PARENTAL ADVISORY: If your children are corrupted and led astray by my careless and devious uses of the English language, you are a terrible, terrible parent and I hope someone kills you before you have any more children.
the fantastic life and suicide
of mister mary holiday

-- February 14th, 1996 --
``What a Wonderful Time for a Mass-Murder Suicide."

4:49 pm, February 12, 1996.

Winter had hit the town hard that year. They would later describe it as possibly the cruelest and most unforgiving ever. The cold sank through the roads and fields and houses, and you could almost see the snow building up on the horizon. It was too cold for ice skating and sledding and snowball fights. It was the miserable sort of cold that had teeth.
áááááááááááá A blizzard was almost upon them. Shops were closed, all school had been cancelled, and everyone stayed in the safety of their homes, away from the cold and snow and ice, hoping the storm would pass quickly. The nearest town to the south had suffered considerable damage from it, the news had reported. There had been very insightful and very dull commentary from meteorologists, accompanied by statistics and helicopter views of some of the most badly hit regions.
áááááááááááá Unprecedented snow falls and record low temperatures, the weather-persons said. Stay inside and lock your doors, they said, and don't let your pets out, because they wouldn't be coming back.
áááááááááááá The snow had already set about burying the town. Five feet of the freezing wet stuff had fallen and it showed no signs of stopping any time soon. Most people were huddled by fireplaces or hiding in their beds to beat the lonely cold, but one home on the block was all warmth inside, in the middle of a very noisy birthday party.
áááááááááááá A crowd of girls, all wearing little pink party hats, bobbed and giggled excitedly in a semi-circle around a very tired mother.
áááááááááááá "Now," she said, wearily. "See if you can guess what this one is." She made some vague motions with her hands.
áááááááááááá "MUM!" one of the girls yelled. "Can we go outside and PLAY?" The group cheered at the idea.
áááááááááááá "I said no, Angela," Mrs. Smith scowled. "Not with the storm. Now stop asking!"
áááááááááááá "Why can't we go PLAY in the STORM!" shouted one of the other girls.
áááááááááááá "Because you'll be swept away and killed," Mrs. Smith said.
áááááááááááá "We don't MIND!"
áááááááááááá "A KITTY!" yelled out one of the slower girls. At that moment, the front door burst in, revealing a thick wall of snow which someone tall then fell out of right onto their face. The girls giggled and stared wide-eyed as Mrs. Smith rushed to slam the door shut.
áááááááááááá "Is she DEAD?" asked Angela loudly.
áááááááááááá "Mostly," said the person slowly, muffled by the area of floor in his mouth.
áááááááááááá "Are you okay?" Mrs. Smith asked, helping the man to his feet. He was tall, deathly thin and dressed entirely in black. He had a cane and a white box in his hands, and a normal looking top hat on his head.
áááááááááááá "Thanks, I... Uh." He looked around and blinked his nearly frozen eyelids a lot. "Whoah. Boy. Jesus. That's some, that's some... crazy-ass snow." The girls stared at him, fascinated. "Hi," he said to them, giving a little wave. He turned back to Mrs. Smith. "This is for you," he said, and thrust the white box into her hands. "It's, uh, a cake. Vanilla. Merry whatever." He brushed his jacket off and looked around the room anxiously.
áááááááááááá There was a long silence before Mrs. Smith began to speak. "Well," she said, "Um. Thank you, sir ..."
áááááááááááá "No, no," he waved and cut her off, walking towards an open closet. "Don't thank me. It's my job. But, anyhow, can I use your closet for a second?"
áááááááááááá "Wait," Mrs. Smith said slowly. "I seem to have missed your name..."
áááááááááááá "No you didn't," he said. "Don't worry. I won't do anything nasty in it." He waved towards the kids again and then bounded inside and shut the door. Instantly his hat dropped down over his entire body, swallowing him whole before it itself vanished into thin air.
