Twelve Black Hearts for Christmas
By Wulf Francu Godgluck
“Hollyshitballs, it going to eat me alive. Again!” The two-story building loomed terror and furious against the pale winter sky. Its front doors open wide like a snarling mouth ready to devour any who entered. The second floor glowed yellow like demonic eyes from the windows.
It’s only a building.
That’s what I thought each morning I stood in front of the hell of all evil, more commonly known as Saint Vic’s High.
Until my senior year I was the scrawny, dorky kid with a trazillion allergies and digestive problems. You know you were considered less than fly-shit when not even the EMO kids would touch you.
Yeah I use to be that kid but not any more though. Not since Josh Willbrie took my hand in front of the zombie hyena popularity pack and, front and center, smacked his lips on mine.
He, the high school quarterback and team captain kissed me of all people.
Gizznicks! No one gasped in horror or cursed. Actually, I don’t think anyone noticed. We spent that summer together. He even invited me to watch him practice with the team. Strangely, after that epic event, high school seemed less scary… Or was it just that now I had been accepted into the higher pecking order of the superior popular kids?
A big hand came to my hair ruffing the brown nest into more of a bed head.
“Hi Booger,” he placed a kiss against my cheek and latched his arm around my shoulder. I blushed every time. Smiling, I quickly forced the smirk off my face. He stepped around to face me and his golden brown eyes stared darkly at mine. “Don’t, please. I want to see you smile more.”
Before I could squeak a word his lips brushed mine. Fellow students past us without stopping to stare. It was no secret Josh was gay. He was like the trophy gay guy every one loved and kept high on the pedestal polished and shining and me? I was the speck of a stain so small against the backdrop that not even a microscope could pick me up. He changed that — ok by now you get it. The likelihood of us being a couple was like a comet plummeting into the earth and the human race dancing around naked with unicorn horns attached to their heads because no one got killed. Fucking unimaginable!
“What you got?” he asked as he pulled away and scaled the stairs but immediately held out his hand for mine.
“Bio,” I shrugged, “double chemistry then algebra.”
Our fingers touched and he wove his into mine, pulling me up the steps with his strength.
Our shoulders bumped and our backpacks brushed against one another while we walked into the school.
Stopping at his locker, not letting go of my hand, he retrieved his books.
“A full day in other words.” He sounded disappointed. I knew he wanted us to skip class so we could get busy.
Hey, we’re teenagers, of course we did the whole getting naked with limbs in different positions and certain appendages hard as nails drilling thing.
“Sorry, Josh.” I apologized.
He slammed his locker door and pulled me to him in a hug.
“It’s cool. Besides you want to become a doctor so we can go live some place nice,” he smirked. Being this close to someone you liked your body did its own thing. Knowing no one could see, we rubbed against each other. “See you at lunch?”
I shook my head, “You have a meeting with Coach,” I sneered and looked away. No one liked the coach and no one hated him more than me. Okay maybe Josh did. Coach, in my junior year, had forced himself on me and made me swore not to tell anyone and I didn’t, except for Josh. Strangely, I trusted him more than I did myself.
The indents of his cheeks were the display of his fury. He looked up at the ceiling avoiding my gaze but I felt the squeeze of his hand tighten on mine. It hurt. Josh was never good at controlling his anger.
“I fucking hate him for what he did to you,” his voice was low and menacing. He released my hand. “It shouldn’t have happened to you,” he growled and slammed his fist into the blue locker leaving a dent. I’m sure other kids stared at us this time probably taking it as us having a quarrel of some sort.
I didn’t say anything. I never did when he got angry. I understood Josh. I knew him or I convinced myself that I did.
“I swear Booger, I would do it myself. Tear his head from—,” the bell rang.
“Josh, it’s okay. I know you would but I don’t want to lose you,” I fixed the collar of his shirt that stood askew.
“I love you Booger,” he said quick and leaned in to give me a peck on the lips. “Catch you later.”
I gave him a smile as he left for his classes.
“Love you too,” I whispered and made my way to Bio.
By lunchtime the whole school was abuzz with the news. I saw Josh alone, staring at his lunch. He looked greener the closer I got and I know it was because of what happened.
Silently I sat beside him.
He spoke but didn’t look up, “I didn’t mean it, what I said this morning.” He stopped and a hard swallow followed his words. “Booger you have to believe me,” he turned to me his pupils dilated and his eyes red. “I didn’t kill Coach.” His hands were in fists trembling as he shook. It frightened me to see him like this broken, scared and freaked.
