Oh, Joyous Day!

Written in response to: Start your story with two people planting a tree together.... view prompt


Holiday Horror

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

(Content Warning: Blood, Gore, Violence, Crude Humor, Language.)

“Hey!” Alex barked, “be careful with that. You might break it.”

Charlie twitched his eyes towards his friend and gingerly placed the pine tree down into the ground. It wasn’t full or bare like most trees kin to the season, but it was something, and that my friends, was better than nothing.

It had taken them all day to dig the hole because the ground was half-frozen, and they had to take heed not to wake Charlie’s father who had passed out for the evening. Jack was an alcoholic and once he drank his fill it didn’t take long for the dream fairies to pay him a visit. 

“Sorry, Alex,” Charlie mumbled. “I still don’t see what the point of all this is.”

Alex reached up and wiped the perspiration from his forehead. It was cold but after digging a two-foot hole, a little sweat was to be expected. Charlie’s backyard wasn’t the biggest or cleanest on Oak Street, but it was the only place that would work for their Christmas project. 

“The point?!” Alex gruffed. “I’ll tell ya what the point is. I know you don’t celebrate Christmas because your dad is an asshole. I mean, he won’t even let you have a Christmas tree inside!”

He reached over and placed his right hand on Charlie’s shoulder and continued. “So, the way I figure, the only way for you to experience Christmas is by having a nice Christmas tree even if it is an outside one.”

Charlie scrunched his forehead and gave the tree a quick once over. “Yeah, but if my dad sees this he’ll blister me real good!”

“Don’t worry about him,” assured Alex. “That’s why we won’t put any decorations on it. When he sees it, just tell him you wanted to plant one and he’ll never know it was for Christmas.”

“That’s a great idea, but what do you mean by decorations?” Charlie asked.

Alex cocked his head and lifted his eyebrows like a drunken fool. The cold wind raced across his chapped lips and as he licked them, he remembered that Charlie had a hard upbringing. Most fourteen-year old’s look forward to the magic of Christmas every year, but Charlie was different.

His mother died on Christmas Eve due to complications during his birth. His father, Jack, went mad with grief and took to the bottle for comfort. He swore that Christmas would never happen in their home again. Jack believed the holiday was a curse and shunned the very notion of it.

Jack raised his son with the help of his mother, Jane. She was a kind soul who always treated Charlie like he was her own—at least until she died from stage four cancer a few years ago. Ever since that time, Charlie found himself alone and became a recluse. The only thing his father was good for was paying the bills and even that was a miracle with his low-wage job at the lumber mill. 

Charlie was homeschooled and didn’t fully understand sociable things. Birthday parties, trick-or-treating, and even Christmas were strange occurrences that he often heard about but had no idea what they truly meant. Jack would always say that a life of isolation was better than a life filled with happiness because sooner or later it would all disappear without warning and leave you broken.

Those were hard words for a kid to hear and Charlie was hungry for life. Every evening after his father passed out in front of the television, Charlie would sneak out, so he could get a taste of the real world. He loved walking around the block and seeing how the other kids behaved with their loving parents. How he wished things were different and wondered what it was like to have a friend or at the very least, someone to see him.

One day Charlie found himself in a bit of trouble when the neighborhood bullies thought they found an easy target. They wanted his money and when they discovered he didn’t have any, they took their payment from Charlie’s flesh. That’s when Alex came in and saved the day. He gave those delinquents what they deserved and ever since that fateful day, Charlie and Alex became best friends. They saw each other every evening and had a special bond that Charlie couldn’t quite explain, but he knew it was good.

“Um… Hello… Earth to Alex!”

Reality came in like the freezing air and brought Alex back from the brink. He saw Charlie waving his hands like a police officer directing traffic. “Oh, shit! Sorry, man, I lost track there for a second.” 

“No big deal,” Charlie said with a smile. “I do that all the time. Sometimes I think it’s the only way I’ve survived all these years.”

Alex nodded. “I know. Anyway, you asked about decorations. So, normally people decorate their trees with lights, bulbs, bows, and fun ornaments to celebrate the holiday. At the very top of the tree, you will find the greatest thing of all. The tree topper!”

“Tree topper?” gasped Charlie. “What is that?”

“Ha, ha, ha… It’s only the best part of the tree!” laughed Alex. “Usually, it’s a bright golden star, but people like to mix it up every year.”

Charlie made his lips into a thin line and asked, “So, it can be anything you want?”

“Yep. Now grab that shovel and fill in the hole,” he ordered. “My balls are starting to freeze!”

The night was setting in and Christmas was only three days away. Charlie thought about all the wonderful decorations he could put on the tree if only his father would allow it. Ha! That would be the day!

“I know what your thinking,” Alex said, grabbing his flashlight and shining the light on the pine tree. “You’re sad because you can’t decorate this thing.”

“How did you know that?”

“Am your friend, dipshit! I know all!” he boasted.

