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Holiday Horrors by Joel Freecheck (Christmas Horror Short Story)

Joel Freecheck, Editor-In-Chief

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Horror – 1st Person Short Story

Holiday Horrors

By Joel Freecheck

 

Twas the night before Christmas, and every sleeping child dreamt of the gifts the morning would bring. As midnight crept closer, they snoozed with content, unaware of the presence stirring beneath their beds. Red eyes stared through the darkness, it’s gaze caught on a tiny white mouse nibbling on a sugarplum.

The child’s snore above made the creature quiver with anticipation. Like a shadow, it’s talons of shade reached out and caught the mouse. The rodent squealed in horror as the creature twisted its body, and with a slight snap the mouse went limp and was snatched under the bed. The half-eaten sugarplum rolled across the ground and caused the child above to wake up.

Bewildered and curious, the little girl looked through the darkness of her room.

“Santa?” she asked the dark.

Now fully awake from her long winter nap, she let her feet slide to the floor and stood up, twisting her arms around in search for the light switch.

“Santa, is that you?” She asked again.

From under the bed, the creature reached out, sweeping the little child off her feet. She tumbled to the floor, her head facing the cold stillness beneath the bed. Suddenly the beast opened it’s eyes and the fires of its pupils tore into the child’s mind.

The girl screamed in fear and scrambled back against the wall behind her. The holiday horror crawled closer, it’s body made of the dark itself. Tendrils of black mist poured from its skin and crept across the floor and the walls. Soon, all light was gone and the room was pitch black and silent.

*****

 

Every father’s nightmare is to hear his daughters scream. The sheer terror in her voice tore through the house, sending me spiraling awake from my cozy Christmas sleep. My hand shot to the lamp beside my bed and I switched it on. The room lit up, but everything felt so dark because of the continuous screams down the hall.

My wife was already out of bed, her face pale and worried. She reached under the bed for our shotgun and flung it toward me. I clumsily caught it, still half asleep but powered by a newfound charge of adrenaline, and I crashed through our door into the hall.

“Daddy!” My daughter bellowed, but her shout was cut short by a screech of pain. My hand gripped the doorknob and went to turn it but the knob shattered in my hand. The shards were sharp and ice cold and cut deep into my palm. I hollered and fell back, and my wife charged at the door. Like a solid wall, she flew back, and the door stood undented.

Hopelessness overcame my wife, and she tried once again to throw her body at the door but was pushed back to the ground. She looked up to me, tears streaming from her face, and a sunken feeling lumped in my throat.

As my last resort, I aimed the shotgun at the door and pulled the trigger. The bullets pierced the door, leaving numerous holes in the wood. They bled black mist but the door remained intact. Amongst my daughter’s screams, I heard the prancing and pawing of whatever was inside. This was beyond me.

With little effect, my wife and I continued to slam ourselves against the door. My arm was bloody and the hope that my daughter was alive continued to dwindle. At our feet, black sludge started to pour from underneath the door, making the floor slick like oil and ice.

My wife slipped, and as she fell she gripped my leg, and we both fell on our backs. Just out of sight an explosion sounded, and thousands of wooden slivers rained from above onto us.

As I pushed myself up and helped my wife, I saw what was left of the room. The door was turned to sawdust, and the room where my daughter slept not an hour ago was torn from the house.

We ran to where the door used to stand and caught ourselves before we tumbled downstairs. There was no floor and no walls, like a chunk of our house just left and flew away. My wife fell to her knees and sobbed, and I joined her as I looked to the starless Christmas sky. I caught sight of the full moon, and without meaning to, saw her room far up in front of the moon. I pointed up to the sight and then collapsed in shock.

*****

It is watching me, it’s red eyes focused on my own. No matter which way I look I can feel them studying me. The creature’s body is humanlike, one head, two arms, two legs, ten fingers and ten toes, but nothing seems natural. There is always a coat of black mist stuck to its skin, so dense it takes a trained eye to tell whether it has any skin at all.

It has no hands, but the mist is formed into talons that slowly solidify and dissolve at will. I have seen them work as it slashed at me before, and I couldn’t help but look down at my bleeding chest. Two deep cuts were ferociously bleeding, and I could tell I don’t have long before I bleed out.

The minute I saw it’s eyes under my bed, a name stuck to it, hex. Looking directly into them makes you go limp, like a curse they drag you in, immobilizing you.

Hex is whimpering now, and slowly mending it’s broken arm. Back in my room, I managed to kick it off me, and as my foot connected with its arm I felt the snap. It’s been licking its arm for an hour, and with each lick, the mist clots up and acts as a bandage.

How long has it been since I was sleeping? A minute? A week? Up here in this makeshift sleigh, time is hard to tell. My only aid is the full moon, but it hasn’t moved much since we’ve been flying.

The sleigh is surprisingly roomy, as the remnants of my bedroom easy fit inside it. Feathers from my mattress and the toys from my cabinet line the ground. Debris from the walls is piled up in various spots and acts as a crooked throne for Hex.

In front of the sleigh, instead of the fabled reindeer flying through the snowy clouds, six goats made of the same black mist around Hex snark and pluck at each other.

While Hex is busy healing itself, I stand up and weakly walk to the railings of the massive sleigh. A dark city stretches for miles below with small pockets of light scattered about. Tears escape my eyes as I think of my parents, and how I may never see them again. I turn around and watch Hex, the monster that attacked me, cut me, and kidnapped me. Shivers ran down my spine and I swallowed my fear and continued to look around.

