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.
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.