Art by Taosym
With a Story by Colleen
A TOKO CHRISTMAS CAROL
“The what now?” Toko asked in between gulps of a piping hot caramel latte as she desperately tried to heat her frigid insides. She walked alongside Nadia and Stephanie as they headed home after class.
“The Christmas season! It’s time for another holiday!” Nadia beamed with a kind of excitement usually reserved for making it out of Hell alive.
Toko stared at her completely serious girlfriend, horrified. “I just got done recovering from the last one! Don’t tell me we’re going to have to fight to keep Ginxhou out of the kitchen again.”
“We might!” Nadia exclaimed. “But that’s not the point of Christmas! This one’s a little different.”
“Well in this one you give gifts to the people you’re closest to! Whatever you think they’ll like. And they’ll probably give you gifts in return!”
“Do we go around to people’s houses and get gifts from them?”
“No, that was for Halloween. It would be boring if we did it the same way each holiday. This time we wrap presents, stick them under a tree, and wait for Christmas day to come around. Then we open the gifts meant for us!”
Stephanie chimed in. “I can’t wait to see you explain ornaments.”
“So I probably won’t have to deal with demons during a Christmas parade?”
“We don’t do parades on Christmas in this town! So no! As long as you stay inside you’ll be safe.”
Toko was unconvinced. “Ugh, I’ll still pass. Holidays aren’t meant for me. You guys even do that weird birthday stuff, as if you want to remember the time you got shoved out of your mom and had trouble walking and talking properly.”
“That’s not quite how that works ei–”
“I don’t wanna do this at all!” Toko sneered. “Save your money or whatever you were planning to do. ”
“But that’s no fun! After all…” Nadia stepped behind Toko. “It’s better to enjoy the holiday spirit!”
With that Nadia quickly stuffed her cold hands under Toko’s coat.
“B–BAAH!” Toko nearly jumped into the clouds.
“Oooohhhh, did you hear that, Steph?” Nadia turned to her friend.
“I did. What an appropriate noise!”
“So, you’re gonna help me, right?”
“Help you with wh–” Stephanie saw the gleam in Nadia’s eyes. “…Nadia, we have finals in two weeks. I’m not helping you put on a big show. Could you keep it simple and maybe do Gift of the Magi instead?”
“You always complain when I’m being proactive and responsible! Hmph.”
“You pick the worst times! Maybe you should try to convince the school board to not be so scroogey instead of your girlfriend.”
“That sounds way harder. Toko’s just an innocent little demon who doesn’t know better.”
“Well, you figure out what it is you want to do and I’ll wish you the best of luck.”
“You don’t even want to be the ghost with the chains?”
Toko had no idea what the two were talking about, but she knew she hated it. Whatever Nadia was planning, it was guaranteed to turn out obnoxious.
Toko awoke with a start. It was the middle of the night, and the side of the bed where Nadia slept was empty. Toko shivered down to her bones, wondering where her heat source had gone off to. There was no way she could hope to rest this night, so she decided to make herself warm instead. She stepped into the living room on the way to the bath, but nearly rammed into the cabinet as a shadowy figure, waiting for her on the couch, spoke grave and haunting words!
“Hey Toko. Nadia asked me to do something for her. I have no idea what.” Pellatrix coolly wrote something in a small notebook.
“…So you’re just gonna sit in my house?”
“I suppose. All I was told to do was to get you excited for some human holiday by reminding you of your past.”
“My past sucked.”
“I was also told to remind you that you should be grateful that she came to me and not your father.”
“I guess? I just… ugh, okay? What’s the point of this?”
Pellatrix adjusted her glasses. “Do you feel any Christmas spirit yet?”
“Is that spirit meant to be anger?”
“I was informed it was meant to be an unending joy and goodwill.”
“Can I maybe tell you something about your mother?”
“She always sent you small gifts on your birthday. Remember that muscle fern waiting for you after you returned from failed soul ferrying attempt number 243? ”
“…Vaguely. I didn’t know how to take care of it.”
“That was one of her gifts.”
“Oh… I didn’t even know I had a birthday.”
“Everyone’s been born so of course you do. It was important to her, even if it wasn’t important to anyone else.”
“Oookay, that’s… something I wished I knew. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want you to go looking for her until you could handle yourself, and all that. She’s pretty important, after all.”
