Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Santa Is Coming



Santa Is Coming


     “Santa Claus is coming tonight.”

     Those were the last words Bree’s mother said to her before she turned off the lights and shut the door. There was no light in the room. None. Then a little sliver of light appeared under the door. Her mother had turned on the Christmas tree lights. Bree whimpered. She slipped her hand under her mattress and felt a calm come over her as her small hand wrapped around the knife she’d hidden there. She wouldn’t let the fat fuck hurt her this year.

     “I’ll kill him Trey,” she whispered. “I’ll kill him for you.”

     The light came on in her room and she pulled her hand back. Her mother stood in the door, her dark eyes searching the room.

     “Did I hear you talking to someone?”

     “No mama.”

     “You be good, darling. You hear me Bree. You don’t want to end up on the naughty list. Not like…” Her mother’s eyes drifted off and her mouth fell slack as she tried to remember the name she was going to say.

     “Not like Trey,” Bree finished for her.

     Her mother’s eyes cleared and she looked at Bree. “Who?”

     “Trey. Your son. My brother.”

     “Are you back to that nonsense again. You’re my only child. Always have been.”

      “No,” Bree said. “Trey was older than me. Nine last year… when Santa took him away.”

     Her mother laughed, nervously. “Santa doesn’t kidnap little boys and girls. Go to sleep Bree. Dream of sugar plums and when you wake up, there will be presents under the tree with your name on them.”

     “If I’m here in the morning,” Bree said, “because he might just take me. I’m nine now and last year…” Her voice cut off and she let out a sob. She couldn’t bring herself to say what he had told her when he took Trey. He’d been slack jawed, standing there next to the Santa Claus, as though he didn’t have a will of his own. He was scared though, Bree saw the puddle on the floor and the wet spot that went down his leg. She’d been paralyzed when the Santa had spoken.

     “Next year, Bree. I’ll be coming for you next year, whether your naughty or nice.”

     She’d screamed, once he was gone and her parents came running, but they didn’t understand what she was talking about.

     “He took Trey! Santa took Trey!”

     “Honey, who’s Trey?”

     After Christmas break ended and Bree went back to school, there were other kids missing. The students that were there all had a different look in their eyes. They were afraid. All except for Billy. He didn’t have any brothers or sisters. He raised his hand and  asked where Donny was.

     “Who?” The teacher asked.

     “Donny? And Jenny. She’s not here either. Did they move?”

     “I don’t know what you are talking about, Billy Crumb.”

     Fenton had tried to get his attention, but Billy didn’t notice. He was too intent on trying to remind his teacher who Donny and Jenny were.

     “You can’t have forgotten who Donny is,” he said, genuinely confused. “He had red hair and freckles.”

     Miss Stephanie put her book down that she was preparing to teach out of and opened up her attendance book. “I don’t have a Donny on the list, nor a Jenny.”

     Billy turned around and looked at Bree. “You know who I’m talking about, don’t you?”

     Bree shook her head no. One by one, Billy asked the other kids if they didn’t remember who Donny and Jenny were. One by one the other students shook their head.

     “Have you all lost your minds?” He screamed.

     “That’s quite enough, Billy,” the teacher said. “I think maybe you’d better go see the principle.”

      He never came back. On the playground, Bree and some of the other kids discussed what had happened, traded stories. Seth Johnson’s sister was taken and now his parents acted like she’d never existed. It was the same with everyone.

     “Why don’t they remember, but we do?” Betty Sawyer asked.

     “I think he wants us to remember,” Seth said. “He wants us to be afraid.”

     When they went back to their classroom, Billy’s desk was gone. The student’s exchanged looks with each other, but no one said a word.

     Now it was a year later and he was coming for her. Her mother stood at her door and shut the light back off. “Sweet dreams,” she said and then shut the door.

     As soon as she was alone again, Bree pulled the knife out from under her mattress and put it under her pillow. She closed her eyes and pretended to sleep. Everyone knew the fat man didn’t come unless you were asleep.

