#picturefiction #flashfiction #krampus
Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a young boy named Harry. Harry was a very naughty child. His parents tried to teach him right from wrong but there was no trace of goodness in the child.
Harry was a beautiful child with cherubic features and hair like spun gold. His beauty lured people into trusting him so that he could work his mischief upon them and then rather than punish the child they would make excuses for him; how could such a beautiful young boy not be forgiven.
The neighborhood animals learned to fear Harry early in their lives otherwise they would suffer pulled tails, spoiled food, or worse. Nobody would play with the devilish youngster; he did not make friends of other children, only victims.
Even Santa had given up on the child; he was permanently on the Naughty list. By the age of 9, Harry had not received a gift from the jolly old elf for five Christmases.
In December of Harry’s tenth year, Krampus woke from his slumber and sniffed the air of his cave. A child had become irredeemable; it was a scent which he could detect half a world away. His old nemesis, Santa, had given up on the child which made him available for Krampus to do with as he wished.
It was the eve of Krampusnacht and the beast of Christmas, the punisher of wicked children, shouldered his basket and brandished his birch branch switches. He whirled the branches in front of him; as they moved, they began to glow. Faster and faster they moved, the golden light trailing behind like the tail of a comet. Soon a glowing circle hung in the air. Krampus stepped through the glowing ring and was transported thousands of miles away to a small town on the edge of mountain range.
Krampus took in the night air; he tasted the scent of a dark soul. Little Harry was close. Krampus lifted his shaggy head skyward and howled the start of the hunt. For miles around the animals grew still in fear, humans huddled closer together; even the wind grew still from terror.
Krampus stalked through the streets of the town leaving deep, cloven, hoof prints to mark his passing. Lights winked out in homes as he passed. Any seeing the horned figure moving through their streets, crossed themselves and shuttered their homes in the hope that he did not come for them.
At the touch of his magical birch branches, the door to Harry’s home opened silently and Krampus crept into the house. In moments he had located the boy’s room and stood over the child. Harry was not in his pajamas like a proper child would be so late at night; he stood fully clothed including a dapper bowler hat worn at a jaunty angle. The boy smiled up at the Christmas Demon with a twinkle in his eye.
“I guess you’ve come for me,” he said. “Can’t be helped; I was naughty after all.”
Krampus was surprised at the child’s lack of fear and acceptance of his fate. With a shrug of his furred shoulders, Krampus swept Harry up and tossed him into his basket. He left the house as quietly as he entered and was departing the town when the child spoke from the basket behind his ear.
“What is to become of me?”
“I shall dine upon you in my cave.”
The child did not shriek or cry but instead he continued speaking in a conversational tone as if chatting with one of his fellows.
“I hear that Krampus has an amazingly long tongue. May I see it?”
The beast was surprised at the child’s question. Most children wanted nothing to do with him; when a child saw Krampus, punishment soon descended upon them. Krampus stopped and looked back at the child. Perhaps seeing the tongue which would lap his blood and the teeth which would rend his flesh would finally frighten the child. He opened his mouth wide and extended his blood red tongue. The appendage stretched a full three feet from his mouth and wagged menacingly in front of Harry’s face. In a flash Harry pulled a small silver knife, stolen from his mother’s kitchen, from behind his back. The blade slashed across the base of the waving tongue, severing it. With another two slashes, Harry parted the straps holding the basket to Krampus’ back. The basket and tongue landed on the ground almost simultaneously.
Harry climbed from the basket and picked up the severed tongue. Krampus screamed in pain and staggered across the glade with blood pouring from his mouth. He turned and took two steps toward Harry but then collapsed and lay still. The creature’s black fur turned a dull gray and he seemed to shrink in size; Krampus was dead.
Harry brought the tongue to his mouth and tasted the thick blood oozing from the base, it was bitter and had a metallic aftertaste; he liked it.
A small cat wandered past and Harry amused himself by allowing the creature to lap at the blood and swat at the tongue which Harry dangled over its head.
A rumble passed through the ground. Not far from where Harry played the forest floor trembled and pulsed. The leaves shifted and a furred hand, each finger tipped with a black talon, punched through the soil. Another hand joined the first and then another and another. As the hands clawed at the surface, horns, some black, some brown, still others bone white punched through the loam. A dozen creatures clawed their way from the soil. In appearance they each resembled the deceased Krampus. They were furred and fanged with prodigious horns. Each shook the soil from their fur and howled; the forest went still.
The pack of beasts ran through the forest, some on two legs, and others on all four. The arrowed through the trees with purpose, they could sense the evil child ahead and they raced as fast as they could, each wanting to reach him first.
Harry heard the thundering passage of the pack before he saw them. As the dozen furred monsters came into view Harry felt fear for the first time in his life. Clutching his bloody prize to his chest Harry turned and fled.
He could hear the panting creatures gaining on him so he ran harder than he ever had. The town was in sight when the pack of monsters caught the child. One of them, a black furred beast with and angular gray face reached the child first. He leaped forward and knocked Harry to the ground. The monster rolled with the child and was quickly on its feet. It held Harry aloft, grasping the boy by his neck. The monster yanked the severed tongue from the child and turned to face the rest of the pack. The black furred monster hissed and growled at the others until they all backed away and groveled on the ground.
The monster looked at the child who finally had discovered his tears and extended a short tongue. He then bit through the tip of the tongue with his pointed, razor sharp, teeth. The tip of his tongue fell to the ground with a spray of blood and the monster quickly lifted the severed tongue of Krampus to his own mouth. The base of the severed tongue met the ragged end of the monster’s own and with a flash of golden light the two pieces of flesh melded together and became one.
The monster looked at the child dangling from his claw and wagged the freshly animated tongue.
“You are very naughty,” it said. “I am Krampus now and it will be my duty and pleasure to eat you up.”
“I’ll be good,” Harry said, but it was too late.
Krampus bit into the evil child’s body and drew back with a mouth full of bloody flesh. He beckoned the rest of the pack to join in the feast and Krampus and the others fell upon the child, eating until nothing remained.
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