áááááááááááá "MUMMM!" Angela yelled.
áááááááááááá "Just... just a second dear," Mrs. Smith said, staring at the empty closet. "Mommy has to think a bit."
áááááááááááá "What kind of a CAKE is it!!"

And this was the control room of the hat.
ááá ááááááááá It was huge. Dark, theatrical, and very, very crooked. A thick gray fog rolled over the black and white tiled floor, while an abused looking ceiling fan that had been nailed awkwardly to one of the walls, kept it bubbling and churning around the room.
ááá ááááááááá Strange glowing triangular panels covered most of the walls. Red and white lights danced around them through the haze, looking like Christmas lights through a misty snow storm.
ááá ááááááááá There was no ceiling. Or at least if there was it was too high up to actually see. Bluish glass tables were scattered out all over the floor, and a large sickly looking palm tree sagged miserably on the edge of a small desert which sat in the corner. A motionless figure hung dead from it, fog tendrils licking at its toes. In the exact middle of the room was an impressive gnarled and evil looking throne made entirely of black and white bones. Two grinning skulls were attached to the front of each arm-rest, one wearing a red Santa Claus hat and the other a pointy blue birthday one with the elastic stretched around its fleshless chin. Both had crumpled cigarettes stuck in their mouths. Neither looked at all happy.
ááá ááááááááá A large, bulky, white bunny stood calmly by one of the room's crooked pink neon doors. Wearing dark sunglasses, a black hat and a very expensive looking suit, he watched silently as the fog in front of the throne shifted and swirled dangerously. Glowing and pulsating pale red, it sharpened and brightened to a perfect cylinder of intense red light, stretching all the way out of sight. The bunny shielded his eyes as a very thin and tall figure, dressed entirely in black, rose out of the red fog. He was carrying a cane, but was no longer wearing a hat. When at his full height, the light switched off silently. He bowed dramatically to no-one in particular and slumped backwards into his throne.
ááá ááááááááá The bunny ran his big white paws over his suit and waited very patiently. He stood absolutely still for precisely three minutes and forty-eight seconds. Then he cleared his throat.
áááááááááááá "Good evening Captain Holiday," he said in a carefully practiced tone. He hesitantly approached the throne.
áááááááááááá Mary paid no attention and shifted uncomfortably in his throne. He shook some snow out of his angry black hair, sighed miserably, and sank even further back.
áááááááááááá The bunny waited, chewing his lip nervously, and listening to his fluttering heartbeat.
áááááááááááá Mary folded his hands politely in his lap before he spoke.
áááááááááááá "Every time," he began quietly, "I have to crawl through a snowy village to do something incredibly pointless, I ask myself a question." He glared at the bunny, who kept himself from flinching until Mary looked away again and then nearly collapsed. "I ask myself: `Say, Mary, what keeps a hip and extremely mean guy, such as yourself for instance, from jamming forks in the eyes of everyone you meet?' And the only answer I've been able to come up with lately is: 'Less and less every day, Mary. Less and less.'"
áááááááááááá The bunny waited exactly thirteen seconds before saying anything.
áááááááááááá "Are you okay?" it asked.
áááááááááááá Mary leaned forward and grabbed the bunny's tie. "No," he said. "Blizzards are cold. I hate them. My hands hurt. Blizzards suck. Take a note." The bunny struggled to stay standing as Mary let go of his tie and whacked his cane against the arm of his throne. "You hear me?" he yelled upwards. "NO MORE BLIZZARDS. Blizzard me again, hat-boy, and I'll find whatever counts for an ass on your little simulated silk body and slam my foot so far up it you'll be... you'll be... you'll be DAMN uncomfortable." The hat didn't respond. Mary slammed the cane against the throne again. "HA!" he yelled, and shook his fist a bit. "I seriously hope the snow wrecked you, you punk-ass hat."
áááááááááááá "Hello," said a voice from far above.
