Wholesome Henry’s Holiday Hijinks

📅 Published on November 25, 2021

“Wholesome Henry's Holiday Hijinks”

Written by Richard Morgan
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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Rating: 6.00/10. From 2 votes.
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Do you believe in miracles? It’s Christmas, and this is the time of year folks invest in miracles. They hold out for them. Something like an annual Jubilee. No matter how bad the year, they hope that everything will somehow snap together and be made right with the winter solstice.

Lovers hope for marriage. The homeless and the broken-hearted hope for restitution. Sinners hope for redemption.

People just… hope.

But we forget how there are some wrongs in the world that are so pronounced, that even making them right would be, shall we say, less than heartwarming.

Henry Beavers was trying to work his way through one such wrong. He was having a Dickens of a time figuring out just who was responsible. He used to think he was responsible. But the more he retraced his steps, the more he found whispers of other steps, if you get me.

His old house was at 1312 Elm in the quiet town of Phuckiwuckie Falls. The house was always boarded up by the time he could make another visit. He had to bring his special coffee to make things right.

A couple of swigs and the dirty tile floor was shiny as glass. There was Mary in the kitchen making a tower of pancakes. There was buck-toothed Timmy at the table, eyes getting bigger with each pancake Mary stacked.

And there came Henry sliding down the banister from upstairs. Hundreds of invisible hands clapped and cheered. Color left the scene and an upbeat melody played in the background.

“Good morning, Henry!”

“Good morning, you worthless slut!”

Laughter howled from every direction.

“Oh, Henry. That was so tasteless!”

“Just like your cooking!”

More laughter, some hooting this time. Mary just swatted her hand at the air and got back to the pancakes.

“Heya, Dad!”

“Shut up, you waste of time and health insurance! Why didn’t your mom swallow you? How about I chop you up and put you in a stew so all of us have a shot at it?”

The invisible audience roared. It wasn’t able to get a hold of itself for some time.

Henry’s head swam. It took him a while to be aware of the phone against his head. It was his boss. Screaming as usual. Screaming about the poor quality of Henry’s work and the last sandwich he made. Especially the sandwich. Dammit, Beavers—a dead Siberian nun’s stiff left breast had more sandwich-making skills in its nipple than in your whole overpaid body. And so forth. And so on.

Each run, each go, each cycle, Henry just takes it. He lets his boss dump all his rage onto him over the phone, off the clock.

There’s no laugh track. The sinking sun casts reddish-orange rays through the kitchen window, painting Henry’s face. At long last, the bully is finished and the line clicks off.

45 minutes later, the hospital calls. They have Timmy. Why was he suddenly at the hospital? Why didn’t he get a phone call for 45 goddamned minutes?

The voice of the nurse over the phone begins to feel like knives. He can’t keep listening.

Then the sun rises back up in the sky. His wife walks backwards from the living room. Timmy spits up pancakes and rebuilds the tower. Mary throws them back in the pan where they melt into batter.

And it would all just start over again until it was time for more coffee.

Henry would notice something else for every time he’d cycle through. Get a hint of something more. But he was like a starving man finding a crumb a day. And it was only a matter of time before they would come and take him away again.

He became aware of one of his feet that was constantly warm and sticky. Taking the shoe off released a blast of putrid air. The sock was all sorts of nauseating shades of grime. It had a face drawn on it in permanent marker.

Henry slid it off with a slurp and pushed his hand inside of it and brought the face to life.


“Hey, Mr. Cumstocking.”

“You made it out again! You’re back on ol’ Elm Street again!”


The eyes of the sock turned sad.

“Still haven’t cracked the case, huh?”

“I’ve got a few more pieces of the puzzle, but they’re too damn small. I’m running out of time. I’m cold. I’m hungry. I’m lonely.”

“I can help you with the lonely part.”

Henry made the sock wink at him.

