Wintry Flash Fiction – Dance of the Krampus by Sophie MacDougall
Cold wind digs its icy fingers into my face as I get squished and flattened in the crowd. My feet are soaked in half melted snow. Deafening shouts of hundreds of people hang in the air mixed with the growls of costumed dancers. Mighty drums thunder to the chimes of bells, causing my whole body to vibrate. Fire hisses from torches and my vision fogs.
My eyes sting and smoke blocks my face. Glowing sparks are flying; my throat closes up. I start choking, but as I try to brush the smoke away a disfigured face peers out from it. It glares at me with eyes glowing with the wrath of a thousand suns. Its eyes burn into my soul.
I freeze. I force my eyes closed and step back in fright.
As I wait for it to strike, I hear a muffled sneeze. I reluctantly open my eyes and watch as it writhes away in a group. It dances off, thrashing unpredictably, its deformed limbs flailing. The twisted figures were just men dancing in the parade. I exhale hard with relief.
The figures have curled fractured horns and are covered in knotted dirty fur. They tease the crowd with protruding tongues surrounded by broken teeth stained with yellow splatters. Their faces made from wood and plastic contort in horrific ways. As one figure lifts its leg, an explosive fart rips out to the sound of giggling.
I start to grin, and my shoulders relax. Sauntering towards the smell of sizzling sausages, I slowly shove my way through the crowd to the stand, and buy one. As the aroma fills my lungs, I take a giant bite out of the crispy hot dog. My jaw drops open and I gasp for air trying to cool my burning mouth.
There is a curdling scream. My hot dog tumbles to the ground as I sprint to see what’s happening. Alarmed, I reach out to the people around me, but they’re as confused as I am. Wanting to pinpoint where the scream came from, I strain to listen.
There it was again.
I whip my head around, toward a dark alleyway. Squinting into the blackness, I try to recognise an outline. There are two dimmed lights glistening with the colour of blood. Tiptoeing, I go further. The sounds of uneven heavy breathing and stomping footsteps echo in the void, followed by whimpering.
Something hairy looms out of the darkness baring its teeth, growling and snarling. With a low, wheezy voice it booms a cracking, throaty laugh. Then silence stretches out.