Look, Ma; No Cavities
“Maybe just try to embrace it this year, man,” he said, stroking his beard, thoughtfully.
“Look, Nick, I appreciate what you’re tryin’ to do here, but c’mon. There’s no universe in which this doesn’t suck.
His friend stifled a chuckle. “You had a choice you know.”
He frowned, not that anyone could tell, what with the horns, and the twisted vile wrinkles, and lolling forked tongue. “I don’t think that’s true. If I’d said no it would have broken my father’s black heart.”
This time Nicholas chuckled openly. “I suppose that’s true. He did have a heart for the work.”
“Beating badly behaved young ones with a stick?” he asked wryly. “I supposed he did, at that.”
“Well, at least they have it coming,” Nick tried again.
The demon nodded, finally. “They do, indeed. My mother was a high school teacher. Seeing what that did to her, what she became in Hell, I suppose I should be proud of what I’m accomplishing.”
“Good man!” Nicholas laughed, patting his companion on the back. “Have some fun with it then,” he said, stepping out of their shared sleigh. The reindeer backed away from his companion and he slapped the one who snapped at his friend on the hind quarters. “Behave, now, Agueda!” he chastised. “He brings your grain every night!”
“She doesn’t know me when I wear this guise, Nicky. Don’t be too hard on her. I think the sound of the chains spooks them.”
“I suppose,” he said. But he felt badly about the expression on his friend’s face. They knew each other well enough that even in his Hellish form, Saint Nicholas could read Krampus’s face. “But you’re just doing your job.”
“I know, but … Magical or no, Nick, she’s just an animal. And they know where I come from. They can’t help but know.”
Nicholas looked a little sad for his friend. His own appointed duties were so pleasant. He wanted to cheer up this creature who set the stage for his celebration each year. “Come to the feast tonight.”
“No … I couldn’t.”
“You’d be most welcome,” he assured the demon.
“At a Heavenly feast?”
“You were appointed to be a part of it. You’ve always been welcome.”
As he started off down the first of many streets, his large, unwieldy, head nodded slowly. “Perhaps I will.”
Krampus did manage, at least a little bit, to be less down on the job than he had in the previous couple of hundred years. Thinking of his mother, of what his good friend Nicholas had said to encourage him, made the endless night of the eve of Shen’Kolli i Dimnit a little less bleak.
By the end of the night though, he was wearied. He didn’t know if he had it in him to attend the feast, to celebrate what he had done. Part of him believed that the punishing of the wicked had a vital role in the wheel of the year. Another part felt there had to be a better way to deal with ill-behaved young ones.
When he arrived at the last house of the night, he felt his exhaustion down to his bones. This boy was fairly high on the list of needing correction, and was near where he was planning to meet Nick for a ride home, so he’d saved the kid for last.
He lumbered up the steep stairs, dragging his ceremonial chains, tripping twice on the plush carpeting with his cloven hooves. He hoped this kid would respond to his visit quickly so he could get home and go to bed. Feasting with Nicholas to celebrate this night, well, it just seemed like too much at the moment.
The door creaked as he eased it open, expecting to find this boy, on the verge of manhood asleep at this late … or was that early morning ?.. hour.
Instead, he found the blue-eyed, perfectly-coiffed frosted-tipped blond lounging on his bed in designer boxer shorts. The boy was checking his reflection in a mirror, as well as his reversed camera with filter and smirking smugly as he snapped a bare chested not quite thirteen-year-old selfie, which he immediately sent to some girl who exited the app immediately.
Well, then. This one did actually need his attention.
“Boy!” he boomed in his supernaturally enhanced grating and terrifying voice. “You have displeased the spirits this year!”
The kid flicked his eyes to the impressively outfitted demon with the glowing horns and lolling tongue and then rolled them back into his head, not in a loss of consciousness, but with a dismissive snort. The child returned his attention to his phone.
“Boy!” Krampus growled. “Did you not hear me?”
Not looking up, the boy rolled his eyes again. “Yeah, I heard ya. You’re loud as fuck. My parents will freak out if they come in here and think you woke me up.”
Krampus couldn’t quite believe the mouth on this kid. “You were not sleeping. You were sending inappropriate pictures to a young woman who did not want to receive them!”
“Oh, she wanted them. She just don’t know it yet,” he sneered.
Krampus’s eyes flashed. “That is not how relationships operate, boy!”
“It is if that’s what I want.” Another eyeroll of total disinterest flitted over the boy’s face, and he focused on his phone again, as if a supernatural being of true power did not actually exist in his world at that moment. What a selfish, purposed short-sighted little shit!
This was why you did the job, Krampus thought suddenly. Never had he ever met a child who so rubbed him the wrong way. This boy was an exemplar of everything wrong with the world. With why the job of Krampus still existed to suck him in.
“Boy!” he roared, glad that his magic kept this child’s helicopter parents from interfering.
“What, asshole?” the kid asked drily, without looking up.
“You have earned a visit from the spirit of Krampus. I am the vengeful heart of Christmas. When you should think of others, you think only of yourself. You expect respect, but give none. You demand constant attention, but yield your attention to neither man, nor beast, nor spawn of hell. You expect reward for no good deed and demand forgiveness for all your own misdeeds. YOU are what causes the world to NEED ME!”
With his final pronouncement, Krampus drew his silver switch from his pack for the final time this night and laid into this human, this child who should have already been past seeing only the end of his own nose, this future destroyer of anything that did not bring him pleasure.
After a time, Krampus became, once again, aware of the creature’s whining, mewling voice. “Stop, stop, please stop, I’ll be good, I’ll be good,” the sobbing voice promised.
“Will you though?” Krampus asked, staying his hand for a moment.
With his broken attention, the boy made a sound in his throat and spat at the demon’s feet. “Fuck you,” the boy snarled.
Krampus resumed beating this ungrateful, selfish creature. When he intensified his efforts, the not-quite-man begged him to stop. “Please, please, you don’t have to do this,” he panted.
“Oh, but I do,” Krampus said, his voice cool and calm, for perhaps the first time (on this night anyway) in centuries. “You beg me to do this with your blatant selfish acts.”
“No, no I don’t,” the boy insisted.
“Of course, you do,” Krampus roared. “You think this is what I want to be doing, how I thought I’d spend eternity?” he asked angrily. “I wanted to be a dentist, you little shit! I just wanted to help people have beautiful smiles. But did I get what I wanted? Fuck, no, I didn’t. I got what the world needed!!! Maybe try getting your head out of your own ass once in a while, you little puke!”
Krampus had never been more furious.
And his fury made him effective. By the end of his session with this boy, he felt sure he would be less selfish, more interested in the lives and feelings with others, and more dedicated to the advancement of his species.
Krampus had never thought his role in the ether-world had value before. But tonight, he understood completely why he needed to exist.
He stepped away from a sobbing, righteously-broken heap on the floor.
As he moved toward the door, he glanced back at the crying, sullen man-child. “Behave this year. Do your homework. Don’t backtalk your parents … or your teachers. Clean up after yourself. You know the right things to do!”
The child nodded, sniffling.
“Oh, and,” he called as he disappeared from the child’s sight. “Brush your teeth.”
– End –