The following is fan fiction based on a blog post written by John Scalzi. The blog post is much better than this story. To read said blog post, go here: Script Notes on The Birth of Jesus

Christ, Origins

The shepherd was worried that the ewe would die before giving birth to her lamb. He’d been with her most of the afternoon. He was chilled to the bone and muscle-sore. Blood and sheep shit caked his bare chest. But he knew his misery was nothing compared to that of the unborn lamb and its exhausted mother.

And then, a miracle. One long, gasping bleat and the lamb slipped into his arms, warm and slimy and wonderfully alive. He gazed down into pink eyes that were already open and looking back. His hart swelled. Suddenly the afternoon didn’t seemed so cold.

Something flashed on the edge of his vision. He looked up to see a massive pillar of light, bright as noon. It shrank and changed into a figure in white. Winged and haloed, it gestured and flame leapt from its hand, incinerating the ewe. The shepherd fell to his knees, the newborn lamb clutched protectively to his chest.

"I am Asphalbelub," said the angel in a voice like golden thunder. "Hear me, lowly shepherd."

The shepherd snorted. "I hear you. Why don’t you speak louder? There’s probably some shepherds in Egypt who didn’t hear you. And your name sounds like a fart in the bath."

Asphalbelub bristled and crackled and shouted, "You will serve me. You will be one of my minions. The prophecy will be fulfilled."

"I don’t believe in prophecies," the shepherd said.

"How dare you defy me." A fireball roared from Asphalbelub’s hands to hang in the sky like a bright star. The angel’s eyes never left the shepherd. He didn’t seem to notice that he’d let off a fireball. "The Lord Jesus Christ must not be allowed to live. You will submit to me. You will join my horde and be ready to slaughter the baby after it is born."

"That’s sick. Kill a baby? What’s wrong with you?”

"It isn’t a baby. It is the antimatter manifestation of the universal field theory."

"Sounds important."

“It is.”

“Also sounds made up.”

"You will serve me."

The shepherd felt his will being bent, as if a crowbar had been inserted in his brain. His head flared with the need to serve. Then on the skin of his chest he felt a tickle. His gaze left the eyes of the angel and he looked down to see the tiny lamb staring back up at him. New-found courage awoke in his heart. This angel had no right to exert its will over his. Antimatter manifestation of the universal field theory? As if. The shepherd could recognize technobabble when he heard it.

"You can’t boss me," the shepherd said with certainty. He cuddled the lamb.

Another fireball exploded from Asphalbelub’s hands and immolated the shepherd’s head. The shepherd’s body toppled to the ground. Asphalbelub disappeared in a puff of sulfurous smoke, not bothering with the light show now there was no one to see. The little lamb stumbled to its feet and began to shiver in the cold.

***

Mary pushed open the door to the Tiger’s Breath tavern and a gag-inducing mixture of alcohol fumes, masculine BO, and ear drum-murdering music assaulted her senses. She felt bad exposing the little guy to that poisonous atmosphere, but she had to get Jack out of there before he gambled away all their money. They needed to save every penny for clothes and food and a college fund.

She wished she’d never met Jack. Arranged marriages were the worst. She’d been plotting to kill Jack and be a widow for the rest of her life, but then the little guy had just happened. And what if she didn’t get away with the murder? Where would that leave the little guy?

"Jack," she said, elbowing her way through the crowd. "Jack, it’s time to come home. Have some dinner. You like your dinner, Jack."

“Go away,” Jack said drunkenly. “I’m going to start winning. Don’t jinks me.”

He was probably drinking the expensive stuff, too, Mary thought angrily. She should have poisoned his ass a long time ago. Before she got all marshmallow-hearted.

"Jack, I think we should go to the hospital. I think it might be coming soon."

"Hospital? What century do you think this is? Leave me alone? I’m winning.”

She picked up his drink and dumped it over his head. Then she scooped up his money purse, which was just sitting there for anyone to take—

the idiot, and then she got out of there.

He might come after her. He might have her arrested for stealing. Never mind that it was money from her dowry. Life was not fair. Life was shit. Except for the little guy. The little guy was awesome incarnate.

