Not every Christmas story is a happy one. This one certainly isn't. Also, it is more of a horror story than a sex-story, so if you are looking mainly for sex, you might be disappointed. I do hope though, you enjoy my story.
I am not from an English-speaking country, and my story takes place in the surroundings I know, thus some of the cultural references might be different to those of your country.
This story contains a lot of dream-sequences -- it is not necessary for dreams to be realistic, and that is the case for some of the dreams here.
The German quotes are from the Christmas Oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach.
She couldn't remember a time when he hadn't been part of her life.
In her first memory she was six years old, and had woken up screaming, because a cackling laughter had intruded into her dreams. She could not remember a single thing before that day, maybe it was the laughter, his laughter and his voice that had deleted all memory preceding that day.
From now on every night she woke up, sat in her bed, screaming, and tears streaming down her cheeks. Then she hid under the blankets of her bed, and covered her ears with her hands, but nothing, nothing could block out his voice.
A few times her mother came into the room to tell her that there were no monsters in the closet. Only once she made the mistake to respond that it wasn't a monster in the closet she was afraid of. Rather, the monster was in her head.
After that her mother took her to a doctor, who asked her all kinds of questions. As young as she was, she realized that people weren't supposed to have a monster in their head, that it made her older siblings laugh about her, and the neighbour kids joined in once the siblings had informed them that their little sister was a bit screwed up in the brain, so she stopped talking about it. She couldn't help screaming in the night, however -- but her parents and siblings grew used to it, and in the end it wouldn't even wake them up any more when once again she jumped up in her bed, her face pale as death, her eyes wide open, and every sense of her aware of that presence of something that continued even after she had stopped dreaming.
With the time, he started talking to her also when she was awake. He was only a voice, a voice that didn't sound quite human, yet she always called him "he", never "it". Something in her knew him to be a "he".
He accompanied her throughout her childhood, her adolescence. He remained quiet as long as other people surrounded her, but as soon as she was alone, his cackling laughter caused icicles to grow in her heart, and his shrill voice told her stories that drained all happiness from her.
He also made her dream wild and confused dreams that she could never quite remember, except for the fear she had felt in them. It was those dreams that caused her to wake up screaming every single night of her life. And being awake never brought any relief, he was still there, and she was unsure if she should rather try to fall asleep quickly so the morning might be there soon, or rather stay awake to avoid any more dreams.
In school, she was made fun of and bullied constantly, yet she preferred the attacks of her classmates over what awaited her when she was alone. She was always tired and had to fight off sleep in class, but somehow managed to get through the years with average grades. She never had any friends, but didn't seem to care much, as long as her presence was accepted at the playground.
She even managed to maintain the image of a normal child, if a loner and very quiet. Her nervous outbreaks where kept to her life at home, to the nights, the time of horror and fear. Only once did the others play a real cruel joke on her. A boy named Steve, a year older than her but in her class because he failed the past school year, who compensated his intellectual failure by making life hell for any of the kids that got in his way, decided that he didn't like anybody watching him and his friends play football. When she still did, he decided she needed a lesson. With the help of two more boys he lured her into the schools cellar, then left her there alone and locked the door of the dark cellar room behind her. Her panicked screams made him laugh at first, but when she suddenly grew silent, he and his friends felt creepy about the whole thing, and warned a teacher of that "there was someone in the cellar, apparently". The door was opened and they found her on the floor, unmoving, as if she had lost consciousness, but her eyes wide open. They thought she was dead, but soon figured out that she was in a strange state of trance. The sunlight and the presence of all the other children of her school helped, and when it was announced that she maybe should stay at home for a few days, in bed, she suddenly got up onto her shaky feet and claimed that she was feeling a lot better already, that it was no problem, that she was well and could continue with lessons.
Her parents didn't quite know what to do with this pale and quiet child who never played as happily as her brothers and sisters, but tacked on to them in a strange fear of being alone. As the years went by, she grew more and more alienated from them, and they of her, to the point that buying a birthday or Christmas present was a serious problem -- they didn't know anything about their daughter and her likes and dislikes. She was like a little ghost living in their house, never saying a word, just sitting in the kitchen watching her mother cook, or on the garden bench, watching her siblings play. Only when she was sent to her room, because the others grew nervous by the gaze from her big dark eyes and by her silence, only then she started shouting in protest, an expression of panic in her face that corroborated what everyone in the family knew, but no one talked about: Renate was crazy.
"You sure you don't want to come with us?"
Katja stood in the door, a scarf wrapped tightly around her face, and the rest of her hidden in a thick, furry coat, in expectation of the cold winter-weather outside, a backpack on her back. From the staircase heavy footsteps echoed up to the apartment, as Katja's boyfriend Karsten carried down two heavy suitcases.
Renate shook her head, her dark eyes on Katja, her mouth thin.
Then, with a bit of effort, she smiled, and said, "No, I think it is good for me to spend some time alone. Do some studying, relax, and think about things ... "
She didn't want to say that she would feel completely out of place on a skiing trip with Katja and Karsten, like a little kid tagging along, her hungry eyes on them each time they kissed, unable to give them the privacy they needed, as unfamiliar places still scared her.
