One of the problems with living in a cursed city with eternal night? Winter.
Every single day through the winter was cold as hell in Twilight City. There was never a day where it was sunny, so that your toes wouldn't freeze off. So outside activity was not for enjoying the snow, skating on ice, or anything else nice. You went out because you had to, and then straight home.
Yes, the Twilightians got used to the cold, like their eyes got used to the darkness. But that wasn't the same as saying that it made it conformable to be out in the dark cold night. It was bearable, but not something you wanted to do for funsies.
But Christmas was an exception.
One of the few advantages of living in a town without daylight was that you could enjoy the light from the candles and Christmas decorations whenever you liked. It was the one day where people WILLINGLY went out, not for work, not for the milk they forgot to buy, but to enjoy the night. They dressed themselves as if they had to be prepared for a trip to the South Pole and then off to the Yule Marked, where everything Christmas related could be brought. Everyone were freezing, but they didn't mind this one day of the year.
One man who did not attend the great Yule Marked was Charles Twist. To be fair, he was a very frail man, and he easily caught a cold. He preferred to stay home. His warm home with as much hot chocolate as he could drink. Was he lonely? Not really. It wasn't that he didn't like being with other people, he just preferred to be by himself. He was a hermit by choice. The only man he could remember being sort-of friends with was John Leyram, his old business partner. But he had died seven years ago. After that, Charles didn't bother trying to make relationships of any kind with humans. He enjoyed being for himself with his books.
Since this story takes place on the day of Christmas Eve, it would be expected that Charles Twist would be visited by three to four ghosts, an angel without wings, Santa OR a robot duck from the future. Possibly all of them at once. That was not the case.
He did get a guest, though.
As Charles sat and read Moby Dick, he heard a sound. It came from the kitchen. At first, Charles did't think anything of it, believing it was something he imagined. But then, he heard the sound of a dinner plate breaking apart. He closed the book, picked up an umbrella(lacking a better weapon) and, slowly, went to the kitchen door. He opened the door, just enough so that he could take a small look into the kitchen. But no one was there. He then opened the door, and entered the kitchen, looking for the cause of the sound. But he found nothing. He even counted his dinner plates, just to be sure that they were all there. They were, an he couldn't see any broken porcelain anywhere in the room. He made a sigh of relieve. He was just tired. A good night's sleep was all he needed. He went out of the kitchen and-
"OHMYGOD!" Charles almost had a heart-attack.
"Man, what a BOOOORING book!" Someone sat on Charles' chair, reading Moby Dick. "You would think a story about a guy fighting a freaking whale would be hardcore, right?" The stranger closed he book, so that Charles could see his face.
His pink, cat-like face.
"Who ah-ah-are y-you?! What are you doing in my home?!" Charles tightened his grip on the umbrella.
"You don't know me? Bummer!" the man stood up, walked toward Charles. "Well, for tonight, I will be the Ghost of Christmas Kickyourass, if you don't beha-"
Charles swung the umbrella against the masked man, who simply grabbed it and tore it out of his grasp.
-ve. Wow!" the uninvited guest studied the umbrella. "That's all you have? I figured that a guy like you would have... I don't know, a gun or something."
Charles gulped. "What d-d-do you want from me?"
"Really?" The cat-man tilted his head, staring at Charles with the wide empty eyes of the mask. "I thought it would be obvious that I'm a masked fighter for justice."
Charles skimmed his room, looking for something that he could use as a weapon. "There... there has been a mistake. I haven't done anything."
"Did too. You are possibly the worst person I have ever met."
"What?" Charles realized that he had no means to defend himself. "What are you t-t-talking about?" He asked sincerely confused. "I haven't done anything illegal!"
"Oh yeah? Sit!" The stranger pointed at the armchair. Charles did so. The cat-man sat at the footstool, looking Charles directly in the eyes(Or Charles assumed he did). "Not done anything wrong, eh?"
"No!" Charles hoped that he could somehow sink into the chair.
"Tell that to the 52 and a half people you have killed."
Charles didn't say anything. He realized that the man had to be a nut, but this was ridicules. "What?" Charles laughed without knowing why. "I have NOT. I never harmed anyone. Never held a gun or a knife in my life. This is just-"
"Charley... May I call you Charley? Then you can call me Cat." the cat-man asked. "Or maybe you prefer Hans Wayne?"
"... Wha... How do you know that na-"
"Or how about Albert Tayler? Or maybe James Bell? You have a lot of names, Charley. But then again; a conman usually does."
"I... I, ah..." Charles started to sweet. "... Alright, so I have a past as swindler. But I never killed anyone, I-"
"You have stolen, embezzled, and swindled. You have ruined businesses and destroyed lives. When banks fail, it's not bankers who starve. In a thousand small ways, you have been the cause of the deaths of many. You did not know them. You did not see them. But you stole food from their mouths." Cat stood up, and grabbed Charles by the shirt, forcing him to stand up. "Don't you DARE tell me you haven't done anything wrong."
