He tried to steal the children.
No children had been snatched by a Father Christmas for decades, but the strange wailing I heard told me that was changing.
I’d been drinking at Marcus Daly’s home, and when we were halfway through our second bottle of whiskey, we heard wailing from the upper floor, where his granddaughters were sleeping.
The pair of us launched ourselves from our chairs and out into the hallway. His daughter and son-in-law stumbled out of the parlor, their clothes and hair in disarray. Both stayed out of our way as we thundered up the stairs and sprinted toward the girls’ room.
Their door was closed, and despite its sturdy construction, it crumbled beneath the force of Marcus’ body as he threw himself into it. He and the door went down, and there, in the room before us, stood a Father Christmas, holding both girls in their nightshirts. The children were half-numb with sleep and fear.
I drew both Colts, and the Father Christmas dropped the girls, their grandfather catching them deftly as he got to his feet. Without a word, he hurried past me, leaving me alone in the room with the Father Christmas.
The man edged towards the fireplace, and as he brought his hand up towards his nose, I took it off at the wrist with a single shot. Blood exploded out onto the walls and ceiling, and he stared at the stump of his wrist.
His face paled at the sight of his injury, and then, he tried to bring his remaining hand up.
That too was blown apart, the round passing through and taking an eye as it did so.
He stumbled back with a scream. His eyes darted about the room, seeking some passage to safety.
There was none.
“Where are the others?” I demanded.
He hesitated, and I shot him in the foot.
As he crashed to the floor, he tried to scoot backward, pressing himself against the wall.
“Home,” he hissed. “In the Hollow. At my home.”
Again, he hesitated, and I shot him in the other foot to teach him haste.
“Tomorrow,” he wailed. “Tomorrow night, they’ll all be there for dinner.”
Stepping forward, I thrust both barrels of the Colts into his mouth. Teeth shattered, and I pulled the triggers.