It was cold and dark that one wretched morning in the city of dead dreams. Dilapidated buildings, decadent sentries of another time, towered on either side of me as I sped by on my way to the warehouse downtown. An ill-disposed wind howled in every direction; beggars huddled together and brown slush clung to the rims of my bicycle tires. Down the road, a neon Pabst Blue Ribbon sign buzzed over silent garbage cans in disarray. The entire grim metropolis shivered under a silver sky while an icy drizzle lacerated pavement and poltergeist alike. Dim holiday lights hung miserably on the iron gate of a Catholic church...it was that time of the year again. I shuddered at the thought and kept my eyes on the path ahead, unwilling to dwell in bad memories and worse nights.
I arrived at the warehouse freezing-wet and tired; the depot’s weathered brick walls and cement pillars stood indifferent...there is no rest for the poor. An old grey delivery truck backed-up next to a concrete platform while a stocky, middle-aged man opened the vehicle’s rear door; myself and other kids, roughly my same age, began to gather around him. A large, empty brown leather satchel hung loosely across my chest, the other boys had similar knapsacks of their own; soon they’d all be filled with copies of the day’s journal, ready to be delivered. At fifteen cents a piece, we got to keep two cents per unit sold. Not bad. It was enough to keep food on the table...most of the time. Every now and again though, a salacious incident would send the general public into a frenzy resulting in a higher profit for us. Political scandals were usually the most lucrative.
“What do we got, boss?” asked one of the older kids, hoping for a shocking headline. His tattered clothes and grimy disposition told the same worn-down story we were all accustomed to.
“See for yerself,” replied the man as he hurled a stack of newspapers onto the floor right by our feet. The smell of fresh ink filled our nostrils in anticipation:
Mismatched Patterson Lasts to 12th:
CLAY BY TKO
Myself and a few of the boys made affirmative sounds and gestures in unison: Boxing Championship Bouts meant plenty of sales. Everyone knows that despite modern society’s pretense of civility, the age-old spectacle between desperate, violent men striking years off each others’ lives under the bright lights remains unmatched. Works for me.
“What’s TKO mean, boss?” asked one of the youngest kids in the bunch, snot-nosed and dirty.
“Means get to work, all of ye’. If you can say it you can sell it, don’t needa’ know what it means,” the stout man grumbled back in a bad mood. Without making eye contact with any of us, he began handing out bundles of newspaper to the skinny hands reaching out for them until the truck was left empty...while the city still slept, a ragtag of raggedy kids in weary clothes ventured out into the cold, thirsty for love and money—most would never find either.
After finishing my scheduled deliveries, I hurried over to the corner of 5th and Wilson Avenue just in time for the morning rush. Though the sleet had subsided in exchange for a meek daylight, an insidious chill still remained. Tall men in long coats, ruthless suits and Fedora hats brisked by me on their way to work; most would fling a coin and take the paper without missing a step while others lingered, volunteering their opinion on whatever was on print that day. One such man approached me with his hands in his pockets and a scowl across his face. An unkept grey beard betrayed his age.
“Clay by TKO sir, get the details here for less than a quarter,” I said to him in my most polished salesman tone, raising the paper so he could see the headline on display. The guy replied with a scoff and grabbed the newspaper abruptly, unfolding it and scanning the front page.
“Big whoop. Kid’s a loudmouth, doesn’t know his place...they oughta send his ass to ‘Nam and see how he does over there,” the man growled back as he shoved the paper into my chest and walked away, leaving behind the distinct aroma of cheap liquor and old regret. Asshole, I thought, though without actually saying anything back to him. Not worth the fuss. Less than an hour later, my satchel was finally empty and my pockets were full of coins; it was time to head back to the depot to cash-in and collect my earnings. The day was still young and though no one would ever hear, sullen wraiths cried out in agony on every corner—aware of their eternal penance.
I walked alongside my bike through the city’s business district; colorful advertisements for all sorts of products and services beamed on either side of me as I strolled by on my way back to the warehouse downtown. The dead moaned. The cold persisted. Halfway down Truman Blvd, between a tailor and a record store, I spotted a small shop—old and unassuming. A dim, yellow light emanated from inside and a strange, bold-lettered word decorated the entrance: ANTIQUES. I was perplexed for a second, wondering how I’d never seen this business before despite my many trips through the district. There was a certain appeal to the place, an irresistible warning. Curious, I leaned my bike on the wall, opened the front door and walked in: a prolonged, low-pitched chime announced my entry as the door closed softly behind.
