Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Gal's 62 Days of Horror Christmas Takeover 17: Kevin J. Kennedy


This story, by Kevin J. Kennedy, is part of a Christmas short story anthology called Collected Christmas Horror Stories.  He has agreed to have it posted here as part of my Christmas Takeover.  I will be reading that anthology this month and can't wait to see how good the other stories are.


Merry Fuckin' Christmas
By: Kevin J. Kennedy

Christmas Eve is a time of joy, a time to celebrate, to relax with your family, to drink and be merry.  It's a time of year when very few people walk the streets, snow falls from the sky, and the drab grey are lost to the beauty of a glistening white landscape.  Reruns of old movies take over the television, Christmas songs filter out from every store you pass, colourful lights sparkle in the windows of every house.  It's a time to forget about life's troubles if only for a day and look forward to the Christmas dinner.

            Christmas dinner was Alec's favourite dinner of the year.  He got up first thing in the morning, often before even the kids were awake, to start preparing.  The turkey was covered in bacon, and apples were sliced and placed around it for flavour, the stock later being used to make a mouth-watering gravy.  He would cut the vegetables and place them into separate bowls to cook later.  Next he would set the table.  Christmas was the one and only day of the year they used a table cloth.  It was white with little bits of red and green trim.  Pauline, Alec's wife, had bought the table cloth a few years ago and they had used it every year since.  It looked nice adorned with the silverware that they also only used for Christmas.  The family wasn't religious, but Christmas wasn't really a religious holiday anymore.  The retail chains owned Christmas now.  The 1st of October this year, the stores filled with Christmas decorations, the same day they put up the Halloween decorations.  It made no sense, and Alec felt it ruined it all a bit, but at least by Christmas Eve he was home with his family and he could shut out all the world's problems, if only for twenty-four hours.

            Alec finished setting the table by placing a few Christmas crackers between the plates.  He could smell the turkey cooking, the smell wafting in from the kitchen.  It made his mouth water.  He always cooked little sausages in with the turkey and by the time it was ready, they fell apart in your mouth.  They were his favourite part; the kids loved them, too.  Christmas had been all about the kids the last few years; seeing their little faces light up with joy as they tore the paper from their presents, only to fling them aside and grab the next one.  They were spoiled, Alec knew, but he just couldn't help himself - he would have spent his last penny on them just to see they were happy.

            Walking into the kitchen, Alec opened the oven, then stepped back as the heat spilled out.  He grabbed a fork from the shelf and speared three of the little sausages.  He closed the oven door, then began carefully nibbling on the piping hot sausages stacked on his fork.  He leaned against the kitchen unit, staring into space as he finished them off, then threw the fork in the sink.  The house was eerily quiet, something Alec wasn't used to.  You didn't get a lot of quiet time with a wife and two kids.  Sarah, who was the older of the two, was reasonably manageable, but his five year old son, Sammy, was a lunatic.  The boy only seemed to need occasional small naps, then would wake up with a whirlwind of energy.  He could tire out both Alec and Pauline in a matter of an hour, however, he was a good boy overall, just noisy and energetic.  Alec walked over to the unit on the wall just to the side of the kitchen window, opened it, and slipped out a bottle of whiskey.  He took his glass from beside the sink and filled it with three fingers, then knocked it back in one shot.  The burn going down his throat felt good.  "Daddy," he heard, but only in his head; there would be no one shouting at him as they came running down the stairs, sounding like a heard of wild elephants, no wife to kiss his cheek and wish him a Merry Christmas, no one to sit at the table with and share his meal, no one to look at and feel filled with love just because they are part of his life.  No... fucking... one!

