Menage: A Holiday Story

©2022 Mel Reynes do not re-publish without permission

She sits on a throne of old televisions. They are from all eras, containing tubes, LCDs, and plasmas. Their wire intertwine and have no clear genesis or terminus. Cables twitch and writhe under their own power. The light from their blue and static flicker illuminates…Her. 

You cannot look away. Looking away is instant death.

Her seat is a large, old wooden console. The wood is heavily cracked, dark liquids stain the edges. She’s so large she straddles the large apparatus. Between Her legs, patterns seem to play across the static, glimpses of possible wonders. It hums on a secret frequency that whispers and promises wondrous potential if you’d only come closer. Her feet are bare with claws like sickles.

Every time She shifts, the claws click against wood-veneered plastic. 

Under Her right hand are stacked a trio of televisions. Only these three screens play identifiable images. Sitcoms-happy families rapidly flicker on the screens, smiling rictus grins and laughing into the dark. 

Her left arm leans on a smooth cube of computer monitors. A large crack splinters into infinite slices of blue and looking too long causes madness. Tiny screens too multitudinous to count rise up behind her. These screens glow a swirling red. 

The bloody light frames Her massive, long, head. She is a dark, grim shape. 

Her head propped on Her thin neck, She resembles a lost link to a terrifying form of flightless lizards. A crown crosses Her face, covering Her eyes. Looking up from the base of Her throne, it may appear to be made of silver jewels and dark flowers. If you dared get closer, you’d see that the jewels are old television knobs, the flowers crafted from magnetic tape. They are woven into bent antennae that pierce Her flesh and hold the crown to her. 

Yes, She is blind. She still knows when you look away.

The throne is not just Her seat of power. It is also Her transport. Slowly, the technical monstrosity crawls across the land. It has been traveling for almost exactly twelve months. The February holiday was shortened. She has missed one of her personal celebrations in May. She was not there to prepare the feast in November. 

Normally, She would spend most of her time visiting Her vassals, seeing they ruled over their parcels correctly. She always made sure to check in on the News Lady, who had rare and bleeding delicacies to share. Or spend an afternoon in the Broadcast Baroness’ Garden of Melodrama. They could wander the labyrinth for days, never quite retracing the same spot.  

For unpleasant situations like this, She’d usually start with a visit to the Marketing Thing, who needed to be reminded from time to time of her place. The Things’s strength was both an asset and a liability that She needed to rule her land. Everyone feared the Thing and her ability to burn. 

But the Thing had recently become unmanageable, accepting scraps from one of Her worst enemies. It wasn’t the first time the Thing had teamed with this particular enemy. An enemy who was sometimes an ally, when the seasons were cold and bleak and She needed strength. But he had stepped too far out of line and he must be stopped. 

Standing at the base of Her throne, the heat of Her anger would burn off your hair. Stay too long and it would burn out your eyes. Stay longer and your organs will boil.

Men without kin were not usually tolerated, those without progeny had no levers to easily be controlled. When he first arrived, large, sugar-fat, and laughing with his old wife and little men, she hadn’t considered him a real threat. Too old, too hairy, too red—the style of his lands were silly and too specific. She wasn’t worried about his ability to attract. But his power was his little men, who were always building, never stopping a single day. They built an empire out of nothing. He nurtured the youth with the promises of endless prosperity in return for loyalty. 

Just thinking about his laugh, She clenched her talons, cracking part of her throne. How dare he wear a mask so joyous, it was offensive.

She sent the Thing to deal with him when he showed up in Her land. To eat him, his styles and customs; churning them into white-hot flames to fuel Her empire. But when the Thing arrived at his doorstep, he had charmed her with his twinkling eyes and deep laugh. Then he went further and allied with the aristocracy of Tonic and Fizz. These people were darlings of the Thing of Marketing, making himself even harder to remove. They emblazoned their banners with his likeness and celebrated his holidays. 

No one put Her image on their banners. She gave them modesty, and they returned flattery about how futile it would be to capture Her beauty. Before your eyes melted, you would wonder how anyone could say such a face was beautiful. 