"Well okay", Katja said, "I have to go."
Renate knew what was to follow and braced herself for it: 'Relax.' Yet her body went stiff under Katja's hug, she tried to hug her back but didn't quite know what to do with her arms. Katja didn't mind, she knew Renate well enough by now.
"See you in the new year!"
With that, she left. Renate stood in the half opened door and watched her flat mate walk down stair after stair, the blue and black backpack covering most of her. Katja smiled and waved a last time before she disappeared on the next flight of stairs. She consisted only of the hollow sound of footsteps then, farther and farther away, quieter and quieter, until the sound of a door falling into place indicated she had left the building. Renate sighed and pulled the apartment door closed.
Bam! Bada bada bam!
The music echoed through the small apartment. Renate hummed along with the choir as she folded up her dry laundry and carried it from the bathroom, where it had been hung up on long ropes above the bathtub to her room. Bach had always been all she needed to feel Christmas was there. Even during her worst years, there had been a certain feeling of peace when the church bells sounded through her village in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, and she knew the village choir would start singing this very piece. A few times she had been allowed to listen, as one of her older sisters sang in the choir, and the music had drained the voice from her head for at least a few hours.
Later, he had been back with more insistence than before, the strength she had gathered during these hours of peace, crumbled quickly, and two or three nights after Christmas she would start waking up screaming again. That's what it always had been like, and she had given up hope that it would ever be any different -- until she had moved away from her family.
Leaving home had changed her life. There hadn't been much to keep her in a place where she was only a nuisance, where she had to beg to be allowed in the others' presence. Her parents were the strangers who gave her food and a roof above her head, not much more. And she was a stranger to them, a pale and scrawny little bird that had found its way into the nest they had prepared so well for their other offspring; she was not quite strong enough to be a cuckoo, but too different to fully count as one of their own. There were many children in the house, and they had high hopes for some of them. The other children seemed both more demanding and more deserving of their time and energy than this ever quiet, never smiling one, lost in the middle of older and younger siblings.
Amazingly, she had finished school with quite good grades, enough to allow her to chose the university and subject she wanted. Her main priority now had been to go as far away as possible from home. The number of siblings, a lot of whom still lived at home, guaranteed her financial support from the state during her studies. She was thus independent of her parents.
At first, the move had been scary, though. She feared that he might torture her with even greater intensity once she was living alone, that everyone would see she was crazy from the first moment on, that the rejection by others would be even worse in the city she moved to.
The opposite happened. She had found a nice little room in an apartment she shared with Katja. Maybe it was the fact that she wasn't alone there, or maybe he had other reasons: From the moment she arrived in the city, he had disappeared out of her head. She could start to learn how to live a normal life.
And she learned it; Katja taught her.
Katja was always laughing, always up to something, she knew every pub and club in town, she knew what events or concerts took place, and she knew that there were more important things to do than sitting at home and study. Something about Renate's big-eyed paleness had touched Katja, and she wanted to make sure the scared girl that had moved in with her became a full member of the city's student life. She took Renate by the hand and led her into this new life, and Renate willingly followed. She learned to laugh, to make jokes, to get drunk.
Renate smiled, thinking of all the fun evenings, all the party nights she had had since she had moved into the city. Smiling she walked to her old record player -- she had taken it with her from home, no one had wanted it any more -- and turned over the record with the Christmas oratorio.
"Frohe Hirten, eilt ach eilet ... "
Still humming, she returned to her laundry, and her thoughts went back to the last months, and the changes that had happened with her.
Not too long ago, Katja had met Karsten, and thus had less time for Renate. Still, Renate had enough new friends to usually keep busy. It just hurt her a bit to see the two of them together, looking into each other's eyes with an expression of love Renate herself had never experienced. She was more like the others now, but still too shy and quiet to make much of an impression on most guys she met. Katja kept telling her that one day she would meet the right one, but Renate had her doubts. Still, she was not unhappy.
When Katja had invited her to join her and Karsten on their skiing trip for Christmas and New Year's, though, she had refused. Her excuse had been that she needed to study, and it was true; she hadn't given much thought to university thus far, but the term was going to end soon, and if she wanted to keep her scholarship and thus her independence, she should try for good grades.
However, it wasn't the only reason. She would have felt like an intruder if she had joined Katja and Karsten on their first holiday together. They had done so much for her, they had a right to some time just with each other. And she saw being alone for a week as a test -- if she could manage, then her problems were truly over, she was free.
It meant that she now spent Christmas Eve alone, cleaning up the apartment, but she didn't mind. In fact, for someone who had never been able to be alone, it was a relief being allowed to her own thoughts for once, without fear. Renate had considered searching out some kind of Christmas party, surely there were some in this city, a lot of people were alone after all, but then she had decided against it. She enjoyed listening to the music -- it was all she needed. And the fact that she had been fine for the two days since Katja had left made her happier than anything else.
"Und den Menschen ... Und den Menschen ... Und den Menschen ... "
The record always got stuck at this place. It was too old and had a large scratch. But looking at her watch, Renate realized that it was almost midnight -- time to go to bed, anyway. She turned the music off, and then went to her room, undressed. When she lay in her bed, comfortably hiding in between the covers, it didn't take her longer than a minute to fall asleep.