Mary started for home. A bright orange fireball hanging in the sky lit the road. Halfway home, she saw an altercation. The altercation consisted of a strangely-garbed man getting the living crap beaten out of him by three bandits.

One of the bandits held the man’s arms behind his back while the other two took turns punching him. A bunch of strange metallic objects glinted in the road around them as if the bandits had robbed the man, then thrown all his stuff in the road.

The man being accosted was robed in red white and green. So far he had two black eyes and a broken nose. Mary felt her temper boil. She didn’t even think about tamping it back.

Grabbing a handy stick of firewood that had fallen off someone’s cart, she ran up to the bandit holding the stranger’s arms. Her mind turned to Jack and she wished it was him in front of her, as she brought the chunk of firewood up between the bandit’s legs with all her strength. She felt the impact in her shoulders. It felt good, good enough she did it again. Damn, that was fun.

The bandit released the stranger’s arms and sagged, clutching himself and howling. The stranger did something quick with his hands, and the two other bandits ended up lying motionless in the road. Mary didn’t know if they were dead or not. She didn’t care one way or the other.

The stranger bent double, choking for air. His chokes turned into gags and then he threw up. What ever he had eaten, it looked gross now. He swayed and Mary grabbed him to keep him from collapsing in his puddle of throw-up. “Careful there,” she said.

When he looked at her, she held up her hand. "How many fingers?"

"Eleven,” he said. “No, just joking. Three fingers.” He had the weirdest accent, she thought. He certainly wasn’t from around here.

"Okay, good," she said. “I mean, you’ll have to work on the jokes, but your pupils look okay. Maybe a mild concussion. Have you got a room at an inn? You’d be better off coming with me. I can put something on your eyes and maybe fix your nose. Why didn’t you just give those bandits all your stuff?"

"I did,” he said. He pointed at the stuff on the road. “They didn’t understand what it was so they smashed it. My phone and everything, those bastards. Then they started pounding on me. I could have handled them.” His hands balled into fists. “I just didn’t want to cause a scene and draw attention.”

“Sure,” Mary said. “Okay.” Let the guy have his pride, she told herself.

He walked away and began poking through the detritus on the road. Bending down he picked something up. The thing was silvery and as long as Mary’s forearm, with glinting crystals along it. It looked expensive. Not like something bandits would have discarded. Unless they’d been distracted by the prospect of kicking the crap out of a hapless wanderer.

"It’s broken," he said. "But I might be able to fix it." To himself he said desperately, “I have to fix it.” Mary didn’t think she was supposed to hear that.

"Is it a magic wand? Are you a magician?" Thinking of Jack, she asked, "Can you turn people into ducks?" If Jack were a duck then she could ring his neck and cook him for supper. Nobody would investigate a duck.

"No no. Nothing like that. It’s a toy. That’s all. My name’s Joseph."

"You’re not from around here, are you, Joseph?" Mary thought that Joseph, illuminated by the light cast by the odd orange fireball, was actually pretty cute. She wished she could see his face without the black eyes and all the blood. Maybe more than cute?

"My name is Mary," she said. "If you want to come with me…my house isn’t far. I could put some compresses on those eyes. You’re going to be one sore puppy come morning."

Was it her imagination, or did he look relieved when she told him her name?

"Lead on, Mary," he said. He tucked the toy, which Mary was sure must be a magic wand, into his belt, and together they walked along the road toward the little cottage she shared with Jack. If Jack did turn up, Mary told herself, he’d be so drunk, she’d be able to handle him. Maybe Joseph would help? Maybe Joseph could do what Mary herself couldn’t bring herself to do and make Jack go away forever. Like to China or something.

Joseph was silent, he kept stealing glances at her out of the corner of his eye as they went along. Mary was pretty sure she wasn’t supposed to notice the looks.

"So," she said. "Not from around here?"

"No," he said. "I’m from a long way off. Actually, I thought I was lost."

"Oh no."

"But I’m not lost." He gave her a smile she felt to her toes. The little guy started kicking and she winced. Joseph looked away, his smile evaporating.

"The little guy is renovating," Mary explained. "That’s what it feels like, anyways."

"Oh," Joseph started to laugh then clutched his face in pain.

"Almost home," Mary said. "We don’t really have a doctor in town. I’m probably the next best thing."

