We drove up the snowy, winding road towards the cozy A-frame cabin. The evergreens lining the road were beautiful with their snow-topped branches, a winter wonderland like those of typical Christmas stories on a perfect winter solstice day. My fellow travelers, unfortunately, did not seem to appreciate the beauty of the landscape as I did. Or it was just that they did not comment on it.
I had expected my wife Jill to say something, anything, during our journey up to the cabin. After all, we had planned this for months. Yet she was silent the entire drive, only answering in nods and grunts, not wanting to engage in any form of communication whatsoever. Although I was somewhat disappointed, I understood her silence; a lot was on her mind.
Our other passenger was bound and gagged with her sorority clothing in the back seat wedged between luggage and grocery bags. Every once in a while, she would emit a muffled scream, but for most of our journey she remained quiet, perhaps realizing any such actions were pointless.
I parked the car as close to the cabin door as possible; there was a lot to carry in, and I was tired already. Jill and I started with the luggage, after which we hauled in the grocery bags and put their contents where they needed to be when we needed them. Lastly, we fetched our guest. When we pulled her from the car she jumped up and attempted to escape by hopping, but she quickly fell face first into the snow, a comical scene that caused me to giggle. Jill did not seem to be as amused. We both picked the girl up out of the snow and dragged her into the cabin, letting her crash on the hardwood floor.
I was starting to feel exhausted, though our day was just beginning. “Do you need a drink?” I asked Jill as I went into the kitchen.
“No” was her rather curt response.
I grabbed a can of soda and came back into the main room. “Look, I know you don’t like this. You really don’t have to. It still has to be done.”
“Goddammit, Chuck, why does it have to be us? Why is it always us?”
I pulled out the tarps that had been in the luggage and spread them on the floor. “You know why. We were chosen; we are tasked with this. The others couldn’t handle it.”
“And now the others are gone. I don’t want to end up like them, do you? Better to stay on this side of existence.” I tried not to be too short with her; this can be a shit job, after all.
“Fine”, she said. ‘Let’s get this show on the road.”
After I finished laying down the tarp, I helped Jill bring out the dress mirror from the bedroom and set it on the edge. I looked over at the girl and could plainly see the panic in her eyes. I felt some sympathy for her, but I had to suppress that feeling for the good of the job. I untied her gag, and she screamed for all she was worth.
“Look”, I said, “I know it probably feels good and it gives you some hope, but rest assured, we are miles away from civilization here. No one will hear you. Except us, of course. It could get annoying and then I would have to gag you again…”
“Why…why are you doing this, who the fuck are you?” she gasped after catching her breath from the long screaming session.
“Language, young lady!” I snapped, chuckling to myself. “It doesn’t really matter who we are, it wouldn’t mean a thing to you anyway. You just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Didn’t anyone warn you about getting blind drunk in bars? I know it was the last day of the semester, but I think you overdid it.”
“Luckily my wife and I look like the parental types, and we showed up to take you home. No one even questioned it.”
The girl sat stunned, unable to form words.
“And, yes, I’m sure there are people out looking for you. And for us, too, I guess. Ah, but the wonders of wigs, hats, make-up, and fake license plates. As long as you don’t have a pattern…” I smiled.
“Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck!!!”
“Hey, hey, none of that. Don’t worry on that end, my wife and I aren’t perverts; you will not be sexually attacked in any way.”
“But you’re still going to torture and kill me?” she screamed crying.
Before I could answer, Jill said, “Hey, could you help me here.” She had grabbed some candles from the luggage and needed assistance affixing them properly to the mirror. “Here’s the sigil”, she said and handed it to me. I set it in place on the top of the mirror surface.
Getting back to the girl, I said, “Actually, we’re not going to torture or kill you; we don’t get off on this. Believe me, I’m sorry this must happen to you, but it must be done. If not you, millions will suffer.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” the girl screamed. She looked at the mirror, where Jill had lit all the candles. The sigil started to shimmer.
“It’s time”, Jill whispered. I stood up along side the prone, bound body of the girl in front of the mirror.
“On this day of shortest light, we give to you this gift of humanity; may it please you and calm you in the year to come.”
The mirror quit reflecting and turned completely black. The girl stared wide-eyed into the dark void. Terror gave way to puzzlement, as shape and form swirled in the mirror’s abyss. Color was added to mix, red and white, and a human figure took shape.
The girl gazed in shock and amazement. The being looking at her from the other side of the mirror was very familiar to her. “Santa?” she cried.
The being smiled, and chortled “Ho ho ho!”, which seemed to strangely comfort the young woman, until Santa’s ample belly opened up and revealed a mass of fleshy ribbons and teeth. Five tentacles shot out and grabbed the girl by the limbs and head, and before she could scream again, she was pulled into the mirror. A rumble and a gurgling sound shook the cabin, and the mirror returned to normal.
“Let’s clean up, “Jill sighed. “What do we have for dinner?”
“I bought some steaks and potatoes, and some brandy later by the fire.”
“OK, sounds good.” She paused. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but weekend getaways like this make me look forward to going back to work.”
I smiled. “Happy Yule!”