The Equalizer: You Better Watch Out

'twas the night before Christmas when all through the house

Fuck. Fuck!

My stomach twisted up into knots. I screwed up. Big time. And now Marty and his family were going to pay the price.

The first wave slammed against the front door and the windows. I saw a bright red flash.

The minions shrieked.

In my mind’s eye I saw the ones in the back yard make contact with the back porch. The night lit up with red flashes of light. The glow flared up and flowed over the house, from front to back, side to side.

The second and third waves weren’t fast enough to get away or strong enough to break free. The minions piled up against the house six feet deep on all sides.

Red death rolled over them like a tidal wave. They were crispy critters in the blink of an eye. Every last damn one of them died screaming. They screamed so loud the car windshields everywhere blew out in a spray of silver.

None of the windows in Marty’s house broke.

Inside the house Marty’s family stood looking out. They didn’t touch the window glass. Every last one of them stared outside bug-eyed. Marty’s mom stood with her arms wrapped around him but she had a hard time holding on to the kid.

He jumped up and down grinning. “I told you! I told you Dean would save us!”

I felt pretty damn good when I heard that.

The grey stink of burned hair and flesh hung low to the ground. The wind picked up and blew the piles of black ash apart. It swirled up into the night sky.

Oh me of little faith. It worked. The freaking house zapper worked!

That surprised me so much I barked out a laugh. The sound that came out of me wasn’t human. It was too loud, too deep. I couldn’t stop laughing.

The damn snake chains inside me stopped biting. I felt them blink and cock their heads to one side as if they were listening to the minions scream.

Krampus threw his head back and howled at the night sky.

“How’s winning working out for you, Billy Goat Gruff?” I called out.

His head snapped around in my direction.

I stopped laughing. Huh. There was something funny about him. Funny peculiar, not funny haha. I leaned forward as far as the noose around my neck would allow. There wasn’t much slack in the line. The chain cut into my skin. Blood ran down my neck. I ignored it.

Krampus looked different. His teeth and his horns weren’t as long or as sharp as they had been before. I saw yellow bone underneath patches of thin grey fur. That blood red robe of his looked faded out. He was still a tall sonofabitch but he looked thinner somehow.

Goat Boy roared. He leaped at me so fast he was a blur. I blinked and he was there, standing over me.

The left side of my face went hot. I saw stars and constellations.

He hit me.

WHUMP!

He hit me again, this time in my chest. Three more ribs broke.

My insides filled with the buzz of metal scraping against bone. The sonsofbitches inside me were on the move. This time they didn’t just bite me.

They were eating me.

They shredded my lungs, tore up my heart. Broken bones ripped through my skin.

WHUMP!

My back arched. I jerked against the chains. Warm blood splattered over my skin.

WHUMP!

Another flare of pain, sharp and white hot. Bone broke. My nose this time.

WHUMP!

I caught hell from both sides. Krampus pounded me on the outside and the snakes went to town on my insides.

WHUMP!

I saw black fog twisting around in mid-air in the space behind my eyes. Weird. I’d seen that before, hadn’t I?

WHUMP!

There was something I could do to turn this around but I couldn’t remember what it was...

WHUMP!

Fog... no, that wasn’t right.

WHUMP!

Black...black smoke...

WHUMP!

...that was it…

WHUMP!

...smoke...I can...

WHUMP!

I can smoke out of this…

WHUMP!

I remembered. I remembered what I could do.

Sonofabitch.

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