Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Firy of the Christmas Trees (part 4)

The Volvo Tank- or as I like to call it, the National Forestry Commissions Worst Nightmare- was exactly where I'd want to be in the likely chance of a Christmas Tree Apocalypse. As the trees began to swarm towards us, they were ripped apart by a constant barrage of gunfire from the sawn-off barrels on either side, fired by Suzy and Elise. As the two took a moment to reload, the trees tried to swarm the car, but Steve threw the rear end out and knocked most of them over. A few Trees- God knows how- managed to cling on to the car, but I and David saw to them with the mini chainsaws we had equipped the car with. For the second time in two years, I had feeling we would be appearing on Crimewatch. (Which I would like to take a second to apologise about. Sorry.) One of the people they interviewed on Crimewatch had watched us out of their bedroom window, believing us to be terrorists. It was them who called the police as well.
The Police seemed to come out of no where, six panda cars alongside a dark blue van holding the English alternative of a Swat Team. Their government provided tyres drove over the newly deceased trees, crumbling the Pine bark. The blue lights atop their cars shone great beams of light like something from the disco's the people of the 80's seemed to call home. Their sirens wailed like a baby once it got within three metres of me, appropriate because that distance was about the same as the one between our car and the nearest Police car. The Trees continued to swarm out of nowhere and turned their attention to the Police Cars, noticing they were less armed. Suzy and Elise aimed their guns again and fired towards the Christmas Trees on the Police Cars.
"Stop!" Shouted the Professor. "You're firing at the Police! I'm sure that's even more illegal than firing at a civilian."
"We're trying to save them!" Suzy shouted.
"Do you think they'll believe that?"
"Good point." Suzy said, and the two of them stopped firing.
"Professor!" Steve cried. "Look, it's just as you expected!"
"Rude exclamation." I whispered.
Accrington Town Hall has a selection of rooms, one of which is ideal for line/barn dancing. I know this because I once sulkily attended a line dance there and decided that, were I ever to become a cowboy, I would travel the Wild West making that genre of dance punishable by death. Unsurprisingly I'd be called the Line Ranger. Sadly however, the Line Ranger would be of no help against the massive Christmas Tree that stood outside. Shiny baubles hung from all branches with a red glass star at the very top. It began to spin faster and faster as we approached until it was a green and red blur. A malevolent green and red blur.
"Fire the Cruise!" Steve cried.
The Cruise was of course the barrel on the roof- because it was a Top Gun- and it could be fired by loading shells into the complicated mechanism on the back. We did so and then pulled a long lever which fired a puff of steam to force the shell into the barrel. "3, 2, 1!" David cried and then pulled a lever. The entire car shook as the barrel spat the shell out. It flew through the air and hit the tree dead centre, but that only seemed to anger it. "Concentrate our fire on it!" The Professor cried. "We fell the King Tree, we fell them all!"
"What a surprisingly medieval system these Christmas Trees conform to!" I exclaimed.
Steve yanked back the twin strings and the twin bonnet guns fired a torrent of bullets towards the trees. I hoped that the Town Hall had a budget for vacuum cleaning because, alongside our fallen bullet shells, were the fallen pine needles. Hopefully nobody will be wondering around barefooted. The Tree lashed out with gigantic arm, smashing down onto the roof of the car, breaking the super glue bonds that held the 120mm M256 Smooth Bore Cannon to the roof. It rolled off the roof and bounced against the floor. "Activate the Toaster!" The Professor cried, beginning to lose faith in our supreme weapon.
On the press of a button, a jet of pure fire exploded from the bonnet and engulfed the tree in a burning inferno. The tree silently wailed, shaking in chaos as it tried to drop the fire from it's needles. Jumping from their van, the English Swat Equivalant discharged their guns, slaying the tree. That gave us a chance to sneak away, past a CCTV camera, the footage of which made an appearance on crime watch, disappearing into the dark of the night.
Aka student accommodation.

