Writer David Hartley shares one of his nightmarish Christmas stories from his collection, Merry Gentlemen, ahead of performing at our event The Night Before, The Night Before, The Night Before, The Night Before Christmas next week…
James exhumed his family members and propped them around the table for the Christmas meal. They didn’t eat much.
He brought out a box of presents. Lynx boxset for Dad, Friends boxset for Mum, selection box for Harriet, boxer shorts for Brian, and Ricky Hatton’s autobiography for Uncle John. He gave the empty box to the skeleton of Tyson, their boxer dog. Everyone seemed pleased with his gifts.
The TV was dead as well so he acted out the Queen’s speech, promising a tougher stance on immigration and peace to all mankind, regardless of race, colour, nationality, or Britishness. Everyone seemed to be thinking about other things.
They played charades after that. James correctly guessed The Walking Dead, Dead Man Walking, Day of the Dead, and Corpse Bride, but nobody could get his Lion King, despite his best roars and crown mimes. The game fizzled out after Dad and Uncle John clearly lost interest.
He pulled all the crackers and read out the jokes. Why didn’t the skeleton go to the party? He put paper hats on everyone and fiddled, for a while, with a little puzzle toy of three twisted silver rings which he was supposed to untangle. When he gave up, everyone was snoozing.
He read a few pages of the Ricky Hatton autobiography while drinking brandy. Then he went to bed.
The next morning, Boxing Day, he returned his family to their graves.
He spent the next five days foraging for food and supplies, fixing his air filtration system and rebuilding his SOS sign which had been covered by a light dusting of nuclear snow.
On the 31st, he dug up all his mates and invited them to his New Year’s party. Nobody came.
David Hartley is a fiction writer and long-time First Draft favourite. You can read more of his horrible Christmas stories in his short story collection, Merry Gentlemen, or other stuff on his website
He’ll also be performing at our festive event next week, which we’re co-hosting with The Real Story. Join us there!