The Season of Evil

Submitted into Contest #122 in response to: Start your story in the middle of a traffic jam.... view prompt


Holiday Horror

(Content Warning: Violence, Language, and Holiday Frights.)

Honk! Honk!

’Tis that time of year when the whole world is heart to heart, or in this case, bumper to bumper on Christmas Eve. The Johnson’s have been stuck in a traffic jam on I-89 for the past three hours, inching their way to Boulder Springs, Ohio. Spending Christmas with Uncle Drew for the past ten years had become a family tradition.

Uncle Drew is not one for being polite, and over the years, he developed a Grinch-like attitude towards Christmas. So, every year his brother, Gary Johnson, and his family try to make a positive difference in Drew’s life. And wouldn’t you know it, every year the Johnson’s fail to make him happy. Ignorance is bliss, however, and despite this fact, they still try.  

One can assume that Drew grew into the man he is today because his older brother, Gary, achieved more in life. Gary went to college and graduated at the top of his class. Drew dropped out of high school at sixteen and never looked back. Gary married his high school sweetheart, Amanda, and they still love each other like every day is their last. Drew’s been divorced six times in the past ten years and is always on the lookout for another spouse. There is no cure for sibling rivalry, especially when jealousy burns like a wildfire. 

Gary’s daughter, Grace, noticed her phone battery was low and asked, “How much longer, dad?”

Looking in the rear-view mirror, Gary replied, “Another hour, give or take.”

“Why don’t you use my charger,” Amanda suggested. Her warm smile always brought comfort.

Grace accepted the cord and plugged it into the USB charger in the back console. Amanda nodded her head in approval and turned her attention to the problem at hand. She pulled out a map from the glove compartment and winced at the sound of a hundred angry motorists honking their horns.

“Any luck finding a new route?” Gary said, yawning.

“Well… you know this place better than me,” Amanda retorted. “I mean, we’ve only been coming here for the past ten years!” 

“I know, I know.”

“Why do you put us through this every year? Grace is miserable at your brother's house, and I think his smoking is very inappropriate.”

Gary took a deep breath. “You're right, of course, you're right. It’s just that ever since our parents passed away, something in Drew changed. I just feel like I need to do this.”

Amanda turned to see Grace rocking back and forth with her headphones on. She didn’t want her twelve-year-old daughter to hear the awkward conversation.

“What is it?” asked Gary.

“Nothing,” Amanda uttered with a hint of caution in her voice. “Just promise me one thing.”

“Okay, anything.”

“If Drew doesn’t change his ways, promise me that we will never come back here.”

Gary felt her cold icy breath and knew she was serious. He closed his eyes and rested his head against the window. “I promise. Maybe this whole thing is silly.” He sat up straight like a man on a mission and declared, “I tell ya what, regardless of whether Drew changes or not, next year we will spend Christmas at home as a family.”

Amanda’s eyes lit up, and she gasped. “Do you mean that?”

“You know I do!”

“I love you, Gary.”

“I love you more, sweetheart.”

Beep! Beep!  

“Uh-oh, looks like traffic is moving again. I better pay attention,” Gary exclaimed. “It shouldn’t be long now.” 

It took another hour for the Johnson’s to arrive at Uncle Drew’s house. His double-wide mobile home had seen better days. The light-brown siding was hanging loose, and the front deck looked like a rotting boat underwater. Working long hours at the lumber mill didn’t allow for any home improvements.

Gasping at the wreckage before them, the Johnson’s mustered up the willpower to climb the dry-rotted steps and knock on the front door. Drew answered the call swiftly. He was wearing blue boxer shorts with a white muscle shirt that clearly did not fit him. Drew’s enormous beer belly made him look like he was nine months pregnant with twins. He had a big goofy grin plastered on his face, with a fresh cigarette lit up in his mouth. His thinning black hair completed the barbaric look.

“Well, isn’t this a surprise!” Drew said in a sarcastic tone. “The snobby, stuck-up Johnsons come to pay me a visit!” 

