a christmas story
i pulled up to the house and my wife was on the front steps. she only had her houseshoes on even though there was snow up to her ankles. she was standing there holding chris. i got out of the car and that’s when i knew they were both crying.
i ran over. i said, ‘what’s the matter?’
‘i don’t know,’ she said. ‘
chris wailed. ‘daaaa-addddddy!’
i touched his hair and the back of his head. his ears were cold.
‘i’m here,’ i told him.
i grabbed her shoulder then. she looked at me and i saw her tear-ruined make up starting to freeze. ‘did something happen? you lock yourself out?
she looked at me and then she looked back at the closed front door ringed in colored lights.
coming to my senses i said, ‘here, let’s all get inside.’
‘i’m not going in there,’ she said.
‘baby, what the hell is going on?’ i took off my coat, and wrapped it around her. ‘is someone in there?’
‘i don’t know what it is,’ she said.
‘are you hurt?’
she looked down at her feet. ‘not really.’
‘baby, you gotta help me out here. is anyone inside?’ i said.
she looked back up to me and said, ‘something is in there.’ and then she smiled and said, ‘but you won’t believe me even if i told you.’
i had no clue what to say so i just said, ‘ok.’
she saw me looking at her. ‘you’ll see.’
‘ok,’ i said again. ‘well… you two come with me. let’s get you warmed up.’
‘i’m not going in there,’ she said.
‘i’m going to put you in the truck where you’ll be safe and warm,’ i said.
‘ok,’ she said.
i carried her and chris together to the truck. i’d left the door open when i’d rushed to her so the cabin was cold, but i turned the key and cranked up the heat.
she was in the passenger seat, chris was on her lap. i sat behind the wheel looking at them. together they looked like refugees. she stroked his hair with one hand and his thigh with the other. they were both very quiet. i saw her feet and snow was still melting off of them, but she didn’t say anything about it.
i said, ‘what’s in there?’
‘what was i doing just before you left to take mom home?’
i saw her pulling out a pan from the oven. ‘you were baking cookies,’ i said. there was chris, standing on a chair to see over the counter while he decorated the cookie faces. ‘both of you were.’
‘that’s right,’ she said.
‘then…’ she said. chris started to shake, crying again. ‘…then they came to life.’
‘yep,’ she said.
‘honey, if you’re…’
‘i’m not,’ she said. she shook her head, ‘i knew you wouldn’t believe me. i told you.’
‘no, i do,’ i said. ‘it’s just not really what i thought you’d say, is all.’ i started to smile. ‘you know?’
‘it’s not funny and don’t you dare laugh at us about it.’
‘how the hell did that happen?’
‘it’s going to sound crazy,’ she said, ‘but i’m almost positive it was the nutmeg.’
‘i’ve heard of that but i’ve never…’
‘you don’t understand. this old man at the store. he gave me this jar of nutmeg. said it was magic. i just didn’t think that…’
‘you took nutmeg from a stranger?’
‘he seemed like such a sweet old man. plus who ever heard of any real magic anyway?’
‘i’m just saying you gotta know better than that. it could’ve been poison.’
‘well it’s not poison. but it has turned my cookies into little monsters.’
‘alright,’ i said, containing. ‘well i’m going in there then. do you think i should bring a weapon or should i just eat the bastards?’
she didn’t think it was funny at all. in fact i could see she didn’t even consider it a joke. she was thinking logistically when she said, ‘don’t go in there. let’s just go to a hotel. or call the police.’
‘no way, baby. i’ll take care of this.’
‘dick, please,’ she said.
‘it’s gonna be fine,’ i said. ‘you know i’m tough.’
she cracked a smile. ‘well,’ she said. ‘do you have a tire iron?’
‘yeah. i got one in the bed.’
‘i’d bring that,’ she said.
‘ok,’ i said. ‘just sit tight and i’ll let you know when it’s all clear.’
‘be careful,’ she said.
‘i will,’ i said. i opened the door and noticed it was bing crosby on the radio. i reached back in and turned up the volume. ‘listen to this. it’ll make you feel better.’ i smiled at her and chris who was still moping.
‘kiss me,’ she said.
i climbed half-way across the cab to reach her for a kiss, but it was real nice and the whole thing made me feel like a hero.
‘i’ll be back,’ i said.
‘you better,’ she said.