            Alec launched the glass across the room, smashing it into a million tiny fragments.  He picked up the bottle and upended it, taking several gulps before thumping it back down onto the work top.  His throat was on fire, but it felt good.  It felt like the anger that was buzzing around in his head was somewhere else, if only momentarily.  Alec knew he would never have a good Christmas ever again.  His family had been taken from him, stolen by a scrummy drunk driver that had walked free, all because the law was a fucking joke.  His lawyer had told him in layman's terms that the police had fucked up, it was that simple.  His family was gone and the guy got off.  No justice, no retribution, just a big 'Fuck you.'  Alec lifted the bottle and took another drink of the whiskey; it was having little effect.  He had been drinking pretty heavily for weeks now, and it was taking more and more to have any effect.  No matter how much Alec tried to move on, he knew he couldn't; there was nothing to move on to.  His wife and children had been his life, his sole purpose for living; without them, he was nothing and had no reason to go on living.  For him, Christmas wasn't a time for joy, for family, for forgetting about life's miseries.  Instead, it was a time for giving up, self-loathing, pity, anger, hatred, and... revenge!  Alec knew what he had to do, knew what this Christmas Eve was for.  It was God's gift to him.  The God that no one feared or celebrated anymore and had been replaced by Santa Claus.  Alec thought about Christmas and all its modern traditions and smiled to himself.  It had all been fun and games while he had a family, but now that they were gone, he could see how stupid it all was.  It was just another distraction, given to the masses so they could be led like sheep through a life of pain by the few who held the power that those same masses gave them.  People were weak and no longer fought for anything they believed in; it was easier to go home and watch the TV and forget about it all.  Not any fucking more, Alec thought to himself.  Tonight there will be consequences, he thought, leaving the kitchen with the bottle still in hand.

***

The snow was falling heavily; there was already a good eight or nine inches on the ground.  I twas cold out, but Alec felt nothing.  The side of the drunk driver's house was pretty secluded by the high wooden fence, so that the only way he would be seen is if someone was walking by the front of the house and looked down, which was unlikely on a night like this.  Alec didn't really give a fuck, but he didn't want to get arrested before he got started; just like Santa Claus, he had more than one person to visit tonight.  Alec had half-expected to find the drunk driver sitting alone, in a pile of his own filth, feeling miserable.  It was just the impression he had of drunk drives, but, looking through the small window, he could see that, in fact, the man had a family just like the one Alec used to have.  Two kids, and a wife... un-fucking-believable!  It was too bad the family was here to witness what Alec had planned, but his mind was made up.  Alec was left without a family, and now the driver's family would be left without a father/husband.  It's not a time of year for giving, he thought.  It's a time of year for taking away.

            The snow crunched quietly underfoot as Alec made his way around the back of the house.  It was a nice neighbourhood, so Alec could only hope that the family didn't lock their doors.  He couldn't believe the man who took his family lived on a nicer street than he could ever afford.  He had to wonder if the man was somehow connected to someone in power, having seemingly gotten off so easily.  Alec reached out and tried the handle and the door popped open.  The houses in the street were pretty new and the door opened silently.  Although he didn't want to alert the family to his arrival, he wasn't exactly going for a stealth job here.  He would enter, take the man, and leave.  He walked through the kitchen and stopped behind the door because he knew when he opened it, he would be in the dining room where the family was sitting.

            "Is it getting cold in here?" he heard come from through the door.  He turned to see he had left the kitchen door open and the cold night air was spilling in.  Fuck it, he thought to himself before pushing the door open and bursting in.  Screams filled the air instantly.  One of the little girls jumped up from her chair and ran to her mother's side.  Alec pulled the large kitchen knife from the inside of his jacket.

            "You!  Cunt!  Come with me, or they all die.  I'm not here to fuck about, I'm not here to argue with you or make a deal.  You get up out of your chair and come with me if you want your family to live.  You know who I am.  You stood watching me in court, looking smug while guilting your 'not guilty' verdict.  Well, you are guilty, and you will pay, but your family doesn't have to," Alec said, pointing the knife straight at the driver.

            "Okay, okay.  Don't hurt them.  I'll come," the driver replied.

            "Barry!" the woman screamed, hugging the girl tight to her side and reaching over the table to grab his arm.

            "It's okay, honey.  I'm just going to go with the man and sort this out," Barry replied.

            "Move!" Alec demanded.