Gary gave him a wry smile and yammered, “Nice to see you, Drew. You knew damn well we were coming, so please stop being so hateful.” 

“Are you going to let us in or what?” Amanda gruffed. “It’s cold out here.” 

Drew stepped aside with a frown to let them pass, and as they did, he took in every detail. Gary was wearing blue jeans with a black shirt underneath a red polo jacket which was his everyday casual look. He was a slender man that carried a dignified weight that was the complete opposite of his brother, Drew.

“You’re lookin’ a little slender there, Gary. Are they feeding you back home?”

“I eat just fine, thank you,” stuttered Gary. “Just trying to watch my waistline.” 

As Amanda passed by, the first thing Drew noticed was her intoxicating jasmine perfume. She was wearing black pants with a white buttoned shirt. Her blonde hair was blowing in the wind, so she snugged her fur coat tighter as she walked by Drew. With her sexy curves, Drew couldn’t control himself.

“Welcome to my humble abode. If my brother doesn’t mind, I got a nice spot for you in my bed, you sexy beast! Grrrr!” growled Drew.

Amanda threw up in her mouth. Drew was joking, of course, but he still received a swift punch to his arm from Gary.

Next to enter was Grace. She was wearing all black with dark eye shadow and dark-inky hair and lipstick. She was holding her own with the gothic look. Grace rolled her eyes as Drew blew a thick cloud of smoke in her face.

“Well, well, well, look at you all grown up!” Drew said unabashedly.

Grace waved her hand to clear the smoke from her face, frowned, and fired, “In your dreams, you fat perverted pig!” Grace smiled and gave him the middle finger.

“And attitude to boot! I love it, ha, ha, ha!”

The inside of Drew’s home wasn’t much better than the outside. It stank of stale cigarettes, beer, and mildew. Gary and Amanda exchanged looks and sat down in the living room. Grace quickly joined them and noticed that Drew still had a fat-tube television with rabbit ears. 

“Ugh… how typical,” Grace mumbled. She pulled out her phone and immersed herself. 

The rest of the evening was filled with conversation and rude remarks. Every time Gary tried to appeal to Drew’s good nature, he was bashed down for his efforts. There was no getting through to him, and the more Gary thought about it, he knew that Amanda was right. They should have just stayed home. Sometimes family can be an unnecessary burden. 

Not wanting to give up, Gary conceded, “Listen, I know we haven’t always got along, but this is Christmas. Why not try to make the best of things?”

Drew inhaled deeply on his cancer stick and asked, “What do you want me to do?” 

Amanda cut in. “Why don’t you start by wishing your niece a Merry Christmas?”

Drew hesitated for a moment, then gave in. “Alright, I’ll try.”

He marched over to Grace and tapped her knee to get her attention. She recoiled like a scared mouse and quickly removed her headphones. “What do you want?”

Drew bit his bottom lip and said, “I just wanted to say Merry Christmas. Have you told Santa what you wanted yet?”

“You’re kidding, right? Everyone knows he’s not real.”

Drew blew out another puff of smoke into her face. “Oh, he’s real enough. If you truly believe, all you have to do is make a silent wish, and it just might come true.”

Grace coughed, closed her eyes, and wished with all her might. She wanted Drew to get out of her face and leave her alone. Even though the idea was silly, it wouldn’t upset Grace if Drew died suddenly. She withdrew the thought from her mind and trotted off to the guest room for bed. Drew turned and gave Gary and Amanda a thumbs up. They smiled and excused themselves. 

Later that night…

Everyone was sleeping when a loud clatter reverberated from the roof. Startled, Drew opened his eyes and heard a strange noise coming from the living room. He got out of bed and tip-toed down the narrow hallway.

As Drew peered around the corner, he saw a fat jolly man with a fluffy white beard dressed in a red suit and black boots tossing gifts under the artificial tree with reckless abandon.

“Santa… is that you?”

The robust man turned to face Drew and gave him a friendly wink. Santa then lifted his finger to his nose and nodded. Silver sparkles of magic dust swirled around his plump body, changing his suit from red to black. His rosy cheeks darkened to reveal a skeleton-like face with decaying flesh and a mangy beard with blotches of black soot.

