Oh and due to lots of confusion and other shenanigans, I have indeed written a short story with this prompt to later use as backup. Here it is!
Last year, because I had always behaved so brilliantly, Santa gave me the closest friend I'll ever have. Mum and Dad often teased me about our profound friendship and said that Flappy was 'just a rabbit" and that I should play with the other children in the neighborhood instead of 'shutting myself off in the yard'. They sadly didn't get the concept of my magical adventures with Flappy. In the afternoon, I wasn't just a little girl in some boring old suburb, but a badass superhero with an even more kickass rabbit sidekick. Every day we slayed evil-doers like the evil Barbie doll or the blood-crazed teddy bear with a fondness for rabbit legs.
The fact that it was Christmas Eve didn't hamper our daily operations. No, this was the perfect chance to execute the highly anticipated Santa mission that was planned hours ago. As sneaky as the heroes from the Saturday morning cartoons I tiptoed down the stairs to hopefully catch a glimpse of the Christmas presents stacked under the tree. Mum and Dad did manage to catch me last year, but with Flappy as my wonderful distraction, I'll surely complete my mission with ease.
As I held my breath, my eyes scanned the dark living room looking for any signs of danger or possible intruders. To my relief, all that greeted me were two boxes wrapped in shiny gift paper, a lopsided Christmas tree, and utter silence. I shivered as I felt the cold air coming through the garden door that was left wide open. Carefully I picked up the largest box and gave it a light shake. I sniffed. No sound. Just as I was in the process of slowly peeling off the tape, I heard a heavy thud coming from the kitchen.
My heart almost sprung from my chest as I suppressed a gasp. Mum and Dad were still upstairs, asleep. No one should be downstairs except you. Could it be a robber or worse, a murderous teddy bear who was out to chop me into little pieces? I bit my lip while I balled my hands into fists. It was time to steel my nerves and don the hero's cape.
I left the presents behind to slowly made my way to the kitchen door, praying that the wooden floor won't creak under my increasingly hesitant steps. The thuds grew louder and heavier. A certain foul smell reminiscent of the rusted iron of Flappy's old cage flooded my nostrils. Mustering all the remaining bravery I possessed, I pushed the door slightly open.
A rabbit leg, torn open. A kitchen counter dyed red.
My hand covered my mouth. My eyes widened.
Its tendons and muscles, exposed under the pale moonlight. A claw holding onto a bloodied knife.
The sickening cloying smell made me want to tear up.
Flappy's eyes, bulging out of her severed head. A low hum akin to a beast's growl.
Although I wanted to run away as far as I could, the looming weight of dread kept me nailed to the floor. Flappy never moved away from my line of sight. While watching her lifeless eyes I could almost hear her accusing me of failing to save her from this gruesome fate. All I was able to do was watch as a looming figure came into view. Under the harsh shadows and the flickering light, my eyes could only take note of its gargantuan back, its deep red clothes and hat, and its heavy boots. I shook my head. It couldn't be true. However, the sight of its white beard sealed away any lingering hope I once had.
As the figure was about to turn around, the invisible strings that tied me to the floorboards broke. In tears, I fled to my room, locked the door, and fell asleep. In my dreams, Flappy's corpse, now filled with maggots and flies, clung to the hem of my skirt.
"Where were you, Eva?" She rasped. "It hurts."
I opened my mouth, but no sound came. Flappy smiled. Her rotten jaw hung onto her skull with only a few tendons as she pulled me closer.
"Find Santa and avenge me. That's what heroes do."
Despite all my previous made promises, I stayed holed up in my room till Mum and Dad had to drag me out to eat dinner the following day. After I had to sit through one of their many lectures on why I'm such a bad child for keeping the door locked and why I shouldn't be ruining the Christmas spirit by being so difficult, I sat down near the candlelit dinner table with Mum who had donned a garish pink sweater and an even pinker pair of pants. Festive occasions need equally festive clothes. At least, that was what she told me. However, to me, Mum just looked like a plastic doll whenever she tried to dress more 'festive'.
"Dad's busy doing his magic in the kitchen. He'll soon join us."
I listlessly pushed around the potato salad on my plate. Although I normally gorged down that dish as if it was the last meal I ever ate, the creamy potatoes now tasted like glue and ash. Mum sighed while filing her nails.
"Eva, we already talked about it this morning. That rab- Flappy is a bit too lively to be sitting in such a small cage all day. Last night she just grew bored, packed up her things, and ran away to who knows where."
"The garden door was wide open and there was blood everywhere and I saw its claws and everything and it was about to turn around and murder everyone."
