C.M. Humphries Blog
When it comes to horror, there are two types of "good." To spare you a tirade, good horror makes you scared. The other version is horror that is so bad it's entertaining in its own comical right. To me, almost all festive horror stories fall into the latter category.
However, that didn't stop me from scribbling down this gem one winter around 10 years ago. Don't expect award-winning stuff here. I just hope you'll enjoy the ride, or at least part of it.
Winter '22 Featured Story 1 of 3
"The Candy Cane Killer"
He was lonely on that Christmas morning, no sign of a soul knocking on his door. Outside snowflakes were ubiquitous as they generally are in Lakeside during December, and Christmas carolers walked around the neighborhood, singing, just as usual. It was as if the world had moved on without him. When Jennifer decided to leave him, Marcus Lonehart fell into the dark pit, from which no one ever returned. And there he was alone, miserable; to witness the world do the same things it always had, this time without him.
Beside a dying fireplace, chewing at a giant candy cane, Marcus reminisced about the many holidays he had spent with Jennifer; she was so wonderful. She was always full of laughter and joy; so open-armed that you could watch the world burn down with her and never give it a second thought. That’s what hurt the most. You could trust Jennifer. Marcus had trusted her so much that he overlooked the obvious signs that she was seeing someone else. As with most “angelic” souls, there was a devious, traitorous side to her.
Somewhere, Jennifer must’ve been opening gifts, laughing and smiling as she always had. The fact that she remained the same and unaltered suggested to Marcus that she felt no remorse. Now, as Jennifer opened presents with her new soul mate (who she also cheated on if you think about it), Marcus could only think about the smell that would fill his house if he used her bloody corpse as firewood.
There were no bloodstains on his hands, of course. Marcus was a decent man. Though he constantly plotted different ways of killing Jennifer, he would never do so. Murder was beneath him. It was something he could not even commit despite superfluous anger and depression. Instead, Marcus remained in his chair, in front of a sick fire, in an empty house, by himself, next to a tree lacking presents underneath it, where she had left him.
Most of the day went by without anything happening. No one stopped by to visit and no one called Marcus. There was nothing better than being the only person not to hear “Merry Christmas” to the point that it was cliché to make you feel truly pathetic. “Why doesn’t anywhere care?” Marcus asked himself. I didn’t crawl into a pit to die. I was pushed into one.
After about an hour of sipping hot cocoa and creating a point on his candy cane by a fireplace that was now exhausted, Marcus got up and walked into the kitchen where he picked up the phone. He wasn’t sure who to call, but if he didn’t talk to someone he was going to explode. Instinctively, Marcus called his mother.
The other end rang. And rang. And rang . . . Just as Marcus was ready to give up, his mother answered.
“Hello?” his mother answered.
“Hey, Mom,” Marcus said into the phone, a grin on his face.
“Marcus? Is that you?”
“Wow, I didn’t expect you to call.”
Marcus’ smile was steady. “Well, I just figured since it was the holidays... ”
“Yeah, well, you know, you haven’t called in quite some time.”
“Sorry, I’ve meant to—”
“—Marcus, would it be all right if I called you another time?”
“What?” Marcus’ grin shifted.
“I’ve got someone on the other line,” his mother replied, “I told them I’d back in just a minute.”
“Who’s on the other line?”
“What’s it matter, Marcus? “
Marcus’ face turned red. For a moment he wanted to throw the phone at the receiver, hoping that his mother would hear the sound of it breaking. However, he remained cool and replied, “I just wanted to know.”
Marcus could hear his mother take a breath. “Well, if you really must know . . . it’s Jennifer.”
“What? Are you serious?!”
“Calm down. She was just checking up on us. I know you’re not together, but Jennifer is a good girl. You really shouldn’t have fooled around on her—”
He did it. Marcus stepped back and hurled the phone at the receiver. The phone smacked across the plastic dial pad, causing it to crack. The momentum moved the phone along the wall, and for awhile, it swung back and forth before falling and shattering across the kitchen floor. Despite being in hundreds of pieces, the phone still remained intact and the cable was still hooked to the phone. As half-expected, it rang.
“Are you kidding me?” Marcus said to himself as he looked down at his obliterated telephone. “No way . . .”
He bent down and picked up the phone. The speaker lied next to it. Picking up both pieces, Marcus forced in an operational manner next to his ear. “Hello?” Marcus said, not sure that the phone was working.
“Marcus,” a familiar voice said.
“Oh no . . .” Marcus muttered. Jennifer.
“Are you okay, Marcus?” Jennifer asked.
“Yeah—uh—I’m fine. Just startled, I guess.”
“Hey I just wanted to say Merry Christmas. I know we’re not together and all—”
“—Yeah, because I caught you screwing Jack in the living room.”
