By Chip McEnroe
Part One – Alyssa's Christmas – "Christmas Baby"
It's Christmas Eve in Cala Bay, the happiest time of the year. The downtown square is strung up with twinkling lights, the many bars and night clubs are eerily vacant, and a child is being born in a back alley off of south Oak Avenue. The mother is a 17-year-old girl named Alyssa. She comes from a good family and makes exeptional grades in school, but her boyfriend, the baby's father, is a drug dealer. He doesn't want Alyssa to keep the child, and Alyssa knows that disobeying his wishes means getting hurt.
She could run away, but to where? She has nowhere to go. Her parents practically disowned her when they found out she was pregnant. Her coke-pushing boyfriend, Randy, is the only person who will keep her. She could live with her grandparents in Leesburg, assuming they would take her in. It's only twenty miles away and she could probably manage to hitch a ride with someone.
Who's going to pick up a bloody girl with a new born baby in her arms? Well, pretty much anyone with a conscience would. But it’s not only that. She doesn't even know if her grandparents will let her stay with them. If her mother called and told them the news, all bets are off.
Her father's side might take her in, but who's going to pay for the diapers? The food? The doctors? She would have to get a job, drop out of school, and kiss her dream of someday running her own line of designer clothing goodbye. Right now it's just too much to handle for Alyssa. She knows that it's impossible for her to live out her dreams if she has a child. Right now Alyssa just wants the damn thing to pop out and die right there on the damp concrete under the streetlight. And that may very well happen because right now Alyssa is in labor. She has been for the past 3 hours here in this dank alley, and now she can feel the head coming.
The pain is tremendous. She wishes she were dead.
But death isn't going to come, at least not for Alyssa. Maybe it will come for her baby, but certainly not for her. If she keeps it, Randy might beat her up real good, but he won't kill her. He's not that crazy.
The difference between Randy and Alyssa is that Randy has his priorities in line. He won't let his rage make him do something that will affect the rest of his life. Alyssa on the other hand, she's ready to commit murder, simply so she can go on living without the responsibility of raising a child.
Her mind is racing now. The baby is almost out.
She doesn't even know if it's a boy or a girl. She didn't get an ultrasound because she couldn't pay for it. The only kind of medical assistance she's had since her pregnancy began was a doctor's visit about a week ago which Randy finally agreed to pay for. Oddly enough, the doctor said the baby wouldn't be born for another two months. He was obviously wrong.
Her parents refused to foot any kind of medical bills for their "whore of a daughter". She hates them so much right now. She hopes the Christmas tree at her house catches fire and burns them all alive. As for Randy, well, she knows he'll be dead soon enough without her wishes. He runs a risky business.
She can't believe it.
The baby is out, and it's crying, but the sound is strange. She hasn't been around many newborn babies, so she doesn't know exactly what one sounds like when it first comes out, but something seems wrong to about it to her. It's almost like metal grinding against metal. She ignores it and notices something else, barely visible in the dim, orange glow of the street light.
It's a boy.
She did have names in mind, as strange as that may seem. If it was a girl she was going to name it Jessica. If it was a boy, it would be Matthew. It made no sense to her, coming up with names when she knew all along what she would do with it once it was born. She just did it, perhaps to pass the time. It seemed right when all the choices she was making were wrong.
She takes a moment to catch her breath, and then she gets to her feet. The baby is crying loud enough for anyone within a hundred feet of her to hear it. She has to do something before someone comes. How is she going to get away with this? Her jeans and t-shirt are soaked with blood. Absent-mindedly, she grabs the umbilical cord and rips it in half, then yanks out the part still attached to her. She's sees an open dumpster and tosses it in.
That's when she sees the solution to her problem.
Just toss it away. Get rid of it. Tomorrow is Christmas Day. The garbage trucks won't come that morning but they will the day after. They'll have to in order to pick up all the gift boxes and wrapping paper. Why didn't she think of this before? It's so simple. No one will ever know.
She picks Matthew up in her arms and feels a tremendous feeling of guilt seem to surge from her spine up to her heart. She pushes it down and without another look at the bloody mess that is her newborn son; she tosses him into the dumpster.
He doesn't stop crying.
Instead, the sound gets even louder with the echo created by the dumpster's four walls and open top. She can't afford to have someone coming to her rescue.
She shuts the lid and that muffles the sound significantly.
Alyssa stands in front of the dumpster under the orange street light in the damp back alley off of South Oak Avenue. What she will do now, she doesn't know. She turns around and begins to walk away. Strangely enough, she makes it all the way back to Randy's without being noticed, even though four cops drove past her on the way. Perhaps they were busy, or perhaps they didn't care. Probably thought she was a crack-whore. Such is life in Cala Bay. If you lived here you would understand. A lot of times, people just don't care.