Drew’s eyes popped open. “Santa?” 

The man spoke in a deep throbbing voice. “Santa is my name by trade, but on this night, you may come to know me as Atnas.”

“Atnas? Isn’t that Santa spelled backward?

Frowning, Atnas exclaimed. “Most people only know the made-up fairy tale version. The truth is, a long time ago, I was attacked by a vicious pack of jolly elves who bestowed a terrible curse on me.”

“A curse?”

Atnas grimaced. “You’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer, are you?” He pointed at Drew and yelled, “Shut up and let me finish!”

Drew gulped and wondered if he was dreaming. After a quick pinch, he knew it wasn’t a dream but a nightmare. From the opposite end of the mobile home, Grace was also awake and watched from the shadows.

“Yes… I was cursed by those little fuckers!” Atnas vented. “Once a year, I must deliver their toys to kids all over the world, or I’ll fade away to nothing. One night is all I give them. The rest of the year, I can be my true self! I hate them, you see… Revenge is my favorite dish, and I chained those bastards up like slaves and bent them to my will. I haven’t found a way to remove their witchcraft, but time is just a passage to new beginnings, and I will find a way.”

“Are you serious right now?” asked Drew.

“You are most annoying!” Atnas bellowed. “Anyway, to make a long story short, this curse thing quickly caught on and became a holiday!”

Drew trembled as he looked deep into Atnas’s red eyes. There was a strange energy in the room, and a cold shiver raced up his spine.

“A little nervous? Why don’t you have a smoke?” 

Atnas turned, stuck out his plump butt, and twerked. Spinning back to face Drew, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of smokes. “Here, have one of mine. I always carry a fresh pack of death sticks with me, ho, ho, ha, ho!!” 

Drew grabbed one and quickly lit it. As he breathed in deeply, Atnas winked once more, and Drew’s head exploded into a million bits. His brain flew straight up and landed back down on Drew’s tattered neck with a SPLAT!

As Drew’s corpse fell to the floor, Atnas uttered, “ho, ho, ho, uh-oh, cigarettes will kill ya!”

Atnas danced, pranced, and twerked his way around the room. He then stomped on Drew’s squishy brain, causing a slimy ooze to shoot out. The slime almost hit Grace, who was still watching with worried eyes. She shuffled her feet and was betrayed by the squeaky floor.

Hearing the noise, Atnas saw Grace and shouted, “Holy shit! You’re not supposed to see me! Now you must die!”

Grace screamed and raced down the hall. Gary and Amanda emerged from the guest room and saw Atnas storming towards them with blood-lust in his eyes. Gary tossed his screaming wife behind him and stood his ground against the raging bull.

Atnas came to a halt and grabbed Gary’s skull on both sides. He resisted, of course, but he was no match for Atnas’s strength. He ripped Gary in half from head to groin with a mighty growl, allowing Amanda to bathe in a tsunami of warm blood.

“Merry Fucking Christmas!” taunted Atnas.  

Amanda’s heart was racing, and she couldn’t stop screaming for help. She tried to run, but she kept slipping on Gary’s ichor.

“Slippery when wet, huh, darling?”




Atnas hammered his big black sack down upon Amanda until her skull caved in. He stooped down and sucked her brain out like it was a limp spaghetti noodle. “I can tell you’re not the brains of the family, ho, ho, ho, ha, ho! Maybe that honor goes to your naughty daughter!” 

Meanwhile, Grace had snuck outside through the bathroom window and made her way to the roof. She was filled with terror and rage and could only think of avenging her parents' deaths. Santa or Atnas, as he likes to be called, would have to come up eventually to fly away, right?

Grace could hear Atnas’s thunderous footsteps as he searched the house for her. She hid behind the furnace vent and noticed a big black sled. But where were the reindeer?

