by David M. Hoenig
When I opened the door to incessant knocking, it turned out to be my best friend, which was far, far better than another person trying to save my soul.
Dexter Carey popped out one earbud. “Dude, it’s like, seriously, a matter of life and death.”
“Well, okay. At least my soul’s safe.”
“Actually, it’s not.”
“Shit. What’re you talking about, Dex?”
“You know how grim Black Friday has gotten around here, right? Security guards trampled, people with bite marks from fellow holiday shoppers?”
“It’s freaking March.”
“Here, yeah, but I’m talking about there, dude,” he said. He looked around, saw no one on the street, and opened his trench coat to show me his two samurai swords hidden underneath.
“No way, Dex! I told you last time, I’m done.”
He had the grace to look uncomfortable, but then I saw it was because one of the sword hilts was wedged in his armpit. He shifted it and belched. “Remember the life and death part?”
“Bullshit? All that crazy is all over there, right? We’re safe here.”
“Dude. Different dimension, different time stream, but remember: you’ve been there once and you killed the same thing I did.”
“I got way more than you.”
“Yeah – dude, you were unstoppable! Anyway, you crushed thousands of them, and that created echoes. Well, those made resonances, and… look, I can spend the next twelve hours explaining string theory and extra-dimensionality, or you can just take my word that shit what goes around, comes around. Hell, you were the best those undead boojums ever saw.”
“I was pretty good, wasn’t I?”
“Yeah, but now there’s a new invasion, and if we don’t stop them there, they could find their way through to here. And based on how you wrecked them last time, if they come this way, who do you think they’re going to come after first?”
The math was depressingly simple. “Shit,” I said. I stepped outside onto the porch and called back into the house. “Honey? I’m going out to the mall with Dex.”
“There or here?” came a hopeful female voice from upstairs.
“Oooh! Pick me up a pound of the Swarovsky prediction crystals? The green ones.”
Fuck. “If there’s time!” I turned to Dex. “Let me get my splitting maul.”
“Dude! The eight pounder from Home Depot?” I nodded, and went back in and got the thing from the hallway closet. Dex put his earbud back in, then did some crazy moves with his left hand which gave me a headache if I tried to follow them. Reality swirled around his fist, then peeled back to reveal a portal of shimmering blackness. “You first.”
“If there’s one thing I hate more than malls, it’s malls over there,” I groused.
There was a moment of disorientation, and then I stepped out into chaos, Dex right behind me.
The attack was already underway. We’d come in on the upper level, and there were boojums all over–that’s what they called zombies over here. Shoppers from everywhere and when, were screaming, running, fighting, and dying. Mostly screaming and dying. Blood was splashed everywhere, along with an unhealthy sprinkling of spilled intestines, shattered bone, and crushed skulls.
Three boojums noticed our arrival and moved towards us. Dex stepped back to cast something, so I went forward to do what I do.
My maul took the lead zombie-thing in the head, which exploded messily. I kept turning with the momentum of the heavy weapon and went low, smashing through the legs of the next one with messy burst. A bolt of light from Dex knocked the third one down before it got to me. I finished the legless thing with a head shot before it could get to us.
“Oh, shit,” came from behind me.
I looked and saw Dex staring over the railing to the mall’s lower level and went to see. On the bottom floor was the biggest and most terrifying boojum I’d seen yet. “That’s just wrong.”
An undead Santa, standing seven feet tall, was at the bottom of the escalators directing the mayhem around him. In one hand he held the still twitching body of an overweight security guard, and in the other was a Louisville Slugger with a green and red bow on it. Gore streaked the whiskers of his rotted face, and his filmy eyes showed a frightening, thoughtful awareness in them.
“Tolja it was Black Friday here.”
“Shut the fuck up, Dex.”
The thing looked up at us and anger creased its leathery skin. It roared and started up the escalator, lesser boojums coming to its call.
We went to work. It was really, really messy.
Dex cast an aura and I suddenly felt refreshed and fluid, like my joints had all been lubed. Fighting the things, I moved like I was meant to, the maul an extension of me, balance like Baryshnikov. Together we mowed them down, and finally put down the boss boojum after a long battle.
“Just in time for the holidays,” Dex said, panting.
“You fucking dork.”
“Well,” he looked around at the aftermath, and I did too. “There should be some pretty good deals now.” At my look, he grinned. “And on prediction crystals, to, I’ll bet.” He took a deep breath in. “And have yourself a merry little…” he sang.
“I hate you so, so much, Dex.”
“Nice work, Killer.”
Afterwards, we went home. Dex went and did shots down at the local bar. My wife got her crystals. Me, I spent four hours cleaning gore off my maul. Merry fucking Christmas.
Over There was inspired by image number 5 on the DreAdvent Calendar.
If you enjoyed this bloody tale of seasonal madness, be sure to check out the first 13 stories from our DreAdvent Calendar competition.
David M. Hoenig also features in the Dark Chapter Press e-book Flashes of Darkness: Halloween Special 2015, available now at Amazon.