Rudolph The Regular-Nosed Reindeer Falls In Love On Xmas Eve, 5:
Above him, the woman who’d brought him here was being carried aloft by two of the elves—they had to be elves Rudolph thought what else could 3-foot-tall guys with pointy ears be? – through some mechanism Rudolph couldn’t discern.
Acquisitions, meanwhile, was charging at him with several of the other elves that had stood by the magician, and Rudolph saw other elves spreading out around the lobby of the hotel. He darted quickly to his right, to a bank of elevators, round ones made of glass in transparent shafts, and made it inside one. He hit the highest floor he could – 17 – and saw the doors close just as Acquisitions was about to reach him. The elevator started up.
Below him, Acquisitions paused only briefly before he and the elves piled into the other two elevators, which then began rising, a floor or two below Rudolph. He was gaining on the woman, who, he saw now, was being lofted by the elves without any apparent means of support.
Across the atrium, other elevators started rising. Down below, the magician was waving her hands around in a spiral and Rudolph saw a waterspout begin to rise up towards him. He couldn’t make the elevator go any faster. It was 13…14… well ahead of the other elevators but the waterspout was coming up quickly… 15. The elves carrying the woman were struggling as she kicked her legs and twisted around… 16… the waterspout widened up. 17… the doors opened and Rudolph threw himself out in the hallway. Turning to his right he reached the railing from where he could look out onto the atrium. The waterspout was only a floor below, the other elevators already reaching the 17th floor. The elves had barely risen. The woman saw him, reached a hand towards him. “Help!” she yelled.
Rudolph stood up on the railing, and teetered precariously for only a moment as Acquisitions and the elves came charging towards him.
It was a preposterous thing to do, he realized. The woman was at least 15 feet away, if not more, and what could he leap like this, maybe four or five? He stretched his arms out and began to fall just as the waterspout crashed into him, lifting him up with its force and pulling him towards the center. The woman and the elves were caught, too, and the woman, flailing frantically, kicked a leg towards Rudolph, who grabbed it. The waterspout whipped them around wildly and then flung them hard against a wall on the other side of the atrium.
Rudolph rolled over, chest heaving, body aching. The woman was struggling to her knees. From around them came yells and the howling of the water spout. Rudolph looked up with bleary eyes. The door next to him said ROOF ACCESS.
He grabbed the woman’s hand, helped her to her feet. The door, miraculously, was unlocked. He pushed it open and they began up the stairs, still unsteady.
Outside, it was still dark, and the cold was biting. The wind up here was swift and tore at him – both of them were soaked. They heard yells below.
All around them the city skyline was dark. Not a single light could be seen, no car horns honking or busses grumbling. The entire world seemed empty. Rudolph slammed the door shut behind them, and seeing nothing to block it with, pulled the woman after him. They made it to the edge of the roof, and looked over. Nothing – below them was the street. No window-cleaning rig, no fire escape, nothing. Rudolph realized that the likeliest place for some stairs or emergency exit route would be on the back of the building, and he turned around.
Acquisitions, the magician, and the elves were standing there.
“Oh, no…” he breathed.
The woman turned and saw what he saw.
“I have to tell you what the gypsy actually told me,” she said. “Why I was going to Chad’s party anyway.”
Rudolph looked at her. “What?” he asked.
When he looked back, the magician and Acquisitions were advancing, the elves spreading out.
“The envelope,” Acquisitions said.
“Look, I…” Rudolph began.
Next to him, the woman said: “She told me that if I went to the party, if Chad was able to get me – those were the words she used – that …”
“Bad things would happen, I know,” Rudolph said.
“No. She said specifically…” The magician and Acquisitions were only five feet away now. Rudolph and the woman were backed up against the small wall that lined the roof, reaching up to their waists.
“The ENVELOPE,” the magician said again. Rudolph was certain she had been at the Xmas party.
“She said specifically that if Chad got me I would die…” the woman said.
Rudolph never took his eyes off the magician or Acquisitions, who had paused, just out of arm’s reach. “Then why would you go?”
He began pulling himself up onto the wall, and the woman did too. Before their opponents could move, both were standing on the wall.