Later, tenderly rinsing the dried blood from his face, Mary realized this Joseph guy was smoking hot, like you could fry an egg on him hot. Except that was gross so never mind. The point was he had whatever it was that Mary liked. Maybe it was his beard, long and glossy, like flowing water. Everybody had a beard, of course, but his felt unreal.

"Watch it," he said. She jerked her hand back. She’d been stroking it unconsciously.

"Sorry," he said. "Tender."

Their eyes met. The little guy did a roundhouse kick and followed it up with a flurry of punches.

"Are you—" Joseph began.

At the same time Mary said, "I bet–"

"You go first," Joseph said.

"No you go first," Mary said.

"No you go first," Joseph said.

"Fine," Mary said. "I was going to say I bet your wife misses you a lot." She felt heat run up her neck and into her face.

Joseph frowned. "I don’t have a wife," he said.

"Your husband then."

"I’m not married," he said.

"Oh." Something that wasn’t the little guy began to tap dance in her stomach. "Umm," she said. "What were you going to say."

"Oh," he said. "Something about your husband being a lucky man."

"He’s a drunk bastard," she said. "He wouldn’t know luck if it wore a cowboy hat and pissed in his ear."

"Right," Joseph said. "That’s a shame."

Somewhere a street musician started playing a slow, sappy song. The music drifted in through the open window with the smells of grilled food.

"Are you hungry?" Mary asked. "I’m suddenly starving."

"I am hungry," Joseph said. He was holding compresses made from cucumbers pickled in special herbs on his eyes to stop the swelling. Mary wished she could stare into his eyes instead of at the cucumbers. Even turning dark purple and nearly swollen shut, his eyes were gorgeous.

She left Joseph sitting on a stool in her house and ventured out to buy food from the nearby street venders. It was a warm evening with the smell of night blossoms in the air. The street musician started to play something happy, which made Mary feel sad. She was also hungry, and for once had money. She didn’t know what Josiph liked so got some different things—pickled watermelon rines, cakes made with chick peas, and a footlong sub made on matzot bread.

The little guy had calmed down. Before now, she’d never had regrets about the little guy. Now it was like, even if she had the guts to ditch Jack and hook up with Joseph, which let’s face it she didn’t, there’d be no way he’d want to get involved with an expecting mother. It was a silly fantasy, a hopeless dream, an errant wish on the wind.

Mary blinked. Something looked different about the musician. He’s got a harp now, she thought. Did he have a harp before? He’s very tall and glowy. But Mary was too glum to care. She started along the road back to the house, only vaguely aware that the musician was following her.

***

It became way easier to navigate when that orange star appeared in the sky, as if some messenger had sent it to guide them. Akimbo had told the others, “GPS won’t be available back then.” Oh, how they’d laughed at her.

"Don’t be stupid," Akimbo, Jimbo had said. "Whoever heard of not having GPS. Got anymore dumb ideas?"

"Yeah, Akimbo," Timbo had said. "Next you’ll say that they don’t have skimmers and we’ll have to walk."

"Actually," Akimbo had said. "We will have to walk."

"You’re funny," they said. “L O L, Akimbo,” they said.

Akimbo tried to take consolation in the fact that, out of the three of them, she was the one wearing proper footwear, but it wasn’t much consolation.

"Do you have anymore coffee?" Jimbo asked. “This desert has a severe lack of franchised coffee shops. Not even a place for bubble tea."

"I drank all mine," said Timbo. "I’d kill for an iced mochaccino."

They both cast baleful glares at Akimbo, as if it was her fault. She’d brought a water recycler and had suggested they do the same. They’d both scoffed.

"You’re going to drink your own pee, that’s disgusting."

"I’m going to reconstitute the water from my urine and sweat and drink it, yes," said Akimbo.

Akimbo was also the only one of them who wasn’t carrying a Mark Fifteen Divine destruction assault blaster. "It’ll be too heavy," she said.

Instead she had her twin katanas strapped to her back. They were forged by Master Roo herself. They had edges that were as thin as a photon and Akimbo knew all five hundred stances of dangerous butterfly, the deadliest sword art in the twenty third century.