            Barry got up from  his chair and slowly moved around the side of the table that was empty.  He never took his eyes from Alec.  Alec knew that most men would do whatever it took to protect their family, so he had counted on the driver coming quietly.  Alec kept the knife pointed at him as he passed into the kitchen, then followed him out without looking back at the family.  Scaring the two girls was a sad, unintentional consequence of today's events, and Alec knew they would always remember the bad man who took their father away.  But really, what choice did he have when it was their father that caused all of this?  And Alec would see to it... Barry had to pay!

***

Four hours later

Alec pulled his jeep into his driveway, groans coming form the backseat as he did.  The snow was still coming down heavily, which had been a godsend in keeping his actions discreet throughout the evening.  The roads were empty and no one was walking anywhere at this late hour.  It was almost approaching midnight.  The kiddies would be wrapped up in their beds to allow Santa to do his rounds and the parents would be trying to squeeze in some much needed rest before the big day.  Alec turned and looked over the seat at the  Chief of Police, tied up and gagged in the back of the car.

            "Now we are going to go inside.  I'm sure all my neighbours will be asleep and, as you know, it's a very important time of year.  I would appreciate very much if you could keep the noise down as we go in.  I could always just knock you out so you can't make a noise, but I am affording you the opportunity to behave yourself.  The downside being that if you don't behave, things will be much worse for you.  Do you understand?"

            The Chief of Police nodded his head, sweat running down his brow.  It was clear he had been struggling, but Alec knew he was going nowhere.  Alec came round the side of the jeep and opened the door before pulling the Chief out into the snow.  Not bothering to life him into a standing position, he dragged him through the snow to his door, leaving a furrow behind them.  He took his keys out quietly and unlocked the door.  Taking one last look around his street and seeing it was deserted, he dragged the Chief inside.  Last year, when he stood outside the front door having a smoke before he went to bed, he had never felt so good.  Tonight, though, the only positive feeling was that he had achieved what he had set out to do.  The night was far from over, however.

***

Sweat dripped from Alec's head in the kitchen.  It had taken him the last few hours to get everything prepared.  The turkey had only needed warming up, but he had to cook the vegetables and make the gravy.  His kitchen was pretty small, so the heat built up quickly.  He removed the turkey from the cooking tray and settled it on the platter.  Lifting it with care, he walked back through into the living room and gently placed it in the middle of the still decorated table.

            "Get anyone a drink?" he asked, looking around at his guests before chuckling to himself.

            The three men were tied securely to the hard-backed dining chairs, their mouths tightly gagged.  They looked from Alec to each other, their eyes filled with fear.  Alec felt that people should pay for their transgressions on this most holy of evenings, and especially those he deemed responsible for the tragic loss of his family.  Alec had spent the evening rounding them up.  They were: the driver who had killed his family, the chief of the police station where the evidence was conveniently lost, and the local politician, primarily because he was a useless, corrupt fuck.  Alec left and went back to the kitchen.

            Twenty minutes later, Alec had laid out all the food, and the room smelled gorgeous.  For a split second, as Alec left the kitchen for the last time that night, he saw his family sitting around the table, only for the briefest instant, and then he was back with the three men - the three wrongdoers who represented the problem with this world and the reason that Alec felt like he had no reason left to play the game of being a good guy anymore.  His entire life, he had questioned himself about the way things worked and often found that, though he disagreed with the world on a basic moral level, it was never quite enough to do anything about it at the time.  Now everything was different, and he no longer felt the need to conform to society and it's ridiculous rules.  The people in charge weren't looking out for his best interests, so he would do it himself in any way he saw fit, and this was the start.