Unending rows of dusty furniture and all manner of peculiar items, many of them unknown to me, lay on display ahead. A deep red wallpaper clung to the walls and candles hung on silver sconces at even intervals; inside, the space was much bigger than it looked. A deafening silence, only barely interrupted by flickering lights and my own hesitant footsteps, reigned unopposed. The rich, bittersweet smell of mothballs invaded every pore in my skin, loosening the senses.
“Hello?” I called out into the mild darkness. Nothing. An aged, upright piano stood to my left, it was missing a pedal and there were numbers carved on specific keys. Up ahead to my right, a robust wardrobe loomed quietly over an iron typewriter sitting on a charred desk. The dresser was seven feet tall and smooth to the touch; a gilded, bronze lock kept its secrets safe from wandering hands.
“Hello? Anyone?” I called out again, this time a little louder. Still, nothing. The hardwood floor creaked under my weight as I slowly made my way from one corridor to the next, intrigued by the untold stories hidden behind every dated artifact. Tomes of books on ornate shelves, marble busts of ancient men and empty rocking chairs languished in the shadows—begging for attention. The room began to feel warm.
Deep in the labyrinth, touched by the soft glow of candlelight and leaning on a scarred phonograph cabinet, there was a large painting lying upside down on the floor: a man and a woman praying in the middle of a field, shadows in all the right places. I tilted my head and read the inscription engraved on the bottom length of the frame: The Angelus by Jean-Francois Millet.
“My apologies,” a soft voice spoke close behind me...for a short second, my body tensed up. “I was just about to hang that piece, if you’ll excuse me,” I turned around to face a stern silhouette in a taut, black-on-black collared dress; a tall woman with blunt, dark features and ominous amber eyes stood before me: hair done in the beehive style, nylon leggings concealed her in the dim light; a pair of golden serpents decorated her ears.
“Y...yes ma’am” I managed to stammer back and move out of the way. The striking figure swiftly walked past me and picked up the painting effortlessly.
“Follow me,” she commanded without looking back or missing a step; though there was rhythm to her gait, she moved fast and mostly seemed to glide over the old floorboards beneath—her feet invisible in the scarce light. I obeyed without question, lost already under the influence of abhorrent things unknown to most. A legion of mute artifacts, cursed and otherwise, witnessed our destined procession. No matter how fast I walked though, the distance between me and the woman seemed to widen with every step we took through the ample gallery. I sped up my stride from one aisle to the next, past inaccurate clocks and particular metals until she was barely visible and then...she wasn’t. Instead, a warm subtle light appeared at the end of the corridor.
“Come child, I can help you find what you’re looking for,” the shopkeeper’s ethereal voice touched my senses...a drop of sweat ran down my neck. I approached and found her standing behind a long wooden counter: an ornate brass candelabra holding three tall candles stood on the edge. Behind, the aforementioned painting hung on the wall and next to it, the regal head of a lion remained stoic in death—a glimmer of ferocity still in his eyes. “Curator,” she said smoothly, “I am the curator and owner of this establishment, how may I assist you?” Despite her calm demeanor, there was a palpable intensity to being in her presence; I was afraid and intrigued at the same time, unsure whether to run for my life or drop to my knees in worship—words escaped me. Knowingly, she smiled. “Not many people find this place, you know, the ones who do leave satisfied but never come back. What brings you here?” she spoke in a beautiful accent, one fit only for gods and monsters. A brand new cash register sat on the counter, cold and unyielding except for a pristine purple sticker in the shape of a fish candidly stuck to it.
“Nothing, I was...I was just passing by...what is this place?” my voice came out in reverence, barely louder than a whisper.
“Relax child, this is not holy ground. What you see here is a collection of relics: morose, powerful artifacts from years past; each one carefully selected by me from across the globe, each one meant for someone, somewhere...sometime. The important question now is: which one is meant for you?” A look of surprise found my face; her luminous eyes savored the moment.
“Thank you ma'am but I could never pay for any of this...wouldn’t even know where to begin as far as picking goes to be honest,” the room felt hot now, I thought about taking my coat off but decided not to.
“A tithe is all I ask for in return, ten percent of whatever’s in your pockets,” she said enticingly, “...leave the rest to me.” Sold. I took out the exact amount and set it on the counter—foolish, eager to join the damned.
“What is your name?” I asked, helpless.
