A Weeping Angel and Krampus’ Bag of Naughty Children
I beat my wings one last time to get over the rocky hill. I shook my head as the gaudy gingerbread house came into view. Snow covered the ground and the peaks of the monstrosity. Towers rose high into the sky while an entire wing looked to be made of glass. A gingerbread bridge connected the two towers while tight spiral stairs led down to the main courtyard.
Good thing I was made of stone. If not I would have been freezing. Much like the pack of children huddled beneath the balcony of the second story.
Krampus—half man, half goat and all cranky—stepped out from the front lobby into the courtyard and waved. He had a large sack slung over one shoulder. He set it down as I landed, and an impossible number of confused-looking children dressed in night clothes tumbled out. Several sobbed into their own shirts. Krampus gave them a kick as he walked by.
“About time,” he said as he approached.
“Are they ready?”
Krampus shrugged. “They’re here.”
I nodded. We both looked away from one another. Finally he cleared his throat and motioned for me to follow. “Line up!” he bellowed.
The innate power Krampus held caused the children to straighten like marionettes. With stiff legs and panicked looks in their wide eyes, they marched into a line in front of the frozen fountain.
Krampus put his hands behind his back and marched in front of them. “Children, you’ve been naughty. And because you’ve been naughty, you now have to pay for your sins.”
I winced. Why did he have to make the speech each time? Why not spare them at least one thing?
The children—who probably had done nothing more than talk back to their parents—whimpered and tried to move away from Krampus, but his magic held them in place.
“You will be sent into a different realm, where you will have to work to redeem yourselves.”
I shook my head.
“Once you finish your penance, you will see your families again.” He stopped near me.
“Why do you bother?” I asked.
“It makes me feel better.”
Krampus started down the line again. “In order to go to your new home, you’ll have to look into this angel’s eyes. You’ll go to sleep, and when you wake up you’ll be in a new place.” His lips formed a grotesque smile. “Follow instructions and do everything they ask you.”
More children were crying now.
I ground my teeth and stepped to the center of the line.
Krampus turned and glared at me, but I held up my hands. “Children, look at me.”
They did. I was an angel, even if I was made of stone. Hope shone in their eyes. I tried to ignore it.
Once all thirty of them looked at me, my own magic burned to life. I’d never seen what I looked like when this happened, but people always screamed.
Fire seemed to sear my eyes, and my teeth elongated. Red glowed all around me, and the children screamed.
Or started to. Each and every voice got cut off after a fraction of a second, and when I pulled my magic back, they were gone.
All but one. A cherubic boy who had managed to hide behind a taller girl.
The look on his face told me that I was more terrifying than anything he’d seen in his short life. I walked to him, and like most people he stared with fearful eyes. Tears ran down his face as he fought against Krampus’ magic.
I sighed and knelt in front of the boy. “I am sorry, my little one.”
He didn’t scream, but it looked like he wanted to.
Krampus swore. “How much longer are we going to do this?”
I got to my feet and shook my head. “The fate of my planet and your planet hangs in the balance. We send them children to fuel their war machines, and everyone we know and love lives.”
Krampus huffed, and his breath formed a cloud in front of him. “I hate it.”
“You think I don’t?”
He sighed. “I’d rather never see you again.”
“The feeling is mutual, I assure you.”
Krampus turned and walked into his house.
I beat my wings and took off into the sky.
We would both be here next year and every year until time stopped.