Welcome dark readers to my page, the piece that I post today was written for a Christmas special by the Grue Family (followers & contributors of Rivers of Grue). Individually we were asked to complete a Xmas story for the Keeper of The Quill as a present for him and we had a great response to the invitation. The premise was that we were all out the night before Xmas, a secret Santa had been performed so we each had to get a gift for another member of the family, naturally knowing the individuals involved the story would revolve around horror & darkness yet still have a Xmas theme. Really it was a bit of fun with horror & darkness thrown in to the mix, everyone did a great job on their own parts meaning that in total the piece clocked in at over 80,000 words!! There were short stories, poems, pictures, you name it, it was a great project, a change from the usual and we all really loved doing something a bit different. Due to the scale of the piece in its entirety, it’s unlikely that it will see the light of day in one continual story, therefore I decided to post my own individual contribution. I enjoyed writing it and as I said, it was a lot of fun doing something a little bit different. Since the original story was completed, a lot of new people have joined the Rivers plus some who just read or have discovered various posts so such readers will never have seen it or will be unlikely to see it. Which is why I am posting it here now, so, without further ado, here is my small contribution…………… entitled ‘In League With Santa’, enjoy …………………………
C. William Giles
First General of Grue & War of The Four Horsemen It was late, Christmas Eve was quiet, very quiet. We all stood outside in the snow, chilled but excited. The rest of the Grue family & I looked at each other lovingly yet all had a dark twinkling in their eyes. We smiled at each other, some hugged one another as we bid our fond farewells, knowing full well that it was only to be a brief time apart. I gazed at the group as they slowly, reluctantly, scattered to the winds. I’d wondered previously, excitedly about who I was going to draw, I hadn’t minded who I would get, all would prove a delicious treat. Then I saw the naughty list and to my delight I had drawn the organizer of the festivities, the Duchess herself, Siara Tyr, mmmm Siara was to be MINE!!!!!! As the last of the family drifted away I stood stock still, watching Siara say a heartfelt temporary goodbye to her siblings, the light wind rolling along the street, lifting my dark overcoat around my knees, & doing likewise to my long hair as it trailed across my face, hiding my features as I grinned to myself. I stayed watching her until I quietly stepped back, eyes still on her until my steps took me further back into the shadows, I said nothing, just drifted with the lightly swirling snow into the recesses of the shadow until I was hidden in the darkness, though I could still see her looking around no doubt wondering how I had slipped away unnoticed. I was completely out of sight now and I had to wonder what to do with myself. My plans had been formulated a while previously, so now all I had to do was stay out of sight to give full flow to the nights stalking, it would be my absolute pleasure. In fact, I decided that I could briefly stalk everyone!! I wandered through the shadows, the snow under foot muffling my boot steps as I trod the night. It was blissfully pleasant out in the quiet night air, here and there I could hear echoes in the darkness which made me smile to myself. Any ‘normal’ person that happened to be out that late wouldn’t have heard a thing, the sounds were only audible to fellow Grueheads, thankfully no mortals crossed our paths, luckily for them. The sounds were, should any mortal be able to hear them, akin to that of wolves but then again they could be likened to bears………just about anything wild and untamed actually. They were the sounds of wonderfully wild beasts, out in their particular natural habitat, the darkened night. There were howls, screams (some, of delight), growls, maniacal laughter, moans and groans, it was a blackened symphony for the senses, for the Grue family at least, I’m sure that they all heard it as they scurried around our hunting grounds. I stepped from the shadows momentarily to soak up the night but slipped effortlessly into a doorway as I heard the approach of one of my brethren, it could’ve been Cheri or Mel, possibly Jester or Jilly. I saw who it was but that one shall remain nameless, I just observed as they looked out into the dark, no doubt getting their bearings before scurrying off for their prey. I smiled to myself at the dark mischief undoubtedly in their head before seeing another coming from the opposite direction. They hadn’t seen each other but as the second one came almost to the spot of the previous, she paused, she sniffed the air with recognition like a beautiful beast catching scent of its quarry. Then I froze as she sniffed again, she turned and looked directly at where I stood in the dark doorway, my normal black clothing cloaking me from sight. I could’ve sworn that she saw me for she simply smiled a delicious knowing smile before gliding off into the night, a delectable vampire in full flow. I came out of the shadows as she left and wandered further through the appetizing night. I saw along the ground little trails of crimson. Again they were unseen to the mortal who may come across them but to ‘us’ they were unmistakable. Faint trails of blood or Grue criss-crossing this way and that through the pure white snow as it lay practically undisturbed by their almost supernatural presence. Of course, some did leave footprints behind but some did not, there are many different kinds of creature in the family known as Grue!
