Christmas Eve and the Little Girl
by Darren Gallagher
“I’m going to bed honey, you coming?” Sarah asked walking into the living room.
“Not just yet. I want to finish this first.” Malcolm tilted the glass of brown liquid toward her, the glow of the fire making it lighter than normal.
“Okay, well I’m going on up. The kids will be up at the crack of dawn to see what Santa has left them, and I want a good sleep before that.” Sarah smiled and kissed him before walking away.
“I’ll not be long.”
Malcolm loved this time of year; he always had ever since he was a little kid. The warm fire blazing as the snow fell outside, making the cold winter air non-existent. The Christmas tree decorated and twinkling with loads of different coloured lights, but most of all was the time he got to spend with his family. Christmas always made everyone happy and it created the warmest memories.
Malcolm rested the glass on his lap and then glanced out the window. The snow was still falling but he now had a better view over the countryside as a pale moon light somehow managed to break through the thick snow clouds. Malcolm figured they were thinning and it would stop snowing soon.
Lights from the room glazed over the window spoiling his view so he reached around and turned off the lamp that was beside him and then switched off the TV. Only the tree lights and dancing flames flickered around the room and on the window now. He didn’t mind that however, he knew these precious moments were ones to be savoured.
As he raised the glass to his lips again he saw something moving along the road at the bottom of his garden. At this distance he could just see the colour, a small red blob slowly drifting through the snow. Malcolm got up of the seat and went to the window; he wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a trick of the fire.
When he got there he could see that it was a person, a tiny person no bigger than a child. A thought struck him with terror, Why would a child be out there alone on such a night?
As he focused more intensely on it, he noticed something large was moving directly behind the red figure. It was completely white and had blended into the snowy backdrop. It was too big and far too long to be another person. Malcolm couldn't quite make out what it was but he knew for certain that he wasn’t imagining it.
The thought of a child wandering alone out there in this weather struck him again. His paternal instinct kicked in and he set the glass down on the windowsill and ran to get his coat and boots.
As soon as he opened the front door, cold air blasted against him and he wanted to shut it again. Malcolm resisted and pulled his coat tighter around his neck and set off down the garden as fast as he could in the fresh snow. It was difficult getting any kind of momentum and he felt stupid for running through the garden instead of down the gravelled drive.
He was half way now however and he could see that it was a little girl. She was wearing a red coat and matching trousers, while a white bobble on her hat broke up the redness of her clothes. Her scarf fluttered away from her neck by the strong wind that had pushed against him since he left the house.
She was leading a huge white horse by the bridle and it walked in perfect compliance behind her. Malcolm couldn’t believe his eyes, the horse was at least three times her height, and its head alone was the same size as her. Malcolm knew if at any point it wanted to get away that those powerful legs would trample the girl to death with one slight movement. Yet it walked beside her in a docile, yet sullen mood, like it had been reprimanded for doing something wrong.
There was nothing else on the horse except for the bridle. Its whiteness was broken only by the slight creamy tinge in its mane and tail. Malcolm had now reached the fence at the bottom of the garden and he could see its powerful muscles move with every step it took.
“Little girl?” He called out as snow was blown into his face.
She was about ten feet away from him, walking in the opposite direction. There was no response from her, or any acknowledgement that she’d even heard him.
“Little girl,” he called again, climbing over the fence. “What are you doing out here?”
Again, no response.
Malcolm ran down the road after her and slowed when he was just behind her. “Hey, little girl. What are you doing out here all alone?” He said reaching forward and grabbing her shoulder, turning her around slowly as he hunched down to meet her at eye level. It was only then that he’d realised his mistake. This was no little girl.
The thing that he was now staring at had skin like really old leather, clumped and wrinkly, and was a deep greenish-brown. Its eyes were glowing bands of deep orange with black vertical slits, and its nose rose into a point when it hissed at Malcolm.
Fear froze him, but he knew he needed to get away. Before he even had a chance to move a clawed hand came toward his face and cut four deep gashes into the side of his right cheek. Malcolm screamed and jumped up. As he turned to run the other hand slashed at his left thigh. It cut through the muscles and severed the tendons along with his femoral artery.
The pain sent shock waves through his body, causing him to stop breathing for a slight second until his body slammed off the ground. Malcolm tried to scurry away but with the blood flowing out of his body and the immense pain he was too weak and could only watch as the little girl – the little demon, came walking toward him.
It walked right up between his legs and stood up on his hips. It snarled down at him with its hands raised ready to pounce. Malcolm could see the razor sharp claws through his fading vision and was waiting for the strike; it came instantly.
Both sets of claws slashed through his coat and tore his stomach to shreds. Malcolm attempted to roar out but nothing came from his throat, it wouldn’t even allow him to breathe.
Darkness crawled in from the corner of his eyes and he no longer felt any pain as the cold winter pulled the heat from his body.
The creature he’d mistaken for a little girl turned and stepped off him and went back to the horse which was still standing in the same place, totally submissive. It grabbed hold of the bridle leaving a smear of dark red blood on its white coat and pulled it forward.
They walked away leaving Malcolm lying on the ground. His life force seeping from his body as the snowflakes began to bury him, and the only evidence to his murder...
A bloody set of children’s footprints, walking away.