The snow fell more quickly now, coating his shoulders and the uppermost curves of his antlers. It was nights like this Donner wished he still smoked. Sparky and Sugarplum Mary had been missing for days, Santa was nowhere to be found, and Rudolph. Christ, what they’d done to Rudolph! To hell with it. Spotting a huddle of elves huddled in the sodium-arc glow of the Workshop’s loading docks, Donner shook off the snow and ambled over. The group of four little creatures fell silent as they noticed him.
“H-hey, Donner,” Skip the Christmas Elf said, “w-what’s up?”
“Got a smoke?” the reindeer asked. The elf blinked, shivered, and dug out a butt, lit it for the waiting reindeer. Donner took a deep drag and sighed, thick grey smoke flowing out of his wide nostrils. “God that’s good. Thanks, Skip.” He turned to leave but the Elf’s voice stopped him.
“What are you gonna do now, Donner?”
Another drag, another, deeper sigh. “The only thing I can,” Donner said. “I’m going to see the Krampus.”
The Elves eyes widened in shock, and the wind picked back up, howling down the empty streets of Christmas Village. “The Krampus?” Little Ginny Gumdrop Elf asked. “Jesus wept.”
“Yeah,” Donner said over his shoulder as he moved into the night, “so will the rest of us before this is over. Whoever’s left, that is.”
The Elves looked after him until he disappeared into the blowing snow, and then scurried back inside.