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“12 Days of Christmas” by Quinn Clancy

This was going to be my first Christmas in a relationship. I couldn’t believe we had managed to last five months between my vocation as a Sárchumhachtaí, and Tag’s career as a PI. We’d had several dates interrupted, nights cancelled and yet we survived. Now I had the terrifying goal of picking out the perfect gift for him. It didn’t help that the holiday season was the busiest period for stealing, muggings, and fighting. But I was determined to get out and find something.

Unfortunately it was two weeks before Christmas when I got a chance to go out. I headed straight to the Jervis Centre right in the middle of the city.

I hadn’t properly decided what I was going to get him so I was in the Dixons and looking at a GPS. That would be useful for a PI and get me brownie points right?

It started out with a rumbling through the ground, a base beat vibrating through my body as people cried out. I looked up from the display. A group of masked people were marching in the middle of the centre holding military-grade guns. The lead thief pushed into the shop and aimed the gun straight at an employee as two more made their way to the tills with comical money bags. A quick glance around and I think I spotted about twelve thieves in total. Honestly it was unbelievable they’d try this in the middle of the city in a crowded space. And worse, how was I going to get into my Sárchumhachta uniform?

I hit the SOS signal on my watch before concentrating on the guns I could see and pictured them frozen, hoping that would stop some needless deaths. Just as well because the head thief tried to pull the trigger to shoot rounds into the ceiling of a two story shopping centre. Like did he just think it didn’t matter if he shot someone as long as he didn’t see it?

When he discovered the gun wouldn’t work he called out that a Sárchumhachtaí was there. And then he did the most cliche thing ever. He took out a knife, grabbed a pregnant woman who was nearby and held it to her. Why was it always the pregnant ladies?

The ensuing fight was epic and would make the Sárchumhachtaí look good but the store was a disaster zone.

Well Dixons wasn’t going to be open for the holiday season. 

***

The next day I decided to try an outlet mall just inside the protection zone. They didn’t do electronics but Tag could use a new leather duster. I was surprised to see the choir outside the place but didn’t think much past it, there were plenty of carol groups trying to raise money this time of year. I’d gotten no more than a yard past them when I noticed not many people were moving and I was starting to feel lethargic myself. Yes, stopping and listening to the notes of the pipe would be a good thing. As I was closing my eyes to listen better I noticed small figures darting from person to person, picking pockets and even rummaging through handbags. What was it with greed this time of year? 

With great effort, I focused on the pipe player and pictured a statue. Immediately the music stopped and people came back to themselves. Unfortunately, this meant that the people being robbed also became alert and a massive fight broke out. Again my team came and helped contain the damage, the obviously super piper arrested, but shopping wasn’t happening there again. 

***

The next time out was with Tag himself. We hadn’t really gotten together much and wanted time to ourselves. He suggested a farmer’s market and I thought that would be a great idea. Not only could we walk through together and enjoy the atmosphere and potential food stalls, but I could gauge what he found most interesting. This particular market boasted the best ice sculptures in Ireland. Honestly, the work was breathtaking. There were the swans elegantly taking flight, more than the traditional four of Lir’s tale, and an entire ballroom scene of elegant ladies dancing, their dresses sweeping and gentleman almost mid-leap. Tag and I were strolling hand in hand pointing out our favourite pieces when another rumbling through the ground started. My eyes darted over towards the main square expecting a similar armed robbery as before but there were only confused people milling about. Then came the mooing. Yes, mooing. I whipped around to see a stampede of cows coming straight at us. Tag took off to the side pulling me by my arm and we reached just out of the path of the enraged animals as they passed us by. The delicate ice statues weren’t so lucky and were crushed under hoof. The entire market was dumbstruck as the beasts passed us and moved on. Tag and I decided to go home after that.

***

City centre, take two. The countdown crunch was real and I had like two days to get my gift for Tag. The shopping centre was still under construction so I was wandering through the Henry Street area around the shouts from various stalls shouting out “Two fer a pahnd”, as well as other offers. It was a glorious coloured mess, filled with the sounds of people shouting at each other over the buskers playing all the tunes. Standing at just the right spot you had three tunes competing with each other. 

I was heading towards the competing Debenhams when there was a shriek out of place and I whipped my head towards the spire where five motorised vehicles approached. Their circular design and metallic coating made it look like rings of fire. People started stampeding towards me and I saw some of the stalls get mushed up. 

Really? Again?

With a deep sigh and ducked into a darkened corner and quickly switched into the suit. Time to put this down.

***

“Okay, Psy is going Christmas shopping, who’s going with him?” Rosethorn asked the crowded changing rooms.

I stared at him in shock. “What?”

“C’mon Psy, every time you’ve tried to go shopping something has happened. We might as well send someone out with you.” He gave me a charming smile, but I was still super pissed.

“Look just because the last four times I’ve been out something has happened doesn’t mean nothing’s happening now. I’ll be fine.” 

I slammed my locker and walked out of headquarters. I was going to that Christmas market in Bushy Park and nothing was going to happen.

Two hours later when Rosethorn showed up I just stared at him from under the layer of cider dripping from my hair and spit out a goose feather. “Not one word.”

***

Dublin Zoo had heard of some US scheme where they offered passes for runners to use their area and decided to trial it out. Tag and myself could spend some time together and keep fit. What could go wrong? It was a family venue.

Apparently some bright spark decided to do a jailbreak of some of the criminals I had arrested in Jervis as they were going in for their preliminary hearings. Right. On. The. Steps. Of. The. Court.

It was too late to get the tickets after fighting and arresting four idiots making barn owl calls at 2pm. If I could catch a break right now it would be great.

***

Why was it so hard to purchase a single Christmas gift? Most people wrestled with what to give their loved ones. I had to wrestle with rampaging animals and idiotic couples. Like Bonnie and Clyde wannabe. What’s worse was I had gone into Penny’s to pick up some new gloves for myself. Think about that. Two lovestupid idiots were trying to hold up Penny’s. You know what I honestly didn’t care if Tag got me anything, I just wanted this all to end.

***

Right, I was tucked away in the middle of the Sárchumhachtaí head office. Nothing could get at me here. I opened up a laptop and started browsing shops. The price of the expedited shipping was insane. Expect it felt like the only way I could get Tag his Christmas gift. Rosethorn wandered in as I was making the final purchase and plopped down in the chair beside me. 

“Get what you want?” he asked.

“Yeah, I hope it arrives in time.”

“So the curse of Psicatch shopping is over?” His teasing smile took some of the sting out of the slagging. 

I threw a cushion at him, which devolved into a bit of a pillow fight between us.

“Pear!”

Rosethorn and I whipped our head around to see a large macaw parrot flying through with another of the Sárchumhachtaí running after it. 

“It’s not a partridge, but I’m thinking it counts.” Rosethorn managed to say before erupting in laughter.

Quinn Clancy is a writer and programmer from Dublin. Fascinated by fantasy at a small age, she has consumed everything passed down from her equally fantastic minded family. Quinn has been a member of Cupán Fae for three years and has contributed stories to the Cupán Fae Anthologies: Fierce Mighty, Fierce New World, and Fierce & Proud.

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