I clasped my puny hands with nibbled nails over his fists. “Josh, I know you didn’t. I believe you. You were just angry.” I bit my lip, his hard empty stare burned into my eyes.
“Did you… I mean were you the one that found him?”
He nodded and turned away staring at his lunch again.
“He had a hole in his chest Booger. The whole shower floor was covered in blood. Someone ripped out his heart.”
A cold shiver flew up my spine. Coach wasn’t the first. Mayor Thompson was found hanging from his ceiling fan spinning, spraying blood like the room was a blank canvas, chest busted open and heart missing. Like a chest-buster hatched there or more correct heart-buster, but he deserved it. The prick drove into my sister two years back, drunk at four in the afternoon. Now sis has to spend the rest of her life in wheel chair and she’s only 14.
Mrs. Glade, a ranching money thieving tax collector, said Dad made a big jizz on his tax payments and we had to hand over every penny we had and forced us to move into a two bedroom apartment so small I can see my ass around every corner. She died; car crash, heart ripped out and missing. Found out later she was scamming dad.
Then there was Father Jackson, fag basher. Said Josh and I were an abomination and would both bring forth the end of the world for being together. He slapped me in public. Died falling out of the churches Bell tower and was impaled through the ass by the hands of a steel Mother Mary that was kneeling and praying beside a baby Jesus in his crib, smiling. His heart too was ripped out and missing.
Shit, all of them had had bad dealings either towards me or my family and all of this started happening since going out with Josh.
A sweat tear dribbled down my neck and slivered its way across my spine. My chest drew tight and the room felt suddenly hot in the midst of a cold snowy December day. I pushed my own lunch tray away and my stomach coiling in knots.
I glanced at my Josh, he wasn’t aware of my panic attack staring emptily into the space in front of him.
It couldn’t be him. I fought it inside me, it couldn’t be this beautiful guy next to me that had done this. Sure Josh had anger issues but he would never kill someone. Love? Obsessive in love, no he wasn’t. I wasn’t. Even the dreams we spoke of for the future were just that, dreams and teenage desire, ambitions, and empty words that would never be. I honestly didn’t expect us to have a future together after high school. He would meet someone better, I always knew that. I always suspected that no matter if we said we loved each other it was just boastful teenage love and nothing more.
“You’re awfully quite all of a sudden Booger,” he said his tone still shaken. “Got something on your mind?” This time his words came ice-cold.
“No,” I said and reached for his back with shaking fingers. “No Josh,I’m just spooked about this, that’s all.”
Gently I ran my fingers over his spine. He jerked at my touch and I pulled my hand away.
“You okay?” I asked without thinking. He turned and glowered at me his voice and gaze were equally as icy.
“I fucking saw a dead body!” He slammed his fist on the steel table, the noise echoed off the cafeteria floor and everyone went silent.“You tell me if I’m okay or not.” He stood.
“Dick!” he snapped, turned and walked out of the cafeteria.
Everyone heard him and most likely every eye was on me.
I felt again like the fly-shit I was before he allowed me into his life.
The day swam past me. I looked for him during classes but couldn’t find him. By fifth period I gave up. He had probably skipped school and headed home. People kept talking low as they passed me either about what happened in the cafeteria or in the gym showers or about the heart snatcher as the killer became known around the high school.The police wouldn’t be able to trace the leads to me unless they knew what happened between me and Coach.
Stepping out of school, Josh’s best bud was waiting for me around the corner.
“What the fuck?” his hands clutched my back pack and dragged me in between two dumpsters at the back of the school. It reeked here between the trash and ciggy butts scattered on the ground.
Billy’s plump, fat, sweaty, pink face stared back at me.
“Hi, what’s up?” I said dimly, this won’t be the first time he bullied me and I guessed it wouldn’t be the last. His fist met my gut.
“Were not friends faggot,” he groused.
I gagged at the blow choking. I got words out, “You’re touchy today.”
He hit me against the head, the blow forcing me into the side of the dumpster. I tasted blood on my lip. Licking the cut I stared a bit dazed at Billy. “Have you seen Josh? I’ve been looking for him since lunchtime?” I asked in a hiss.
His knee came to my groin this time and I sunk to my knees to the pavement. The best thing to do with a tyrant is not to show them they’re getting to you.It works…sometimes.
“You stay away from Josh,” he spat at me the glob of spit landing in my hair.
“Fine,” I lied closing my eyes. Things got quiet I thought he left until his shoe was pressed hard into my chest and forced me back against the wall.
“Josh doesn’t need you to fuck up his life and turn him into some queer.We like him the way he is.”
His fist collided with my head and the pain raked across my temple. I lost my balance and fell with my face in the dirt. Good, now just play dead.