Randy isn't home. He never is at this time of night, not even on Christmas. It's 2:30 AM. Alyssa is exhausted and in pain, so she decides to lie down. She won't be able to sleep tonight. The guilt is too strong but she'll get over it eventually. That's a good thing too because what she did tonight was for the better in her case, but that's not for now.
For now, let's go back to that dumpster.
It's still in there, in its metal coffin basking in the orange glow of the solitary streetlight. The crying has stopped, but the thing inside is far from dead. Yes, it is a thing, not a child that lies in that dumpster and it wasn't created by any coke-pusher's seed. That dumpster holds something that would drive most people insane just by looking at it. It's a good thing Alyssa didn't see it clearly, or maybe it would've been better if she did. Perhaps then she would've decapitated it instead of just tossing it into a dumpster. Perhaps... wait... what's that sound?
There's scratching noises, and the sound of leather being ripped apart. The doors to the dumpster shoot open, and something flies out of it; something brown with leathery wings and a long snout; something with eyes so red it seems that all the vessels in them have burst; something that has a tail that looks like a fleshy spade; something that goes by the name of Matthew.
This is how a demon is born.
This is Christmas in Cala Bay.
Part Two – Randy's Christmas – "The Ruiner"
Randy is high as hell and he's driving. That's never a good combination. He doesn't know what Skipper is talking about when the kid says, "Turn it up." He thinks he's talking about the radio so he turns that up, but Skipper says, "No, the other one." Of course he's talking about the police CB, the one that Randy got from some redneck out in Sparr for a hundred bucks. It was a good deal though. It tells him everything that's going on in town.
Right now all he can hear on it is a bunch of garbled screaming, which is unusual. Normally the officers are very calm. They could be reporting a routine traffic stop, or a full blown assault and still their tone of voice would remain the same; cool, calm, and collected. Randy turns up the CB. He still doesn't know what exactly Skipper's so anxious to hear.
"Holy mother..." says a trembling voice from the CB's single speaker. "What the fuck is that thing?"
Randy's a little more awake after hearing that.
"What the fuck?" he says, swerving to avoid hitting a PT Cruiser.
"Watch where the fuck you're going, dip-shit," Skipper says calmly despite their near miss. He lights a Newport, just as cool and collected as the cops normally are.
"My bad," replies Randy, withdrawn and not in the least bit offended that he just got called a dip-shit by someone four years younger than him.
Randy is too intoxicated to feel angry about much of anything right now.
"HQ, this is Deputy Hallston. I'm requesting backup at 1029 South Oak Avenue," crackles the same timid voice from the CB. "There's some kind of animal on the loose in there."
"Shit, that's Dunkin Donuts," says Randy. "I used to work at that bitch wit Shantana and..."
"Go there," replies Skipper. "Now."
Randy doesn't know exactly why he started hanging out with Skipper. He met him at a party about a month ago and the kid seemed to know his shit. Randy always thought he looked like one of those boys that wore the white robes at the Catholic Church, but Randy sensed something different about him, regardless of his innocent appearance. He figured Skipper had a lot of money. The kid was always wearing Armani suits and flaunting a gold Rolex on his wrist. He had to be on the grind, that's the only way he'd be able to afford that shit. No one's parents buy them Rolex watches and Armani suits, no matter how many good grades they make.
After getting to know Skipper, Randy found that the kid wasn't anything like a kid at all. What Randy came to know about Skipper about a week after they met was that for one, Skipper cared about no one but himself, and for two, Skipper wouldn't hesitate to kill someone.
They were leaving a party when Randy realized that his car wouldn't start. The battery was dead. They had to walk to the closest store and get a new one, then bring that one back and change it. On the way, some fiend ran up on Skipper with a gun and told him to hand over his wallet. Randy, pissed off that he didn't bring his own strap, figured he'd have to pay Skipper something back once this guy robbed him, just out of respect.
That wasn't the case.
Skipper only smiled, then rapidly punched the crack-head three times in the throat. Blood squirted between his clenched teeth, and he fell to the ground, dead. That's when Skipper said, "Watch the fuck out we're gonna crash!”
Randy had been dozing while he reminisced and didn't realize he was once again in the wrong lane. This time he barely avoided a Volkswagen, which honked its high pitched horn as it zoomed past.
"You're gonna get yourself killed."
"Nigga, mind’ya own. I got it under control," says Randy, knowing damn well the only thing he has under control right now is... well, nothing. "Just chill. And why the hell are we goin' to Dunkin Donuts anyway. I don't wanna get ate up by no damn animal."
