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Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Winston’s unusual sense of charity began late on Christmas night 2004. He and Ruby, his familiar, were watching television in the living room, Winston slouched on his couch, Ruby curled at his side. She had her tail wrapped around her small body, and her yellow eyes focused on the roaring fire.
They had exchanged a few gifts—he had made her a cat-sized box bed out of sandalwood, and she had given him half a dozen mice in various states of decay. He’d known what it had cost her to give them up—she’d probably been saving them for that proverbial rainy day—so he’d thanked her and placed them in a drawer to deal with later. He knew better than to give them back. He’d tried that with the dead rabbit on his birthday, and had hurt her feelings so badly that she hadn’t talked with him for nearly a week.
He was surfing, looking for something, anything, A Christmas Story, the horrible live-action version of the Grinch, when he saw the Breaking News icon at the bottom of CNN’s crawl.