Ginger Nuts of Horror
Christmas is coming, the decorations are up, Christmas tunes are playing on repeat, and the eggnog is chilling in the fridge. Ginger Nuts of Horror welcomes the festive season. And as a thank, you for all of your support for what has been a fantastically successful year, Ginger Nuts of Horror in association with Charlotte Bond, brings you 13 For Christmas. For thirteen days in the lead up to Christmas, we bring you a special festive themed piece flash fiction from Charlotte. Grab a hot drink and find a nice warm place and please enjoys these festively creepy tales.
Today's story is titled Krampus Comes....
Jeremy's lips pulled back in a snarl. He guts roiled with fury as he stared at his wife's defiant expression.
'Is that so, Deirdre? Meant nothing did he?'
'Just like Jennifer meant nothing to you,' his wife shot back, her eyes blazing.
The anger within him reached boiling point and he had to let it out with an almighty, wordless scream. Deirdre's eyes widened and she took a step back. In his madness, he saw an opportunity and grinned at her.
'Careful, Deirdre,' he said with mock concern, 'or you might--' He reached out and shoved her hard. Time seemed to freeze for a moment, so that he could see the fear in her eyes, her mouth opening into an "o" of surprise, her arms thrown out in a bid to catch hold of something. Then she was tumbling down the stairs, her limbs at all angles so he could barely tell which way up she was at any given moment.
Jeremy rushed to the bannister just in time to see his wife hit the floor, an unpleasant cracking sound coming from her neck. She came to rest on her back, one arm thrown out, the other lying across her chest. Her legs, the first thing Jeremy had ever fallen in love with about her, were pressed up against the wall. Her head lay at an awkward angle.
'--fall,' he finished. His grin widened.
I'm free of the bitch, at last. I should have done that years ago.
He jumped as there came a knock at the front door. He stared at it, startled.
What if it's the neighbours? What if they heard? He pulled himself together, forcing down his panic. They heard us arguing. I can say that she came at me. She was screaming just as loudly as me. I can say that she rushed me, that I was only defending himself.
The knock came again. He started down the stairs, rehearsing his story in his head. He was halfway down when the door opened. He froze as two men walked in. Both were tall. The one in front was dressed in a smart grey suit with a waistcoat and a bow tie. The man behind him wore a long black cloak trimmed with fur and feathers over a black suit; his face was pale and angular, the bones of his skull almost visible.
Mummers. It was the first thought in Jeremy's head. In the village where he'd grown up, they'd still maintained the tradition of Christmas Eve Mummers plays, with villagers dressing up as old Father Christmas and the Lord of Misrule and touring the houses, playing jokes and singing songs. Yet there was a certain air of authority to these people which the actors in his memory lacked, and certainly none of the actors had ever come to his house carrying a clipboard. These strange intruders made Jeremy feel distinctly uneasy.
'What are you doing in my home?' Jeremy demanded, his eyes flicking from one to the other.
The men ignored him. The one in the cloak shut the door while the first one knelt down besides Deirdre's broken body. He glanced at it then made a few notes on the clipboard he was carrying.
'I said, what are you doing here? Who are you? Get the hell out.'
The suited man stood and looked at Jeremy for the first time. He gave an officious smile. 'I am Mr Mallory. We won't take a moment, and then we'll be on our way.' He turned to his companion, handed over the clipboard and said, 'Just sign here please, sir.'
The other man took it, signed it and handed it back. Then Mr Mallory stepped back and the man in the cloak knelt down next to Deirdre's body, his hand going inside his cloak.
'Hey!' Jeremy called out, hurrying down the stairs again. 'You can't touch her. She's dead.'
'I assure you, my boss will not lay a finger on her,' Mr Mallory said.
Jeremy stopped dead then went backwards a few steps as the cloaked figure withdrew a knife. The man positioned the knife carefully above Deirdre's breast then sliced down. Jeremy cried out but the man ignored him. Instead, he flicked his wrist, twisting the knife and something a silvery rose up around Deirdre's body. It hung there for a moment, then vanished.
The cloaked man stood up. There was a drop of blood on the end of the knife. The man who'd introduced himself as Mr Mallory held out his clipboard. The single blood drop fell onto the paper, leaving the blade clean and unspoiled. Then the cloaked man replaced the knife in his belt and, without comment or even so much as glancing at Jeremy, he turned and walked out of the house. This time, he didn't bother opening the door but walked straight through it.
Jeremy's mouth fell open. 'He can't... I didn't just see him...' His tongue felt thick in his mouth; his heart was thudding. He turned, uncomprehending to the other man who had not yet moved. Mr Mallory smiled and a shiver ran down Jeremy's spine.
'Yes, you did. My boss has many talents, that is just one of them. Now, I suggest you wait here. Your next appointment will be along soon.'
There was a crash as something landed on the roof. Jeremy jumped; Mr Mallory smiled. 'Ah. And there he is now.'
Above him, Jeremy heard footsteps accompanied by the gentle jingle of sleigh bells. He barked out a surprised, relieved laugh.
'Santa! It's fucking Santa on my roof!' Anything seemed possible tonight.
Mr Mallory frowned at him. 'There are more beings that Santa that arrive with sleigh bells on Christmas Eve. It isn't just St Nicholas who has a list of who's been nice and who's been,' he paused, his smile hardening, 'a real bastard.'
From the roof came a terrible bellow, like that of a bull. Jeremy cringed down to the floor. 'What the hell is that?'
'What the hell indeed,' Mr Mallory commented before he walked to the door.
'No! Wait!' Jeremy ran after him, but was too slow. The door closed when his fingers were only inches away from it. Jeremy grabbed the handle and twisted, but the door remained in its frame. Frantically, he twisted it again, and again, but the door wouldn't budge.
From the living room, he could hear the sound of claws scrabbling on stone as the creature from the roof made its way down the chimney. Whimpering, Jeremy tried the handle again.
The kitchen! I can get out of the back door.
He turned and raced down the hallway. Despite his fear, he couldn't help glancing into the living room. In that instant, the electric fire exploded outwards in a cloud of soot and stone. Jeremy had time to catch sight of green eyes in a large, snouted head pushing its way through the rubble, before he was past the door and speeding towards the kitchen.
Yet by turning his head to look, Jeremy hadn't been watching where he'd been placing his feet. Something tangled around his ankle and he sprawled forwards onto the carpet with a cry.
Jeremy twisted over and stared in horror at his wife's hand that was wrapped around his ankle. He kicked at it with his other foot and the fingers released instantly. For a moment he thought she'd reached out for him, but her eyes were dead and lifeless.
No, no way she could have done that. No way. I tripped that was all.
A bestial huff from the living room brought him back to the moment and Jeremy scrambled to his feet. His eyes were fixed on the back door and the escape it offered him, but once again, he was too slow. Another hand wrapped around his ankle, but this one was large, hairy and covered in black veins. Jeremy twisted and turned, screamed and kicked, but this demon's hand was not to be dislodged in the same manner as his wife's had been. Jeremy sobbed and pleaded as he was dragged into the living room, blackened by soot, towards the jaws of a creature with green eyes and a bulging sack at his feet.