"It's not an animal," says Skipper, exhaling a thick batch of cigarette smoke. "It's a ruiner. Like me."
"The fuck you say?"
Skipper looks at Randy like he's some kind of feeble insect.
"Look," begins the spiky haired, choir-boy-looking demon sitting next to him. "We've needed to have this talk for awhile."
Skipper takes a drag off of his cigarette and rolls down the window. Randy continues to focus on the road, but finds it hard not to look at him. He's beginning to get paranoid. As a matter of fact, he thinks he's starting to hallucinate.
"I'm not completely human, though I do have some human in me," says Skipper. "Kind of like you. You're not completely black. You have some Spanish in you."
"Estas loco?" inquires Randy, forcing a half-assed grin.
"Exactly," Skipper waves him off dismissively. "My mother was human, but my father was a ruiner. It's a kind of demon. Our only purpose is to create misery and chaos in other people's lives."
The entire time Skipper is saying this, he's wearing a shit-eating grin on his face. He knows this is freaking Randy out. Every time Randy snatches a halfway glance from the road to the kid's face he sees that grin and he knows he's looking into the eyes of insanity.
"Oh yeah," adds Skipper. "I was also bitten by a vampire when I was 16. That's why I don't age. But don't worry. My ruiner DNA canceled out the genetic code in vampires that makes them crave blood. So I won't be biting you."
"Cool," says Randy. "That makes me feel a lot better."
"What the fuck are you doing you just passed it!"
Randy realizes he did just pass the Dunkin Donuts they were going to. He pulls off in a back alley and begins to turn around.
"Wait," says Skipper. "Just stop here. This is where she shitted him out."
"Who shitted on whom?"
"Your whore girlfriend," says Skipper. "That baby isn't yours. It's mine, and its birthday is today. Therefore, I have to kill it… before it kills me."
"What the hell are you talkin about, man?" asks Randy, putting the car in park and finally reaching a level of freaked-out he never wanted to reach. "You’re crazy! The baby isn't supposed to be born for another two months, and plus she's gettin' an abortion. And further more, aint' no way YOU fucked MY girl."
"Look Randy. I don't have time for this," says Skipper, opening the glove compartment and pulling out the Smith and Wesson 1911. "I've got a lot to prove and nothing to lose."
"What the fuck?"
Skipper shoots Randy three times in the face before he can even scream.
Part Three – Deputy Hallston's Christmas – "Sweet Tooth"
Deputy Hallston was eating donuts when the thing flew through the plate-glass-window. He was taking a long break on a particularly slow evening. After all, it was Christmas Eve.
Whatever the thing was, it snatched the Boston creme right out of his hand.
"The fuck?" was all he could manage to say before total chaos ensued.
He saw a set of leathery wings flap through the air. The fluorescent lights shined right through them and that made him want to expel his midnight snack. He could hear something that sounded like a crow screaming with glass in its throat, and that made him want to go anywhere but here and very fast, but he was a cop, and this was why he was working tonight.
"Everybody out!" he yelled, not realizing he was the only one in the store other than the clerk as he stood up and spilled his coffee all over the front of his dark green slacks. "Shit. Holy mother... what the fuck is that thing?"
At least they're dark green instead of the khaki ones the deputies in Lake County use, he thought. This way it doesn't look like I pissed myself, even though I probably already did and don't know it.
Before he could continue to muse on his pants, the flying thing with the long snout and beady red eyes flew over the counter and started attacking the clerk. She screamed because the bird-thing was practically attached to her head. It seemed to have gotten caught in her hair. Before Deputy Hallston could get a good look at it and see what exactly the hell it was, she fell to the floor, still screaming.
That's when he picked up his rover and called for backup.
"HQ, this is Deputy Hallston. I'm requesting backup at 1029 South Pine Avenue," he says, not knowing how scared he sounds. "There's some kind of animal on the loose in there."
He drops the rover before he can hear the reply and proceeds toward the counter. He draws his weapon and takes slow, cautious steps. He should be racing over there to help the woman, but he's scared shitless.
"Help!" screams the clerk. "Get your lazy cop ass up and... ARRRGGHH! FUCKING HELP ME!"
That's when Hallston charges the counter and hops over. The brown, bird-like thing is tangled in the woman's hair. It screeches and she screams. They roll around on the ground in front of Hallston and he doesn't know what to do.
"SHOOT IT!" yells the clerk. "FUCKING SHOOT IT YOU DUMBFUCK!"
So Hallston does what she says.
He misses and the bullet hits her in the temple, finally shutting her up.
"Fuck," says Hallston as he re-holsters his weapon.