And he’d even flattered Her. Showing Her how the youth could bow to Her in fear of his wrath. He guaranteed Her that he could put all mothers at the receiving center of the glory. Because, of course, She was also a mother—birthing screaming children, most dead after their first breath. There were so many across the earth that She had given up naming them all. 

Don’t feel too bad for the children. Hopefully, you never meet one. Each layer of Her kinship is worse than the previous. 

She had also found ways to use him. His glamor easily hid Her own ugliness. He was generous to everyone and She also had many of his gifts—laser caskets, spools of darkly glittering beta, the bracelet of rainbow discs still hung on her wrist. 

Once he was defeated, She would have to burn every one of his images and hunt down all his little men. She would greatly enjoy hunting those little men. Her mouth watered as She thought about crunching their little bones. She imagined they’d taste like sharp ginger and frost. She’d use his gifts to strengthen her throne. To earn back the favor of the Thing of Marketing, She’d feed the Thing his steeds. Crush his transport into dust and blind his wife. She’d melt down his silver bells and drink them from his skull. 

Even his initial, sudden, popularity had not peaked her worry. Arriving around the same time, the Cinemist was quite popular as well. The Cinemist was an occultist that came in soft fabrics with longing looks. Being so alluring, She had worried about this fresh competition. But the occultist was chaos, never able to land on one fashion and too ravenous to plan any insurrection. She’d easily warped that newcomer into a tuning fork to silence enemies. Regularly tempering and folding with empty flattery. 

Now it was different. This audacity couldn’t stand. After what he had done, crude laughter had whispered behind Her back. In Her own court even. Some had turned from Her, refusing to acknowledge Her authority. They didn’t even join with him, which he didn’t seem to mind. He was fine enough to strip Her power away. And he did it all with deep laughs that made Her teeth vibrate. 

The memory of what he’d done flitted across her mind. She breathed in angrily; exhaling hot, battery-acid plumes. A snowflake landed on her skeletal cheek and evaporated in a sizzle.  

During his last holiday, he had perverted Her family construct with a horrendous new form. The family construct that held all her other fabrications together. Without asking even. He placed it in her construct, as if it was one of his coniferous adornments. 

A man with no children, what did he know of family? 

How could he deliver the sacrifices family demanded? 

What did he know of giving birth to child after child that took away a piece of yourself every time? 

The new form didn’t even include children, just more of him. More of men. And not his little tinkering men. This form included two human men, together, standing as a union. Not man and woman, as it should be. This was man and man, neither being wife nor husband. Partners inside Her family construct, they reenacted couples’ dances—embracing, laughing, even kissing. Around them, he put sparkling snowflakes and piped his sweet songs. He had done this as if it was a gift She would appreciate. 

Before She could take it down, it had mesmerized far too many. As each saw it, his twinkle sprang in their eyes and they turned away from Her. Indeed, some took it upon themselves to replicate the form, deepening its hold in the minds of her subjects. For every deviation she destroyed, more sprang up. Brighter, more colorful, and bolder than the last. 

Her construct was a part of Her eons-long empire, the distracting jewel and punishing crop. And he was undoing it. With one of his foolish gifts. 

Even Her throne was suffering. The technic support was breaking apart. A small, crank-powered television broke off and ran off across the snow. Its antenna wagged happily behind it. As it skittered away, the static screen switched to a black and white shopping advertisement, two women peering happily into a case of polished, clear stones. Its bright light twinkled like a star. 

So She set out to his fortress, in the dark cold of the North. She disliked the cold of course. A true mother spent all her warmth on her family, leaving the mother cold. This was why She had to endlessly burn everything into a homogenous blaze to remain warm. And she had to remain, a mother must protect her family. 

In his cold, Her fuel was running low. Yet, she must make it to him. 

She must stop that red, fat, man.

She was mother of a million mothers. She would not let a man undo Her, especially not him. She’d make this a December to remember.