Drawing of a grey creature with long pointed ears, cow-like horns, and oversized teeth. Caption reads: "The offender was a Krampus."

Krampus short story by Iris Carden

Five storeys below Brisbane’s Roma Street Police Station, is the headquarters for the Human Defence Unit. Its members are drawn from among the highest performing members of military, intelligence, and police forces throughout Australia, along with select highly specialised members of the civilian population. The Human Defence Unit and its elite staff are neither police, military nor intelligence. They do not exist.

Trainee Agent Harry Smythe put a small decorated Christmas tree and a model Santa on his desk.

Agent Marissa Tyler, walking past, stopped and said, “Put the Santa away before Jo sees it. She’ll go ballistic.”

“But it’s just Christmas stuff. Is this a religious thing or something?”

“No, it’s a kidnapping and murder thing.”

“A what?”

“Do you know Jo’s story?”

“She was a cop, wasn’t she?”

Marissa sighed. “I don’t know if I should tell you this, but you’ve met David Webber, the police inspector? He’s our contact in the police station.”

“Yes, I’ve met him.”

“He and Jo used to be married. They broke up after their little girl Katie was kidnapped and murdered. The offender was a Krampus.”

“A Krampus? Like a bad Santa?”

“Exactly like a bad Santa. Santas and Krampus are the same species. They turn for a week around the start of December each year, around Saint Nicholas’ day.”

“So how are Santa and Saint Nicholas are related?”

“They turn at the same time of year as he died. That’s the relationship. Anyway, they have a good year, and think of happy things and what they’re grateful for, they become a Santa, and they’re compelled to give little gifts to people around them, especially children. They have a bad year, collect up resentments and grudges, they turn into Krampus and are compelled to abuse and assault the people around them.”

“Santa exists, but it’s not Saint Nicholas, and there’s not just one of them. And Santa and evil Santa are the same thing. Got it. I never expected that.”

“You’re OK with fangs and wolves, but not Santas and Krampus? Wait till you find out about Christmas ghosts.”


“Back to my story. This particular Krampus was a nasty piece of work even as a human. Lots of priors for minor assaults, drunk and disorderly, petty theft, dealing, all the low-level crimes that end up growing into big stuff. Jo was still a cop then. She’d arrested him multiple times during the year. David had arrested him once or twice as well. When he turned, he had two targets for revenge, and one way to devastate them both simultaneously.”

“Little Katie?”

“Little Katie.”

“Did they catch him?”

“We caught him. I was a trainee agent back then. I was working alongside Kurt Davison, who was Senior Agent before Jo. That guy was a legend. Remind me one day to tell you about how he took down the Bundamba Yowie. Anyway, we brought the Krampus in alive. Held it until mid-December when it appeared human again, and handed it over to the police with the evidence. It’s still in jail, just needs a specialist corrections officer during the start of December each year. Well, that’s the story. That’s why we don’t have Santas around here. You can leave up your Christmas tree, but ditch the Santa before Jo sees it.”

Harry picked up his model Santa. In minutes, it had gone from a whimsical symbol of the season to being something sinister. He dropped it in the waste paper bin under his desk.

Human Defence Unit Stories

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


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