Chapter 5:

The Ghost of Christmas Present

The Gift That Keeps On Grieving

December 3rd, second full day at Aluminum Pigeon Penitentiary…

Just like yesterday, there was nothing under the tree, save for a single lone Christmas gift, wrapped in blue and white and topped with a pink ribbon. As Merry walked over to the tree, something caught her attention.

To Marisa Christmas. From Dora. x

The tag on the present, it was addressed to Merry. But she didn’t know anybody named Dora. Curiously, she untied the ribbon, opening the lid slowly. Without warning, a bright light shined from inside the present, causing Merry to fall backwards, dropping the box in front of her.

“What was that?” she asked aloud. “Some kind of flashbang or something?”

Suddenly an ominous laughter surrounded the area as the sky darkened. Much to Merry’s disbelief, a clawed hand reached out from the present and grabbed her leg.

“Wh-what the… What the Hell‽”

“Well done, Merry,” a silhouetted figure cackled, emerging from the inexplainable gift box, “you opened Pandora’s Box!”

“P-Pandora’s Box‽” Merry exclaimed, the fear blatantly apparent in her voice. “There’s no freaking way‽”

As the sky brightened up again, a light beamed down, illuminating the otherworldly being. At a first glance, it appeared to be a giant cat with pink fur. Except it wasn’t a cat. The creature was about 6 feet tall, was clad in a leather skirt, bra and boots, and had an abnormally feminine and curvaceous humanoid figure. From its back, a single angelic wing protruded to the left.

“Surprise,” the creature beamed, its sharp teeth on full display. “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas…”

Chapter 5: The Ghost of Christmas Present

Merry’s body trembled in terror as she stared at the Lovecraftian creature that stood in front of her. Had the prison-life already driven Merry insane? Or perhaps she was still tied to her bed and this was all a horrible nightmare? Surely this… thing couldn’t be real, right‽

“Oh, it feels so good to be free,” the feminine feline cackled, its head spinning around 360 degrees to examine the surrounding courtyard. “No fair! This prison is much nicer than mine! Ahahahahaha!”

“Y-you said ‘Pandora’s Box’, didn’t you?” Merry asked, trying to regain what little composure she had. “Like the Greek myth about a box that houses all of the world’s evil?”

“Yep,” the demon affirmed. “That’s the box, and I its owner.”

“S-so you’re the goddess Pandora?”

“Tch,” the catgirl scoffed. “That’s a mistake that you humans always seem to make. Firstly, I am no more of a god than you are. And secondly, the name’s not Pandora. It’s Anesidora. Anesidora Schrödinger.”

“B-but if you’re not a god, then what are you?”

“Oho,” Anesidora smirked, crouching down to meet Merry’s eye level. “I’m a youkai. That roughly translates to ‘charming apparition’, you know? In other words, I’m a succubus. Or in other other words, I’m a ghost.”

Anesidora pressed her hand against Merry’s chest and watched as it phased through the prisoner’s body.

Merry took a step backwards. This was all just too bizarre for her to process.

“What does a ghost like you want from a human like me?”

“Merry, Merry, Merry,” Anesidora tutted as she leaned against Merry’s shoulder. “I’m no stranger to prisons, Merry. I’ve been trapped inside that cursed box for many millennia, so I know what you’re going through right now. You freed me from my prison, so it’s only fair that I free you from yours.”

“What’s the catch?” Merry questioned bluntly.

“Merry, I’m hurt,” the catgirl pretend-cried. “Do you know what Pandora means? It’s derived from the Greek words for ‘all-giving’. Generosity is my raison d'être, it’s in my very nature! In fact, here’s a gift for you right now!”

Anesidora clasped Merry’s swollen hands, surrounding them in a strange purple aura. Within seconds, Merry’s injuries were completely healed. The girl stared in flabbergasted amazement at her hands.

“Th-that’s incredible!”

“And that’s not all,” the friendly ghost winked.

Merry suddenly felt something lift up the back of her skirt. She quickly turned around expecting to see some scumbag taking a peek at the goods, but instead she saw a thin black tail with an arrowlike tip. Her thin black tail with an arrowlike tip!

“Wh-what the Hell‽” Merry exclaimed. “When did I grow a damn tail‽”

“Surprised?” Anesidora purred. “I turned you into a succubus, just like me! Ain’t I just simply the best‽”

“Why the Hell would I want to be a succubus‽” Merry asked, grabbing her new tail and shaking it around in front of her. “The last thing I want is to draw attention to myself in here, and now I’ve got a freaking devil tail coming out of my skirt!”

“Listen, Marisa Christmas,” Anesidora exhaled. “You should never speak ill of a gift. I gave you that tail for your own good, Merry. I assure you that having succubus powers will be of great use to you when dealing with pesky prisoners.”

“What do you expect me to do, estrogen them to death?” Merry angrily rhetoricized.

…No response. Just as quickly as she had appeared, Anesidora had vanished to who-knows-where. Just great, Merry thought. Another thing for me to deal with…

Merry turned her attention to the large clockface that hung above the courtyard. 9:30 AM. Colleen was probably awake by now. Merry still hadn’t found a good place to hide.

“…What does it matter?” Merry sighed, “If I’m going to die, I may as well just get it over with now. Compared to the alternative of spending twenty years behind bars, this might actually be the preferable outcome…?”

Merry took a deep breath as she walked back into the Aluminum Pigeon building. As she approached her cell, she started to choke up. She was only 18-years-old, there was still so much that she hadn’t gotten to do in life. She never started college. She never got her driver’s license. She never had a boyfriend – Heck, she had never even been on a date or had intercourse. Several prisoners had gathered to look at her. She couldn’t tell if they were starting at the hole in her shirt, the tears running across her cheeks or the tail between her legs, but she could tell that they were silently judging her all the same.

Merry tried to ignore their stares as she stood outside the door to cell number 510. She was starting to have second-thoughts about stepping inside, but what other choice did she have? Live out the rest of her sentence in constant fear and hiding?

“This is it,” she muttered, pulling the door open dramatically. Thoughts and emotions were spiraling around inside her mind like a roundabout in the playground. If her life was an anime, then this would be the scene where the ending theme would slowly start to fade in. “I’ve accepted my fate. If I die here, then so be it…”