Tonight we have a DOUBLE FEATURE! Two wicked stories! One about a cute toy shop with a dark secret and another about someone who is playing a DEADLY GAME of Secret Santa...
Babes in Terrorland/Santa's Letters by Morgan Moore
Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com
Produced by Daniel Wilder
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Babes in Terrorland
As with many holiday seasons before it, parents and children flocked to Barron’s Toy Store, in the village of Greenseas.
In the middle of the crowd was Justin Barron, a fourteen year old with an apron featuring a handsewn version of the store’s logo in the middle. Justin was staying with his grandmother, the owner of the store, for the holidays while his parents were away on a business trip. He was enlisted to lend a hand almost immediately upon his arrival with it being the store’s busiest time of the year.
Justin could never understand how she managed it all on her own… but she had been doing it ever since his grandfather died a few years ago, and was managing it successfully somehow.
Justin moved around the store as best he could seeing how crowded the small store was. The building itself was an old brownstone with the store situated on the ground floor and Mrs. Barron’s home on the second floor.
The store could become a claustrophobic nightmare when business was booming, but he managed stocking the shelves and helping out customers as best he could.
By the time three o’ clock came around Justin was spent and was ready for the day to be over so he could finally get some rest. Those thoughts were interrupted when he laid eyes on Cathy Wilcox.
He had known her since fourth grade and had a crush on her that never faded. Justin always wanted to tell her how he felt, but he could never muster up the courage to do it. Somehow he could picture everything he wanted to say, but anytime he saw her it all vanished.
Justin felt himself beginning to melt as he kept looking at her. His face turned bright red and immediately Justin began to do some busy week around the area, trying to disguise the fact that he had been staring at her.
Justin’s heart beat faster and faster as if somebody was pounding away on a drum, but that came to an immediate halt when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. He turned around and saw Cathy there.
“Hi Justin.” Cathy said sweetly.
“H-hi Cathy.” Justin stammered, his face feeling like it was on fire.
Cathy gave him an intimate smile, her blue eyes seeming to shimmer to Justin. “Mind if I ask you a question?”
Uh-oh Justin thought. She’s gonna chew me out for looking at her, and in the middle of the store too. Everybody’s going to think I’m some perv. “Sure.” Justin responded after a brief pause.
“Could you help me and my sister real quick?”
What a relief Justin thought. “Oh, yeah, for sure. What do you guys need?” He asked, she then began to walk away down an aisle, Justin followed close behind her.
“My sister found something she wants but I can’t reach it and neither can she. I saw you and thought I’d ask you to bring it down for me, since your so tall and all.” Cathy explained.
“Ohhhh. Yeah I should be able to get it for you.” Justin replied with a smile.
Cathy returned the smile. Man she’s sooooo cute Justin thought as they kept walking beside one another.
The two eventually got to their location and joined Cathy’s sister Janet. Upon seeing Justin and the apron identifying him as a store employee, Janet pointed upwards towards the top of the shelf she was standing at.
“That one please.” Janet asked Justin.
Justin looked up to where the child pointed and saw a clown doll. The doll had been in the store ever since he could remember. It had a wooden head and hands and was dressed in a hand sewn outfit colored silver and blue. A jester hat adorned it’s head; bells dangling down playfully.
Justin had always thought it looked creepy, and other people must have thought the same thing, as the doll had been around the store ever since he was a child. But maybe, finally, someone had found the doll appealing and wanted to give it a home.
Justin smiled and reached up, just barely able to get to the doll. He got a grip on it and brought it down, handing it gently to the little girl.
“Here you go.” Justin said.
Janet smiled as she held and stared at the doll. Cathy turned to Justin and gave him a big smile, he returned it in kind.
“I want him!” Janet responded energetically as she held the clown doll up to the two.
“How much is it?” Cathy asked Justin.
“I’m not sure, it doesn’t look like it has a tag on it. Let’s ask my grandma.” Justin said.
They arrived at the register, to find Justin’s grandmother smiling at the three. “There you are Justin, what cute friends you have there” she said. Cathy blushed lightly at the comment.
“Hey grandma,how much is this? There’s no tag on it or even a sign on the shelf it was on.”
His grandmother’s smile turned to a slight frown. “Oh honey, I’m so sorry. That doll isn’t for sale. I only keep it on the shelf for decoration.” She explained as sweetly as possible.
“But I want it.” Janet told her. “Are sure you’re not able to sell it?” Cathy asked.
“Unfortunately I am dear. My husband made the doll many years ago for Justin’s mother, and it has too much sentimental value for me to sell it… it’s been watching over the store for years” Justin’s grandma explained to the three.
Janet frowned, tears starting to well up.
