Lack of Control
Krampus offers a rare gift, greater than any wooden horse, gold coin or any other present. Krampus offers something unique and special, a second chance. He cuts through poor life choices, arrogance and rationalizations to come to the truth of the matter and gives an opportunity to turn life around. If that makes him an angel or a demon I suppose will depend on which side of the fence you’re on.
Background: Captain Bran is part of a medieval reenactment group that has a tournament of some sort or another nearly every weekend. On the weekend of this story, he and his friend drove nearly 8 hours to take part in an event. Part way through, they stopped for some sleep. Overnight, someone stole his helmet out of his friend’s car who he’d been riding with.
Sometime after Bran arrived at the event without his helm, the following message was posted on Reddet.
“Last night someone broke into my mom’s car, rifled through her glove box and left a heavy, dirty brown knapsack in her front seat. Her first thought was ‘there’s a human head in there’ because apparently the bag smelled very badly.
When she finally opened the bag, she found an old Medieval helmet with chainmail. No one in my family knows what to make of this, especially considering they didn’t break into the car violently. Creepy!”
His helmet had been found a couple houses away on the same side of the street, in a similar car. Bran was able to recover it before returning home.
That is what we know. I will now fill in what we did not.
It was a cold, dark night as Ty walked along the side of the road between rows of houses. He could see his breath hang in the air, and he wrestled with the thoughts in his mind. He always had a lot on his mind these days.
He was on his way home from his friend Richie’s house where he’d been playing video games into the wee hours of the night. But, eventually Richie needed to get some sleep, something about a family get-together tomorrow he at least needed to be awake for: Christmas was around the corner. Ty didn’t worry about such things anymore.
Even this walk home from his friend’s was something he was still getting used to, and he hated it. He hated everything this walk meant and what had led up to it; it was festering inside him. Just before his thirteenth birthday, his Dad was forced away from him and his mom. The nice house near his friend Richie was sold. His mom couldn’t afford it, and all the other bills, alone. They moved to a dilapidated apartment in a run down part of town.
At school, he described it by saying his dad was too much of a brawler to be left untouched by the authorities. No one really bought it; everyone knew how things were. They had sympathy for Ty, but it was starting to run thin. His grades slipped, his attitude changed, and the only thing he seemed to look forward to was being at Richie’s playing Xbox. He didn’t have the money for the newest games anymore, and afterwhile, his system overheated and died and he had no means to replace it. This left him with even more time to fill with anger.
As he walked away from his old neighborhood, away from his old house, his old friends and his old life, he spent a lot of time thinking about it. He missed his time there more than anything now. He realized how much he loved getting to play the newest games with Richie. Together, they worked through the content of the games.
Now when he could visit, he mostly liked to use cheat codes to make his character invincible. He could then go anywhere, do anything, and nothing could hurt him. He looked into a car sitting in the driveway of a house with no lights on. Nothing, here. He moved on.
As we walked in the cold and dark alone, Ty pondered. Why did he have to lose everything? Why didn’t he have the things he wanted like his friends? This wasn’t fair. He looked into a car window. He saw laptop bag. Ty never thought of himself as a thief, but he needed money. Money to buy himself the newest gaming system, the right shoes, the new hot headset and whatever else he needed to get the respect of his friends. He wanted that, and he didn’t see a lot of options for getting it.
He punched the window, it hurt his hand. Knowing the laptop would fetch a few bucks at the pawn shop he punched it again…. damn…. he moaned as his hand connected to the glass. Clutching his sore fist, he darted off, afraid someone heard the noise. A few streets down, after running across yards among the rows of driveways, cars and houses. Ty stopped, panting, and kicked a car tire in frustration. He threw himself down against the rear tire of a car leaning against it to rest. His breath floated up into the dark sky.
“Why does it have to be this way? It’s not fair!” his anger dimmed his vision as he stared into the dark sky. After a time, he glanced over and noticed something about the car door wasn’t right; it wasn’t quite shut all the way. He pulled open the door, and was met with an odd smell, something like a locker room combined with mold. He saw a number of odd shaped bags, and other strange shapes, but there wasn’t enough light to make out what they were.