ááá ááááááááá Mary's cane bounced off the front wall.
ááá ááááááááá "I was only doing my job," it moaned.
ááá ááááááááá "I don't care," Mary said, still glaring upwards. "Why a cake? Just tell me that. Why? I saw three cakes on their bloody kitchen table."
ááá ááááááááá He paused, stretched out his arm and his cane came flying back into it.
ááá ááááááááá "Why not a sticky bun?" he said.
ááá ááááááááá The hat considered this carefully before answering.
ááá ááááááááá "They did not feel a sticky bun would convey the proper, shall we say, artistic sentiment... that a cake would."
ááá ááááááááá "Are you trying to tell me that sticky buns aren't artistic?"
ááá ááááááááá "Of course they're artistic," said the hat in a reasonable sort of tone. "But can you not see the advantages of using a cake as a form of expression over a sticky bun?"
ááá ááááááááá "No."
ááá ááááááááá The hat paused.
ááá ááááááááá "Then I guess we've reached an impasse," it said.
ááá ááááááááá "I guess so," Mary said and tried to stab the wall with his cane.
áááááááááááá "Mr. Flopsy!" he barked.
áááááááááááá The bunny took a slow step forward. His name was not Mr. Flopsy.
áááááááááááá "What the hell's that... thing doing hanging from my palm tree?"
áááááááááááá They both looked over at the palm tree.
áááááááááááá "Uh," the bunny said. "He's a member of ..."
áááááááááááá "Because it looks an awful lot like a dead guy to me," said Mary.
áááááááááááá "It is," the bunny said. "Cleaning staff."
áááááááááááá He watched Mary slide out of his throne and walk slowly over to the hanging body. Its face was all twisted and blue and its sickly purple tongue hung dead out of its mouth.
áááááááááááá "Suicide," continued the bunny. "We don't yet know why, but there are others."
áááááááááááá Mary began to circle the body ominously. This made the bunny very nervous.
áááááááááááá "Did all our cleaning staff wear these uniforms?" Mary asked.
áááááááááááá "Yes."
áááááááááááá "Interesting," said Mary, rubbing his chin. He paced around the body some more.
áááááááááááá "Hey," he said casually to the bunny. "Look over there."
áááááááááááá Before the bunny even had a chance to turn, Mary had seized the body's left foot and was wrestling madly with it.
áááááááááááá "No!" yelled the bunny. "Don't!"
áááááááááááá Mary grappled with the foot until he finally wrenched the shoe off.
áááááááááááá "Size five!" he said victoriously. He tossed the shoe to the bunny.
áááááááááááá "You shouldn't have done that!" the bunny said, swallowing hard. "The Admiral is going to be really upset with you!"
áááááááááááá Mary then lunged for the body's other shoe. This one seemed to be stuck. As he struggled wildly with it he lifted himself right up off the floor, swinging around clutching the body's leg. He twirled around frighteningly as he jerked and pulled at it, the palm tree bent over to its absolute limit. The shoe finally came off in his hands and Mary dropped fast to the floor. The palm tree snapped back, snapping the branch the body hung from and hurling it high into the air. The body landed with a modest splash in a nearby distant ocean even further into the corner with the beach in it.
áááááááááááá The bunny pulled his hat down over his eyes and tried to think of a calm place.
áááááááááááá Mary jumped up from under the fog, holding the shoe triumphantly over his head and making little cheering crowd noises. "Also size five!" he announced, tossing that one also to the bunny.
áááááááááááá He looked up again at the tree and noticed the body was gone. He decided not to mention it.
áááááááááááá "So," he said, turning back to the bunny. "How many others were there?"
áááááááááááá "Four hundred and seven," said the bunny, shaking his head sadly.
áááááááááááá "Did they all hang themselves too?"
áááááááááááá "It was messy," said the bunny reflectively. "Walk this way."
