She stalked silently on stocking feet. Careful to not make a sound as she approached her prey. She could do this. She knew she could, but the consequences raced through her mind. The screams from the last time still haunted her, and she was unsure if she was ready for that again. She had to remind herself to breath. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. Slow the breathing. Lower the heart rate. One step at a time she reminded herself. Her target was ahead. He stood there transfixed by the artificial landscape in front of him. It wasn’t until recently he had become obsessed with his Christmas village. Every year for the last five he had bought a new building and a few new people. Slowly it grew, and now it was a full fledged village.
He had not heard her yet and for this she was thankful. Her task was much easier unnoticed. She stepped silently with her left foot. Then her right. left foot again. She was almost there. Just on or two more steps and she would be within striking distance. She didn’t know if all her sneaking about mattered as he was so deep in concentration that she could have shattered every lamp in the house on her way to him and he wouldn’t have noticed, but she had to do this the right way. Silence was key. She had to reach him undetected. Then the act would be done.
She looked done at her green and red fluffy Christmas socks and remembered the night he had bought them for her. They had gone to a holiday party at a friend, no, more of a minor acquaintance’s house. This was the first year he had that damnable Christmas village and he was anxious to get back to it. She could see him fidgeting as soon as they arrived, and as soon as the host said the guests could at he rushed to the table and filled a plate. He gobbled down his food. Barely having time to chew or close his mouth. He really was a slovenly jackass at times. After he had finished his plate of food he informed her he was ready to go. She asked him as quietly as she could if he thought it polite to show up to a party at someone’s home, eat, and leave. He told her he saw no issue with it as they barely knew the hosts of the party and hadn’t the slightest clue as to who all the other guests were. She insisted they stay thirty more minutes so as not to be rude but then they could go and he could get back to his precious Christmas village. The next night these socks were on her pillow. He must have thought it a good gift to make up for the previous night’s indiscretions.
Tonight she didn’t wear the socks because they reminded her of him. No, she wore them because they were her thickest, softest pair, and perfect for sneaking up on people. She slowed her breathing further making it more shallow. The last thing she wanted was to get this close and for him to feel her breath on his back moments before she could act. None of this would work if he noticed her. She would have to go back to being the dutiful wife. Say she was here to see if he wanted anything, and not commit the act she had in mind. The act she’d been planning for the last week.
It was time. She was so close to him that if he hadn’t been lost in arranging the new inhabitants of his Christmas village he would certainly sense her presence behind him. She reached out. The final moments upon them. With her left hand she took the ridge of his collar and pulled him back into her. She felt him stumble off balance and his should come to rest upon her’s as she stepped in braced to take the extra weight. Her right hand darted towards him and he felt the icy chill go down his spine as his once loving wife pressed the ice cube to the back of his neck and let it drop into his shirt.
As if nothing had occurred she asked him, “What are you working on?”
“Damn it. Damn it. That is fucking cold. I thought we had agreed that you wouldn’t bother me when I was deep in concentration,” He replied.
“Well you’re not concentrating now, are you?”
“I guess not, but was that completely necessary?”
“You get so involved in this stupid Christmas village that I had to do something. The other day you threw a fit when I clanked a pan in the kitchen. The instructions on the noodles say stir occasionally. I stirred occasionally. It isn’t my fault that the spoon clanked against the side of the pan, but no. You’re in here with your Christmas village. With little Tiny Tim and Scrooge McDuck or whatever you named these hobby horses of yours, and you just had to answer the tiny clink of a spoon by slamming your fist against the wall. Is that mature? Is that how an adult acts?” To highlight that her last two questions were meant mostly in jest she looped his collar in her right hand and pulled him to her for a kiss.
“So, I guess I’m forgiven then?” He asked.
“I have to think about that. Now what are we working on in this village? Who’s that there? And…” Then she noticed it. one of the houses wasn’t the typical porcelain ones that all the Christmas stores sold. It was a small wooden house and the door had been ripped off the hinges. Trailing away from it in the cotton ball snow was a deep red trail of what she had to assume was blood, “What exactly is going on in your Christmas village?”
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“What do I mean? There’s that shack on the western edge of town with the door ripped off the hinges and a trail of blood leading away. Don’t you think that’s a little bizarre to include in your peaceful, perfect Christmas village?” She asked.
“Not at all. No. You alluded to Dickens earlier, and whenever I think of Victorian England it isn’t long until I think of the White Chapel Murders. The last victim of Jack the Ripper, Mary Kelly, was found on November 9, and I’m certain that the fear was still high in the streets of London come Christmas time. There may have even been copycat killers or murders Jack committed that have been lost to the annuals of history. Why shouldn’t my Christmas village have a serial killer?” He answered.
“It’s morbid, and unseemly. What if my parents came over?”
“When was the last time your parents came over?”
“I concede that point, but what if my sister brought her children over? They visit us every once in awhile and might remember to do so this Christmas.” she said and added in her mind, “Unlike the last two years.”
“And if they do we will tell them the tale of the Christmas killer. A killer that stalks the night doing to bad little boys and girls what their parents find too difficult. Bringing punishment and justice to all those little boys and girls that forget to do their homework or brush their teeth before going to bed.”
“By murdering them?”
“God no. That’s awful. He simply stuffs them in a sack and takes them to his lair to make a nice Christmas stew. No, we only tell them that tale to distract them from the serial killer.”
“Then what if they ask about the blood, and..” At this moment she noticed a piece of twine he had died read and wrapped around the neighboring holly bush, “Are those entrails? Did your serial killer disembowel his victim and leave the entrails strung like tinsel in the neighbors bushes?”
“Oh, that. That’s unintentional. I was going to put them on the bed inside the house but then someone shoved an ice cube down my shirt and I dropped them in the bushes. Now that you mention it it is a nice touch. What better for a Christmas killer to do than run around using body parts as Christmas decorations? We can cut the foot off one of your old Barbies and put it in Jim’s stocking over here.”
“One of my old what? If you want a foot you take it off of one of your dolls and leave mine out of this. Me and my dolls will not be an accessory to your brutality against the poor citizens of this Christmas village.”
“Have it your way. I thought this could be a good couples activity. Making a murderer and all that. We already have the murder scene. Now we need the mystery.”
“Did you think that all I had in my Christmas village were regular folks and monsters? No. Look over here,” he said as he pointed at a two story row house.
“That’s just a regular house,” she said picking it up and examining it at all angles to make certain she wasn’t missing anything.
“Look closer,” he responded.
She sarcastically and cynically pulled the small house as close as she could to her face and said, “Nope. Not seeing it.”
“That’s 221B Bakers Street. The home of ones Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.”
“And who are they again?”
“Sometimes I wonder if you’re being purposefully daft.”
“Not this time. The significance of this is lost on me.”
“Sherlock Holmes was a fictional detective in Victorian England. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol may be set in 1843 and Holmes not written into existence until 1890 and the Ripper murders occurring in 1888 but the Victorian era was 1937 to 1901 and we can condense it here to one distinct moment capturing all that was the Victorian era around Christmas time. Did you know most of our modern Christmas traditions come from the Victorians? It’s only proper then that my Christmas village pay homage to the entire era,” he exclaimed.
“Well then. I’m off to get another ice cube.”