A Backrooms Christmas Carol - Part 1

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Stave One

It was a cold, cold day in the Backrooms. In many levels, winter had arrived, and it sent a chill down Janus' spine. The tall creature stood, shivering, his coat buttoned. He was waiting for someone in the center of the road in Level 9. He glared around with one open eye at the empty buildings. If this were the Frontrooms, families would be packed inside of them at this time. Huddling away from the cold weather. Or even, he shuddered, celebrating the holidays. The top of his head was by far the coldest, bald as it was. Sharp pangs of frost bit at his skin. This was only one reason why Janus despised the winter. Of course, the festivities were bad enough, but did it have to be cold as well? The thought angered him.

Janus awaited a friend of his, more of a relative. Of course, he could meet with him at any moment. Any doorway gave him access to the whole of this infinite dimension. But alas, he had been asked to wait, and he was a man of his word.

Finally, a door creaked open to the left. He swung his head over, watching the light pour into the cold, wet night. A boy peered out, his long hair spilling from the underside of a woven cap. The rest of him was bundled into layers of coats and cloth. A scarf accented his chin, which had a scraggly bit of hair growing. A twinge of pride hit the old, tall man. He was very fond of his own beard, and knew the boy had potential to grow his own. His pride was squashed by a breath of cold wind that rushed through him. His frown locked his face and he met the boy's eyes with one of his own. He spoke:

"What took you so very long, boy? It's freezing out here. Did the old lady have you running errands again?"

Of course, the lady he referred to didn't look or act as old as she was. The boy's mother, Blanche Von Haderach, always had him doing small jobs. It kept him busy, entertained, and safe, depending on the job.

"What's got you in such a sour mood, Uncle J? You're never this… grouchy."

"Perhaps I would be in a better mood outside of this damned weather! Move it, Tomás! Let me inside."

That was the boy's name, Tomás, or "Tom," as he went by. Janus approached him and all but stepped over him as he entered the doorway. He had to bend over, as, per usual, the door was not built for one of his height. The tall man wiped both hands down his coat, trying to shake off whatever residue of the cold was caught onto him. In the new area, a warm heat radiated from each side. He turned, viewing the scenery. As if the weather had followed him through the door, a cold dread entered him.

A library, Blanche and Tom's usual home, but it had been tainted. On every bookshelf, every floor, every inch of ceiling, red and white and green décor clung to each surface.

"What do you think, uncle! Blanche and I got a little carried away with the decorations this year, I hope it's not too much."

Janus' jaw agape, he stepped through the festive hallways. Bells jingled around him, tinsel gleamed by the reflected lights that glowed throughout them. Small figurines, nutcrackers, ornaments, and more, littered the tops of each bookshelf. On the floor, woven wicker carpets colored similarly led him toward the center of the library. And boy, was there a sight to be seen. As he approached the center of the library, a shadow engulfed him.

A giant, a beast, a leviathan. A tree, easily doubling Janus' size stood proudly in the center of the room. Of course, it was decorated just as brightly as the rest of the room. Bulbous bulbs and ropes of strewn popcorn and tinsel and lights and much, much more all wrapped around the tree, constricting it like a snake to its prey. Around the tree a figure floated post-haste, fixing ornaments and filling clear spots to make it just right. A woman in white, with pale skin and blonde hair, glowing eyes. It took her a moment to notice Janus standing in shock and horror, but as she did she capped her hands together, and floated down toward him.

"Oh dear Janus! You made it! It is so good to have you here for the holidays."

Janus could barely return the hug in his awe, but he snapped back to attention and wrapped his lengthy arms around her. Blanche "stepped" back, resting her arms on his own and facing him directly. The woman had clearly seen many many years, through her deep smile lines and crows feet, but it was nowhere near to the truth of her being. In fact, this woman was much more than human, if not already told by her floating and glowing eyes. She's a being much like Janus, though not exactly. If there was another which would understand him, it was her.

Though, Janus knew she would not share his distaste for the holidays. The excitement on her face was clear, like a new fixation to gain joy and pleasure from. He simply feigned a smile and responded:

"Blanche! The same to you— and Tom of course, I— May I ask about the um…"

She turned to where he looked and jolted backward, as if she had forgotten about it herself.

"Oh yes! The tree! I'm so glad you like it. Tomás had gotten me to do some… decorating, though I think I may have gotten a little excited."

Janus simply nodded along, taking the time to unbutton his coat. A knitted vest laid underneath, brown as to not attract any of the holiday garishness. Tom did similarly, losing a few of his jackets and his sweater. Looking now, Janus could see a cast on his left leg that wrapped up toward his knee.

