December 25, 1870


“You haven’t behaved.”

The words snapped me out of sleep and brought my Colts into my hands, hammers cocking back as my eyes locked onto the speaker.

Kris Kringle stood a short distance away in the woods, a none-too-pleased expression on his face.

“Christmas morning?” I asked.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t,” he said, gesturing toward the rising sun. He eyed the pistols in my hands.

I didn’t lower them. On some Kringles, the Colts worked. On others, well, the rounds failed to leave an impression.

“What nonsense are you on about?” I asked.

He leaned on his cane and shook his head. “I speak of both you and your father.”

I looked to my left, but my father was gone.

“He’s been escorted away,” Kringle stated.

I snarled and pulled the triggers, the rage at the loss of my father overcoming any semblance of control.

The Colts thundered in the forest, and Kringle snorted with disdain. The slugs slammed into him, flattened, and tumbled to the snow.

I lowered the Colts, cocking the hammers again as I did so.

“I didn’t take your father away,” Kringle continued. “Someone else did. They’ve left you here to your own devices. Find the Woman’s husband and kill him, if you must. Think not on your mother, though, she’s been whisked away as well.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“There’s a creature what watches over this particular land, and it does not think highly of your kith and kin.” Kringle shook his head. “You, for some reason, do not irk it so. Your parents, however, well, let’s say that if it could have killed your mother and father, it would have done so with pleasure. The best it could do, though, was take them away. It’s a pity you haven’t behaved better, Blood.”

Kringle started to pull his sled away, toys rattling and jingling as he did so.

“And why’s that, Kringle?” I asked.

“I’ve a fine bottle of brandy in my bag,” he said over his shoulder. “Seems I’ll have to drink it alone.”

I considered shooting at him again but thought better of it.

The bullets wouldn’t do a damned thing, and I still wouldn’t get the brandy.

More than likely, I’d need those bullets in town.

And in town, I knew they’d work.

#paranormal #christmas

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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