* * * * * *

Detective James Spudsack reeled back in his chair when his brain processed what the phone was telling him. His bumpy brow was raised high, sending their coarse follicles every which way as if they were made of skin transplanted from his scrotum.

“Jesus and mustard, you don’t say? You’re sure it was him? Thanks, we’ll look into it.” He clicked off his cell and jumped to his feet, relieving his poor chair of his great girth.

“Hey, Pollups!” he yelled to his partner a few desks away. “Guess who might have escaped from the nut nest again!”

Collin Pollups looked up with a mouthful of semi-coffee-logged donuts. His circumstance rendered him incapable of speech. Even so, Spudsack presumed that his “Mrrmmpph?” was the wrong answer. As usual.

“No, chumhead… Henry Beavers! Just got tipped that someone lookin’ a lot like him is squatting in his old house—again!”

“Murff mowmph?”

“I don’t know how he keeps getting out. You expect me to do all the brainwork? I just arrest people! Hand me his casefile, would ya?”

“Can’t you just look it up in the database?” Pollups asked, finally able to talk.

“Come on, you know how I work.”

Pollups rolled his eyes and reached for the briefcase under his desk. The case was a solid cube in its dimensions. Detective Spudsack had nothing but contempt for digital storage of information. He didn’t want to be stuck with even the remote chance of a power outage that could deprive him of accessing valuable data. So over the decades, he kept every note he had ever written in the briefcase. He wrote small and never used anything larger than a sticky note. So every case from his entire career fit nicely in that briefcase. Still, sticky notes can be heavy in sufficient volume. Pollups threw his back out carrying the thing at least twice a month.

He kept suggesting that the briefcase would benefit from some wheels. Spudsack kept suggesting that Pollups would benefit from getting the sand out of his vagina.

He dug out several sticky notes held together with a paperclip and handed them to Spudsack. Pollups kept suggesting that the paperclips were redundant since they’re sticky notes. Spudsack kept suggesting, well, you know.

* * * * * *

Henry zipped up his pants with trembling hands. He always felt a little guilty after the fact, but his relationship with Mr. Cumstocking was the most stable thing in his life. Hell, it was the only stable thing in his life.

He brushed away the temptation to smell his hand.

“Better get a drink of water,” he grumbled.

“Get one for me, too!”

Henry wheeled around. He saw nobody. “Who’s there? Show yourself!”

The sock slowly lifted itself into the air and fixed Henry with its unblinking eyes. It laughed a thickly-gurgled chuckle.

“After all that, Henry, you can’t think of getting me a drink on your own?”

Henry gaped in awe.

“How… how is this possible? My special coffee should be out of my system by now.”

“Well, aside from the fact you’re stark raving bonkers, you’ve been dumping the souls of your unborn children into me ever since this place got foreclosed. You’ve been filling me with life, Henry. I’m finally full.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I say it’s time for a second set of eyes in your quest. Drink your coffee.”

Henry smiled, bug-eyed.

He slid down the banister to the cheers of the invisible crowd. Mary was making pancakes.

“Good morning, Mary.”

“Who is she, Henry?” she replied in a cold voice.


“We haven’t had sex in weeks, Henry. I want to know who she is.”

“Jesus, Mary…”

“And Joseph!” the sock gurgled.

The audience bellowed with laughter.

“I’m not sleeping with anyone. Work has been a real pain, okay?”

“Maybe it’s time to tell your boss what your work is doing to your family.”

“My work is supporting my family, thank you very much.”

“Life support isn’t living, Henry! When’s the last time you were at one of Timmy’s ball games? Right, you haven’t been to one! Not a single one!”

“Fine, I’ll quit my job and we’ll live off of what you make. What’s that you say? You don’t have a job? There goes that idea! Back to you!”

“If taking care of you wasn’t such a project, I’d get a job in a heartbeat!”

Henry suddenly noticed that Timmy wasn’t at the table.

“Say, where’s the kid?”

Mary shivered.

“Don’t act like you care now.”

