Red Hat

They think I’m a Christmas elf because of my red hat and silver shoes.

***

She found the hat next to the highway, half way down the rocky embankment. Crumpled and smeared with dirt, it reminded her of an empty carcass, of road kill, of torn paper and old underwear.

With a damp stick, she lifted the hat up. It was months away from Christmas, but the lonely Santa hat seemed new. Except for being damp from the flood waters, the white fur was fluffy and thick. She’d take it home. Cleaned and dried, it would be a good gift for her nephew.

***

Because I’m pretty, they don’t suspect I want to eat their faces and soak my hat in their freshly spilled blood.

***

She kept it in the back of the coat closet with her other early purchase gifts. The week after Thanksgiving when she was digging in the old Macy’s sack to divide out the presents for family and friends, she found it again. The velvet had faded to a dull red, and perhaps wouldn’t be so thrilling for a 3 year old. Better to fluff it up and wear it herself. She had a jumbo-size lego set for her Justin now, anyway.

***

I know when I need to feed because the brilliant red fades into brown. A decayed color, dark and dead as burned summer grass.

***

“Merry Christmas!” she called, throwing open the door to her sister’s house. The hat pinched at her temples. As soon as she’d seen Justin, she’d stuff it into the bottom of her purse. From the canned Bing Crosby and chatter, it sounded like her family was crammed in the kitchen. She swung through the living room to drop her gifts under the tree.

Her stomach growled. The hat tightened around her head and blood throbbed behind her eyes. Dizzy, she knelt. She dug at the fur rim, pushing at the hat, but it gripped to her skin.

“Aunt Angie?”

“Justin,” she whispered, eyes squeezed tightly shut, fingers digging into her scalp. Her head burned, filling her body with hot pickling pain.

“What’s the matter?”

His little hands were cold on her cheeks, and she opened her blood-shot eyes. “I’m so hungry suddenly,” she whispered.

***

Children are my favorite. They’re so trusting. So soft. So compliant. Following me away from their mothers, into service hallways and bathroom stalls. They laugh and giggle until the very end.

Author’s Note: a little flash fiction in the Merry Fates Christmas spirit.

image by formatc1 via Flickr Creative Commons

52 thoughts on “Red Hat

  1. I read, “Because I’m pretty, they don’t suspect I want to eat their faces and soak my hat in their freshly spilled blood.”

    And then I thought, “I have TOTALLY had that day.”

    And then I thought, “Hmmm, that’s probably not a good thing.”

    And then I thought, “But hey, at least I think I’m pretty! Self-esteem for the win!”

    Thank you, Tess, for once again pointing out that there are some things very wrong with my brain.

  2. Ha. Ha. Ha.

    Redcaps are my favorite, because I identify with them *way too much*. I’m glad I’m not alone. πŸ˜‰

  3. Because I’m pretty, they don’t suspect I want to eat their faces and soak my hat in their freshly spilled blood- That line made me immediately realize redcaps. WOOT! Haha this is definitely Merry Fates Christmas Spirit!! I loved it- was disappointed at how short it was, but I guess that’s flash fiction- thank you for it!! πŸ™‚

  4. I’m glad you recognized them. I adore redcaps.

    And I’m sorry its short, too. I’m having a Bad Week and this is all I was up for, alas. It took me longer than most of my 3,000 word stories! ACK!

  5. An excellent short horror!
    I love how it alternates and the ending is all the more vivid for being imagined by the reader.
    *shudder*
    Thank you for sharing,
    Happy Holidays!
    RKCharron

  6. Thanks! I’m glad you liked it. And I’m glad you still wish my happy holidays after the end! πŸ˜‰

  7. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

    *takes a deep breath*

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

    I will not sleep tonight. Thanks.

    Seriously. You freaked my shit out so hard. The last time I remember being this scared by a story was a Stephen King short called “The Boogeyman”.

  8. Awesome. I’d say you could call me if you can’t sleep, but then I *would* eat your face off. πŸ˜‰

    *win*

  9. I would say I’d just go on my journal and verbally eviscerate you if I can’t sleep, but that would just add to your mythos. Instead, I just retweeted your story link so all my friends can be scared. Terror – the gift that keeps on giving…like a pregnant cat.

  10. Terror – the gift that keeps on giving…like a pregnant cat.

    LOL. THE MERRY SISTERS OF FATE: Scary like a pregnant cat.

    L.O.L.

  11. Ah! Perfect creepy for the holiday season… Santa hats do seem a bit ominous now that you’ve brought up redcaps…

  12. Yes! And think about it: Santa climbs down your chimney while you’re sleeping, eats the food you’ve left to appease him, if you’ve been good he rewards you, if you haven’t he punishes you… he stalks us all year long. CREEPY. I don’t have to make anything up.

    …ok, I made up the eating kids part.

  13. It’s true. Well, not the eating kids part (as far as I know) but the inherent breaking-and-entering, “he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake”? It doesn’t take much to make it terrifying.

  14. I’ve seen an icon of Edward with those lines from “Santa Claus is coming to town.” I died laughing.

  15. i saw that too it was sooo funny. well ummm anyway great story!!!

    -polkadotiful

    P.S. i am hiding under my covers until the Christmas season is over

  16. That’s where I recognized it, and also where I fell in love with the story. Short is fine! This is excellent!!

  17. Pretty much sums up how I feel about Christmas. I think this is the first time you’ve disturbed me though. So win there. This line – Crumpled and smeared with dirt, it reminded her of an empty carcass, of road kill, of torn paper and old underwear. *love*

  18. Don’t apologize, I like short stories, I’m much more likely to read short short-stories when skipping through my friendslist on LJ and I actually read the whole story and enjoyed it immensly πŸ˜€

  19. Glad to hear it! Maybe I should try and occasionally put up short ones. Flash fiction is good for the soul!

  20. You are SO wrong. So very, very wrong. Seriously wrong. Damn, I loved this story. And now I’m gonna have nightmares about my totally awesome fluffy Santa hat that my kid keeps trying to steal at Christmas time.

    Icon is to indicate the thing I’m going to do to get this story out of my head. After reading it again (again), that is.

  21. Oh wow! Trust you Tessa to turn a santa hat into a bloodthristy instrument of evil πŸ˜€ Love it!

    Lesley

  22. Children are my favorite. They’re so trusting. So soft. So compliant. Following me away from their mothers, into service hallways and bathroom stalls. They laugh and giggle until the very end.

    they laugh and giggle till the very end… ok, creeeeeepy. i am never wearing another santa hat as long as i live! awesome story!!!!

  23. I read a Christmas story in March! Idiocy.

    Great horror. I won’t sleep at night now.

    And, all the time, in my mind, I saw, a red cap… Santa’s going to scare me now.

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