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A Christmas Dinner

I got out of the car and walked toward my parent’s house. It was time for our yearly Christmas dinner with my aging parents. I feel sorry for them with their health conditions. It won’t be long until one of them shuffles off the mortal coil. Just before I rang the front door a feeling of wrongness suddenly pervaded the air. Involunta

rily, I shivered. Why was it so cold?

As the doorbell rang, I could hear footsteps coming closer from inside the house. I frowned. Both of my parents were ill. How could these footsteps be so strong and quick? Before I could come to a conclusion in my inner musings, the door opened. My father stepped out, but something was wrong. He stood entirely too straight, with no sign that he was diagnosed with stage 3 liver cancer. As he greeted me, my father's face twisted into some kind of facsimile of a grin, one that was entirely too wide and stretched. It was as if his skin did not fit him.

My father, however, didn't seem to notice anything was wrong as he strode away to the living room. No doubt I was expected to follow him. As I stepped inside the house, a thick smell of something I could not seem to place filled the air. I wrinkled my nose in disgust. The smell was absolutely disgusting. Something was wrong. The air in the house felt cloying and thick. As I took off my shoes, I looked up the staircase. The lights were off. That was strange. For as long as I could remember, when it was not night time, my father never turned the lights off. It heavily irritated my mother, but my father had a reason for it. Father always had a reason for things.

As I walked into the living room, my mother saw me and got up to greet me. I forced the thoughts of wrongness out of my head and hugged her tightly. As I did so, I felt a weird sensation on my arm. I looked at it, swearing that I saw the skin squirm.

I suddenly felt nauseous, and after the greeting was over, I excused myself to go to the bathroom. As I left, I saw my parents exchange a knowing looks as if there was some kind of communication going on between them. Suddenly feeling scared, I went over to the bathroom.

There was dried blood all over the sink.

Staring at it uneasily, I locked the door and did my business. Halfway through, I heard a slight creak. I jumped. I told myself to calm down. My paranoia was acting up. As I went to use the sink, the lights went out. Quickly, I turned them back on and thought about the inexplicable failure of the lights. After all, one could only turn them off from inside the loo.

Half worried about what I may see. I spun around to see a pair of eyes looking back at me. Then they faded into the shadows and disappeared. I silently cursed. I was hallucinating now! After all, disembodied pairs of eyes couldn’t exist in reality, right?

Right?

As I unlocked the door, still shaken from what I had seen, I made my way back to the living room. The tea was still hot, but I dismissed it. What was another illogical improbability? As I sipped my tea, I looked around the room. It seemed to have been redecorated with new furniture. How nice, even if for some reason, one of the father’s favorite chairs were gone. Though there was still the smell of

Rust.

The smell was Rust.

The smell of blood.

Blood stains furniture.

There was new furniture.

Something had happened.

My breath caught in my throat as I choked. My mother quickly got up from her chair and strode over to me.

Mother can’t stride.

She has a leg problem.

Her limp is gone.

What is going on?

As my mother fussed over me, I couldn’t meet her eyes. Somehow, I knew that I shouldn’t. I should keep my thoughts to myself. I didn’t know why I shouldn’t. I just knew it would be very bad.

Something was terribly, horribly wrong.

I quickly excused myself and walked over to the kitchen. The furniture was the same. Everything was the same. So why did this house suddenly feel so unwelcome, so hostile?

But the question was, if the living room was all redecorated, why wasn’t the kitchen? I walked out of the kitchen and noticed the cellar door. The smell of blood was unusually strong here. I went down to the attic, where the smell was overpowering. I gagged and held my nose. I looked around and opened the boiler door. I staggered back in shock. The dead bodies of my parents laid there, crumpled and misshapen.

But if they were dead who or what was upstairs serving him tea? I gathered all the thoughts of grief and shoved them into a small corner of my mind. They were to be dealt with later. I walked back up the attic stairs and found myself staring into the concerned eyes of my father. He looked at the attic and then looked at me. I didn’t fail to notice the way his eyes narrowed or the way he crouched slightly. I panicked and put on a disgusted façade, "Dad! It smells so bad down there? What have you been doing with our lovely house?"

Whoever it was, smiled, relaxed, and talked about how the house had been smelling really bad lately. I went back to the living room, and saw the imposter of my mother. But something was wrong. Her skin shifted, and her face split apart. I scrambled back in horror as she extended her arm. A tendril of flesh burst out of her hand. I had no time to react as it reached me and pierced my heart.

As it retracted, I fell to the floor, the room darkening, and watched as they loomed over me. The cruel eyes of the imposters danced with mirth. Their faces split apart, and a huge serrated row of teeth appeared. They drew closer and my thoughts faded to black.



--Edd Ham


 

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