Willy Dmitri may not have been the best boy he could’ve that year. But, hey, nobody’s perfect! He kept his grades up, tried not to beat up on his little sister too much, and never did anything too bad.
Well, there was that one time in July when he broke the garage door…and that time in October right before his birthday when he accidentally put a big hole in the wall. Beside those instances though, he never did anything bad.
He believed it, and on that night of December 24, he waited. He knew Santa would come down that chimney soon, bringing him something great. A bike? A baseball glove? Maybe even a Gameboy? The anticipation rose.
He laid in bed, wide awake and listening for the reindeer hooves up on the roof. They came around 1 AM. His parents had been asleep for a few hours now. He was supposed to have been asleep for about 5. He heard a pounding on the roof, and another, and another. He sprung into an upright position and as quickly as he could, swung his legs over the bed and snuck out of his room.
He sat crouched in the hallway, hiding behind the bookcase where he could have a front row seat to the show. He could hear his boots getting closer, now above his head. Santa was near, and he could already feel the air. It was different. Not flat as it often was, but now filled with thoughts of sugarplums, and joy. The air was scented with a thick smell of candy that wafted from the fireplace. His heart began to leap as one dark, soot covered boot hit the bottom, then another.
He leaned back, but closer in mind, wanting to see everything but not be seen himself. The man bent down, but what crouched in the chimney was not the jolly old fellow he expected. It was an elf.
It stood no taller than Willy, about 4 feet high. It was thin, almost anorexic, and it’s pale, milky-white skin was caked with black ash. It was hunched over, dragging behind it a large potato sack filled with boxes. Willy retreated back a bit as it began to walk closer, inching ever so slowly toward the sparkling tree. He now had a better look at the creature, and saw that it was wearing a fur. The whole fur, in fact, of a wolf. The head of the animal was worn like a hat, and the rest of it hung behind him, encasing his fragile body like a coat.
The elf stopped in front of the tree, and opened the bag. Inside was a large bulk of colorfully wrapped gifts, all tied with neat little bows. It went to work and reached its stick-like arms into the bag, ruffling through all the boxes and checking tags. It finally ceased it’s searching and pulled out one small box.
The box was wrapped in a fairly inelegant, plain gift paper. It had no pattern, but instead was a solid beige color. It had a dark violet bow on the top, and a tag strung around it that read: To Willy.
Willy’s heart leaped. A gift…for him! And he saw it delivered. What was it? He couldn’t wait to find out. The elf dragged the bag and himself back to the chimney before crawling back up like an animal, the sack slung over its lean bony shoulder.
He looked back to the tree, and the gift that now lay underneath. He stared at it for the longest time, what felt like hours but was probably more like 30 seconds. The anticipation was unbearable. His parents were asleep, and by the absence of footsteps or Ho-ho-ho’s, Santa was gone as well. He just had to take one look. One little look.
He rushed as quickly and as quietly as he could to the box and picked it up, shaking it close to his ear. He heard a muffled thud as it hit the walls of the box. He had a sudden fear. Only with one gift does he hear that sound. Clothes. How could he? Santa was supposed to bring gifts filled with fun and joy. He was supposed to bring toys and candy and video games. Not some lousy pair of underwear.
He suddenly became less excited to open it early, yet the boy still had an ounce of hope. He could be wrong. He decided to do it quickly. He popped the tab on the side of the box and unfolded the delicate wrapping. He had to be careful not to rip it so his parents wouldn’t notice. He carefully slid the box out of the paper.
It was a simple shoebox. There was no brand name, just a box the same color as the paper. He opened it up, eager to see if his prediction was wrong. The box was filled with tissue paper. He pulled it out violently, not even trying in the slightest to keep it all intact. What lay inside surprised him. Why would Santa give him this? What was the point? It was a small plush doll. All the proportions seemed close to correct. The vital spots on the body of it were all marked by an ‘X’.
“Do you like it?”
A voice boomed behind him, making him jump. He turned around. It wasn’t Santa. At least, not what he expected Santa to look like. Instead of a bright red suit, he wore all black. A black fur-lined trench coat was worn over an unbuckled straight jacket. At least, that’s what it appeared to be. His pants were black as smog, and he wore black steel toed boots with a small silver spur on the heel. Instead of a jolly Santa hat you see in the movies, he wore no hat, but had two ram horns protruding from the thin white hair on his head. His face was what shocked him most.
His skin was gray, and was covered in liver spots and wrinkles. He had no nose, and if there was one there, it was a pathetic stump of a nose. His smile was devilish. It was a smidge too wide for his face, and it exhibited a row of long, finely sharpened teeth. But his eyes. His eyes were the worst of all. They were red. Red glowing eyes. It was something from a nightmare, and Willy couldn’t form the words to reply to his question.
Santa, if it was really him, outstretched a leather gloved hand and pointed one finger toward the present. “It’s a voodoo doll,” he said.
Willy stared back up at him, and finally managed to ask, “What’s it do?”
Santa looked back down at Willy. “It’s to make you feel better,” he replied. “Do you ever get angry, Willy?”
“Have you ever wanted to hurt someone because they made you angry?”
He nodded again.
