Bjoern and Krampus the Christmas Punisher

The year was 3 BC. The day was 5 December. The day Krampus removed naughty children to hell before St. Nicholas delivered gifts to the remaining children on 6 December.

KRAMPUS

Not allowed to hunt the naughty children until one hour past sundown, irked Krampus no end. However, he has found a way past this dastard restriction. Three years ago, in the dark realm, he found Bjoern. Practising his inherited magical Sinti powers. Despite being a half-breed, Bjoern had inherited from his late gypsy mother of the Sinti clan vast magical powers. Disavowed by his father, Baron Berlin, he belonged nowhere. His hurt made it easy for Krampus to turn him away from the light and entice him into the dark.

A nun pulling Bjoern’s ear and Krampus gave Bjoern a little nudge, sending him deeper into the realms of the dark. The other orphans, name-calling him, and Krampus, was there to give Bjoern a nudge or two. In Bjoern, hatred took root with every nudge and grew until it strangled all the light in him. At every opportunity when Bjoern was hurt, bullied or more, Krampus was there, ready to nudge him along the dark path. The boy needed very little guidance from me. His powers are strong. An opportunity not to be wasted. A few more nudges and he will be ready to act at my command.

By the time Bjoern turned ten years of age, Krampus could taste the delectable darkness flowing through the boy’s veins. Once Bjoern fully accepted the darkness within him, Krampus actively coached Bjoern to become his helper. It had paid off. The few tests Krampus set, Bjoern had passed with flying colours. Cackling, he revisited the scene of the Mother Superior’s discomfort after Bjoern had scattered ragweed in her chest of drawers where she kept her under garments.

But now for the ultimate finale. The boy was ready. Oh yesssss. Bring me the naughty children. I will take them to hell for a year and save St Nicholas the trouble of wasting gifts on those undeserving little scoundrels. I am starved for the nectar of their frightened tears.

Krampus’ cloven hoofs clacked as he danced a jig, rubbing his forepaws together. His usually down turned mouth opened in a near upturned grin. He drooled at the thought of more children to take with him to hell than ever before.

It was the morning of 5 December 3 BC. Krampus watched from his window in hell. The boy was moving. His mind was an open book to Krampus. Dancing in a mad circle of joy, Krampus stamped his back legs’ cloven hooves, sending a score of purple-black clouds blanketing Prince Alfred Park.

BJOERN

When his mother fell ill three years earlier, she was left behind by her clan as they moved to greener pastures. For the first time, his mother shared with Bjoern the details of his father. When it was clear his mother would not regain her health, she sent a missive to the Baron, begging him to look after Bjoern.

Bjoern’s dreams of going to live with his father were soon shattered. The Baron sent his underlings, who found Bjoern, sitting beside his mother’s two-day-old dead body. He was unceremoniously ripped away from his mother’s body and dumped at the orphanage.

Over time, his hopes that his father would fetch him faded. His grief at the loss of his beloved mother turned into a white-hot rage against his father. His late mother became a memory he visited less and less. A rock of bitterness replaced his once gentle soul.

He started carrying within him every negative memory, repulsing every thought of the happiness he once experienced with his mother. He made a point of regularly re-visiting each and every slight against him, honing his rage. From the Sinti clan treating him like a pariah, to his father abandoning him.

The one thing Bjoern clung to was the magic Sinti rituals his mother taught him. He practised daily. Away from the watchful eyes of others. He was a natural, and soon his magical skills developed beyond what he could ever have hoped for. It was in his genes.

Without proper guidance, Bjoern leaned more and more towards the darker side of the magic rituals. His sojourns down the darker realms, led him to Krampus, who, unbeknownst to him, was waiting for the right opportunity to reveal himself to Bjoern. A soul ripe for the plucking. Their meeting was not by chance, as perceived by Bjoern. Soon Bjoern was tangled in Krampus’ web.

Krampus preyed on Bjoern’s rage against his father and the world at large. Bjoern delighted in gathering and providing information on certain of the children at Krampus’ request. Bjoern believed Krampus’ promises to save him from his miserable life in the orphanage.

