Catching the Spirit
by Heather Shaw and Tim Pratt
Pretty much nobody knows how, exactly, the Christmas Spirit started to spread. One theory goes that a child in Meridian Mississippi was bitten by an infected reindeer, and then spread the plague at her school Christmas pageant, where it jumped to a couple of long-haul truckers who hit the interstate on Boxing Day and took the condition nationwide. One epidemiologist is convinced it’s a prion disease, like Mad Cow, spread through tainted Christmas hams. I saw a neurologist on TV who believes it’s a brain disorder brought on by heavy metal poisoning, spread through tainted high-fructose corn syrup in the candy cane supply, and I met a man in a bar who drunkenly explained that it’s caused by an insidious parasite that lives in evergreen trees. And of course we’ve all heard the right-wing pundits screaming their conviction that the Christmas Spirit is a biological weapon invented by radical Kenyan socialists to force redistribution of wealth.
They’re all wrong. I know the truth about the Christmas Spirit, and how it started to spread. In a way, I’m the reason for the season.
About the Authors
Heather Shaw is a writer, editor, bookkeeper, sewist, and lindy hopper living in Berkeley, CA with her husband and 13-year-old son, River. She’s had short fiction published in Strange Horizons, The Year’s Best Fantasy, Escape Pod, PodCastle, and other nice places. She has been the fiction editor at the erotica zine Fishnet, the speculative fiction zine Flytrap, and the pro-SF zine, Persistent Visions. She is currently working on a one-act modern feminist adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, which will have a staged reading in San Francisco in November of 2021. She can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/hlshaw.
Tim Pratt is the author of more than 20 novels, most recently the Axiom space opera trilogy. His multiverse adventure novel Doors of Sleep, beginning a new series, is out in January 2021. He’s a Hugo Award winner for short fiction, and has been a finalist for Nebula, World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Mythopoeic, Stoker, and other awards. He tweets incessantly (@timpratt) and publishes a new story every month for patrons at www.patreon.com/timpratt.