Boiled in His Own Pudding
The persistent drizzle made the trip back across the lawn about as pleasant as their visit inside had been. Even the spectacular tree and light display that graced the grounds of the edifice could not make the view appear cheery to the three figures plodding toward the sidewalk.
They should have opened a portal closer. All any of them wanted was to get home.
“Can you believe this guy?”
“It’s not like it’s the first time we’ve had an unsuccessful visit to this place, Present,” the young boy with close-cropped hair, dressed like he was auditioning for Newsies, grumbled. “Remember Nixon?”
“Ah, he wasn’t all that bad,” came the muffled response from under a sodden black hood. “His prospects weren’t nearly as depressing.”
The affable, brightly dressed man who’d first spoken sighed in such a defeated way, it made his companions both look at him with concern. “He can’t even see the truth of this moment. How could he possibly learn from the past, or consider the consequences of days yet to come? We should have tried harder.”
“Ah, Present, don’t let it get you down! How are the rest of us supposed to keep the spirit if you get all depressed?” the boy asked with some urgency. “Yettocome, help me out here!”
The hooded figure spoke again, trying to brighten his perpetually dark voice a bit to cheer his companions. “You did a fine job. Both of you. And I gave it all I’ve got. Sometimes you just have to see a brick wall for what it is, and stop running your head into it. You know?”
Present glanced at his companions. They’d only made it a short way from the imposing structure, sloshing as they were over the muddy ground. “Maybe we should go back in there. Give it one more try. All together.”
“Full frontal assault?” the boy asked eagerly.
“Shock and awe?” the specter of hopeless futures suggested, and they could hear his grin.
“Yeah, yeah, let’s do it!” the spirit of the joy of Christmas, of living in the moment, said, managing some of his usual enthusiasm.
The three figures turned, and marched with determination back inside, their invisible presence sending a thrill through the minds of the Secret Service agents they passed along the way.
They were almost to the sidewalk before any of them spoke again. Past ran his hand through his short hair. “Well, it was worth a try anyway.”
Present nodded. “I think maybe the second wave got to him a little.”
Yettocome shrugged, the movement just visible through his heavy robes. “Maybe. But have you ever met anyone less self-aware in your whole afterlife?”
Past grinned. “I don’t think that’s the problem. I think he’s too self-aware. If my ego were half that good, I’d have taken over half the other realms by now.”
A chuckle bubbled through the party as they approached the portal home, glowing faintly blue in the misty early morning of Christmas.
As they prepared for the return journey, Present gave a little nod, more to himself than his companions. “No, seriously though,” he said. “I think maybe we might have made a difference.”
“Not to burst your bubble, man, but …” Past held up a glowing rectangle for his friends to see.
“But what?” they asked together, not quite sure they wanted to know.
“He’s tweeting about us.”
– End –