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A Lump of Coal

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Hello, this is my entry for Christian's and Johnathan's Christmas Jollytime Murderfest Competition. I hope you enjoy it and have a good time. Lastly, merry Christmas to all of you. I hope you have a great time.


The three of us sat around a fire table, pumpernickel bites neatly laid out over it; the fire crackled gingerly in the marble fireplace. We poured brandy into our tea and drank as we reclined in our armchairs. We were good friends, we were our only friends. We did not talk, we just watched the snow flakes waltz outside the window. We all smiled in the glory of the moment except Evan, who looked troubled.

"Evan," I said. "Why are you sad? It's Christmas! Be happy!"

"True, but memories of Christmas are not the fondest I have."

"Surely," said I, "you won't let a bad apple spoil the bunch?"

"No, but I will let an apple infested with worms and spiders spoil the bunch."

"What could have destroyed the merriest time of year so badly for you?" John asked.

"It's a story hardly fit for Christmas," Evan said.

"Come on, we all love a good story, even if a miserable one. Of course, if it's too perso-" John replied.

"Okay, I'll fucking tell it. You must know that my father left before I could remember his face and that my mother was a drunk bitch. On Christmas morning, I went downstairs to check my presents. My mother sat staring at the Christmas tree; she looked shell-shocked. She turned on me and said:

"'You've been a bad boy; Santa's brought you a lump of coal,' she paused. 'Go to your room. Get the meanest leather belt you can find. Take off your shirt and wait for me to come up there.'

"She whipped me for about fifteen minutes and soaked my bleeding back with vinegar. Next Christmas, the same thing happened, and the next Christmas and the five Christmas' after. I lied, I didn't get this scar when my razor slipped. I got it when the whip slipped and hit my neck.

"I was fourteen but I only received home tuition and was not allowed to leave the the fucking manor so I had no idea Santa wasn't real. My punishments left such a deep impression that I ensured my behavior was immaculate. But on the seventh christmas, I snuck out in the middle of the night, wanting to ask Santa why I got lump of coal each Christmas.

"When I snuck into the living room, I heard a rustling coming from the chimney. It sounded like a rat trying to escape a paper box. I saw a bony hand emerge from the fireplace. Then a ghoulish creature snuck out, it was as thin as a holocaust victim and lines of flesh were torn off its back. It was lugging a sack. When it saw me the monster screeched and fled. Its face haunts me to this day; a triangular expression of malice and disgust. Like an angry man chewing ten aspirins.

"I screamed something about a monster in the living room. I heard a door crash open and footsteps thudding down the stairs. My mother burst through the door.

"'You didn't see anything, you pup! Not a damn thing you saw here, understand! Monsters don't exist. You've been a bad boy and I'll have to discipline you harshly!' she said.

"That is when I saw the fire axe in her hand. The film stops here, I know I escaped and was adopted, that's all...

"You know the real fucked up thing? I still cling to that immaculate behavior unless I have an argument against it stronger than fucking Fort-Knox. I'm trying to change my mindset. Micheal, you asked me once why I swear so much. Baby steps, son."

I could relate to Evan's suffering. I also got fucked by a figure of trust and protection. After I risked my ass for Uncle Sam he slapped a medal on my chest, patted me on the back, and kicked my ass onto the icy streets. He left me frozen and broken.

Silence fell. It was broken by Lou Costello yelling, "Ohhh, I'm a bad boy!" on the TV next room.

Evan's mother passed away from lung cancer five months later and left her son the estate. After that, we didn't see Evan until the next Christmas.

We sat in a fancy restaurant. Blue and red lights flashed in the windows and a stately Christmas tree sat near the counter. A frosty mist rolled through the streets, and a drizzle tapped on the windows. Evan looked dejected. John was also not in the Christmas mood. He was divorced after being caught in bed with another women. But he had time to recover.

"You know," Evan began, "the new h-house I've inherited, yeah? Well, I have, um, trouble you know... Sleeping there at night. Things scratch at the window. Shapes in the corners of my eyes. Umm..." He froze, looking sick.

"Could you stay over for Christmas, John," Evan said.

"Can I come too?" I asked.

"Oh... Yeah, Micheal. Shit. I meant both of you. Sorry." The second he finished the sentence he became pallid and frightened.

"Sure, any time. John will come too, no?" I said.

"Yes, not a problem. I need some company myself."

"No please. I implore you, no! It was a joke; you cannot be troubled with my delusions. Thank you both, but I'll get over it. You'll only delay my coping."

But it was no use: we would help our friend for he was exactly that. We set out after we finished dinner.