'I have never been in such a dark forest.'
She could hear her own thought echoing through the darkness. The further the words travelled back and forth, the more distorted their sound became, until she was scared of each echo that returned to her.
'Where am I?'
The new echo mixed with the old one, each sentence journeyed back and forth in its own rhythm.
Now all three phrases travelled back and forth over the nightly forest, travelled in and out of her ears, the words met and disentangled, formed one staccato rhythm with each other that matched the accelerated beat of her heart. 'Forest. Where? It! Never. Am? Stop!'
The echo didn't diminish, on the contrary, it grew louder and louder until it filled the night, until her ears were in danger of breaking, until she wanted to fall on the ground, her face hidden in her arms, to escape the loudness of the echo of her own thoughts.
Then, suddenly, it was quiet.
She was surrounded by a completely quiet forest. No wind was shaking the tops of the tall, leafless trees, no birds or other animals made a sound. It was, as if the world around her had been turned to stone. A dead forest bathed in darkness.
She didn't know which way to turn; she didn't want to be here. She didn't dare to even breathe, to not wake whatever was sleeping out there, to not wake the forest. But she wanted to get out of here, she had to go away, maybe she would find a way out. Hesitatingly she took a step. And as soon as her foot touched the ground again, everything changed once more.
The wind filled the forest with a howling sound now. The trees screamed their hundred-year-old pain of being in a world without light as their branches reached out for her like skinless arms and skeleton fingers. Owls opened the big moons of their eyes, and rat-like animals scurried over the ground.
But the worst of all was the presence - the presence of whom? She didn't know. There was someone there, she could feel it at every moment. Every step she took was being surveyed. There was someone there, and approaching her. To her surprise, she only now realized that she was naked, and this realization filled her with a strange mixture of embarrassment, fear, and excitement.
Then, the presence came ever closer, materialized into the sound of footsteps. Loud footsteps, like those of a big animal. The air was filled with hot breath that turned the trees around her black and made the rats hide away into their holes. It was after her, she knew. It was going to get her. There was no use in running.
But if there were no use to running, she would still run, because that was the rule. She started to move away, to lift up one foot, set it back on the ground, the other then followed. That was too slow. More strength. She forced up the first foot again, and wanted to lift the second one while it was still in the air. It didn't work. She couldn't run. She could feel the thing that was following her ever closer. Any moment now it would touch her, a thought that filled her with a strange anticipation. But she had to run, she had to flee. Her legs wouldn't allow it. She had to scream; at the very least she had to scream for help. Her voice had no strength, and the presence was so close behind her now, she knew she had only a second left ...
Renate sat in her bed, her eyes wide open, staring into the darkness of her room, the echo of her own scream piercing her ear. Then, finally, the echo of the scream ceased bouncing off the walls and gave room to a silence that perhaps was even worse. With shaking fingers, Renate reached to her bedside lamp, and turned it on. Everything looked normal, her room much more orderly than in weeks, she had done a good job cleaning. Outside, it was still dark, a look at her alarm clock told her it was the early hours of the morning. Christmas morning.
She hadn't had a nightmare in months. Why now? The dream had by far not been as bad as the ones back then, but the fact that she had dreamt it, scared her. On the other hand ... normal people had nightmares too, didn't they? Maybe it was all back to normal. Maybe the nightmare was a sign that she could dare to dream badly, at last, without that it meant something.
Her hand still shaking slightly, she reached for the light again and turned it off. Then she wrapped herself into her covers again and within minutes went back to sleep -- a quiet, dreamless sleep this time.
"Good morning beautiful!"
The words were followed by laughter. A shrill, piercing, cackling laughter.
Renate awoke with a start, her heart bumping wildly.
"So glad you are awake, beautiful. Have you missed me?"
'No! That can't be. You are not there. It is not there. It can't be. I am imagining it.'
Renate jumped out of her bed, rummaged through her clothes for something appropriate for the weather outside. Snowflakes were dancing on the other side of the window. The sky was grey.
'A walk. To take my thoughts off this.'
"Do you not know me any more, beautiful? I have looked everywhere for you. Finally I found you. You can't hide from me again."
"You are not there!"
Only afterwards, Renate realized that she had said the words out loud, that she had shouted them. For a few seconds it was quiet. Then, there was the laughter again, coming from all corners of the room, echoing in her head.
Panic filled Renate. Without further hesitation she put on the next best clothes she could find, and ran to the door. People! She needed people! There must be someone out there. Her hand grabbed the door handle, just one more moment, and she would be outside.
The pain made her almost faint. All she could think of, was letting go of the door, to get away from the hurt of what felt like burning metal. The pain ceased as soon as she stopped touching the metal. A look into her palm didn't reveal the slightest reddened skin, all seemed normal.
'It's not true. I am imagining this.'
Renate reached for the door again.
It hurt even worse this time. As much as she tried to force herself, as much as she knew that only a few seconds of enduring it would mean her freedom, she couldn't ignore the pain. After a third attempt she sank down on the floor next to the door, and smothered her face in her hands.