“I just asked a fucking question. Where’s Timmy?”

“He’s staying at Grandma Beaver’s farm for a few days for a school project. At least your mom is interested in helping him with school, unlike you.”

“He’s living at mom’s farm and nobody told me?”

Henry jumped at the sudden sound of the phone in his ear. Somebody screaming about a sandwich. It was his boss. The man never stopped yelling. Somehow, he was more bearable than Mary.

Then there was the call from the hospital.

The world froze. The birds in the sky were anchored in place. The grass stopped swaying. The evening clouds were locked.

Henry looked at the sock with tired, pleading eyes.

“This is as far as I get each time.”

“Something must have happened while you were on the phone. We’ll have to see the police,” the sock rasped.

“Are you crazy? The police are looking for me.”

“I said we’ll have to see the police, not talk to the police. We’ll have to divert their attention for just a few minutes.”

Henry cocked his head to one side, curious.

* * * * * *

Phuckiwuckie Falls couldn’t hide the fact that they didn’t have much pride in any of their schools. True, you could trek from California to the tip of Maine and never find a school that hits all the marks. But the schools of Phuckiwuckie Falls hit the least.

Especially Derry Elementary.

Most of the faculty were staggeringly incompetent. Nobody wanted to work there, so there were no replacements. The kitchen crew was a team of one, a flabby-armed woman named Helga. She started going senile when she was thirty-six and English wasn’t her native tongue. So when she saw the name “Derry Elementary,” she misread it as “Dairy,” and stocked the cafeteria with nothing but dairy products: Yogurt, cheese, milk, ice cream, and so forth. Her peers tried to correct her every week. But it would slip her memory and so the cycle repeated itself. The cycle was nearing the 37-year mark.

Between the calorie intake, the constipation, and the statistical lactose intolerance, all of Derry’s students were rotund.

No referee was needed for playing tag. As soon as you put your hands on someone, they farted in alarm.

Henry approached the snowy school grounds at recess. He watched bloated children tackle each other and trigger blasts of noise. He stood at the fence for a moment, noting how much warmer it was this close to the kids. Very few of the children could fit on the swings. Most of them clambered about the plastic castle with its tubes and platforms. He wondered how none of them got stuck.

He took a deep breath and donned a bright smile.

“Hey, fat kid!” he yelled.

Every single child stopped and looked at him.

“Time to burn some calories!”

He lobbed a molotov cocktail at the castle. It struck against the aluminum monkey bars. Blue flames scattered, then turned orange, spreading in a tide of destruction. The children went up like paper mache and soon resembled a herd of roasting meatballs with legs.

Henry clapped his hands and sang, “One little, two little frying fatasses! Three little, four, little frying fatasses…”

The percentage of children that remembered to stop, drop, and roll were the most unfortunate. Turned out they could only stop, drop, and rock. Laying in the cool snow only made them burn slowly. Detective Spudsack and his partner were headed to Elm Street when their radio lit up.

“What? All the fat kids at Derry are burning? That’s awful! There’s nothing but fat kids at Derry—”

“Shut up and get the hemorrhaging fuck over there!” the dispatcher screamed at vein-popping volume.

Spudsack’s squad car peeled out of its spot and fishtailed its way across the snowy road. When the car pulled up, the kids were much smaller. Their timing couldn’t have been worse. The unluckiest boy on earth was at the eye of the lake of fire that was melting the snow off the dormant grass. He was the crown prince of lactose intolerance, on top of a number of sensitive GI issues. He was caught in one of the tubes which flooded with fire. All of his clothes were made of synthetic material which melted and stuck to him like napalm. It was only a matter of time before his bloated intestines with their propane-tank capacity met the flames. One big agony-induced muscle spasm pushed through all six months of blockage and the blast hurled his schoolmates over the fence and into the street. Others met a merciful end against the walls of the school, dislodging some of the masonry. A few chained the explosion further when their guts were breached.

