Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Very Special Christmas Eve: A Short Story

Johnny and his little sister Stacy went to bed earlier than usual that night, but they didn't mind. It was Christmas Eve after all, and what child isn't willing to sacrifice a bit of play time when he or she knows that turning in early might just hasten the arrival of Saint Nick? The last thing they did before retiring to their rooms was to watch their mom place a cup of hot tea and a small plate of chocolate cookies on the counter for Santa. "The jolly old elf travels all over the world through the cold and snow every Christmas Eve to deliver toys to good little girls and boys," she would often tell them. Both children took her at her word because...well, didn't they receive the toys they asked for the last couple of years?

During the year Mom would often warn her children that Santa only brought presents to youngsters who behaved. Stacy generally tried her best to do what was right, never forgetting her mother's warning. She felt confidant that, after having asked Santa for some new dolls, that he would deliver the goods as he always had. The one thing she couldn't understand though, is why her marionettes would disappear during the weeks and months that followed Christmas. She knew that she loved them and took good care of them; yet, they would sometimes simply vanish from her room. Whenever she complained about these events to her parents, they generally brushed off her concerns dismissively, telling her that she simply needed to stop leaving her things outside where other kids or the neighborhood dogs could run off with them.

Johnny, being a couple of years older than his sister, really didn't buy into his mother's warnings that Santa only brought toys to children who behaved. Johnny had a secret. He knew what was happening to Stacy's dolls because he would sometimes sneak into her room while she was out in the yard playing with her girlfriends. He would then take them out to the nearby creek; and after pretending to drown them, would gouge their eyes out with his pocket knife before cutting off their heads and tossing them into a nearby trash can. Upon his return home from these occasional escapades, he delighted in hearing his parents chastise his teary-eyed sister for once again neglecting to take care of her things.

The boy had a mean streak when it came to girls and his sweet sister Stacy was not exempt from his hurtful machinations. Still, he felt confidant that Santa would once again bring him toys this Christmas Eve.

Stacy climbed under the covers of her comfortable bed; and with visions of sugar plums and new dollies dancing in her head, she fell into a peaceful slumber. Johnny on the other hand, decided to remain awake. He would listen until he could be sure that his parents had gone to bed. Then, he'd lie in wait for Santa, determined to catch a glimpse of him.

Within an hour the sounds from the TV ceased and Johnny heard, amid his parent's playful banter, the door to their bedroom close shut. He quietly climbed out of bed and gazed out the window, searching for any signs of Santa's sleigh or his reindeer. The snow, still falling on a gentle breeze, made the neighbor's colorful light display across the street seem all the more authentic. It's really Christmas, he thought to himself. Santa should be here with my presents any time now! 

His thoughts were distracted by a sudden pitter patter on the roof followed by the sound of footsteps. Johnny could barely contain his excitement as he stole quietly toward the living room, which contained both the family tree and the fireplace. That's where he knew he would find Santa. Reaching the end of the hallway, he poked his head around the corner for a first peak.

Without warning, a dark, hairy, claw-like hand  grabbed him by the shoulders, pulling him around the corner in one fluid motion. The boy gasped, but before he could even utter a sound one of the hands covered his mouth, making any cries for help impossible. Johnny struggled, but it was to no avail. Still, he couldn't see just who or what was holding him fast.

He heard a hissing sound just before his captor spun him around without removing the hand from his mouth. His blood ran cold as he gazed at the creature holding him in place. No, this wasn't Santa Claus, whom he'd been hoping to spy upon just moments before. Instead, he found himself staring into the face of a most hideous thing. The creature before him was tall and furry with a long snake-like tongue dangling from its mouth. Its ears were large and pointed; two curved horns grew out of its head. Attached to the body's backside was a long, pointed tail. Overall, the monster's body appeared somewhat man-like, but Johnny knew this was no man. The creature holding him seemed more like the Devil than any man he'd ever seen.

Pure terror gripped at him as the creature opened the top of a large wooden basket before placing Johnny inside and once again closing the lid. The boy screamed at the top of his lungs, calling to his parents for help-- calling to Santa, but it seemed that no one could hear his anguished cries.

His abductor strapped the basket to his shoulders before ascending the chimney to the roof where a sled awaited him. He gave a push with his left foot and the sled lifted off on the snow-laden breeze toward a destination only known to him.

Some hours later, the mysterious being approached a shadowy, misty castle that stood upon a mountain top populated by twisted, deformed trees. The large door at its entrance creaked open at his approach and closed shut again once he was safely inside. After disembarking from the sled, the creature removed the basket from his shoulders and opened the lid, allowing Johnny to climb out.

