's 2018 Horror Write-off:

Up on a Rooftop

Submitted by Streicher Hennessy (email)

It was not going to be a very good Christmas this year for our daughter, present wise. Due to a vehicle accident ( not my fault by the way, I had been done in by someone partaking of to much Christmas cheer) out family unit was rather lacking in funds. Who knew several cracked ribs and a broken leg would cost so much? Greatest healthcare in the world indeed. As it was, there was going to be an upset little girl in the morning when she found out she was getting a pair of socks and a new notebook for school.

Now it was Christmas eve and I was sitting with my wife and child, watching the mindless Christmas entertainment that passed for quality programming these days. Due to the accident, I was doped on enough pain pills and drugs to put down a raging moose, and I was in that pleasant haze of not really caring what was going on. My wife had already slipped off into a slumber on the couch with me, and my daughter had collapsed into her bean bag chair. When I finally got myself up from my stupor, the plan was to put the kid to bed and wake the wife to stagger upstairs.

The only noise going on right now was the soft breathing of my wife and the crackling of the TV. Apparently it was late enough that the channel had gone to nothing but a test screen and the dull flickering static gave a bleak black and white cast to the room, illuminating just the front of objects and leaving edges and sides obscured in shadows. The plate of cheap cookies that my daughter had left out for Santa looked more like a pile of cement chunks and the tree looked like a furry creature looming over the side of the sofa like a wendigo in a snowstorm.

I was getting up the gumption to actually haul myself off the couch when the TV flared in a crackling burst of noise and something heavy rattled the roof overhead. The TV snapped into black and white commercial of a man in suit and tie repeatably and brokenly singing "You better watch out, you better watch out" in a dull monotone. Bits of dust began dribbling down the chimney. Confused thoughts fluttered through my hazed up mind. Santa? Hahaha. The thought made me giggle even as I tried to heave myself up off the couch. Oxycontin had a way of making even home intruders seem funny.Except I couldn't move. My limbs felt like I had slept on them for hours, and refused to respond to my thoughts. I even tried to open my mouth to wake up my wife, and my head simply lolled on my shoulders. I panicked momentarily. Was this some side effect of the drugs? Had I actually fallen asleep and not realized it? My body was a slab of unresponsive meat and SOMETHING was on the roof shuffling around making clicking noises like a sharp object impacting tile.

It was at this moment that something that looked like a blood blister swelling up out of fresh skin started to bulge up and out of the fireplace, growing from the flue to the outside like a balloon being inflated. A crimson orb of tissue flopped free, dangling before more flesh behind it pushed it out of the way with a sickening flop, fatty tissue and red gore pulsating out of the tiny opening like sausage meat out of a grinder. For what seemed hours more lumps of flesh were pushed on top of each other, each one connected to the last. When there was a mound of meat roughly the size of a couch flopped and oozing out of the fireplace, the gelid mass vibrated for a minute, as if getting its bearings.

My first thought, was that someone, perhaps the wife's ex, had shoved a skinned cow down the chimney, and forced it when the bones wouldn't fit the right way. That illusion was quickly shattered when the glistening hulk stretched and flounced itself into an quadrupedal standing position. My mind grasped at straws trying to define what exactly this thing was.

It stood on many multiple shards of bone, jutting out of its bulk like the legs of a caterpillar. The nubs of bones were yellow and cracked, and clicked across my wood floor with the tapping noise I had heard on the roof. They didn't even look like they were actually part of the thing itself, more as if someone had simply stabbed the underside of the beast with broken ends of bone and let it limp away. Indeed, as if to back up this claim thin trickles of crimson liquid dripped around the floor as it moved.

The main bulk of the thing was the red masses of tissue undulating above the bone legs. While I first I had taken the flesh to simply be skinned meat, on closer inspection I could see the sheen of some transparent type of skin, like saran wrap over a hunk of steak. Blood vessels pumped dark fluid across the rolls of flesh, and deep within the translucent mass I could see dubious organelles and twisted entrails. The body shape reminded me a grub crossed with a rhino. Folds and out-swellings on its body sported clumps of white stiff hair, like the bristles on an earthworm, and they waved with every movement like the thing was feeling out the environment. It had to I guess, since I couldn't see any eyes on the freak, and could only guess at the "head" of the thing due to its direction of movement...which was right towards our Christmas tree.

I was still trying to move during all this, you can have no doubt of that. The thought of myself and my family just lying there in the room while this...abomination snuffled around the room blindly was terrifying, and yet I couldn't even blink without an intense effort of will. The TV was still blaring broken fragments of Christmas carols and bursts of random static. I'm sure it wasn't a local channel. I'm pretty sure most of our newscasters had mouths, and not bloody slits in featureless white flesh. Something like a women in a grey suit with elongated features announced in a voice like a dying whisper that "All family must enjoy holiday!"

The glistening red fever dream had meanwhile oozed right next to our tree. The thing reared up, higher then the star on the top branch, and exposed a ulcerated and infected looking underbelly, swollen with rounded cysts that jiggled obscenely under it. The creature twisted and flailed, rupturing the bloated orbs with its movements, and showering the underside of the tree with red clumps and clots of...pus? Organs? It was hard to see with the fine mist of sebaceous fluids and tissue in the air but the fallen objects revealed themselves to be boxes, packages, all wrapped in ribbons, as

The thing finished shuddering and flopped back to the ground, carefully backing away from the excrement besmirched tree. It twisted around, and the current front end of the thing split open like the yawn of a sleeping demon, with a toothless hole. A ropy veiny mass of long tissue studded with backwards pointed teeth slopped out of the opening and started to quest inquisitively through the air, moving to and fro like a serpent. The wriggling torso on the TV leaking tinsel from the gaping wound in its neck intoned "In a gift exchange, its important that both parties receive something worthwhile" The pulsating tongue of the thing lingered in the air, and with a gentle touch, slid over my sleeping daughter's face, leaving a sheen of spittle in her blonde ringlets.

I was screaming internally. If I had regained movement at this time, I probably would have pulled my own muscles from my tendons in sheer Adrenalin. But it was for naught, The tooth studded appendage started to pull my child towards that gaping, wide slit, sliding her partly off the beanbag.

And stopped. And let go, the white bristles of the thing quivering in eager anticipation. Slowly, but moving faster, as if it was confirming the direction of the scent, the bloated corpse-thing turned and grasped the plate of cookies my beloved daughter had left out for Santa. The ropy tongue lashed across the fine china, slopping up every crumb that adhered to the sticky flesh. With a clatter the empty plate was flopped back upside down on the table. The last image I had before collapsing from sheer exhaustion and disbelief was of the thing as it started to push itself back up the chimney.

I woke to the sounds of my wife cooking in the kitchen and a happy child playing with toys. I wasn't frozen. There was no blood or grime scattered across the floor. There wasn't scratches and marks in the floor from jagged little lumps of bone. I pretty much figured the whole thing was a fever dream of pain meds and financial worries.

Except I don't know where my kid got all those extra toys.

And now I'm the one that makes sure cookies are left out on Christmas Eve.