“The envelope,” Acquisitions said, again.
“I went…” the woman said, and paused only briefly before continuing “… because she said that if I didn’t go then the man I was supposed to meet would die, instead.”
Now Rudolph looked at her again. “Wha…” he began, but as he did Acquisitions lunged at them.
And the woman tried to step off the edge of the wall.
Rudolph threw himself sideways while grabbing at her, got his arms around her and pulled.
It almost worked.
He was left lying precariously on the wall, one arm wrapped around her back and holding her up by her armpits, the other clinging desperately to the inner bricks. She was slowly weighing him down.
“Why would you come to the party?” he asked.
“Because I couldn’t let some man die just because I was too afraid…” she said. “I didn’t want that on my conscience.”
Rudolph looked into her eyes, and wished, suddenly, that tonight could have gone differently.
“It is OVER!” the magician yelled. Acquisitions grabbed Rudolph’s shoulders and began pulling.
“The envelope!” he was yelling. “Give us the envelope and we’ll save you both! Where is it?” Acquisitions yelled.
The envelope was pinned beneath Rudolph in his coat’s inside pocket.
“Don’t believe them!” the woman yelled. “One of us is going to die tonight! The gypsy said it! You need to live and hold onto that envelope!”
“WHY?” Rudolph yelled as the wind picked up and Acquisitions began trying to locate the envelope by patting him down and reaching into coat pockets. Rudolph could feel the woman pull up against his arms, braced himself. She put her face right next to his and said softly:
“You’ll need it…” and then she kissed him, softly on the lips.
“The envelope!” Acquisitions yelled in his ear as the kiss ended.
“Don’t give it to them,” the woman said. She began to squirm.
“NO!” Rudolph yelled. She was almost out of his arm. He clutched at her frantically.
“You know,” she said. “You never did tell me your name.”
And with that she pushed hard against him. He was unable to hold on, and the last thing he saw was
her body falling, as if in slow motion, towards the empty dark street below.
It was 12:14 a.m. on Xmas Eve.
There was a bright light against his eyelids. It was completely silent all around him. Rudolph’s entire body ached. He lay perfectly still for a few moments, trying to remember… it all came back to him. The party, the woman, the strange tunnel, the magician…
Rudolph sat up with a gasping sob, eyes suddenly filling with tears.
He was in his own bed, in his tidy bedroom in the small house he had on the outskirts of the city.
He was wearing a t-shirt and some boxer shorts.
He stared around, the room brightly lit by the sun that was high up in the blue cloudless sky he could see from the window.
On the floor was his business suit, crumpled into a pile. He went over to it, nudged it with his toe. It was slightly damp and looked a mess.
He stared around the room again, bewildered.
He saw, balanced on his nightstand, an envelope. It was dirty and crumpled and appeared to have gone through the wash – if clothes were washed with dirty rocks and moss. He walked over to it.
On the front, barely legible through the dirt and smudges, he saw block letters that said:
For: Rudolph The Regular-Nosed Reindeer.
He flipped it over, and in green felt-tipped marker it said:
Do not open until Xmas Eve
Rudolph looked around until he found his watch. It said it was 1:15, on December 24th. He looked back at the envelope and after a moment, began to carefully tear it open.
Inside was a small piece of stationary, letterhead from the business where he and Chad worked.
Written on that was simply:
Answer the doorbell.
Rudolph flipped it over to see if anything was on the back, and as he did so the doorbell rang, making him jump in surprise. He turned the paper back over. It now said:
Well go ahead answer it.
He dropped the paper and ran downstairs, fumbled with the deadbolt and opened the door wide. A blast of cold air hit him and made his eyes water for a moment. When they cleared up, the woman, the running woman, the falling woman, the woman from the night before, was standing there.
“Merry Xmas,” she said. Rudolph didn't know what to say.
"I guess we should introduce ourselves," she said. "I'm Mary..."
Rudolph hesitated only a second before saying: "I'm Rudolph The Regular-Nosed Reindeer," and then before she could react he stepped out onto the porch, took her in his arms, and began kissing her.
After a moment she pulled back, looked into his eyes, and said:
"I love you, too, Rudolph."