“Wow! The Christmas Fundraiser is gonna be tough! “ Henry said with a stiff grin.

“Don’t just stand there, idiot, hide!” said Mr. Cumstocking from inside Henry’s shoe.

“Up, up, and away!” Henry said with a whoop.

Spudsack and Pollups were showered by the glass of the windshield as a Derry student came crashing down. Diarrhea jetted from both ends of the ruined body, filling the squad car with a rotten, yeasty aroma.

“Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!” screamed Pollups.

“The fat kid’s still burning! Get it offa me!” shrieked Spudsack. His partner didn’t follow those orders. He jumped out of the car. Blackened mounds littered the playground and smoke billowed off of them into the air. A chill seeped into Pollups’ very soul.

“Lord have mercy!” Pollups whispered.

“Nice job of helping me! What if the napalm shit in that kid’s gut had lit me up, huh? I appreciate your care and concern!” Spudsack furiously wiped greasy ashes off of his coat. He froze and made a face when he ran his hand through rancid feces. He scraped it off and slapped Pollups in the face with it.

“Now get me the case files so I can start some notes! We’re going to be here a while!”

Pollups disappeared, but came back empty-handed.

“Hello? The case files?”

“They’re gone, sir!”

* * * * * *

“Gee Willikers!” Henry said as he dragged the monstrous briefcase through the front door of his house. “Couldn’t we have just stolen my case file and left this behind?”

“No time,” gurgled Mr. Cumstocking. “Now move quickly. They’re on your trail and you don’t have much time to study. They’ll be looking here soon enough.”

Henry lit an oil lamp and let the orange rays angle into the bag. The sticky notes were surprisingly well organized, neatly stood up in rows and tightly packed. The handwriting was atrociously small, but still legible. Then he found it. He began reading.

there were notes from interviewing him. From interviewing his wife. From interviewing his neighbors and his relatives. But what made his hair stand on end were the notes from interviewing Grandma Beavers.

While staying with her on her farm out in the sticks, Timmy had gotten stung by bees and had an allergic reaction. She called 911 and then tried to call Henry.

She tried to call two minutes before he had gotten off the phone with his boss. Two minutes. If he had just hung up on his boss and not taken the abuse, he could have heard the phone ring and been there for Timmy. But no. Timmy died without his father. All because he couldn’t stand up to his boss.

Mr. Cumstocking sputtered a juicy sigh of satisfaction.

“I think it’s time to make your boss a very special sandwich,” the puppet slurped. A ball of grief, rage, and destruction boiled in Henry’s stomach. He gulped more of his special coffee.

His grin returned as tears flowed into it.

“That sounds swell! But where are we going to get the ingredients?”

* * * * * *

Detective Spudsack sat at his desk without his usual stoic, commanding posture. His shoulders were slouched and he stared through his desk into a void only he could see.

His jowls trembled. A shiver had settled into his ribs and wouldn’t leave. Phuckiwuckie falls just wasn’t the place that mass murder occurred. It was wrong. No matter how much this crime had cut local greenhouse gas emissions, it was a wound on his conscience. He got to the scene too late. That weighed on him.

Someone touched his shoulder and he yelled. It was Pollups.

“Sorry, sir.”

“What do you want?” he grunted.

“Someone called in a tip, sir. Someone that matches Mr. Beavers’ description was spotted wandering around the Northeast Quarter.”

“The Northeast Quar—there’s nothing up there but the old mines!”

“If that’s all there is, then that’s where he’s hiding. Right…sir?”

Spudsack gave a hard nod. Some of the fierceness returned to his eyes.

“He wouldn’t stay at his home since that would be the first place we’d look.”

“But it wasn’t the first place we looked, sir.”

“Shut up! You know what I mean! Gear up and meet me here at sundown. We’ll go throw our man a little housewarming party.”