It didn’t take long for me to find my blanket. The fuzzy pink blanket was tucked under some debris, and I walked over and pulled it out. Brushing off the dust, I was surprised to see much of it was still undamaged. I flung it over my shoulders like a cape and turned around.

Suddenly Hex was inches from me, sniffing my chest wounds. The creature didn’t seem frightening at all in this moment. It’s eyes went from a vermillion red to a calm blue, and the mist slowly dissipated into a thin layer. I feel back in shock, Hex was a boy my age.

“Can I?” He asked, his voice frail. He brought his hand up to my chest but didn’t touch me until I nodded. The minute his fingers touched my wounds, the black mist around his hand started to bubble and tendril. Soon my entire chest was finely wrapped with a webbing of the mist, and the bleeding stopped.

“Thank you…” I mumbled, still questioning whether or not I could trust him. Hex was different, everything about him was different, yet I still saw the thing that attacked me before.

What are you?” I asked, softly prodding his face with my fingers. His skin felt like normal skin, and the mist parted each time my fingers grew close. The reason he seemed so dark was because underneath the black mist is his brown skin.

He held up his arms and the mist that usually formed talons retreated to show his actual hands. He looked at them for a while, and I waited for an answer.

“I…don’t know.” He looked at me and touched my forehead. Instinctively I flinched, and he pulled his hand back as if he had been burned.

“I’m like you, I’m a person.” The mist slowly returned to cover his hands. “But I’m also something else.”

“Why did you attack me?”

He winced. “I didn’t mean to, well, I did, but it wasn’t me that attacked you.”

“But you did attack me, you scratched me, and stole me from my parents. Why?”

Hex moved away and walked to a pile of debris and laid on it. I followed, not allowing him to avoid the question.

“I want an answer,” I said sternly.

“It was this!” He replied angrily, trying to tear the mist from his arms. “Someone has to be the evil of Christmas night, I’m that something, that’s what he said.”

I took my blanket and covered him with it.

“They? Who’s they?”

“Santa,” he exclaimed as though it were common knowledge.

“You’re telling me that the big jolly fellow who hands out presents and joy to millions made you this?”

“Yes, I didn’t want to be this way, I don’t want the mist.”

Hex started to cry, his tears ran down his cheeks, causing the black mist to simmer and dissolve.

“How long have you been this way?”

“Every Christmas that I can remember, and every day leading up to it.”

I placed my hand on his shoulder. Slowly the mist twisted around my knuckles and crept across my hand. I pulled away in fear.

“Why is it doing this? Can’t you stop being it?” I asked hesitantly.

“No! Not without passing it on, just as the man before me did.” Hex stared at his missing hands, and suddenly the mist started to take form, and soon a mini city made of the mist coated a piece of cement from the debris. “I killed him.” He said numbly. The city broke apart and the mist took shape once again, this time as a bedroom with a sleeping boy. The window above the boy shattered, and the holiday horror seeped toward the boy in the bed. As it reached for the boy, he twisted around and stabbed it in the shoulder, then the mist exploded and went back over Hex.

“It had been haunting me for days. I would tell my parents there is something in my bed, but they wouldn’t listen, so I killed it, I killed him.” Once again he showed no emotion like he has relived this moment for far too long.

“He took me to this sleigh, just as I took you, and then he died.” Hex started to cry again. “And then I became this.”

Suddenly Hex buckled and growled, and the mist grew denser. He pushed me hard and I flew back, landing hard on my back.

“Hide!” He ordered half fear, half concern. Soon he was the monster he hated the most, and once again I was the scared little girl woken on Christmas night. I scrambled to hide behind a large pile of debris and quickly covered my ears as Hex vehemently roared into the night.

The silence was deafening as Hex prowled the sleight, searching for me. The scratching of his talons grew closer, and his growling was loud and horrifying. I turned to my left and saw his talon inch closer to my foot as if he was silently reaching for it. I screamed and kicked at it, snapping the talon in half, and I darted to the other side of the pile.

Hex roared in pain and anger and leaped after me. Instead of charging me, he climbed the pile of debris and howled in victory. I was exposed, and Hex knew it.

Hopelessly I looked into his eyes, the flaming red burned into me. Before it paralyzed me with fear, but staring into them again, all I saw were the blue eyes of the real Hex. The little boy just like me who was taken from his parents and turned into this beast. I thought of all the nights he has spent alone on this sleigh, trapped in the mist and stuck in that moment on Christmas night. Instead of seeing those red eyes, I saw the blue in them, and I reached for his face above me.

Hex, just about to pounce, was caught off guard by my courage. I placed my hand on his cheek, and his eyes stopped burning vermillion. He shed a tear and his eyes reverted back to his natural blue. With me, he wasn’t alone, and I knew I couldn’t let him destroy the one thing that reminded him he was still human.

I pressed my hand into his cheek, and the black mist started to convulse around Hex. A small tendril explored my hand before encircling my arm. In seconds the mist grew around me and coated my body. Everything went black for a moment, and when the mist parted from across my eyes, I saw what I had become. Hex will never be alone again, we will be this evil together.

Thank you for reading, hopefully you enjoyed it.

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Holiday Horrors by Joel Freecheck (Christmas Horror Short Story)