He was a bushwhacking son of a bitch.
There’d been no sign of any Father Christmas’ for the better part of a year, and I was happy with that. The stretch in 1900 had been a rough one. I still kept a weather eye out for them and for anything else that came crawling out the Hollow, but for the most part, the world had moved on at its own pace and without much interference from the Hollow.
Until this morning.
I was on North Road, passing the time with Henry Morgyn, when the two of us heard sleighbells. As one, we’d turned and looked into the Hollow, and it was the last thing Henry ever did.
I heard the crack of the rifle after the bullet passed through both my cheeks and smashed into Henry’s forehead. I fell to my knees, drawing my Colts while spitting blood and teeth, and Henry Morgyn – who’d done naught but want to talk with me about his dogs – lay dead in the snow.
From the Hollow came an uproarious laugh, another jingle of sleigh bells, and a man’s deep voice as he called out to the reindeer by name.
When he got to Blitzen, I was back up on my feet, and I could see the Father Christmas and his team of reindeer. Man and beasts all turned to face me, and the Colts thundered in the morning air as the Father Christmas fumbled with his rifle, and I butchered the reindeer in their traces.
He was quick, I’ll give the fat man that.
He dove out of his sleigh and swore as the rifle fell from his hands. The Father Christmas took cover behind one of the freshly dead reindeer, and I got to my feet. I could see the stock of the rifle, and when he reached for it again, I put a bullet through his hand. He cursed me as he tried to crawl into the tree-line, but I shot him through his boots.
When I reached the man, he lay on his back, dark blood seeping from his wounds as he glared at me. Steam rose up from him, and his eyes darted about, searching for some weapon.
I spat another fragment of tooth out and stood with both Colts ready.
“Finish it,” he hissed.
I holstered the Colts, picked up the rifle and found its weight to be fine.
Without a word, I beat the bastard to death.