“You can call me Nina,” multiple heavenly voices spoke the name in unison; a blue hue tinted the candlelight for a brief second. “Now close your eyes and breathe deep, child...listen to the flame, let it clear your thoughts. I’m going to ask a question, your answer will guide me in choosing the right antique for you...only the truth will do.” Silence. I nodded in response. Standing there, in the vicinity of godhood, my mind felt quiet, infinite, pure and despicable. Her poised inflection descended on me gently, nurturing and astute: “What do you hate most?” I grimaced, the answer to her question was easy to find: The sting of a fresh cigarette burn. The bitter taste of an undelivered promise. A raw, vivid picture of violence and abandonment permanently linked through trauma to a particular day.
“Christmas,” I replied, opening my eyes and repressing the past once again; burying the pain so deep it could never hurt me. The curator let out a delighted laugh, sinister and elegant.
“Of course you do, child...I have seen your nightmare and I have just the thing. Wait here.” The woman disappeared back into the labyrinth, her movements quick and fearless. I leaned on the counter, facing the haunted collection: a dozen dark corridors lined in mystery and madness sprawled before me. I wondered what sort of arcane magic laid there, restless, eager to live again. Stare into the abyss long enough though, and it will find you. First, coming from one of the hallways, a whisper; then, someone writing hurriedly in the dark. The turn of a key followed by a click and deranged laughter soon followed. In the background, a faint weep held still, sad and inconsolable. Death trembled. Prayers turned to curses and screams of terror faded into miserable whimpers. I could only smile.
“Here child, your antique,” once again, the soft voice spoke close behind me. I turned around and found the woman back behind the counter, her divine aura resonant and rich. She was holding a crystal sphere sitting on a heavyset wooden base; inside, a colonial village in the middle of a forest covered in white. It was a snow globe. I looked back at her, perplexed. “To cheer you up during the holidays,” she said, placing it on my hand. A tiny church, complete with a bell tower and a cross, loomed over a few traditional homes. The town square was empty except for a stone well. On the base, a silver plaque bore an inscription in a language unknown to me: pater noster upto terra...“A malicious play on words—particularly on sacred texts—tied to terrible sacrifice can sometimes unlock derivative power: impure and with consequence...but power, nonetheless,” explained the woman; sweat accumulated on my forehead, I remained still. “One of the latest additions to my collection, this one, callous and fickle. Used properly, it can grant certain wishes...frivolous whims...as long as the request doesn’t break human will or the Laws of Physics,” she said looking at the artifact, pleased. Behind me, solemn murmurs and barren moans wandered the darkened corridors.
“The laws of what?” I replied with a gulp, my throat felt dry—the woman smiled.
“Keep it simple, child. Think of kismet, coincidence, odds and chance; the ritual will tilt these in your favor. Every year, at any time from the beginning of autumnal equinox to the end of winter solstice, shake the artifact, make the snow fall with your wish in mind and the hex on your lips: pater noster upto terra. If your wish is granted, you will notice some of the flakes will permanently turn black in color,” she said, pressing a few keys on the cash register: a tray slid open with a "ding." The woman placed the coins inside and closed it in a swift motion; she then looked at me severely and continued.
“Now listen. There must always be white snow inside the globe you understand? Once only a few regular flakes remain, you must stop using the incantation at your own peril. In other words, the amount of wishes you have is limited—use them wisely.” Looking down, I examined the artifact in disbelief, wondering how an old snow globe was going to do any of that. The level of detail inside though, was mesmerizing. Every window, rock and tree masterfully crafted to perfection by someone driven, obsessed. Hidden in the middle of the forest, a lone cross marked the location of a shallow grave.
“What happens? You know, when they all change color,” I asked, looking up. The woman took the souvenir from my hand and shook it: a great number of white snowflakes swirled inside before gently descending on the somber landscape.
“Black Christmas,” she replied casually, setting the snow globe back on the counter.
“Like a bad holiday? Piece of cake,” I muttered, picking it up and wiping my brow; still intrigued by the curious object. Magic or not, this thing was valuable; I could tell from how heavy it was.
“It was nice doing business with you, then; please come again,” the curator spoke definitively as the room’s intense pressure slowly subsided. I turned back to find no more than a couple of aisles and the shop’s entrance—the dim candlelit facade remained untouched. My shirt felt damp, it was time to go.
“Yea, you too,” I replied, like an idiot, walking towards the exit. At the door’s threshold, I turned around to look at the woman one last time: her statuesque figure faced me from behind the counter, vibrant and appealing. Solemn, enshrined in priceless art and loyal subjects; powerful, her incandescent eyes majestic and serene. Something told me we’d never meet again. I opened the door and walked out into the cold street, for a brief second, it was a welcome change. Not one step out of the gallery though, I realized something...everything...was wrong.