áááááááááááá He led Mary down a vast and weirdly-lit corridor. The floors were all jagged and crooked and the walls were filled with little windows you thankfully couldn't see into. Up some stairs they went, then down some more and then up a strange curving hill until they arrived at a giant glass elevator. As they stepped inside, the door slid shut and the bunny worked the buttons while Mary mashed his face up against the glass.
áááááááááááá The elevator suddenly shot upwards at an incredible speed. It lurched and wobbled and shook and both Mary and the bunny stood absolutely still. It took only a few minutes to get there and the elevator churned to a halt. The door slid open.
áááááááááááá "This way," said the bunny.
áááááááááááá Mary bustled after him down the new oddly-shaped hallway.
áááááááááááá "Four hundred and seven," he said to himself as they climbed stairs. "Gee."
áááááááááááá "The entire cleaning staff."
áááááááááááá "That's an awful lot of suicide," said Mary.
áááááááááááá They stepped past a glass wall of shelves and another wall of clocks. Mary followed the bunny around a corner and then through a door and then he stopped moving altogether.
áááááááááááá "Oh," he said with an edge of sickness.
áááááááááááá In the very back of his mind he silently wished his eyes would stop drifting around the room.
áááááááááááá "Well."
áááááááááááá He swallowed hard.
áááááááááááá "Yuck."
áááááááááááá "Happened about half an hour ago," explained the bunny.
áááááááááááá "You would think," Mary began slowly as he tried to work it out in his head, "that the cleaning staff would find a much neater way to kill themselves."
áááááááááááá "Irony," said the bunny as it walked up to the front counter and got two pairs of bowling shoes. They slipped them on and stood at the edge of the worn red carpet, looking out over the gruesome bowling lanes.
áááááááááááá Mary tried to keep his eyes in focus.
áááááááááááá "I used to go bowling," he said wearily. "It wasn't any fun. Hated the family. But it was a safe place, I guess. Never thought much about killing myself then. But I had never thought a bowling alley could be used for something like this."
áááááááááááá "Times change," said the bunny, trying not to get any of the blood on his shoes as he walked. "Watch your step," he said. "Lots of blood."
áááááááááááá Mary sloshed along loudly behind him.
áááááááááááá "Really," Mary said, looking around. "Wow."
áááááááááááá He tugged at the bunny's jacket and pointed at the ceiling.
áááááááááááá "How did they get all that blood up there?" he asked.
áááááááááááá The bunny told him.
áááááááááááá "Clever," Mary said, and walked a little faster.
áááááááááááá "As far as we can determine," said the bunny, stopping at the sixth lane, "this is the center of it."
áááááááááááá "Adds new meaning to the phrase '7-10 split' doesn't it?" said Mary.
áááááááááááá The bunny frowned.
áááááááááááá "Shut up. It's how I deal with trauma."
áááááááááááá "These ones," the bunny said, pointing around the lane, "seem to have pulled out the pins, extended the wires and attached razor blades to those bits there. That, in combination with the ..."
áááááááááááá Mary's attention had been caught by something else.
áááááááááááá "My god," he said. "What happened to these guys?"
áááááááááááá "Those ones somehow managed to accelerate the ball-return machines and wedge their heads ..." He trailed off. Mary wasn't listening.
áááááááááááá "Oh man, look at that one," he said.
áááááááááááá "Saw him earlier," said the bunny. "Not very pretty."
áááááááááááá "No," said Mary.
áááááááááááá He paused.
áááááááááááá "But inventive. You have to give him some credit for that."
áááááááááááá He looked down with a confused expression on his face.
áááááááááááá "Question," he said. "Where are his internal organs?"
áááááááááááá The bunny gestured vaguely around the room.
áááááááááááá "Ah," said Mary.
áááááááááááá They stood in an awkward silence for a few moments, listening to the distant sounds of dripping.
áááááááááááá Mary looked around. "All of them did it in this room?"
áááááááááááá "Ah, all except the one in the control room and the fifty eight in the employee locker room," said the bunny.
