fred spared Jacob a look and grimaced. “That is one creepy smile, my friend. You okay?”

“Great! Fine! Couldn’t be better.”

“Okay, young Jacob has popped a nut.” Fred turned back to his foe. “Guess I’ve gotta do this on my own. YAW!” He snapped the reins. The reindeer went to a full gallop.

Flame rolled from Frosty the snow monster’s eyes. Fire and brimstone poured from his mouth as the sleigh flew by. The reindeer screamed in terror, just missing the searing heat.

Fred was… less lucky. He blinked, rubbing the soot out of his eyes. “Right! Intimidation… Not successful. Did the bastard get ya?” He looked over at Jacob.

“It’s warm in here, mommy!”

“Uh… Good! I guess…” Fred steered the sleigh onto the roof of a nearby high-rise. “All right, Fred. Think.” A thin wisp of smoke worked its way out of the old farmhand’s ear. “Think… think…”

Fred’s eyes darted back and forth. “Awful smoky around here.”

“Funny! Old man smoky ears. Ha ha!” Jacob pointed, giggling.

Fred frantically waved at his ears. “Must’ve blown a fuse again.” The giant snow monster gave a thunderous laugh as he passed by. “You know, I just wish I knew someone big enough to kick your ass!”

Jacob suddenly snapped out of his funk. “That’s it! Fred, Santa’s sack is full of things that people asked for, right?”

“Well yeah, sure, mm-hmm.” Fred nodded.

“So what if I wish for something to kick Frosty’s ass?”

Fred raised an eyebrow. “You really are out of it, aren’t you? That sounds like something I would think up.”

“I know! I’m scared, too.”

“All right, well… Let’s make it official.” Fred pulled a pen and paper out of Santa’s coat and handed it to Jacob.

“Are you serious?”

“Only when I have to be.” Frosty roared fire somewhere behind them. Men and women could be heard screaming in the streets. “Might wanna get on that…”

“Fine! Let’s see…” Jacob began to write. “Dear Santa…”

“Frosty just took out the liquor store, Jacob. This is getting serious.”

Jacob rolled his eyes and continued writing. “I wish for… What?”

“Something big! Hurry! He’s headed for the Piggly Wiggly!”

“Okay…” Jacob sighed, finishing off his letter. He folded it and handed it to Fred. “There you go, Santa.”

Fred wrinkled his nose, taking the letter. It glowed softly as he opened it up. He began to chuckle. “Not bad. Not bad at all! Hehe…”

He shooed Jacob out of the sleigh. “You uh… You might wanna back up for this one.” Once Jacob was a safe distance away, Fred reached into Santa’s sack.

His hands came back out holding a small Godzilla toy. Jacob’s jaw dropped. “That’s… That’s it? I didn’t ask for a toy!”

Fred gave Jacob a wink and a thumbs up. “Can’t fit a giant lizard in a little old sack, can you?” He turned back toward Frosty the snow monster and launched the mini-Godzilla into the air.

It stretched and grew as it soared into the night sky. The full-sized Godzilla landed on the street below with an earth-shaking thud. The mega-monster reared its head back and screamed into the night.

Fred slipped on a pair of sunglasses and a smile, then crossed his arms. “Ladies and gentlemen? Shit just got real.”


Fred and Jacob Save Christmas: Part III

Part 1 | Part 2

So it was that the wrinkled old Santa substitute and his young, vaguely unwilling assistant sped from house to house, delivering tainted Christmas cheer to the good boys and girls. Fred became increasingly expedient, if slightly more tipsy, with each delivery. Jacob, however, became more nervous.

“I don’t know if we are going to have enough time to deliver all these presents, Fred. We’ve already been at this for a couple of hours, and we’re in the same state.”

“Ha! We have all the time in the world, chunky-nuts!”

“Chunky-nuts…” Jacob shook his head and looked at his watch. He shook it, holding it up to his ear. “That’s not right.”

He looked at the clock on the dashboard of Santa’s sleigh. “It is! According to this, we’ve only been delivering presents for about… Two minutes?”

“Well duh. Haven’t you seen ‘Rudolph’s Shiny New Year’? Father Time can do whatever the fuck he wants, and Father Time loves him some Christmas.”

“That… makes sense, somehow?”

“Shit. I hate it when that happens.”

The unusual pair of heroes continued their mission with renewed vigor. In time, Fred caught on that he should drink more milk than scotch, and Jacob grew enough sack to lift Santa’s sack for Fred. But of course, trouble has a knack for finding its way to Fred and Jacob before too long.

“I don’t like this.” Fred’s sizable mustache twitched. “Don’t like this at all.”

Jacob followed his gaze. “What? It’s just New Jersey…”

Fred shook his head. “No. That’s bad enough.” He pointed a crooked finger. “This is where the snow monster Frosty can be found.”

Jacob scoffed. “Fred, I told you, it’s Frosty the snow man. He’s supposed to be friendly and well, kind of dumb, frankly. Also fictional?”

“Fictional my ass! Keep your eyes peeled. Shit could get real. YAW!” Fred cracked the reins, spurring the reindeer on.

The first few deliveries in this new town went according to plan. Fred was noticeably more sober. Jacob rolled his eyes at first, but became increasingly concerned at the old farmhand’s unusual demeanor.

Things came to a head when they reached the more genteel part of town. Fred got out of the sleigh and slowly walked towards the edge of the roof. “You…”

Jacob nervously followed after him. “Fred? What is it?” He strained to see what it was the old man was staring at.

Fred jabbed a finger at something on the ground as he crept forward. “YOU!” He walked straight off of the edge of the roof, landing feet first two stories below with a sickening crunch. “…Ow.”

“Fred!” Jacob scrambled to the end of the roof. “Are you okay?”

“Um… I broke both of my ankles but… You know, great.”

Jacob looked beyond Fred and saw what the old farmhand had been glaring at: a snowman in the front yard. “Are you kidding me?”

“No. They’re pretty well broken.”

“I mean the snowman! Jesus, Fred!”

“That’s no snowman, son. That’s Frosty.”

The hat atop the snowman began to glow and vibrate. The glow extended to the rest of the snowman, which spun around. It blinked its coal eyes and flashed a garish grin. “Happy birthday!”

Fred shook his ankles furiously, which crunched and cracked beneath him. “No. Not today. Come on, damn it!”

Jacob grinned from the roof. “Holy shit, Fred! It really is him! HEY! HEY FROSTY!” The young man waved towards the magical snow creature.

“Happy birthday!” The snowman started moving towards the house, dark eyes locked on Jacob. “Let’s play!”

Fred started forward, ankles crunching all the while. “FUCK OFF, ball boy!” He slammed his hand into the snowman’s chest.

The snowman looked confused. “Ha… Happy birthday?”

“Not today, you frosty son of a bitch!” Fred landed a hay-maker across the snowman’s face, sending its head spinning.

The snowman was no longer smiling when its head finally came to a stop. “Angry birthday!” The words came out as a growl. The black coal eyes sparked, igniting into flame.

“Fred… What did you do?” Jacob stepped back from the edge of the roof.

“ANGRY BIRTHDAY!” The snowman howled, starting to grow. Its features morphed, changing into something more sinister. Its mouth stretched into a demonic rictus.

Fred turned towards Jacob and pointed at the rapidly-growing snowman. “TOLD YOU! Snow monster!”

Jacob looked up and up as Frosty the snow monster’s height surpassed that of the house. “Fred… I think we should be going now.”