Author's Note: This is a special Christmas present to all my Beetleborg fan friends on Facebook. Enjoy!
Christmas Comes to Hillhurst. Or: "Too Much Tinsel, Rags For Brains!"
"Grandma got runover by a reindeer. Walking home from our house Christmas eve. You can say-"
"Will you knock off that....that Chriswith singing?" Mums grumbled at the youngest Beetleborg as she began the hundredth rendition of the song since arriving at Hillhurst that morning. With no enemies to fight while Les Fortunes was on strike due to the holiday and no school, hero and monster alike had time on their hands.
"Listen to him, leedle morsel," Fangula advised. "The life you save may be your own."
Jo huffed and threw herself into an armchair. "What a bunch of Scrooges you guys are. Didn't you learn anything from last year? Look at this place. No lights, no tree. Not even any presents.
"Ah and now ve arrive at ze crux of ze matter," Flabber morphed into Sigmund Freud and looked over his spectacles at the young girl. "And vhat are you expechting under za tree, mein fraulein?"
"Think coal," Little Ghoul advised as she walked by. "Lots and lots of coal."
Jo stuck her tongue out at the only person in the house smaller than her. "C'mon, we did much better with this last year, remember? For the first time in forever, we don't have a crisis staring us in the face. It'd be nice if we could just...have fun. Y'know?"
Drew and Roland, who up until now had been silent looked at each other uneasily. Jo was usually a cheerful girl with the strength and bravery of a platoon of marines but this past year with her strange transformation at times she seemed even to her brother and best friends almost unrecognizable.
Even the usually oblivious monsters shifted around, uncomfortable with all this human emotion. Even they could tell the girl was depressed and trying to guilt them into celebrating the peculiar holiday. Again.
"Hey, kiddo, be fair." Mums spoke up "We didn't have Christmas in ancient Egypt." . The mummy began ticking off his native holidays off his decrepit had...uh...the Festival of Bastet, where gave milk to all the cats and Ra's Day, where we all got tan...."
"These new holidays, with their cheer and their crosses..." Fangula groused and shivered. "Goodwill. Acting nice. You forget, ve are monsters after all."
Flabber was of course the most susceptible to Jo's sad pretty face and was the first to give in. Some strange Phasm paternal instinct no doubt. "Don't look so glum, sugar plum. We'll help you with your...Christmas?" At Drew and Roland's nod he turned into a giant police whistle and summoned the other monsters.
"What you do?" Frankenbeans wandered out of the attic.
"Arooo?" Wolfie seemed curious.
"Flabber caved, the little rugrat is dragging us into her holiday cheer."
Drew spoke up. "First, we need a tree."
The monsters collectively groaned and crossed their arms in a futile refusal to participate. Little Ghoul decided to take a golden opportunity to cause mischief.
"I think we should go along with Schmo-"
"Jo!" the littlest Beetleborg corrected, annoyed.
"Whatever, and try out this human holiday thing."
"We did this LAST year and only because Big Blue cast a spell on us!" Mums informed her sarcastically.
"So? What's your point?"
"The point is, you microscopic annoyance, that VE will not be tricked into doing it THIS year!" Count Fangula did his best to look superior and glared down at the smaller monster as if challenging her to disagree. That was a mistake.
"Oh..." Little Ghoul grasped the sides of her hood with her tiny hands. "Then maybe you'll be....SCARED INTO IT!"
Human and monster alike fled in terror of the sight of the creature's true face and Little Ghoul laughed in vicious delight at her housemates' fear.
After scrambling to find disguises for everyone and Flabber summoning a minivan to transport them all, the strange group made their way towards Charterville.
Mums hadn't quite given up. "Don't know why we have to buy a tree. There's trees all over Hillhurst. Grab one of those."
Roland rolled his eyes, his gaze never leaving the road as he advised a nervous Flabber on driving. "Mums, there's a big difference between a tree in the yard and one you put in your house. Trust me."
"This is stupid," Fangula grumbled as Little Ghoul accidentally on purpose elbowed him in the face after they'd forced her into a carseat.
"What does this Christmas tree even look like?" Little Ghoul asked, looking petulant.
"Never seen one before?" Drew asked.
"Well, be prepared."
The ghoul seemed confused. "For what? A fight?"
"Nope." Drew actually smiled. "For the arguing. This could take a while."
"Frank like little tree!"
"Come on, Frankie, it's two feet tall!"
"It's not a bad little tree," Roland wrapped a tattered blue blanket around the base of the tree, causing all of the needles to fall off. "On second thought..."
I think we better scram, Frankie."
Fangula's eyes lit on the first tree he saw. "Let's get this one." Flabber shook his head. "Sorry, Fangie. The back is all messed up."
Fangula crossed his arms and tried to look commanding. "We are taking this tree. It has...character...."
"Character is for people, old buddy. We're talking about a tree."
"Arrrooo rawrrr riiiiiii!"
"Wolfie! NO! That's not what these trees are for!"
"We should have brought a leash for him."
"Great! Let's get outta here." Mums seemed uncharacteristically nervous." That old lady is looking at me funny."
"Agreed," Count Fangula shivered and not from the cold. "Stakes are made from trees. There are enough trees here to take out half my family! On my father's side, at least..."
Little Ghoul glared at him and waved at something over his shoulder. "Hello again, Norman Nussbaum!" she called, laughing as the vampire dived under a car.
"Umm...how do we get it home?"
"Duh. Tie it to the roof of the car."
