The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by A.F. Stewart
“There’s no such thing as Santa.” Billy taunted his brother and shoved him down. “Don’t be such a baby.”
Jimmy sniffled, holding back tears. Crying would just make it worse. “I’m not a baby! And Santa is real. I saw him. Last year.”
“That was just Dad in some stupid suit.” Billy aimed a kick at Jimmy smacking him in the shin.
“It wasn’t Dad! It was Santa, and you’d better stop picking on me. Santa said you were on his naughty list.”
Billy snorted. “What a liar. And even if I was on some list, I ain’t afraid of an imaginary Santa!” He gave Jimmy another kick.
Jimmy rubbed his leg and glared at his brother. “You should be.”
“Yeah, right.” Billy sneered and stalked off.
Jimmy avoided Billy until bedtime when they were once again alone in the room they shared. He closed his eyes and listened to his brother taunts as he fell asleep.
The faint echo of laughter woke him up. Jimmy mumbled, “What’s so funny?”
Billy answered, “It was me.” Jimmy heard Billy click on the lamp and gasp.
Jimmy sat upright, fully awake. His gaze followed his brother’s, across the holiday decorations to the black drifting haze surrounding the closet. The shadows reverberated with another chuckle tinged in cruelty and malice. The darkness crept along the doorframe shifting into a diaphanous silhouette of a beast. It raised its head and grinned, rows of razor-sharp teeth gleaming.
Jimmy stared, not making a sound. He heard his brother whimpering in fear and repeated whispers of, “It’s only a nightmare.” He glanced over at Billy, but saw only a lump shaking under the covers.
The beast shuffled forward, between the boy’s beds, claws scratching on the hardwood, curved horns casting grotesque shapes on the wall. It glanced at Jimmy, a finger against its drawn lips.
Then it turned to Billy. “Someone’s on the naughty list.” Its voice hissed, and a clawed hand snaked out, snatching away the blankets. It bent over the bed, hot breath on Billy’s neck as the boy trembled in fear. A gnarled hand clamped over Billy’s mouth before he could scream.
“Naughty boys get to spend time with me on Christmas.”
Quick as a wick, the beast produced a sack and stuffed Billy inside. Faint, muffled sounds emanated as if Billy screamed from a far distance. The beast then turned to Jimmy.
“Santa sends his regards. And don’t worry, I’ll have him back for Christmas morning,” The creature chuckled. “But he’ll never be the same.”
Then the beast and Billy disappeared.
Jimmy smiled. “Thanks, Santa. Thanks, Krampus.” Jimmy settled back in his bed to dream of sugarplums and his revenge.
Fiction © Copyright A.F. Stewart
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from A.F. Stewart:
Hell’s Empire: Tales of the Incursion
A unique anthology of two thrones at war as the forces of Hell assault an unsuspecting Victorian Britain.The cry went out to theologians and engineers, to artificers and antiquarians, to every name which could be named. By telegraph where lines were still intact, and by volunteer riders where they were not; smuggled along the coast in fishing smacks, semaphored from hill-tops. It came without royal sanction, issued jointly by the Lords of the Admiralty and Marquess Lansdowne, the new Secretary of State for War:”In God’s name, help us. We are losing.”