Like with everything else in Cross, Christmas can be challenging.

Christmas is a time of magic when barriers between worlds are naturally thin. There’s a reason why elves and darker creatures are spoken of.

Cross, with Gods’ Hollow so close, is no different.

Some years, Christmas is fine. Gifts are exchanged, children made to smile, and life carries on.

Other years, fell beasts in the guise of Old Claus slip into town and attempt to wreak havoc.

This year feels as though it will be rough, though I know not why. But sitting here, in the warmth and comfort of my private library, with the memories of my long life gathered ‘round me, I feel the need to reflect on Christmases past.

The first Christmas that wasn’t quite right came along in 1860, and I should have known it for a bad sign, what with the Secesh raising a fuss about the country.

It was December first of that year, and Washington Street bore the brunt of this Claus’ displeasure, though I know not why.

I had spent the night in town, engaged in some amorous activities, when the fire alarm was sounded, and all hands turned out. Had I not been in town, I wouldn’t have seen Claus trying to sneak away from the fire he’d started.

His white beard was singed, and his deep red riding outfit was smeared with soot. In his gloved hands, he held a lantern, the light of which glowed in his eyes and reflected off his yellow teeth. He stank of madness and misery, and he needed to die.

Of that, I had no doubt.

I cocked both Colts on the draw, and the bastard heard me over the sound of the fire engine and the horses. The wind shifted and brought the stink of burning wood and fear to us both, and the man’s smile broadened. On his hip, he carried a horsewhip, and he reached for it as he threw his lantern at me.

A single shot from one of the Colts blew the lantern apart, showering his face with glass and fire, and a second shot from the other punched through his wrist and into his hip.

Still, he staggered toward me, bleeding and burning, until I put one last shot through his left eye.

I dragged him into a shed to butcher later and to hide the body from any children.

#Christmas #horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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