“Yeah, well, I wish my father would change! I want to know what Christmas is like. Just one time, but he’ll never change! NEVER!” 

Alex hung his head low. He knew how hard his friend had it and wished he could change that sad fact. The only thing he could think to say was, “Well, maybe your dad will have a Scrooge moment this year and change.”  

“What do you mean a Scrooge moment?”

“What?!” yelped Alex. “You’ve never heard of the Christmas Carol?”


“No, of course, you haven’t!” Alex said, answering his own question before his friend could speak. “Okay, listen closely because I’m only going to tell you this once and then I need to get home for dinner.”

Charlie smiled. “That’s fine. I need to get in before my dad wakes up anyway, so stop holding back and spill those beans!”

Alex took a deep breath and exclaimed, “The story was written by a guy named Charles Dickens, so that should make you happy knowing that you two have the same first name.”

“Yeah, that’s cool, but it all depends on the story,” Charlie said. “For all I know this guy could be a major dick, and besides, no one calls me Charles. I like Charlie just fine.”

“Okay…” Alex sighed sarcastically. “Can I continue now, or should I just go home?”

“No, no, please go on!” Charlie begged.

“Good,” Alex said with a warm smile. “I’m just gonna give you the quick version, so listen up. The story is about a man named Scrooge who treats people like shit and only cares about money. Oh, and he hates Christmas like your old man. Anyway, one night he was visited by a group of ghosts who showed him the error of his ways, and the next morning, Scrooge was a changed man. After that, he became one of the best people you could ever know. He loved Christmas and treated people with kindness and respect.”

“So, Scrooge was scared into changing?” Charlie asked.

“I guess you could say that.”

“Oh… I wish that would happen to my dad!”

Alex laughed, “I don’t know if that would work for your dad. He might need something more extreme to get through to him! Don’t worry about it, alright? Sometimes we just have to accept things for what they are.”

He saw the sadness on Charlie’s face, but there was nothing more he could do. He was already late for dinner and was almost positive that his mother would be very angry.

I’m grounded for sure!

“Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, Charlie. I gotta get home!”

“Okay, see you then,” he said.

Charlie grabbed the shovel and packed the soil around the tree. He couldn’t stop thinking about that story and how Scrooge was changed. He looked at the tree one last time before heading inside and wished that the same thing would happen to his dad. Christmas sounded like a fun time, and he so desperately wanted to experience the joy that so many other people took for granted every year. 

Later that night…

Charlie was fast asleep when he heard his father stumble around the living room until he found his bed. He must have woken up and decided the bed would be more comfortable than the recliner. This made Charlie angry because that old man only cared about himself. He didn’t care about other people and he hated Christmas.

He’s just like Scrooge.

His curse will not become mine.

Ghosts or no ghosts, it’s time for a change!

Like a thief in the night, Charlie removed his white bedsheet and cut two holes in the soft fabric, so he could see out of them. He didn’t know for sure if spirits actually existed, but there was no time to wait. Something needed to be done because Christmas was rapidly approaching.

Tonight, Charlie would be the ghost…

Charlie snuck downstairs and quietly opened the fridge because he needed some bait to catch the rat. There was a case of beer that had twenty-four cans, (no doubt tomorrow's breakfast for his dad) so he grabbed it and placed it on the kitchen table. He found some fishing line in the junk drawer and tied a trip wire in the kitchen doorway.

His dad would have to be scared to death in order to allow Christmas in his precious home. There was a lot of work to be done and only a few hours left until daylight, but the plan was perfect. 

Christmas time was coming.

Christmas time was coming!

“Christmas time is coming!”

“Christmas time is coming!!”

Charlie’s cries echoed through the house and soon Jack was awake rubbing his eyes. His bedroom was just across the living room facing the kitchen and he wondered if his ears were deceiving him.

“Charlie?!” he yelled. “You better not be messin’ with me!”

Again, Charlie called out, “Christmas time is coming!”

There was no mistaking it now. Jack was not dreaming, and his own son was defiling his home!

Jack got out of bed and the first thing he saw was his case of beer resting on the kitchen table across the way. “I told you never to say that fucking word in my house, Charlie! I curse it! Do you hear me, boy? I curse it!” 

“Christmas time is coming!”

Charlie’s defiant voice was loud and clear. Jack could hear the passion and it only angered him more. “Boy, the only thing you’re gonna get is my belt across your ass!”

Jack dashed into the living room and looked around. He reached for the light switch and clicked it on. The only thing that greeted him was darkness. After all, the lights only work if you have light bulbs screwed in and Charlie had removed them in the still of the night.

Still, the only thing Jack could see was his beer sitting on the table like a beacon of holy light. He wanted, no, needed a drink. He would quench his feeble desire first and then tend to the boy. His feet turned to the kitchen and his body soon followed. He could practically taste the golden nectar. 

Suddenly, Charlie jumped out from behind the couch cloaked in the white bedsheet, and screamed, “Christmas time is coming!!”