“How’s that spirit doing? Warmth? Joy?”
“I guess I’m not as mad anymore. You can leave now.”
“Good enough for me.”
Pellatrix stood up and wandered out of the apartment without another word.
“Okay, I’d still rather have that bath…”
Inside the bathroom, Toko found a hiding Nadia, who must’ve been listening to the entire conversation.
“…Are you happy, Nadia? Can you go back to bed yet?”
“I will once we bathe.”
Toko shoved Nadia out and locked the bathroom door.
The next night, Toko found Nadia missing once again. There were weird sounds coming from the other room. More cautious than before, she opened the bedroom door slowly, only to be greeted by two monsters drinking tea together in the kitchen.
“Hey, Sissy. Come join us.”
“… Did Nadia put you up to this?”
“Of course. I’ve been instructed to inform you of the myriad ways you can experience Chrissmass. There are whole Masses of Chrisses out there for you to enjoy!”
“I don’t think that’s what she mean–”
“Nonsense. I’ve I’ve already got three Christophers, two Christinas, and a Chrystal for good measure. We’ll be having an awesome party come the 25th! ”
“…Since I’m supposed to ask, what exactly will you all be doing in this party?”
“Each other, of course.”
“I refuse to do anything of the sort.”
“Of course you’re not invited to MY party. Get your own Chrisses.”
“I don’t want any Chrisses!”
“That’s too bad. I’m not really sure what you’re supposed to do without a few.”
“Nadia didn’t explain this well to you at all, did she? There were supposed to be gifts and stuff! That’s what she told me.”
“I can’t think of a finer gift if y–”
The two heard a badly stifled guffaw from the bathroom.
“Can we lock her in for the night?”
“Be nice to your girlie, Toko. She’s doing this for you, after all.”
“She is not!”
“Well not my problem! I think my work is done here. I’m going to go spend the night celebrating Devonmas, and that’s a one person party~ See you, Sissy.”
“Get out already.”
Devon stood up, tea in hand. “Before I go.”
“Make sure you spend your life having fun. You don’t have to be all wrathful and stuff. You’re allowed to be a succubus, even if you are turning human.”
“Alright, I get it. Go on.”
Devon nodded. “Excellent. Let’s be off, Davey.”
The third night, Toko didn’t even bother sleeping as she waited for the next round of Nadia’s nonsense. Around midnight, as she held a bunch of blankets around her, she noticed wisps of smoke or fog flowing under the door frame. Sighing and readying herself for round three, she stepped out into the room, only to be greeted by more fog, some billowing out of the front door. Since it stood to reason facing this head on would be more tolerable than waiting for it to come to her, she followed.
The trail of fog led Toko to the park where Devon had captured Nadia a few months ago. It was dimly lit and covered in a gray haze. Then, through the snow-dusted trees, Toko caught a glimpse of a rising figure, cloaked in ancient robes! It was tall, and so thin it was nearly skeletal! It clutched a bag of Blue Oyster’s Fast Fish in its slender fingers.
“Okay Ginxhou, what’s your job in all of this?”
She merely pointed with her free hand, off into the dim distance, at a styrofoam tombstone. Toko approached, and read the words:
“If you don’t know what to get me, I’m into music boxes, moderately flashy jewellery, and cookware!”
“…So what the hell is going on?”
“I have done all I have been instructed to do, and received my payment. Remember that we are what we will eat.”
Toko stared at her surrogate sister as Ginxhou munched on a battered fillet.
“Toko, when I eat food, that makes my stomach happy. But what makes people happy, in the stomachs of their hearts, depends on the person. You have to make Nadia feel good in her heart-stomach.”
“I hate this so much, Ginxhou.”
“Maybe start with what was written on the tombstone. And once you see how happy you have made Nadia, you will realize it would not hurt to feed the heart of someone else for once.
“My work is done. Farewell, Toko.”
“Wait!” shouted Toko. “I really wish I knew what the hell the joke was! Did she give any kind of hint?”
Ginxhou was already gone.
A few days had passed since Nadia had finished her little play. Toko stood clutching a few dollars, staring at a store window, determined to do this right. The ultimate Christmas gift would be doing this so perfectly it would send Nadia into shock…