He was a frightening bastard.
I don’t know where in the hell he was from, but he came down the wrong chimney.
It was close to midnight, and I was at the Coffins’ house, enjoying a bit of schnapps and some cards. The Coffins were sickly, and I was sitting up with them. The entire family had finally dropped off into some semblance of slumber, and I finally had time to sit down and relax. Because of how poorly everyone was, John Coffin and his wife Marissa had allowed the youngest of the children to decorate early for Christmas. It had taken everyone’s mind off the fever that had wormed its way into the family.
I had just refilled my glass when there was a cough and a snort, a muttered curse, and the rattle bones.
When I turned to the sound, I saw Claus drop out of the chimney. He flashed a smile and raised a single finger to his lips. As he straightened up, I noticed not only the strange costume he wore but the long, curved knife he drew from the bag of toys on his back.
I stood up, replaced the cork in the bottle of schnapps and took hold of it by the neck.
His grin broadened, and he crossed the room on silent feet. He moved with ease and comfort, as though he’d crossed a million such parlors, and perhaps he had.
Beyond me, he’d find the stairs to the second floor, where the sick and tired Coffins lay resting.
But he’d not be going beyond me.
He spread his arms wide, the knife flashed in the lamplight, and he brought the weapon.
It’s a pity for him that I know how to fight.
I caught his wrist easily enough and brought the bottle of schnapps up from the floor, as it were, and shattered his elbow. The knife clattered to the floor, and he opened his mouth, revealing the lack of a tongue while he issued a groan of agony.
I didn’t care.
The knife clattered to the floor, and he tried to reach for it with his good hand.
I stomped on his fingers with my boot heels, and when he tried to stand, I slammed the bottle down.
The heavy glass crushed the back of his skull and dropped him to the floor.
As he lay on the floor, gasping out his last, I returned to my seat, uncorked the bottle, and finished enjoying my drink.