áááááááááááá "Fifty-eight in the locker room? Why didn't they do it here?"
áááááááááááá "Best theory is there weren't enough bowling shoes."
áááááááááááá "Ah," said Mary, looking down at his feet.
áááááááááááá "Strict policies," explained the bunny.
áááááááááááá They left the scene and took the elevator down nearly eight hundred levels to the employee locker room.
áááááááááááá "Ouch," Mary said, peering into one of the lockers.
áááááááááááá The bunny opened another.
áááááááááááá "This one has two in it," he said.
áááááááááááá "Ouch," Mary said again. He gently poked his cane around inside the locker.
áááááááááááá "We're not sure how they managed that one."
áááááááááááá "Either way, I bet it hurt a real lot."
áááááááááááá "Incoming communication from Admiral Holden," the hat's voice cut in politely.
áááááááááááá "Tell him to bite me," Mary said.
áááááááááááá A wall lit up a dark blue colour and was then slowly filled with the Admiral's familiar rigid composure and serious-eyed face.
áááááááááááá "Bite me," Mary said.
áááááááááááá "Captain Holiday," the Admiral began coldly. "I've just been informed of your situation."
áááááááááááá Mary took a minute to look calmly around the grizzly locker room.
áááááááááááá "And what situation would that be?" he said.
áááááááááááá "The cleaning crew," said the Admiral. "Your first officer told me." Mary made a note to smack the bunny with his cane later.
áááááááááááá "'First officer.'" Mary sighed. "God, I hate this shit. Makes me feel like I'm on Star Trek or something."
áááááááááááá He took a deep breath.
áááááááááááá "Okay," he said. "I admit it. Yes. The cleaning crew is dead. Happy now?"
áááááááááááá "No! You ..."
áááááááááááá "See, Ted? You're never happy. I pretend there's nothing wrong and you're not happy. Then I tell you that, okay, four hundred and eight public servants or so may have sort of killed themselves in really innovative ways on-board my hat and you're still not happy. Just what is it going to take?"
áááááááááááá "This is the third cleaning crew you've been through in the past four months, Mary. This is serious ..."
áááááááááááá "Third? That's not true!" Mary argued. "That first one's just lost. I'm sure it'll turn up eventually."
áááááááááááá The Admiral bristled and began to get all red and puffy with frustration. Mary noticed this happened to him an awful lot.
áááááááááááá "Let me tell you something, Mary ..."
áááááááááááá "No Ted, let me tell you something. My bowling alley is a mess. These lockers are disgusting. And why? Because you sent me a suicidal cleaning team!" Mary folded his arms crossly. "So don't try to tell me anything, because I've seen a hell of a lot of bloody cracked skulls today and I'm not feeling very open-minded."
áááááááááááá "I don't think you realize the gravity of ..."
áááááááááááá "You don't think I do?" Mary said. "All our bowling shoes are on dead guys with no skin. Most also don't have many internal organs to speak of, unless of course you were saying 'Oh my, that's a lovely array of kidneys you have stuck to your ceiling' or something.
áááááááááááá "And do you know what not having internal organs leaves them with, Ted? No? Well, it's not very much, let me tell you. And it certainly doesn't leave us with shoes we'd feel the least bit comfortable bowling in."
áááááááááááá "Mary! You're ..."
áááááááááááá "So what are you going to do?" Mary said. "FIRE me? Oh GOD! Like I haven't been begging for that one!"

"A fool also is full of words:
a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?"
- Ecclesiastes 10:14.

áááááááááááá "I'm authorized to remand you to the care of a fully licensed psychiatrist. I'm also prepared to reduce your vacation time."
áááááááááááá "I get vacations?"
áááááááááááá The Admiral gave up and signed off.
áááááááááááá Mary blinked and then turned to the bunny.
áááááááááááá "I get vacations?"


ęCopyright 1996, Brad Turcotte