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Herr D

This is this year’s SantaSwap Incorporative. Every gift given to me in the SantaSwap3 before the 22nd has been included. Remember; resistance was futile–it WAS assimilated!

 The Brothers Grimly  Page 1 of 4

In The West Rooms . . .

Zall reflected upon the coming Fool’s Day as he shaved. The razor wasn’t as sharp as he remembered, or maybe the shaving cream wasn’t as good–he wasn’t sure which. He fought back a smile, thinking of the competition to come. Wouldn’t do to cut himself–he had to look his best as he leered at his brother after winning.

Magical pranks were the specialty of the twins. Their mother and father had raised them to be mere assistants in their magic act, expecting them to switch places, assume awkward poses in tight places, memorize those boring routines, but not since their thirteenth Fool’s Day. On that day the greatest prank of all had been played! The twins had worked real magic for the first time. It hadn’t been a curtain or a shower of flower petals or a flurry of doves that had exploded out from the stage. It had been a fireball. A REAL fireball. Not just the showy flash they were used to! It had completely vaporized the stage. The audience, the so-called magicians that they called mother and father, the curtains, the theater–all just a bit of ash. Zall remembered how he and his brother had stared at each other in their singed costumes for a moment, stunned at the loss of their family, but drunk and overjoyed with the level of power, sheer POWER that they now had. By the time the fire department came they were giggling like babies.

They made the firemen hose each other off in the unseasonably frigid air, starting the infamous pneumonia epidemic that eventually reduced the burden of overpopulation throughout America and Europe. They made earthquakes the following day, tornadoes and cloudbursts the next. When the surviving reporters brought them their own personal presidential radio address, they were delighted to hear that they would receive free airfare to Korea and an emperor’s welcome. The twins boarded their donated plane to a standing ovation and flew across the Pacific despite the bomb in the cockpit that magically appeared in the White House, the poison in the air conditioning that apparently made living shadow puppets when it appeared in Death Valley, and the nuclear missile that not only didn’t hit the plane but turned into a giant stuffed bear and bounced on the water all the way to the Bering Strait.

They had lived like kings in South Korea, everyone afraid not to please them, until the next Fool’s Day. Zimme had startled Zall, and the coastline of North and South Korea had gone up in smoke. Feeling sheepish, the twins had erased all bullets and explosives in the region, conjured enough dry stores to feed the rest of Korea for twenty years, and moved to China. The competition had begun. Who could pull the biggest prank to startle or scare the other? The most inventive would have more sweets for the year than the other, the more effective scarer would pick where they lived next. That WAS important, since they tended to ruin regions with this game of theirs.

Zall was pretty sure he had it this year. He had taken a brand new razor and some high quality shaving cream and swapped out his brother’s stuff. Used on anyone else, it would just be a wonderful shave. It was hexed though; shaving with it would take away Zimme’s magic. It WAS fixable. All it would take would be a hug between the brothers, and all would be restored. Neither of them had ever tried anything like this before. It wasn’t showy or fabulous like most things they tried. Maybe this was just a sign they were truly growing up.

Then he heard banging outside his suite. It was a bit early to be starting, but his brother took pride in ‘window dressing,’ setting a mood through elaborate sets and props aplenty. It was nice to see such dedication, to know that the competition should be taken seriously. Zall finished shaving and smiled, imagining his brother’s face when it came time to cast the big spell or illusion. Zall walked out of his suite to see a window crudely boarded up. This had been the nicest of hotels the region had to offer, but they knew the score. If the foundation of the hotel was still here when the brothers left, they might rebuild rather cheaply. Only a fool sent anyone but the terminally ill to wait on them this time of year, anyway–so what difference did some vandalizing make? Zall smiled warmly. His brother did make a good effort. In the next room he saw a television on. He checked the guide. The guide function up said a zombie movie was going off and a Twilight Zone episode was coming on. Zall squinted and read the blurb. It would be the famous episode with the giant eye looking in through the window. He’d seen that rerun doing research for an effective prank several years ago. Zall put down the remote, frowning. “Which one?” he said, and passed through the door. Suddenly he could barely move or breathe, and a horrible smell entered his nose. He gasped and would have retched, but he could not. He grabbed his belly, and his hand sunk into it. He looked helplessly at gore dripping off his hands and found himself trying to climb out of a coffin. He found, then, that he could not scream or even speak. “The remote!” he thought. “He made it ready to put me in the movie! @#$%^  I feel so HUNGRY!”