Christmas Presence - Short Story by C.G. Buswell
Tartan Noir Writer

Christmas Presence

Christmas Presence Oh, the dread, the dread. It crept upon him as he slept. It approached him as silently as an assassin inching towards his victim with a knife clamped firmly between his teeth where it was ready to be whipped out and plunged firmly upwards, between the ribs, through to his lungs and heart. It was ready for the pumping spray and then the frothing blood on its victim's lips, the sign of the dying. The dread was within him now as it grabbed for his stomach, churning it as it delved in deeper. It reached his intestines and grabbed at them. They twisted frantically in protest, like eels in a fisherman's box. And then the anxiety set in as it felt to him that a macabre clown with a menacing grin had torn open his belly and had twisted, nipped, pinched and turned his bowels around.

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He could feel the unsettling of his body as his bowels continued in their rapid pinching movements almost as if a sick-humoured balloon modeller was making shapes with his guts. He cried out in his sleep as the worry gnawed away at his subconscious, reshaping his dreams into a nightmare. He relived past events, he was there again. The place he had to confront, but fear held him back. He could hear the explosion, he was back inside the helicopter, back in Afghanistan. He could feel the heat, the smells, oh the smells. He felt the furnace of the blast as it ripped through the soldiers. Body parts were flung through the air and shreds of camouflage uniforms were cast aside as the heavier decimated limbs were tossed into the air and thumped to the ground near to the chopper's tailgate. Veins, capillaries and layers of muscle seemed to quiver and squirm as if still alive. Though this was dead flesh's reactions to the vibrations of the chopper's engines. But still he could not reach her. He cried out her name. The sound of his own pitiful screaming echoed in his ears as the dread danced and cavorted throughout his body, tightening its grip on his bowels, his groin and finally his heart. It rejoiced in its victory, in conquering and overcoming. It settled there and tugged and tugged within his chest cavity until his own sweat and body odour sensations aroused him from his relived trauma, again. But the dread was not quite finished with him. Not yet, not for a long time. Today it spread to his chest. It tightened its grip, clawed at him. He could almost feel a demon's talons cut and slice through to his heart and down his chest. Adrenaline was now coursing through his veins, pumping around his body. It heightened his senses, and this is what woke him as he screamed out her name, 'NAOMI.'

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