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The First Day of Christmas.
By Theresa ann curnow
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Rated "R" by the Author.
This is a short story that was originally on the Spintinglers website and is about a man who finds that change is not always as good as a rest.
The First Day of Christmas.
It was Christmas day when Carl became a different person, literally.
It had started six days before, the little changes in his appearance, just after he’d moved into his new flat. He’d arrived home after a night out at the local bar. A little tipsy, he had made a coffee, drank it while watching some trashy porn on Sky then he had peed and gone to wash his hands. He had glanced in the mirror on the bathroom cabinet while washing and that was when he had noticed the first change.
His nose seemed bigger. Squinting, he had leant closer to the mirror, studying his nose from all angles and it really had grown he had thought. The fleshy part seemed, well, fleshier. He had shook his head, dried his hands and gone to bed, thinking that he’d drunk too much Stella. The next day he’d forgotten about it, until he’d looked in the mirror again and realised that in the cold light of day, his nose had definitely gotten bigger, not just bigger but it seemed longer too.
Curious but not unduly worried, he’d just ignored it thinking that maybe it had always been like that and he just hadn’t noticed for some reason. He wasn’t a man who looked in the mirror a lot. The next day, he’d gone into work as normal. It was his third week on the job as Father Christmas for the local shopping mall and while it wasn’t one of his ambitions in life at least it paid the bills, for now. He’d been laid off four months before and had struggled to find work since then and because he hadn’t been working, he hadn’t been able to pay the rent on his lovely little cottage so he’d had to give that up and move into the grotty little flat that he was in now. When he’d left his cottage, his girlfriend Patricia had left him. Couldn’t put up with his moods anymore, she had told him. We need some time apart to think. So all in all, this year had been completely shit. He’d thought things couldn’t get any worse, until he’d seen himself for the first time in the Father Christmas costume that was. He’d gazed into the mirror at his emotionless eyes.
“Ho, ho, fucking ho…..“
After dismissing his growing nose, he hadn’t really thought about it much, that was, until the next day. When his eyes changed colour.
He’d originally had brown eyes. Now they were blue, as the sky. At first he’d been worried that he had a terrible illness, that he had a brain tumour but then he’d begun to connect these changes in him to something else.
When he’d first moved into the flat, he had noticed little things, like how cold it always was, even when he had the heating up full blast, then there were the noises he kept hearing; the shuffling and the knocks and the sound of someone laughing. He knew that the walls were terribly thin and had put it down to that but then there’d been the awful screams that had woken him up one night…….
Carl had spoken to his neighbour about it and she had told him that there were rumours that the flat was haunted, that no one wanted to live there because a year before it had been occupied by an unsavoury character by the name of Ned Booth who had died from alcohol poisoning in the bathroom on Christmas day.
“People say that he was a killer,” the woman had said, “Three local girls had gone missing and a lot of people round here believe it was Ned who was to blame.
He was a weird sort, always drunk, flashing his you know what and stuff like that. We’d seen young girls round his place before so the police were called but before they could talk to him, he’d gone and died…..”
“Oh…” Carl had muttered, thinking, of all the damn places in the town that I chose to live…….
So, he’d begun to think that the flat was indeed haunted by this Ned person and that Ned was affecting him somehow. Along with the physical changes in him, he’d noticed something was happening to him inside too. He felt different somehow. More charged up. More alive. He didn’t feel so depressed inside.
For a reason that he couldn’t explain, he didn’t visit his doctor to find out if there was any medical explanation for what was happening. He just let whatever was happening to him happen. He just didn’t have the energy or will to fight it.
Two days before Christmas, he’d been in the shopping mall, sitting on his little stool, surrounded by elves and a sackful of presents when suddenly, four of his teeth fell out, just popped out of his gums as easy as shelled peas. Carl had raised an eyebrow and spat them out into his hand. The little boy who had been on his lap had stared at the bloody teeth in horror then grabbed his present and run off.
Afterward, on the way home, as he walked through the rain, Carl had felt the holes with his tongue. His mouth felt different, bigger. In the distance a choir was singing.
“Silent night, holy night, all is calm all is bright……”
Someone shouted out to him, “Hey Santa, what you gonna bring down my chimney later?”
