Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1631313-Kris-Krimson
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #1631313
A tale of Yuletide creepiness unfit for Santa traditionalists.
    Lloyd’s skull throbbed as if ruptured by a railroad spike. Blindfolded and strapped to an old leather chair in his own living room, he recalled coming home and welcomed by the fused aromas of sugar cookies and cedar. The bright, dancing flames from the fireplace peeked into the bottom crease of his blindfold. Casual footsteps were heard circling in his foyer, followed by the sound of a turntable needle settling onto a vinyl LP. An all-too-familiar holiday riff filled the air. He had been subjected to it seemingly thousands of times the past few weeks: “Jingle Bell Rock.” It did not help his headache.
    His predicament was what his nephew had tried to warn him about. Brice had hired his uncle as the season’s Santa at the posh new mall by the interstate. He implored him to get out of costume before leaving work each night. For the past five years, the region marked each Christmas Eve with the murder of a Santa Claus. The first had been poisoned with strychnine. The second was strangled with a string of decorative lights. The third suffered a bludgeoning with a fireplace poker. The fourth had been stabbed twenty-five times. The prior Christmas, however, held the most gruesome surprise for a town 200 miles away: Santa’s severed head had been placed atop a snowman in the dead of night. The compacted snow had been painted with the victim’s blood in a manner to resemble a Santa suit, a ghastly display of Yuletide murder art to be discovered by an amused four-year-old girl.
  In recent years, Lloyd spent most of his days watching television or strolling to the local pub to visit downtrodden friends who soaked their livers in whiskey. His wife had long passed as had his lifeguard physique of forty years ago. He’d poise in front of his mirror, lamenting his expanded waistline and grandfatherly beard. It was no wonder his nephew had called on him to don the costume.
  Despite Brice’s plea, he had been far too tired this evening to discard his suit. The outfit wasn’t the most comfortable thing but it kept him warm on the ride home. He felt silly driving around in this truck decked out as a mythical figure, but no more ridiculous than the day he first practiced his jolly Santa voice for the kids. If I hadn’t been drinking, he mused, I would have felt twice as stupid.
  An anxious voice broke in just below the music. “I’m right here, Santa. It’s just me, Perry.”
  It was a young man’s voice and certainly not a familiar one. “Who the hell is that?” Lloyd called out.
  Whoever he was now shared the room. His sliver of view revealed festive green pajamas and red Christmas socks.  “I know you remember me. I come see you every Christmas. The cookies are especially good this year.” Lloyd was deluged with a pungent, slightly burnt cookie between his lips without warning. “They’re quite terrific and there’s plenty more if you want another one.”
  He was a bit hungry anyway, though it was a poor substitute for the leftover chicken and dumplings he had been craving since noon. Lloyd chewed up the part of the cookie that didn’t break off and fall into his lap. “What are you doing in my house?”
  Perry’s voice was brisk and vaguely husky. “Christmas is just getting started. We do this every year and I know you always enjoy it.”
  Lloyd scoffed. “Not with you, whoever you are. What do you want with me?”
  Perry giggled. “I was looking for my gifts. I think you hid them really well. Big house. All sorts of surprises I’m sure.”
  Lloyd yanked on his bound hands to no avail. “Listen, I’ve got a few bucks put away if you want. I just need you to get out of here.”
  Perry huffed. “Now that is a thoughtless gift, Santa. You should know boys like me want toys. Have you lost your spirit? Money. Are you so lazy now?” Following a short pause, a blistering rush of pain crashed across the front of his thighs. He bellowed in agony, hearing the unmistakable rattle of the fireplace shovel hitting the wood floor. “Every year, I kill you and you then you come back. The world still doesn’t understand what a murderer you really are. You killed my mom and my dad. You were the one who was supposed to die.”
  Lloyd continued to recoil from the sting. “Stop! We can get you some help. Listen to me. Santa would not have hurt your mom and dad.”
  “But you did!” Perry shrieked, shuffling around the room and wreaking havoc on anything he could slam his arms into. “How many times can I kill you? Why won’t you die?”
  “It won’t bring your parents back, Perry,” Lloyd pleaded. “Let’s talk about it. Who takes care of you? We can call them and talk to them.”
  Perry had stopped pacing. “No one. My mom and dad stopped coming to see me. They faded away. They stopped asking why I killed them. They thought I did it, you see. Other friends came and went. Then it was just whispers. Dark whispers like dying angels still trying to sing. They would never be quiet. No matter where I went.”
  Lloyd tilted his head downward. “I’m sorry. I don’t understand any of this. I’m very tired. Just kill me if you’re going to do it. I’m just an old man who wants some sleep.”
  “I can’t. It’s Christmas Eve. It’s your turn to kill me. I give you this chance every year.”
  Lloyd oscillated his head in confusion. “Santa doesn’t kill children. How could you ask me to do this?”
  “Do I sound like a child to you?” Perry yelled, “Do you think I enjoy having the mind of one? You’re the only one who can free me of this. That’s all I want for Christmas.”
  “No!” Lloyd screamed back at him. “This is not my fault. I’m not Santa. My name is Lloyd Dill. There is no Santa Claus and I can’t kill you.”