“Look, that never happened. You cheated on me.”
“Bull shit, and you know it!”
Marcus grabbed the phone, gesturing that he was about to throw it again. He remained calm, and replied, “You know the truth.”
“I don’t think it is,” Jennifer said into the phone. “Anyway, I didn’t want you to be a jerk like this. I just knew you were alone today, so I figured I’d give you a call and ask you out to some coffee. The Blue Bottle is open today. It’s not the best, but it’s the only place.”
It’s where I met you, he thought. How dare she? After cheating on me and then reversing the story. She’s ruining my life. There’s no way in Hell I’m going out with her. “Fine,” Marcus spat out into the phone. “I’ll be there in about an hour. Let me shower and whatever.” Damn it.
Sweetly, Jennifer said, “Okay, I’ll see you there. I’m buying. Bye.”
Marcus went to hang up the phone before remembering that the receiver no longer existed. Rubbing his face, Marcus headed out of the kitchen and down the hall. He had an ex-fiancé to settle things with.
Falling onto his windshield, trying to drive him off the road, snowflakes fell in Marcus’s plain view. Whoosing back and forth, his windshield wipers didn’t stand a chance against the harsh December weather. Marucs questioned his self-control, or lack thereof as he made his way to the Blue Bottle. Every thought about Jennifer made him twist harder on his candy cane, sharpening the point until it poked him in the tongue.
Rather than biting the large Christmas candy or throwing it out of the window, Marcus continued to sharpen it, and sharpen it, mostly out of frustrated. After awhile, the peppermint taste grew stale in his mouth.
He couldn’t wait to see Jennifer. A majority of his sense told him to steer clear of that woman, but on the other hand, he needed to see her smile at least one more time. Beside himself, Marcus hoped that he could patch up their torn relationship and make it into something better than it was before. The only question that remained was could he trust her?
As promised, Jennifer sat a table inside of the Blue Bottle. Marcus could see her through a window facing the parking lot. Marcus walked away from his car with some hesitance, and made his way to the entrance of the Blue Bottle.
In front of Jennifer were two mugs: one belonging to her and the other for him, Marcus assumed. After seeing each other for so long, Jennifer had memorized which coffees Marcus enjoyed during certain seasons. Around Christmas time, Marcus enjoyed a dulce de leche latte, which he would place a candy cane in for that hint of mintiness.
“Didn’t think you’d make it,” Jennifer said with a smile as Marcus walked in to café.
“I’m on time,” Marcus replied. “I’m actually early.”
Jennifer looked at the candy cane. “Good, you brought one. They ran out of canes yesterday, says the guy up there.” She pointed at the cashier.
“Yeah, just thinking ahead, I guess.”
The reuniting went well for awhile, Marcus and Jennifer talked and laughed. Then, just the moment Marcus was hoping for occurred. Once Marcus removed the giant candy cane out of the coffee, Jennifer leaned over and pursed her lips around it, sucking and licking it provocatively.
She’s leading me on, Marcus thought. I love when she does this.
Removing her lips from around the candy cane, Jennifer said, “I know I’m with Jack now, but would you mind if we went back to your place for awhile?”
Say no, Marcus thought. “Of course.”
The two of them walked out to his car to kiss before they parted, though they were both headed for the same place and would be there in a matter of minutes, anyway. It was just one of those things they did as a couple and felt the needed to replicate today.
“So, you’re not going to be upset about this, are you?” Jennifer asked Marcus, who was trying to keep a smile.
Of course I am, you fucking bitch, he thought to himself. “Of course not.”
“It’s just that—that—I’ve been wanting to be with you again for so long. At least once more.”
Me too, so I could rip your heart out. “I guess I have too.”
“So, what are we waiting for—”
Stinging and burning deep, a sharp pain arose from Jennifer’s neck, stopping all her motions at once. Dizzy, gray: the world starting fading away. Jennifer felt sick and weak. With once quick glance, she saw Marcus pulling out something from her neck. A candy cane. So sharp and driven with immense ferocity, the sharpened sweet ripped right through her flesh and met the vein. Jennifer was astonished and cold . . . and motionless.
Lifting her limp body into the trunk, Marcus finally felt happy. Something inside of him was warm and changed. After all, someone made an effort to contact him on Christmas and gave him season’s greetings. He reconciled with his ex-fiancé. And the best part of that Christmas Day was that he could keep the fire going, or have something to put underneath his tree... for a little while at least.
Hopefully you enjoyed this festive piece. Personally, it's always weird to go back and read stuff I wrote in my youth. It gave me a chuckle, though, which was basically the only prerequisite this time around.
If you want to check out some of my stories that - I hope - are on the good-good side of the horror spectrum, check out "Facade" from No-Injury Policy or visit the Library page.
Thanks for reading,