We came upon a rusted gate. Beyond it were poles affixed with red lamps zig-zagging up the hill. The colonial manor loomed behind a thick shroud of mist. I was not surprised that this place unnerved my friend; though most of the eeriness came from the state of disrepair: the house leaned and the trees were not cut for decades.

We parked and hiked up the hill. The air was cold and moist; the lamps were spread out at regular intervals and a forest of spruces and yews looped around and up the hill. We were exhausted when we reached the house. We went in through the front door. The house smelled musty and plaster hung off walls. I saw a mouse scurry along a wall. I would not have been surprised if we tore down the walls to reveal a colony of all sorts of rodents and bugs and decaying cadavers of the above.

"Sorry about the s-state of the place. I'm having it, um, renovated soon," Evan said, "I'll take John with me to c-c-chop firewood -- if he doesn't mind."

John said he wouldn't and I was sent to seek out some whiskey or wine. It took me some time to find and open the cabinet with all the good stuff, and when I did I heard a shriek. I rushed outside into the biting winter air. I saw a trench in the snow curving into the forest. It was stained with blood. I thought wild beasts ambushed my friends. I went back inside and found a double-barreled shotgun hanging above an elk's head. My military instincts came back and I smiled. I grabbed it and ran back, the weapon poised above my hips.

Snow crunched under my feet as I ran deeper into the darkness of the forest. It hit me then that animals could not have done it; there were no animal footprints nor had I heard any animal noises. I squeezed through a gap inbetween two spruces. The horror I saw made me weak and made everything seem dreamy.

The barren branches of trees made a dome over our heads; the only light was shafts of red from the lamps breaking through the trees. One of them lit up Evan's arm. In it, he was clutching an axe drenched in blood. At his feet laid John's body; a pulpy mess of brain tissue seeping out of the gory gash in his head. Not even the nostalgic comfort of the shotgun saved me from the horror and disgust.

"Evan?" I choked.

"I had to do it," he said distantly. "It told me to do it. It haunted me since childhood. It made sure my mother disciplines me; I guess it's my turn to discipline."

"Evan! What the hell are you talking about? What did it want? What is it?"

"It was the thing that brought the coal. It said it was with the family, since forever, and that it makes sure we are good and righteous, or something. It basically makes people punish and hurt others for their sins, that is all. I don't why, it just likes to see people get hurt, I guess. Anyway, I'm sure your shocked, so let's go and chop some actual firewood. Then we'll need a drink."

I raised my gun.

"Now, now," Evan snapped, "you're shocked, I'm sure, but there's a limit, so put that down or I'll chastise your fucking ass."

My hand faltered and I pulled the trigger. Evan ducked and threw the axe up in retaliation. A branch was blown off a nearby tree with a bang. Evan cried and charged at me. I jumped away, but the axe clipped my shin, causing me to involuntarily make a snow angel. I mustered my resolve and rose to a crouching position.

The axe gleamed red in the lamp light. I saw my horrified face as the axe swung down; the reflection was swallowed by a blast of light and a new layer of blood splashed it when I blew my friend's brains out.

I laid there for what seemed like hours upon hours upon even more hours until my senses surfaced.

"Alas, the last of the Writh family dies. The world shall be an oyster of sin and misdeed," a sepulchral voice murmured. A man of science would say the voice was a hallucination caused by shock and a frightfully real but fantastical stories told to me by a person of trust who destroyed that trust thus creating a complex in my mind.

Somehow that voice made Evan's story blossom with validity. The layer of unrealness that took possession of the world shattered and crumbled. I knew the horror Evan told of was lurking in the manor, and I knew I had end it. For my sake.

I struggled up and ran into the manor. When I ran inside, that sepulchral voice said, "Run, run, kiddy. You may run and hide but not before I'll skin your penis with my potato peeler. If you stop like a good child, I won't suck on it afterward, yumy-yum!"

I heard the floorboards creak and saw a swift shadow dart down the stairs. I burst through the nearest door. It was a damp and shadowed; it was the basement. A gas tank sat in the corner, heaving and coughing raspily. I looked around. A few bags of coal rested near the furnace. I spilled the coal on the floor. I took some old papers from the corner. Lastly I slipped a Zippo out of my pocket and set the place on fire.

I sprinted out from the blazing house into the biting cold. Fire assaulted the gas tank and a deafening blast hurled me forward, knocking me unconscious. I woke up with a throbbing headache. The ground was rocky and uncomfortable. I stirred. The ground underneath me moved and an avalanche sent me sliding down into the ground. I gasped and pushed myself up. I looked back. I fell from a mound of coal. Confused, I searched around until I saw a note on the ground. I glanced down at it.

It was five words: "You've been a bad boy."



Written by Jake888
Content is available under CC BY-SA