Charles just stared at his assaulter with an open mouth, looking like a moron. Then, he made a brave face that did not match how he felt. "You... You can't do anything to me. You are some sort of superhero, right? Like Amymal from Southville. You want me to regret AAAALL the bad things I've done, right? Go to the police and confess it all? Well, fat chance!" Charles grinned. "You can't prove anything. I don't know how you found out all that about me, but there is no way you can prove anything. If you could, then you wouldn't be here, trying to intimidate me."
Cat chuckled. "Oh, Charley, Charley, Charley... Who said I wanted to proving anything?"
"... Sorry, what?"
"I know I can't pin you. But who said I need to?"
"Are you... threatening me? I... I don't buy that! I read the newspapers. Superheroes do not kill. You are bluffing!"
"Oh, Charley..." Cat giggled again. "I won't kill you. I just want to be your new friend."
"You see, Charley, you have a choice to make. You and I can be friends. And friends help each other out now and then. And I have a couple of favors a friend like you could help me out with. But you COULD choose not to be my friend, Charley... But that would be a bad idea." Cat pushed Charley, making him bump down on his chair. He then picked up the Moby Dick book and studied the cover. "Wow, a first edition? Don't know what that means, but sounds like a big deal."
And then, he tore out the pages.
"What are you... NO, STOP! PLEASE!"
After tearing out all the pages, Cat gave the empty cover to Charles. The pages were spread around on the floor.
"See, Charley?" Cat asked. "That would never have happened if you had been my friend."
Charles said nothing, looking at his (former)favorite book from his collection with a open mouth.
"And believe me, Charley..." Cat went on. "Having me as not-friend is not nice at all. Say..." Cat picked up a mink vase. "Is this real Chinese?"
"No, no, NOT THE-"
Cat dropped it. Charles almost cried.
"Wow, that one looked expensive." Cat giggled. "Now, wouldn't it suck if I came, visiting you every single night, making a mess of your house? Hey, that's a really nice-"
"STOP!" Charles could stand books being torn to pieces and vases being broken. But to have his home invaded every single night like this? "... What do you want?"
"I want you to be my friend, Charley." Cat tilted his head. "And as my friend, I want you to do something for me. I understand that you are the landlord of a couple of apartments in Queens Street?"
Dinah couldn't sleep.
Some wouldn't find that odd, since it was Christmas Eve, and she was six years old. But having trouble with falling asleep had been a problem for a while now. But mom couldn't know. Dinah didn't want her mother to know. Didn't want to make her sad.
Dinah understood why they had to sell Gary. Or she understood as well as a girl at he age could. She knew that they didn't have much money, and that selling Gary had to be done. Her mother had promised her that she would get him back... one day, when they could afford it. That Gary was waiting for her in something called a "pawnshop". So Gary would only be away from home temporarily.
Not that it helped. Gary wasn't there to keep Dinah company in the dark. But mom couldn't know.
And because Dinah couldn't fall asleep, she noticed that something(or worse; SOMEONE!) was outside her window. The window was opened, and Dinah was about to scream after her mom. But the man who entered the room didn't look like a bad man.
"Hello, Dinah." The man said. "Merry Christmas."
Dinah just stared at her guest. "...Are you here to steal from us? Please don't, we don't have much."
"What? On Christmas Eve? No!" The stranger giggled. It somehow made Dinah less scarred.
"Are you..." Dinah picked her nose, a bad habit she had when she was thinking really hard. "Are you Santa?"
The odd man giggled again. "No, but you are getting warmer."
Dinah studied the man. He was dressed in green, and his face looked kinda weird. He also had pointy ears.
"Are you... an elf?!"
"That's right, young lady." Dinah only now noticed that the man had a gift box in his hands. "Santa told me to tell you that he is so sorry he couldn't come, but he is REALLY busy this year. Hope it's okay."
Dinah smiled, so that one could see her missing teeth. She didn't seem to be too upset. "Is that a present for me?" She asked.
"Yeah it is." the elf handed it to her. "Open it, will ya?"
Dinah tore the paper off. And it was the best present she could have hoped for; her plush-spider Gary. She even checked that her name was written on it's butt. She hugged her bellowed toy and friend. "I missed you so much, Gary!"
"And he missed you." The elf patted Dinah on the shoulder. "And Santa has a gift for your mother, too. And for all of your neighbors. But you have to promise that you won't tell anyone, okay? It's a surprise."
Dinah giggled. "I promise!"
"Santa had a talk with the man who owes the apartment. Pretty soon, your home will be fixed."
"You mean the oven will work? We can have hot showers again?"
"That's right. But now you have to go to bed. And don't tell anyone about the surprise, okay?"
"Okay, Mr Elf." Dinah returned to her bed, now accompanied by Gary. "Thanks so much, and happy Christmas!"
"It's MERRY Christmas, Dinah." The elf stepped out of the window and closed it. "Goodnight, sweetheart."
For the first time in a week, Dinah slept without any trouble.
Cat took one last look at the little girl. And then, he lept into the night.