The boy's eyes opened wide in disbelief as he looked around the large, gloomy, torch-lit hall. He could hear the cries of other children, both male and female. Their moans seemed pained and anguished.

"Where have you taken me?" Johnny asked, crying. "I want to go home."

"Home, so you can steal your sister's dolls?" The creature asked. "Home, where you delight in her pain and her tears? I think not. This is your home now, and as you can hear, there are lots of other children here to play with. We're going to have lots of fun watching you learn what meanness really is."

The frightening being's tongue dripped saliva as he hissed once again while continuing to look down at the terrified boy.

"Merry Christmas, Johnny! Welcome to your new home: The Castle of Gruss Vom Krampus!"

The sound of his deep laughter reverberated throughout the shadowy chamber.

Copyright © 2014 A.D. Vick, All Rights Reserved

 The above illustrations are in the public domain.      


Friday, December 5, 2014

A Dark Dream

I have a Facebook friend with whom I've become acquainted over the past several months. There are a few things that really impress me about this lady. First of all, I think she'd make a wonderful Morticia Addams; that is, if they ever get around to making another Addams Family film or TV series. Another thing I appreciate about her is that she's really likes metal, and is solely responsible for posting an Insomnium video that got me interested in that band. 

A third thing that tickles my fancy is the way in which she often closes out her Facebook interactions for the day by telling her friends, "Happy Night and Dark Dreams!" 

This got me to thinking. Hmm, I wondered. Does she have dark dreams often? More often than me? Do I ever have them?  

After a bit of dream recall, I came to the conclusion that although my subconscious mind occasionally explores the darker realms while I sleep, it doesn't occur as much as it should, considering my indulgence with Gothic literature, horror movies and an abundance of metal and dark-wave music. A dream I had last night however, has given me a moment of pause. It was vivid, emotional and offered almost extra-sensory insights throughout its duration. This one was good enough to write about. 

The dream began with me being taken to the top of a mountain in an open-air, antique vehicle. The car resembled something people drove around during the decade between 1910 and 1920. I had a job to do upon reaching my destination, but I wasn't clear on what that job actually was or how I would accomplish it. What I did know was that I was dressed in top hat and finer Gothic attire than I can actually afford to buy. My destination was a church upon whose grounds a dark goddess had settled. She was reportedly, growing in physical size as well as power. 

I was impressed with what awaited me at the top of the mountain as the church was situated on grounds that offered a spectacular view of the community and extending landscape down below. The place of worship itself resembled such structures built during New England's colonial period. There was a bell tower, which extended upward from the front entrance, and the building extended toward its rear in a series of interesting archeological configurations, all the while maintaining its colonial/puritan ambiance. The grounds surrounding the church consisted mainly of well manicured lawns, which were bordered by sizable tracts of forest. 

My companions led me into the church through the back door, where I would apparently, be received by the church minister and perhaps part of the congregation. Upon entering, I noticed a somewhat spiral stairway leading downward. On those steps stood a man--a fearful man. He extended a crucifix in my direction with one of his hands as he crouched against the wall. His actions both amused me and made me feel powerful. 

"Your crucifix can't hurt me," I told him with contempt. "It has no effect at all."

As I stood facing the stairwell, I contemplated whether my darkness made me evil. My nature had certainly unnerved the man with the cross. Yet, I intuitively felt that he was just a weak, fearful person totally incapable of understanding me. No, I'm not evil, I realized, and neither is the goddess everyone wants me to confront. 

A small group of people greeted me as I stepped further into the hallway. The main part of the church lay just beyond. The minister was a youngish-looking man wearing a flannel shirt. As I stood by him and his small group I realized that they were members of a fundamentalist sect; and although they clung faithfully to their Bible-based beliefs, they were incapable of approaching any goddess. I viewed them as I had the man with the crucifix, weak and superstitious. Still, I remained courteous and respectful.

They led me outside the back door and took me to the edge of the lawn. Before me, and on a leveled off piece of land just below our high position on the mountain, stood what appeared to be a large statue. It was the goddess. She towered over everything else in sight and stood gazing out into the distance. One of her hands extended outward and somewhat upward. In it she held a burning torch, as if pointing it at the entire world. I'd never had any dealings with her before, but I could feel her power. What is she planning to do? I wondered. How will I even approach her? And when I do, what do I say to get a dialog going? 

That's where the dream stopped. I'll never know how things would have turned out. Still, the dream was dark and everything I could have hoped for. Now I know how vampires must feel.

Photo source: Gothic Pictures Gallery
Author unknown