So there it is, the Paranormal Christmas Tree Agency- none of that Pine Resistance rubbish- vs the Firy of the Christmas Trees. Perhaps the most explosive of our exploits and certainly not the most strange. No, that would be an adventure at Halloween the year after...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Firy of the Christmas Trees (part 3)

The only problem with a miraculous, brilliantly designed super weapon is that if someone- certainly not Steve, because he can't put a foot wrong- forgets to plug it in every week, it takes a good two hours before we can rush into action and save the world. So, what do a group of twenty year olds, waiting for a super weapon, do in their spare time?
"Christmas Tree 101." Professor Wendall J Orchard, the Pine Resistance's chief scientific advisor and purportedly responsible adult, announced. "Tree's take between 6 to 10 years to grow to the 4 or 5 foot height we've come to expect."
"Yeah," I said, "but there were some as tall as me, and they take 15 years to grow."
"They can't have been growing undetected." Steve pointed out.
He was right. I and Suzy had printed off fake council identification and then driven to every single Christmas Tree Farm in the entirety of the North. We had then had the great fun of pulling a section of needles from each tree on every farm and putting them in separate plastic bags, matching numbers on tags hanging to the trees to the numbers written on the bags. Then Orchard had carried a collection of tests that I had pretended to be interested in and, receiving the results, I, Suzy, David and a large chainsaw returned to the Christmas Tree Farms, all 39 farms, and David used the chainsaw to deal with any trees that had came up as positive for possessed genes. Unlucky Steve and Elise, however. They had to do the same with all Tree Farms shipping out to places in the north. Although, I imagine they probably enjoyed the trip abroad. Most students spend their summers drinking, partying and whatever it is cool people do. The Gang and I spend our summers cataloguing Christmas Trees. Still, we did find some very nice motorway cafes.
"What do you think then?" Suzy asked. "Some sort of miraculous new tree species?"
"Or illegal growers." David suggested.
We all looked at him.
"Illegal growers?" I frowned.
"Illegal growers?" Suzy exclaimed in distaste.
"Illegal growers?" Steve demanded.
"Producteur ill├ęgales?" Elise cried.
"Illegal growers." David attempted to justify himself.
"Illegal growers!" Professor Orchard cried, grinning. "Illegal Christmas Tree Growers! Imagine, drug dealers set up in a house to grow heroin or whatever your stereotypical drug of choice is."
"Calpol." I interjected to a range of quizzical looks.
"Now, let's say last year, when those big drug raids were going on, the dealers think: 'Ah! What do we do if they raid us?' so they go off to B&Q/Homebase/your generic Christmas Tree shop and buy a shedload. Because shops start selling them so early, they're on sale in October, and because it was before we began investigating trees, they get their hands on a couple of the habentes amients. Growing the trees, the entire stock becomes possessed and then, for some reason, they attack now."
"We're fighting Paranormal Christmas Trees that are high on drugs?" I asked.
"Grass, weed, why not Christmas Tree?" He grinned.
Once that was cleared up, we ended up sat around a table playing cards, because I always carry a pack with me. It's so I can make the joke, "I'm decked out with cool stuff!"

Eventually the charging was done. The led on the plug had flickered off and the many extension cords were to be rid of. David grabbed the long chain hanging from the ceiling and gave it a tug. The corrugated door rolled open and revealed the large canal path outside. "Let's do this." I cried.
Steve, the leader, pressed down on the acceleration and the ultimate weapon rolled forwards, out onto the river bank. We turned and drove up the large slope onto the road, turning. We had considered a tank, but our budget didn't stretch very far. Instead, we ended up with a pale blue Volvo 240 Estate. Salvaged from an actual tank, a 120mm M256 Smooth Bore Cannon was strapped to the roof, connected to a complicated firing system which had taken David many an hour to build. Sticking out of either sides were sawn off barrel toting rifles, loaded with 50 calibre bullets. A couple of guns had been connected to the bonnet, activated by pulling a rope looped around the triggers, and in the centre was a flame thrower. When we built a weapon, we built a weapon. (Which in hindsight is a stupid phrase, because if we hadn't built a weapon, we wouldn't have built the weapon to suggest we had in the first place. The English Language. I really don't know how I cope!)
We drove up the ramp and onto the road, the makeshift tank accelerating fast. Steve grabbed the radio transceiver and shouted, his voice amplified through the speakers on the roof, "Ready or not, trees! Here we come!"

