For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
I have a Christmas short story for you.
I wrote it for something called Character Encounters, which is a get-to-know-your-character hosted by Kendra at Knitted by God's Plan.
I did, however, take some liberty with it.... The first rule I broke was that I used my NaNoWriMo characters because they are the only interesting characters I have.
The second liberty I took was that instead of my characters coming into my world, I went into theirs. I didn't see any regulations saying I couldn't, and I wanted to visit their world to help them along.
Some things to know before you read the story....
Daniel and Varina are the characters.
Trench Coat Woman is Your's Truly.
The Wolf is the continuing bad guy of the series. He disappeared for awhile... But now he's back.
Without further ado.... Christmas Shopping!
“Daniel! Come on! We’re here to Christmas shop!”
Daniel Adams was jolted out of Debussy’s Reverie. He let his hands fall from the piano ivories into his lap. Still in the daydream produced by the melody which had so recently poured forth from his fingers, Daniel closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then he looked up, blue eyes flashing open. In front of him stood his friend, Varina Webb, her dark hair cascading down her shoulders in waves of soft curls.
If Daniel had to pick one instrumental piece to accompany Varina through life, it would be Debussy’s Reverie. Starting soft and sweet, it soon unexpectedly turned wildly minor. Like Varina, it was altogether mysterious.
“Daniel?” she said again.
“Hmm? Oh sorry.” Daniel had drifted back into his muse. Varina smiled at him, though behind her patient exterior, Daniel could tell she was annoyed.
“I know you love the piano store, and that playing a grand is wonderful-“ Daniel’s own grand piano had been left in London when he moved to the United States- “but we came to the mall to do some Christmas shopping, not to the play the pianos.”
“I know,” sighed Daniel heavily. He reluctantly left his spot at the piano bench, casting longing glances behind him at the Steinway as he and Varina left the store.
“Maybe we can come back after we’re done shopping,” Varina said kindly, “and after we meet… you know,” she whispered the last few words and Daniel was reminded why they had come to the mall in the first place.
Under the false pretences labeled “Christmas shopping,” Daniel Adams and Varina Webb had come to the mall to acquire intelligence. For Daniel and Varina weren’t just friends out searching for the best deals, they were partners. Partners in solving crime.
Daniel and Varina were secret agents who worked for L.U.K.E., an acronym which stood for League of Undercover Knowledge and Espionage.
They had been contacted by the Big Boss himself the previous afternoon. The message had been short, and in code. Thank goodness Daniel was the world’s best code breaker (though he only ranked fifth in lock breaking).
He had the message decoded within the hour.
It read as follows:
An agent has important intel. Meet her at the mall tomorrow, 3:00, food court, under the palm tree. She knows who you are and she’ll find you. Ask her why she’s wearing sunglasses in doors. She will reply with, “Oh dear, am I still wearing my sunglasses? They’re clip-ons… etc,” and you will know who she is. Tell no one.
So Daniel and Varina had prepared to meet this mysterious woman, travelling to the mall under the guise of Christmas shoppers. They fit in perfectly.
****It was exactly 2:48 when Daniel and Varina entered the food court. Varina groaned.
“What?” Daniel asked.
“Look how many palm trees there are in here!” Varina said. “How do we know which is the right one?”
Daniel looked around. “Hmmm…. I don’t know, how?”
“It wasn’t a joke,” Varina rolled her eyes, a slight smile playing across her lips. They stood and stared for awhile, scanning the trees but trying to appear as if they were really scanning the food vendors.
“There is only one live palm tree in here,” Varina muttered. “The rest are fakes. I say we choose the tree that is alive, it is the only thing that sets it apart from the others.”
“Good eyes Holmes,” said Daniel with a nod.
“Why thank you, Watson,” Varina replied with a smile.
Daniel glanced at his watch. “2:52… Hmm, we’re eight minutes early. Can we get something to eat?”
“I suppose so,” replied Varina.
Seven minutes later they were seated at a table next to the live palm tree, trying to block out the noise of the court, and trying to enjoy their gyros without making a mess.
“Mmmm, Greek food,” Daniel shouted over the din, taking a sloppy bite. Varina handed him a napkin. Daniel glanced at his watch. 3:00.59. Daniel was about to say , “she’ late,” when a woman in a trench coat, Indiana Jones fedora, and sunglasses clipped to her regular lenses, bumped into their table, a tray-full of food balanced precariously in her hands.
“Oop!” she said. “Mind if I sit here for a moment to get my bearings?”
“No problem,” Daniel said in a friendly voice. He stood up and pulled out a chair for the woman. She gratefully sat down with a plop and set her tray on the table.
Varina cast a glance at Daniel who nodded slightly.
“It must be awfully bright if you’re wearing sunglasses inside,” said Varina casually, casting a sly glance at the woman.