It seemed that I walked for long and long taking in the nights’ festivities, the black of the night, the white of the snow, the crimson of the blood trails all filling me with joy as I gazed in wonderment at their beauty. Seeing wherever I walked that there was a trail, showed just how much delight my family was taking in being let off their leashes in the dark. I toyed with the idea of picking up one of the trails and following it, just to pass the exquisite time but thought better of it, after all, how could I pick just one when they were all such wonderful creatures to follow. Besides, that way would lead to detection, I enjoyed the stalking alone, the not-knowing of the ‘other’ was part of the thrill. Time passed as I continued to marvel at my beloved night & darkness and it’s sounds of the eerie, bliss couldn’t fully explain my feelings. However, I had to get back to my own prey, Siara. I stayed in the shadows as I made my way back to our family home, gliding between houses as people slept, their unknowing of the potential horrors on their own doorsteps made me grin with sweet horror. I worked my way silently around the house. I subtly peaked through the window at the side to see if there was life around. The sounds of the family had notably died down over the last hour or so of my wanderings, though I couldn’t be absolutely sure, I was relatively safe in the knowledge that I was the last, or at least one of the last, to return. I looked again and saw movement, three of the sisters sat chatting together, I could hear male voices too, Messrs Crowley & Stone were there, laughing and recounting their adventures of the evening, more maniacal laughter ensued at their high jinx. I smiled to myself at their joy, no doubt at trying to scare the shit out of each other along their journeys! One of the dark angels was indeed Siara, the drinks were obviously flowing with their tales yet she had stated that as the ringleader she wouldn’t go to bed until all Grueheads were accounted for. That would be the ace up my sleeve, as I had drawn her she would also be the last one awake, waiting for me to come home………I could wait a little longer. I did wait, luckily, because I saw another return, it may have been Bloody Rose, I’m not quite sure but I heard someone say “Is that everybody?” To which Siara replied “No, Craig is still out there…….somewhere” A little more time passed and the exhausted (and now inebriated) Brothers & Sisters made for their beds (and in some cases, coffins).
At last, Siara, true to her word was alone and waiting my return…………..time to play. I wandered around the building, the quietest I’ve moved, the snow aiding me in my muffled boot steps. The house was silent, dead silent, I walked around to the back door and gently rapped upon it before gliding back to the shadows. I could hear Siara moving through the house, unlocking the door as she spoke “Finally, is that you Craig?” She opened the door with relief which quickly turned to a frown of disappointment with just the night greeting her. I had quickly made my way around to the front, watching her from the corner of the window as she locked up the back and moved back to the fire in the living room. She was used to the darkness and horror, as are we all, but being alone in the dark and not knowing what or who else is out there……………………? I breathed on the window pane, causing it to mist over before writing her name in scrawled letters in the mist. I rapped on the window before again slipping away. I could see from my vantage point that she had come over to the window, she tried to wipe the glass clean but clearly that wouldn’t be possible from inside the house, would she go out? No, I didn’t think she would, being a Gruehead meant she’d seen many times how movie victims act. She stayed by the fire, I stayed in the darkness, watching her, waiting and watching as her anxiety grew greater, watching as she grew twitchy at every little noise and groan that an old house makes, it was blissful and delicious. Time passed, my prey waited patiently, nervously, I could torment her no longer………well, maybe a little longer. Stealthily I moved to the front door and banged on it as hard as I could, Siara yelped and jumped audibly at the shock. Again I leapt to the shadows, watching as she opened the door, kitchen knife in hand I noticed, she peaked around the door, only open a few inches, blade at the ready. Again there was no-one, her trembling hands closed the door as I watched her, I may have gone too far, maybe just far enough. I waited just a few more minutes before returning, I knocked on the door again but this time I stayed on the porch. She didn’t open the door this time, she called out instead “W-who is it?” I didn’t reply, I couldn’t resist, instead I knocked again, harder. I imagined her jolt behind the door at the force, knowing full well that there WAS somebody there this time. Tentatively I heard her unbolt the door, she peered around it again but this time I was there. She flung the door open with relief and I stepped inside to her warm embrace She had tears of anguish and fear on her cheeks which I wiped away, I was about to apologize for being late but before I could, she punched me in the chest!
