December 16, 2018


Danger walked out in that night air,
and it was getting closer...
December had just begun, and the night air shivered with a promise of snow. I shuffled through the door, stoked a fire and opened a book of empty pages.

The minutes ticked by, filled only with the comfortable voice of the fire. I kept an eye on the door, half-expecting to hear a knock. I didn’t know when, but I knew I would have a visitor very soon. Danger walked out in that night air, and it was getting closer.

I heard nothing. I felt nothing. But as soon as he was there, I knew it.

“Just curious,” I said without looking up, “do you ever slide down the chimney?”

“When it suits me.”

The lumber of his cloven step shook the room. Chains about his person jingled like a reindeer’s harness. Horned, hairy and drooling, he carried with him the smell of snow and smoke and howling winds in the northern stars.

“You know who I am?” he asked.

“Of course. I’ve been expecting you for months.”

A moment passed as he looked about the room. He seemed to be searching for something. His penetrating gaze rolled over the fireplace, the hunting trophies, and the floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, until he was looking directly at me.

“I thought you’d be here sooner,” I went on, “but I guess you only get one night of freedom.”

“You know why I’m here, don’t you?” he asked.

“Of course. You’re looking for something. Something you lost.”

“Not lost. Stolen.”

I eyed the basket he carried over his shoulder. “What makes you so sure it was me?”

“Knowing people’s hearts is part of who I am. You are the thief.”

“Okay, then. I admit it. I took them. All of them.”

His nostrils flared and his eyes narrowed. I knew what he wanted to do, and I knew why he couldn’t. I casually flicked a page in my book.

“Of all things…why would you take them?” he asked.

“I like to collect things,” I said. “Precious things. Magical things. I suppose, in a way, they give my life meaning.”
“Where are they?” he demanded. “Give them back!”

“They’re in here,” I said, passing him the book.

He glanced down, but he couldn’t see the pages, because he wasn’t there anymore. He was an illustration, ink and watercolors, snarling at the ceiling from within the pages of a book that lay collapsed on the floor.

I let out my breath and leaned back in my chair, alone once again.

I picked up the book and fanned through the pages. They were filled with words and pictures.

I closed it, and glistening in gold leaf on the front cover was one word: Krampus.

Smiling to myself, I approached my bookshelf. Names glinted in the firelight: Snow White, Mother Goose, The Headless Horseman, Santa Claus. Tiny voices seemed to flutter from within their pages.

I slipped my new prize onto the shelf and stood back, admiring my collection.

E.J. Hagadorn is the author of numerous works of fiction and poetry. He spends his spare time visiting dead authors and making webcomics.
Check out his websites: and
Follow him on Instagram: @oscar_and_edgar

Cover: Amanda Bergloff

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