What the hell did Billy mean by “the way he is?” When you’re queer, you’re queer…or was Billy jealous? Bullies had secrets they wanted to hide or things they couldn’t face or accept about themselves. I waited, face planted against the dirty ground until I was sure he had left before I stood. A cigarette butt stuck to my cheek. I skimmed it off and touched my eye feeling it had swollen.
Walking along the path Josh and I would go, I passed The Spot. We’d always spend a 15 minute break here on the way home mostly making out hidden behind trees where no one could see anything. I noticed the snow around the bench, four ciggy butts lain where foot prints stood partly melted.He was here.
I looked around for the green and gold of his football jacket but couldn’t see it anywhere. I shrugged and kept walking. I paused in front of his house but decided against the idea of seeing if he was home. My face felt tender after Billy’s carnage and likely swollen. I’d be home alone till mom came back from picking up my sister from after care. I could hide in my room doing homework saying that I wasn’t hungry for dinner—it was the usual safety measure I took after getting beaten up. It allowed me to avoid my parents ranting and making matters worse by laying a complaint to the principal.
Night came and with it, the dreams. I had had them since I was 12 years old.
I’m always running in the woods, snow crunching under my wedge hooves, cold air hissed against my bare pale-gray skin.Bigger than I could ever be, my shoulders swelled to enormous proportions, thick arms and bloated biceps. My chest was bare like some deranged caveman, my hair long black and wild against the frame of my angular face. A pelt of fur covered my body except for my chest. A pink fleshed tongue dangles from my mouth alive with a consciousness of its own. Ivory split horns root up from my scalp that waved backwards. My breath comes ragged in grunts as I exhale warm vapor into the cold air.
I am dominant but always scared as I ran from something. I never looked back to see what was chasing me. There is a sack on my shoulder and I clutch it fiercely with clawed hands as if my very life depends on what’s inside. And there is something inside, plenty of someone and they struggle agents the woven sack.Chains attach to shackles rattling from around my wrists stating that I was formally bound or kept captive.
As I run the woods grow denser and darker around me and my heart pounds like a rhythmic mantra in my colossal chest.
Voices grow closer behind me and I am cornered with nowhere to run.The voices grow in their angered uproar to me, in tongues I do not understand. I turn to them with there pitch forks in hand and sweltering torches. They try to poke me and cuddle closer.
The trees burst into flames and I am terrified. The heat of the infernos eats the shrouding forest. It calls to memory a darkness pain and anger that I do not understand but the fear is stronger. The sack falls to the ground and children crawl from it in endless numbers brushed, broken and friable. They cry blood from their eyes, screaming and calling for their mothers and fathers. The world spins and it’s hard to breathe as the smoke choke up my lungs. I fall to the snow my face against the ice white and usually the dream ends here, but not this time not since five days ago.
The world twists and I am in a house I do not recognize. My hooves clank against the wood floors and my horns scrape against the ceiling. I can smell them the fear like malodor-urine poring form there pores.
A women comes before me yet I don’t see her face. There is a flash of light from outside against the steel knife in her hands. She tries to stab me but I grab her wrist and force the blade into her belly she convulses and falls to the floor bleeding, shaking and crying.
I bend on my hooves and a voice whispers,“She has done wrong, take it from her, she does not deserve it and she must be punished!”
I reach out a claw and tear into her torso shredding through clothes, flesh, tendons and bone. I reach the struggling organ and rip it from its cavity, its warm in my hand and still moves but she is lifeless.
I wake up, perspiring, my cloths clinging to my damp skin. I shiver and sake from the cold and the bile rises in my throat as I head for the bathroom.
Two days later, the day before Christmas, things were getting daunting.Rumors sprung up of more murders but the victims had been kept secret till today.
I was in bio and hadn’t seen Josh in all of the two days. A detective stepped into the classroom. My heart hurtled in my chest,how had they made the connection?
I kept glancing between the experiment before me and the man who whispered in the teacher’s ear.
“Mr. Loidl,” my ears perked up at the broadcast of my surname on the teacher’s lips. “The detective would like a word with you, take your things son.”
My hands became clammy and my skin itched packing my things in my back pack. Walking past the desks of my fellow students it felt like the walk of shame with every eye on me, all attention smothering me. Stepping past the teacher’s desk his hand fell on my shoulder. He gently squeezed it, a sorrowed expression of empathy on his face, my heart flashed in its tattering fury.
I stepped out of the classroom and the burly detectives stood waiting.
“Yes?” I cocked an eyebrow and tighten my hold on my back pack straps.