"Shouldn't we just tie it through the window?"
"What? And drive back to Hillhurst with the windows down? We'd all get bugs in our teeth!"
"Some of us like bugs, human. You're BEETLEborgs, after all. You should be more insect friendly!"
"Hey! Careful, Drew! People will notice a floating tree!"
"Whoops. Sorry, Roland."
Under normal circumstances it would have taken several people to wrestle the large tree into the mansion but having one person with super strength and her telekinetic brother solved the problem easily.
The monsters stood around to admire the little humans' handiwork until Jo glared at them. "Well? What are you standing around here for? Let's get decorating!"
No one but the humans and Flabber moved to help her until she cracked her knuckles meaningfully.
"She's not gonna just let us sit and relaxing over our spider cider, is she?" Mums muttered to no one in particular.
"No," the others groaned and shuffled off to find what decorations they had. Roland smiled and shook his head. "I can tell you one thing. We're going to need more lights."
"This strand isn't working."
"So? Which light isn't working?"
"Hey, I'm a telekinetic, not a psychic. Check them all."
"Who has time for that? Just get a new strand."
"Thanks for the help, Mums."
"You can't have two green ornaments together, Frankie. You need another color in between."
"Oh. Frankie sorry."
"Careful, now, don't hold them so...tight." Roland watched in dismay as the glass ornament turned to powder in Frankenbeans hand. "Oopsie."
Roland sighed. "It's fine. Why don't you string the popcorn?"
"Frankie LIKE popcorn!"
Roland tried to smile. "Great."
"Hey, the lights are working!" Jo exclaimed and then watched in dismay as one exploded. "Darn!"
"Plenty of lights to go around, pilgrim."
Fangula sighed as he hung garland from the banister. "Why can't Flabber just use his magic to do all this?"
"Because part of the fun of Christmas is..." Drew stopped and stared up at the garland. It was black. With little silver bats. "Fangula, I'm not too sure that's right for Christmas."
The vampire seemed very proud of himself. "I think it looks better than that those horribly cheerful colors."
"Only if you're decorating the Grim Reaper's house."
The boy felt rather than saw the aforementioned creature appear behind him. "You have something against my house...mortal?"
"You know, Fang? On second thought, it's fine."
"Quit stepping on the lights!"
"Love you too, Wolfie."
"The popcorn goes on the string, not in your mouth, Frankenbeans."
"Try putting some up higher."
"Now only the red ones are working!"
Meanwhile, Little Ghoul and Mums were arguing.
"You're using too much tinsel, Rags For Brains!"
:"How would you like this tinsel shoved up your nose?"
Roland overheard and shook his head. "So much for peace on earth."
"Hey, all the lights are working!" Jo exclaimed happily before all the lights in the building went out. "Oh, great."
"Hey no problem!" Flabber now wore a pair of blue overalls and a thick Brooklyn accent. "We'll get ya up and runnin' in no time. It's probably just ya fuses. I'll take a look." Sure enough, the lights came back on just in time to stop Fangula from snacking on Drew. Jo cracked her knuckles again and he backed off, disappointed.
Flabber decided to break the tension by morphing once again into his chef's attire. "Say! You all must be starving from all this hard work. Why don't I go into the kitchen and whip up something delicious?" Without waiting for an answer he sped off Warner Brothers style.
: "Me have present!" Frank stumbled his way towards Jo and proudly put a battered parcel in her eager hands. She unwrapped it happily and stared at the contents. "Coal." She looked up into the monster's expectant face and managed a weak smile. "Um..I'll treasure it."
"Aaaaand we're done!" Roland added the last ornament and stood back, satisfied.
"Still too cheery," Mums looked up at the tree and frowned. "Hey, isn't there something missing?"
"Yess..." Count Fangula agreed. "Some sort of...star? At the top of the tree. Now, what did we do vith it?"
"Grawwwhrrr!" Wolfie told him. Fang looked at his housemate with mild dismay. "You did what?!"
Wolfgang whined and produced a chewed up Christmas star which he laid at Jo's feet. She nudged it back in the werewolf's direction. "That's ok. You can keep it."
"Roooo!" Wolfgang agreed and put it back with his belongings.
Something occurred to Jo. "I have an idea," she said and removed the large lump of coal out of the box. She squeezed it between her hands until..."
Roland and Drew were visibly impressed. "Bravo!"
:Jo smiled proudly as she looked at her newly created diamond.
"Now THAT is a Christmas star!" Mums said.
"Sparkly!" Frankie agreed.
Flabber emerged from the kitchen where he had been creating snacks for everyone and listened to the good natured (and not so good natured) bickering. The Phasm stood in the doorway of the living room, the tray in his hands all but forgotten as he looked at the strange yet heartwarming scene. Little Ghoul and the Grim Reaper were exchanging presents and insults in the corner while the rest of the monsters and their human friends stood looking at the Christmas tree. For once, no one tried to eat anyone else as they stared up in awe at the tree. Lights and garland of every description hung from the walls and the human children were teaching the Hillhurst residents to sing "O Christmas Tree" and smiled when Frankie and Wolfie made an honest effort to be intelligible. Everything was peaceful as his supernatural and mortal companions stood together in fellowship. He knew tomorrow the monsters would try to attack the trio again and the young humans would be risking their lives fighting evil but for now, he'd enjoy today.
Flabber took a deep breath and blinked rapidly to keep the tears of joy at bay. "Okay! Who's hungry?"