Saturday, 17 December 2016

The List

Krampus isn’t such a bad guy to work for; but he can be a real dick when he’s in the mood for it. I don’t get to see him much, except around the time of Thanksgiving – when we start compiling the ‘Naughty & Nice’ lists for Santa; and even then he’s a slob of a creature and gets me to do most of the work.

After the institution screw-up, where he was supposed to pick me up at the Arctic Circle and didn’t, I was left at a huge, dark house by the psychiatric hospital staff who didn’t like it when I turned to them, looked them up and down and told them, “You’re on the Nice List this year.”
It only made them drive faster and avoid eye contact.
And instead of making Krampus sign for me to be my guardian, they just dumped me out at the footpath and took off. It was dusk and they didn’t want to stick around any longer than they needed to in the dank dark backwoods area of town. Turning towards the house, I found it didn’t appear all that nice – but then when you think of it, Krampus wasn’t a nice character either.
Before I could knock on the door, he yanked it open, “What! Oh it’s you.”
“Krampus...” then I remembered where I had seen him from, “I remember meeting you now.”
“Where from?” he opened the door wider, “Get in here if you’re going to yap about our past.”
“You played a joke on Santa a few years ago, with the milk while he was... I think... jeez... I don’t remember his name now.”
“You ate too much of the sugary crap in the North Pole, didn’t you?” he grumbled, “They don’t have normal food there, and poison you every time you eat.” He walked to his huge kitchen and opened the fridge where I spotted real food; something I hadn’t seen in so long! He grabbed a bowl of grapes out of the bottom of the fridge and put them on the table, “Eat something healthy, I can smell the sugar on your breath – even if you haven’t eaten it in a few months.” He turned away and poured himself a huge mug of coffee, “It disgusts me that you’ve had your memory repressed by that horrible man. I’d never do that to you. And I’d never lie to you about anything.”
I sat at the table and grabbed a small bunch of grapes, “Thank you.”
He gave me a sideways glare as he drank his coffee, “There’s more food around the kitchen – I don’t eat much because Human food is always too weird for me to digest. So, any food you find around the place? Assume it’s for you, okay? And learn to cook, because I’m not cooking you any fuckin’ feasts.”
I accidentally swallowed a grape whole before I answered, “Okay.”
“There’s some ... oh jeez... cookbooks over there.” He waved towards the large sideboard, “You’ll find all you’ll need here in the kitchen... if you need anything – foodwise – tell me. I’ll get it in.”
“My sleeping quarters?”
He grunted as he finished off his coffee, “Will be better than where you lived ... and if you get sick, which I doubt you will, a human doctor will come here and I’ll vanish from sight.” He dumped his mug on the sink, “You’ll be responsible for keeping this kitchen clean as well. Come on, you have your own part of this house to yourself. I have a couple of rooms, but don’t disturb me between January and October unless the place is burning to the ground.”
I followed him through the large living room, down the hall to the right and up a sweeping staircase to a large wing which had been brightly fixed up with lights, curtains, a library full of books and a large bathroom, “This is all mine?”
“This is your wing of the house.” He muttered, “I hate it; it’s too... bright. But Santa said that you were too Human to be there; and you’re too elf-like to be here. So, you’re to work with me... oh such fun.” He sighed. He turned to leave, stopping at the top of the stairs, “The List arrives in the first week of November... prepare yourself for travel; you will be going all over the world to make sure children are who they say they are. You still have your elf magicks; so it won’t be as hard as you think.”
“What do you do?”
A sickening smile carved up his demonic face, “I scared the crap out of them all.”

I never asked him a stupid question like that ever again.

The List showed up in the huge living room one morning and I then understood why that room was so massive – Krampus needed the space for all the boxes. As soon as I opened the first box with the letter ‘A’ on it, the names started going through my mind in a whispering voice telling me whether if the child was good or bad.
“Beth.” Krampus’ voice pulled me out of the sixth page of ‘A’ from the doorway of the kitchen, “Eat breakfast first before tackling those boxes.”
“Sorry... I didn’t know they were going to be so...”
“Yes, they’re bigger than they look.” He turned and poured himself a mug of coffee, “Another thing: don’t drink my coffee. I have supplied you with your own machine over there near the kettle.”
He gulped down half a mug and poured himself another, before he walked out of the room, “And don’t ask me why.”

I travelled all over the world with parts of the list with me on a tablet and watched children from afar. I was amazed at how many children made out to be good when really they were horrible little snots. Then, you had adults who acted like children and they claimed to be nice people... then you came across the really rare adults who didn’t think they were nice, and they really were lovely people.
One afternoon, I was walking through a park when I heard my name being screamed by somebody. On turning, I saw a woman running towards me. I had no idea who person was and froze.
“Oh... Krampus... help.” I muttered.
He was by my side in a second and the woman faltered, “Beth, is there a problem?”
The woman stared at his horns as his dark form stood over me. I looked up at him, “She screamed my name and acted as though she knew me.”
He looked down at me, “It’s because she does know you. That woman is your mother.” I didn’t know what to do as he led me to a seat and we sat with the woman crying nearby, “Now, you have a huge choice to make.”
“Go with a person I hardly know or stick with a mythical demon who nobody gives a rats about.” I said.
“Well, shit... don’t sugarcoat, will you?”
“You said you’d never lie to me.” I said, “I’m returning the favour. But I want to know where my brother is.”
“He’s still at home with your parents.”
I searched through the tablet to find my younger brother was on the Nice List, “I’m glad he’s doing well.”
“I made sure of that.”
“Beth please... come home with us and get away from... that thing.” The woman begged as a policeman showed up, “That’s my daughter. She’ s been missing for years.”
“Holy shit, who is that in that costume?” the cop asked.
“It’s not a costume.” I heard her say.
Looking down at my tablet, I started to cry, “I don’t know, Krampus. I’ve been gone for so long that I don’t know those people... and yet I’m scared of you; and I don’t want to hurt them.”
Standing, Krampus looked down at me, “The choice is yours. I will not interfere with it.” He vanished from the park and left me alone with these ... these... weird people.

The house appeared abandoned when I walked up to it. There wasn’t a single light on as I stood on the footpath; and I felt as though I had been dumped there, when really I had walked from the bus stop down the road. I notice that the yard looked cared for – making it look lived in – but no lights were left on; as it was late. I was about to knock when the door opened.
“So, you made up your mind?”
“Yes.” I nodded, “Krampus, I have. I’ve been gone for too long. I’ll work with you.”
“Good. Get inside.” He grumbled.
I couldn't tell him what I knew about the people who were my family.

I just couldn't tell him that he was the better choice than they were, simply because they were on the Naughty List - and had been from the very beginning. They acted like my family, said they were my family, had all the paperwork to say they were my family. But they weren't. It was the elvish magicks which had told me that the woman had been a nurse way back when I was born; and she had stolen me from my mother at the hospital. 

So, who was worse? Krampus or the evil bitch who was telling me she was my mother all these years? I chose Krampus because he never lied to me, he just told me what he knew and left the choice up to me.