Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Wild Hunt

This is the start of a festive tale I've been working on, featuring a variety of Scottish, Nordic and Icelandic Christmas characters and traditions...uhm...I haven't actually finished it though. So for now, it's just a bit from a thing...

1 - The Clanging Chimes of Doom

Clarence had been trouble from that first Christmas morning. Kyle's dad had got him from the cat rescue as a last minute surprise. Clarence had burst out of a big pile of Christmas wrapping paper looking all cute and tiny and Kyle's little sister Holly was so excited she had just burst into tears. Within five minutes, Clarence had peed on Kyle's playstation, knocked over the tree and smashed a scented candle, briefly setting fire to the advent calendar until dad doused the flames by chucking Kyle's hot chocolate over it. Everyone laughed about how they would have to get used to having a cat around the house, but not Kyle - he knew then.

That was almost three years ago, and since then, Kyle had got used to the ear piercing early morning shriek which meant that Clarence had left them another 'present' downstairs; voles, bats, frogs...they had seen it all. In one particularly epic battle, the catflap had snapped right off the door as Clarence had charged through it with a huge angry crow. The crow had flown into the toilet and it just sat there all day - glaring, flapping and cawing. Everyone held it in for as long as possible and just when they all thought they might have to move house rather than deal with the crow, the RSPCA turned up and took it away. Somehow, Kyle still ended up last in the queue for the toilet, so the whole thing annoyed him more than everyone else.

This morning's shriek seemed more shrill than usual, but that was possibly because Kyle had a thumping sore head. He had been off school with the cold for two days already and he didn't much fancy trudging back through the snow to go back today. There was going to be more Christmas Party social dancing rehearsal. Who rehearses for a party, thought Kyle, practicing fun in case you get it wrong. Mental. Although, he supposed he should be grateful that Mrs Nickneven was allowing any fun in her school at all - even carefully organised fun.
Kyle sat up in bed a little too quickly and white spots floated in front of his eyes like little sickly snowflakes.
"What's he brought in this time mum?" shouted Holly as she bounced down the stairs.
"Oh I can't even tell," wailed Mum. "A robin maybe? Don't come down here just yet love. It's like a horror movie. Honestly, that cat needs to go."
She always says that, thought Kyle, but he's still here.
"Oh Kyle come and get these please will you?" shouted Mum. "Dad's already away and you know I can't face it."
"But I'm not well!" said Kyle.
"Exactly," said Mum. "So you probably can't feel any worse."
Kyle shuffled out of bed and wobbled woozily downstairs, holding on to the bannister.
"A robin. Seriously?" he said "Very Christmassy. Maybe we're supposed to hang it off the tree..."
Mum was waiting at the bottom of the stairs, looking the other way, "Thank you sweetheart," she said, giving him a kiss, a dustpan and a binbag, "I'll make you some porridge."
Through half closed, still blurry eyes, Kyle looked around for Clarence's horrible Christmas gift. There really wasn't much there - no feathers at all in fact. There was a lot of glitter, and rather strangely, a little green Santa hat with a bell, but that was all.
"Mum there's nothing here," said Kyle. "I think he's just broken a tree decoration, or knocked something off the shelf again."
"Are you kidding?" shouted Mum from safely inside the kitchen. "There's...stuff...everywhere. Just sort it out please."
"Fine," muttered Kyle, brushing up the glitter and some torn cloth. "At least it's not another squirrel."

It was the kind of classic sick day when Mum didn't even ask if Kyle felt well enough to go to school, she just sent him straight back to bed after breakfast.
"I need to nip to the shops for ten minutes though," said Mum. "I want to get some disinfectant to properly clean up downstairs. Will you be okay?"
"Fine Mum," said Kyle, "I'll just try to get back to sleep."
He didn't even hear Mum lock the door...

...Kyle woke with a start.
Bells. He could hear bells.
He sat up and waggled his finger in his ear. The bells kept ringing.
Kyle blinked and rubbed his eyes, slowly the bedroom flickered into focus. And that's when he saw it.
There was an elf standing at the bottom of his bed. Rosy cheeks, curly shoes, cute nose - the works. An elf. An elf who was angrily jangling the bell on her little green pointy hat.

"Your stupid cat killed me," said the elf. "Now what are you going to do about it?"

Here's Bjork singing a song about one of the characters in the story, Jolakotinn, the terrifying and merciless Yule Cat...