I went hunting.
The day after Christmas found me behind the German lines with a truce enacted between myself and the Germans. Something had been killing his men for the past week, and it wasn’t Canadians or British, of that they were certain.
From what the captain told me, several of the survivors of the attacks stated the killer was Father Christmas. The captain, who was slowly becoming adjusted to an eyepatch – the orb gone courtesy of the unknown assailant – happened to agree with his men.
“I’m not sure who he is,” the captain told me, pouring a glass of schnapps. “I know he was dressed as Father Christmas, and he took my eye out with a horsewhip.”
I took a drink, blinked back tears at the strength of it and asked, “Where did they see him last?”
“That’s the trick, isn’t it?” The captain shook his head. “He comes round each night and ambushes any who are too close to the Christmas tree. We’ve had no luck stopping him, and I’ve heard you know what you’re about.”
“Aye, that I do. Once your men are finished with the tree tonight, have them fall back to safety. I’ll wait by the tree alone.”
“I will make it so. Do you need anything?”
“Just keep your men safe.”
Soon, I had my Colts ready, the revolvers cleaned and loaded and waiting to work.
I watched as the soldiers did their best to appear merry. They redecorated their tree, gathered around it to read letters, and as night fell, they retreated to their dugouts, leaving me alone by the tree.
The Father Christmas was not long in arriving.
He was stockier and loaded for bear. He had a shotgun cradled in his arms, a horsewhip, and a cudgel swinging at his waist. He caught sight of me and grinned.
Then, in the firelight, he saw who I was, and his expression changed.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” he hissed.
“Neither are you.”
He was quick, and he nearly had the shotgun up and aimed by the time the Colts cleared leather. There was gunplay, as I’d warned, but not as much as I’d feared.
In a heartbeat, the Father Christmas was dead beneath the Christmas tree, and I put an extra pair of slugs in his head, just to be sure.
I was in no mood for Christmas miracles.