Sara pulled me along to the car. Even with me slowing her down we moved incredibly fast. I slid into the drivers’ seat and the car moving before I knew where we were going.
“Circle around the block.” She ordered. “We can swing around and get them in the car.”
“It’ll be a tight fit.” I replied as I took the first turn as fast as my old hatchback could go.
“Watch out.” Sara screamed.
A dark shape stood in the center of the road. I swerved to miss it, but I wasn’t fast enough. My little car slammed into the shape. The world spun too fast as we discovered that the car wasn’t the three hundred pound gorilla in this fight. I closed my eyes tight and waited until the spinning stopped.
The car lurched to a stop. I opened my eyes to see a towering figure dressed head to toe in in fur. Whoever it was wore a leather mask that was twisted in a snarl. Most impressive were the curled mountain goat style horns on the side.
It took a step toward the car. I blinked in shock as the masks mouth opened and closed.
“It’s not a mask.” I muttered.
Sara groaned as she sat up. Somehow the decades old seatbelts had held. She followed my gaze to the approaching figure.
“Come on.” She worked at the buckle, but it was stuck in the latch. “Help me.”
I leaned over to get a better look at the buckle. My mouth dropped open as the buckle righted itself and then unlatched.
“Thanks.” She pulled away the seat belt and climbed into the backseat. “Come on.”
“Uh-huh.” I followed her to the backseat. “This isn’t exactly how I imagined it.”
“What was that?”
“Is the door stuck?”
It thudded as she put her shoulder into it. “Yeah.”
“No problem.” I pulled the cushion off the little frame to expose the trunk area of the hatchback. “Follow me.”
I pushed open the hatch and offered my hand to pull her out. She took it, but something in the back caught her eye.
“What’s this?” She held up a thick length of wood.
“Broken axe handle.” I took it from her and pulled her out of the trunk.
“Why is it here?”
“Trunk doesn’t lock and the hydraulics are busted.” I let the hatch go and it stayed in place. “It was busted.” I added slowly.
“No time.” She pulled me along. “Let’s go.”
The fur covered creature was getting closer. Getting hit by the car hadn’t stopped it, but it had at least slowed it down.
“Where are we going?” I asked as we ran back the way we had come.
“My house.” Sara yelled. “My parents need me.”
“Your mom told us to run.” I replied as she pulled me along.
As fast as we were going I wondered why she needed a ride home. I looked over my shoulder to see the furry thing still heading our way. Sara stopped without warning. I tumbled into her and we fell into a tangled mess on some random person’s front lawn.
“Are you okay?” I rolled off of her.
She didn’t answer. I stood up and helped her to her feet.
“We need to keep moving.” I looked at the furry thing that was still heading our way.
“They’re gone.” She whispered.
I looked over at her house. The sleigh was gone and the only anything had happened was the broken window. Sara was across the street and at the front door in a blur. I followed her as fast as I could. It wasn’t the best plan, but getting inside the house at least put a wall between us and the furry thing.
Sara pounded on the door. The handle wouldn’t move. Even with her hitting it with all her might the door didn’t budge.
“Wait.” I grabbed her hands.
“Just wait.” I put her hands on the door handle.
“What are you doing?” She looked up at me, the color gone from her eyes again.
“My radio never worked until you touched it.” I looked her in the eyes. “The seatbelt was broken until you touched it. I don’t know what’s going on here, but you fixing things when you touch them is pretty easy to believe considering I just punted a goblin.”
Her irises slowly returned. I tried the door, it swung open. A moment after we stepped through I closed and locked the door. I turned around to figure out what to do next. We stood in a little entry way that connected to what had once been the living room. The furniture was scattered around the room. I was pretty sure they didn’t come with the gashes that they now sported, but at least they matched the ones on the walls.
Sara walked to the living room and looked around. Her movements were slow. With each step her shoulders slumped a little more.
“What happened?” She whispered. “We just left.”
“Sara.” I walked around the room looking for something to grab, that furry thing didn’t sit well with me. “I know this is bad, but there’s still that thing out there we hit in the car.”
“Run or fight.”
There was a scattering of ashes across the floor. I didn’t see a fireplace, but there was an old fashion iron poker stuck into the couch. It came out with a solid tug. I held it up and felt the weight in my hands. It felt better than nothing. My mind tried to tell me that if the thing could shrug off getting hit with a car then this poker wasn’t going to do much.
“Where are they?”
I turned to see Sara on her knees in the middle of the room. She suddenly seemed so small. I walked over to her and knelt down beside her.
“Sara.” I touched her hands. “I don’t know what happened. I’ll help any way I can, but we’re not out of this yet. There’s some weird goat thing man that’s coming for us. We need to get out of here.”
“We should call the police.” She looked at the phone on the wall. “Do you have a cellphone?”
“It’s in my bag in my locker.”
“I don’t have a cellphone.” She shrugged. “We don’t even have a landline. That’s weird right?”
“Sara.” I tried to get her to look me in the eyes. “I know this is bad, I’m freaking out here, but we’re not out of this yet.”
“Where did all this ash come from?”
“Knecht.” The voice sounded like a brick pulled across gravel.
I turned out to see the furry goat man thing standing nearby. Up close I could see that he, obviously a he, wasn’t wearing a fur coat. He had cloven feet and each finger ended in a sharp claw. I jumped to my feet and held the poker out in front of me like a sword. He stared at us from across the room.
“Back up.” I tried to sound like I wasn’t about to jump out the nearest window.
The creature was across the room in a blink. I watched as he pulled the poker out of my hands and added it to a tangle of stick on his back. He looked at me as I stood between him and Sara.
“Knecht Ruprecht and his kobolds were here.” The creature knelt down and examined the ash. “He uses bewitched ashes to tarnish natural magic.”
“What are you talking about?” Sara looked up at the creature.
“I answered you question, little elf.” It picked up a handful of ashes and let them fall through his fingers. “He came for your parents. They kept him busy while you escaped.”
“Who are you?” She asked.
“Krampus.” His broad smile showcased a set of sharp teeth.
“Ah.” He nodded. “They kept you isolated. Good plan. Tell me, little elf, how old are you?”
“Why do you keep calling me that?”
“Answer the question.” His gentle voice had an edge to it.
He nodded again. “You’re of age.”
“Age for what?”
“Your magic, little elf.” Krampus stood up. “Your birthright has come to you and that puts you in his sight.”
“Who?” She asked.
I really didn’t want the answer.
“Why, Santa Claus of course.” Krampus gave a small laugh.