After all the fun we had bringing you scares from Prospero all October long, we couldn't resist concocting this series of festive flash fics of fear.
So check back with us throughout the season for fresh, bite-sized of holiday horrors!
(Click here for Holiday Horrors: Black Friday)
What the Movies Don't Show
By Matt Carter
Okay, maybe Marty mighta deserved some of this because it was his idea and he said it’d be easy, but he didn’t deserve all of this, not all the way.
You hear that? He’s out there now, I know it, maybe behind that door, or in the vent. I can hear him scrabbling around, giggling, knowing there ain’t shit I can do against him, just waiting for his moment and knowing all I can do is lie here tryin’ to stop the bleeding before I pass out, looking at all his movie posters and watching its end on TV with all its happy holiday music…
There was music like that playin’ in the bar when Marty came to us with the job. He’s always been one of those guys lookin’ for opportunities, usually makin' a dishonest buck. When I still had my job I’d just laugh and wish him good luck not gettin' caught, but you know how things are. The economy’s shit, and you gotta make money somehow, especially this time of year. I mean, I got kids too, ya know? What am I gonna tell them, Santa couldn’t find them because their dad’s a bum?
No way I’d do that.
The air vent’s rattling. He’s in there. Glad I moved that bookcase against it when I was still strong enough to think. The bleeding’s not stoppin’…
Marty said he’d heard of this house, some rich mansion out in the boonies where the people who owned it left for the holidays. They had walls, but they were so far out they didn’t even invest in bars and security systems. All we had to do was bust open a window, spend maybe half an hour clearin’ out jewelry and electronics and boom, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.
So yeah, Chuck and me followed Marty out in the middle of nowhere in his van. We climbed the wall and we crossed the snowy yard to the most beautiful, plushest mansion I’d ever seen.
He’s trying the door handle. Blocked that too you little son of a bitch… He’s not trying too hard. He knows this house better, he’ll find a way in.
Would you believe it? We found an open window. It was like the Christmas spirits were smilin’ on us. I mean, yeah, the room we climbed in wasn’t all that nice, but we got in a little further, and we were in fat city. The living room alone, with its big shiny Christmas tree in the middle, had like three game systems, a safe Chuck said he could open quick and two jewelry stashes. We probably coulda made bank without checking the rest of the place out (though of course we would, I mean, why waste such an opportunity?)
I mean, yeah, it seemed a little weird at the time that they spent the time decorating this place and left everything on if they were gonna leave for the holidays, but who were we to argue with something so sweet?
There were footsteps on the floor above us, I remember that, and I remember almost telling the guys, but before I could, Chuck picked the safe.
That’s when everything went to shit.
There wasn’t any cash in there, but there was a blowtorch tied to some string. It opened up full blast on Chuck’s hands. I could hear him screaming, see his gloves and skin burning right off his hands. Marty stopped cold, but I had to help. I grabbed a flower vase and poured it on his hands. Water put out the fire, but his talented hands were gone.
Something tapping at the window. I couldn’t block that in time. Is it… no, just the wind. Just a tree. Relax… Relax…
Chuck was in a bad way and I knew we had to get out. Even Marty agreed. Chuck was blubbering, screaming, I knew he’d pass out soon. I tried to joke with him, tried to say how this was like one of those movies with that kid alone in his house, fighting off the burglars. Chuck didn’t remember it then, but maybe the pain put him past that.
We went for the room with the open window, but it was shut now.
And then we heard that little shit for the first time.
“You’re gonna have to try harder than that to escape, mister!”
I could only see him out of the corner of my eye, short, blonde and wearing pajamas. Couldn’t have been more than eight.
Didn’t want to deal with him. We just wanted to escape. But we couldn’t. He’d thought of that. All the windows were made of shatterproof glass and nailed shut, the doors reinforced to stop an invasion.
And the traps…
You see, it was just like the movies, but not like them at the same time. There were things in there you wouldn’t think would hurt a man but did. Like the marbles on the floor that made Marty slip and break his hip. Or the paint can dropped from the second floor that broke in Chuck’s skull, gouging him so deep I could see brains. Or the wire that sliced in my thigh, or the glue and plastic tarp the kid threw on Marty’s face, suffocating him.
Every time something happened, the kid was there, laughing but out of reach, always saying some cheesy line even when we shouted for him to go away or when we begged for him to let us leave.
By the time I barricaded in the kid’s room, I’d lost two fingers, busted some ribs and my collar bone I’d think on some brick-throwing machine he’d made, and sliced my leg so deep the blood comes in spurts.
The room’s covered in posters for those movies about the kid and his burglars, and I think he’s got them playing ‘round the clock on a flat screen in here. I locked myself in in time to see the end where the kid meets his parents and gets the swell of happy music that says Christmas has been saved.
But it hasn’t been saved. Not for me. Not for my kids. Not even for this kid, I don’t think, because I’m not sure he’s even a kid now. There’s no family pictures in this house, just pictures of him. Him and his black eyes, and his smile with the pointed teeth, and the skin that doesn’t look like it fits him right.
Tapping at the window again. I don’t look at it.
I know it’s him.
I just sit here wondering. Wondering just how long he’s done this.
How many other mooks like us fell for this.