“Do you know what’s coming?”
The question caught me off guard.
When I looked up, I found a Father Christmas standing in my parlor, his arms loaded with presents. The Colts were on the table beside me, and I considered how best to kill the man, should it be necessary.
“Something’s in the air,” I answered. “Has been for a while now.”
“Yes, there is.”
He peered down at the toys in his arms. “Soon, my kin will find a new generation of orphans. Children who’ve seen their parents butchered. They will know nothing but war.”
“Worse than any of us can imagine,” he stated. “I will give dolls to motherless girls and toy guns to fatherless boys who will wish for the real things. You will be there, Blood, in every world where the war runs rampant. You will lead reapers across fields of battle, and you will leave entire towns of orphans in your wake.”
I remained silent.
“I will bring gifts to help dry tears,” he continued, “and you shall bestow nightmares upon children not yet old enough to walk.”
“Aye. I suppose I will at that.”
“Does this not break your heart?”
“A great many things break my heart,” I told him. “But I won’t shirk from my chores, no matter how unpleasant they are.”
“Is that all it is to you?”
“Aye,” I told him. “That’s all it is. All it will ever be.”
“What if you could have something more?” The Father Christmas’ voice sank low. “What if you could have anything you want?”
“I’m happy with what I have.”
He opened his mouth to speak again, but I pulled the Colts from their holsters. The Father Christmas remained silent.
“I know what I am.” I got to my feet and drew the hammers back. “I’m a killer. I butchered my mother on the table in the kitchen, and I’ve put down friends I loved more than life itself. Killing is a chore, Father Christmas. Nothing more and nothing less, but some days, there is joy in my work.”
“And the children you’ll orphan?”
“Let’s hope they don’t become a chore,” I told him.
He stiffened, placed a finger alongside his nose and up the chimney he went.
I sat down, put the Colts on the table, and closed my eyes.
Christmas Eve was fast approaching.