"Though, I did make it as inclusive as I could, the east wing of the library is filled with Chanukah décor, and the west— Oh, look at me, blabbering to you. You must be tired, please rest. Dinner will be later tonight, try not to sleep in."

He took the opportunity to leave the room, giving a weary smile and walking toward the guest rooms, which he planned to steal himself to until the festivities ended. The room was cramped, but large enough for him to rest in. It seemed the rooms had been remodeled to match the winter (hopefully D.I.Y., the Backrooms are not known for their remodeling companies), which had Janus release a disappointed sigh. He could deal with it, he decided. A fireplace crackled automatically on the far wall, just small enough to warm the room. A rocking chair, apparently left just for him, called to his sore legs from the corner. A small bow stuck to the top of it. Janus released a disgusted scoff and picked it off the top, tossing it into the fire before sitting.

He groaned as his bones released tension. Even the creature himself knew how old his body appeared, and felt, occasionally. His short rest was immediately torn to shreds in front of his eyes when the door opened again. Tom entered the room, quite shyly despite his cocky demeanor.

"What is it boy? Do you have something to tell me?"

"Oh I— I was wondering if you liked the gift I got you! It's a chair, I found it in Level 356, had to drag it back here through all those hallways. I thought you would like it since it fits your vibe… you know?"

In that moment, Janus felt more tired than grateful. He feigned surprise and turned back toward the chair to examine it. Then turned back to the boy, though not meeting his eyes.

"Oh yes it's quite… comfortable, thank you for the… present."

It took him a moment to say the final word. Even the notion disgusted him. Tom opened his mouth, as if about to speak, but closed it again. He began closing the door, gently as to not bother the old man, but something caught his eye. The plastic cast on his leg reflected the yellow light of the fire, and a curious worry pierced Janus' frozen heart momentarily.

"Wait, Tom. What happened to your leg?"

Tom froze, it seemed he had already been chewed out by Blanche for it, as he usually does upon an injury. The woman does hate to see him harmed. Tom stepped into the room, and hobbled toward the pre-made bed. He sat, and touched the cast on his leg.

"Er— Well, I was in Level 99, you know the orange place?"

"Why would you have any reason to go there?"

"I was at Ghoul Town, had my gas mask on and everything. I was looking through their stores to find some gifts for Christmas and I—"

"You did what?"

"Well, I-I wanted to get some presents for some friends of mine, it's almost Christmas in the Frontrooms and—"

"Why would you risk your own safety for that stupid holiday?! Do you know how bad that could have been?! Is your head empty, boy?!"

Tom was clearly stunned by Janus' sudden change of tone, and so was Janus. Janus knew how important the holiday was to the boy, he had to know. Janus knew just about everything there was to know. It wasn't as real until he experienced it himself but that didn't change anything, especially now. Janus' anger overtook him momentarily, and he stood and walked to the door. He opened it, in solemn silence, and pointed toward the exit.

"Go, Tom."

Tom silently nodded and walked out of the door, his boot and cast thudding and tapping against the floor, respectively. After, Janus shut the door slowly. A huge part of him wished he had apologized just as fast as he yelled, but the moment had past. He sighed, and sat back onto the rocking chair. He sat there for the next half hour, simply thinking. At some point, he had taken a cigarette and a flask from the inner pockets of his coat, but he couldn't recall when. Oddly, Janus found himself starting to grow tired. This was something that, to any human, would be normal at this time. But to a being like him, this simply didn't happen. Panic arose in him momentarily, but left just as fast, aided by the depressants. His single open eye shut, and darkness surrounded him.

"Wake up, Janus. Someone's knocking."

The voice makes Janus jump awake from his chair. He stares around the room, the fire was put out, seemingly a while ago, and it was nearly totally dark. After a moment, Janus notices a sensation he had not felt in nearly forever. He reached a finger or two toward his eye, then his other eye. Both were open. This would be startling enough, but a loud knocking from the door makes him jump again. It was violent, like someone trying to wake him. Delirious, he stepped shakily toward the door and pulled it open.

On the other side, the library expands in front of him, bright as always. He realized something was off only a moment later. Not wrong, but off, as if something had been fixed without his knowledge. He stepped out of his room, searching for the source of the knocking, and for Blanche to tell her about his eyes. But he found neither, instead wandering the library and getting lost as if it were somewhere he had never been. He furrowed his brow, confused, until a voice interrupted his thinking.

"Bit lost, Janus?"

Janus turned, only to see… himself.

[Part 1/5]

> Part 2

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