Upon a closer examination, there were no reindeer to be found but a massive three-headed monster. The beast had a lion's body with a serpent-like tail and the heads of a wolf, bear, and dragon. Grace was horrified beyond belief as fear wrenched her heart, but she now had a plan. She quietly climbed into the sled from behind and hid in the back seat. The beast was unaware of Grace’s presence because it was busy snapping at itself. 

All was quiet when Atnas emerged on the roof. He trudged over to his pet and vented, “That little witch! I’ve run out of time!” 

The monster growled fiercely. “Don’t worry, my beauties, there’s always next year, ho, ho, ho, ha, ho!” 

With the snap of the reins, Atnas and the beast flew away into the moonlight. In the cool crisp air, the evil saint could be heard saying, “To Hell with you all, until the flames of my anger scorch your souls!” 

Grace remained silent because she was too cold to say anything. The journey seemed like a lifetime, and for all she knew, it was. With an earth-shattering landing, Atnas had finally arrived at the North Pole. He untethered his pet and stormed inside of what looked like a workshop.

Waiting for the beast to run off, Grace slowly followed Atnas. The North Pole didn’t look like what she had expected. There were no bright lights or candy-filled trees full of delight. There were only ice mounds as far as the eye could see. Under each pile of snow stood a building, which was the only sign of habitation. 

When Grace entered the building, she saw thousands of elves dressed in tattered green clothing with pointy hats and pixie shoes. All hope was drained from their faces as they worked the toy line. Atnas was busy cracking his whip on the little people and didn’t notice Grace sneaking behind him.

There was a pile of candy cane lawn ornaments with sharp tips nestled in a bin, and Grace needed a weapon, so she grabbed one. All she had to do was get close to Atnas and stab him, but nothing in life ever goes as planned. The startled looks from the elves gave Grace away, and Atnas turned to face the trespasser.

“Well, well, well… Christmas has come to me this year, ho, ho, ho, ha, ho!”

Grace yelled, “Shut up, you evil bastard! You’re gonna pay for killing my parents!”

“Ha, ha, ho, ha, trust me, kid. You’re better off without them, but you’ll never know because I smell your brains, and I’m hungry!” 

Atnas growled and stormed towards Grace, ready to kill her. One of the elves threw a bouncy red ball, causing Atnas to stumble forward. This was it, now or never.

Grace held the sharp end of the candy cane up, and as Atnas fell, he was impaled under his chin. Grace could hear his skull crack as the tip punctured all the way through. Atnas didn’t bleed red like you or me. His blood was black as night. The inky ooze painted the icy floors, and the smell of sulfur burned Grace’s nose.

“Ho, ho, ho, uh-oh, you got something stuck in your teeth, mother-fucker!” Grace gloated. 

Santa or Atnas, as he liked to be called, was dead, and with his death, the elves' chains were now broken. They gathered around Grace with hope restored and shouted for joy.

Grace was beyond happy at her victory but felt emptiness for the loss of her parents. She had no sadness for her Uncle Drew. As far as she was concerned, he got what he deserved.

Smiling, Grace asked, “Okay guys, how do I get out of here?”

At that moment, the three-headed monster exploded through the wall with an old lady dressed in black riding on top. Fire was burning in her eyes. Her beloved husband was dead, and her killer was in her sights.

The elves looked at Grace, and one of them uttered, “To leave, you must get through Mrs. Claus first!” 

Mrs. Claus shrieked a deafening battle cry and urged the beast to charge. The elves screamed and scurried away like frightened mice.

Grace took a battle stance, looked at the charging Granny, and mumbled, “You gotta be shitting me?!” 

Daniel R. Hayes

December 02, 2021 07:25

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Kayla Johnson
14:02 Dec 10, 2021

That story was absolutely terrifying and I love it! The story was so well written that I could see it coming to life in my head. It was absolutely amazing. You did an incredible job! :)


Daniel R. Hayes
17:05 Dec 10, 2021

Thank you so much Kayla!! I'm glad you liked it. I had a fun time writing it, and finished it up with the sequel "Season of Grace" I really appreciate you taking the time to read this one, thank you!! :)


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Kate Reynolds
17:12 Dec 04, 2021

Oh damn I loved this!!! The killings were described so brutally in the best way possible and so sudden too, that it was almost funny in a sense. The dialogue was great and the whole story had a sort of a humorous feeling to it, and that combined with the killings and a sort of dark Christmas tale really hooks the reader. Great job!


