One week before Christmas, Todd noticed a mystery present under the tree. Purple paper wrapped it; no card was attached. It was paperback size. Todd figured his wife, Kelly, was behind it.
The present had grown the next day. And the next. Todd grinned. Kelly was imaginative. She enjoyed the occasional prank. The mystery entranced their seven-year-old, Hannah. She shook the growing present each evening; it made no sound.
Christmas morning. Boiling with excitement, Hannah hurried her parents to the living room. With amazing restraint, she passed out those presents with names on them. Then she studied the purple one. It was as big now as a wide-screen TV.
The present must be for Hannah but Todd couldn’t imagine its nature. He winked at Kelly, leaned to whisper: “Cool idea. Making it ‘grow.’ She loves it.”
“Who gets the purple one?” Hannah interrupted.
“You open it,” Todd said. “Then we’ll know. Anything really cool is mine.”
“Dad!” Hannah protested. But she grinned.
Kelly whispered back to Todd: “I thought it was you.”
A terrible sludge of pressure filled Todd’s gut. As Hannah reached for the present, he shouted, “No!”
Hannah ripped back the paper on a glittering universe of cold stars pinned against a backdrop of one tremendous eye. A huge, mustard-colored tentacle reached from that universe and grabbed Hannah.
More tentacles lashed at Todd and Kelly as they lunged, screaming, for their daughter. All screaming stopped as the Old One shouldered out of his universe into ours.
∼ Charles Gramlich
© Copyright Charles Gramlich. All Rights Reserved.