Free Excerpt: The 13th Day of Christmas and Other Tales of Yuletide Horror

(Excerpt from "The Toymaker" in The Thirteenth Day of Christmas and Other Tales of Yuletide Horror)

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Valko and his sister Tatyana, two privileged, spoiled children, have returned to the stable where Old Nick has set up toys as he does every Christmas Eve. It is late at night and the mysterious toymaker is nowhere to be seen. Earlier in the evening, Old Nick had evicted the two children from the stable due to their boorish behavior and not allowed them to pick out a toy to keep as was the tradition for all children in the small Bulgarian village.

The two children stood in the center of the stable as they looked all around. On every wall toys lined the shelves. As before, toys also sat on boxes. Valko could not imagine how the toymaker could have brought so many toys, for even his father's large wagon could not have held them all. He was relieved to see that in spite of the long line of children that had waited to see Old Nick, there were still plenty of toys left. In fact, no space was left vacant; the toymaker must have had replacements for every toy that was chosen.

"Valki, where's Old Nick?" Tatyana asked in a small, frightened voice.

"I don't know," he whispered. "But be quiet, before you ruin everything. Just pick out whatever toys you want and we'll go home."

Valko moved closer to the wall of toys where Tatyana had found the mechanical man before. Whatever he did, he knew he would leave with that toy.

"I don't like it here," said Tatyana tearfully. "The toys are looking at me."

"Stop being such a baby, Tatya!" her brother scolded.

But then out of the corner of his eye he saw a clown in a conical hat that was sitting on one of the highest shelves turn his head in Valko's direction. A thump behind the children caused them to turn around where they saw a bean bag that had fallen to the straw floor from the shelf where it had apparently been sitting. A grinning stuffed monkey crouched, posed in a position as if it had just pushed the bag from its proper place.

A familiar whirring noise made Valko and Tatyana turn again, and they saw the little mechanical man strutting across the top of a large barrel, the key turning in its back. Tatyana clutched her brother's arm and held him tight, and for once Valko did not push her away. As they looked about the stable, they saw that the heads of every doll and stuffed animal were turned or tilted to peer at them as they stood in the center of the stable, and it seemed to the children that although all of them were smiling, the looks were not kind.

A small noise directed the children's attention to the clown in the conical hat that Valko had first noticed. It was moving. It scooted to the edge of the shelf and then launched itself to the ground where it rolled to a sitting position. Then standing up, it dusted itself off, placed its hands on its hips, and tilted its head as it grinned at Tatyana and Valko.

What happened next caused Valko to be nearly overcome with vertigo. There was movement among the toys all along the shelves on the three walls that he could see. In a panic, he turned to see what was happening behind him and was horrified to find that those toys were no longer on boxes or shelves but were standing on the floor--an army of teddy bears, dolls, stuffed ponies, and dogs.

Tatyana squealed, and Valko turned around again to see that the toys he had just observed stirring slightly a second ago were now pouring off the shelves, many already on the ground advancing towards them. The little clown led the vanguard, its miniature, painted face still grinning horribly, and then it threw back its head and filled the stable with its tinny, high-pitched laughter. A murmur of quiet but shrill voices mixed with quiet purring, heavy panting, and excited whining as the wave of toys got closer and closer. Valko and Tatyana sank to their knees, holding each other and staring with wide eyes, too terrified even to cry.

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The Thirteenth Day of Christmas and Other Tales of Yuletide Horror - David Allen Voyles.

Thirteen terrifying Yuletide tales including the title novella. The thirteen days of Christmas begin on December 25th!

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" An excellent collection of holiday horror stories! Voyles offered a selection of tales that created both an unsettling atmosphere and captivated the reader into wanting to see what happens next." - Peter Talley

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