“Oh dear, am I still wearing my sunglasses?” the woman said, putting on a practiced embarrassed look. “They’re clip-ons, see? Much easier than getting a prescription pair of sunglasses.”
“I prefer contacts myself,” Varina replied.
As the woman asked about the medical benefits of contact lenses, she slipped a scrap of paper to Daniel under the table.
“Thanks for letting me sit here! I’ll be off now! Nice chattin’ with ya!” the woman smiled broadly at Daniel and Varina and then grabbed her tray and promptly left, disappearing into the crowd without so much as a backwards glance.
Daniel and Varina finished their gyros, not wanting to draw any unexpected attention to themselves, and were just about to get up to leave when two men loomed up in front of their table, casting a shadow over them.
“May we help you?” Daniel asked in his sharp British accent.
“Where did she go?” asked one of the men.
“Don’t play ignorant with us skinny boy!” said the other man. Daniel glanced self-consciously at himself. He could eat and eat but never gain any weight – giving him many uncouth nicknames.
“Where did she go? Short, trench coat, sunglasses, she was sitting at your table.” The first man glared at Daniel and Varina.
“There has been no one sitting here but us and a pesky little fly that keeps trying to steal my food,” said Daniel casually, batting at the fly which had landed on his gyro wrapper.
“What information did she give you?” demanded the first man.
“We don’t know what you’re talking about and we’re beginning to feel threatened,” said Varina.
“Threatened? I’ll give you threatened! I’ll call security! They’ll make you talk!” said the Second, becoming flushed.
“I’m not the one making a scene and threatening people,” Varina said coolly. “I think security guards would enjoy our story much more than yours. Now, you can either let us go, or we’ll call over that nice, burly guard and tell him you’re threatening us.”
The two men scowled at Daniel and Varina and then skulked back from whence they came.
Daniel and Varina chuckled and after throwing away their trash, proceeded to actually do some Christmas shopping.
Then they left the mall, heading to L.U.K.E.’s New York City HQ building.
“Trench Coat Woman sure was mysterious,” said Daniel as he pulled to a stop in the busy NYC rush hour traffic.
“Yes,” agreed Varina, fighting to be heard over the angry yells of other drivers and their furious, impatient laying on of their horns.
“Did Trench Coat Woman seem at all…. familiar?” Daniel asked.
Varina thought for moment. “Come to think of it… she did! Actually, I can remember seeing a woman dressed exactly like Trench Coat Woman at nearly every mission we’ve been sent on!”
“Me too! Creepy,” said Daniel.
“I wonder who she is,” mused Varina.
Half an hour later Daniel and Varina locked themselves in one of L.U.K.E’s sound proof meeting rooms. No one had questioned their doings and Varina was glad. Not that L.U.K.E. agents went around blabbing about former missions. Everything was top secret for security reasons and questions pertaining to missions were rarely asked and answers never given, unless permission had been granted beforehand.
The only people – outside of those that went on the mission – that were required to know about the missions were the Loggers, who wrote down mission notes to send to the Big Boss and the other L.U.K.E. bigwigs.
“So did Trench Coat Woman give you something?” Varina asked when she and Daniel had locked themselves in the room. “She left in such a hurry! I hope we didn’t miss the message.”
“She slipped me a slip of paper,” Daniel said. He pulled it out of his pocket and uncrumpled it. Two words were written across it:
“Why would the Big Boss send us to get Season’s Greetings?” Daniel asked.
Suddenly the light bulb above Daniel and Varina’s head flickered and died.
“Oh great…. We’ll have to call the janitor,” said Varina, feeling around in the dark for a light.
The light flickered back on above their heads and simultaneously Daniel and Varina had the same idea.
“Microdot,” they said at the same time.
Microdots enabled entire messages to be given in small areas – for example, the dot on a. lower case “i” or the period at the end of a sentence. The only way to recover the message was to read it with a microdot reader.
Luckily, Daniel and Varina had one handy.
“This looks like a job for the Sleuth42!” Varina said, pulling out to instrument from her trench coat pocket. The Sleuth42 had many features. It worked as a flashlight, a microdot reader, a master key, a syringe, and many more things (Varina even claimed it made good French fries).
Varina handed it to Daniel who carefully swiped it across “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”
“I got something!” Daniel said after a few minutes. He pressed a few buttons and the message hidden in the exclamation mark projected onto the wall.
“I found a new use for the Sleuth,” said Daniel. “Projector! We could watch movies on this thing.”
“Except that the message is scrambled and up-side-down,” said Varina.
“I can fix that,” Daniel pressed a few more buttons and the message turned itself around, slowly aligning itself in the right order.
Daniel and Varina gasped when they read the message.
The Wolf is in the flock.