Both Jimbo and Akimbo were masters of Golden Monkey combat, and all three of them had black belts holding up their pants.

"Do you think we’ll be too late?" Akimbo asked, hoping to forestall either of them asking for some of her pee juice. She didn’t have enough pee juice to go around, otherwise she would have shared.

"We shall not be late," Jimbo intoned. "He who does not contemplate failure, can never know failure."

"Right," Akimbo said. "I was just a little bit worried because we were lost for a while. I wasn’t actually contemplating failure."

"We are the three badass bodyguards," Timbo said, as if any of them had forgotten.

"Lucky we have that orange star in the sky to follow," said Akimbo.

"Lucky," they all agreed.

***

Asphalbelub transmutated from a column of dazzling light into angelic form. He straightened his halo and turned to face his worshippers, petty shepherds and townsfolk, true, but they had all taken the oath to submit, unlike that fool the other day whom he had been forced to blow up. Asphalbelub loved to blow things up. [Say that sentence ten times fast I dare you— Asphalbelub loved to blow things up. Asphalbelub loved to blow things up. Asphalbelub loved to blow things up…] He loved fireballs. They were the best kind of balls. Meat balls were a close second, especially the spicy ones or those little ones from Ikea that supposedly were made from horse meat.

"Great one," said one of the shepherds, "you summoned us and we have come."

"good," said Asphalbelub. "It is nearly time. The baby Jesus will be born any day now. The prophecy will be fulfilled. The day of damnable glory is nigh. Are you all ready?"

"We are ready, great one," they answered in unison.

"Are you ready?" Asphalbelub roared.

"We are ready," they roared back.

"I didn’t hear you. Are you ready?"

"We are ready," they howled.

"Ready for what?"

"Ready to slay the baby Jesus," they screamed.

"That’s fantastic," he said. "You guys are amazing. You’re the best Hell-sworn horde a fallen angel could ask for."

As one they prostrated themselves before him, all but a single raggedly-dress shepherd with a long tangled beard that looked like a sheep had chewed on it. Asphalbelub looked at him and didn’t bother to hide his disgust. "Yes?"

"Great one," the shepherd stammered. "I thought it was supposed to happen a week ago."

"No," Asphalbelub shouted. "I told you. There’s a twelve-day window for the prophecy to be fulfilled. The twelve days of Christmas. It will happen just as I said. You must be ready."

"I just thought," said the shepherd. "I saw a strange fellow come to town the other day. Me and my brothers tried to waylay him, knowing what you said about interference from the future, but we failed. She stopped us. Her, the chosen one. The virgin."

"The virgin? Don’t make me laugh," Asphalbelub laughed. "No no. That stranger you tried to attack, he’s part of the prophecy." Asphalbelub raised a finger. "For not showing proper respect, here’s an early Christmas present." From his finger exploded a fireball that turned the shepherd into a heap of smoldering ash. “Ho ho ho,” Asphalbelub said, although he wasn’t sure why.

Now he just had to help prophecy along. Give it a nudge. Too bad he couldn’t use fireballs to make Mary and Joseph fall in love. Too bad they had to be in love for the prophecy to be fulfilled. For the millionth time, Asphalbelub cursed the author of that prophecy. Prophecies were so cliché these days, a crutch for the lazy author who couldn’t be bothered to come up with a decent plot. He gritted his teeth and fireballed another shepherd, just for the hell of it. It made him feel a little bit better.

***

"Is it normal for harpists to play outside your window?" Joseph asked Mary as he crunched a pickled watermelon rine.

"No," she said. "I think he followed me.” She felt gloomy. She was kind of worried the little guy would make an appearance soon. She wasn’t looking forward to it. To tell the truth, it kind of scared the crap out of her, the whole giving birth rigmarole.

"I know this song," joseph said. "It’s by Jerry Lee Lewis."

"Never heard of him," Mary said.

"No," Joseph said. "No, forget I said that."

They ate in silence. Then Joseph said. "Do you mind if I close that window? He’s getting kind of annoying."

"Please tell him to go away," Mary said.