            "Now gentleman, I know what you're all thinking: Yes, the food does smell delicious, and no, you won't be able to eat with the gags in your mouths.  It's not for you.  I just wanted to do this one last time."  As he finished speaking, a single tear ran down Alec's cheek.  "I loved my family, you know - truly loved them.  I suppose most people would say that, but I really did.  You don't know what you have until it's gone."  As Alec stopped speaking again, instead of sinking into thoughtfulness, this time his face hardened and his brow furrowed.  "But you!  You cunts took everything from me!  Every fucking thing!  Look around this place.  Does it look like a fucking bachelor pad?" he asked rhetorically.  "No!" he answered himself and continued, "it fuckin' doesn't!  Do you know why?  Because it was a family home.  FAMILY!  Do you know what I'm saying?  A family home."  Alec knew he was getting too worked up and didn't want any of his neighbours calling the cops before he was finished.

            "I'm sorry, gentlemen.  My emotions got the better of me.  One moment please."  Alec got up and walked back to the kitchen, returning with a bottle of whiskey.

            "I'd offer you a drink, but... well, you know."  He snickered.

            The three men could barely budge since their restraints were so tight.  Their eyes flickered nervously form each other to Alec, knowing that the situation couldn't be much worse.  The driver, Barry, knew his wife would have called the cops by now.  The police chief lived alone and, since having anyone else around was often someone who ended up knowing too much, so did the politician.

            "Now.  I've been drinking a lot, gents, and while this all seems to have gone rather smoothly, I didn't actually think it through a whole lot.  You see, I want you all dead, and while I am sure you all would strongly disagree, I truly believe the world will be a better place without he likes of you three."  All three of the men were grunting through the gags now, obviously trying to explain their own reasons for past transgressions.

            "I'm sorry, guys.  It's not an 'explain yourself and walk out of here' kind of night.  You will all die at this very table.  This will be the last Christmas dinner that any of us have - not that you will be eating much."  Alec suddenly broke out in a crazy grin.  "You have to admit I put on a great spread for you."  The crazy grin disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared, and Alec grew somber once again as he continued, "My wife always used to say I loved Christmas more than the kids did; maybe she was right."

            Leaning over the table, Alec used the long, thin lighter to light the candles before getting up and dimming the lights.  The snow continued falling outside as Alec started to speak again.  "My wife liked to eat by candlelight.  We probably didn't do it enough, now that I think about it.  I have a lot of regrets, if I'm honest.  You always thing there will be more time, but there wasn't... WAS THERE!?" Alex roared, standing up and flipping the table over, all the food flying everywhere.  The turkey smashed against the wall, and the three men and most of the living room were covered in vegetables. The gravy landed on the politician's lap, burning him, causing the man to reflexively kick his chair over, landing him on his back.  Alec stormed out of the room and returned with a claw hammer.  He walked over to the bottle of whiskey that lay on its side on the floor, spilling out some of its contents, and picked it up.  He took a large drink and, still clutching the bottle, dropped his arm back to his side.  The men looked terrified.  They both had their eyes glued to him, while the politician stared at the ceiling.  Alec sat the bottle in the middle of the floor and hoisted the politician back into an upright position, telling the man sarcastically, "Wouldn't want you to miss any of the fun now, would we?"

            As Alec made his way over to his laptop, he smiled to himself as he heard at least one of the men crying; his wife had cried as she died in his arms, their two small children dead already in the backseat.  The car had flipped several times after the collision, but landed upright.  Alec had been the only one to survive; he wished he hadn't.  After the laptop was fired up, he clicked into his Christmas music and played "Santa Claus, You Cunt" by Kevin Bloody Wilson.  He had always liked this one because it made him laugh, though his wife had warned him the kids had better not hear it.  For this reason, he'd waited until the children were in bed before he'd played it.

            "Santa Claus, you cunt!  Where's me fuckin' bike?  I've opened all this other sh..." drifted out from the speakers as Alec approached the men.  "Okay, gentleman.  I think we have wasted quite enough time."  Then, like lightning, he swung the hammer above his head and brought it back down, blunt-side first, right into the politician's forehead.  Before the man's head had even bounced back, he let out a torrent of blows all over it.  He quickly flipped the hammer over and brought the claw side down, sinking it right through the top of the politician's skull.  When he let go of the hammer, it stayed in place.  Blood started to run down the length of the handle and drip onto the carpet as the room filled with the scent of piss and shit.  He looked at the mess of the skull.  For the first time, he realised the other two men were screaming through their gags; everything had gone silent while he worked.  He admired his work for another few seconds, then returned to the laptop to restart the song.