Justin smiled a little bit at the two and at his grandma. “It’s alright. I’ll put him back.” Justin said. He then made a motion with his head for Cathy and Janet to follow him.
The three of them made their way back to the aisle. Janet looked utterly devastated that she couldn’t have the doll, and Cathy looked equally saddened for her sister.
Once they got back to the aisle, Justin put the doll back up. He then turned to Cathy with a small grin. She tilted her head in confusion.
“What is it? Why are you grinning like that.” She asked him. “Because, I know of a way to get the doll for Janet.” He explained. Janet’s face brightened up at once. “Really?! How?!” Justin moved a bit closer to Cathy so that he could talk to her in semi privacy, Janet frowning when she realized what was going on.
“My grandma is going out to a party tonight and I’ll be alone for hours. Come on by around eight and I’ll let you in. We can get the doll then.” He explained to her.
“But she’ll notice won’t she?” Cathy asked.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. Just be here by eight.”
Later that night Justin made his way downstairs to the store,and opened the front door to find Cathy and Janet standing there. Justin frowned a tiny bit as the two girls made their way inside.
“Why’d you bring your sister?” He asked, doing his best to hide his disappointment that it wasn’t just Cathy.
“She wanted to come and I couldn’t get her to stay home without spilling the beans. I told my parents I was going out with friends and she threatened to tell them what was really going on.” Cathy explained.
“I mean it isn’t entirely untrue. You are hanging out with a friend.” Justin said with a small smile. “I’m going!” Janet blurted out and ran towards the aisle with the doll.
“How are you going to explain this to your grandma?” Cathy asked as she walked past a display of a toy war scene.
“Oh. I’m going to tell her I ordered a pizza and just forgot to lock the door on my way back up. I’ll take some money out of the register and hide a few other toys, maybe knock some displays over to make it look like somebody broke in and robbed the place.” He explained.
“That’s pretty clever. Mean… but clever.” She responded as she stopped by the register, Justin stopping in front of her.
“Hey what can I say.” Justin said.
Cathy smiled a bit as she fiddled with some small toys by the register. She looked around and then returned her gaze to Justin. “Why are you doing this for us? Why are you risking getting in trouble?”
His mind raced at a million miles an hour, trying to figure out how to explain why he was so willing to help her sister out. No, help her out. Before he could give it any more thought he blurted out his response.
“It’s because I like you I've always liked you I think you’re sweet and cute, and I just wanted to help because I like you and thought maybe you’d like me back if I did it!”
He gasped for breath.
Justin closed his eyes and took several deep breaths, eventually regaining control of his breathing. After a few brief minutes he opened his eyes, finding that Cathy was staring at him, her mouth dropped open some and eyes wide.
Dread filled Justin, his heart beating harder and harder. Oh no, she’s gonna leave and never speak to me again and tell everybody I’m a loser and freak.
But she surprised him by smiling at him, warmly and widely. Justin slowly smiled back. They brought their faces close to one another, only a hairs breadth apart.
The scream that ripped through the air put an end to that.
“Janet!” Cathy called out and rushed off towards the location the scream emanated from, Justin following in her wake.
The duo arrived to find Janet laying on the floor screaming and crying in agony, her eye sockets bleeding profusely. As for the former residents of those yawning black holes, they were in the hands of the clown doll. The toy turned its head and looked at them.
Justin and Cathy bolted from the aisle, the clown doll right behind them. As they ran down the aisles Cathy shrieked as other toys began to spring from the shelves and joined the hunt.
Stuffed bears and lions pawed at them with vicious claws that sprang from their plush paws as metal model cars pelted down on the teens like rain, leaving bruises and cuts.
Justin managed to grab a baseball bat from a nearby barrel and started swinging away, as Cathy grabbed a stick horse and did the same. The two sent toys flying left and right, but more and more came forth.
Soon Justin and Cathy found themselves surrounded. They continued to swing away, but soon the terror toys grabbed their weapons and pulled them away, leaving the pair defenseless.
Justin and Cathy looked at each other and took hold of each others hand, ready to accept their doomed fate.
The store lights came alive and bathed everything in a warm fluorescent glow, causing the pair to start.
“Oh no, look at this mess.” the voice of Justin’s grandmother rang out. The older woman looked around at all of the toys, who now looked back at her. She stopped a few feet away from the rattled teens.
“Grandma! W-what’s going on!? Why are you home!?” Justin spat out in a mix of confusion and anger.
“And why did they attack us and… my sister… my god, Janet!” Cathy started but soon stopped as she succumbed to raw grief.
The senior shook her head and sighed. “I suppose I should explain. You see these toys, all of them, they come alive every nightfall.”
