This was my submission to Apex Magazine‘s Holiday Horrors flash fiction contest this year. While it was not a finalist, I like to think it was close. That was, after all, my one Christmas wish. Art is from the British Library’s mechanically curated collection of antique illustrations.
All I Want for Christmas is You
“Look, it’s very simple.” The man laid a gloved hand on Ginny’s shoulder. She tried to squirm away, but his grip was firm, unyielding. “You know I keep a list. I’m famous for it.”
“Well…” The man smiled, dimpled, ruddy cheeks like two sugar plums. “Little Ollie’s on the top of my list this year. I just can’t disappoint him. And his letter was very specific.” His breath stank like liquor and pipe tobacco.
“But what about my life! Don’t my wishes count for anything?”
The man clicked his tongue. “Now, let’s not be selfish, Virginia. Christmas is a time for children, not grown-ups. You know that.”
He scratched his beard, dislodging a crumb of stale gingerbread.
“You had your run. But you haven’t believed in me in years.”
With a wink of his eye, he finally released her. She collapsed, trembling. The man whistled sharply once, and his assistants sprang into action, replacing the hood over Ginny’s head and dragging her screaming into the van.
The man in the fur-trimmed coat inspected the clipboard in his hand. “Next one’s Octavio Velasquez?”
“Yessir.” The assistant prodded the dazed, emaciated man in the ribs until his unfocused eyes opened.
Red Suit took a swig of brandy, offered Octavio a taste. The bound man shook his head weakly. “It’s like this,” Red Suit began. “Little Ava Lopez has been good all year. And all she wants for Christmas is a new kidney.”