Christmas in Tribeworld. Amber knew she wanted to make it special for everybody in the mall, but they all lacked the spark of Christmas in their eyes.
Did they even know that tomorrow was the 25th? For a long while, Amber sat in her room thinking about what she could do to brighten this place up… but where would she find a tree, some tinsel, decorations…?
Christmas usually meant a feast, and right now they were very low on tinned food? How exactly was she going to make this Christmas happen? Furthermore, would she ever have that shining opportunity to spend it with someone she cherishes dearly?
She grabbed a book from her shelf, at random, and began to read it. Huh. She thought to herself as she turned it over. A Christmas Carol… I didn’t think we had this book in the library. She’d only read it before when she was younger… her Dad sat her and her sister down by the hearth and dramatically read each line aloud. It was fantastic… but she’d long since forgotten the plot of the story. Who had time to read books nowadays? 'Marley was dead, to begin with. There’s no doubt about that-’ As she read this to herself, she could hear footsteps coming from the room she was in. She looked up and over to where they were coming from… but nothing was there. Amber took a deep breath and returned to her reading: ‘The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner.’ Again, more footsteps but this time, when Amber looked up, she saw a sight she’d never thought she’d see again.
Standing in front of her, dressed in all white with white feathers in his dreadlocks, stood Zoot. She braced herself in her chair, dropping the book on the floor by mistake. How could it be? Lex had killed him so long ago. ‘Y-you’re dead.’ Were the only brilliant words she could think of saying.
He just smiled at her for the moment. He used to be so scary and threatening… This Zoot before her looked almost like an angel. ‘I’m a ghost, Amber. No need to be afraid of me.’ He took a couple of steps closer to her. ‘I have come here today to show you something… something you need. Take my hand.’ Zoot held his hand out to her. Amber didn’t know what to do… what was even going on right now? Maybe she was dreaming… maybe, she was hallucinating. Yeah, that’s it… this had to be one big hallucination. ‘Trust me, Amber. I am no hallucination. Please, take my hand…’
Amber’s eyes widened. She decided to just do as she was told… As soon as she grabbed his cold, clammy hand, a familiar scene materialized before them. It was on the streets of this very own city, but everything was still so different- more desolate; a wasteland. ‘Why are we here?’ She asked him, then realized how mad she sounded for talking to a ghost.
‘To show you.’ Was all he seemed to say. She was about to ask another question when he pointed over to a building. He started walking, and Amber trudged along with him, still barefooted from the coziness of her room. When they reached the inside of the building, Amber’s heart nearly beat out of her chest. Locos, everywhere! All singing and drinking… She glanced to the corner of the room to see a makeshift Christmas tree, glimmering with cans and pieces of scrap metal. In all the years since the virus, she didn’t think she’d ever see Loco’s celebrating Christmas!
As she scanned the room, hearing them all singing drunken carols, she spotted a very familiar face. Ebony, a younger version, nestled up against Zoot, the Zoot she knew. There was never any thought behind Ebony and Zoot’s relationship- she knew the girl was his Queen, but it seemed so unlikely that this man was capable of love. Still… they looked like they were having so much fun, swaying with the drunken melody. ‘Spirit, why have you brought me to this?’ She asked, not taking her eyes off Zoot and Ebony.
‘Christmas past. No matter who little one has, there is always room for Christmas.’ He told her, putting his cold hand on her shoulder. ‘You remember us- Power and Chaos.’ Either those words gave a shiver down her spine, or his cold hand on her shoulder did. ‘We had nothing but each other, but we made it worth while.’ There was a hint of sadness in his voice, which made Amber glance sidelong at him. ‘I never got to tell Ebony that I loved her…’ His voice trailed off.
She looked back at the scene before her again, watching as Zoot grabbed Ebony’s face, kissing her on the lips with some passion and ferocity. Between the tone of his voice and the image before her, Amber could feel herself getting teary. Zoot was just human, after all… a scared kid who lost his parents. ‘Spirit, I-’ She turned to him but he was gone… as was the scene in front of her. She was back in her room, the book she had dropped sprawled out on the floor. Amber took a deep breath… not able to believe what had just happened to her. Maybe she WAS hallucinating. She picked the book up, placing it back on the bookshelf. It was then and there that she decided maybe taking a nap would help her out… yes, that’s it. Exhaustion caused hallucinations sometimes, right? She recalled not sleeping very well last night and the following, dwelling about this Christmas business.
She laid down on her bed and as soon as she placed her head on her comfortable pillow. Just as she was about to fall asleep, she could hear a very faint voice calling her name. She turned over, deciding to ignore it. They’d have to wait… she was too exhausted to help anyone with anything.
‘Amber… Amber, wake up.’
‘Dal, I’m tired… I-’
Her eyes widened. She quickly sat in up her bed, looking at the person at her bedside. It couldn’t be… Dal? ‘Oh, Dal! Please tell me this isn’t a dream?’ She reached out and touched his shoulder. Just like Zoot, he was also very cold. A ghost, another ghost. She was disappointed but at the same time thankful to see the face of her best friend again.
‘It’s not a dream, Amber. I’m back, but just for a little bit. I’m here to show you Christmas present.’ He said it with such an innocent smile. Amber’s heart was beating so fast as tears ran down her cheek. She wiped them quickly away with the back of her hand while nodding at him. She wouldn’t ask questions… she’d do absolutely anything Dal asked of her. He held his hand out to her, which she took instantly. Instantly, the cafe materialized before them. Everything was the same as it was this morning… the same, plain cafe.
‘Dal, why am I here? I could have just walked downstairs.’ Amber tells him, still holding his hand. She refused to let it go. He meant too much to her to let him go again.
‘This is Christmas present.’ He told her, giving her a big smile. It seemed as though he was also happy to be back in a place so familiar to him. ‘Just look at them, Amber.’ With his free hand, he pointed to the sight before them.