He’d looked up. It was a group of women, pissed, giggling, trudging in their short skirts and high heeled boots. Carl had stared at them and had felt something burn inside him, not desire but an urge. Images had filled his head, fleeting and fractured, of flailing limbs, naked bodies, screaming and blood, so much blood. He had grinned at them and the women had looked at each other in revulsion, their giggling stopped.
At home, still in his Santa suit, he had gone to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. His mouth had changed completely. His lips were wider, fuller. He opened his mouth and stared at the gaps, blood pooling in the holes. He’d stuck his tongue in one of them, tasting the blood then he’d looked into his eyes. They were smiling at him and he knew that Carl was nearly gone. He liked it.
Christmas Eve, he didn’t go into work even though he was still wearing the suit. He sat drinking whiskey and watching the fairy lights changing colour on the house across the road. Through the house’s living room window, he could see the Christmas tree. A man was placing presents underneath it. Carl raised his glass to him then sipped the amber liquid. It burned a trail into his stomach. I hate Christmas, he thought.
His phone kept ringing and he knew it was probably his parents who lived in Australia. They only ever called him at this time of year. He didn’t answer it. He let the machine pick it up. At ten o’clock in the evening, he suddenly remembered something so he placed the whiskey glass on the floor then stood up, fetched a screwdriver from the kitchen and went into the bathroom. He knelt down in front of the grimy bath then prised the side panel off. The smell nearly knocked him out but he still smiled. He gazed at the bodies crammed in there. Three of them.
“Hello girls,” he said. They stared sightlessly back at him.
Midnight and his phone rang again. The machine picked it up.
“Carl, it’s me, Patricia. Just calling to see how you are really,” A giggle from her. She was drunk, Carl thought. Slut.
“I’ll pop round tomorrow. I’ve got you a pressie. We can still be friends can’t we? Anyway…got to go. Hope you’re out getting drunk and having a good time. I’m sorry about…..you know….things….well, see you,”
Carl drank the rest of the whiskey then he went to bed.
Christmas Day. Carl yawned and rolled out of bed, his head banging slightly from the whiskey. He went into the bathroom and peed then washed his hands. He looked in the mirror. He was a different person completely now.
Carl was gone. Now he was Ned.
“Hello Ned,” he said and smiled. He wasn’t as good-looking as Carl maybe but boy he felt a whole lot better. Carl hadn’t fought the invasion of his body. In fact, he had welcomed it, thought Ned. Strange man but then he wasn’t exactly in possession of a full deck himself, he chuckled. He studied his face, craggy, blue eyed, a few teeth gone. He was back, he thought and he had work to do. He was expecting a guest. While taking over Carl’s body he had experienced the man’s pain from his girlfriend leaving him, the hopelessness he had felt and Ned thought that as he had taken the man’s body he should repay him.
He left the bathroom and adjusted the Santa suit then he went back into the bedroom and pulled a case out from under the bed. He opened it. Inside lay knives and rope and bloody bits of clothing. He took out the biggest knife and closed the case then opened another bottle of whiskey and waited.
At two o’clock the doorbell rang. He pressed the intercom button,
“Carl is that you? You sound different. It’s me, Patricia. Can I….er come in?”
Ned pressed the door release, “Come up,” he said.
He walked to the front door and stood waiting. When he heard her footsteps approaching, he opened the door. Patricia stared at him and frowned.
“I’m sorry, I must have the wrong……..”
Ned grabbed her and dragged her into the flat. He slammed the door shut then spun her round, her dark hair whipping his skin. He grinned in her face and showed her the knife.
Patricia yelled and struggled, “ Who are you? .Where’s Carl?!” she gasped.
“Carl’s gone,” he said, holding the knife to her throat, “Santa’s here instead and he’s got something for you from Carl,”
Ned dragged the knife across her throat and her screams died.
“Merry Christmas,” he smiled as she fell to the floor.
Ned let her drop then he stepped to the window and gazed outside. It had started to snow. He liked the snow. It made everything seem quiet, even the voices in his head.
In the distance, the church bells rang out on the first day of Christmas and all was peaceful on earth.