By Moxie McMurder
When snow falls on Christmas Eve
Beware the man with frosted sleeves
Who knocks upon your door
He’ll Tap at your windows
And do much more
Before he’s back
knocking on your door
Knocking on your door
Knocking on your door
Henry and Sue lived a relatively quiet life in a small town just outside London. They lived on a street that probably looks much like your own. Both in their late 50’s they had met late in life and had only been married for 8 years. With no children and therefore no grandchildren, their Christmas’s were usually a quiet affair.
It was Christmas Eve and the local community had a tradition where the church choir would sing carols for the public at the end of the street Henry and Sue lived on. There would be mulled wine, mince pies and all the neighbours would get together and indulge in some Christmas cheer.
It was also a tradition for Henry and Sue but due to an accident the day before, Sue wouldn’t be able to go. Thanks to a smashed bottle of cheap plonk in the supermarket, Sue had slipped and hurt herself quite badly. Convinced she’d broken her ankle Sue demanded a trip to A&E which concluded that she had badly sprained her ankle and had torn some ligaments. It hurt like hell and it meant that standing in the cold for an hour was out of the question.
“I’m not going to go tonight.” It was 6:50. Sue smiled but didn’t look away from the television.
“Don’t be daft, you’ve got to go. It’s tradition”
Henry pulled a face and protested.
“It won’t be the same without you. Besides, you’ll be leaving me to battle Mrs Armont alone’” Henry laughed but he was only partly joking, the old woman was insufferable but Henry, brought up to be polite couldn’t bring himself to be rude to her. Unlike some of the other neighbours.
“Of course you’re going to go, you’ve got to represent the Ferguson name”
“What if you need me?” He asked, genuinely concerned. Sue turned her attention to Henry.
“For goodness sake Henry, you’ll be at the end of the street and you’ll only be gone for an hour. How much trouble can I get into in an hour?” She laughed as she spoke and Henry looked at her suggesting she’d need no more than mere seconds to get into trouble.
“I’ll call your mobile if I accidentally set myself on fire” She went back to watching TV.
“Aye ok, but only if you’re sure.” Henry had lived in England for 25 years and his accent was now a loft softer and Anglicised so when a little Scottish slipped out, it made Sue smile.
“I’ve got a good book and a whole tub of chocolates, if you’d be so kind as to make me a cup of tea before you go I’ll be just fine.” She said as she switched off the TV.
Snow was falling softly in the village that night. Sue could see it through the window and she was a little disappointed she wouldn’t be outside in it. Large slow white flakes filled the air, it was beautiful. Perfect weather to listen to a choir and snow on Christmas Eve was rare.
She asked Henry to turn of the ‘big light’ just before he left for the start of the carols. He kissed her cheek and went out into the still night air. The glow from the lights on the Christmas tree and the soft yellow light from the hallway were enough for Sue to read by. Stuck in her armchair with her sprained ankle lying out in front of her on the footstool. She had two choices, TV or a book. Books always won.
Henry had indeed made her a cup of tea so all things considered she felt quite cosy and relaxed despite the pain in her ankle. It had swelled considerably since the fall the day before and a huge red and purple bruise bloomed. It looked quite shocking against her pale skin.
Henry had found the painkillers his doctor prescribed after his back surgery last year and gave a couple to Sue before leaving for the choir. This made the pain bearable and Sue could relax a little in her cosy codine bubble in her armchair.
The ticking of grandfather clock in the hallway and very faint angelic voices of the choir at the end of the street were all she could hear. She had been reading for about 15 minutes when she heard a knock at the door. She considered getting up but just the slightest movement caused considerable pain. She was also enjoying her solitude and wasn’t prepared to just give it up.
“Bugger off” she muttered. A moment later there was another knock at the door. After a small and admittedly weak attempt to get up she decided again to ignore it.
She wondered if it might be Henry back early and had forgotten his keys.
“Fine” She huffed. “Hang on” She called out. Gritting her teeth as she maneuvered out of her chair and using her crutches she made it to the hall.
“Did you forget your keys?” She called out as she turned towards the door. Their front door was a double glazed door that was all glass. Frosted glass but opaque just the same. She could see the large flakes of snow now coming down much faster. The streetlight by the road shone brightly onto the front door making it perfectly clear there was nobody there.
Sue let out a long groan. Typical she thought and maneuvered she way back into the lounge and to her chair, her ankle throbbing as she moved. She swore under her breath and settled back into her chair.
She chose a chocolate wrapped in purple cellophane, her favourite, and continued reading. She had just finished a chapter when she became aware of a strange scraping sound. Like a nail being dragged slowly across slate. It was a sharp but quiet noise.
She looked up from her book and over to the window, she couldn’t see anything out of it. The glass was covered in a thick frost or ice, she couldn’t tell which. She could no longer see the snowflakes but could make out the streetlight, made fuzzy through the icy window.
She rubbed her eyes. It’s the painkillers she thought, playing with my mind.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw a black shadow at the edge of the window. Her eyes weren’t good enough to make out any detail. But she knew whatever the black shadow was, it was making the noise. As if suddenly whatever that black blob was realised Sue was looking at the window, it tapped three times.
Tap.. Tap.. Tap..
It must be windy outside and a bit of the rose bushes by the window have come loose for the trellis. That’s all it is she reasoned. The bottle of painkillers came into her line of sight and she let out a long breath. It’s just the painkillers making me edgy, imaging things. She shook her head as if to wake herself up a bit.
She looked back at the window and saw that the street light that had allowed her to see the snow had switched off. The window was black with only the reflected Christmas tree lights shining back at her. She felt like she was being watched and that made her feel vulnerable. Especially given her newly crippled status.
