A Christmas Horror Short Story
CONTENT WARNING: CONTAINS SOME GRAPHIC IMAGERY AND LANGUAGE.
Continued from this post, One Last Letter To Santa: Part One
The screams stopped. Wet ripping peals came from her room. A few crashes and then a thump. His parents’ bedsprings protested under someone’s weight, followed by a sigh. He pulled the blanket hanging over the edge of his bed to cover him better.
A pounding on the roof sent bits of plaster and paint careening off Junior’s ceiling. He jumped, hitting his head on the wood frame under his bed. Confusion washed over Bill Junior. Real reindeer clomped on his roof. The noise in the house must be from Santa. There was nothing to fear. He was being stupid. Again. The little boy pulled himself out from under his bed.
Standing in the paint and plaster from his ceiling, Junior straightened up his ruffled pajamas. He was about to meet the big man himself. He needed to make himself respectable. Smoothing out his rumpled sleeves and making sure that all the buttons clasped in proper sequence, Bill Junior prepared to meet Saint Nicholas. He licked his hand, careful to get plenty of saliva on it, and ran his wet palm through his hair until it felt in order. He nodded and moved toward his door.
“Nothing to be afraid of. I’ve been a good boy this year.” He said aloud. “Very good.” Would his parents agree? Mostly, other than being stupid, he was a very good boy. He didn’t backtalk, brushed his teeth before breakfast and bed, bathed without complaining, picked up after himself, helped without needing asked, did all his homework. He didn’t even use his phone except to text or call his parents. He was a decidedly good boy. After confirming this with himself, he looked at the ground and said, “Just stupid.”
The doorknob was warm in his hand. In fact, it was hot in the whole house. He had been so frightened he didn’t notice until now. His cotton pj’s clung to his back, soaked in sweat. Heat reddened his face. His mouth was dry. The warm knob slid a little in his sweaty palms as he turned it.
With a slow tug, he opened the door enough to peek out. Large red footprints on the carpet led toward his parents’ room but not back. Whoever made those marks, maybe Santa, must still be in that room. Holding his breath, he studied the open door at the end of the hall.
A dull thud came from the room, followed by another sigh. Without a sound, the back of a large man in a red jacket appeared in his parent’s doorway. Junior pulled his door back and waited. Loud footfalls came closer with something else heavy thumping against the ground. Thump. Thump. Thump. The man grunted a few times as he moved past Junior’s room.
The rustling of the tree and clink of ornaments knocking together started again. Junior pulled the door open, careful to not make a sound. Sticking his head out, he noticed the footprints were gone, covered by a red trail on the beige carpet. It went all the way from his mom and dad’s room to the living room.
Junior stepped into the hallway. He stood for a second, then bounded across the deep red trail, landing on one foot. He waited, trying to keep quiet as he regained his balance. Once he was steady, he leaped over the red smear again. Back and forth, careful to not get his furry white yeti slippers in the red moisture polluting the hall. He did this all the way to his parents’ bedroom.
He couldn’t believe his eyes. The entire room bathed in red. Red dripped from the ceiling. Red ran down the dresser mirror. Red pooled in the middle of the mattress. Red oozed down the walls. Red tinted the carpet. Red. Red. Red. Drip. Drip. Drip.
Junior sensed what it was, but he couldn’t believe it. It made no sense. He stumbled backward. His heel in his furry white yeti slipper struck the hall trim. He gasped at his mistake. Little Bill hoped no one heard. The rustling in the living room stopped abruptly.
Little Bill Junior stood in the back corner of the hallway. Tears building in his eyes, he watched a red light flood the kitchen from the living room. He couldn’t see in the living room from here. It’s Santa, he kept telling himself. He mouthed the words, it’s Santa, over and over.
A familiar noise broke his mantra. The sound of the needle dropping on one of his father’s treasured vinyl records. Hiss, pop, hiss, pop, then the dulcet baritone of the chairman of the board crooned. “Have yourself a merry little Christmas…” The red light swelled with the strings, and the chorus came in echoing Frank’s sentiments. Bill Junior was sure someone hummed along with the record.
Bill, careful to be stealthy, pressed his back against the wall. Sliding along the hallway he inched nearer and nearer. The heat from the living room built and grew the closer he got. Eyes glued to the opening to the living room as he approached the kitchen, Bill Junior slipped. The red liquid pooled on the kitchen tile, sending him crashing on his butt. The living room erupted in laughter. It wasn’t jolly. It was harsh and biting, a burst of laughter that said it wasn’t laughing with you.
Bill Junior slipped, tumbled, and rolled in the red sticky mess. He fought to get himself upright. Finally, by grabbing one of the stools at the kitchen island, he stopped slipping and falling. Bill Junior looked over his shoulder into the living room, face smeared in the thick crimson. He screamed.
In the fireplace, Beatrice Howlett’s severed head roasted on a large log. The flesh peeling and cracking atop the glowing coals. Her treasured perm burnt to the scalp. Her dead eyes stared at Bill Junior cowering underneath the sill of the breakfast bar.
The Christmas tree dripped with blood, bile, and digestive juices from the new garland adorning it. His mom’s small intestines crisscrossed his dad’s small intestines as they circled the fir from top to bottom in alternating patterns. The star on top of the tree wasn’t there. On top rested a new tree topper. Pine sprigs forced through the esophagus of Bill Senior protruded from his open mouth. His eyes pointed to the ceiling, blood dripped over the evergreen from his severed neck.
“Bill Franklin Howlett,” A large man stood next to the tree in a red three-piece suit. In a high, iron voice, he asked, “Did you write this?”
The man held out a handwritten letter and an open envelope. He smiled with a mouth full of blinding, vibrant white teeth. His sharp canine teeth protruded adding to his dangerous appearance. He walked across the living room, every step vibrating the floor under Bill Junior. This large man climbed under the kitchen island next to Bill Junior. Craning his neck to fit, he slid his back against the cabinets.
“Don’t be afraid. I’m not going to hurt you. You’ve been, how would I put it, a decidedly good boy this year. This is your writing, isn’t it?” The large man’s silver eyes glimmered as they met Bill Junior’s. Junior tried to read the letter in his hand, avoiding further eye contact. Bill Junior nodded it was. “Well, let me read it as you intended, just to make sure. It starts, ‘Dear Santa, I don’t want toys this Christmas. I don’t need anything like that. My parents say I am stupid. I don’t want to be stupid. Can you make me smart? Can you make me not upset my mom and dad by being stupid anymore? Merry Christmas, Bill Franklin Howlett, Junior. P.S. I am leaving you eggnog instead of milk. It’s better, you should try it.’ A charming letter, Bill.”
“But I don’t understand. Why’d you hurt my parents?”
“I don’t get many of these letters, you see. I usually get people telling me not today or to go away, get behind them. The people who want me around are often so awful, needy, and ignorant that I’d rather not. So when I read your letter and saw how good you are, I figured I’d answer your wishes.”
“I didn’t want you to hurt anyone, Santa.” Bill Junior felt a sadness wash over him.
“Don’t be sad. You said you didn’t want to upset your parents anymore. Now, you can’t. By the way, you’re not stupid. You are brilliant. They were stupid for making you feel that way.”
“Oh, I’m not Santa.” The man pointed to the addressed name on the envelope, “The teachers will help you with this. Dyslexia’s a bitch.”