Read A Christmas Horror Story Online

Authors: Sebastian Gregory

A Christmas Horror Story

On the night before Christmas, lock the doors to the house…

Forget the jolly old man in his red, big-buttoned suit. Because another creature is up on the roof, preparing for his annual visit to little children everywhere.

With a belt of knives round his waist, a writhing bag on his back and a Santa-sized appetite, he’s a little…different to the St Nick you might be expecting.

And you can leave out all the carrots and mince pies you like…but it’s
you
he’s after.

A horrid Christmas to all, and a terrible night.

Praise for Sebastian Gregory

‘It
reminded me of Tim Burton
’s ‘The Corpse Bride’ and ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’ which I really loved -
Candy’s Bookcase
on
The Boy in the Cemetery

‘Within the pages of The Boy in the Cemetery, I found that incredible part of my imagination that I realise I’d lost somewhere in the process of growing up.
I was enthralled, entranced, and completely enchanted.
I would happily, happily, happily read anything by Sebastian all day long.’
-
5 cupcakes from
Becca’s Books
to
The Boy in the Cemetery

‘Every now and then you come across a book that blows you away, this is one of those books.’ - 5 stars from
Nicky Peacock
to
The Asylum for Fairy Tale Creatures

‘This novella is magnificent. It is hauntingly magical.’
- The Modest Verge
on
The Gruesome Adventures of Alice in Undeadland

Also by Sebastian Gregory

The Gruesome Adventures of Alice in Undeadland

The Asylum for Fairy Tale Creatures

The Boy in the Cemetery

A Christmas Horror Story

Sebastian Gregory

www.CarinaUK.com

S
EBASTIAN
G
REGORY

(pronounced Gre-gory) writes from a cabin in the middle of a haunted wood. His inspiration comes from the strange and sorrowful whispers amongst the ghastly looking trees. Sebastian is only permitted to leave the shadowy candlelight of the cabin once a story is complete, when it is unleashed upon the world of the living. Sebastian writes for the younger readers as they are easier to terrify than adults whose imaginations died long ago.

When not writing in a cabin in the middle of a haunted wood, Sebastian lives in Manchester with his family and various animals.

You can email Sebastian on
[email protected]
—he would love your feedback.

You can follow him on Twitter
@wordsbyseb

You can stalk him on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/writtenbyseb

For naughty children everywhere.

Contents

Cover

Blurb

Book List

Title Page

Author Bio

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Epilogue

Endpages

Copyright

Prologue

The forest of Bern, Saint Nicholas’s Eve, 1514

It was Saint Nicholas’s Eve and, like all the children in her village who had been tucked into their beds, Greta could not or would not sleep. Her tummy was full of butterflies and her head brimmed with fairy dust. Her six-year-old little girl’s imagination was teasing her with things that Saint Nicholas would bring. A new wooden doll, called Anna or Freda. No, definitely Anna, she decided. No, Freda. And perhaps Saint Nicholas would be even more generous than usual, and bring new gloves or boots or a scarf to protect her from the cold. Greta had made efforts to be especially good this year, always helping Mama with her chores, fetching water from the well when asked, feeding Henry the cat, bringing wood from the outskirts of the forest to fuel the fire.

Of course, presents were only the beginning, Greta thought, and warm excitement bubbled through her as she imagined tomorrow’s feast. Mama would cover the table with hazel, berries and sweet yellow forest potatoes. Papa would prepare a freshly hunted pheasant, the succulent meat dripping, and he would make dark gravy from the bird’s fat. For pudding there would be a dark dumpling of fruit and goats’ cream. Her mouth watered at the thought. Throughout the day, Mama and Greta had worked hard to decorate the wooden lodge. Mama hung evergreen holly leaves on the wooden tree trunks that were the lodge’s walls. She’d fetched a stool and stood higher to wrap fir tree branches and mistletoe around the wood beams that crossed the ceiling. Greta had filled a bowl with mint leaves and pumpkin bread for a hungry Saint Nicholas as a thank you for what he would bring. Papa had watched and smiled through his dark beard as he sharpened his cleaver on a stone, smoking his bone pipe and sitting in his quilted armchair. With each stroke of the small stone against the blade, tiny orange sparks had escaped, hissing at times when they landed on the wooden floor.

Greta had been put to bed hours ago, as the sun went down and the wolves of the forest howled their evening chorus. Papa had lifted her up in his huge arms and placed her on his shoulders, cantering and neighing while jumping around and, finally, hoisting Greta up the stairs made from oak branches to the mezzanine where her handmade, wooden bed overlooked the lodge. Greta had giggled so hard, she thought her sides would split with joy.


Schlaf gut meine tochter, ein traum von liebe und abenteuer
,’ said Mama, telling her daughter to dream nice dreams while at the same time plaiting the tiny girl’s long, blonde hair into pigtails. With her nightgown on, Greta lay on her goose-feather mattress and snuggled under the patchwork blankets. Mama and Papa kissed her forehead and told her they loved her and to sleep well, just as they had done every night for the last six years. Papa lit the river-stone fireplace and started burning the logs before barring the oak doors and window shutters, just as he did every night. And so the bitter cold of winter and the singing wolves were kept at bay, and the family who lived in the woods were safe. Greta really should have been asleep by this time. But tonight was not a typical night. This was the night that Saint Nicholas visited.