‘chris, take care of your mother.’
i grabbed the tire iron and waved to them smiling as i walked up to the house. they waved, but didn’t smile like me.
i trudged to the door. i shoved my ear up against it to listen. i heard some faint rustling, then what sounded like a metal cookie sheet being banged on the counter. something was definitely inside. i held the tire-iron up like i was ready to brain somebody when i turned the handle and opened the door.
everything was quiet. no rustle. no banging cookie sheet. i stood in the entry way of my own home looking for mutant cookies but i didn’t see any.
all i saw was the dining room to my right, a closed coat-closet to my right and the living room in front of me. every room looked like we’d leave it. clean, with the christmas tree lights on and a lamp over my recliner in the corner.
‘hellooo!’ i called. ‘anybody here?’ i started in to the house. the kitchen was roughly twenty paces away. i walked up to the walkway that divided the living and dining rooms. the walkway that led to the kitchen. i still heard nothing.
i looked down the walkway towards the kitchen. the lights were on. that’s when i saw a shadow move. then another. both small.
‘who’s in there?’ i called. i re-gripped the tire-iron. took another step. ‘i know you’re in there you freaky gingerbread bastards.’
i was about five paces away. ‘i’m going to eat all of you, i hope you know that. and i’m going to enjoy it too.’
i was at the door frame. i leaned into the kitchen and looked right towards the stove and counter. i saw sheets of snowman cookies waiting to be baked. each man laying on the sheet had red-hot features, giving them all menacing red stares and vicious red mouths. but they weren’t baked. they lay lifeless like cookies should.
‘where are the magic ones?’ i said. i looked left. on the kitchen table was a baked cookie. it hung partially off the edge of the table. i stepped in and looked at it. the same red eyes and mouth. i raised the tire iron and brought it down onto the cookie’s head. he crumbled like a punk.
in a second, i heard a groaning sort of wail. it was coming from a bowl on the counter. the cookie batter bowl. then i heard the rustle all around me. cookies were filing in from every door leading to the kitchen.
there were snowmen dropping from the ceiling fan, landing on my shoulders and grabbing onto my hair. they reached my shoes and started climbing up my pant legs. some crawled under my pants up my legs. some were crawling under my shirt to get up to my neck. i felt like a worm in an ant-hill.
i swung the tire-iron as hard as i could at them, but the cookies were too small and they were too close to me. i didn’t want to hurt myself by trying to hit the cookies. at least not at first. i made contact with a few, but mostly i missed. they would turn themselves and go from being a wide target to a very narrow one making it almost impossible to connect. and all the while they climbed me as if i was a very big dinner.
still the bowl groaned and wailed. then, as i was increasingly being overwhelmed by the cookies, i saw the ball of dough roll itself out of the bowl and form into a very small man-like figure. he stood on the counter and took a mixing spoon as his scepter. he made gruff gurgling noises which i could not understand. all the cookies then started to bite me at once.
for a cookie with red-hot teeth, they could bite. i could feel small chunks of skin being torn away. i screamed. i felt them still climbing up my neck and covering my cheeks and some were now biting at my ears. i felt like i was about to lose my ability to breathe, like i was being swallowed.
i dropped to my knees. i heard almost a dozen crack under my weight. i heard the dough-man groan with the same agony-laced wail as before, so i dropped onto the ground and rolled as if i were covered in flames. i rolled until i had crushed hundreds of the cookie-monsters. everywhere there were the broken remains of the cookies. wounded cookies reached for their legs and arms. then the dough-man fell in pain. i pulled the rest off of me. some i had to tear away, but finally i was free.
i stomped my way to the counter and grabbed the dough man in my hand. i crushed him in my fist. globs of dough squeezed through my fingers. i threw him in the sink and pushed him down into the garbage disposal with the spoon which he had just waved so gloriously. then i turned on the blades. the disposal roared to life. the lights flickered. the entire counter shook. i heard him wailing like a cat.
into the disposal i said, ‘you like that, huh, you little pilsbury bitch!’
i tossed in all the unbaked snowmen, then the least damaged of the defeated cookies. after that i got out the broom and picked up all the guts of the rest.
that’s when i remembered darla and chris. i ran outside.
i hustled down to the truck. the green and red lights were shining off the snow on the yard. i scampered through all that. the truck windows were foggy and the lights were bouncing off the windows as well.
i tried to open the door. she’d locked it. ‘darla?’ i said. ‘open up. i got ’em.’
i heard her unlock the door. i pulled it open. ‘chris? darla?’ i said.
then i saw that they had both turned into snowman cookies. red-hots were their eyes. i screamed and fell back into the snow. it wasn’t cold. then i looked at my hand and saw it was made of dough.