Merry Gentlemen - short Christmas horror stories by David Hartley

It is Christmas. There is a tree in your living room. You didn’t put it there.

It is Christmas. Cracker Jack is coming. You’re hiding in the cupboard with a shotgun.

It is Christmas. You’ve exhumed your family. They won’t play charades.

What has gone wrong? Who put us in this frenzy? Why do we endure the rituals, why do we play along with the traditions? Why do we rip each other to shreds for the sake of shopping? Why is it still cold when it should be so warm? What are these feelings of dread and worry? Where has the comfort gone, where is the joy?

Christmas is so bright it must have a dark side. You’ve found it. Merry Gentlemen: fourteen cracker-snap tales of festive woe and yuletide yuck. Far-flung futures, distant pasts and every type of Christmas in-between. Meet the tinsel-silk spiders who decorate your house, join the innkeeper with no room and three angry ghosts, find out what the Virgin Mary did with the Divine Afterbirth. Learn how to keep Cracker Jack away, tiptoe through the carnage of a festive crime scene, and never, ever look behind you, despite the Panto screams.

Gather around the fire this year, put aside the food and the toys, indulge your merry gentlemen in these grisly tales and let nothing you dismay. These are the stories of the people that Christmas forgot; the disillusioned, the frightened, the Scrooges and the dead.

The horror days are coming. Santa Clause is on his way and he’s picked up his naughty list. are you on it? Don’t shout, don’t cry, be quiet, be calm, be happy and, above all, be good.

Be good, for goodness’ sake...