Jack was scared shitless because Charlie looked like a real ghost in the darkness. He ran into the kitchen without thinking and tripped on the fishing line. His body crashed like a falling building and slid into the table. The case of beer wobbled for a half second and fell onto Jack’s head. It didn’t kill him, but he was seeing double.

There were two Charlie’s staring down at him. One had a wicked smile painted across his face and the other had a scowl. His heart was racing, and he didn’t know if he was dreaming. How he wished he was. The next thing Jack saw was a big black skillet racing toward his skull. Then darkness… 

Alex couldn’t believe his luck. His mother was in good spirits when he got home last night and she didn’t ground him after all. He wanted to tell Charlie the good news and felt bad for not telling him the whole story about Scrooge because there was a lot more to the story. This time he was going to tell him the whole tale and as an early surprise Christmas present, he had a copy of the book for him.

When Alex entered Charlie’s back yard he dropped the book that was neatly wrapped in red paper because he couldn’t believe what was happening. He saw Charlie dancing around the tree like a hideous demon, but that wasn’t the worst part.

The tree was decorated with a plethora of bloody body parts. Intestines were used as garland. Two eyeballs and two testicles hung like Christmas bulbs and a pair of lungs, kidneys, heart, liver, and spleen adorned the tree like sparkling ornaments. Sitting nicely on top was a horror beyond anything Alex had ever seen. It was Jack’s decapitated skull.

Alex fell to his knees and puked. The world was spinning just like Charlie’s insane dance.

What the hell happened here?

Charlie spun around one more time and saw his best friend sobbing in the cold snow.

“Look! Christmas time is here! Oh, Joyous Day!!”

December 09, 2022 02:02

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Mary Lehnert
02:04 Dec 10, 2022

Wow this was incredible, Daniel The staggering end was so unexpected. I Wanted to heap retribution and shame on Charlie but his years of miserable humiliation boiled over. A good story stays with the reader. This was a great story and is unforgettable.


Daniel R. Hayes
19:15 Dec 10, 2022

Thank you so much, Mary! I had a lot fun writing this one and I wanted to get it out before the dead line this week. I just made it...lol Thanks again!! :)


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Francis Daisy
12:15 Dec 28, 2022

You got me again. Just when I thought the story was going in one, beautiful, sweet, happy direction...BOOM! Horror story! Well played, my friend, well played.


Daniel R. Hayes
19:42 Dec 28, 2022

Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I had the idea but I wasn't sure if I could write it in time, but luckily I was able to write it in one sitting :)


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Liv Chocolate
03:39 Dec 26, 2022

Woah!!! Daniel—I’m glad I stopped by to check out your work. I was looking for holiday-horror (can’t be Christmas without a little gore) and Deidra recommended you. The way you described the Christmas tree at the end was brilliant. I would’ve never thought of this super creative twist on Christmas. The way he chanted Christmas time is coming was extremely disturbing (a compliment, of course, in the horror realm). And the tree 🌲 🧠 my god


Daniel R. Hayes
18:14 Dec 26, 2022

Hi there! I'm glad that Deidra recommended my stories to you and I'm so happy you liked it. I thought it was really fun to write and Deidra and I have been friends for a long time. Thanks for checking it out and I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season! :)


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18:38 Dec 16, 2022

Ho Ho Holy Shit Daniel -- :) You've outdone yourself and I love every twisted word. This reminds me of why Gremlins was SUCH a great 80's movie. The horror/holiday mashup is fantastic. SNL did a great job with Martin Short & Steve Martin skewering "The Christmas Carol" -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ww5p_Gean4 Need to watch that. Right up your alley :) Great foreshadowing here (and we know we are in for it): "His mother died on Christmas Eve due to complications during his birth. His father, Jack, went mad with grief and took to the...


Daniel R. Hayes
21:12 Dec 17, 2022

Hahahaha. Thanks Deidra! I'm glad you liked this one. I had to write at least one Christmas story this year...lol. I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas!!


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Michał Przywara
21:44 Dec 15, 2022

There's a good lesson here, about knowing the full story before acting :) But then again, given Charlie's past, it might have played out the same way. He was fed up, understandably, and was blamed his whole life for something he wasn't responsible for. Gruesome, but it did bring them closer together :) A very liberal interpretation of the "change of heart" in A Christmas Carol. Naturally, I wonder what comes next, but given Alex's reaction, it's looking bleak.


Daniel R. Hayes
17:45 Dec 16, 2022

Thank you! This was kind of a weird twist inspired by the classic Dickens tale. A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite Christmas stories and I wanted to write a story inspired by it. Charlie misinterpreted the overall meaning because he was so closed off to the outside world which I thought was a good way to seal the deal...lol. Thanks again! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!!


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Graham Kinross
10:20 May 19, 2023

WTF. I definitely didn’t see that coming! That’ll be a hard Christmas to top for Charlie.


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Sean McGillis
22:16 Jan 06, 2023

Oh man, tres creepy! 😳 Well done


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