Monday, 8 December 2014

Firy of the Christmas Trees (part 2)

"Steve! Get out quickly!" I cried, leaping back into the crash car as the Tree's roared towards me.
He groaned slightly, stretching in his confinement. "Can't I have another five minutes, Duncan?"
"No." I said. "We're about to be ripped apart by overly evil Christmas Trees, this isn't exactly the time for lying in. You too Elise. Quickly!"
We climbed out of the other side of the car as the Tree's came back for another turn, shredding the section of the car in which I and Steve had been slumped merely seconds earlier. We ran across the road towards the curb, leaping into the bushes and running until we came to a fence. My head, far above most others, stuck out of the bushes so I could see the Paranormal Christmas Tree's milling about, very pleased by the destruction they'd caused the car. As was the scene in most apocalypses, there was already a car on fire, sat just beyond our's. Screams played on the wind and wide spread disaster was beginning to set in. I think I could see a couple of smashed windows in the distance.
I turned back to Steve and Elise. "Right, somehow the Tree's have managed to amass their troops in such haste we haven't noticed. We need to get to the lockup so we can get the ultimate weapons and stop them before it's too late."
Steve looked at me. "I'm sorry, who died and put you in charge?"
This would be the point in the bestselling Scandinavian book series where I pulled a gun, shot him and then said, "You did!" But this is a poorly written exploit in a genre I don't think actually exists so I actually replied, "Sorry, Steve. What's the plan?"
"Right, here's the plan: we can't face this lot unless we have the ultimate weapons, so we need to get to the lockup to retrieve them and save the world."
"Not so much the world," Elise pointed out, "As the entirety of Accrington."
"It means the world to me, goddammit!" Steve cried.
"You need to get your priorities straight." I said.
"To the lockup!" Cried Steve, and we thundered through the overgrowth towards the lockup.

About halfway there, my phone began to ring. We hid in a bus shelter, not an easy thing to do when you reflect the Christmas Tree's were marching up and down the road and the Bus Shelters were all transparent, and I answered. "Hello, Duncan of the Paranormal Christmas Tree Agency speaking."
"Duncan, it's Suzy."
"Who is it?" Demanded Steve.
"Suzy." I told him.
"Why's she calling you?" He demanded back.
"Why are you calling me?" I relayed to her.
"Because I thought you may want to know we're heading to the lockup?"
"They're going to the lockup." I told Steve, holding my hand over the microphone at the bottom.
"No, I mean why isn't she calling me?" He demanded.
"He want's to know why you didn't call him." I told Suzy.
"Tell him that he left his phone at home."
"Look, I'm just going to put it on Speaker Phone." I said.
"NO!" They both screamed. I looked at Steve for explanation.
"The Christmas Tree's may be listening to our plans."
"And I'm sure if they are," I said, "They'll be more than distracted by the way we look like an odd version of the Apprentice to be eavesdropping."
"No means no, Duncan." Steve protested.
"Fair enough." I replied. "But I'm just saying, I doubt Wild Christmas Tree's have ears."
"We do actually." Cried the Christmas Tree's who'd sneaked up on us.
"Leg it!" I cried.
"I'm sorry," Steve asked, "Who's in charge here?"
"Priorities, Steve,  priorities."
We legged it out of the bus shelter and ran down the street towards the Aqueduct. Passing under it, we ran further and further until the glorious sight of Oswald and Twistle Mills crept over the horizon and we knew we'd made it. The Hoard's of Tree's were far behind us by the time we rushed into the Lockup on the bank. Suzy, David and the Professor were already inside as we barged through the doors and we all gave each other high fives, celebrating the fact we had survived so far. But the hardest was to come.
Next, we were to take on the Firy of the Christmas Trees!
(See what I did there?)

