All because of a letter to Santa
There's that ad on the telly to discourage you buying a pet for Christmas - a dog is not just for Christmas.
Be careful what you wish for.
Oh, and number three: Dickens wrote fiction.
It started at the end of November, my little dipstick of a brother watched A Muppet Christmas Carol on the gogglebox and thought it was brilliant. (So do I, but that's another tale to grab hold of.) He particularly loved Marley, rattling his chains, and the Ghost of Christmas past. He loved the idea of flitting through time, in your nightshirt, like Dr Who in slippers and dressing gown. So, when he came to write a letter to Santa, he asked for all the usual: Lego, more Lego, a book about dinosaurs and, as a p.s., an Xmas ghost. He signed it, 'Love Timmy', addressed it to Santa in Lapland, stamped it and dropped it in a post box.
I don't know about your neck of the woods but in Great Britain, if you send a letter to Santa, by the Royal Mail postal service, and it has your address on it, then you will get a reply. For real. In the post. So, when a letter came for Timmy, he was a bit over excited. He danced around the lounge waving his bit of paper, believing every carefully crafted genetic word. It promised that Santa would do his best. Mum rolled her eyes. Dad rattled his newspaper. Mum and Dad, aka Father Christmas, did their best. Tim got a Haunted Castle Lego set. Ho hum. But he was as happy as Larry. At least it got him out of my hair and I could face time on my new phone without him making a grab for it.
Unlike the States, the Christmas holidays run from Christmas Eve to the day after New Year's Day. Inclusive. Between those days, factories close down and half the country takes a break from the office. So Mum and Dad were at home, getting heartily sick of turkey and dictating the telly programmes. Which explains why we didn't notice that flipping Lego mini ghosts kept popping up in odd places. Tim kept accusing me of adding rooms to his Haunted Castle. As if. Whatever. The only Lego I touched was with the sole of my foot in the middle of the night when I was unscrewing the lock on the booze cupboard. My yelp brought Dad downstairs and I lost my phone for a week. Not cool.
By the time the new term started, there seemed to be three times as many Lego mini ghosts as before and Tim was in a sulk because someone had dismantled his Lego Monster Thing and his Haunted Castle had a secret room that he knew was there but couldn't find. Like I said. Dipstick. So he challenges me to find the room. I could see it but be blowed if I could get into it. The castle gained another tower and the green mini ghosts made an appearance. Mum was the one who noticed that they glowed in the dark. The castle gained an outer bailey. It couldn't get any bigger because Tim's Lego box was empty.
That's when the red Lego big ghouls put in an appearance. The first was in the fridge, sat on the cheddar. Mum says she screamed because it grinned at her. Dad said it was because she trod on a couple of six pin bricks. Yeah. Right. Then another toppled out the cupboard just as I was raiding the crisps stock. It banged my head, so I batted it away and it smacked into the kitchen wall and shattered into a zillion pieces. Instant kharma. Until the bits crept back together again and reformed another ghoul. I was too freaked to move. Especially as a couple of bricks had gone missing and there were gaps in it. It sort of lurched. Like a zombie. I went to stomp on it. Then thought, 'Lego. Bare feet. Zombie.' Time to leave a hole in the air.
I grabbed Tim on the way to school. We had to make a plan. It was his Haunted Lego Castle. It was his letter to Santa. It was him who had believed in the Muppet Christmas Carol. We bunked off down by the canal and chucked stones in the water. We came up with loads of ideas. A Lego priest to do an exocism. Lego Ghostbusters with Lego nuclear backpacks and a Lego entrapment unit.
'I ain't got no Lego left.'
'Dipstick Tim.' I growled. Then it dawned on me. It was pure Dickens. Perfect. I told him what to do. He loved it and did his best impression there and then. 'Save it for later.' Schools ring home if you don't turn up, so we booked in a bit late. The bus didn't turn up, so we had to walk. Miss Patel is a master of the super eyeroll.
When we arrived home, the lights were on, which was dead unusual. Normally me and Tim are first in, then Mum and much later, Dad. The curtains were drawn but we could see shadows moving in the lounge. Funny, angular shadows that moved all jerky as if the things that made them were likely to fall apart. The front door was still locked and my key turned double to take off the dead lock. I pushed it open.
'You first!' I told my little bro.
'No way!' He squeaked.
'Yes. Way!' I shoved him hard, between the shoulder blades. He stumbled over the threshold. Followed real smartly by me. Because. You know. He's my tiny brother. 'Go on!' I hissed as this humungous great Lego thing spun and wobbled to face us. It should have been comical, a patchwork of plates and bricks and knobbly bits in rainbow colours. So comical it taught me what freezing the marrow in your bones means. 'Say it!' I tried to hiss again but it came out as a gurgle.
Tim opened his mouth and flapped his jaws. Nothing came out. I wanted to kick him but he was terrified. His eyes were bulging and he looked as pale as if he had - seen a ghost -. 'Tim.' I managed to keep my voice level. 'Tiny Tim. It has to be you.' He closed his mouth and swallowed.
'God bless us.' He quavered. Then, stronger, 'God bless us, every one!'
The giant Lego Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come raised its skeleton arm and tried to beckon. The finger curled up and kept on curling, rolling the entire limb into the mass of its body. The whole thing turned in on itself, a mass of imploding, multicoloured bricks, tumbling into a tight, central ball. It hovered just below knee level for a single heartbeat. And exploded. Lego shrapnel arced in all directions across the room. It pinged off the telly. It bounced off the sofa. It cascaded down the curtains. It dropped in the flower vase. It rolled under the coffee table.
We cleaned up a quarter of it before Mum came in. Tim was picking bits off the bookshelf and I had the fancy idea of using the Hoover with a stocking over the nozzle to suck up bits and pieces. Dad thought we had a Lego fight and grounded us for a week. We all wore slippers for a month as bricks made themselves known all the time. Neither Tim nor I complained. We were too scared and kept dumping the bricks as we collected them. Tim went right off Lego.
Then he discovered Marvel super heroes. Like Spider-Man. Iron Man. The Fantastic Four.
Last night Doctor Octopus crawled onto my bed and tried to strangle me.
PROMPT: A Christmas Ghost Story