     She opened her eyes. Her door had opened. The hinges squeaked. She saw him silhouetted inside the frame.

     “You’ve been naughty, Bree.”

     She slipped her hand under the pillow. “I want my brother back,” she hissed.

     “You don’t have a brother.” He moved and stood over her and then reached out to pull her from the bed. Bree pulled the knife from under the pillow and slashed his hand. He didn’t bleed. Bree had expected blood, but the only thing she saw were wires. Then the Santa’s hand healed over, new skin growing as she watched, filling in the opening until there was no evidence she’d ever cut him.

     “What are you?”

     He didn’t answer her, he just lifted her up and threw her over his shoulder. Then he dropped her into his bag. It was crowded in there. She felt someone’s leg push into her ribs.

     “Bree, is that you?”

     She recognized Seth’s voice. “Yes.”

     “Did you cut him?”

     They had all agreed to kill the Santa. They didn’t know whose house he would visit first.

     “Yes. What is he?”

     “A Vambot.”

     Bree thought about it. She had never heard the term before, but she instinctively knew what it was. Santa was a vampiric robot.

     “What’s going to happen to us?” Another kid asked.

     Bree recognized Richard’s voice, but she didn’t answer him. She knew when she saw the Santa’s eyes. They were Trey’s eyes. And she recognized the shock of red hair that stuck out from under his hat. But she didn’t tell Richard. He had a deep voice… his was the first in their class to change, and she’d heard how the Santa’s voice sounded scratchy. He needed new lungs. But she didn’t tell Richard this. He would find out soon enough.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Christmas Apocalypse




“Check it out, George!” Judith ran across the snow and onto the ice. The pond was frozen solid and she slid halfway across before coming to a stop. “Come on George, it’s fun. Remember when we went ice skating a few years ago?”

“Judith, come on, we don’t have time for play. Mom wants us home. You know how she is." He struck a pose, imitating their mother. "The world might be falling apart, but Christmas dinner is a tradition. Besides, the ice might break.”

“No it won’t, it’s solid, see.” Judith stomped her foot up and down, just to show her brother it was strong.

“Oh yeah, that’s fine, go ahead and test it. What would you do if it did crack? Expect me to come out there and save you?”

“It’s not gonna break, you mor…” Judith’s eyes widened and she looked past George.

“What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?”

“George… run!”

George heard it then and knew what it was that had his sister turning so pale. He turned, confirming his suspicions, one of the damn dead was coming up behind him. It wasn’t moving fast, probably because the cold was freezing the limbs, but it was closer than he would have expected. Where had it come from?

“Run!”

“Shut up, Judith,” George scolded. “It’s not moving very fast. The cold has it half frozen.

“You know what dad says,” Judith hissed, “where there’s one, there are at least five more. I don’t want to stick around for his friends to show up.”

“Oh come on,” George said, bending over and picking up a handful of snow. “Just a few minutes ago you were wanting to have a little fun… well, let’s have some fun.”

“What do you mean… oh!” Judith’s mouth dropped open when George threw a packed snowball at the zombie. The weapon smacked the creature in the face, but it didn’t stop him. The thing kept moving, undeterred.

“Here, let me try,” Judith said, “you throw like a sissy.” She hauled back and tossed it.

“You missed,” George laughed. “Who’s the sissy now.”

“Hey, look. There’s more.” Judith was pointing towards the woods and sure enough, three more zombies were ambling out.

“Cool,” George cheered, forming another snow ball.

“I don’t know, it’s all fun and games, until one of us gets bit… and those three aren’t moving as slow as the other one.”

“They still aren’t very fast. We can outrun them. Trust me.” And he hauled off and hit the female zombie in the side of the head.

“George, watch out!”

They had been busy watching the three new arrivals, they had forgotten about the first. George skipped backwards onto the ice and laughed. “Still faster.”

“George, not funny. Now come on, let’s go home before more come.” She turned around, ready to drag her brother with her and froze. There were at least a dozen dead on the side of the lake.

George dropped his snowball. “Holy crap, where did they all come from?”