Joseph got up and went to the window. He thought just for a moment he recognized the harpist, thought he saw a halo flickering around his head. But then he blinked. "Excuse me," Joseph said. "That’s really nice. You could totally take your show on the road. In fact, I think you should. Hit the road, that is." He cleared his throat. The musician had stopped playing and was looking at him with a directness Joseph found uncomfortable.

"Yo, Joseph," said the musician in a low, conspiratorial voice.

"How do you know my name?"

"I heard her say it," said the musician. "Listen, Joseph. Make your move already. I heard her talking to herself as she was coming back with the food. That’s why I followed. She said…"

"What did she say?"

"She said she’d say yes if you made the first move. Joe man, I am telling you, do not let this one go. Maybe she’s got a bun in the oven, but once that bun’s cooked…” the musician winked suggestively. “Then, Joe man, that oven is all yours. And it is one hot appliance.”

Joseph slammed the window closed. He hated musicians. If he had his way they’d all be marooned on the same island. See how long it took before their music festival became a murder festival.

"He’s gone now," Joseph said to Mary, though he doubted the musician had gone far. "I frightened him off with my hideous face."

"You’re not hideous," Mary said. "Anything but."

"Look," Joseph said. He paused, cleared his throat. "I don’t care that you have a bun in the oven. Because you’re a hot appliance and I want to cook bread in you."

Joseph felt a sinking, spinning sensation. Had he just said that? Had those words just come out of his mouth? Something awful had possessed his tongue. She looked aghast. He didn’t blame her. Without waiting for her to tell him to get out, he left.

He found himself running down the road, his head throbbing with every step, mortification burning like acid in his guts. Someone kill him now. No one did. So he kept running, his face throbbing, his heart eating itself. He’d ruined everything and now all of humankind would fall to the forces of evil.

***

Mary rubbed her stomach telling the little guy to calm down. He’d just woken up, and by the feel of things, had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. She didn’t have a chance to go after Joseph. He seemed to have been kind of embarrassed by what he’d said, but she heard worse things daily, especially when she went to the Tiger’s Breath tavern. Maybe where Josiph was from, men were expected to keep a reign on their tongues and not objectify women? Weird. But she had no chance to follow, for nearly as soon as Joseph ran out the door, Jack stumbled in, drunk as a skunk and twice as smelly.

Thinking quickly, Mary said, "Jack, there’s a musician outside our window who’s been playing love songs to me all night. I think you should tell him to go away."

Jack stared at her. Mary could nearly see the cogs turning in his head. Or cog, rather, because Jack’s head wasn’t complicated enough to have more than one moving part.

Jack stumbled back out of the house and a moment later Mary heard him yelling threats about feeding the musician a harp sandwich. This threat was immediately followed by the sound of a harp being smashed, then a kind of explosion, then silence.

But Mary wasn’t listening. As soon as her distraction had worked and Jack had left, Mary was out the door, too, and headed down the road in what she hoped was the same direction as Joseph.

Behind Mary, smoke rose from a pile of Jack-shaped ashes. Asphalbelub frowned at his broken harp, then reached to adjust his halo before remembering he wasn’t wearing it.

***

Imagine, if you will, a dramatic montage: Joseph slogging along in a stew of misery and self-recriminations, the image of ultimate gloom and doom, His footsteps knocking up clouds of dust, and even this dust looks unhappy.

Mary plods along someway behind, arguing with her feet that it was better to go on, than to turn around and go back to Jack. Then a friendly cart driver stops and offers Mary a ride among the vegetables in the back of the cart. After there’s a caravan, and after the caravan there is a donkey, who wonders aimlessly like a peripatetic philosopher. The donkey paces alongside Mary and brays meaningfully until she takes the hint and mounts up. She rides off gracefully into the sunset.

Asphalbelub, harp repaired, plays poignant music. The harp is actually a synthesizer and he’s able to recreate the sounds of an entire orchestra with it. The music has a very John Williams feel.

The three badass body guards take turns gulping pee juice in the desert. They stare wistfully up at the orange fire ball in the sky. Each of them secretly contemplates failure in their heart of hearts.

The montage ends with an adorable little lamb in a stable somewhere.

***

They were playing poker. The baby chicks were cheating, as per usual, but still losing. The piglet had luck on her side. The milk cow thought cards were beneath her, but liked to watch.

