December 13, 1895

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He raised the dead.

When I find the Father Nicholas that left these gifts, I’ll kill him slow.

The trouble started this morning, shortly after dawn, when the blast of a horn shook the world awake.

It was my own dead who interrupted my morning coffee and told me – gleefully, I might add – about the guests headed my way.

Without waiting for them to go into further detail, I strapped on the Colts, loaded myself with extra ammunition, and headed out the door.

Trouble was waiting for me.

The dead were gathered ‘round the back of the door, stretching from the steps to the first barn. And there were more than a few.

I recognized each and every one of them, and why wouldn’t I? I’d killed them.

Men and women and children I’d gunned down, cut down, and beaten to death. Those who’d deserved it, and quite a few who hadn’t.

I’d been intemperate in my youth and learned my art at the hands of my father, a master when it came to death.

I stood in the cold, my breath rushing out in great streams while the dead stood, patient. My hands rested on the Colts, more for comfort than anything else.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“We’ve come for you.”

I searched out the speaker and saw a cousin from France who I’d hung and burned before the 17th century had ended.

“Not my time,” I stated.

There was a murmur of disagreement.

“The horn was blown,” the cousin stated.

“What horn?”

“Gabriel’s.”

I frowned. “Well, how in the hell did that happen?”

As one, the dead pointed to the south. Then my cousin spoke again.

“Father Christmas left it as a gift to a boy. The more the child blows upon it, the more of us will return. There is nothing you can do.”

I snorted. “Sure as hell there is.”

The dead laughed, and my cousin asked, “What choice do you have?”

“I’ll break the damned thing,” I told him, and the smile vanished from his face.

“You wouldn’t.”

“The hell I won’t,” I snapped and turned on my heels.

The dead surged forward, hands outstretched, but the horn hadn’t blown long enough. They lacked strength. They could do naught more than howl their displeasure, and howl they did.

Father Christmas ‘ll do a sight more than that.

If I find him.

#Christmas #horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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