12 days of killmas poster large

"TWO EYES MADE OF COAL"

Written by Mason McDonald

Tilly uses the rat carcass like a sharpie to draw the circle and the symbol inside it. She’s on her knees in the snow behind the house they’d all shared when they were many. It is just her now. She’s alone. She squeezes the corpse and the blood squirts from the eyes and snout and she draws. Autry told her there needed to be pain in the drawing of the sigil. She never killed the rat before she squeezed it for its ink—that should constitute pain.

She wishes Charlie was here. Or Max. Or Tamara. Any of them would do. Just one of them. Somebody so she wouldn’t be alone. She struggles with Autry’s writings. The book is taped and stretched together, pages torn and repaired, pasted over one another. Some sections have been written and erased, written and covered, written and rewritten and rewritten again that it is almost indecipherable. Tamara knew it all well. If she were here, she’d be able to translate Autry’s visions from the page to reality and make this perfect.

But Tilly is all alone.

Everyone else is gone now. To the Big Stuff beyond the universe. They’re with them now and she is still just here, the same here she’s always known, trying her best to do her job so she can join them all.

Why did Autry choose her? She’d have much preferred drinking the tea and going to bed, wrapped up in familiar blankets, holding the ones she loved, and moving on to where they all had gone. Instead, she is out in the cold.

Before Tamara and Charlie drank their tea and retired to their bedroom, they’d spent the day laughing and decorating the house for Christmas. Usually this would have been against the rules, but Autry, more cheery than usual knowing what was to unfold, allowed it. They put up a tree and decorated it with bulbs and candy canes. Outside they strung lights along the eaves of the house. Lights that now flash red and green and cast a brief shadow from Tilly on to the blood drawn sigils in the snow.

Behind the sigil is the snowman. Perfectly made, as Tilly had been diligent in making sure the three balls of snow were made from only the cleanest snow. When she found she’d reached close to the dirt in the paths she wore, and the black earth began to stick to snow, she’d quickly wipe it clean and change course. It needed to be nothing less than pristine. She struggled with the lifting but, using her hips a second set of hands to hoist the balls and roll them, she made it work.

Two long and twisted branches are stuck to the sides for arms. She had wrapped a red and black tartan scarf around the neck. Max had knitted it over their last few days. The nose is a classic carrot, shaved to a sharp point. A rat-blood mouth is etched across the face, cutting it in half, and in the corner is stuck a corncob pipe. And, of course, two eyes made out of coal.

Autry would never break a tradition like that.

For now, the head is bald. The old silk hat that had been left to her is in the snow beside the sigil. Now that the drawing is complete, she takes the hat and with a final, deep, nervous breath, she places it gently in the exact centre.

Whatever language the letters in the sigil are from she doesn’t know, but it is the same language she now recites phonetically from the pages of Autry’s bible. The words don’t sound like any other language she’s ever heard. Parts seem Arabic with the throaty phlegm and hard consonants while others seem smooth and mouthy like Swedish or Norwegian. They are alien words, foreign to her tongue. It feels wrong to speak them.

They aren’t meant for humans.

As she reads the words, the leather of the book begins to tingle in her fingers. It feels more and more like living flesh. It ripples and twitches. The hair on her arm stands up under her heavy jacket. The hat begins to vibrate. The rat blood bubbles and coagulates despite the cold and the absorption of the snow. The sigil and runes pop and wiggle in her vision like staring at a heatwave. Something inside of her wraps its fingers around her heart and pulls something free that had been lodged there. She gasps, momentarily shocked from the sudden release, and then she continues on reading.

Suddenly, something leaks from the fabric of the hat. Thick as oil and twice as dark. It seeps from each stitch like sweat and runs down into the snow. When the snow absorbs it, the blackness gives way to a deep vermillion.

Blood. The hat is bleeding.

Tilly finishes and puts the book down, dreading the next part. She swallows hard. Stands. Pats the snow off of her. She wishes she could feel the cold. Could feel anything. She’s numb, but not from the temperature.

Picking up the hat, she stares into the coal eyes of the snowman. This is it. This is what they’ve been working on. Undeath. Sending everyone to the place beyond the stars. Autry saw it all and he told them he’d show them. Not just his followers.

Followers.

