Grace eased out of her slumber, rubbing a hand over her eyes. When she opened them, she realized that night had fallen, the living room now covered in shadow and moonlight. The TV was on but its screen was black, the movie they’d been watching long since over and the Blu-ray player having shut itself off.
Blake was snoring lightly beside her, his head hanging over the top of the sofa, face pointed up to the ceiling. So much for their romantic rendezvous.
Grace yawned, her breath fogging up before her in a wisp. She shivered and rubbed at her arms, finally noticing just how freezing cold it had become inside.
A harsh wintery wind blew against the house—and across Grace’s face.
As her sight grew sharper in the dark, Grace looked off to her left, towards the sliding glass doors leading out to the deck. One of the doors had been opened, the drapes around it blowing and snapping about as the December wind kept up. Snowflakes were dancing through the air, a fine dusting of them already covering the floor before the doors.
Grace began to rise up, as did her confusion. How the hell did — ?
She hadn’t even made it off the sofa when she noticed, out of the corner of her eye, a shadow that shouldn’t have been there. A figure loomed over them from behind the sofa, with large protuberances sticking out of its head. It was raising its arm up high, a thin, pointed something clasped in its hand. The shadow brought it slashing down as it let loose an enraged and inhuman growl.
Grace screamed as the weapon cut straight into Blake’s throat, a splash of his warm blood streaking right across her face as it flew out from the wound. Her boyfriend jolted awake, his eyes wide, his body convulsing, and a nauseous gurgling noise creeping out of his gaping mouth.
The figure wrenched the weapon out and again brought it piercing down into Blake’s neck. His limbs ceased to shake as a final choked gasp trailed off into stillness.
Grace jumped off the sofa and made to run across the room, to flee. She hadn’t even made it past the end of the sofa when the figure came dashing around, tackling her to the ground. They landed on the snowy floor, Grace on her back, the figure straddling her as it brought its weapon to bear with another snarl.
In the moonlight, Grace could see wild eyes staring at her through a twisted, animalistic mask of papier-mâché. Strands of long white hair had been glued onto it to make a stringy beard and matching mane. The long shapes coming out of the masked man’s head were horns, painted black, likewise crafted from papier-mâché, and tied about his head with string. He wore a ragged red bathrobe which smelled of both feces and antiseptics.
The thing in his hand was a birch stick, one of its ends sharpened to a point that was now coated with red. He brought its other end smacking across her face, the wood stinging her cheek and bringing more tears to her eyes.
“You’ve been bad . . .” the psycho said, his voice gruff and muffled by his mask. “Bad, bad, bad . . .”
He gripped her throat and raised his bloody stake over his head. “And bad boys and girls must. Be. Punished . . .”
The killer jumped as a scraping sound raked across the ceiling above, followed by an enormous thump. He and Grace looked up, both confused by the strange racket. A lighter thump echoed through the wood and plaster, followed by another, and then another —as though someone large were walking about up there.
A moment of silence crept by. And then a metallic rattling rose up from within the chimney across the room.
The masked psycho hollered and fell away from Grace as a flurry of rusted chains came shooting out of the fireplace like long, lethal cobras. They came right for him, twisting around his neck and his shoulders and dragging him to the fireplace as he let out some screams of his own. His stick clattered to the floor as he was pulled up and into the chimney, his slipper-covered feet kicking like mad.
Then, in a burst of falling soot, he went shooting up the chimney, his cries echoing upwards.
Grace lay there a moment as she heard more footsteps across the roof. That scraping sound struck up again, punctuated by a monstrous roar that hurt her ears.
She glanced out the sliding doors, peering into the cold night at what looked to be a sleigh soaring through the skies and across the glow of the moon. It was pulled by what looked like reindeer, and in its driver’s seat was a hulking figure with huge, twisted horns of its own.
It gave another ferocious roar as it disappeared into the night, carrying off its masked captive, who sat screaming in the back of the sleigh, calling for help.
About the author:
I am a recent graduate of Illinois College, in Jacksonville, IL, where I earned a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. I have been published in the likes of Sanitarium Magazine, The Sirens Call, and other such titles; my first novel, I Was a Teenage Gila Monster, is set to be released shortly through Frith Books. A full list of my previous publications may be found at my author’s site, if you are so inclined to know: http://wintersauthor.azurewebsites.net/Pages/Previous%20Publications.