"Royal flush," said the lamb triumphantly. "Read ’em and weep, suckers." This was greeted by muttering all around.

“I don’t understand,” said one of the chicks. “I thought I had five aces. Who took one of my aces?”

"It’s bed time," said the milk cow. She shifted on her feet, revealing the ace of chickens somewhat crushed on the stable floor.

"One more hand" bleated the lamb. "You guys can’t quit now, just when I’m winning."

"In my experience," snorted the piglet, "that’s the best time to quit."

"Quit quit quit," peeped the chicks.

"You guys are sore losers," said the lamb. "One more game. Come on. Whose up for it?"

The door to the stable banged opened and Mary, Joseph, and the donkey entered. "Fuck that innkeeper," Joseph said. "Him and all his progeny down to his last grandchild."

"Shh," Mary says. "Don’t wake the animals."

"it’s okay," said the milk cow. "That innkeeper is a piece of work, isn’t he?"

"I’d like to make that innkeeper into sausage," says the piglet. "Then I’d shove that sausage up his face and smoke it."

"Smoked sausage can be pretty tasty," Mary said distractedly. The little guy was on his way. No doubt about it.

"Why don’t you get comfortable," Joseph said to Mary. "Can someone bring us lots of hot water? WE also need…” He trailed off, remembering just when he was.

The animals made themselves useful. The baby Jesus was born. It was a very unhygienic birth and the real miracle of Christmas was that both Mary and baby Jesus survived the process.

The three badass body guards arrived just in time to see the precious bundle being swaddled. They bestowed their gifts: a philosopher’s stone that turned broccoli into chocolate, a robot to teach Jesus marshal arts and the true meaning of humanity, and all the Disney movies ever including Star Wars and Frozen, which was Akimbo’s favourite. Also, the Chanel traditional fragrances: gold, frankincense, myrrh, and wet dog.

The three took turns holding the baby Jesus while Joseph took pictures for future Facebook. There was a general air of celebration, and a particular air of relief and exhaustion on Mary’s part. She was never ever going to do that again. She’d been asleep only a few minutes when the evil hoards sneaked up and set the stable on fire. She might never have woken up, either, if the lamb hadn’t smelled smoke.

"Fire," the little lamb bleated at the top of her lungs. "Wake up. There’s a fire."

Akimbo attempted to open the stable door, but it was being held shut on the other side. However, the concept of “locked door” had very little meaning when confronted with the concept of a photon-sharp katana. Akimbo carved a new door through wood and several hell-sworn shepherds. This gave the hungry fire oxygen and the conflagration grew.

Jimbo and Timbo opened up a salvo of divine destruction upon the hordes. Christmas night became a bloody, smoking, screaming inferno. Screaming because baby Jesus had woken up and was pissed.

The milk cow, the donkey, the baby chicks and the adorable little lamb escorted Mary, Joseph and the enraged baby Jesus into the shadow of the inn, where they hoped to go unnoticed. But Asphalbelub, drawn by the angry cries of baby Jesus, spotted them and hurled a fireball. It rocketed by with inches to spare, straight through the window of the inn where it landed upon the innkeeper, who was counting his money in his bath, as he liked to do.

Let’s pause here to mention that Joseph, during moments of downtime when nothing much was going on, had been trying to fix the magical device he saved from the road where he was beaten up by bandits. It so happened that he had just fixed it when the stable was lit on fire. In the following kerfuffle, he dropped it. This was too bad because it was a portable time machine made by Apple that could have whisked him and Mary and the baby Jesus into the future and away from certain ultimate destruction. Oh well. So it goes.

***

Akimbo was on fire, metaphorically. Her swords were like extensions of her spirit. She was like a helicopter of death. The horde fell back from her spinning twin blades, partly to save their lives, partly to be in awe of such virtuosity. Unfortunately, her next opponent was not awed by twin blades with edges thin as photons, expertly wielded by a master of dangerous butterfly. For it was Asphalbelub that Akimbo faced, a haloed, winged figure of light so painful to look at that Akimbo was glad she’d thought to bring her sunglasses.