Jack and Ellie, sitting in the cafe together, hanging a wreath. They looked like they were having so much fun, tickling each other and laughing aloud. When they finally got it up, Ellie kissed Jack right on the cheek. His face turned a dark shade of red. ‘Hold on, I have something you’ll love.’ He told her before exiting the room really quickly. When he returned, he had an old boombox. ‘I wired it to a charged car battery and found a couple of CDs in the music shop.’ He put a CD in and turned the volume up. A familiar tune played- ‘Silver Bells’.
Ellie’s smile was so big, she looked as though she was about to cry. ‘Oh, Jack! This is perfect! What a fantastic Christmas.’ She gave him a huge hug and at that moment kissed him right on the lips.
Amber had to look at Dal for a moment. ‘Why are you showing me this, Dal? It just hurts to see them so happy… and I’m here by myself.’
Dal turned to her, their hands still interlocked. ‘You don’t see? You don’t need much to celebrate the holidays… the people closest to you in your life should be enough.’ He smiled at her. ‘You’ll see.’
She was confused. What did he mean? ‘You’ll leave me, just like the last spirit, and I’ll have nobody. How can I celebrate Christmas without you or someone that truly loves me.’ Amber wanted to cry, but she held it in. She wished that he’d stay with her, but at that moment she could see him getting more transparent as time went on. ‘Dal, please don’t leave me. Please.’ She grasped tightly onto his hand, as if that would keep him from slowly descending back to where he previously was.
‘I’m always with you, Amber. That’s the beauty of Christmas… even those who have passed on are still alive in your heart.’ Dal smiled as he slowly started disappearing. ‘The next and last spirit will come, Amber, and she’ll help you see. You’ll see…’
Again, Amber found herself back in her room. Her knees buckled underneath her as she placed her hands over her face. Had that actually happened? Dal… he felt like he was so close… so real. She was tired of this… is this how she’d have to spend her Christmas? Completely alone and haunted by the memories of her past. She began to weep, wishing nothing more than to just go to sleep and quit being bothered by these ghosts.
?Amber, don’t cry.?
Amber dried her eyes with the back of her hand. ‘I’m too tired to do this anymore…’ She said to the voice, assuming that it was as Dal had said- the last spirit had come to her. ‘I’m not strong enough to see another whisper from my past.’ She didn’t want to look to see who it is… she couldn’t put a name to the voice.
‘But Amber… you’re going to want to see this.’ The ghost told her. She put her hand on Amber’s shoulder, kneeling down to get to her level. ‘It’s important.’
Amber sat back a little bit, examining the woman before her. Zandra, the way she had looked before that travel to Eagle Mountain so long ago, had on a very somber smile; it was very comforting. ‘Zandra? I don’t think I have the strength-’
‘Take my hand. I want to show you the Christmas to come.’
Amber shook her head violently this time, squinting her eyes shut. ‘No, I won’t go anywhere. I’m staying here and sleeping.’
‘Fine then. If you’re going to be like that I’ll just do things my way.’ Zandra said, in a tone that was so much like her, Amber could have sworn she wasn’t a spirit. Instantly, the room materialized before her like it did the previous times, and Amber found herself in the cafe. It was a lot different, freshly painted, for a start, and full of children running around. Amber stood from where she was kneeling down, looking around at how beautiful the entire place was. There was a Christmas tree trimmed in the corner, with brightly wrapped packages underneath. The star on the top blazed with all it’s glory. Everything just seemed so happy. Could this really be their little mall? Before she could open her mouth to speak, Zandra began to talk again. ‘Christmas to come, see? The mall looks fantastic because you helped make it that way. Oh look, here come some familiar faces.’
Amber saw as Salene, Jack and Ellie walked in, Ellie holding her three month old daughter. Another small group of people walked in, this time, Amber couldn’t help but gasp. Amber, her self- her older self, walking hand in hand with Lex. It was someone she didn’t expect… After all these years, Lex had always been an annoyance to her. Yet here, he is, holding her hand, glancing at her every chance he got with the biggest smile on his face. ‘Spirit, I don’t understand. Lex and I-’
‘You two get together.’ Zandra said with confidence. ‘This is why I came back to earth. To tell you that Christmases of the future get brighter, and you won’t be alone, in any aspect of the word.’ She turns to Amber and smiles. ‘I want you to take care of him, Amber. Take care of him for me… He’ll need it.’
Amber nodded. ‘I will.’ She told her, as weird as that sounded. Never in her right mind would she think that she’d fall for Lex.
And then, as before, her room materialized before her. This time, though, she wasn’t full of sadness or grief, but happiness. Each spirit showed her what she needed to hear. Tomorrow was December 25th, and Amber knew exactly what she had to do.
The very next day, Amber woke up and cooked a big breakfast for all of the Mallrats. She had decorated everything, right down to putting fresh flowers on every table. Mistletoe hung from every low hanging ceiling she could reach. And it filled her heart with joy to watch every single face light up as they walked into the cafe. As Lex walked in, Amber couldn’t help but feel her heart beat a little bit faster. She immediately made her way towards him, a smile on her face. ‘Merry Christmas, Lex.’
‘You too, blondie.’ He said, in his usual tone. ‘You did all of this?’
She nodded. ‘We needed a little Christmas in this place… I figured it would brighten everybody’s mood.’ Just then, she reached in her back pocket and pulled out a small sprig of mistletoe. She reached her arm high up, placing it just above his head.‘Well, lookie there, Sheriff. We seem to be under some mistletoe.’ She smirked.
This made him laugh, even blush a little bit. When their lips met in a kiss, Amber couldn’t help but thank her three spirits. Hopefully they were looking down on her with nothing but smiles.