Monday, 1 December 2014

Firy of the Christmas Trees

"Where's the Professor?" Cried Suzy, running into the front room with her collected coursework gripped tightly in one hand.
"Nutjob's Anonymous." I replied, staring intently at the game of Operation that I and Steve had been playing for the last twenty minutes.
"Not again!" Suzy cried. "People are going to start believing he's one of the Nutjob's, when he actually runs it!"
"Suzy, he may run it, but he almost certainly is one of the Nutjob's." I said. "Why do you want to know anyway?"
"He said he would have a look at my coursework before I handed it in."
"And you're wondering why he's suddenly spending so much time at his Youth Clubs for Lunatics? Reading your work would be worse than being locked in an asylum!" Steve cried.
"Rude." She said and slumped down to the sofa.
"Unfortunately, that's life." He grinned, as I reminded him for the twentieth time that it was now his go.
"Alright, alright." He chimed, impatiently. He reached for the Butterflies in the Stomach but Suzy jumped forwards and grasped his shoulders with her hands, causing the red nose to flare into life.
"Suzy!" He cried, turning to her irritated. "I was almost going to win!" He turned to me. "It doesn't count, because it's unfair."
Suzy grasped his shoulders again. "Unfortunately, that's life."

The Pine Resistance- aka the Paranormal Christmas Tree Agency to anybody with taste- was a year old that month. It was also a year since a possessed branch had jumped out of the undergrowth and attempted to strangle me to death. My neck had almost fully healed, but I still had to go to the hospital occasionally. We'd discovered a lot about the Christmas Tree's in the year and had managed to devise the perfect weapons against them. Sadly, because of the law- that pesky thing! It always get's in the way- we weren't allowed to keep these weapons in the house, rather in a dull storage facility about half a mile away, which wouldn't be too useful in the event of a widespread apocalypse.
Although I imagine that in the case of a widespread apocalypse, we may be slightly more concerned about the widespread apocalypse rather than the bus journey to the weapon storage.

As I said, I still had to go to the hospital occasionally, and the day after the Event of the Operation Sabotage was one of those days I had to visit. Steve, the only one of us who owned a car, offered me a trip and I accepted, but then began to wish I hadn't when I discovered his girlfriend, Elise O'Hallain, was tagging along with us. I had nothing against Elise, she was a suitably pleasant human being, but the way in which she and Steve flirted in varying languages was simply quite irritating. It was like having a vacuum cleaner's nozzle forced up one of your nostrils then turned on and off repetitively whilst some terrible music- such as Black Lace's Agadoo- played forever as a hideous remix from every single corner of a room painted a sickening shade of orange. Actually, looking back at that comparison, I can tell why my parent's volunteered me for counselling when I was six. The car came to a stop in the hospital car park and Steve almost had a heart attack at the price of the parking tickets. I told him that a hospital would be the perfect place to have one. He looked at me with all the amazement of a sedated goat. The three of us hopped up the curving stairs and passed the barrage of ambulances to get to the big entrance. I waved at the receptionist who knew me quite well by now and she told me that Doctor Rasheed was ready for me. I went through and met him, sitting down on the uncomfortable chair to the side of his desk. He had a nearly bold head and a flower of grey hair expelling from the corners of his head. He asked me some questions and then began to squeeze my neck. "Has it been hurting?" He asked.
"Yes." I replied.
"What does it feel like?"
"Someone taking his fingers and squeezing my neck twice a month."
"You are a very sarcastic man."
"Thank you." I smiled.
"It wasn't a compliment."

Once he'd finished causing me pain and asking me if I had experienced any, I was released with some painkillers and told that I shouldn't return. I asked what I should do if my foot fell off. Rasheed told me it was unlikely and left me at that. I found Elise and Steve in the waiting room, flirting and so I held my hands over my ears as I told them we were ready to go. We climbed into the blue Citroen Saxo, perching on the particularly comfortable covered seating and once more I couldn't help but wonder what the point of having seat covers was. Out of annoyance, I finally asked.
Steve, looking at me through the mirror with the pity in his eyes, replied, "To stop the seats from getting dirty."
I looked at him scrupulously. "But what's the point, because you're never going to see the seats if they're always covered."
He was just about to give me a reply when the car rolled and the roof and windows crushed slightly. There was a pattering blinded to me slightly by the throbbing in my mind and ears but it slowly got louder. I swung myself around and used both legs to kick out one of the windows, three, four, five times. The window smashed and I crawled out and then instantly felt myself with fear. For storming over the car, as furious as the agents of the Devil they were, were a hoard of Paranormal Christmas Trees. And they all turned to face me.