* * * * * *

Now when they say the mines are the only thing in the Northwest Quarter of Phuckiwuckie Falls, it’s literally the only thing. Between how much the land was disturbed and the chemicals they used for drilling, the land wouldn’t grow much more than a few clumps of grass per square mile. It truly was Phuckiwuckie Falls’ very own wasteland.

There were only a handful of entrances to the mines. The lawmen had lucked out. They had staked out next to the right aperture. Henry held his oil lantern out, creating a bubble of light in the middle of an ocean of night.

“There he is, sir!”

“Give him time to go inside.”

Henry paused before entering. Spudsack felt his pulse quicken. Surely he couldn’t see that far out. Or maybe a maniac like him had a special talent for detecting danger. Their man finally went inside and the lantern light faded out.

“God bless Phuckiwuckie Falls, sir! We got him!”

“That’s right. You’ve got him.”


“Go on and get him.”

“Hold on now. Why me?”

“Because if you don’t make it, someone has to report back.”

He kicked Pollups until he got out of the squad car. The poor partner put his long-fingered hands on his hips and sighed. Welp, here goes nothing.

Pollups didn’t like the dark. He was surrounded by it and there was more of it waiting for him inside the mineshaft. A damp air brushed his face like a ghost’s icy asscheek.

He wanted so badly to whip out his flashlight, but he also didn’t want to signal Henry. So he flicked on a lighter he stole from Spudsack. The small flame was brilliant against the darkness.

A rotting set of rails led the way forward. A few ancient minecarts sat like tombstones, never to move forward or backwards ever again. There were a few artifacts that hinted at attempts at normal life below ground. Benches. Moldy Bookshelves. There was a makeshift toilet consisting of a bench with a hole carved into it. A rusty pail sat beneath.

The shaft began to branch off and Pollups shivered at the idea of getting lost down there. He imagined things worse than Henry Beavers lurking in the dark. Hungry things, just waiting for—

And there it was. The strangest little Santa Claus that Pollups had ever seen. The beard was made of cotton. The hat was a repurposed rag. But the body… he couldn’t place it. He knelt down, holding the lighter closer for a better look. The light was just within range of a distant crate labeled TNT. His throat closed shut and he had a convulsion that threw him away from the little Santa Claus. He dropped the lighter. His heartbeat drummed as he felt around for it He found it and rose to his feet before re-lighting.


Sure enough. There were several crates that rose to his waist, warnings of the contents in stenciled letters. He leered down at the Santa Claus. It was a bundle of dynamite. He held the lighter up to see that there were a number of festive crafts made from the explosive sticks. There were elves. Reindeer. Christmas trees made from green tinsel wrapped around single sticks of dynamite. Just when he thought that he had seen the worst of it all, one single item nearly made his heart stop.

A crowbar.

It was shiny. It was shiny because it was new. It sat next to a crate with the lid pried open and sporting nails like teeth.

Pollups wavered as the ground beneath his feet rippled. No. No, he couldn’t afford to pass out. He fell to one knee, catching the ground with his free hand. He looked up. Wait. The crowbar was gone. He was both relieved and alarmed. Maybe he dreamed it.

No, it was very real. It came crashing down on the back of his skull. When the stars cleared, he saw an oil lamp carving out the grinning face of Henry.

He instantly fought to get up. But the crowbar repeatedly struck. Blows found his head and created ringing in his ears. But when the blunt weapon came down on the back of his neck, that’s when Pollups didn’t get back up, no matter how much his brain commanded his body to do so.


Henry rolled him onto his back and looked at him for a long moment. He disappeared and returned with the toilet bench. He positioned the hole over Pollups’ face and unzipped his pants.

“Your Christmas present is on its way!” Henry said.

* * * * * *

Spudsack didn’t want to go into the mine. But the longer his partner delayed, the more it was certain that he couldn’t sit.

