The Christmas Gift

📅 Published on November 21, 2021

“The Christmas Gift”

Written by Chisto Healy
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
Please wait...

Donald opened the front door, looking for who rang. There was no one on the porch of the big house or the walkway below. He looked around, eyes scanning the street, but he saw no one. Maybe some teenagers were playing their pranks, but Christmas seemed a strange time of year for those stunts. Had it been All Hallow’s Eve, it would have made more sense to him. Then he looked down.

Donald eyed the gift box with curiosity. It sat there before his feet, perfectly wrapped and full of mystery. Whoever delivered the present had not wanted to hang around for the thank you. It was peculiar behavior.

He wasn’t someone that would need a gift, a charity. He was still living off of his father’s money, which was his grandfather’s money. Donald hadn’t worked a day in his life. He had no reason to, and if he cared enough to marry and procreate, his child wouldn’t need to either. It was due to the everlasting boredom of being independently wealthy that Donald found his hobby.

Like most of the affairs of the rich, his hobby was a secret, and now that he was staring at this strange gift box, he couldn’t help but wonder if maybe it wasn’t any longer. He stepped around the box and down the first few steps of the porch, where he stood and scanned the yard, the bushes and trees. His eyes combed the possible hiding places and came up empty. Donald shook his head at this. Whoever dropped off the present must have rung the doorbell and run as the Devil had chased them.

Turning back around, Donald bent over and scooped up the present. Then he carried it with him back into the big house. He closed and locked the door behind him. Donald didn’t keep servants like so many others of his status. Servants were extra eyes and ears. They were loose ends and incriminating, chances he didn’t dare take. He didn’t have a job. There was no reason he couldn’t clean up after himself. That was part of the fun anyway.

Donald walked through the silent house. He placed the package on a table for the time being. Before he could bring himself to walk away from it, he had to check the attached tag. Of course, it didn’t list a name, and he hadn’t been foolish enough to expect otherwise. All it said was – I know who you are.

It was a strange thing to say to one of the only millionaires in a small town. Of course, they knew who he was. Literally, everyone knew who he was. He was everywhere. He owned most of the town, or his father did, at least. He had never encountered a single soul that didn’t know who he was. It made his hobby that much more enjoyable.

Donald didn’t open the present, though, not yet. He wanted to do it right, to savor the moment. He wanted to enjoy this. He knew without needing to be told that the gift was not an act of kindness. He thought about this as he ventured into the sitting room and stoked a fire in the fireplace. Then he went and fetched himself a fine glass and an even finer bottle of Merlot. He carried them into the sitting room and placed them on the end table next to his favorite chair, nestled in the warmth and glow of the hearth.

He went and retrieved his corncob pipe and a bag of fresh tobacco, which he packed it with. Only then did he grab the present and take it with him into the sitting room. He poured himself a glass of wine and lit his pipe, taking a few good puffs. Then he placed the gift on his lap and looked at it once more. “What are you?” he said. “Where did you come from?”

He set his wine glass on the table at his side and began to unwrap the paper. Nothing shot out. Nothing exploded. There was a box, a Christmas box, with pictures of Santa putting presents under a well-decorated tree. The sight of it made him smile. This was a well-played game. He had no family outside of his father, who was currently hospitalized and lying in a coma. He had no friends or significant others. He took women when he needed them, but he always discarded them when he was done. He did not need to keep someone long-term. He had admirers due to his wealth, but if they were going to give him a gift, they would want more than anything for him to know who it came from. It begged to know who deemed to celebrate the rich loner in the big house at the top of the hill.

Donald took another sip of his wine. He closed his eyes and reveled in the taste, hints of cinnamon and pine swirling in his mouth. It was the perfect blend for the season. He set the glass back down and removed the box’s lid. Inside was a book, a thick one. He removed it and set it aside for now. He looked into the box, turning it over and upside down. Other than red and green tissue paper, there was nothing else to be found. Donald’s curiosity had piqued. He placed the box on the floor beside his chair and stuffed it with the wrapping paper, gently placing the lid back on. Then he puffed at his pipe and looked at the book, fingers brushing at his beard.

It seemed to be a photo album. Maybe the gift was from an admirer after all. He lifted it and pulled the cover open. When he saw the first photo, he exhaled. He touched the picture gently with his fingertips. Whoever the gift giver was, they were a fan of his hobby. He remembered the girl from the photo, her loving smile, although she wasn’t wearing it in the picture, and the way her eyes bulged as he strangled her. She was his first. He remembered how she tried to beg him for mercy even when she could not speak and how exhilarating it was for him. He smiled at the picture. He hadn’t expected it to smile back. Then a hand reached out of the photo and grabbed his as it rested on the page.