The thing is still struggling to get free of the recently deceased clerk's hair, but it doesn't have to work hard now. Hallston's bullet shot off the piece it was tangled in. The leathery wings flap and it hops onto a nearby bucket that's used for God knows what. Hallston still hasn't gotten a good look at it, and he's not sure if he wants to, so he runs to the left, passing the coffee makers and toasters and exits back into the dining area. He takes a right and tries to get into the bathroom so he can lock himself in and never come out.
Before he can get in, he's distracted by a tap on his shoulder. When he turns around, he sees a kid in a suit with bloodshot eyes. There's a white, powdery substance on the underside of his nose. The kid is holding out a clear, plastic baggie containing more of the stuff.
"Do you want the rest of this?" asks the kid as a sudden downpour of bright red blood flows from his nostrils. The kid seems not to notice as the warm, red liquid begins to stain the front of his shirt. "I think I'm having some kind of allergic reaction to it."
"The fuck?" is once again all Deputy Hallston can manage to say.
"Oh shit, you're a cop," says the kid, dropping the baggie and reaching inside his blazer. "Fuck man, don't arrest me and I won't kill you. Kay?"
"Put your hands where I can see them!" yells Hallston, not realizing he doesn't sound in the least way threatening. He's even forgot to draw his gun.
Skipper grabs the 1911 out of his shoulder holster and then raises his hands. Hallston takes a moment to think why he hasn't shot the kid yet, and that's when the brown, bird-thing jumps up onto the counter. For the first time, Hallston gets a clear look at it.
He sees a clump of bloody hair in its long, fleshy snout.
Skipper stands there with his hands still in the air and watches the deputy turn around and exit the building as if nothing ever happened.
"Cala Bay's finest," says Skipper, dropping his hands and not remembering why he had them up in the first place. "Barney Fucking Fife."
He turns around, and sees his son gorging himself on the newest batch of chocolate sprinkled donuts.
"Don't eat chocolate before bed, Matthew. It'll give you nightmares." says Skipper, firing a drunken shot in the general direction of his son and missing.
Instead he hits a pot of hot coffee and it explodes, sending shards of glass flying through the air like deadly missiles. One of the shards slices Matthew's wing and it cries out in either agony or rage. The next second, the thing turns on Skipper and takes flight. It zooms past him and crashes through yet another plate-glass-window. Skipper watches as the rapidly growing, grotesquely inhuman thing that is his son flies into the moonlight.
"Fucking brat," He says as the first two units of Hallston's backup arrive on the scene, their blue and red bubble-lights turning the inside of the building into some kind of donut disco.
Skipper re-holsters his weapon, not knowing why he ever took it out in the first place. He's hardly even able to lift the damn thing. He's too fucked up. He'll have to take care of these cops some other way, and he thinks he knows how.
Skipper whistles twice. It sounds like he's calling a dog because that's exactly what he's doing. As the officer's approach with their weapon's drawn, a big, black bloodhound with eyes almost as red as Skipper's bloodshot blues jumps from a row of bushes and bites one of their legs clean off across the shin. The cop screams as the other two begin to unload their clips into the thing, but the bullets don't seem to phase it. Skipper sits down at the table Hallston was sitting at earlier and lights a cigarette. He doesn't want to miss this.
Part Four – Billy's 6th Christmas – "The End?"
Billy hears something downstairs. He hears scratchy noises, and in his wild imagination he can picture Santa trying to squeeze his way down the chimney. What kind of toys might be in that gigantic bag he carries? Billy can only wonder, but one thing is for sure; his ability to go to sleep has rapidly disappeared. How could a 6-year-old possibly go to sleep in the first place? It's Christmas Eve!
Clad in his Power Rangers pajamas, Billy decides to investigate. He pulls back the covers and hops out of bed. As he makes his way out of his room on his tiptoes and proceeds slowly down the stairs, he can hear the noises more clearly. There is definitely something in his chimney, and it is definitely trying to make its way down to the bottom. It must be Santa. That's the only reasonable explanation.
He's made it to the bottom of the stairs now, and he can see the living room. It's sparkling in the white-gold light that only a well decorated Christmas tree can produce. He sees the chimney too, and what he sees makes his heart jump. There is dust falling in there; lots of dust. Something big is in that chimney, and even though he's still a young child and still believes in Santa Claus, seeing all that dust falling and hearing those unsettling screechy noises gives him the impression that whatever's in there doesn't want to give him presents.
At this point, Billy is unable to decide on what he should do. A part of him wants to run to his parents’ room yelling and screaming for his life. Another part of him wants to wait around and see what's inside making all that noise. He decides to stick around, due to the faint inkling of hope he still has that it may indeed be Santa. Of course it's Santa! The poor bastard, (strong language for such a young mind, no?) he forgot to use his fairy-dust to shrink himself and now he's gotten his big, fat ass stuck!
