The SPDS -- Santa's Package Delivery System -- is in full swing this Christmas. This special co-op of the North Pole delivers packages to the Otherworlders, including demons.
Taryn is a new delivery elf this year, and she draws the short straw -- having to deliver packages to Hell.
Zarakion, a Cha'horz demon -- the guardians of the dividing line between Earth and Hell -- has to work the unstable drop point. He has to play at receiving; not his favorite job.
When Taryn steps through the Gate, she's intimidated at first by the huge demon, but Zarakion gives her a delivery tip that'll have her scrambling to return to the drop point again and again.
Santa's Helpers: Zarakion's Tip
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Copyright ©2012 Ayla Ruse
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"The Hall Monitors will snack on you if you don't get your ass in here."
Feeling like she'd been whipped for a naughtiness she hadn't understood, she hurried to push her monstrous bike through the portal. She stopped right at the light's edge inside the... room? Station? Area? Heck, she couldn't see past the line of that darkness.
Her bravado failed, however, when a loud clanking sound indicated the gates were shutting, with her inside. And her precious light was going with it.
"Wait," she stammered. "I'm here to drop off packages. I'm from Santa's Package Delivery System. Don't shut me in. I won't be two minutes. Promise. Can't we leave the gate open?"
"And have any do-gooder wander in here? Or the Hall Monitors? Come to think of it, that might be fun. They truly are monitors -- of the reptilian kind." Then its playful tone vanished like a bad version of Jekyll and Hyde. "Enough. I don't want to be here, and I know you don't want to be here, so do your business and be --"
Whatever the voice was going to say was cut off. Taryn shifted but wouldn't let go of her bike. She swung her leg over the seat, ready to high tail it somewhere if her comfort level didn't increase, and fast.
The door shut completely and blackness surrounded her like a heavy cloak. A gust of wind blew by her, ruffling her silky hair. It smelled sweet and spicy all at once. Odd kind of wind. Come to think of it, she'd never figured Hell to have wind. The air changed direction and she tossed her head, frustrated because the wind was blowing her hair into her eyes and she couldn't see a damn thing.
"What do we have here?" The voice sounded close, and Taryn's body clenched. Strangely, it wasn't all fear. Some parts of her responded to that deep, gravelly voice, as if it stroked her inside.
"Snowflake. That's what you make me think of. I've never seen a snowflake, but I've heard many passers-by tell of the delicate, fragile, frozen liquid."
The praise from the demon had her squirming on her seat. Despite her nervousness, she liked his voice. She could feel herself bend toward him, ready to listen to whatever he had to say.
"I wonder," the demon continued, "what you would feel like if I touched you."