Bjoern had been planning his escape since word went round about the National Fair to be opened. Whilst sweeping the kitchen floor in the Orphanage for Waifs and Strays, he listened with a keen ear to the kitchen maids’ gossip. If truth be told, it was said to be the fanciest affair of the year. The Mayor would be opening the Fair at three o’clock in the afternoon of 5 December. Various important guests from all over Germany were invited, including his father, Baron Berlin.

Bjoern knew his father had a wife and two children, a boy and a girl. Maybe if he got rid of the boy, his father would acknowledge him as his firstborn son.

A plan started taking shape in the back of Bjoern’s mind. Determined, he set about planning his escape from the miserable orphanage. Up to now, his only sin against the Baron was to have been a born as a result of the liaison between his gypsy mother of the Sinti Clan and Baron Peter Berlin.

5 DECEMBER BC 3

Despite the extremely cold winter’s morning, Prince Alfred Park was bustling with preparations for the opening of the German National Fair that afternoon in the Exhibition Building. It was to be in aid of the German Church and the German Benevolent Society.

Wide-eyed, ten-year-old Bjoern stood in the shadows at the edge of the park. His eyes skittered here, there, and everywhere. A wind gust, snow on its breath, rushed through the park. Bjoern shivered in his too big, tattered coat. His reddened, numb toes peaked out the front of his too small broken boots. Cupping his rough hands in front of his mouth, he blew into them. He wiped his watering nose on his coarse coat sleeve.

The baker’s carts trundled past, aromas of freshly baked goods trailing in their wake. Bjoern had escaped from the Orphanage for Waifs and Strays before 4 am that morning. Consequently, he had missed breakfast. Not that the thin greyish muck parading as porridge could have assuaged his hunger.

His empty stomach growled. His mouth watered. The carts were laden with such delicious confectionary as he had never seen or smelt before. Too soon they disappeared into the Exhibition Building. Dispirited, Bjoern dug the three-day-old mouldy bread roll from his jacket pocket.

From the whispers in the kitchen, Bjoern learnt that the guests would arrive an hour or two before midday, in time for the Mayor’s speech, to be followed by lunch. His throat parched, he retraced his steps to the rivulet he crossed earlier. He walked a ways upstream. Finding a spot where the water ran clear, he sunk to his knees and slurped some.

His thirst quenched, he walked back to the park and settled in a break in the underbrush, watching the entrance to the Exhibition building. Soon his eyes drooped closed, and he fell into a restless sleep. Chasing through dark downward spiraling tunnels, weighed down by chunks of coal he carried in his pocket.

A clatter of hooves saved him as he was hovering over a precipice. He startled awake. Rubbed his gritty eyes. Despite the cold, his coat collar was sweat soaked. Bjoern scrambled up. Recognised the insignia on his father’s coach, his mother’s charcoal drawings. The coach came to a stop in front of the entrance to the Exhibition building.

A regal woman with a crown of shining blonde hair was helped out of the coach by a footman. Behind her, two curly-haired blonde children, decked out in frills and finery, tumbled out. Bjoern held his breath. He immediately recognised his father as he appeared in the coach’s door, swaddled in a purple fur-trimmed cloak.

Having stepped down, his father gave instructions to his underlings before following his wife. Bjoern sidled along the edge of the park, following the coach until it disappeared through the back entrance.

More and more coaches arrived. No sure set plan in mind, Bjoern snuck closer to the back entrance. Behind him, sudden squeals of laughter arrested his attention. He looked over his shoulder. Children were coming out of the front entrance into the park, nannies following in their wake.

Bjoern retraced his steps. A game of hide and seek started, with the nannies keeping watch. Holding his breath, Bjoern kept pace in the shadows, a piece of coal at the ready in each hand. Why not send them all to Krampus for a year.

So intent was Bjoern on distributing the coal to the children’s pockets, he missed the piece that stayed behind in his own.

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