‘Twas the night before Christmas
And in the alehouse below
A creature was stirring
A miserable old crow…
“Stirring’s a bit strong a word for it to be fair Nug, but I admire your cheery optimism.”
Nugget shook his lumpy, misshapen and somewhat yellow head. “You know me Bresst. Ever cheery.”
“Been meaning to ask you something though, Nug. What’s this Christmas thing you keep singing about?”
“That? The celebration of Christopher Thomas?”
“Christopher Thomas? You’ve heard the tale of Old Chris surely?” Nugget laughed goldenly as Bresst shook his head. “In that case I propose the same again to lubricate the tale. And,” he continued, poking the form slumped over the table beneath a black feathered cloak, “We’d better get another ale into him if we’ve got any chance of him functioning. Now where’s my favourite…ah! There she is! Menna! Three ales please darlin’. And a couple of those otters on a stick if you’d be so kind.”
“You should’ve just popped in, Mathis,” Mrs. Kelly says opening the door. “You know we’re waiting for you. Come, come.”
“I never like to presume, Mrs. Kelly,” Mathis says entering the small home. “It’s nice to see you again.”
It was on a summer night that Suki jumped out of that train and into that basement, not a winter one. She remembers the stale cigarette smell, still feels it scratching the back of her throat as she talks about it.
Old Scott’s Mill had given off odd sounds since the day it closed down. Now it gave off a sense of passage.
The first time I heard the cry of the banshee was three days before the full moon. My blood ran cold because I knew exactly what it meant. In my youth, my grandmother entertained us with fantastic fairytales and spooky stories. The haunting tale of the banshee had been one of my favorites, so when I heard the strange keening, I immediately recalled the legend. The story about a witch who announced the imminent death of a loved one was common throughout Ireland. There was even a poem that children sometimes chanted in the schoolyard, often around Halloween:
It’s 2:30 am and Charlotte and I are wide awake holding hands in our new bed in our new house. This is our third sleepless night in our new home in the West Virginia wilderness. It’s the howling, hooting, chirping, scraping, squealing night noises that keep us from sleeping. There’s a sudden scraping sound on the roof and the sounds of a cavalcade of creatures marching above our heads.
Phila Bristow’s hands had a mind of their own. Every time she broke a rule, they would jump straight off her body to tell her mother. And that was on a good day. Much like humans, hands are susceptible to making poor choices, such as attempting to light a liar’s pants on fire just to be ironic. Which meant that Phila had been to five different schools in the last five years. One time, Phila let a classmate glance at her paper for a fraction of a second, and her hands detached from her body and ripped the paper off her desk. Then, they hopped from desk to desk chanting, “Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater,” before jumping out the window to run home and tell her mother. The other students, including the ones she’d thought were her friends, screamed and backed away from her. Mrs. Tweedle, Phila’s English teacher, started shrieking and throwing pencils at her. On her less charitable days, Phila liked to imagine Mrs. Tweedle ending up in a small village in Guatemala, teaching the ancient art of throat singing to underprivileged parrots. And then there were times her hands said things Phila didn’t even believe. When Phila was ten her hands started a nasty rumor about her best friend, even though it was Phila’s hands who did the dirty deed. But did anybody believe her? Absolutely not. After that she started concealing her hands with mittens every time she left the house.