Sunday, December 25, 2011

"Silver Bells"

Christmas has always been a stressful time for my family. My parents would try to get the house ready for all the festivities, would try to get everything in order, but something would always go wrong, usually due to either me or my siblings' shenanigans. We would never want to cooperate; we knew what was about to happen. I guess it was our tiny way of "rebelling."

We knew our entire extended family would be stopping by, and we were deeply annoyed by all of them. Every single one of them had a tiny quirk that would just bug the hell out of all of us. The only way I think we could even stand them was due to the presents they all brought over to give. They were the kind of folks who didn't expect anything in return , in terms of gifts, so were thankful for that as well. 

I was almost always disappointed in the presents they tried giving me; they never knew me. They always either tried shoving footballs and other sports related items into my face, or tried giving me moleskin journals or things of a scholarly nature like that. It was annoying. They didn't know me at all.

This all changed on my 11th Christmas. I was among my family, unwrapping presents. Every single thing disappointed me. They all had missed the mark, yet again, this year.

Except one present. One present was completely, totally different.
It resembled the others. It was a wolf in sheep's clothing, that thing. 

Wrapped in ordinary Christmas paper, with a crumpled-up envelope taped to the exterior, was a box. In this box, there was a rusty old pair of bells. Silver bells.

When I opened it, my family laughed, thinking they were just a joke present. After all, they were from my uncle Eddie, who was the joker in the family. Uncle Eddie even presented them as a joke present to me and everyone.

But they weren't. I knew better than that, and Eddie knew better than that. I could hear the ringing that resonated from the bells. I knew what they foretold.

Eddie was not normal this year. Not that he was normal prior, or Christmases following that, but he was...different. For one, he looked frail and pale. He looked unhealthy. He also walked around slowly, and with a careful grace. And always watched. Always searching for something.

His eyes, circled with dark marks. Sunken in, almost. He was tired. Deathly tired.

Eddie tried to act normal. That was sad. I saw through that. I see through everything.

I never let go of those bells for the rest of the day. No matter the festivities, I managed to hold onto them in my left hand without dropping them. No one pointed out my strange behavior, for some reason, but I frequently just stared at the bells.

They were magic incarnate. I knew of their charms the second I laid my eyes on them. They had a power. They attracted...things. They attracted animals. Demons. Monsters.

Like me.

I could use them. I knew I could. I could use them to attract dogs, cats, birds, anything I wanted. It was the best Christmas present I could ever get or have.

That night, I slept with them, still tight in my grip. I didn't even pay attention to the sound of my parents setting up my "Santa Claus" in the living room. I only knew that, finally, someone had understood me.

I awoke to the sound of rapid taps on the roof of the house. I heard someone shout from above. I heard an animal. I wasn't sure what kind though. I heard ice breaking.

Deciding that it was probably nothing, I tried to go back to sleep. As I rolled back over into a favorable position, my bells shook...and caused a sudden appearance.

In the middle of my room, a golden light erupted from an unknown source. Golden and silver flakes of a mysterious substance shot out from the spot, covering my wooden floor. The flakes melted a few seconds after landing.

This went on for almost a full minute. I was not scared. I was intrigued. What was happening?

The golden lights faded, and there stood Santa Claus. He was tall, but fat. His face was noble, caring, fierce, all-knowing, and gentle, all at the same time. His eyes blue. Despite the darkness that inhabited the room now, I could see his blue eyes.

"Santa Claus? What are yo-"

"Shhhhhhhhhh, child. I am trying to hear."

"What, Santa?" I whispered.

I realized he meant the bells, or could have meant the bells, so I gently placed them into my bed covers, being sure not to cause them to ring.

"I am looking for a pair of bells. Do you happen to possess them?"
I stayed calm. I perfectly lied.

"Santa, I have not seen these bells. How do you know they are here?"

"I heard them, son. I can hear them from miles away. They upset my reindeer...what's your name, little boy? I'm afraid I do not have my list with me right now; it is in my sleigh."

"Dustin Carol, sir." I lied. I don't know why I lied.

I just wanted to, I guess.

"That's a nice name. What did you want for Christmas, Dustin?"

I lied yet again for the answer. I don't remember what I told him, but he seemed satisfied with my answer.

"Now, Dustin, I want you to stay right here. These bells are dangerous. They attract things. Dangerous things. Stay in bed."

