The Christmas Ghost
A Story by Linda D. Addison
Once upon a time, there was a very different ghost. His name was Klaus and he lived in Halloween Village. He knew he was different from the beginning, but he tried to fit in with everyone else. So, when Halloween came, he put on his scariest best: a bright red suit, chains with loud bells, and a big, red floppy hat, and his blackest, shiniest boots.
He brushed his white beard out until it filled the air like a cloud and painted red circles on his cheeks. When he was done, he looked at himself and decided no other ghost could look scarier, so he went to the meeting place where all ghosts gathered for the Night of Haunting.
Klaus stood proudly in line with the other ghosts waiting for the Queen of Halloween to inspect each of one. The smallest ghosts were first in line and the Queen patted each on their head, if they had one. Each ghost she patted jumped in the air with a blood-curdling scream and flew into the night to begin their work.
Even though the other ghosts pointed at Klaus and snickered behind their hands, if they had them, he stood proud and straight, ignoring them and waiting for the Queen. He was one of the last ghost because he was one of the biggest.
Finally, he stood in front of the Queen. She looked Klaus up and down with her six eyes, her snake fingers gingerly touched Klaus’ beard and plucked at the bells around his large waist.
“You certainly are the most unique ghost I’ve seen this year,” the Queen said in a scratchy, screechy voice. “But you don’t look quite scary enough. You are big and the red is a nice contrast from the usual black and gray, but I like my red a little runnier. Let’s hear your scream.”
Klaus took a big breath and with everything in him let out a loud, “HO-HO-HO!!!”
The Queen stepped back as if she had been hit and her face twisted with pain, her mouth contorted into a wide circle. The other ghosts moved away, they’d never seen her like this. Finally, she burped a strange sound that no one had ever heard her make and her mouth settled into a grimace.
“You made me laugh, you made me happy. What kind of sound is that for a ghost? GET OUT, GET OUT NOW!! Leave our presence and never come back!” The Queen turned away, covering her face with a rotting shroud. The other ghosts turned their backs to Klaus.
Klaus walked away with his head down, back to his house. He gathered the things he made in his spare time in a large bag and threw them into the back of his old sled. He hooked his pet, Rudy, to the front of the sled and took off into the night to find a new place to live.
Everywhere he went, the air was filled with ghosts. By now, the word was out about him, and each ghost turned their back to him. Klaus went to the end of the earth, the place where no one lived, the North Pole. There, he found an old, deserted cottage to live in. He curled up on the dirt floor, and went to sleep to try to forget about his failure.
Finally, Rudy woke him by licking his face. Klaus knew he had slept a long time, because Rudy was much bigger and apparently had made friends, because there were others of his kind gathered around the cottage.
Klaus decided to take a ride a see if the other ghosts had changed their minds about him. He took his bag of things, hooked up Rudy and his friends to the sled and took off into the night.
The air was quiet. There were no ghosts, anywhere. Klaus thought maybe they hiding in the homes of the humans, so he crept down the chimneys, tip-toeing through their homes while they slept, but there were no ghosts. Here and there, he got hungry, and would take a cookie or a piece of cake. He didn’t want to steal, so he left one of the things he made in place of the eaten food.
Finally, after checking each town, he ended up back at Halloween Village. The gate was locked and all the houses were dark. Obviously, he was too late or too early for the Night of Haunting. He shook the gate, but it wouldn’t open. Then he saw the sign that said, “Keep out—that means you, Klaus!”
With sadness in his heart, he climbed into the sled and went back to his cottage at the North Pole. Each year after that Klaus rode his sled to give out the things he made in his spare time and eat the food humans left for him. It was his way of dealing with rejection.
Linda D. Addison, award-winning author of four collections, including How to Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend, the first African-American recipient of the HWA Bram Stoker Award, received the 2016 HWA Mentor of the Year Award and the 2018 HWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Check out her latest poetry in The Place of Broken Things, writen with Alessandro Manzetti (Crystal Lake Publishing, 2019). She is excited about the 2020 release of a film (inspired by my poem of same name) Mourning Meal, by producer and director Jamal Hodge.