“Detective Kollel, I would like to ask you a couple of questions regarding a missing person.”
I silently nodded to the large detective who stood with his arms around his chest. His hair was chaotic and he had gray stubble.
“Do you know Billy Hacklow? Have you seen him since Monday?”
“Yes, I know him but haven’t seen him since,” which was the truth. I actually haven’t seen him since he busted me up but I didn’t tell him that, I didn’t want a finger pointed at me.
“Josh Willbrie, have you seen him since Monday?”
I froze, my boy was missing. My heart slowed down, what if the heart snatcher was someone that took revenge on anyone that brought me harm? I took a leveled breath and shook my head.
The detectives asked more questions but my mind was a wandering bullet.What if the heart snatcher got to Josh because we had a fall out?Could it then be a fellow student?
He asked my whereabouts and I explained my routes and routines to and from school.
By the time he had finished school was out and the corridors eerily quiet as I made my way outside. A pain had started to form in my chest. I was worried about Josh and he was missing along with Billy. I jogged towards his house placing my hope that maybe, just maybe his parents kept him home because he might be traumatized from finding Coach’s body.
His house was dark walking up the steps to the large cherry wood front door. My heart rushing away in my ears as I rang the bell. By the fifth attempt my fingers were shaking, my skin itched and a cold sweat had gathered on my neck and back. My breathing was quaking. I made my way to the back of the house climbing over the fence. Neither Josh’s Mother nor Father liked me; I wasn’t particularly welcome at their house but not banned either.
The sky grew heavy with dark gray clouds and a snow flake found its way to the already bleached earth. The temperature had plummeted quickly. His house led to the back part of the woods. I rounded the corner and saw the blood smears in the snow. A body had been dragged across into the woods.
Why hadn’t the police searched his house and where the hell were his parents? I stepped up to the sliding door.Peering inside the Christmas tree was overturned and ornaments lay scattered across the floor. A struggle had occurred of some sort.My eyes wandered and took in the sight. It came to me in a flash. I was in here last night and I recognized the interior, same as the one from the dream. I halted, my breath left a fog against the glass. There was a slight gap to the sliding door as if someone had closed it but not checked if it was properly shut. I shoved my hand in my pocket for my mobile phone. The screen was cracked and the battery didn’t fit into it well, so I had a rubber band keeping it in place. I was about to dial 911 when a rustle across the yard pulled my attention away. The flash of a green and gold jacket sparked my feet and before I could find myself I was dashing cross the snow into the woods.
I could hear footsteps before me but could not see anyone.
“Josh,” I whispered but grim silence lingered. The crackling of firewood drew me to a faint glow in the distance. My running stopped and steadily I walked towards it. Darkness quickly swallowed the world around me and then I stood before the fire.
“Josh,” I whispered. A silhouette with its face concealed under a black hood stepped out.
I could see it was him, not by the jacket but by his frame. The large wide shoulders and chest, his jeans enveloped around his firm thighs. Something in me calmed in that moment knowing he was still alive. He stepped forward and stood in front of me.
A low wheezing rumbled from him, a faint fog coiled with each ragged breath as his chest puffed and expanded, his hand balled into a fist.
I laid my hands on his shoulders, yet he didn’t look at me, he still hid with his head bowed and the hood covering it.
“Are you alright?” I whispered.
His head shot up the hood falling back as he showed me his face. Normally I’d take a stepped back but I couldn’t, not from my Josh.
His lips were dry and cracked with blood blemishes. His eyes blood shot in anger or fear, black veins stood prominent under his skin and over his face. I swear they moved with black liquid in them.
“Do I look okay, Booger?” he tilted his head to the right and blinked his eyes. “Because honestly I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me.” It came out like dark tremors that I could feel vibrate through my hands on his shoulders.
I should step away, run and find help but I couldn’t. I reached out with my shaking fingers and brushed his cheek, a smile crept to the corner of his mouth more blood wrung from the cracked lips.
“I have something for you.”
I immediately snatched my hand away.
“Josh, we should get you to the hospital, they can help you.”
“No!” he barked and stepped towards the fire. “They can’t help,” he turned and held out his hand for me. “Come I have something for you.”
I reached instinctively for his hand and he wrapped his around mine, pulling me against him. The fire and Josh strangely held no warmth.
“You’re freezing,” I whispered.
“I’m fine,” he nestled his face in my hair and draped his left arm over my shoulder. “Look Booger, for you.”
My eyes bulged in their sockets. They would have torn from their sinew if I strained them any wider.
A silver plate dripping with blood sat before me and on it,a tower stacked with hearts.