He went in without a light. He was waiting for any sign of Henry’s lantern, but there was nothing. The stillness of the mine was suffocating. He clicked on his flashlight and had to choke back a scream. There was Pollups on his back. Completely naked. His eyes were rolled up into his head and something awful pooled in his mouth. The smell hit him and he shrank back. Had Pollups… drowned in shit? There was another acrid smell that bit his nose, but he couldn’t name it.

That’s when he saw the words carved into his dead partner’s stomach, apparently gouged with a knife.


Spudsack swallowed hard and looked around. There was nothing to see. Aside from a few old crates marked TNT, the shaft floor was bare. He placed his foot on the body and rolled it over.

There were more words gouged into his partner’s scrawny back.


He had just enough time to read this before he saw the smoking stick of dynamite that was rammed into the body’s relaxed rectum.

* * * * * *

Another day passed. Another winter sunset signaled the end of the business day.

Color began to bleed back into Henry’s vision as he staggered around the business district of Phuckiwuckie Falls. With it came grief and a mental agony that crushed his skull like a vice. He would have to brew more of his special coffee soon. He was having a hard time finding his way. Phuckiwuckie Falls was small, but its business district was considerable.

A car came within inches of striking Henry. It veered off and crushed a fire hydrant and then a traffic light. The light’s fragile chassis fell over, exposing and tearing wires that flailed about and found the fountain of water. Sparks flew and fingers of raw electricity writhed across the ground like demonic serpents.

The driver began crying for help. Henry jumped into action.

“Hey! You need to trust to me!” he yelled to the driver. “You need to listen to me before your car explodes and takes you with it! Open your door!”

The driver was a 60-something man that eyed the expanding lake of water and the electricity that ribboned through it. He obeyed and threw the door open as wide as possible.

“What do I do now?”

“Jump! Quickly!”

“I can’t!”

“Get to safety before the water rises too high!”

The man shouldn’t have been able to make the jump, but he did. Henry helped him up and hurried him out of the way of the water that rose just high enough to touch the car and send a current of deadly power through it. The fireball of the exploding gas tank was blinding. Warped chunks of metal rained down, but none of them hit Henry or the driver.

“Young man, you’ve saved me! I owe you my life!”

“Swell!” said Henry. He then shoved the driver into the deadly water. His body instantly writhed and contorted as the high voltage tore through his living tissue. His mouth went wide with a primal howl of undiluted agony. Threads of blue light danced from the roof of his mouth to his tongue.

Henry studied that mouth. If he knew his electrical theory correctly…

He got out his coffee maker and prepared the basket with his special blend. Dimestore coffee grounds, caffeine pills, stolen Prozac, an orphan’s molars, and a few rubber bands for extra bitterness. He filled the water reservoir and crossed his fingers as he lowered the plug into the jostling driver’s mouth.

The coffee maker began to hiss and gurgle. Soon enough, there was the hot, happy, jolly brew that kept him on the straight and narrow. The left eyeball of the convulsing body exploded and Henry just barely avoided a spill.

His pulse went from zero to a thousand in a snap. “YOU WORTHLESS SHITFUCK!” Henry roared. He caught himself, embarrassed.

“Gee Willikers, sorry about that, chief. I haven’t had fresh coffee for a while. I’m a different person without it.”

A wet pop announced that the body’s left thigh had burst out of it’s socket.

Henry took a swig of the acrid coffee. Soon enough, the thrashing body was lying on a beach, napping serenely beneath the sun. It opened its eyes, smiling in spite of the hollow socket curdled with gore. The power cord in its mouth was replaced by a cigarette.

“Bah, I’m no prude, Henry! Besides… what a swell day for being on the sand!”

“Super swell, chief. Super swell!”

Henry felt the sting of tears.

“You okay there, Henry?”

“Yeah, I just… uh… thanks for being understanding.”

The body furrowed its brows and waved a hand as if to say Don’t mention it! But Henry wasn’t done.

“Y’know, I’ve tried to be a good Christian man. I’ve tried to do right by everybody. And I mean… doggone it… it seemed like the more I tried to do right by everybody, the fewer people I could do right by. And then when things went bad for my son, then I couldn’t do right by anyone. Not my wife. Not my friends. Not God. It’s enough to make a man crazy.”