It was dark outside, nighttime; pretty late too, judging from the complete lack of cars or people strolling about. Though temperatures were surely below freezing, there was no wind, sleet or snow—a glum silence held the entire downtown. On the sidewalk, tall slender streetlights offered solace from the stark darkness every few feet. I turned around to find the Antique Shop’s lights were out, a “CLOSED” sign firmly on display. Somehow I’d spent over twelve hours inside the hallowed gallery though to me it felt like no more than one. Also my bike was gone though no surprise there, either way...I was screwed.
There is a specific window during the day in which we are supposed to get back to the warehouse and cash in, it’s important to make it because they get their money and so do we. Not showing up usually means one of the boys is trying to keep the whole stash and never come back; mostly over drugs, sometimes a medical emergency. In any case, the foreman makes sure to notify the police and well...it never ends well for the runaway. As for me, a story about getting lost in a mysterious shop wasn’t going to cut it. Even a reasonable explanation wouldn’t do it: you were either there on time or you were a criminal. No questions asked, no mercy given.
Standing under one of the street lamps, a sense of dread gripped my guts. I reached inside the satchel and pulled out the snow globe: light from above refracted through the curved, shimmering crystal...projecting color and grief. I shook it and said the words out loud, trying my best to emulate the curator.
“Pater noster upto terra,” At the same time, in my mind, a single statement on repeat: Don’t let me be in trouble with the foreman. Don’t let me be in trouble with the foreman. After a few shakes, I held it up at eye level and looked closely inside: thousands of snowflakes filled the miniature atmosphere in a whirl, gently slowing down into a state of eerie suspension. The town was only partially visible now, shrouded in white, as was everything else...I looked at the globe from different angles, carefully maneuvering the artifact with both hands, looking for them...it only took a minute. Fleeting at first, easy to lose in the crowded procession but they were there: black snowflakes. Scattered, less than a pinch but undeniably there. I felt fear and excitement, instinctively bracing myself for something to happen, but the night remained calm. Disappointed, I put the relic back in the satchel and walked home in a hurry, thinking of other ways to get out of my troubled situation.
Elsewhere in the city, a stocky middle-aged man slept comfortably, unaware he would be dead before sunrise.
I arrived at the warehouse the next morning wide-eyed and anxious; expecting loud accusations, handcuffs or worse but at the same time hoping a clever excuse plus the owed wages would spare me a meeting with the fuzz...not to mention keeping the actual job. Surprisingly, everything seemed business as usual. A different guy handed out the newspaper bundles and things seemed to be running a little late but other than that, nothing. It was certainly quiet but that wasn’t unusual either. I kept my head down, got my batch and got out of there—pockets still full of coins from the previous day. No one even looked at me twice. The artifact worked. My wish had been granted...maybe this would be a good holiday after all.
Later that shift I heard from one of the other boys that our usual guy at the warehouse—the foreman who gave us the merch and kept track of things—was moving stacks of newspapers early that same morning when he stepped on a patch of ice and hit the back of his head hard on the concrete floor: lights out, right then and there on company property. Things moved fast. The deceased’s accounting records were certified, his family modestly compensated and the suits moved on without as much as a second thought. Kismet, coincidence, odds and chance, I smiled...dude was an asshole anyway, probably did him a favor. Rent was coming up, gas and light were overdue. It was time for the world to give back what it’d taken from me my entire life; after all, why should I care about others when no one ever cared for me?
I spent every minute thereafter thinking of different ways to use my magic snow globe for profit. Options were limited at first but as I grew older, a wide range of opportunities were unlocked in the form of gambling. Sporting events specifically were there for the taking: basketball, baseball, football, boxing, even the races...a wish, a shake and a spell is all it took to pull the upset. Easy money. The time constraints on the ritual were inconvenient, but I managed by planning ahead and saving diligently. Still, it took time to build enough capital to place significant wagers, but once I was there, making rent was not an issue anymore. The bills were paid and my stomach was full year round. By that point, about a quarter of the flakes inside the globe had turned color...and there was something else: with every wish granted, red and green lights began to appear in the miniature town, decorating rooftops and trees alike. Some of the houses lit up inside, giving off a warm yellow hue—it was beginning to look like Christmas. The curator’s ominous warning, foreboding misfortune and despair, echoed distant in my thoughts.