Suddenly he was somewhere else. There was a woman at her kitchen table, sobbing and drinking. Before her on the table was the same picture that had brought him here. “I was all she had,” a voice from his past said to him. “Now, she has nothing but grief. You did this.”

He was in a new place then. A man and a child were sitting by a Christmas tree. They were hanging up an ornament with the dead girl’s face in it. “That is a widower and a boy without a mother—also, thanks to you. The consequences of your actions ripple out into the world like a pebble thrown into a pond, Donald. You are a cancer.”

Donald was back in his chair then, horrified. He threw the photo album onto the floor. What manner of sorcery was this? Was he meant to feel guilty? “I don’t,” he said out loud to whatever spirits were listening. “I take pleasure in the pain of others. Your efforts are pointless.”

“Then pick the book back up and turn the page,” someone whispered in his ear. It sent a shiver down his spine. “Enjoy the suffering within.”

“I will!” he said angrily. He took a big gulp of wine and nodded. He puffed at his pipe until he felt his heart rate receding. Then he nodded again and retrieved the book from the floor. He turned the page. He knew who it was going to be; his second kill. He wished he could remember her name. Details of people didn’t matter to him, though. They were things, things to be used and discarded. She was beautiful, though, wasn’t she?

The photo’s face contorted to one of anger, and Donald recoiled. Then the slender fingers came through to grab his hand again. A doctor was visiting a girl that looked exactly like the one in the photo. It was impossible, he knew, even as he watched the doctor administer meds. She was dead. He buried her himself. Yet here she was. “She couldn’t function after the death of her twin. She feels it every moment of every day. Essentially, she is dead as well,” the distant voice spoke to him. “You did this.”

“I did,” he said, “and I would do it again.”

Then he was watching a body under a sheet being wheeled out the front door of a house. He blinked and watched with curiosity as it rode by. “Under there is the body of my father. He couldn’t live with it, knowing he failed to protect me from you. He took his own life.”

Then they were inside the house. There was a woman, sitting on the floor, staring forth from empty hollow eyes. “Your mother, I presume,” Donald said.

“Yes. She never recovered.”

“I’m bored. Who’s next?” Donald said with agitation.

Then he was back in his chair. “Don’t you know?” a voice whispered in his ear.

Donald poured himself a new glass of wine. His trembling fingers gave away the nerves he was pretending not to feel. His pipe was kicked. He sighed at it and put it down on the table. He sipped the wine with shaking fingers. Then he took a deep breath and turned the page. “Let’s get this over with,” he said, all bravado.

The brunette in the photo didn’t wait for his nostalgia. She just reached up out of the photo and grabbed his arm, a silent scream on her lips. He cried out, giving away that he was bothered by this routine. Then he was in an alley. There were men and women alike spread out all over. They were shivering and coughing. They were lost in the high of drugs and downing the last sips of a bottle of booze. “These are all the homeless people I worked with before you took me from the world,” the dead girl told him. “I was the only one that helped them. They lost their only ally because of you.”

Then they were standing in a morgue. There were bodies on tables all around them. “These are the ones already lost,” the girl said. “It got too cold. They had no blankets, nowhere to go. You killed them all.”

Donald lifted one of the sheets and grimaced. “This one is just a child,” he said.

“A child you killed,” the ghost told him.

Donald shook his head. “I have never killed a child.”

“You have. You have done so much damage by taking good out of the world. You are poison, the poison that killed all of these people, Donald.”

Then he was back in his chair, breathing heavily. He looked around the room. He saw no one, but he felt like he was no longer alone. The solitude he cherished was taken from him, and his peace had been tainted. He felt angry and anxious all the same.

“I’m done with this game,” he said. Then he threw the photo album into the fire. He grabbed his wine glass as it burned and snarled, lifting it. “Cheers,” he said, taking a sip.

A wind came from nowhere and blew the fire out. Only wisps of smoke remained. The burned photo album flipped to the fourth page. Donald screamed and threw his wine glass at the fireplace, where it shattered loudly. A blonde woman in a sheer dress started to climb from the photo into the room with him. Donald shook his head. His breath caught in his chest as she crawled across the floor towards him. Then her pale hand grasped his ankle.

He was taken to a house where a woman was screaming at a child. She was throwing things at him while he cried. “Another child,” he said. “What is this?”