Charlie, Max, Tamara, Tilly.

She’d draped sheets over three of them and made a bed for herself.

“I’m ready,” she says. She places the bleeding hat atop the snowman’s icy head.

***

I am the cosmos. I am stardust. I’ve overtaken God on his throne. I waved as I passed him. He is our God, but he is not The God. There are many. They’re but a species like ourselves. Ours is an adolescent. A beginner. We are his trials.

I saw this. I knew us for what we were. So much meat in flesh bags piloted by ghosts. My visions showed me all of this. They showed me the foolishness of man, the foolishness of God. Most importantly, they showed me the place beyond the stars. They showed me the Big Stuff on the other side of the darkness.

Few followed me in life. Most did not. I forgive them. How could they know? They couldn’t. They couldn’t see what I saw, feel what I felt. They can’t even begin to process our new kingdom. My new kingdom. It is mine because, as I’ve conquered death, I shall conquer it.

But I need an army.

I need ghosts.

I will show them. We will all see the gates of eternity and taste of its light.

I am coming back.

***

Before Tilly can comprehend what she is seeing, the red-faced snowman’s head splits in half, its mouth now open and real and filled with teeth, and it sticks one of its tree-branch arms into her neck below the jawline. She doesn’t feel it. Feels nothing. Whatever Autry took from her to come back relieved her of that. She feels the pressure of the branch under her chin and then a pop as something breaks through the bottom of her mouth and jabs into the roof. She tastes blood. Chokes on it.

The snowman’s mouth tests itself, working out its frosty kinks. Its eyes burn with hatred. Which makes sense.

They’re made of coal.

“Tillybean,” it says. The mouth moves side to side as if the person controlling it is new to the job. Which makes sense. It’s Autry’s voice.

Her eyes fill with tears. She cries out in joy despite the fact she is choking to death on her own blood. She tries to say his name but all she can manage is a gurgled, stiff-jawed moan.

Autry The Snowman smiles. “There must have been some good goddamn magic in that old hat,” he says and quickly chews Tilly’s head off her stem of a neck and bursts it open between his snowy teeth. Her body twitches and kicks as her nerves die and he drops it to the ground. Her warm, moist brain slides down whatever is passing for his gullet now and it reminds him of eating oysters.

This new form fits him well. Which is unexpected. When they asked him why he chose this, he gave them sly remarks as is his nature. He told them it’s Christmas, after all, and who didn’t like building snowmen on Christmas?

In reality, he needed a form which was endless. Where his body meets the ground he begins absorbing the snow around him, adding to his mass. When he moves through the backyard, he doesn’t slide, he gathers. The momentum of the absorption pulls him forward. Every foot he travels, he gains more and more.

His powers feel equally as endless. With just a thought he creates an arm from a snowdrift a few yards in front of him and uses it remotely to open the gate to the street.

The sound of voices hits him now. He chose this place for a reason. As he rounds the side of the house and makes his way to the middle of the front yard, he smiles again. He can’t stop himself. When a plan comes together this good, you just have to smile.

Suburbia. Houses full of families. All of them similar in design to the ones next door and all of them decorated to the nines with lights and inflatables and candy cane torches. Children roll snow in their yards and build clones of himself (except theirs are white with brown from soiled snow—not half-coated in dark blood), others are playing hockey in the street, while others still have created a slope out of a bank of plowed snow and are taking turns going down on sleds and their behinds. Parents help the youngest of them, or gather together and sip coffee from thermoses and watch and laugh.

His army. The beginning.

Just the beginning.

A little girl in a pink jacket is the first to spot him. She’s on top of the makeshift ski-slope sitting on her toboggan and is about to let her father gently push her to start her descent. She points, gasps so hard she turns purple, and screams.

Autry bares his teeth.

Follow me.

Before I melt away.

Let me show you the cosmos.

mason mcdonald 01Mason McDonald is the author of A Time For Monsters. When not inventing yuletide boogeymen, he can be found drinking booze and fist fighting his own personal Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come. He currently lives in Port Morien, NS with his wife Jenna and their collection of animals.

You can pick up his collection by clicking one of the links below!

Cover
Cover

This page includes affiliate links where Horror DNA may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

OBEY - CONSUME

Join Us!

Hit the buttons below to follow us, you won't regret it...