Daniel R. Hayes
20:20 Dec 04, 2021

Thank you so much Kate!! I had a lot of fun with this one, so I'm glad that came through. I'm working on the second story now. I think it will be just as good as this one :) ;)


Kate Reynolds
03:11 Dec 05, 2021

OOOOH do tell me when you post it :D


Daniel R. Hayes
06:21 Dec 05, 2021

I'll let you know when I get it done, thanks again! :)


Kate Reynolds
16:34 Dec 05, 2021

Mhm! :)


Daniel R. Hayes
07:12 Dec 08, 2021

Hi Kate, you wanted me to let you know when the second part to "A Season of Evil" was finished, and it is done and posted. I call the second part "A Season of Grace" hope you like it :)


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Tricia Shulist
16:59 Dec 04, 2021

This was fun. Thanks so much!


Daniel R. Hayes
20:13 Dec 04, 2021

Thank you Tricia, I'm so glad you liked it :)


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Keya J.
11:05 Dec 03, 2021

Well, let me be honest. It felt like reading a chapter from a best seller. What amazes me the most is how you could describe everything so perfectly while making sure it is easily understood and liked by all audience. There were surprises at every turn with a pinch of wicked humor. One more thing, "I tell ya what, regardless of whether Gary changes or not," --- I think it should be Drew. This story was a mixture of emotions - love, family, hurdles, adventure, action; basically everything. I love it so much. Looking forward to the next...


Daniel R. Hayes
16:26 Dec 03, 2021

As always thank you so much, Keya! I'm glad you caught that silly mistake. It always amazes me at how easy it is to overlook something ;) I already have the next chapter planned out in my mind, so hopefully I can write it soon! :) Thanks again, your comments made my day, and thanks for the fresh pair of eyes!


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Kevin Marlow
19:38 Dec 02, 2021

I'm not sure if I was supposed to laugh but that was like the Legend of Krampus as told by George Romero.


Daniel R. Hayes
19:47 Dec 02, 2021

Hahaha, thanks Kevin!! It's ok to laugh, I thought it was funny to write about Santa or Atnas twerking... lol :) Thanks again!


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19:37 Dec 02, 2021

Modern day Cain and Abel -- And ATNAS?? C'mon. That's hilarious. Love love love love this. PLEASE write a sequel. Grace is my new fav character of yours. I think you mean Drew here? "Gary’s been divorced six times in the past ten years and is always on the lookout for another spouse"


Daniel R. Hayes
19:43 Dec 02, 2021

Thank you so much Deidra!! I'm so glad you liked this one. Also, great catch on that. I blame Mr. Macabre, too many characters and words... lol :) Thanks again!


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Francis Daisy
12:02 Dec 02, 2021

You've got to be kidding me for real! Come, on! No ending? A cliff hanger? I can't take it! Please tell me Grace's parents come back for Christmas. Once again, your story was completely action packed and quite descriptive. I only spotted one typo: Gary took a deep breath. “Your right, of course, your right. " - I think you need the contraction 'you're" in there. I'll be looking for the sequel!


Daniel R. Hayes
17:07 Dec 02, 2021

Hi Francis! Thank you so much for the typo catch ;) The cliffhanger was not intentional. I just ran up the word limit and had to come to end. I thought it was a good way to stop where I did because I could write a follow-up later this month with another prompt. So, hopefully we get some good prompts to bring this story to a complete close... lol :) Thanks again!


Francis Daisy
21:32 Dec 02, 2021

The dreaded word limit foils again! Now there is a good prompt for a story, maybe. The long and short of it is: I love your stories anyway! :) (pun intended)


Daniel R. Hayes
06:03 Dec 03, 2021

hahaha, that's a great idea prompt for a story :) Thanks again!!


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