The girl was having nightmares.
Genevieve Holmes came and spoke with me this morning, expressing concern about her daughter, Annette. The little girl was having nightmares about Christmas and presents that were and were not there.
I knew Genevieve’s husband well, and after his death, I had told her to come and see me with any issues she might have. She told me, in detail, of the curious aspects of the child’s nightmares. Annette would be frozen in place, unable to move while something prowled around the bed. At times, despite her bedroom being on the second floor, Annette was positive she could see an old man pressing his face against the glass.
Genevieve had taken to sleeping in the girl’s room, which meant she wasn’t sleeping much at all.
Genevieve asked for my advice, and I offered to join them in the bedroom. The girl might just be having nightmares – it was the first Christmas since her father’s death – or there might be something more to it.
The nineties were proving to be a bit disruptive when it came to the Hollow and Father Christmas, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find some twisted elf lurking in Annette’s room.
I joined them for dinner, and after a more than decent roast and a fine bit of brandy, we retired to the girl’s bedroom.
Soon enough, mother and child fell asleep, and I alone remained awake.
The prowler arrived soon after, but he was neither a twisted elf nor was he Father Christmas.
It was Malcolm Holmes, Genevieve’s deceased father-in-law.
He moved about the room with an expression of sorrow, trying to place toys upon various surfaces for the girl to find. Yet no sooner had the toys left his hand than they faded.
The dead man turned to face me, confusion on his face. It took a moment, but recognition flared up, and he mouthed my name.
“Aye. You’re scaring the girl and her mother.”
His shoulders slumped, and he looked from Genevieve to Annette. He paused, then nodded. The dead man pointed to me, then to the child and the woman.
“Aye,” I told him. “To the best of my ability.”
He offered up a smile, looked upon his kin one last time, and then drifted from sight.