Santa walk out of my room (his footsteps did not make any sounds; he was completely silent). I wasn't going to just let him walk away. I wanted to watch. I wanted to observe.

So I followed him. Somehow, I managed to not get caught for quite a bit of time. I do not remember what exactly occurred then. I do recall ending up in the garage. That was when I was caught.

He turned around, as if hearing something. Not into my direction, but he looked at the corner of the garage. There, laid a paper with a mysterious marking over it. I don't remember what it exactly looked like, but according to ol' Saint Nick's face, that paper was bad news.

He backed up slowly, and almost ran into me. He saw me, and said;

"Boy, I told you to stay in bed."

"I wanted to get some-"

"Never mind that now. Come, follow me, you are in grave danger."

"Danger? From what?"

He grabbed onto me and briskly moved us out of the garage and closed the doors.

He said:

"An ancient creature, kid. I'll have you know, I’m not a delivery man anymore. I don't give people gifts, except for rare occasions. Instead, I have other essential duties, which include keeping at bay. This hunter-"

"What monster?” I was so interested at that point.

"Well, normally I wouldn't even dare tell anyone about --him--. But it's too late now. Your entire household has heard the bells. You all are in danger. Your mother, father, siblings, and you, could be dead by morning. But don't worry; I will not let that happen."

We were on the second floor now, in front of my bedroom again. He rushed me in, and shut the door.

"This creature has been alive for years and years. He was around even before I was around and that was a long time ago, I'll have you know. He's a tall, faceless man, who wears a dark suit and tie. He is a hunter of day and night, a hunter of everything to nothing. He hunts children, especially.

"He is the opposite of me, in many ways. While I am the protector of children, he...he takes them away.


"Whatever you do, don't ever let him get into your head. Don't let the thought of him control you, Dustin. Think of him as you used to probably think of me; a mythical being."

Santa was too late. Before he could even finish warning me, the sheer thought of this being had already captivated me. A hunter...that was so relatable for me.

When Santa finished, he just happened to look to his left, and see a black mass readying to crash through my window. Santa pushed me into my bed, and without any sound echoing from under him, he jumped over to the other side of the room.

A black coarse tentacle shot through my window, sending shards of glass everywhere. The tentacle was attached to Santa's nightmare and my dream; a slender man stood at the third story window.

Santa chuckled, and said, "For the third time, we meet, you monster. I intend for this to be the last time."

Santa grabbed onto the tentacle, and even though he was an old man, he managed to pull hard enough to slam the monster into the side of my window. The monster made some sort of noise. No idea what.

"Stay here, child. I will finish this monster once and for all."

Santa burst into golden sparks, and was gone. I heard him, somewhere, a few seconds later, shouting.

The tall fat man and the tall slender man were now outside. The lights out there had all mysteriously shorted out, so I could not see much. I could see Santa's blue eyes though.

Then I could not. I was pushed through the floor, when a foreign energy forced itself into my head.

A darkness so thick, so alien, so monstrous, exploded within my soul. Black tendrils soaked in throughout my skin, and I felt myself be --taken over-- by something.

It was the Slender Man. It wanted me to grab his hand. So I grabbed it. I wanted to hold it. I wanted him to guide me. Suddenly, I remembered my knife under the bed.

A few minutes later, I was in position. I waited...and then pounced when I saw the golden light.

I stabbed Santa Claus right in the back, exactly how Master wanted me to.

Blood and golden flakes spilled to the floor, and ol' Sandy Claws just weakly asked why.

Instead of telling him why, I just told him my real name.

Caleb Carrolton.

And then he knew. He knew because I was definitely on the naughty list.

I killed animals, for sport, all the time. I killed them for practice. I hurt people, emotionally and physically, just to see them in pain. I took advantage of everyone. I lied, always.

I was a bad seed from the get go. Born that way. The bells, I loved them, they were mine, and Slender Man said I could have a limitless amount of them if I used them.

I told Santa that I did not believe in him. I only believed in the shadows.

Santa disappeared. I never saw him again. I doubt I will ever see the tall fat bastard again either.

I see the tall thin man instead.

And I for past two years, I've given the bells to my brothers as personal Christmas presents.

Though I hear them scream every Christmas night, I always see them with a smile by morning.

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