“No Josh, you didn’t!” I stepped away from him and moved towards the plate.
“All of them for you sweetheart, all ten.”
“Ten?” my voice creaked “Josh, no!”
He chuckled behind me. The laugh sent an icy shiver down my spine.
“The last two are special Booger, come on eat up. Don’t want them to go to waste.”
I bent in front of the plate, the snow my knee dug into liquefied and seeped into the material. With my shaking hand I reached out for the mountain of hearts.
Touching the first one I could feel it was fresh. Slowly I brought it to my lips and licked. The metallic taste of iron in this one was strong. The memory bolted into my brain. We agreed to do this once my mother told me of my heritage, my birthright, my reincarnation into this world from hell. The heart of the wicked and innocent where the requirements for my rebirth. I sank my teeth into the heart.
Josh spoke, “Twelve Drummer’s Drumming.”
Mayor Thompson, for following in the footsteps of his drunken father.
“The cycle continues,” I said swallowing the last piece down and reaching for the next.
“Eleven Pipers Piping,” Josh said.
My father for his lack of judgment and forth bring ill luck.
“Of a sad lament,” I reached for the next.
“Ten Lords A-Leaping.”
Coach for being an ardent prick and sexually aggressive.
“To be wicked and misrule,” I said with a mouthful of his heart.
“Nine Ladies Dancing.”
Josh’s father for trying to keep us apart.
“And ardent in death,” I reached for the fifth heart already feeling the change upon me.
“Eight Maids A-Milking.”
Billy’s brutality for what he could not accept about himself.
“We lay the old behind us,” a smile spread over my blood soaked lips.
“Seven Swans a-Swimming.”
Josh’s mother for her vanity and obsession with beauty.
“And pierce the sky to the heavens.”
“Six Geese A-Laying.”
My mother for passing on the heritage.
“That the cycle can remain,” I released a deep snarl and reached for the next.
“Five Golden Rings,” I could hear Josh more clearly now; his heartbeat, his breathing, the blood running through his veins.
Father Jackson for his beliefs and what he forced on others.
“But always be defied!”
“Four Calling Birds.” Josh’s shadow fell over me.
My sister and her innocence in this all.
“The pure will become black,” I snapped in a primal dark voice no longer my own.
“Three French Hens,” Josh voice equaled mine.
The hag that stole with her false lies and made my family’s life such miserable poverty.
“The wicked which has been done has been punished.” I stood and turned to my Josh, a tear trickled from his eye as a warm blood smile reached his veiny face. His chest naked and beautiful against the glow of the flames.
“Two Turtle Doves,” Josh said cutting with a pocket knife into his own chest. Blood spewed from the wound and he kept cutting.
My Josh. My beautiful boy for the sacrifice he made.
“By the devotion of love and loss,” I said and clawed into his chest and ripped out his beautiful strong heart. My jaw dislocated and I pressed the still beating organ into my mouth. Razor sharp teeth sliced and cut the flesh and I swallowed with a sense of pure blissful admiration.
He could barely speak lying on the ground dying. In a second it would be so and he would be gone but it was enough time for him to say the words.
“A Partridge… in a …Pear… Tree…”
My own heart, I ripped from my chest and brought to my now triangular jaw and stuffed my face.
“As a pair, the two become one!” I roared and fell to my knees. Pain sliced through my skin and muscle, clothing tore and fell as my body altered and I became what I always have been.
“Reborn anew.” I whispered to the dark night with my new voice that petrified the birds from there hiding.
I leaned over Josh. “We’ll make this through Josh.” I looked at his wristwatch then at his eyes. The golden brown lifeless eyes stared endlessly into mine and beyond.
“Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday from your little Krampus.” I leaned in and devoured his lips with a kiss smearing the taste of blood between us. My tongue digging down his throat.
And then… God, I need to go have a shit.
I sometimes find myself lost in my own mind; a world very similar to our own yet so different. Things don’t go bump in the night—they squeal, and crawl under your skin, making you grind your teeth, and your stomach turn over and put your nerves on edge. Then there’s the drama. Oh, the drama!
I write because I must! There is so much inside of me that needs to get out. So many stories to tell, characters that want to be heard, and hearts lost and won. Words and art are my way of bringing my world to others. I enjoy telling tales of the human condition but working in elements of the supernatural. Werewolves, Vampires, Zombies, Witches and the unexplainable all set against the human world or worlds of their own.
I was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, grew up in a working class family and enjoy writing, cooking and spending my husband’s money! Yeah I’m a cocky little brat too :) (and proud of it.) Twitter | Blog