A holiday thing

Remember “The Greatest Gift,” that Christmas episode from two years ago? With Pete and the brush? I had some vague ideas at the time about how different it would have been if H.G. had been a part of its alternate reality… and now I’ve written those ideas down. I’m assuming that a reader will have a general familiarity with the storyline. My memory of its details has faded a bit, and obviously I had to deviate from it in significant ways, but the general arc remains. (And that is a warning, of sorts.) This is complete, but it’s pretty long, so I’ll post in three installments. I have to post this first chunk and run, but two and three will come later tonight and/or tomorrow.


Myka Bering does not do things like this. Ever. So when it actually registers that she’s been staring at another woman across a crowded bar for the past half hour, she downs her drink, signs the credit card receipt, and stands to leave.

And that’s when things get more than a little complicated, because that’s when the woman she’s been staring at (why? what is it about this gorgeous creature that’s made Myka gaze like a fool instead of drinking her drink and going home like she always does?) stands up too. And starts walking—no, stalking—through the bar toward Myka. Who is now paralyzed. Should she bolt? Should she pretend she’s a statue in a performance art piece? She did this; it’s her fault. If she had been able to make her eyes behave, this wouldn’t be happening, and she wouldn’t have to be sorting through options in her head like this. She’d be home already, showering the day off, making her list for tomorrow, reading a foreign policy article or two, falling asleep… not watching the most beautiful woman she’s ever seen aim for her like she’s a bullet and Myka’s a cutout at the firing range.

This is not what Myka does. And even if it were, this is not who she’d do it with. Is it? Except… well, she can’t think clearly. This must be because she isn’t breathing; oxygen isn’t reaching her brain. It figures that this would be how this bizarre day ends. It’s not every morning that some freak claiming to be your partner in an alternate reality appears in your office. Yes, that helps: it’s been a weird day, so it’s not that surprising that something else out of the ordinary is happening.

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