It was dark in the lodge except for the orange glow of the fireplace. Flamed shapes danced into the rafters. Greta gasped as she heard the clatter on the roof above. Reindeer hooves, perhaps? Yes…the sound was unmistakable. Greta knew exactly who it was, as certainly as any child would, and Greta knew with even more certainty why he was here.


Samichlaus ist hier! Samichlaus ist hier! 
’ Greta squealed as she escaped from her bed prison. She stepped on the wooden floor and pattered along to the stairs. She passed her Mama and Papa’s room where, from the archway, she saw the dark figures of her parents sleeping amongst furs. She climbed down the stairs slowly, one at a time, steadying herself against the banister before creeping in the shadows, wanting to see but not be seen. For the moment, Greta could only hear her own excited heartbeat until, suddenly, there came a subtle sound. A jingle of sleigh bells, so distant and yet nearby, tempting her with its magical call, far away and faint at first but stronger with each tiny step Greta took.


Samichlaus, ist daß Sie?
’ Greta asked to the air. The bells stopped as if their owner had heard the question, before jingling in reply with even more excitement.

Greta was transfixed by the sound and, as if to entice her more, the shadows of the fire now danced to the magical bells’ tune. They became orange fairy folk, swirling upon the walls, twisting and somersaulting to each jingle of the bells. Greta, knowing that she had to let Saint Nicholas in, ran to the entrance door.

The door was barred closed by a huge log, held in place by iron hooks. She strained, trying to push the wood that refused to move even a hair’s breadth. Disappointed but not deterred, Greta turned her attention to the window shutters. Pushing a stool against the wall, she climbed up and tried the latch. The shutter opened with a creaking, revealing a small window, frosted as if Jack Frost himself had pushed his hands against the glass. Greta peered into the darkness, the sound of the sleigh bells now louder than ever. However, all she could see was the moonlit snow and the ancient trees holding their vigil over the lodge. That was, until a huge shadow passed by the window, darting out of Greta’s sight as fast as it had appeared, but not before tapping on the window. Tat, tat, tat.

Now she knew without any doubt that Saint Nicholas was here. She had to let him in, and she suddenly knew how. By the fireplace, Mama kept a bucket of water just in case the fire became too enthusiastic. Greta, with great strain but more determination, tipped the bucket into the fire. Most of the water poured over her nightgown and the floor, but the bucket and the rest of the water streamed into the fireplace, and the fire died with a dramatic and smoky hiss that made Greta cough. Instantly the music of the bells stopped, and the dancing shadows went dark with only slivers of the moon seeping into the lodge. Black water ran over the fireplace and over Greta’s toes, turning them murky and chilling them with the cold dirty water that ran like blood.


Samichlaus?
’ Greta called up the chimney when the smoke cleared, being careful of the orange embers that were slowly turning black. She invited him down the chimney and into her home.


Samichlaus, hereinkommen. Samichlaus, hereinkommen,
’ she said in her little voice.

Soot fell from the chimney stack and, with smoke filling the dark of the tunnel, Greta strained to see movement. She stood on tiptoe and leant further forward, and she smiled as Saint Nicholas crawled towards her.

Except, too late.

It was not Saint Nicholas that came hungrily for the child this night.

Mama and Papa woke suddenly to Greta’s shrill screams. A piercing that went through the night and into the hearts of her sleeping parents.


Greta, ich komme. Greta, Papa kommt,
’ Papa shouted as the two ran in the dark, crashing into furniture, and entered Greta’s room. Mama pulled the blankets back, searching for her daughter. Greta screamed again, and her fearful parents, in their terror, followed the horrid sound.

On the stairway they stopped in their tracks at the sight that befell them.

‘Greta?’ whispered Mama, her hand covering her quivering and fretful lips.

From the dark and the embers and the silver slivers of light they saw their daughter—sweet, succulent Greta, young and tender and plump. She stood by the fireplace and from it an elongated arm with black scales and lengthened fingers wrapped around the tiny girl’s waist.

‘Mama? Papa?’ Greta replied with tears in her eyes. And with a terrible movement, as fast as darkness murders light, the arm disappeared up the chimney stack and away taking Greta with it, leaving only a cloud of wet soot where she once stood.

From the edge of the forest where the mountains begin, a pack of sleeping wolves, huddled together in the cold, were woken. Travelling on the crystal air was a sound to fear in the night—the sound of parents calling out in anguish and loss.

A sound that would even chill the souls of beasts.

Chapter One

Moorside, Glossop, England, 23 December 2014

Katie woke to the sound of her mobile phone humming from the floor. She tried to move but was pinned down by her sister, Emily, on one shoulder and her brother, Jake, on the other. All three had fallen asleep on the sofa. In the partial darkness of the living room, the television was playing to itself. Katie blinked as, from the corner, an orange-looking man in a grey suit sold jewellery to whomever was watching. Her mobile phone screen lit up in time with each vibration. She slipped out from under her siblings, and they stirred but did not wake. Wiping a spot of drool from her chin, she pulled loose strands of hair from her mouth, before bending down to retrieve her phone.

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