            "Santa Claus, you cunt!   Where's me fuckin'..." started to play again.  You know, I think, as the years passed by, the world becomes a worst place.  We move forward with technology and medicine and various other things, but none of it's real; we are just mice in a cage.  I've decided to get off the wheel now, guys, which means you are both pretty fucked.  I'm sure you will now realise I am serious.  I want you to think about this question: Why shouldn't someone kill a policeman?"  He started staring at the police chief.  "Because you spent a few months at police college?  Because you were supposed to uphold the law?  You are a bunch of corrupt, drug-taking pussies.  A force filled with bully-victims turned bully that look the other way when they are needed.  A joke!"  Alec stopped his rant and walked over to the bottle of whiskey, lifted it, and took two good swigs, then turned his attention to the other man.  "And you!" he roared.  "A fucking drunk driver who takes the lives of others because he is too much of a pussy to control his addiction.  A man who has a family, though he has no care or consideration for others and their families.  No!  I don't accept that either of you have a place on this earth."  Alec glanced at the clock.  "It's Christmas day, you know.  I should be getting up in a few hours to start making a lovely dinner for my family, but instead I made one for you cunts - the people who took them.  Not quite as pleasing, I have to say.  So... who's next?

            Both men started trying to plead through their gags, shaking their heads from side to side and nearly spilling their chairs over onto the floor.  'Silent Night' had clicked onto the laptop and Alec laughed.  "It would be a silent night if it wasn't for you two," he said, grinning and looking between the two men.  "What?  That's fucking funny!"  As he said it, he stepped out and to the side, and swung the biggest punch he had ever swung in his life.  When his arm hit the cop in the side of his head, it felt like he had shattered every bone in his hand.  The cop's lights went out and the chair flew onto its side landing on the carpet.  "Motherfucker!!" Alec raged, rubbing the hand that punched the cop with his right hand.  "Ooohhh, that felt good!"  Alec now had a manic look in his eyes.  He had drunk well over a bottle of whiskey today and, for the first time all day, he was starting to feel drunk. "Let's wake him up.  I've always heard people calling the cops pigs or bacon.  Let's see, shall we?" and with that, Alec left for the kitchen.  He came back shortly after still smiling.  Barry thought Alec had truly lost it now.  Earlier, when Alec broke into Barry's house and kidnapped him, Alec had looked okay.  Now he looked deranged, wild-eyed, his eyes constantly flicking from side to side, unable to settle.  He marched across the living room and started dragging the unconscious cop across the floor.  He yanked him upright before pulling him through the doorway.  There were a few seconds of silence, then an ear-splitting scream, followed shortly after by the smell of charred flesh.  Barry figured that Alec had pressed the police officer's face to the stove - there was no other explanation for what he was hearing and smelling.  The cop's hands were tied by his sides, and they hadn't been in the kitchen long enough for Alec to untie him.  Barry knew he was going to die here tonight.  He thought about his family and hoped they would be okay without him.  He had had a drinking problem for a long time, and any mistakes he'd made, his wife did her best to cover for him, and his kids loved him.  He couldn't deny that he was guilty for the death of this man's family, but he didn't want to die, just like he hadn't wanted to go to prison.  Money sorted most things out, but he doubted he could buy his way out of this one.  Still, he hoped he would have enough time to try.  The screams coming from the other man continued.

            Surely the neighbours must have heard that, Barry thought to himself.  Someone must have called the police.  As Barry thought about rescue, Alec appeared in the doorway again, dragging the dead cop with him.  The man's face was a mess of burnt tissue: bright red and bubbling with ring shape imprints on it.  A knife was buried in his ear.  "Making too much noise, he was.  I got a little carried away, but I can't go waking up the neighbours at this time on Christmas day."  The smile was now pasted onto Alec's face; he really did look like he had lost it.  He walked across the room, stopped in front of Barry and proceeded to untie the gag from the back of his head.  "I don't suppose it matters if you scream now, does it?  It's not like you will be any louder than the pig was.  Oh, and by the way, he didn't smell like bacon.  It's all bullshit."  As Alec finished speaking, he remained standing in front of Barry, but his mind seemed to wander off.  Here was his opportunity, Barry thought.