Immediately he recalled a story he heard on the news about a someone who found a bag of money; they turned it over to the police. The chumps, he thought, I would give to the gangstas it belonged to; they would give me a position of authority in the gang. Or maybe I would just keep it and make my own gang.
He grabbed the nearest bag; it was heavy… and something rather solid was inside. He quietly shut the door then snuck a few spaces down so he could look inside. As he opened the bag, he saw light reflected off its contents. He pulled it out. It was a helmet of some sort? Like a knight might wear in a movie? “What the heck?” Ty mutters to himself, mulling over what to do with such an thing. He recalled his mother talking about people breaking into the houses near his new apartment to steal the metal pipes, in one of her many warnings about him staying out so late. Why would they bother him he thought? If metal is worth money, maybe he could still get something for it at the pawn shop. He considered taking one of the other bags, but given the smell and weight, he decided to stick to just one.
He tossed the bag and its weird helmet over his shoulder and continued on his way home. With each step, the night seemed to get even darker. What little light there was in the sky, vanished. The blackness grew and slowly drowned out the lights from the street and the sounds of the distant cars.
The world grew deathly quiet, except for the sound of something breathing very heavily. Where it was coming from Ty could not tell, the sound seemed to echo from all directions. Then, he heard what sounded like a clop on the pavement. Was there a horse? Here? That horse must have had some sort of chain attached to it, by the jingle of metal. He looked around frantically but could see nothing but darkness but the faint outline of things near him.
A snort echoed all around, followed by a slow hiss. “Who… who’s there” he said frantically, his head whipped around in the darkness.
WHAM! The backs of his legs lit up with pain like he had been hit by a dozen switches all at the same time. He screamed and fell to the ground. Two huge night-black hands with sharp pointed nails shot out of the dark fog and wrapped themselves around Ty’s sides.
He was lifted off the ground and met a pair of bright green nearly glowing eyes. Fangs jutted down from underneath the creature’s long pointed nose. The monster was covered in a musky black fur. It had long pointed ears that stuck up. But, they weren’t nearly as long or as pointed as its horns. Ty could feel the heat of its breath and the foulness of its breath, and as he stared it in the face, its long red tongue dangled out the bottom of its mouth.
It snorted again, and before Ty realized what had happened, he had been thrown up in the air and landed in a large basket hanging off the large beast’s back. Ty could only see upward, but the creature dashed forward with speed even though its one-human-foot, one-hoof strides were lopsided. The musky creature loped on for a time, and Ty struggled unsuccessfully to right himself and escape the basket. Then suddenly, they were in a clearing surrounded by a patch of urban trees, created as if by magic, and the monster stopped running. It dumped the basket off its back, spilling Ty out onto the ground. Ty tried to scamper away, but the beast grabbed him by the foot and pulled him in close. The large beast had a metal band on each wrist, with a large chain attached to each. The chain ran from one wrist to the other and it was wrapped around Ty snuggly. The monster flipped him around and hoisted him up so they were once again face to face.
The ground under Ty’s feet split open like a pie that had been over cooked, and gust of hot, sulphur air bellowed up in clouds. Ty’s wide panicked eyes could see flames at the bottom of the deep hole. He grabbed onto the arms of the tall fierce demon in fear that he would be dropped.
“What….what… are… you?” whimpered a wide eyed Ty.
The creature growled out, “I am the Krampus. Your wickedness has called me to you. You once had a good heart, but it is turning black, and before long it will be delicacy to me.”
“No… no… you can’t drop me… or worse. I’ll be good….. I promise”.
“HA!” <Snort>, laughs the Krampus. “Is that so? How is it you’ve been treating your family? Your friends? You have given up on yourself, and if that wasn’t enough you’ve become a thief.”
“No, Mr. Krampus Sir, I’m not a thief”. Instead of responding, the Krampus pulled back its lips, revealing its vicious maw.