“You were crazy to think trying so hard would do you any good. You’re the perfect picture of sanity now.”

Henry laughed and cried both.

The body stroked the sandy beach. “Take a vacation, Henry. It does ya wonders.”

“I will. After I’m done with this one last job.”

It shook its head. “I heard what you’re up to, Henry. I think you’ve wasted enough time. I know you want to be there for Timmy, but it’s a bit late.”

“Better late than never, brother. Don’t waste your vacation talking to a wash-up like me.”

“See you around, Henry.”

The body reverted to its true form, flesh blackened and smoking, agitating the water.

* * * * * *

It wasn’t the first time that the staff of the towering Embelco building saw Henry come through the front doors.

He had come through them for years as a salaried employee.

After his son’s accident, he looked more haggard and smelled worse each time. Then they only saw him when he escaped from the institution.

This was the first time in years, though, he came in with a smile. He was on the pretty young secretary before she knew what was happening. He grabbed her curly blonde locks with one hand and he had a stick of dynamite in the other.

Her months of suppressing her gag reflex backfired.

The deadly stick slid down her throat. Henry pushed her towards the oncoming security guards. The explosion happened deep in her chest, launching her silicon implants at a deadly velocity. One of them atomized a guard’s face. The other one decapitated a homeless lady using a public Xerox machine from a hundred yards away.

Henry twisted off the secretary’s lower jaw and drove both points into the remaining guard’s eyes. His new ‘visor’ made him scream in sightless pain.

A third guard rounded a distant corner. He was tall. He was shaped like a bloated Christmas tree. He was old. Old enough to recognize Henry.

“Aw, Beavers, not again!”

Hellfire kindled in Henry’s eyes and his grin clenched tightly enough to fuse his teeth together.

“Chief Anderson! Don’t you know by now? You’ll never work harder than me! You’re probably still sneaking extra lunch from the kitchen during paid hours!”

The reality of the carnage sank in, and the lumbering chief beelined for an alarm.

The secretary’s jawless head was attached to her body by just a few fibers of connective tissue. One good flick and a snap like a celery stalk, and her head was free. He gripped the hair and whirled it above him, blood fanning out in circles.

The sweet young thing’s cranium bulleted like a bolt of lightning and struck Anderson in the back of the knee. He smacked the carpet like a great garbage sack full of pudding.

Henry sauntered towards the floundering chief of security. The large man just managed to roll himself over in time to see Henry attack a cowering old man and grab his wooden cane. He rammed the full length of it down the elder’s throat and yank it back out. As the old man crawled off to die of internal hemorrhaging, Henry snapped the bloody cane over his knee into two parts, each with a sharp end.

“You’re an asshole, Beavers!” Anderson cried in shock.

“Sorry, Anderson. I’m afraid you’re the asshole…”

Henry drew back both halves like spears.

“…And I’m the dick.”

* * * * * *

The later it got, the more agitated Carl Burdens got. He was waiting for his hot new secretary to text him that it was time to sneak off. He couldn’t risk them being seen together. But she was taking her sweet time. He didn’t want to have to face coming home to his wife without a little action. But even as quickly as he usually finished, they would be pressed for time if she delayed any longer.

He collapsed into his office chair behind his desk. He looked up just in time for the double doors of his grand office to crash open. A dinner cart from the cafeteria sailed in. On it, lard hanging over the edges, was the naked body of his chief of security. Two bloody wooden sticks protruded from his eye sockets. He was screaming like a stuck pig. It took Burdens a minute to realize he was stuck with some third item. There was something… oh God, there was something sticking out of his ass.

Something red. Something smoking.

The explosion blew Anderson’s entire digestive tract—from the colon to the tip of his tongue—out of his gaping mouth. It smacked into Burdens and wrapped around him and his chair like a hunter’s bolas. Henry approached from behind the gutted corpse.