            "Alec, I have money, lots of it.  You have seen my house, you know I'm well-off.  You've already had your fun.  Let me help make the pain go away; money can solve a lot of problems.  By tomorrow, you could be gone, sitting on a warm beach, sipping a cocktail.  Fuck!  You could start a new family with the kind of cash I could give you."  As Barry finished his sentence, he knew he had gone too far.  He saw the smile slip from Alec's face.

            "Oh!  I could start a new family, could I?  Set me up with a new life, make me happy?  Is that what you think you will do?  How about this?  I'll make you a deal.  I'll untie you and let you walk out of here free if you can done thing for me.  Give me my family back - not a new one, the one I had before I crossed paths with you.  Can you do that?  Can you give me my fucking family back, Barry?!"

            Barry didn't know what to say to save his life; no amount of pleading, or begging, or any type of bribe would sway this man.  "You're not going to hurt my family, are you?" was the only thing he could think to ask as he resigned himself to his fate.

            "No, Barry, I'm not.  I'm not really a bad guy, truth be told.  I doubt that sounds realistic to you under the current circumstances, but I don't really give a fuck.  I've spent a lifetime trying to be good while others do what they want, and life always seems to bite me in the arse anyway.  Yet scum roam the earth, polluting it with their spawn... the next generation of shite who will ruin good people's lives.  If it was up to me, I'd put you all down, since most people are cunts.  It's just the way of it; humans are selfish creatures who try to kid themselves that they are more important than they really are.  Personally, I think most people just go along with the status quo for an easy ride.  Why rock the boat?  It doesn't really matter anymore.  When I'm done with you, I will take my own life and join my family.

            Barry squirmed in his chair.  He already knew there was no way to escape, but it was clear that Alec was coming to the end of the proceedings and if he was ever going to get out of here, it would have to be now.  With one final burst of strength, he flexed against the cords that tied him to the chair and broke down sobbing with the realisation that this was it, he was going to die very soon, and no one was coming to rescue him.

            "Alec, please!  If not for me, then for my daughters!" Barry begged.

            "Sorry, mate.  I need you.  Look around you.  What's missing?  Yeh, that's right.  You guessed it.  A Christmas tree!  That's where you come in, my friend."  As Alec finished speaking, he put the gag back into Barry's mouth and tied it tight behind his head.  He had heard enough, had toyed with him enough - it was time to end it all.

