The Kringle

Festive Flash Fiction | Mixed Genre

     He sat upright and cupped his palm to his ear, listening beyond the beating of his eager heart, but excitement got the better of him. He pictured himself surrounded by gifts. Tearing off the shiny wrapping paper to reveal the latest gadgets, and treats, and games.

All he could ever want.

     Too energised to listen further, he swung his legs from under the sheets and plopped down onto the soft carpet. On the tips of his toes, he crept across his room, taking care not to tread on the forgotten toys of last Christmas.

   The jagged sound of his father's snoring filled the upper hallway. He considered waking his parents' up but dismissed the idea right away. He didn't want to share this moment with anyone, especially not his younger brother who often slept in their room.

He's such a baby, Jimmy thought.

     He moved toward the stairs where the glowing lights from the Christmas tree cast playful shadows on the wall below. Delicate clusters of green, red, and gold lured him down to the living room. 

     As he reached the top step, a distinct rustling drifted up. Jimmy froze as the thrill washed over him, one hand on the wooden banister, a single foot hanging out mid-step.

     The festive glow dimmed as a large shape moved past the lights. Jimmy crept down, his bare toes feeling for the wood and gripping each edge until he reached the bottom.

He turned toward the living room, and his breath caught in his throat.

     The creature towered over the toppled Christmas tree on six armoured legs, each one a foul combination of joint and muscle beneath the layers of its interlocking carapace. Jimmy had seen a crab before, and he tried his best to make sense of this horror, but this was no crab. It had the torso of a four-armed man, with an over sized wolf's head. Four menacing red ovals set deep inside its hairy skull gleamed with bright intent as it turned to face Jimmy.

The creature snarled in recognition of the boy, exposing a mouthful of sharp, black teeth.

     Jimmy trembled. His bladder released a warm trickle that ran down his pajama bottoms and pooled at his feet. The creature pulled a hessian sack from its shoulder and let it hang open. Jimmy saw the blood and gore inside, and an infant's red shoe that he thought he recognised, but before he could scream, before he could call for his father, the creature lifted him by his delicate throat and drew the sack beneath his kicking feet.

     In the Kringles' grip, the boy's body folded like dry kindling. Its powerful arms made light work of snapping the bones and crushing the organs before stuffing it in the bag with the other naughty children.

The midnight snow let out a soft crunch as the first step compressed it against the roof tiles.

     The second, however, echoed through the loft space and down Jimmy Gibbons bedroom wall, causing him to stir beneath the comfort of his spaceman duvet.

     Jimmy woke as the dull thud came again, and again, heading toward the chimney. Although uncertain in his dreamy state, he did not fear the visitor on the roof.  It was the unmistakable melody of all his dreams coming true.

Santa's here!