“That’s for scaring the crap out of me”
“What do you mean?” I smiled
“You bastard, I’m exhausted and you’ve been messing with my head” she snapped
I grabbed her back into my arms & said I was sorry if she had been scared but I’ve only just got back. She frowned, partly in disbelief but partly in concern that there was actually someone else trying, and succeeding, to scare her. We parted and I poured myself a warming Scotch and stood by the fire to heat myself further while Siara locked the door, then checked she’d locked the door! She came over and poured herself a drink before sitting in an armchair, we mulled over the nights events briefly before she exclaimed
“Where’s your gift?”
“Oh, don’t worry about that, it’ll be here” I answered as I took another sip of my drink
“It’ll be here?” she snapped
“It’s being delivered soon”
“In the early hours of Christmas morning?” she didn’t believe me “Who’s going to deliver at this time?”
“It’s a special delivery” I smiled
She frowned again at me but I just smiled a knowing smile, I topped up my glass as she watched me with intent, the kind of intent that was difficult to understand, was she going to stab me with the knife or try to seduce me? It was difficult to decide, the tension was broken however by a hugely violent knock at the door, Siara literally jumped out of her chair. I stayed where I was at the fire, she looked at me as if questioning why I wasn’t going to the door.
“That’ll be my gift now” I said calmly
She looked at me with a concerned look of distrust to which I playfully frowned back a look of hurt. Siara inched her way over to the door, very slowly, carving knife in hand and at the ready. “He doesn’t like to be kept waiting my dear” I said, amusing myself if not her. Siara reached the door, her left hand unbolted the lock and then rested on the handle, her right gripping her weapon for all her worth, knuckles turning white, I grinned as she took a deep breath and opened the door. Siara opened the door with knife raised above her head, just in case, standing in front of her was a man, a huge man, a huge man in a Santa Claus outfit!
“Y-yes” she murmured
He said no more but stood still, watching her from behind his disguise and huge fake beard. I walked over to the door, standing behind her, I smiled and nodded at Santa who briefly nodded back to me. Siara looked him up and down, he, or rather his outfit had a familiar yet curious odour to it. What’s more, it was dripping all over the snow on the porch! Siara gasped and took a step back and into me as I stayed behind her. His outfit seemed to drip from every part, the red of his tunic, hat & trousers were soaked in deliciously crimson blood. The blood so dense that it gathered together and dripped from him, the fresh snow that had fallen during the night, yet to be removed now stained heavily with the Grue. Little puddles formed before us as we stared at him. By his side, on the porch, was a huge sack. He bent down and opened it, rummaging through until he found what he was looking for.
“Santa?” she exclaimed in horror
“Haha, well yes, but this is actually a good friend of mine”
She looked up at me, no doubt thinking ‘Are you fuckin serious?’ with mouth agape that this was actually a friend
“Allow me to introduce Severin Frost”
at which her mouth fell wide still farther in shock Severin straightened up after his search and handed her a gift from his sack, it was a cubed box, just under a foot in width and height, beautifully wrapped in shiny purple paper, with a large green bow tying it all together.
“That looks fantastic Severin” I smiled “Enjoy the rest of your night my friend”
“And you, both of you, oh and the same to the rest of your family and of course the Keeper”
With that, Santa/Severin turned and left, throwing his sack over his shoulder. I ushered Siara inside, locking the door behind us. She moved in short rigid steps which meant that I had to guide her over to the tree.
“There now, wasn’t that a nice surprise” I beamed with a twisted smile “let’s put it under the tree”
She looked at the gift then back up at me, she had tears in her eyes as she spoke.
“Craig, this is warm”
I beamed back but she wasn’t smiling, instead she was looking down at her feet and the carpet below, now as stained as the porch had been.
“Craig, this is dripping blood”
“I know my sweet, Merry Christmas”