            Alec marched back into the kitchen and reappeared almost immediately, dragging a large cardboard box with 'Tree decorations' scribbled on the side, and left it sitting next to Barry.  "It looks like you will need to step in as our Christmas tree, mate."  Alec made his way over to the laptop and, after a minute, 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' started to play from the speakers.  Alec smiled as it drowned out the sound of Barry sobbing through his gag.  As far as Alec could tell, at least he had stopped trying to beg for his miserable life.  Alec leaned down into the box, grabbed a long red piece of tinsel, and started to wrap it around Barry, working from his feet up.  The tinsel still had little tabs of tape stuck to it from last year; there wasn't much glue left on it, but enough that it hung around him as it would a tree.  He leaned back in and this time grabbed a long green piece and repeated the procedure.  Alec stepped back and took a look at Barry.  Sitting in the chair, he was wider at the bottom with his knees sticking out, and thinner at the top; Alec thought it looked pretty good if a little sparse.  He grabbed one more piece, silver this time, and again wrapped it around his new 'Christmas tree.'  His wife had always liked bobbles, and while he wasn't a fan, he believed you should keep your wife happy, so they'd always had them.  For a split second, Alec toyed with the idea of nailing them to his victim, but he doubted Barry would last long enough.  He grabbed a roll of tape that still lay in the box and started biting off little strips.  When he had about twenty, he started taping the bobbles all over Barry; some seemed to have trouble sticking, so Alec was a little over-excessive with the tape.  When he was done with the bobbles, he reached into the box and grabbed a can of spray snow.  "This is the part my kids used to love doing," he remarked to Barry as he began to cover him with the stuff. There was a little hitch in his voice as he said it.  Once he had finished, he disappeared into the kitchen again and came back with a box of Christmas lights.  "Thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?" he asked, knowing there would be no answer.  "Normally we use the same old lights, but who can be bothered untangling them all?  It's not like I need to watch my money carefully now, anyway."  Alec ripped the box open, tossed it aside and started to wrap them around Barry.  The spray snow seemed to have gotten into Barry's eyes because it didn't look like he could see very well anymore.  Alec was a little disappointed that Barry wouldn't see how good he looked.  Alec walked over to the wall and plunged the lights in, then flipped the switch so they would flicker and change colour.  He stood back admiring his work; he had done a good job, but it needed just one last touch.  He went to the box again and retrieved the Christmas star that he had jammed down onto a tent spoke so it would work.  He stepped up and, in front of Barry, raised it high above his head and slammed it down, double handed, with all the force he could muster.  The peg pierced Barry's skull and sank in, his body going into such spasms that Alec had to grab the chair to keep it from tipping over.  Barry died quickly and Alec again stepped back to admire his work.  His "tree" looked much better with the star, and though it did hang to one side, the star had always been too heavy and caused the tops of their trees to hang sideways.  Blood was running from the peg down Barry's face, but as it was red, it didn't look too out of place with the decorations wrapped around him.

            Alec stood in front of Barry for a few minutes, not really paying any attention to his creation, his mind just wandering through previous Christmases with his family.  The sirens coming from somewhere not too far in the distance was what snapped Alec back to reality.  With no more than an accepting nod, Alec went back into the kitchen and returned carrying his nail gun.  He sat in the chair facing his new tree and pulled out a picture of Pauline, Sarah and Sammy that he had taken a few days before he lost them.  He sat looking at it, nail gun hanging at his side.  He could hear the sirens getting closer as a tear dripped onto the photo.  "I'm sorry I couldn't save you," he whispered sadly.  Alec raised the nail gun so that it was pointing upwards, then placed it under his chin and, clenching the picture tightly, his finger began to push against the trigger when he suddenly felt someone touch his shoulder.  Whipping around quickly and finding no one there, he then heard his wife's voice saying, "No, Alec, not yet.  There are other bad men to punish.  Go.  Go now before they get here.  Your job isn't done yet."

            "Pauline... baby," he responded tearfully, but she was gone and he knew it.  Wasting no time, Alec was up and out of his chair, dropping the nail gun next to it.  He went straight for the back door and left it wide open as he ran out into a bright Christmas morning.  He couldn't get caught just yet.  There were more bad men to punish.  "Merry fuckin' Christmas!" he said to no one but himself as he disappeared out into the day, thinking that he wouldn't let his wife down this time.


About the author:
Kevin J. Kennedy is a horror author and publisher from Scotland.
            He fell in love with the horror world at an early age watching shows like the Munsters and Eerie Indiana before moving on to movies like the Lost Boys, the original The Hills Have Eyes, and Nightmare on Elm Street.  (The eighties was a good time to grow up.)
            In his teens, he became an avid reader when he found the work of Richard Laymon.  After reading everything Laymon had written, Kevin found other authors, like Brian Keene, Ray Garton, Edward Lee, Bryan Smith, Jeff Strand, John R. Little, Carlton Mellick, and the list goes on.  At the age of thirty-four, Kevin wrote his first short story and it was accepted by Chuck Anderson of Alucard Press for the Fifty Shades of Slay anthology.  He hasn't stopped writing since.
            Kevin lives in a small town in Scotland with his beautiful wife Pamela, his step-daughter, and two strange little cats.

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