  “You’re a liar!” Perry spewed. “Every year, it’s the same. The same lies. Why do you make me do this? Every year, I have to think of new ways of persuading you. Why can’t it ever be easy?”
  Perry stomped around, mumbling incoherently, sloppily mumbling lyrics from “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Lloyd could hear a zipper being separated and a bag being spread open. Perry was rummaging through a stash of metal objects. They clanged around for a moment before something heavy finally struck the floor and the sound of an electrical cord being snaked across the room. Perry continued to mutter about, then fell silent.
    Lloyd sensed him standing in the room, waiting in unholy patience that made a minute feel like an era. A board creaked under Perry’s feet. “Santa, are you going to give me what I want this year? If not, I have to enjoy this. You made me like this.”
  “Just go to hell, you lunatic. I don’t care.”
  The serenity of the room ripped open with the shrieking spin of a circular saw. Perry pumped the trigger with glee. The racing grind of the blade shredded Lloyd’s ear drums. He thrashed his wrists in vain against his binds. His heart trembled fiercely, threatening to dislodge and slash a gorge through his ribcage.
  At the moment he expected the blade to burrow into his skull, it sputtered and stopped. Save for the dying flames of the burning logs, lights died, drawn from the room as a thunderous rumble rolled across the roof, pursued by heavy pounding in the walls. Lloyd’s senses scrambled, his conscious falling into darkness.
  Perry dropped the saw to the floor. The noise faded to a hard stillness. The Christmas tree in the corner flickered to life. A form took shape, springing forth from nothingness...an older man, grizzled and scarred. The man sported a long crimson overcoat, tattered and slashed in multiple places. Rippling cracks spidered outward from the pupils of his shadowy orbs.
  Perry’s legs collapsed beneath him, sending his knees to the floor. His eye sockets commenced to breach, flushing his blood into a pool around him. The man knelt at his diminishing body and caressed the top of his Perry’s head. “You can go home now,” he whispered coarsely. The blood absorbed into the man’s overcoat, drawing up into the veins of the fabric. The luster of his coat brightened and healed to a more gleaming red. Perry’s lifeless body slumped over. The man shuttled himself silently back into his darkness, returning the house to the calm glimmer of the holiday.


  Lloyd, wrapped in a blanket, observed the neighborhood children ride up and down the street on their new bikes. Perry had been secured by the coroner’s office hours earlier. The medic on duty suggested cardiac arrest. Lloyd’s mind was a listless hash of memories. He had been hooked up to an EKG machine and examined, questioned by an FBI agent, his home search and cordoned off by strangers in uniform. The only notable sensation left was the stinging of his thighs and abrasions on his wrists. The neighbors across the street had heard a terrible crash in the middle of the night and suspected prowlers. None of it made any sense, no matter how times he replayed it in his mind.
  Perry R. Carter, 23. Per his institutional record, his parents were poisoned on Christmas Eve when he was eight years old-cookies laced with rat poison.
  The last police officer finally exited the front door. “Mr. Dill, are you sure you wouldn’t like to go to the hospital? You gotta be careful with head wounds. I can take you.”
  Lloyd acknowledged him with faint gratitude. “No, I’m fine. Thank you.” Lloyd noted the officer appropriately left out “Merry Christmas” before departing.
  Curious neighbors gazed from their windows. He stood up sluggishly on his sore legs and made his way back into the house and down the dark hall into his kitchen.
  He was free to resume his mundane habits, whether lounging in front of the TV or drinking with the fellow oldsters at the bar. The only surprise left was his metal lockbox on the kitchen table. There were fresh scrapes around the edges. Perry had attempted to pry it open. Lloyd grasped the rim and checked the lock, sighing in relief it had been left alone by the police.
  He retrieved the key from his pocket. The lock had been mildly damaged and resisted slightly to opening. He examined the contents and smiled in relief. “You’re all still here,” he whispered to himself, “you’re all still here.”
  It had been nearly a day since his last regular meal. The chicken and dumplings were still good as was the pecan pie his sister had dropped off two days ago. Waiting for his lunch to heat in the microwave, Lloyd removed the half-gallon milk from the fridge and tore away the plastic ring from the lid. He always drank directly from the container and today was no exception. It was cold and pleasing. Water was never as satisfying as icy milk. The microwave dinged just as he finished another large gulp. He placed the milk on the table and retrieved his plate from the microwave, wasting little time in sitting down and diving into his food.
  Several bites in, he noticed a bead of lactose resting near the crest of the jug, which momentarily descended down the side as a milky tear. A second pearl slowly protruded from the container in the same spot. He grasped it hurriedly and wiped away the droplet with his thumb. A pinhole no wider than a medicinal needle. Surely, a puncture from the grocery store or during shipping. It had to be, right? During the EKG, he recalled the FBI cataloging a list of Perry’s belongings. A hammer. A chisel. A syringe.
  Lloyd gazed silently from his kitchen table down the hallway leading to his front door, waiting in dire patience, echoes of “Jingle Bell Rock” lingering in the cold foyer.
© Copyright 2009 Word Of Todd (thetoddfiles at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1631313-Kris-Krimson