I used the haunted artifact to my advantage over the years; addicted to money, booze and winning. Never once thinking of the price paid in blood for every one of my wishes...never once feeling remorse...never once nothing. They say selfish lives lead to lonely deaths—it’s true.
The gloom, brick-lined alleyway was like any other in the city: disillusioned and dirty. Empty beer cans and broken glass rustled on the weathered ground amidst cigarette butts and dog piss. A halfway ripped poster, advertising an upcoming fight, fluttered in the cunning Fall wind. Dusk was beginning to set in and with it came the prostitutes and debt collectors. Rats, big as cats scurried away, spooked by the sound of polished shoes cracking hard against my ribs. Unfortunately for me, today there would be no hookers. With my back against the wall, two men in swanky clothes and a smug demeanor stood over me, clearly enjoying their respective roles: the smaller one did all the talking while the other used his fists. Both wore heavy jewelry.
“This is the last time we play nice, ya understand?” he said in a slimy accent, pointing his finger at me as blood poured down from a fresh gash on my lips...brass knuckles will do that. The brute laid one last right-cross straight on my left cheekbone, opening another wound, then finished it with a heel kick to the chest. Fucking wops! I thought, curled up on the concrete ground, in pain and unable to breathe.
“Ya think this is bad?” the mobster continued, pursing his lips “If ya don’t pay what you owe in two days, I’m gonna have my friend here go to work on ya with a crowbar, ya hear me? Two days, that’s it.” He took one step closer and looked me directly in the eyes. “We’ll make a fucking cripple outta ya, then ya can beg on the streets until your debt is paid! Two days.” I nodded in return. “Can’t hear ya, boy” he said leaning-in and raising his backhand.
“I heard you man, two days. I got you. I’ll get the money,” I replied, flinching. The thugs chuckled and took off, leaving me bruised, broken...in the company of trash and misery. Didn’t matter, either way I was fucked.
Little over a year ago, I was about to use the snow globe—intent on fixing an important ball game—when I noticed every snowflake in view had turned black while the entire town dressed in holiday cheer. Fear settled in the pit of my stomach. After years of witnessing first-hand the artifact’s sinister power, I was less than keen to find out what happened when...if only I’d asked the woman to be a bit more specific back then. Fuck. I began inspecting the globe from all angles, using both hands until finally, the sight of a few white flakes sent a wave of relief down my spine. Still, it was clear my days of easy money at the bookies were done.
I wasn’t too worried though, by then I’d made enough cash to keep me going for a bit so I put the snow globe away in a drawer and forgot about it...figured I’d beat the system and honestly, it would’ve worked except I didn’t stop gambling. I couldn't. Addiction is a greedy bitch, it only knows how to take until there’s nothing left. Without the odds in my favor, within months I’d lost most of my savings to different bettors. The constant partying didn’t help either, after all, loose women and fine spirits are expensive commodities. Even worse, I got in the hole with the local mob. Now my face was swollen, blood pooled in my eye socket and it was time to pay the piper.
I needed a big score in the next forty eight hours and I knew just the one...hard to miss, actually. Though I’d have to use the entirety of my remaining capital, with the right wager, the stakes were steep enough to pay off my debt and then some...how bad could a ‘Black Christmas' be, anyway? Whatever it was, it couldn’t be worse than what those fucking scumbags would do to me if I didn’t come up with the money on time. This was the only way. I slowly picked myself up and began walking home, determined to throw the dice on my life and perform the cursed ritual one last time. Ignoring my presence, a stray cat scavenged for dinner in the dumpster—another victim of existence in this cutthroat town.
It was early in the morning, two days later, when I walked down Cleveland Street on my way to the nearest newsstand. The man working it was just getting ready to open: stacks of fresh newspapers lay on the floor beside him, waiting to be shelved. Although I knew from experience the result from last night’s bout would be in my favor, it still felt good to see it on print; this one in particular, even more so than the rest. I approached the booth and read the headline:
ALI WINS BY KO IN 8
Floors Foreman to Regain Crown
“Can you believe it?!” the merchant asked rhetorically, picking up the stack of papers with difficulty and setting it on the counter. “Sonnova bitch actually did it!” His rotund waist was barely reined-in by a worn leather belt and a pair of navy blue suspenders. The button on his denim pants was missing. “I woulda’ bet everything I got, even the missus that ‘Big George’ was gonna end that man’s career,” he said, taking off his flat cap and wiping sweat off his wrinkles before putting it back on. “Considering everything he’s been through and all that...I guess you never know, you know?” the merchant mused, comically aware he would never achieve greatness himself. A crisp morning dew settled on the newsstand; tabloids and magazines were neatly lined up under a plastic cover, displaying pictures of parties and dead celebrities.