Akimbo’s blood thickened as the angel’s gaze skewered her. She was a worm, a maggot. No, she was what a worm or maggot excreted. She must kneel to this supreme being. She must turn around and go kill the baby Jesus. That was what she must do. Resolve hardened in Akimbo’s core and she turned to look for the new family. There they were, huddled against the wall of the inn. The fools. They had no chance.

Akimbo ran at the defensive perimeter Jimbo and Timbo and a few stable animals had made around Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. She was no longer a helicopter of death. Now she was the humming bird of fury. Akimboès blades met the marshal arts training robot they had brought for baby Jesus and it exploded into shrapnel.

Timbo and Jimbo didn’t have time to be startled. They, too, were masters. They opened up on Akimbo, a salvo of divine destruction, beams of energy that spelled instant dematerialization from this plane of existence should Akimbo be struck. But Akimbo’s katanas sliced the beams into harmless rainbow sparkles.

Akimbo was nearly close enough to attack Jimbo and Timbo when something tripped her and she fell painfully on her face. Her katanas skidded out of her hands. Something extremely heavy and hairy sat on her, creaking her ribs and grinding her into the ground.

Akimbo squirmed and wriggled, but was unable to get free. She knew failure in that moment. She had failed the great angel. And, what was worse, she’d broken her sunglasses when she’d face planted.

***

Asphalbelub was angry. He was angry the way only a fallen angel who is this close to fulfilling dark prophecy can be angry, which is to say, really angry! He fire balled all three badass bodyguards, including the one being squashed underneath the donkey. He was going to have to kill the baby Jesus himself. It meant a lot of paperwork, but so be it.

“Joseph," Mary said. "What are you doing? Get back here.” But Joseph knew he had no choice but to reveal himself.

"Mary," he said. "You have to listen to me and not ask questions. Things have gone rather badly. I came from the future to save you and the baby. I have to do that now. Unfortunately, my iTime machine was broken and I just fixed it when the fire started in the stabled and I dropped it and—let’s move on from that okay? Good. Now I have to go fight this angel and maybe I can stop it. And maybe I can’t, but at least I’ll die doing something cool."

"Wait," said the lamb. Too late. Joseph charged out to stand before Asphalbelub, hands bare, expression determined.

Mary gave an irritated sniff. What was up with men needing to fight one another all the time? Couldn’t they just rock paper scissors it?

She noticed the little lamb prodding at her. "Hold on," she said. "I want to watch this."

***

Asphalbelub glared at Joseph with all the malign, evil angel intensity he could bring to bear. Joseph stared back. Neither dared blink. They stared for a long, long time. Aeons happened. Mountains rose and crumbled. Oceans dried up. Floods came and receded. The moon got board and went on vacation. The moon returned. They were still staring. At least, it seemed that long to Joseph. He had to pee. Things always seem twice as long when you have to pee.

"Puny man," Asphalbelub said, "If you go away I won’t hurt you."

"Whereas," Joseph said, "If you leave now, I’ll still hunt you forever like a proverbial blue whale, our destinies intertwined, our fates cursed to cross again and again. The world can never be at peace as long as you are up to your evil ways.”

“No, you’re right,” Asphalbelub agreed. “This town ain’t big enough for the two of us. Unless…You could join me, you know? There is a place for you in my organisation. I could make you one of my chief operating officers."

"I’ll never join you," Joseph said. "I’d rather join the GOP.”

“So be it,” Asphalbelub said. He raised his hand, preparing to fling a fireball at Joseph.

The lamb, exasperated beyond believe with Mary, bleated loudly. The sound distracted Asphalbelub for a split second and the fireball went astray.

Mary looked down at the lamb and saw it had Joseph’s magic wand clutched in its tiny jaws. Not a magic wand, she reminded herself, a portable time machine. "Good lamb," she said, as a fireball flew over them with feet to spare.

She looked back at the duel in time to see Joseph metamorphos into a dragon. A big, golden-scaled, winged lizard thing, anyway, with missiles strapped to his underbelly and a trebuchet on his tail.

Joseph the dragon flew at Asphalbelub, breathing fire and launching missiles, and catapulting what looked like shooting stars off his tail. The angel caught the missiles and turned them into dead birds. He waved his hands and the shooting stars collided with one another in thunderclaps that destroyed neighbouring universes. But Joseph’s fire got through Asphalbelub’s defences, setting his halo alight. Asphalbelub screamed and ripped off his halo. He hurled it to the ground and stamped on it, pausing for a moment to twirl his fist and fling a giant black fireball at the dragon Joseph.