“This is my son,” the ghost said angrily. “I was a single mother. He was put into the system and is now with foster parents that abuse him because of you.”

Donald curled his lip. “Tell me where. I will kill this woman next. I can help.”

“You help nothing,” the voice said to him. “You only ruin. You only destroy.”

Then he was under a bridge. He saw a teenage boy shivering and rocking himself. He recognized him immediately. He was the boy under the sheet that the last ghost had shown him. “This is my other son,” she said to him. “He ran away from his abusive foster parents and lived on the street until he got pneumonia.”

Donald was back in his chair. He cursed loudly and slammed his fist down on the end table. The wine bottle toppled off and shattered on the floor at his feet, leaking red onto his expensive oriental rug. “I did not mean for him to get hurt!” he shouted. “How was I to know?!”

“You don’t know. You don’t care,” the whisper came in his ear. “You take without a single thought of the repercussions.”

Donald leaped to his feet. “There are no repercussions! I am rich! I own this town! I do what I want!”

“Yes, you do.”

The page flipped again and Donald snarled. He stormed over to the book and grabbed it. As soon as he did, a hand came from the picture and grabbed his arm tightly.

Then he was at a hospital. He recognized it. It was where his father was staying. They were in his wing, at his room, then inside. The nurse was burning him with a cigarette. “I was his nurse. You didn’t know that, of course. You didn’t bother knowing anything about the lives you destroyed,” the ghost told him. “I took care of him and tended to him every day. This woman replaced me. She is someone like you, someone who enjoys the pain and suffering of others. Your father can’t complain or make her stop. He is tortured in his sleep daily.”

Donald growled at her. “Do you think I care?” he chided. “He means nothing to me. All I need from him is his money, and I’ve got that. Let him suffer.”

They blinked out of the room. She walked him through the wing then and showed him all of the other people left to suffer the same fate. “What about them?” she asked him.

“Fine. I will kill her. Let me kill her,” he said. “She can’t hurt these people if she’s dead.”

“You won’t be killing anyone else,” the dead girl said to him.

Then he was back in his sitting room. His legs felt like rubber. The ghost was gone, but the book was still in his hand. He sat back in his chair before he fell. He stared down at the book in his hands. The last girl was his last kill, but the book still had another page. He heard the threat in what she had said to him, but he still felt the tug. He needed to know what was on that last page. He had already tried to burn the book. The game was predetermined. This was his fate, whatever it was. His heart was thundering against his ribs. He felt the most afraid he had ever felt in his life. His shaking fingers gripped the page and turned it.

The final page was blank. “What is this? I don’t understand,” Donald said.

“That’s your page,” the voice whispered into his ear. “There is nothing to show you, no one to miss you, no one to be troubled by your passing. There is no echo, no ripple. There is simply nothing.”

The room grew suddenly cold. Donald dropped the book into the broken glass and spilled wine at his feet. The lights flickered and dimmed as shadows passed before them. Suddenly, all five women were in the room with him, crowding him and moving in ever closer. “Get away from me!” Donald shouted. “You can’t do this! You’re dead. All of you are dead! I killed you! I killed you!”

“Yes, you did,” the first girl said.

“You killed us all,” the second chimed in.

They were upon him then. “Now we’re here to return the favor,” the third girl told him. They reached out with their ghostly fingers, grasping at his throat.

“Merry Christmas,” the fourth girl said. The fifth just smiled, and they grabbed ahold of him. Altogether, they squeezed and watched as he struggled, his eyes bulging. They listened to him try to beg for mercy in unintelligible words as the air was forced from his lungs. His fingers dug into the arms of his chair, and his legs kicked as the air escaped him. Then the big house was quiet and still. All six of them were gone. Outside, the jingling of bells accompanied the harmonizing voices of carolers, and life went on.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
Please wait...

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Chisto Healy
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Chisto Healy

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author Chisto Healy:

Hypatia’s Snakes
Average Rating:

Hypatia’s Snakes

Blood and Broccoli
Average Rating:

Blood and Broccoli

The Trick is His Treat
Average Rating:

The Trick is His Treat

Related Stories:

No posts found.

You Might Also Enjoy:

Assembly of the Dead
Average Rating:

Assembly of the Dead

Average Rating:


The Wolves
Average Rating:

The Wolves

Recommended Reading:

Infinity Point: Book One: Darkfall
Pages of Dust: Volume 4
How To Exit Your Body: and Other Strange Tales

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Skip to content