Sloth Fiction 8: A Christmas Story

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"Who wants to try my wassail?" Harry, dressed in his cosiest holiday jumper, a Santa hat clapped rakishly on his dark head, cheerily chirped from the kitchen.

A most delicious aroma of apples and spices was wafting through LW's house, as Christmas music from her stack of CDs played softly in the background (the woman was something of a nutter when it came to her love for holiday tunes). It was Christmas Eve, and the Characters were stirring.

"I'll try some, mate," said John Porter, holding out a red and white snowflake mug as he snaffled a few more sausage balls from the platter on the counter. He held up one with an appreciative gleam in his blue eyes.

 "These things are a bit addictive."

Harry nodded as he filled Porter's mug with fragrant and piping hot drink, perfect on a bone-chilling winter's night in south Alabama.

 "Mr. LW made a great lot of those tasty morsels for his workplace, and was nice enough to leave some for us to enjoy. Sausage balls are a southern favourite, I understand. Loads of fat and salt with a spicy side-you can't miss!" Harry added with a twinkle.

Suddenly, there was a strange rustling noise emanating from the living room.

John, sipping his wassail, frowned a little. "The cats aren't climbing the Christmas tree again, I hope."

Harry shrugged, a lock of floppy black hair bouncing endearingly on his forehead.

"It was rather comedic when dear old Puddie stuck her head out through the branches half-way up that big tree. LW couldn't decide whether to scold her pussycat or grab her camera and take a photo!"

The rustling sound grew louder and was joined by an odd murmuring and a rattling noise.

John glanced around the den. Lucas (who, as it turned out, was not only So Not Dead but quite the artist) was seated cross-legged on the floor near the fireplace, absorbed in sketching with watercolour pencils in one of LW's artist's pads, as he hummed along with Shelby Lynne.

 He'd been thoroughly enjoying Loved Into Being status since the Characters had struck back against the foul Vasey.

"I've found my soul again. And I can hear the music," he'd said with a gentle smile. Everyone was quite chuffed their Lucas was back.

As for the cats, Callie and Lucky were curled up on the hearth, basking in the warmth from the gas logs; Thumper was sleeping in LW's recliner, and Puddie was, in fact, about to wrap herself around Harry's long jean-clad legs and drop hints she'd like to try some sausage balls, too.  Her dad had been woefully neglectful in sharing.

The other Characters had not arrived yet, except for-

"Where's Sir Guy?" Harry queried.

John responded with a lop-sided smile. "Oh, I think I know . . ." Setting down his mug of wassail, he pressed a long, elegant finger to his mouth and motioned for Harry to follow him. Puddie gave an aggrieved swish of her plumy tail and sat down in a huff.

"Well, Sir Guy, fancy meeting you here."

A handsome posterior, clad in trousers that were A Marvel of Engineering, made a sudden, rather guilty start at the sound of John's rumbling voice. The upper half of the Character John Porter loved to call the Medieval Menace was tucked beneath the Christmas tree.

"Er-just making sure that everything is properly secure under here. We wouldn't want LW's lovely tree to fall over and break those fragile ornaments now, would we?"

Guy had slithered back out from beneath the tree in an amazingly lordly manner (considering the circumstances).  Tossing back his lustrous mane, he smiled benignly up at Harry and John, who gave each other knowing smiles.

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