Emilthrii and Stalarovyotep
by Jeff Baker
The sunsets were getting earlier so on the evening before the New Moon I took the shovel and went out to the Northeast corner of my backyard. I glanced at the darkened, cloudy sky, the deep red stripe of sunset I glanced at my neighbors houses. A few lit windows, a few streetlights but mostly the dark of late Fall.
It was a small yard so I didn’t have a lot of trouble finding the exact spot over the brown grass and leaves that always made me think of driving to my Grandparents for Thanksgiving when I was a kid. But it was December and I was no longer so young.
It took me a few minutes of digging. The ground was cold and hard but not impenetrable. I turned over the earth and I saw the first: light blur, red, green and pink. I set it to the side and ran my hand through the small pile of dirt I had turned up. I resumed digging. I didn’t worry that an animal had dug it up; animals stayed away from this spot.
It was darker when I saw the small chunk of dark green in my overturned dirt. I picked it up: small, ceramic like the other one only this one was glazed a deep sea-green.
I gently put it in my jacket pocket. Then I reached down for the other one, the pink and green and blue and red one and placed it in my other pocket. I pushed the earth back into the hole with my shovel.
I walked up to the back door of my house, kicked some loose dirt off the shovel and propped the shovel up just inside the backdoor. I went into the house and placed the two objects on my mantelpiece. One was the figure of an elf; blue elfin coat, red shirt and pointed hat, green lapels and shoes, pink face and yellow hair.
The other, small and squat, was a green gnome: dark with a solemn expression, sitting on the ground with his head in his hands.
As I had done each year I lit the green candle I set on the ashtray beside them.
There was a flicker of light from outside.
I stepped outside. The dark was illuminated with light. The dark houses now had the bright, what did they call them? Christmas lights strung around the roof, Christmas trees visible through front windows, merry music playing from car stereos. I stepped inside and glanced at the daily paper on my sofa, now thick with ads.
And when the season was done, I would bury the elf and the gnome in the yard again as the old ritual prescribed. And everyone else living these weeks would believe it had always been this way.
Thus the season dawned again.
But I wondered, at what price?
AUTHOR.S NOTE: Christmastime is also a time for tales of ghosts and the macabre. We hope you enjoyed this unsettling Christmas chiller. And we seriously wish you nothing more strange than visions of sugar plums and pleasant Christmas dreams! ——-jeff baker, December 24, 2021