“This is your fault,” Judith said. “Mom is always telling you not to taunt the zombies.”

“Hey, I wasn’t the only one to throw a snowball you know.”

“Yeah, but you started it. I just wanted to go ice skating.”

“Can we discuss who’s right and who’s wrong, later? Let’s get out of here. There’s an opening over there…”

“That’s the far side of the lake.”

“You wanted to ice skate…”

The two began moving across the lake. Some of the dead stepped onto the ice to follow them and Judith almost laughed when they ended up face down. But then the zombies began scooting across on their bellies.”

“Come on,” Judith said, yanking on George’s arm, “let’s go home. Dinner's waiting.” She took a few steps towards the middle of the lake and then froze. Beneath her there was a cracking sound.

“Was that…”

“The ice? Yes.”

“I told you…”

“I know.”

And then the ice broke and the two fell into the water.

Judith pounded on the ice. She had been pulled under by the current and the opening was no longer in sight. She didn’t know where in this mess George was either. She hoped he’d get out. Above her she saw the face of one of the dead, pressed against the ice. He looked hungry.

‘Probably angry he can’t reach me,’ Judith thought. Her throat burned and she wanted to suck in air, but she couldn’t. ‘I’m going to die,’ she thought, ‘but at least those things won’t have me.

Something tugged at her feet and relief rushed through her. George… at least they would be together. She turned to look at him, hoping for some comfort, but it wasn’t her brother she found herself staring at. Judith opened her mouth to scream and water rushed in. Then the zombie bit her. She struggled, she didn’t want to die like this. Through the water, she saw George. He was swimming towards her. Then something hooked onto her sweater and she felt herself being pulled out of the water.

“I’ve got her!”

Judith rolled over, spitting water out. Her leg burned from the bite. She wanted to warn her rescuers that she was contaminated, but she needed to worry about George first.

“My brother, he’s down there.”

“Pretty good catch! I promised John and Michael a good Christmas dinner this year.”

“Do you hear me?” Judith gasped, struggling to get loose while her rescuers drug her across an unbroken section of the ice. “My brother is down there. And there’s dead down there too. You have to help him.” Then she felt one of them grab her leg.

“What the hell… Mark, did you take a bite out of her? You couldn’t wait?”

“Sorry, I was hungry.”

“Oh well, shouldn’t matter. Come on, let’s  get her home.”

She twisted, so she could get a good look at them. Whoever had her was making a lot of guttural noises. They almost sounded like…  ZOMBIES!

“This is going to be the best Christmas dinner yet,” Frank grunted.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Taxidermy Nightmare



By Lisa McCourt Hollar


The sound of children laughing carried down Haller Street as ghosts and witches rang doorbells, screaming out “Trick Or Treat” whilst holding out heavy laden bags to be filled with candy and other goodies, all of which would be inspected by their parents when they went home for the evening.

“My, you look scary,” would often be heard in the voices of young mother’s and old grandmother’s as they passed out the candy. Every single porch light was on this evening, inviting the frightening children to come do their worst, all except one. The Harper house remained ominously dark as it did every year.

Inside Tom Harper watched the small figures as they passed his house.  A few of them stopped and stared, whispering among themselves. He knew what they said about him, the same things their parents had said about him when they were children. They called him a freak and a retard. As a child this had hurt him deeply. While it was true he didn’t look like other children, his nose and eyes being in the wrong places and one of his ears missing completely, Tom didn’t feel he deserved that kind of treatment. He was extremely intelligent and since the other children in the neighborhood wouldn’t play with him, he spent his time reading books, increasing his knowledge and understanding of the world and how things worked.

At 29, he still lived at home with his mother and watching the children running up and down the street opened old wounds. Even though he couldn’t hear them he could well imagine what they were saying. Dropping the curtain he went back into his work room where he was preparing a small bird for a customer. Around him animals of all shape, size and species watched, forever frozen in the pose he had placed them. They were his friends, never judging him for the way he looked. He had just got the bird to set on the branch, it’s wings spread as though ready to take flight, when a loud crash caused him to knock the bird to the ground. Turning he saw the window behind him was broke, the glass shattered all over the floor.

