The Night Before Christmas.
Written for Blood Roses’ Christmas Advent.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The mice in this house, if there were mice - foolhardy, or daring - would not be stirring. If they knew what was good for them, but then, mice rarely do, they would have packed their bags and headed for safer climes. A predator more dangerous than they walked these floors. More silent as a cat, and the mice could smell a feline; this one, they could not. Never mind that it ignored them and didn’t hunt them; it hadn’t always been so. The mice did not stir, and one wondered if they quivered in fear between stone walls, or sat about stupid and thin, waiting for crumbs that never appeared. The one they hid from ate the things that moved.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there;
There were no stockings. The chimney stayed bare. A fire was its only decoration, and weapon, daring St Nick to shimmy down the flu and burn his fat fur-clad legs. There was no hope of St Nicholas here. You had to be nice to receive the jolly round fellow, and nice wasn’t the word for the thing that inhabited the house. Naughty was too kind a word. That belonged to wayward children and snotty-nosed kids. Sinful, wicked, malicious, evil, were more appropriate for the one that ate children, be they naughty or nice. Besides, it didn’t believe in St Nick. That was just a fairytale. And, as fairytales go, one skips to the end to look for the hero saved, just because.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear.
A shadow moved. Silent and deadly, as shadows go. Jittery and unsure, as they’re not. It crept upon the hearth, and stilled. A phantom of sharp angles and hard planes, liquid eyes and broken heart, it stared into the flames and wondered, why?
The creature of fable, legend, and nightmare, turned his head. There she stood, a basket of fare under her arm: red riding hood greeting the wolf. My, what big teeth you have.
He stared at the dusting of snow she wore. His had melted whence he sat. It was no longer the night before Christmas, a miracle itself. Heaven sent, the snow fell to save this creature of Hell. The weight of his sins dragged at his lips and, with effort, he managed a small smile. He greeted his angel, his Christmas gift.
“Buffy,” he said.
And the mice stirred.
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