“B-but why… how!? ” Justin demanded.
“Justin, dear, your grandfather...your grandfather made them that way. Business hasn’t been the same for years, not since that damn department store opened up. Then when we learned your grampa didn’t have long left… he was afraid of what would happen to the store… to me. It was his opinion that without any help the store would have to shut down, so he decided to create some help.
Your grandfather had come across a strange scroll during the war, in a bombed out toy store… a store he swore was filled with screaming, burning toys. You can guess the rest. These toys have been cleaning, stocking, and providing security… as you have seen… here ever since. These wonderful toys, they’re loyal and always have been… always will be.
Justin and Cathy were taken aback. They believed it all, after-all how could they not. But something still bothered them.
“Oh thank god! We’re safe then!” Cathy told them. The two smiled as they looked at each other and then at Justin’s grandma. But the frowns faded as they saw that the elder in front of them was grim.
“G-grandma…” Justin started with a shaky voice.
“I’m sorry love. But you were trespassing. You know I don’t like you coming down here at night, to say nothing of your friend here and her sister. The store was closed. Besides...they don’t move during the day, but they can still hear. When I left for the party they told me about your little plan. That’s why I came back early.”
“You mean you’re going to turn us into the police?” Cathy asked.
“No. Unfortunately for you two, I leave all security matters up to them. Your fate is up to them and I believe I know what they will do with you.” She explained.
The toy soldiers from the war scene filed in, aiming their guns at the teenagers. Justin and Cathy’s faces displayed pure and utter terror.
With that Justin’s grandmother left and made her way to the stairs. She looked over at the two again and shook her head and sighed. Then, with a flick of her wrist she turned off the lights to the store.
A stream of sharp ‘BANGS’ filled the store.
Every year millions of children send letters to Santa Claus, expressing their wishes of what they hope will be under their tree come Christmas day.
But, what if somebody used those letters for a not so joyful purpose? It has happened and the following is purported to be the true account of those events. This is the case of the ‘Circleville Santa Letter Murders’.
In 1978, the citizens of the small Ohio town of Circleville were beginning their Christmas season like any other; planning the December holiday while eating Thanksgiving dinner, making travel arrangements, and all the other hullabaloo that comes with the impending season.
While the adults were occupied, the children of Circleville were planning as well; once more taking up the job of writing letters to inform Old Saint Nick of their Yuletide desires. Even the local schools were caught up in the fun, setting up small deposit mailboxes for the kids to place letters in.
All was well in Circleville as December came and Christmas magic filled the air even more than it already had throughout November. Everything was peace and joy... unfortunately that was all about to change.
In the early morning of December seventh, ten year old Dylan Jones was delivering papers for the Circleville Herald like he always did. When he reached the house of Joe and April Robinson he was about to be greeted with a horrendous site.
Jones went around back to deliver the paper as he always did when he discovered the mutilated body of five year old Mary-Kate Robinson, a letter to Santa Claus nailed to her forehead. The boy screamed so loud that almost the entire neighborhood was jarred awake and came rushing to the scene.
Police questioned the family, friends, teachers, everybody within the small community to try and figure out any clues and leads as to who may have committed this horrible crime, but no answers emerged. Unfortunately for the town it was not the end of this tragedy.
On December twelfth around twelve o'clock in the afternoon, eight year old Michael Stollings was on his way to the park to meet up with a group of friends. At two o’clock his friends called Michael’s house and informed his parents that he had never showed. Immediately the Stollings phoned the police, worried about their son, the fate of the Robinson girl foremost in their minds.
It wasn’t long before the police found Michael, much like Mary-Kate Robinson; dead with his body mutilated and a letter to Santa Claus nailed to his forehead.
The next day sheriff Patrick o’Kyle held a press conference in which he vowed to put a stop to this chaos. Curfews were put in place to make sure children of all ages were home by five o’clock at night, and the youngsters were also advised to travel together in groups. Soon things looked to be improving and a week went by without anything happening. That was soon to change.
December twentieth was another quiet day.
Fred and Darlene Brooks headed out for a long overdue date night, leaving fifteen year old Tonya Wisecup in charge of their children.
The pair returned home at close to midnight to find their home bathed in darkness. Upon entering the house the two noticed a smell they later said reminded them of rotting meat. They didn’t think much of it as they had recently been battling with raccoons getting stuck in the attic and dying. Tired and tipsy the Brooks went to bed, assuming that their babysitter was down in the basement asleep, spending the night as she tended to when she had school the next day.
When they awakened the following morning, the couple went downstairs to check on Tonya and see if she had indeed stayed overnight. What they discovered was nothing short of a bloodbath. Their children; John, Laura, Victoria were all dead… letters nailed to their heads, but this time there was a chilling new twist; a limb from each child was placed under the small Christmas tree set up in the basement.