With a jerk, the massive beast pulled its arms apart, letting go of Ty. He screamed. The world went black. He was ready to give in to complete panic when the chains went taut, stopping his descent into the abyss.
The large demon hands scooped up Ty once more, and brought them in close to the Krampus’s face.
“I can smell deception,” snarled the Krampus with a sniff. “You are on the threshold. If you lie to me again, I’ll leave you to your fate.” The Krampus added a pause for dramatic effect, “Now, tell me why you are stealing things”.
“I wanted respect….” Ty mumbled.
<snort> “You get that by taking things? I’ve taken you; do you respect me?”
“I’m afraid,” whimpered Ty, feet dangling in the hot blast of air. “But that is hardly the same, is it?”
“I’ll put the helmet back. I’ll make it alright again…. I… I …promise!”
“I don’t believe you.” said the Krampus. “Tell me truthfully, so I might try. Why do you feel this need to take what you have not earned.”
“It’s…. “ Ty looked down. This truth was one Ty had been trying to avoid. “It’s my Dad. When they took him away… I…. I wanted to be liked.”
“You are closer yet to the truth, and for that I will only leave you with a curse.” The Krampus paused and inhaled, with a voice sturdy, stern and clear. “You are cursed to become the man your dad wished you to be, for if you do not, I will return and finish what we have started this night”.
With that Krampus let Ty go. He fell screaming and with a thud Ty’s decent ended by impacting a bush. He took a moment to catch his breath and realized he had not plunged into flames. He sat up. He was in a patch of trees between two houses. He staggered back to the street and picked up the bag and its wafting scent of dirty sweat. He looked around then followed the road to where he thought he came from. He found a house with a car in the driveway. Was it the same car? It was in about the same place. He pulled the passenger door handle, it was still open. However everything It looked a little different, but with all he had been through, he couldn’t remember much of the car. He didn’t see all the other bags, but more lights were on in the house now. Maybe they came and got them? “I need to be quick,” Ty thought to himself.
He looked in the glove compartment, but then thought…”How is this going to help? It’s not like people would take pictures of themselves in a metal helmet and leave them around.”
As Ty was trying to recall from where the helm had come, the sounds of a siren came blasting down the road, lights flashed in the distance and headed his way. Fear of getting caught before he could make things right, he left the helm in the car and departed. He was pretty sure it was the same car… pretty sure.
Ty had long time to think on his walk home. He finally came to his apartment complex very late into the night. He found his mother sitting in a chair staring at the door. She was gripping the arms of the chair so tight her knuckles were white.
She been waiting for hours, with the sounds of sirens going off in the distance. She expected the worst, much like on another night nearly a year ago.
Her eyes looked up into her son’s, tears started rolling down her cheeks as she jumped from chair and embraced her son. “I’ve been so worried, I thought you were lost”.
“I know Mom, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry about a lot of things. I’m sorry about worrying you and about how I behaved. I’m sorry about being here. It should have been me. I’m sorry I wasn’t paying more attention. I’m sorry I froze and didn’t move.” A years worth of pain and self loathing started to roll down Ty’s checks, and he embraced his mother. “I shouldn’t have been in the road at all. It should have been me….”
“It’s not so,” she said with a sniffle as tears puddled her eyes. “You’re here because he loved you more than anything else this world. You are so valued to him, he gave everything he had to keep you here.” Ty buried his face into his mother’s shoulder for a long time.
Next to the door was a decorative mantle. On it were three stockings, with three names. Charles, Emma and Tyler. The mantle ended in a large oak bookshelf. On an eye level shelf, was a picture of a two men shaking hands, over a large trophy, “Employee of the Year”. It was surrounded by many other similar photos, ribbons and plaques. These pushed against a picture of a young couple smiling and looking at each other the way only young lovers can with their whole lives left in front of them. The edge of the picture frame was tucked just behind a well worn “World’s Greatest Dad” coffee cup. Further to the side was a decorative vase, more of a urn, with a small plaque….”In Loving Memory”.
If you enjoyed my story are many more like it, written by professional writers that can be found at this link: Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus
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