“Beavers! What the actual fuck?”

“I finally figured it out. My mom tried to call me and tell me about my son. I was on the phone with you, so she couldn’t get through. You were screaming at me about a sandwich. I missed my chance to be next to my dying son because you were pissy over a sandwich.”

Burdens squinted at him, tilting his head.

“You don’t remember.”

“Oh, I remember,” Burdens grunted. Then he yelled, “That’s what you get for making a shitty sandwich!”

Henry looked at the two fragments of the cane in Anderson’s dead skull. Wondered which one would be best. But then he saw the small letter opener on his former boss’ desk.

“I’m going to peel the living flesh off your head and drink in your screams,” said Henry as he put the letter opener between his teeth and began to roll up his sleeves.

Another bang broke the air. Not of dynamite. A gunshot. Burdens’ left hand, wrapped tightly as it was by entrails, held a smoking revolver. The bullet had pierced one of Henry’s lungs. Blood shot up into his sinuses.

He sneezed.

He blinked away the red that clouded his vision and…well… the letter opener was buried in Burden’s eye.

Henry wanted to laugh but he couldn’t.

He gawked at the limp body of his boss. He was surprised to find himself enraged at how peaceful the corpse appeared, even with a letter opener protruding from its eye. Henry with his racing pulse and his ragged breathing was the one suffering. He shook his head.

No. No. If there was anything like a soul down inside that man, Henry was going to make damn well sure that got a taste of fire.

He staggered over to the remaining bundles of festive dynamite and began “decorating” the corpse with them. He plugged every orifice with what would fit. He found some duct tape in the desk and wrapped as many of the deadly sticks to the body as the remaining tape would allow. Henry’s vision swam and flickered. He didn’t have much time. He clinked open his lighter, casting wobbly rays that trembled like Henry’s lungs.

“Daddy?” came a voice from beside Henry.

It was Timmy.

Henry didn’t smile at him. His brow furrowed. His eyes pooled with pink tears. His whole frame trembled the way it did when he had driven his old truck, with Timmy riding in the back.

“Hey. Hey, son. It’s good to see you.”

“You gonna blow this man up, Dad?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I am. He’s not fit to be buried in the same earth you were. His grave is going to be the dust of the air. And the walls. His tombstone is going to be the rubble of this building.”

“But I don’t want you to blow up too!”

Henry sniffed, which triggered a bloody cough. “It’s a little late for me, son. Besides, I’m not fit to be buried in the earth with you either.”

“Please don’t say that, Daddy—”

“You died because I missed a phone call, son. I let this sonofabitch hold me up on the phone. I was too afraid of losing my job to hang up on him. Grandma tried to call me while he was cussing me out. I let this man keep me from being there for you, son. I’m just as guilty as he is.”

“But Daddy! I was hurt anyway. That wasn’t your fault!”

“Yes, it was! I’ve never been there for you! Not for your ball games, not for your birthdays, not for your… your passing…” Henry lost it and sobbed, his pink tears turning red.

“I forgive you, Daddy.”

“I don’t.”


“You were supposed to be my life! Everything went out with you. Your mom never forgave me—how could she? How could I? I don’t have it in me, son. I don’t have anything inside of me.”

Timmy stared at his father with the stillness of a cardboard cutout.

Henry caught his breath, sensing that his lungs were starting to fill with blood. “Listen. Tis the season. And I also remembered that today was your birthday.”

Emotion flashed in the phantom’s eyes. “You remembered?”

Henry lit as many fuses as his shaking hand would allow. Their acrid smoke mingled with the metallic stink of blood.

“I love you, son. Now make a wish, huh?”

Timmy paused, considering. But he just threw his arms around Henry and held tight. Legend has it that Timmy whispered his wish into his father’s ear. But we’ll never know.

Rating: 6.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Richard Morgan
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Richard Morgan

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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