Christmas Intruder: Part One.

by Bear Hunter

The tragic events at the end of my trip to Korea and the heavy workload that met me on my return have kept me really busy.  Luckily, my contract is up in a week and 99% of my work is complete.  Construction on the bridge has been scheduled for six months down the line.  They wanted to extend my contract to help oversee the construction but I declined.  Let another engineer take on the stress, I’m done.  After a lot of soul searching I’ve decided I’m destined for greater things.  That’s all I wish to talk about that.

The stress of everything that has been going on has taken it’s toll on me.  Last night I contacted a friend of mine by phone and just sat back and listened to his stories.  He’s also a member of the community and he likes to go under the alias Space Case.

Like Paradox, Space Case has lived an interesting life.  Like me, he’s experienced events in his past that he can’t explain and that has lead him on a path few dare fellow.

His stories kept me both distracted and intrigued.  One amongst the rest hit a nerve.  I can’t fully express why.  It had to do with his childhood, a Christmas like none other.  Space Case was five-years-old.  He grew up in a lower-middle-class family.  He had three sisters and he was the youngest child.  His family lived in a small house in a port town not too far from the town’s ship yards.  With three girls and a young boy, Space Case’s parents were particularly protective.  SC was trained in the arts of caution and avoidance.  His father would hold drills three times a week on emergency procedures with strict protocols, all four children were tested.  SC’s father was a Captain on a fishing vessel and he only felt secure taking leave with the knowledge that his family could take care of themselves under any circumstance.

The 5-year-old Space Case prided himself on his diligence.

Christmas that year was as somber as most.  SC’s family did the best they could to endure the holidays.  SC’s mother did the best she could to spread cheer throughout the household.  She was deafly afraid that her children would suffer from envy towards more fortunate children if she didn’t give them reason to be grateful.  What she didn’t realize was that her kids found her faked enthusiasm to be exhausting, all but SC, he enjoyed any cheer he could get ahold of.

The reason for the gloom had to do with their small town’s poor yield of fish over the last couple of years.  Even a ship’s Captain could barely pull in enough of a share to see his family through.

That Christmas Eve SC’s mother read her children a condensed version of “The Christmas Carol” while his father indulged in enough egg nog to cause him to pass out in his seat.  Maybe a story about redemption and spirits on a cold and dark winter night wasn’t the best choice but the cheery ending was enough to create a feeling of comfort and wonder in the kids.

Once his mother had completed the story she sent the kids off to their respected rooms.  Space Case returned to the bedroom he shared with his 7-year-old sister Sally.  Sally tucked her little brother in, kissed him on the forehead and jumped into bed herself.  They could hear their mother in the other room struggling to help their father back onto his feet and drag him off into bed.  SC figured it would have been a real buzz-kill for the kids to run down the stairs in the morning only to see their father passed out on the floor with a thick coat of drool plastered on his face.  He was grateful that his mother spared them that much.

The young SC couldn’t sleep a wink.  He laid up in bed, he imagined all of the amazing toys he would wake up to.  Deep down he knew it was nothing more than hopeful thinking, a fantasy.  He didn’t care, if he couldn’t dream what could he do?

Hours passed and nothing happened, no jingling bells or reindeer hoofs.  He imagined that Santa would appear to the music of his own unique sound track.  He looked over at his sister and her breath was shallow but peaceful.  Bored and wired all at once, Space Case decided to head down the hall to the kitchen for a drink of water.

The hall was dark so SC had to navigate the length of the hall by running his hand along the wall.  All he could see was a faint gleam of moonlight reflected off of the smooth surface of the stove.  As the kitchen drew closer SC began to feel a slight tingling sensation in his feet.  The sensation began to travel up his small body.  He breathed in deep as the air around him began to grow thicker.  SC described his walk through the thick air as “a space walk through a wall of jello.”  SC held his breath as he fought his way through the strange haze in the dark hall.  The air returned to normal as quickly as it had first changed.

He nearly tripped over his feet as he slid across the kitchen floor as his slippered feet hit the smooth tile.  He reached out for the stove which brought his slide to an end.  SC’s breathing was rapid, he had no idea what had just happened.  He tip-toed over to the wall to flip on the kitchen light.  Before he could light up the kitchen he heard a noise, like boots grinding against stone.  Space Case froze…

I’ll return to the story when I have the chance.