Christmas always gave me that creepy feeling, as if everyone were making merry and eating, pretending for all their worth as if nothing were wrong, when they knew the world was about to end. And today it would end for me, notwithstanding my own years of training as a warrior, the many sermons I had attended in both school and church, a púca with its black horse-body and its clarion clear voice would mark my end.
So boy, are you ready? it said, whinnying and stomping the ground, clanging the chains about its neck, its orange eyes now a pale gold, its breath a mist of spoiled blackberries.
Trying to stand tall with my body that was no longer that of a boy, not yet of a man, I said, No one is ever ready. The gas light above my head dimmed and flashed.
Will you fight or submit, Brian Boru?said the púca, grinning through its horse teeth.
What will be, will be, but if its is all the same to you, I’ll fight.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
If you liked this story you might like some of the stories I wrote for my A to Z last year.