"You just had a very bad dream." She said with a tight-lipped smile. Her painted face remained fixed on the kitchen door. "Must be because you're always daydreaming about all those crazy things instead of playing with your friends."
My jaw clenched as she told me those lies again. No matter how much I insisted that a monster called Santa broke into the house and took Flappy away, my mother remained a non-believer. I knew Mum meant well, but my eyes didn't betray me during that fated night. Never would I forget the lifeless eyes of Flappy staring down at me. The cloying smell of death lingered in the house. Only I was unfortunate enough to notice it. An overimaginative brain could never replicate those haunting sights.
"I'm not," I said after a long moment of silence.
"You are sweety."
Mum laid her hand on my shoulder and tightly squeezed it. For a brief moment, I could swear that I saw a dash of a poisonous smile painted on her face, but it vanished as quickly as Dad's homemade cookies. I automatically shrunk back into the chair. A shiver ran down my spine.
All of a sudden the kitchen door burst open along with the hearty smell of meat pie. Dad, who had matched Mum's in terms of garishness, wore a sweater with a pink bear embroidered on it. Last year it had fit perfectly, but now it could barely hide his gargantuan beer belly that had been growing since he got his promotion. His jolly smile fitted right in with the men in the holiday commercials while his grin reminded me of a toothpaste salesman.
"Come on sunshine, where's that smile?" He said. "It's Christmas, no reason to look as if you'd just seen a serial killer."
After another insistent squeeze from Mum, I mustered up a thin smile. Dad's brows slightly twitched, but he didn't press on. He placed the steaming pie on the table, sliced a piece off it, and put it on my plate.
"Try it. It sure will taste familiar, but I put my spin on it." He said.
I took a bite of it. The crust was slightly too soft and the filling somehow felt slightly off.
"It's fine." I said while slowly chewing on the stringy meat. "The chicken is a bit strange."
Dad sat down and crossed his arms. The corner of his mouth curled up. Mum always glared daggers at him whenever he did that. This time it was no different. Dad pointedly turned his eyes away from her and shoved his cheerful smile up my throat.
"Oh, it isn't chicken."
I swallowed the remaining bits of pie before speaking.
"Then what is it?"
Dad leaned forward. The shadow behind him dramatically increased in size. The knife he had been holding glistened under the flickering candlelight. The two corners of his mouth remained eerily fixed as if someone had sown it on his face. As his mouth opened, I smelt the sickly sweet smell of honey.
My heart stopped beating the moment he uttered that word. All of a sudden the fog cleared up in front of my eyes. I swallowed down the rising bile, but the taste of that foul meat still lingered on my tongue. During that cursed night, there was no robber nor a monstrous Santa. Such a broad figure and those heavy boots could only belong to Dad- no, the person who was supposed to be Dad. The world in front of me began to spin. However, no matter how I tried to twist and bent this image, my eyes could only see a blood-crazed monster.
I whipped my head to the other person in the room, the other accomplice. A sense of betrayal and a sinking feeling of dread flooded my already churning stomach as she refused to look me in the eyes. However, her pointed nails digging through my skin said more than any word could do.
With trembling hands, I put my fork down. Just as I was always trained to do, I showed them the most angelic smile I could produce. With a pitch higher than I normally spoke, I shoved away the whirlpool of emotions building inside of me and sweetly looked at the monster.
"It's strange but very tasty. I like it a lot. Daddy is the best chef in the world." I said. "Can I get my present?"
The monster puffed out its chest and stroke its beard. It then sauntered off to the living room. The rolls of fat bounced with every step it took. It didn't take long for the monster to reappear again, this time with a bunch of carefully wrapped boxes in its talons. It shoved the biggest one in my hands as it bared its yellowed fangs. Wishing to be done with it as quickly as possible, I tore off the paper to at last unveil a hockey stick.
"And?" The monster growled.
"I-I like it."
Before the monster could open its mouth again, the accomplice happily chirped in. Her screeching voice made every nerve in my body itch.
"Sweety, Mum, and Dad had been thinking a lot about you. We were a bit worried that you were shutting yourself off in the backyard so much and that you weren't making friends at school. So we thought that it would be great for you to play hockey and be part of the local team."
Words that were supposed to be filled with love and care, felt hollow and empty. I brought the stick closer to my chest. Tears wouldn't even come anymore no matter how suffocating the air around me was. I failed to save Flappy last night and now I even couldn't muster up the courage to defend her name and confront her killers. Flappy, sorry that I couldn't be the hero you wanted me to be. After all, true heroes belonged in the world of pen and paper, not in the one of flesh and blood. The most I could ever be was a cowardly little girl.
I tilted my head and smiled.
"Thank you, Mum. Thank you, Dad. thank you for everything."