“Well,” he said. “This doll is special.” Santa took the doll from the box and pulled a long, rusty nail from his breast pocket. “All you have to do is stab it.” He handed the doll and nail to Willy, who took it slightly reluctantly. “And your anger is flushed away.”
Willy looked at the doll and its small beaded eyes. Angry? Yes, he did get angry. Hurt someone? Yes, he had wanted to hurt someone. But he couldn’t. He would get in trouble. So, Willy would take his pillow and punch it. But, now, with this, could he make his anger go away?
Santa spoke. “Think of your Dad. What did you see, Willy? Did you see him in bed? Who was that woman he was kissing, Willy? It wasn’t your mother.”
It was his Aunt. She was younger than his mother, had a leaner body. His Father liked that. They were in the living room when Mom was on a business trip. Willy woke in the night, in need of a glass of water. He went out the hallway and looked over. His Dad lay on his back, Auntie Melena on top of him.
His fists became red with rage, and the doll suddenly transformed into his Father. His dirty, rotten, cheating, selfish, son-of-a-bitch Father. He grasped the nail tightly in his hand, and thrust it into the leg of his Father. He could hear his Fathers screams from upstairs. He took it from the leg and raised it again.
“That’s for kissing Aunt Melena,” he whispered angrily. “And this is for yelling at me when I didn’t do my chores.” He stuck the nail in his Fathers groin. Another scream. “And this is for running over my puppy when I was 5.” In the shoulder. Another scream. “For throwing away my comic books.” Another stab, another scream. He could hear his Fathers pain, and it pleased him .With each sin listed and stab inflicted, blood splattered upstairs all over his parents sheets. His Mother eventually woke, streaming tears as her Husband was slowly disabled.
Santa put his hand on Willy’s shoulder. “That’s enough.” Willy stopped, crying, and dropped the nail on the floor, looking up at Santa. The doll was filled with holes, and stuffing protruded from the piercings. Santa took it from Willy’s hand. “Now, let’s end his suffering.” He took the doll and ripped it in half. His Mother screamed, and he could hear her hit the wall and puke. Santa through the two halves on the floor.
“What now?” Willy asked.
“Now,” Santa said. “You must go.” He grabbed Willy and threw him over his shoulder. He held him like the doll now, thrashing him around like an object. Willy screamed. He heard Santa pour a liquid on the floor as they approached the chimney.
“Santa, please, stop!” Willy cried. Santa stopped.
“I’m not Santa.”
They kept walking, and the fluid hit the floor. When they were at the chimney, a cage fell on the floor with an ear-shattering clang. The man who was not Santa threw him in like a stray cat, no mean of gentleness whatsoever. The cage slammed shut, and a chain pulled him slowly up. He could hear the cranking coming from up on the roof, and when he made it out the chimney, he saw the elf turning a wheel, pulling him up.
The creature grabbed the cage and carried him passed the sleigh. There were no reindeer. There were starving horses, almost skeletal in appearance. They snarled and snapped in their direction. The sleigh had no bells. It was metal and black, a very hideous gothic thing. In the back, there was no bag of gifts and toys. There were cages, just like his, each filled with crying children. Each one on the naughty list.
He joined the mass of caged kids, and the elf leaned in close to the cage. It hissed something to him. It was almost ineligible, but he was able to make it out all the same. “You’ll make some lovely cookies when we arrive,” it said.
The anti-Claus was now in the front of the sleigh, a cat-o-nine-tails in his fist. He cracked it on the horses, and they whinnied in pain before starting in a fierce run.
The elf jumped into the sleigh with him, and took a flare from the potato sack. He lit it.
“The grand finale,” said the anti-Claus. The elf dropped the flame down the chimney, and in a matter of seconds, the whole house was engulfed in flames. Willy couldn’t do anything. He could only cry, scream and watch as his house burned. As his family died.
As the rose into the bitter night, the flames became but a speck on the Earth. It revealed a mass of small glowing dots, each one a house of the caged children who sat in the sleigh with him.
He heard the evil St. Nick yell something loudly, just before a final crack of his whip. It bellowed and echoed in the night, as the screams and tears of children and their families filled the air of Christmas Eve. “Happy Krampus to all,” he exclaimed. And the whip cracked.
© Copyright Brendan Swogger 2012
Merry Krampus, everyone! I guess I should elaborate on my inspiration for this twisted Christmas tale. Recently, on a local ghost tour, the guide was talking of old Christmas legends. One of those was the existence of an “evil Santa.” Now, this character goes by many names, Black Peter, Pere Fouettard, and of course, Krampus. Despite all these different names, they all have the same premise. This demon sidekick to the holiday king deals with the naughty children. He will beat them, give them coal, and in some instances turn them to cookies and eat them. This Santa appears in many countries. France, the Netherlands, Austria, and many other country’s throughout Europe all have their own version of this menacing figure. He will appear in greeting cards, festivals and parades. Children will scream as the man in the frightening Krampus suit comes after them. I wanted to celebrate this dark side of the festive holiday we in America only see as goodness and sugarplums. What came out of that idea was a Christmas story. A demonic, sick twisted tale just how I always thought my Christmas story would be. Comment below and give me your feedback. Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter @BrendanSwogger for more updates on upcoming stories and projects. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a Merry Krampus to all of you! Happy Reading! 😉