Halfway to Joseph, the black fireball exploded into a kabillion smaller fireballs that formed a swarm too vast for Josiph to dodge. He was engulfed in flames.

He’s gone. He’s dead, Mary thought. She couldn’t believe it. All that, for this. It’s better to burn out than to fade away, she quoted silently, feeling tears start to trickled down her cheeks.

If only she knew how to work the time machine. At least then, she and the baby could escape, make Joseph’s sacrifice worth something.

Asphalbelub approached Mary. She cuddled Jesus closer to her, the little lamb curled into a tight ball by her side. She tried desperately to think of a way to escape. If only Joseph had told her how to work the iTime machine. If only Joseph weren’t gone. But it was hopeless to think those thoughts. Death was like when a scoop of ice cream fell off your cone. You couldn’t do anything about it but be sad. And being sad wouldn’t save her now.

The baby chicks peep loudly as Asphalbelub loomed over them. The angel bent down and picked one up. It’s peeping grew fast and frantic. Asphalbelub popped the baby chick into his mouth and swallowed. "Yum yum," he said. He bent down for another and the lamb bit his hand. He chuckled. “Mary had a little lamb,” he intoned and chuckled some more. “Had,” he said, “being the operative word, of course.”

He picked up the lamb and opened his mouth wide enough to swallow it whole. Inside his mouth Mary saw the utter blackness of the night sky. Far down inside his throat she thought she saw the twinkling of stars. She thought she heard the distant peeping of the chick who had gone where no chick had gone before.

That’s when Joseph reappeared behind Asphalbelub back in man form. He had those two weird swords that one of the bad as body guards had been using. Joseph used the swords like scissors to slice Asphalbelub in twain. Twain, if you weren’t aware, is a fancy word for two. The two pieces of Asphalbelub fell to the ground. The lamb rushed back to Mary’s side and squeezed into an even tighter ball.

"Joseph," Mary said. She held up the time machine.

"Oh," Joseph said. "Fantastic." He dropped the swords and scooped up Mary in one of his muscular arms. Mary clutched baby Jesus to her. The baby Jesus flailed his arms out toward the lamb, but was too tiny to reach. Joseph twiddled his iTime machine and they all went back to the future in a poof.

***

The upper half of Asphalbelub twitched. He stared at the place where Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus had been a moment ago. The devil Damn it, he thought.

He pushed himself to his feet, then realized he didn’t have feet and fell over. He remembered he had wings and tried flapping himself upright. This sort of worked, and he fluttered into a standing position.

He would have to track them through time now. He would have to assemble another evil horde. But he would do it. There was no escape for the baby Jesus. The baby Jesus would be slaughtered and the forces of evil would triumph.

***

The little lamb was sulking. She had wanted to go back to the future, too. She liked baby Jesus. She had imagined teaching the baby Jesus to play cards. She just knew they could have been best friends forever. Now here was this half an angel, who wasn’t going to be anybody’s best friend. And even as the lamb looked on, the angel began to hover in the air. It was going to chase after the baby Jesus and his mom and dad. It was going to hunt them down and fireball them. A memory tugged at her young mind. Fireball them like her mother had been firedballed. Like the shepherd who’d been there when the lamb had been born.

"Fuck you," said the lamb to the angel. She picked up one of the divine destruction blasters with her mouth and pointed it. Luckily, there wasn’t really a trigger. You just squeezed the handle of the blaster and it fired. Just like this. A beam zapped out and struck the angel. Asphalbelub looked surprised, then outraged, then he became an Asphalbelub-shaped cloud of rainbow sparkles, which slowly winked out of existance.

"Bye bye," bleated the little lamb. The baby chicks applauded.

And that’s how Christmas was saved by a talking lamb, and time travelers, and advanced weaponry.

[tags, Humor, Xmas, creative writing, fan fiction, short story, adorable badass lambs]

Edmonton-based writer of scifi, fantasy, horror, and other weird fictions. No publication credits. Read at your own risk.

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