If only the things we told ourselves to calm ourselves down in situations like these were true...
Unfortunately, most of the time they're not.
A tail, yes Billy is certain it's a tail. It's hanging down from the chimney, brushing dust back and forth as it wags inside the fire place. Billy takes note of the sharp, spade-shaped end. That wagging doesn't look in the least bit friendly either. Whatever that tail belongs to has to be very pissed off, because the wagging is starting to turn into thrashing. The sharp end of the tail makes a thick, "WHOMP" sound each time it hits one of the cinder-block sides of the fireplace.
Billy is now terrified. In fact, he's so terrified he can't even scream. He was planning on doing that the instant he saw the tail, but now he finds himself unable to. What will he do now? It won't be long before whatever's inside his chimney manages to free itself, and when it does get loose, what will it do to him? Will it use its sharp, pointy tail to slice him in half and eat his insides while he dies screaming? Or maybe he'll just simply die from fright at the sight of the thing; just take one look and keel over on the floor with an exploded heart inside his chest.
Billy hears three loud booms and for a moment he thinks his heart really is exploding, and then he realizes someone is knocking at the door. That's when he finally understands what is going on here. Santa Claus is knocking on his door because one of his reindeer got stuck in the chimney! Some freak accident happened up there and the poor, stupid sum'bitch just up and fell in! Of course that tail in there doesn't belong to some scary monster; it just looks scary because he's never seen one before. No one knows what a real, magical North Pole Reindeer's tail looks like, until now.
Billy turns around and quickly walks to the door, no longer bothering to tiptoe because he's sure Santa's knocking has woken up his parents. That's a good thing too, because now him and his parents can help Santa get his reindeer out of the chimney and maybe he'll get extra presents and...
Something is wrong. Billy notices this when he opens the door and doesn't see Santa Claus but instead a smartly dressed teenager with spiky black hair, a cigarette in his mouth, and blood all over the front of his shirt and tie.
"Merry Christmas," says Skipper, the cigarette drooping from the side of his mouth. "Want a present?"
Billy can't quite manage to answer, he's too confused.
"Guess not. But that's a good thing because I'm not Santa Claus and all I have to give you is a bag of Cocaine, which you probably don't want anyway." Skipper takes the cigarette out of his mouth and exhales smoke. Billy smells it and coughs. "I've been trying to get rid of it. It gave me this bad reaction, which is why I'm all covered in blood. Probably scared you didn't I? Probably had you wishing your mom and dad would run downstairs and save you from the big, bad bloody guy with the cigarette and the...
Skipper reaches inside his jacket and pulls out the 1911.
"...big gun. But don't worry! I have no intention of doing any harm to you. The only thing I want to do is put a bullet in the brain of that grotesque looking thing that's been slowly creeping up behind you."
Billy turns his head to the right and sees a brown blur out of the corner of his eye. Utterly terrified beyond any means of comprehension or judgment, he decides to turn around completely. What he sees makes him able to scream again. The scream nearly drowns out the sound of the single gunshot that emits from the 1911's barrel. Billy watches the big, brown, winged thing's head explode in a milky cloud of maroon. Chunks of skin and meaty brain matter splash onto the kid's face. The thing's sharp, spade-shaped tail jerks as the brain sends its final transmissions throughout the thing's dying body. A moment later there is no movement, and Mathew is dead.
"You, son..." says Skipper to Billy, returning the 1911 to the shoulder holster inside his jacket. "...have just witnessed the most painful abortion in the history of the practice."
He takes a drag from his cigarette and exhales deeply.
"Poor Mathew..." Skipper looks at the bloody brown mess on the floor in front of the little kid with the terrorized expression on his ghost-white face. "Anyway, I hope this didn't traumatize you too badly. Sadly, I have to be going home now. Your parents are coming downstairs and I don't want to have to kill them too. I've reached my quota for tonight. Consider yourself extremely lucky, even though you have dead demon all over your face. 'Night kid. Sweet dreams."
Billy hears a sound like leather being ripped apart, then flapping wings and a whoosh of cool Christmas-time air. He knows the cigarette smoking thing just flew away, leaving him here with this mess that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Don't worry though; Billy's going to be just fine. One day he's going to become very successful writing scary stories. One day he's going to meet a lonely woman named Alyssa. She's going to be a little older than him, but they're going to fall in love and they're going to have a baby. It's going to be a boy. She's going to be sad about the child she once lost.
She's going to name their son Matthew.