“Tom,” his mother called from the living room, “is everything alright.”
“Some neighbor kids,” Tom said, “playing a Halloween prank. I’ll take care of it.”

“Alright,” his mother said, her voice sounding weary.

Looking out the window Tom caught a glimpse of Bobby Baker running into his house down the road. Tom picked the bird off the ground, finishing the job. When done he looked at the creature and smiled. The bird was a glorious creature and this was reflected in the pose. He was pleased to have honored his death in this way.

Tom glanced at the glass still littering the floor. Sighing, he cleaned it up and put a board in the window. Finishing the task he grabbed his jacket and yelled at his mother that he was going out for a while.

***

Bobby Baker ate 2 candy bars, a bag of M&M’s and a handful of jellybeans before his mother made him brush his teeth and go to bed.

“You’re going to have bad dreams eating all that candy,” his mother scolded.

“Maybe I’ll see Freddy Krueger,” Bobby scoffed, “then I can introduce him to my nightmares.”

Mrs. Baker laughed. She loved Bobby’s imagination. Some of his teacher’s had expressed concern, one going so far as to accuse Bobby of being a bully, but Mrs. Baker didn’t believe a word of it. Bobby was a little angel. If they wanted to accuse someone of being a monster they should take a look at Tom Harper. What kind of a person becomes a taxidermist? It gave her the creeps just thinking about it.

Bobby dreamed he was being carried out of his room by Freddy Krueger. He struggled to free himself, but he couldn’t get away, Freddy just dug his knife like fingers in even deeper. Then Freddy started laughing and his voice sounded like the taxidermist that lived across the street. All around him animals stared back at him accusingly. He recognized Sally’s cat, Fluffy. He’d shot it with his b b gun. He hadn’t expected the creature to die, but it was cool when it did.

There was that dog whose throat he’d slit and then hung up in the garage to watch as the blood flowed out. He’s wondered what happened to it. He’d planned on checking out its insides later but it had disappeared. He’d had a hard time cleaning up the blood before his mom came home from work.

Oh wow, was that Suzie Carmichael. She’d disappeared a few months ago. No one had ever known what happened to her. She looked funny though, her eyes were glassy and she was standing so still.

Slowly Bobby became aware he wasn’t asleep. As he did, he looked around the room and realized he wasn’t in his bed anymore. Animals of all shapes and sizes looked back at him. Many of them were creatures he had killed. Except for Suzie Carmichael, he hadn’t killed her. He’d had a bit of a crush on her, ever since she’d seen him skin that rabbit alive and didn’t get freaked out about it. She’d even shown him an easier way to do it.  Suzie Carmichael was wonderful and if she ever were in his dreams, she wouldn’t be dead.

“Ah, you’re awake,” a voice said. Turning his head Bobby looked into the eyes of Tom Harper.

“That wasn’t very nice of you, breaking my window like that,” Tom said.

“Don’t lie to my son,” a voice said. It sounded like Mrs. Harper and Bobby turned his head, seeing the old woman sitting behind Suzie, only she was dead too, posed in her sitting chair.

“I think I know just how I’m going to position you,” Tom said. Horrified, Bobby screamed as the sound of an electric tool started up.

Copyright© 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar.  All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Dolly


by Lisa McCourt Hollar

 The girl clutched the dolly her mother had bought her at the market. The rag doll was magic, but no one knew it but her. It talked to her, telling her secrets that no one else knew. They were best friends, her and Dolly.

“Dolly says you shouldn’t yell at me,” the little girl said to her mother after she’d been scolded for not cleaning her room.

“Does she,” her mother said, feeling as though she had reached her last straw.  “Well Dolly is an annoying little brat that should mind her own business, don’t’ you think?”

The little girl put Dolly to her ear and listened patiently. She giggled at what Dolly said.

“Annie,” her mother said, trying to show some of the same patience in her voice, though she was getting ready to lose it.  “Put Dolly down and clean your room.”