As for Tonya, she laid discarded on the floor, cut from neck to groin and left to bleed out.
Later that day the city announced a new curfew for all residents, stating everyone in town must be home and have their businesses closed by four p.m.. Sheriff o’Kyle also advised residents take extra precautions to keep their homes locked and defended.
The city became a ghost town come four o’clock. The chimes of clocks that rang the curfew hour ushered in eerie quiet. December twenty second and twenty third came and went with no incidents, but the town remained firmly on guard.
The morning of December twenty fourth came with no surprises as well. It was a dreary winter day; the gloom and holiday cheer mixing together like cold and warm fronts.
Circleville had started to loosen up slightly, something not hard to do considering it was Christmas Eve. The curfew was still in effect, but that seemed to almost add to the magic of the holiday as families stayed bundled in together,celebrating in warm homes that stood in contrast to the cold outside.
Night came and the hours drifted along. It seemed that perhaps these terrible crimes were at an end.
Christmas morning came and the police who had stood guard in the city streets throughout the night started to head back to the station, ready to go home to their own families to celebrate. But before anybody could leave a call came in. Somehow the killer had struck again, right under their noses. Twice.
The first victim was ten year old Jackson Devins who was found dead in his bedroom by his parents, his window pried open. At the same time police also discovered the body of six year old Addison Fergurson who’s body was found in a shed in her family’s backyard.
This sent the town over the edge into a full blown frenzy. Who was responsible for all of these deaths? How could anybody have broken into the homes and committed the crimes without being caught? Who was next?
Police set up barricades to close off the town and began a city wide manhunt, joined by the town’s residents.
All day they searched, and the next day, and the next. For a solid week they searched, but no leads arose and no culprit was found.
The new year came and it seemed that, finally, there was peace. No murders had been committed since Christmas, and law enforcement officials theorized that there would be no more incidents since the season was over.
On January tenth Circleville held a citywide memorial service in honor of the victims and has held a similar service every Christmas Eve since.
These murders left many questions, all starting with who the murderer was. Upon reflection, they stated that they believed the murderer, due to the use of the letters the children wrote to Santa Clause, had to work for either the postal service or the school. As such the police conducted mass interviews for all post office and school employees.
While everybody interviewed seemed on edge, nobody stood out as being a psychopathic killer. As the weeks rolled on the case began to go cold. Without conclusive evidence to form any leads, the city and police made the controversial decision to stop the investigation.
1979 continued on, the tragedy still hanging over the town of Circleville like the spectre of death.
People slowly started to return to what they could call a “normal” life, with only hushed whispers of the “The Santa Letter Murders.” remaining.
Months went by and soon it was November. The Christmas spirit began to grow in the town once more, but it was tempered by fears of a new murder spree possibly arising.
In preparation, Circleville schools announced they would not put up letter boxes for kids this year as a safety precaution. The post office took action as well; stating that any letters addressed to Santa Claus would go straight to the police for protection. Everything that the town could think of they implemented, hoping to avoid another year of mayhem.
December 1979 began and ended with no murders. This left everyone baffled. Why did the killer not strike again? What was it about this year compared to the last to make him or her not lash out?
Perhaps the crimes would be nothing more than a freak event, an unsolved mystery like so many others. That feeling continued into the next year, and for the next, and on and on.
To this day nobody knows who could have been behind the murders.
Christmas in Circleville was never quite the same, but the years dulled the fear somewhat, and the police allowed the post office to accept letters to Santa once more… but did not allow the school to re-open their drop box.
The same question always pops up; who did it? While law enforcement never did name a suspect or conduct any arrests, o’Kyle later said that he had a theory of the murderer’s identity.
He suspected that elementary school teacher Linda Morrison was the killer after discovering her dead from suicide in January 1980. His reasoning was based on the fact that she was the one responsible for handing the letters to the post office in 1978.
It was his belief that she made photocopies of the letters before delivering them. As for how she would have selected her victims, o’Kyle claimed that she did so based on which children in the school were receiving discipline for bad behavior.
However there was no concrete evidence.
Perhaps it was Morrison, trying to enact a form of discipline on the children who acted out and the parents who raised their children to act as such. Though perhaps it was a disgruntled post office employee. Maybe it was somebody else who worked at one of the schools. Some theories suggest it was o’Kyle himself or another person within law enforcement.
Doubtless, no one will ever know for sure.
All that is known is that the fear lingers in the cool, crisp winter air that one day, the devilish deliverer will once again return, bringing Christmas terror to the town.
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