M slammed the door of the bar behind him, uttered seventy-three syllables in a hiccuping staccato and limned shapes into the air. Then he turned and hurried to the counter. His face was wan, and his eyes were wide with recent horrors.
Boy sat a lethargic counterpoint to M's desperation. She had just finished eating a croque madam, and was then focused on making a dent in the establishment's theoretically bottomless supply of bloody Marys.
“Thank God,” M said, “it hasn't gotten to you yet. My ward should hold them, but I don't know for how long. We need to move fast.” He reached behind the counter and grab a bottle from the well.
“What's your problem?” Boy asked.
“How long have you been in here?”
'Here' was a fairly typical gastro pub in a North Brooklyn, eight drafts and cute things on the walls.
“Couple hours,” Boy said. “Why?”
“Christ, it must spreading faster than I'd thought.” M poured himself a stiff few fingers of what turned out to be tequila. “Can't think like that now – no time for despair. Call Stockdale, and tell him to get down here with whatever outdated melee weapon's he's been saving. Then call Abilene, and tell her it's time to take care of her queenly duties and chase the devil the hell out of North Brooklyn. I'll see if I can do something to slow it down in the meantime. There's this elder god owes me a favor from way back – might be the only chance we have left. Burn out anything in a few mile radius, better then letting it spread further. Excuse me, sir?” M asked the bartender loudly, “do you have any alcohol which is more than a hundred and fifty proof? And, also, I'm going to need you to start clearing out some of these chairs.”
“What are you talking about?” Boy asked, growing slightly concerned despite being weighed down pretty heavy with clamato juice and bechamel. There were a lot of things to be said against M – she could have run you an easy twenty without pause, and crowd-sourced the litany long after – but to his dubious credit, he was generally too flighty and self-involved to get that concerned over anything. “What the hell is going on?”
“They're everywhere,” M said, taking his drink, pouring himself another. “Shambling mindless through the streets, bleary-eyed, mumbling inanities, fornicating baldly in alleyways, vomiting light beer with abandon.” M drank his third shots in ninety seconds. “The things I saw walking up Bedford – reindeer horns soaking in pools of urine, crimson sweatpants stretched tight to breaking, bile drying on fake beards. This is the end of days, Boy, the whole thing unspooling and us left as witness.”
Boy slumped back down into her seat. “Oh. That's just Santacon.”
“Santacon. They do it every year. It'll be gone tomorrow, don't worry about it.”
M looked somehow worse than he had when he supposed themselves to be on the cusp of the apocalypse. “You're telling me those people are doing this on purpose?”