By Alyson Faye

During December Grunen Baum Platz was a gaudy, glittering bauble. In the grand houses’ massive fir trees laden with hundreds of glowing candles bedecked the hallways.

“Oh Papa,” said Emilie, “my favourite time of year.”

Her father smiled, “St Nicholas will only come for good children.”

“I’ve been a good girl since..” Emilie’s thoughts skittered away from the memory of the day in the orchard, when her twin sister Lucia, had lain among the windfalls. Unmoving.
Later that night in the basement Jans Albrecht laboured on both his dead daughter and the gift for Krampus. He touched the doll lying on his workbench, stroking the silky black hair and the crimson velvet dress. He was especially proud of the eyes and he prayed Krampus would accept this gift instead of taking Emilie. She had not meant to hurt Lucia.

It had been an accident. A game.

Krampusnacht arrived and Emilie unwrapped her present.

“She has my face Papa. Danke, danke. I love her.” She stroked the doll’s pink cheeks.
The doll’s eyes flickered. Emilie gasped in wonder. “Look Papa. See. Her eyes are the same green as Lucia’s.”

Jans smiled, “I know meine leibling. They are the same ones.”

There was a pounding at the parlour door. Emilie screamed. “It’s the Krampus!”

The door swung open. The demon surged forward. His bestial face crowned by two horns, scraped the edge of the chandelier and the hoofs cut into the carpet. He lumbered towards Emilie with its tail flicking behind him. The demon’s long red lolling tongue flopped from its mouth. To Jans’ disgust it licked Emilie’s hair, then the doll’s face.

The demon is tasting their humanity, thought Jans.

Saliva dribbled onto the Lucia doll, who awaking, spoke, “Sister….”

Krampus made his choice.

Emilie howled, “Come back Lucia.”