Christmas at West Mansion
by Mike Wasion
Dr. West sat in his throne, head against his fist.
He stared out the ceiling-high windows into the wilderness beyond, snow falling in thick, lazy sheets across the landscape. The immense forest was blanketed in the shimmering mass, staining the pitch-black barrens in paper-white, as if the land were truly pure and innocent.
Dr. West was melancholy. Of all the nights of the year, Christmas was the one he wished he could leave the most. Halloween was different....his power was stronger then, and his influence spread far beyond the sour earth of Diamond Lake....but the rest of the year, here he dwelt.
His body lay rotting deep beneath the grounds, and as long as it did, he was tied to the place. A part of it. He was capable of some manifestations and physical interactions, but the farther he got from his unhallowed cradle, the weaker and more intangible he became. He even tried possessing some of his creatures and sending them into town, but the further he got from the woods, the harder he was pulled away, until he was yanked clean out of the filthy bodies and thrown back to the mansion. It hurt.
He thought of Santa when this time of year rolled around. How he could go anywhere, to anyone who believed in him and give them their due. He wished he had that kind of power. He knew Santa existed; saw him from his window from time to time, riding through the night to bestow presents to the little boys and girls of Diamond Lake township, or Allberry, or even the hill people scattered in the mountains.
One year, he created some winged things to knock the jolly old man out of the sky, but they never came back. He figured they'd been dealt with.
The Doctor sighed. Why shouldn't I be celebrated this time of year? Am I not a savior too?
He sat in his chair, enwrapped in his envy, and thought of Santa and the Christ, and of all the the cherubic little boys and girls out there and their sweet innocence, and his melancholy grew.
Oh well, he thought. My children still love me.
The first approached his throne. A wet and withered dead man, his bloated talons clutched around a brightly wrapped red box. As the seeping thing neared the throne, the Doctor's glassy yellow eyes rolled from the window to box, and his head followed in turn. The teetering dead man managed the marble stairs leading up to the throne, and handed his master the gift.
The Doctor reached for the box, his ragged yellow nails digging into the sides in the process. "What have we here?" He plucked off the lid and looked inside. Tucked in the box was a long, neatly-folded stack of intestines. The Doctor pulled a length out, and was surprised to feel firm knots every few inches. He wrapped his finger and thumb around one, and squeezed it out of the intestine like a tube of tooth paste.
To his amazement, a gold-wrapped chocolate truffle fell out. Whether the thing had stuffed the organs itself or force-fed the victim the unwrapped candies was uncertain, but the entire string was filled with them. The dead man twisted his misshapen "lips" in a futile attempt at forming meaningful sounds. He failed at this, merely gurgling, a runny string of green and yellow fluid running down his chin.
The Doctor knew the sickening gurgling to mean "beloved" and was pleased. He patted the dead thing on the head, strings of putrescence sticking to his hand when he pulled it off. "You've done well, unclean one." The dead man staggered off, overjoyed.
Just behind it, one of the fat ones slid over, a trail of mucous two inches think stretching in it's wake. The amorphous thing, resembling a beet-red grub the size of a Volkswagen, with row after row of jagged ivory railroad spikes for teeth, couldn't navigate the marble steps, so it stood at the throne's base and writhed for a moment. "And what do you have for me, gluttonous one?" The creature stood wobbling for a moment, then with a shudder, leaned over and vomited all over the steps. A vile flow of greenish-brown slime spewed out of the thing, and within it could be seen huge chunks of semi-digested meat, the remains of countless victims. The remains were dark-colored and near-liquified, long decayed....worms and maggots squirmed over nigh-featureless faces, chipped bone and limbs. The creature had been storing them inside itself for weeks....maybe months. It's own private reserves. And now he was giving his entire supply, stored carefully in it's sewer of a stomach, to the Doctor.
West stood up and stepped over to the enormous, foul puddle. He picked through it, observing the violated human left-overs and reeking larvae. It's was vile beyond imagining. It was beautiful. "How gracious of you, glutinous one! To share this coveted and beautiful gift! You have done well." With that, the beast mewled, and slithered off to the back of the room to stand with the dead man.
A third stepped forward, tall and gaunt and regal. It's posture was firm, it's stride grand, it's head an enormous sack of swollen brain. It strolled up the steps and stood in the wriggling, stinking swamp of decay. "A gift for you, our champion!" The huge-headed man handed the Doctor a small-ish black box, topped with a green bow. He raised the lid and looked into the crimson silk-lined box. "A sacrilege, born of nothing, for you to relive again and again, my champion!" Within the box was a single, old kitchen knife. It's handle was ragged, the blade rusted in spots and dirty all over....dark brown stains barely visible under the filth. The Doctor picked up the knife and instantly saw within his mind a young man, eyes glazed and wide, walk off of the streets and into a neighborhood church. Clenched in his hand was the rusty old knife. One by one, the knife found it's way into the nuns. Chest. Face. Throat. Breast. Breast. Thigh. Stomach. Lower. The priest came out, hearing the screams, and begged for the young man to stop. The boy ran up to the desperate priest and stabbed him in the bridge of the nose, and stabbed and stabbed and stabbed and stabbed, until the top of the priest's head hung open, nearly off like a soup can lid. The nuns weren't cruel. The priest hurt no one, neither child nor man. The crime was for no reason, and was over as soon as it started.
The Doctor placed the knife back in it's red-lined box, savoring all the quiet moments he would have with it. "Thank you, devil. This is truly a treasured gift." The Doctor spoke with uncommon sincerity. The huge-headed man smiled through a mouth of piranha teeth, and bowed. Still grinning, he walked backward into the darkness.