“Dolly says you’re a bitch,” Annie said, then slapped her hand over her mouth to hold in the giggle. That was one of Dolly’s secret words that she wasn’t supposed to repeat, but now that she had it felt thrilling, especially seeing the way it made her mother’s eyes pop out of her head.

“Oh did she? Well I don’t think seven year old girls need to be playing with dolls that have such potty mouths!”  Pulling the doll out of wailing daughters hand she put it on the top shelf of the hall closet and marched Annie into the bathroom. “Open up,” she said, holding out a bar of soap.

“No mommy, please,” Annie begged, clamping her hand over her mouth.

Francine pulled her daughter’s hand away and shoved the wet bar in her mouth, mid protest. She held it there while the girl made grunting sounds, her eyes bulging as tears formed in the corner, spilled over and trickled down her cheek. When she was sure Annie’s tongue was coated she pulled the soap out.

Annie glared defiantly at her mother, who handed her a glass of water to rinse with.  It took two glass fulls before Annie could speak. “Dolly says she’s going to get you for that,” she said, making her words sound as threatening as possible.

“I welcome her to try,” Francine said, taking Annie back to her room. “While I wait for Dolly to do her worst, you can clean your room. I will let you out when dinner is ready. It had better be done or you will go right back in after you eat.”

Francine shut the door, wondering when seven year olds had become so obstinate. When she was her age she would have had her teeth knocked out if she’d ever talked like that.

Annie sat on her bed, her tongue still feeling scummy from the soap. She heard Dolly calling to her from under her bed where she’d been hiding so mommy wouldn’t see she’d left the closet.  Annie lifted the bed spread up and looked under.

“Mommy will be mad if she sees you here,” Annie said.  She listened a moment then nodded her head. Lifting Dolly off the floor, Annie placed her on her bed, then started cleaning her room while Dolly told her what needed to be done.
***
“I don’t know what we’re going to do about her,” Francine said to her husband while she brushed her hair. She was sitting at her vanity table and watching her husband in the mirror as she spoke.

“I really think you’re making more of a deal out of it than you should,” Mark said, setting aside his book to read later, when Francine was less talkative.

“Mark, she called me a bitch! Where does a seven year old hear that word from anyway?  And then she snuck out of her room and took the doll from the closet!”

“I don’t see how she did that,” Mark said. “If you really put it on the top shelf like you said.”


“What do you mean IF I really put it on the top shelf?
 Of course I did and I don’t know how she did it, but I know the doll didn’t leave the closet on its own. Honestly, that child must think I’m stupid to try and tell me a story like that.”

“She’s seven,” Mark sighed, trying to placate his wife. What sounds absurd to us, isn’t all that unreasonable to a child with a vivid imagination. Give her some time and she will grow out of it.”

“I don’t know,” Francine said, “you didn’t hear her earlier. ‘Dolly says she’s going to get you for that.’ Mark, she really sounded as though she expects something bad to happen to me, and even more, she sounded as though she hopes it does.”

“She’s only seven,” Mark repeated. “You going to tell me you never told your mother you hated her when you were her age?”

“This was different,” Francine said, giving the doll that now graced the corner of her vanity a troubled glance.  
***
Francine woke with something pressed against her chest. She sat up with a start when she saw the freaky rag dolls button eyes staring at her. How the hell did the damn thing get on top of her?  Flinging the doll across the room, Francine nudged her husband, thinking he was playing some kind of a practical joke on her. “Very Funny Mark.”

Mark didn’t answer so she nudged him harder. He moved a little. Not much, but enough for Francine to notice the sheet under him was wet.  Turning on the light she saw that Mark was covered in blood, the sheets stained with crimson gore.  Screaming, she fell out of the bed, only to find herself at nose level with Dolly who was lying on the floor next to Annie’s bare feet.  Looking up, Francine saw her daughter standing over her, a bloody knife in her hands.

“I told you Dolly would get you,” Annie said and then brought the knife down, slashing into her mother’s  face.

 Copyright© 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar.  All rights reserved.