“Guess not,” I replied and walked away without making a purchase, already thinking of my next move. After collecting at the bookies, I’d head straight to the greaseballs and pay my debt; then, go back home and figure out what to do with the globe. The Antiques Shop was long gone, pawning the thing had crossed my mind but mostly I wanted to keep it just in case...ever since using it this last time, the legion of black snowflakes inside the globe remained in a state of constant motion: slowly orbiting the lit-up, empty town in a funereal procession. It was an unnerving sight. A sobering reminder of the unknown horror to come: Christmas was only a few weeks away. I spent those short days laying low, mostly afraid though sometimes hopeful—woefully ignorant of the cruel fate ahead.
On the evening of December 24th, I sat alone in my room with a bottle of Jim Beam on my left hand and a Smith & Wesson .38 Magnum Revolver laying next to me on the bed. Tired. Anxious. Wary. Depressed. It’s not easy, living with a deadline. Reruns of The Twilight Zone, hour-long nightmares in black and white, played on the television across from me; Funkadelic’s album cover art for Maggot Brain hung above it. The magic artifact sat on the nightstand beside me: festive and mute...eventually, I passed out in the cheap stupor, sweating fear and regret. Fuck this, was my last thought that night, I’m already dead anyway...but unfortunately for me, that would not be the case—should’ve pulled the trigger when I had the chance.
I woke up to complete darkness. It was difficult to breathe and almost impossible to move. An unyielding, shifting force restrained me in every direction. The smell of soil pervaded my surroundings and I could taste dirt. A sepulchral silence governed the tight space. Unable to lift my head or move any part of my body more than a fraction of an inch, I began to cry for help—trapped, powerless and soon to become desperate. Within minutes, as the horror of my predicament began to dawn on me, pleading words turned to frenzied screams; a stream of tears, salted in anguish and denial, wet the earth around me. I conjured praise and profanities aimed at any entity out there willing to listen, divine or otherwise. I even called for Nina at the top of my lungs, but like the rest, she never answered. Defeated, I sobbed quietly, wishing all of this was just a fucked up fever dream. Soon I’m gonna wake up, I told myself repeatedly, looking for even the slightest sense of solace. Then, I heard it: another voice, muffled but close by, wailing, unhinged...manic. I tried to make contact but the voice never spoke back a single word—only pain and lunacy in the form of shrieks, moans, whimpers, laughter and any other primal sound a human can muster. It was someone nearby, suffering my same fate and equally helpless. His fractured state of mind made it clear he’d been here far too long. Abandoned...forgotten...sometimes he keeps quiet but to be honest, I prefer the company of his screams.
And so it’s been months, years, decades...it’s hard to tell in this place. I’ve recounted this and other stories to myself a thousand times over, although mostly I cry in the dark, entombed with my sins. One day, like my neighbor, I hope to go insane. Every muscle in my body is in constant, excruciating pain from not being able to move for so long; pestilent sores cover my skin and my throat remains scarred—bloodied by an age of wails and agony. Festering questions and stale remorse still resurface every once in a while, sending me into fits of rage and meaningless struggle: no one ever comes, nothing ever changes. After a while, monotony becomes its own shade of torture...I bit off my own tongue long ago just to feel something different, if only for a few hours. I am constantly starved, parched, unable to sleep or die. Cursed. Condemned. Alone with my paltry thoughts for eternity, imprisoned by my own will...all I can do now is wait for my mind to let go. Certainly, only severe madness can deliver me now from the infinite wrath of one Black Christmas.
“Sold!” exclaimed the well-dressed man, striking his smooth gavel on the hardwood surface. “Lot 713 to the woman in black,” he finished, exhausted, officially closing the sale; immediately after, a uniformed attendant scanned the item’s QR code and took it away to get ready for packaging. At the service room, before wrapping it up, the young employee inspected the relic: a crystal sphere sat on a heavy wooden base; inside, a tiny colonial village, surrounded by pine trees covered in white snow. The town’s church, complete with a bell tower, stood over a few traditional homes and a lone stone well. Hidden in the middle of the forest, two crosses marked the location of two shallow graves. On the base, a rusted metal plate bore an inscription in Latin...a festive quote, no doubt.
Despite feeling tempted, the attendant didn’t dare shake the old thing...not after witnessing the spirited bidding war for it and the resulting price—surely, this was no ordinary snow globe.