A warm glow emanated from the twinkling lights. With the world outside still a backdrop of darkness, the Christmas tree shone like a beacon of hope. It cast its light about the living room. The small space danced to life with the glitter of the presents under the tree, the sheen of the white marble mantel over the fireplace, and the sparkle of the ornaments.
I sat curled up on the sofa. With my legs tucked to my chest, a mug of steaming hot cocoa warming my fingers, I gazed at the scene set before me. It was perfect. The stockings hung filled to the brim. The train sat on its tracks, waiting to circle the tree with a myriad of Christmas songs. Yet, the best part was the hush in the air. The quiet silence was like the world holding its breath in wait of the joy of Christmas that was to come. A smile tugged at my lips as I took a sip of my cocoa. The warm chocolaty taste completed my night.
Behind the tree, something moved. My attention diverted in time to see a shadow flash by the window. Panic clenched my diaphragm painfully. My fingers squeezed the mug of hot cocoa. I pulled my legs even closer to my chest. My ears perked for noise while my eyes set about scanning the blackness.
It zipped by again, closer to the window.
My heart slammed against my chest, spurring me to my feet. Somehow I settle the mug down without spilling it even though my hands shook violently. I backed away from the window. Still, my eyes locked onto it, unable to tear away despite the fear coursing through my veins.
Taking another step back, the figure snapped into the frame of the window faster than any natural thing should move. A gasp cut off my scream. Fear threw me backwards, slamming me into an armchair. I toppled into the chair. Scrambling to right myself, I flashed my attention back to the empty window. It was gone. Even so, the black-furred face, the gleaming white grin, and the long, twisting horns protruding from its head stayed burned on my eyelids.