But it was the next unexpected noise that chilled her blood. The sound of heavy claws with sharp nails, like a large lizard was scrabbling up the wall of her house. It’s claws scraping at the brickwork.
What the hell is that? It sounded huge.
It reached the roof and she could hear its footsteps muffled by the snow.
Although the fireplace that was originally built with the house had been covered up and a new electric faux fire stood in its place the chimney was still open. Occasionally Henry and Sue would have to listen to the dying cries of the odd pigeon that had accidentally fallen down it.
Instead of a bird’s dying squawks whatever it was outside was now slithering down the chimney. The sound frightened her. She daren’t move a muscle but at the same time she wanted to get out of the house. This was too much. Sue didn’t scare easily and certainly didn’t believe in the supernatural but right here right now, she might just have another opinion.
She slowly picked up the phone and dialed Henry’s mobile.
Beep beep beep – the number you have called is unavailable. Please replace the handset and try again.
“What?!” She hung up and redialed.
Beep beep beep – the number you have called is unavailable. Please replace the handset and try again.
“Shit!” She put the phone down and sat in silence for a moment, waiting for the next sound. If it wasn’t for her ankle she would have been out of the house in a shot but both pain and fear kept her sitting in her armchair.
The house was silent, when had the grandfather clock stop ticking? She could just about hear the choir at the end of the street and that gave her some comfort. She reached for the blanket hanging on the back of the chair and wrapped it around her legs. She looked around the room, half expecting some floating spectre to waft through the wall but nothing happened.
“You’re going Mad Sue” She said to herself as she reached for a chocolate. “Absolutely bloody mad” She laughed a little at herself and finally began to relax. That’s when she heard the voice.
“I’m cold” It was a small and soft voice, like a child’s voice. It was coming from the back door in the kitchen. Sue turned in her chair to look as far into the kitchen as she could from her cosy prison.
Three soft knocks accompanied the voice as if the hand doing the knocking was small and frail. It was dark in the kitchen. Sue looked at her watch. 7:40. Henry would probably be home soon she thought. I’ve just got to ignore it.
“Please. I’m so cold” the voice came again.
After some deliberation she decided to get up and turn on the light. Some primal instinct told her light meant safety. Sue made her way to the kitchen and switched on the light. She felt a small amount of comfort from the light. She hadn’t heard the voice since she got up. With her ear up against the stable style backdoor she listed closely.
“So cold” the voice said and it was now, close up the voice took on a slightly discordant tone. Sue had the feeling that while the voice said it was cold what it really wanted to say was, it was hungry.
In a move of equal parts rational thinking and bravery Sue turned the key quickly and swung open the door. Whatever it was she’d face it.
As she opened the door a gust of cold wind blew into the kitchen, hitting her in the face. It was biting cold, and no one was there. No child. No giant lizard, no ghosts. Just a snowy night. She could hear the choir much louder now and just knowing that Henry wasn’t too far away helped settle her nerves.
Frustrated, tired and sore Sue locked the door and made her slow retreat to the armchair. Enough was enough, she would not be moving from the chair for the rest of the evening.
Picking up her book and settling into a semi comfortable position she started reading again. Her nerves were a little frayed and she kept rereading the same sentence. She noticed her hands were freezing. Another few minutes and she was surprised to see her own breath. The house seemed to have dropped a significant amount of degrees.
Her teeth started to chatter and she put her book down so she could wrap the blanket up over her. She tried Henry’s mobile again, she hands shaking they were so cold but the automated voice greeted her.
Dropping the phone and trying desperately to stay warm she found herself getting sleepy. Shivering under the blanket she silently prayed for Henry to come home as she rubbed her hands together. Her eyes started closing. She should have been scared but she felt calm. Whatever was outside was now in the house.
The air was thick with a cold mist and icicles started formed around the windowsill. Large stalagmites and stalactites made of ice grew from the ceiling and floor and glistened against the Christmas tree lights. A thin carpet of snow now covered her own, sparkling, crisp and white. Her living room looked like a winter wonderland.
Sue’s eyes were heavy, she could barely keep them open but fought her hardest to keep opening her eyes. She had to see, even if it was just a glance. Through the mist came a figure.
It looked to be about 6ft tall if it stood upright but it was hunched and angular. It was wearing hooded coat with long sleeves and the fabric was crusted with frost and ice. It reached out an arm towards Sue. Long black bones where fleshy fingers should be.
Sue was too tired to fight it off or even to keep her eyes open long enough to get a good look at the figure. She imagined that the dark figure beside her was pure white light and not a figure at all but a sphere. The charcoal black fingers were so cold they burned Sue’s hand but she was so cold herself she didn’t feel it. As the figure held her hand it starting breathing deeply and with every breath it drew Sue felt herself getting colder and colder.
Whatever face was under the hood started to glow pale blue and the angular body shape started to crack back into place. It sounded painful but the figure let out a sound of relief
Sue’s skin had grown paler and there was frost on her eyebrows and hair. Her once mousey brown hair with flecks of grey had now turned pure white.
The figure let go of Sue’s hand. She was dead. It stood up infront of her and stretched. Sue’s heat and life had given the figure all she could and it would be enough to keep it alive until the next snowfall on Christmas Eve. The figure pulled back its hood and looked around the wintery room.
Thank you for letting me in my dear. It’s been a long time since I last stood in a room of the living and I’ve been so hungry.
With its now human like fingers it undid the buttons on Sue’s shirt and spread it open. reached out and put a finger on her chest. His long ice fingernails, sharp as a knife cut into her skin and signed its name right above her heart.