The Twelve Blogs of Christmas: Ten

Just a single thing I'm incredibly proud of at the top of the blog today.  It's my new Christmas SF story, 'The Ghosts of Christmas', published by Tor.com.  I think it's cold and warm at the same time, that you can see what I was worried about as I wrote it this summer, and that it's very much in the tradition of the festive stories I used to do on here.  I'd like to thank Patrick Nielsen Hayden for commissioning it, and I hope you enjoy it.

Today's guest blogger, once again on the theme of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas', is comedian Joseph Scrimshaw, who'll be talking about Ten Lords a Leaping!  Joe brings a story entitled...

Last of the Leaping Lords

The dark figure crouched.  His tattered leather jacket fluttered in the cold night wind.  He narrowed his eyes as he stared out at the city he had sworn to protect.
     “London,” he growled out loud.  No one could hear him.  He was perched on top of Lord Nelson’s head in the middle of Trafalgar Square.
     Most of the shoppers and tourists had gone home.  Only a few tipsy Londoners wandered the streets.  “Like cattle waiting to be attacked by wolves.  The wolves of crime,” he said out loud.
     He wasn’t very good at analogies.  He shook his head.  He was having a hard time getting into a good brooding groove.
     “Oi!” a voice echoed out.  There was a man across the street from the square.  Two punks appeared to be pulling on his shopping bag.
     At least that’s what it kind of looked and sounded like from far away in the dark.  The crouched figure’s vision and hearing were, like his skills with analogies, average to poor.
     There was only one thing the dark avenger was truly good at: LEAPING.
     “Not on my watch!” he spat between gritted teeth and leapt off the statue with a mighty BOING!
     He flew through the air and landed with a horrible crunch on the shoulders of one of the punks.  The man with the shopping bag screamed in terror.
     The other punk stuttered in shock.  “What the - did you just jump on Dave?”
     The dark figure grabbed the punk by his shirt.  “I jump on all who mean to do evil.  Are you doing evil?”
     “Well, we were trying to steal this guy’s iPad Mini, but I don’t know if that’s technically evil, I mean, when a piece of technology depreciates that fast, it’s like the Apple Store already stole from him, so-“
     “Not on my watch!” the dark avenger cried repetitively as he pulled the punk into a tight embrace and leapt straight into the air.
     KER-BOING!
     “Ahhhh!” the punk screamed as they rocketed upward.
     “AHHHHHH!” the punk screamed even louder as the dark avenger released him and he fell flailing to the ground.
     The punk landed on the pavement with a sickening thud.  The dark avenger landed nimbly seconds later.
     The man who still owned a recently purchased iPad Mini clutched it to his chest and whispered, “Who—what the hell are you?”
     The dark avenger tried to smile a smile that was cold and ironic because obviously dark avengers shouldn’t be smiling.  He wasn’t very good at that either.  He looked like a gassy baby.
     “Who am I?” he repeated as he stuck a heroic pose, “I am the Leaping Lord.”
     The man stared. “Okay,” he said.  “What’s your deal?  You just go around jumping on people and dropping them from high places?
     “Yes.  Crime is a disease and I treat the symptoms.  With a scalpel of leaping.”
     The man cocked his head.  “I don’t know what that means.”
     “I am the last of ten mighty lords gifted with the supernatural ability to jump really quite high.”  The Leaping Lord cracked his knuckles for emphasis.
      “Ten leaping lords?  Like in that 'Twelve Days of Christmas' song?”
     “Yes,' the Leaping Lord said.  He tried to smile with his eyes, but just looked a little drunk.   “That song is much older than anyone knows.  It was originally a chant created by the druids to bestow various powers on mortals.”
     The man was intrigued now.  “So every verse in that song refers to a weird cult of super beings?”
     “Yes.  You were lucky I spotted you before the Milking Maid.  Or the Laying Geese.”
     The man’s eyes bulged.  “There’s a super powered goose wandering around London?”
     “Don’t be ridiculous.  The Laying Geese are men who can shoot geese out of their- you know what?  I’ve said too much.”
     “No, no, I’m interested,” said iPad Mini man.  “What happened to the other Leaping Lords?”
     “They’re all gone.  Killed before they could pass the power on to their heir.”  The Leaping Lord stared off into the distance.  “You see, each Leaping Lord must pass on his power by taking his chosen replacement to a specific circle of stones in Yorkshire at midnight on December 21st.  The power is transferred after they leg wrestle and sing the ancient chant.”
     “The 'Twelve Days of Christmas' chant?”
     “Precisely,” the Leaping Lord smiled genuinely.  “I see you are a most intelligent mortal.  Perhaps you would be a good heir.  I will have to keep my eye on you.”
     “Really?  Now that you’ve saved me from a half-ass mugging attempt you’ll have the power to know when I’m in danger or something?”
     “No.”
     “So, your power is really just leaping?”
     “Yes.”
     “No super speed or strength or anything?”
     “I have pretty solid abs.  But that’s mostly from the exercises I do with yoga balls.”
     The man with the iPad Mini laughed.  The Leaping Lord did not.  “Oh.  Oh, you’re serious.”
     “Being a Leaping Lord is like all traditions.  It’s only as serious as you take it.”  The Leaping Lord suddenly reached out and put a hand on his new friend’s shoulder.  “I must go.  The night is alive with danger and I need to kill it.  The danger.  Not the night.  The night dies on its own.  But like a phoenix the night rises again to shine.”
     The man stared.
     “I’m not very good with like metaphors and stuff,” the Leaping Lord growled.  “But as long as I have legs, I will be watching you, my friend.”
     The Leaping Lord crouched low and once more shattered the silence with a deafening BOING as he leapt really quite high and disappeared into the night sky.
     The man with the iPad Mini stared off into the distance.  He looked down at the grievously injured muggers.  He blinked several times.
     Then, he said out loud to no one:  “I’m going to have nightmares about The Laying Geese.”

The End.


Joseph Scrimshaw is a comedian and writer who was once described by a fan on Twitter as “slightly geek-flavored.”  His first book Comedy of Doom is a collection of essays, stories, and jokes covering every major topic in geek culture.  Joseph has brought his “geek flavored” comedy to Dragon*Con, CONvergence, w00tstock, San Francisco SketchFest, Jonathan Coulton’s JoCoCruiseCrazy and more.  He’s written for John Kovalic’s Dork Storm Press, RiffTrax, and the national public radio show Wits.  His hit plays Adventures in Mating, The Worst Show in the Fringe, and My Monster (written with Bill Corbett) have performed all over the world. Joseph also hosts a podcast called Obsessed that has been named a “Staff Favorite” in comedy by iTunes.  (Check out the episode in which Mr Cornell shares his love of Kate Bush and his affinity with the Slow Loris.)  In his free time, Joseph kills all his free time tweeting jokes at @JosephScrimshaw.  Joseph’s spirit animal is the North American tree squirrel.

Thank you, Joseph.  We'll continue tomorrow with Al Ewing, Si Spurrier and Rob Williams, the three writers behind 2000AD's recent 'Trifecta' crossover, talking about... Eleven Pipers Piping!  Until then, Cheerio!

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