From the same darkness came the sound of hooves. Countless, galloping in concert. Emerging from the shadows of the great hall came a herd of pigs. At least a dozen, maybe more. Amused, the Doctor stood, nodding at the squealing crowd. The pig at the head of the pack opened it's mouth. "Greetings on this holy day, my lord! Truly you are the real savior!"
At this the Doctor's obscene mouth widened even further. "And who am I speaking to, hog?" The pig at the front of the pack opened it's mouth, and from out floated the specter of a disembodied face. The pig suddenly shrieked as if it were panicked and in intense pain, until the face floated back into it's mouth.
As if a switch were flipped, the pig was calm. "We came across these swine deep within the woods and deigned to bring them to you, my lord!" The great hog scratched at it's fat belly with it's hooves until it's stomach split open, spilling it's organs out onto the marble floor. It knelt down and tasted it's own steaming innards.
"Feed, my lord! Glut on our ungodly flesh!" The Doctor observed the herd. He could cast the filthy spirits out and devour the squealing beasts....indeed he relished the taste of unclean flesh, but it almost seemed thoughtless to squander such a gift. Base....without grandeur. "Black spirits...gather a passel of dead men and build for me a chariot. You will pull me through the wood, so that those I choose to reveal myself to might see my glory." The pigs squealed in triumph "Your will, my mighty king!" With that, they marched to stand with the others.
Seemingly from nowhere floated a silent shape. It resembled a burlap sack with a skeleton jutting out of it, a jaunty witch's hat sitting atop it's leathery skull.
"Ah, Krollock! What brings you here this cold eve?" The Doctor spoke as if he were addressing an old friend. The floating skeleton-scarecrow spoke in a voice that sounded like a record being played half-speed, and backward. The Doctor seemed to understand. The scarecrow reached into it's sack-cloak and pulled out a bundle, wrapped in cloth. "A gift, Krollock? You honor me!" Floating over to the throne, he handed the Doctor the bundle. Unwrapping it, the Doctor found within it a newborn baby. It tried to scream, but no sound came forth. The scarecrow had silenced it.
What an offering!
The Doctor was intending to create a manger for the front of the house, and this little one's tiny body would be perfect for it....but at the same time, it would also be perfect for the Christmas ham he dreamed of baking this year. Decisions, decisions....
"Old man, truly you have outdone yourself this year!" As if to say I'm not done yet, the scarecrow waved toward the dark and a thunderous noise sounded from within. Heavy footsteps, and a rickety dragging. Within moments it was revealed that the slow, deliberate steps belonged to the towering form of the woodsman, his sheeted face seeing nothing, his dismembered, chainsaw wrists knowing nothing but bloodshed. An enormous meathook protruded from his left stump just beneath the rusty saw-blade and was hooked onto a chain, dragging a huge, wheeled something, covered by an old tarp. The floating scarecrow began to speak, and as he did so his distorted voice rose in pitch and speed, and became something akin to intelligible.
"...Remove the tarp, Kinderhüter." The giant woodsman used his hook and tore the tarp away, revealing an old circus car. Inside was a collection of people....an entire family--mother, father daughter, son--broken and bleeding, shivering and helpless in the old hay. They tried to scream, but like the newborn, no sound would come.
The Doctor, amazed, threw his arms wide and regarded his bounty. "Such flesh! What will we do with all this carnality?"
The huge-headed man stepped forward, and from the darkness that surrounded him came a troupe of malformed, distorted creatures that were by turns bloated & swollen, and skinny & malnourished, each with a stained chefs hat atop their greasy, rubbery heads. "Our champion....we have dragged the tables and chairs from the banquet hall into the cathedral for a feast....the Feast of the Sacrilege! Hurry, champion! The others are waiting!"
Doctor West sat at the head of the giant table. All of his children were gathered around him, and the feast seemed endless. The rotten meat from the fat one was served as an appetizer, but West and the children were so enraptured by it's loathsomeness, that soon enough they simply began wallowing in it. Some of the Pigs began eating themselves, and West at first told them not to, but was pleased at the sight, so simply admonished them not to eat all of themselves. West got wrapped up in their bloodletting himself and began stabbing them, and himself, with his new knife and the pigs squealed orgiastically in return.
The family from the circus car was forced to participate in the dinner, and this was a source of great amusement. At first they were forced to watch as one by one they were butchered by the woodsman's saws and devoured by the throng, and eventually West's children got the idea to make them eat the remains of their own. The laughter from the table thundered across the cathedral walls like an earthquake.
The scarecrow made sure they didn't die....and so when all the meat was stripped from their bones, they took a page from the pigs' book and ate, and ate, and re-ate the same plate of their own meat, scooped off of the floor beneath their empty rib cages and handed to them over and over and over again.
The blood of the feasted was soaked up by the pulsing meat growing out of the cathedral's giant golden cross, and as it did the screams of the victims that had been silenced earlier began to shriek from the heads that floated around it, providing appropriate carols for the occasion.
Doctor West grabbed the huge golden cleaver, and cut himself another slice of his delicious, baked "ham"....and as he took a bite of the sweet, juicy flesh, it occurred to him....he could still use the skeleton for the manger. Every problem has a solution after all he chuckled to himself. He looked around the room.
Silver linings. Giving. True friends.
Maybe Christmas wasn't so bad.
Discuss this story on the forum.