Chapter 12: Here We Come A-Wassailing

Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wandering, so fair to be seen.
We have a little purse made of ratching leather skin;
We want a little sixpence to line it well within.


Christmas Eve, 2068

Faye's first job, that she could remember anyway, was for the Tharsis Cheesecake Mill. She was a delivery person. She thought that was a reasonable career track. After all, if she had any particular work skills, she couldn't remember them. She didn't think she could type exceptionally fast. She had a minimal knowledge of computer operating systems. She was never particularly good with people. She rediscovered that after her first (and last) shift waitressing in a 24-hour diner. Turns out smashing a pancake in a particularly rude patrons face does not do wonders for the ol' tip jar.

But she was a decent delivery person. She pretty much got a tip just by showing up, and if it was a man, she usually got a little extra just for being a woman. And after a few shaky lessons, she was pretty good at flying. She wasn't particularly good at parking where she was supposed to park or avoiding hitting things like streetlights during take off. But she discovered in those days that she in fact had a decent pair of boobs and that traffic cops seemed to be some of their most staunch admirers. So she was a Cheesecake Mill Delivery Girl and she worked for Mr. Charlie Dillon.

And they must have been really good cheesecakes. People paid insane amounts of money for them. And though the majority of the cheesecakes were going to people's Grandmas and wives and things, some people just seemed to want a cheesecake right then and in that second. Like they were sitting watching TV and decided that, hey. A cheesecake would go really great with this six pack and ordered it like they were ordering a pizza. Faye always thought that was a little weird. But everyone's got a vice. For some people, it was apparently cheesecake.


"That's a little steep for a pound and a half of cream cheese, isn't it Charlie?" Faye blew a stray bang out of her eye as she looked over the invoice. "I mean, even for us."

"It's Christmas Eve. And he asked for a rush order. It's only natural to gouge 'em. People expect it," he shrugged.

Faye shot him a scolding sort of glare that Charlie was used to. "As long as this guy has enough money left over for tip. Gas isn't free, you know."

"Quit your bitching. You get gas money," he waved her off.

"Yeah. And the 50 woolongs a week you give me might be useful if that piece of crap got more than 2K to the gallon."

Charlie puffed up a bit in the ship's defense. "Hey. The Redtail is a classic. I will have no one talking smack about her in my presence."

Faye rolled her eyes as she grabbed a small stack of pink boxes from the counter. "Well, I'm off."


Please go around back.

Faye cocked her head at the sloppily written note Scotch taped to the front door. Go around back? She glanced down at the receipt and realized that this was the particularly expensive cake. The last minute order. She heard someone clear their throat and her stomach jumped about 6 inches up in her chest. She turned and watched as an old man shuffled past. "Merry Christmas!" he said cheerily.

Faye waved back with an uncertain smile. Why was she so jumpy? Faye wasn't usually someone who was jumpy for no reason. Something about this whole scenario wasn't right. She descended slowly down the front stoop when she noticed a parked car suddenly start up and drive around the back of the building. She didn't notice anyone get into the car. Were they waiting there this whole time?

She was so focused on trying to figure out where that car was off to that she didn't notice the garden hose sprawled out across the sidewalk. Her toe caught it and she crashed to the pavement, the cheesecake breaking her fall. "Shit," she muttered as she tried to wipe some errant cheesecake off of her chin. She sat upright and inspected the box. It actually wasn't that bad. Her face just managed to catch the bottom corner. The good thing about cheesecake was that it was pliable. She bet she could just smear it back together with her fingers.

She flipped the top open and was about to perform some emergency surgery when she saw something that made her want to throw up. There, nestled inside a protective layer of satiny smooth goodness, were several vials of bloody eye. She gasped and slammed the box shut. "That's a little steep for cheesecake, isn't it Charlie?" she said out loud in a mocking voice. God, she was such an idiot. She must have had the word "patsy" permanently tattooed on her forehead, magically visible to everyone but herself.

And she was being set up. She knew it wasn't technically her that was being set up. It was Charlie. But it wouldn't matter. They never go straight for the top with these things. They just start chipping away at the bottom and that was her. Christ, she was a drug dealer!! What the hell was she supposed to do?

Run. She was supposed to run. And after taking a deep breath, she did. She grabbed the evidence and high tailed it to her ship, never once looking back until she was safely in the air. When she thought she was a reasonable distance away, she tossed the pastry box out the window and it hit the windshield of a car with a satisfying splat.

Now what? She wondered briefly how many times the average person was supposed to completely start over in her lifetime. She figured she had to hold some sort of record. She leaned dejectedly back into the seat of the Redtail and kicked the glove compartment in a fit of frustration. The thing popped open, revealing the yellow manila envelope she used as a cash box. Oh yeah. The cash box. She forgot about that. She eagerly counted it up and found it was close to 15,000 woolongs. Well, that was a start.


And now, three years later, she was staring at the one person she never thought she'd see again. "What the hell do you want?" she asked him, swallowing her disappointment in favor of morbid curiosity.

"About 15,000 woolongs. Or a three year old cheesecake. Whichever you prefer."



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