( (click here for the first part) )
"Pleased to meet you, Nyarlathotep," said Howie, because it always helps to show good manners. "Can you tell me the True Meaning of Christmas?"
Nyarlathotep blinked. Then he blinked again. His face was utterly expressionless.
"Nyarlathotep, what is the True Meaning of Christmas?" Howie repeated, a little more slowly, in case the man had not heard. "Is it all just about giving and receiving presents?"
The dark man smiled, and it was not a nice smile. He spun around three times and vanished, and in his place was a dusty wooden crate, tied up in Gordian knots and others still stranger. Howie felt an almost irresistible urge to rush gleefully forward and open the crate, yet at the same time he somehow knew that it held nothing but lashing tongues, razor teeth, and an ancient nameless hunger, so he stood his ground.
NO, said the box, THAT IS NOT THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS.
"Nyarlathotep, what is the True Meaning of Christmas?" Howie asked. "Is it more about an abstract spirit of the joy of giving?"
The knots on the box twisted and turned, and suddenly in its place was a hideously bloated corpse with a long haggard beard, wearing a blood-red fur robe and carrying a large bag full of unpleasant things.
NO, said the corpse, THAT IS NOT THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS.
"Nyarlathotep, what is the True Meaning of Christmas?" Howie asked. "Is it about candles on a tree?"
Woody limbs sprouted from the corpse's belly, and grew and grew into a twisted mockery of a mighty oak, its roots like tentacles and its branches on fire.
NO, said the tree-thing, THAT IS NOT THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS.
"Nyarlathotep, what is the True Meaning of Christmas?" Howie asked. "Is it about a little baby, born in a manger an eon ago?"
The tree-thing's blazing branches twisted and straightened until the wood formed a blasphemous crucifix, covered in dried blood and impaled with rusty nails.
NO, said the cross, AND YOU KNOW NOTHING OF EONS.
Howie thought for a moment, and tried reaching deeper into the past.
[Yes, I am going somewhere with this, and I already have the ending fully written out in my head. More tomorrow if I have time between laundry and grading.]