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Home for the Holidays


by icesmith

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Not every day had to be scary in the Haunted Woods, and Freya was determined to prove it. As she placed the final decoration upon the tree, she couldn't help but gaze out of the frosted window, her brow folding over as she sighed. Although the woods had been glazed over by the first snowfall, the sinister trees still seemed to stare directly towards her, causing a sinister chill to escalate down the young Cybunny's spine.

      Brushing it off, Freya flicked her lilac hair away from her eyes and made her way to the other side of the room, proudly gazing back at her newly-decorated tree. Well, almost proudly. Although the tinsel shone brightly, the room still seemed to be shrouded in darkness, the antique house creaking uncontrollably with every breath she took. Shaking her head in defeat, she made her way to the kitchen.

      Maybe a normal holiday is never going to happen in these woods...

      As she sat down, her mind was flooded with doubt and regret. If only she hadn't accepted that job she could still be curled in her nice, warm bed at home instead of having to stay in this noisy, old shack of a house. She never would have thought that she'd regret taking her dream job, but every day in the woods seemed to have its own unique scare...

      Well not today. Freya was determined to have a jolly and calm Christmas, once and for all.

      A large knock on the door interrupted her thoughts, causing the pink Cybunny to jump uncontrollably. With a lurch she raced to the door, her flowery dress floating precariously behind her. The knocking continued as she made her way through the living room and down the hall.

      "I'm coming!" Freya called, racing across the oaken floorboards.

      She stopped.

      The front door was two feet before her, yet she found her feet plastered firmly into the floor as she stared ahead. The door was split into two, the lower half consisting of a beautifully crafted wooden surface, with the upper comprising of a stained glass window, the myriad of colours shining through brightly in the winter sun.

      But there was no-one there.

      Despite the stained glass making the visual harder to perceive, Freya was certain that she would have seen a shadow of some sort from the other side, yet there was no-one. The banging continued. It was growing firmer and more consistent with each knock becoming a heart-wrenching bang, causing the Cybunny to lurch uncomfortably with every sound.

      Freya shook her head.

      "Don't be stupid," she said to herself as she walked up to the door. "It's probably just an impatient Chia that I can't see or something..."

      Unfortunately, 'or something' proved to be right. The banging ceased immediately as she placed her paw on the cold metallic handle and wrenched the door open, her eyes immediately scanning the perimeter. Her landing was empty, a single small parcel sitting comfortably on the wooden panels.

      The Cybunny's brow folded in confusion as she continued to gaze around, a cold winter chill blowing her hair viciously into her eyes. Freya looked at the parcel in confusion. It was wrapped neatly in a dull, brown paper, its contents held together securely by a single golden string which was gleaming out towards her with an effulgent glow.

      "How odd," she muttered as she bent down and picked it up, her eye immediately darting towards the small gift tag attached. Scribbled neatly in silver ink hung the words, From Eckle.

      Eckle?

      Freya searched the back of her mind, yet she was certain that she didn't know anyone called Eckle. Was it a nickname of a friend she had forgotten? No... no-one even knew her new address, let alone this... Eckle character.

      The breeze had intensified and Freya began to sneeze as another snow-shower began to form, the tiny sprinkles of white dust beginning to fall gently from the sky. With a shiver, the Cybunny placed the parcel back down on the landing, carefully making sure as to not disrupt the neat wrapping. As the coldness began to grow, Freya turned and made her way back inside.

      Maybe whoever delivered will realize it was the wrong house and come back to collect it, she thought to herself as she stepped into the warm comfort of the hall, closing the door firmly behind her. With a deep inhale, she made her way back into the living room, her Christmas tree still as seemingly dull as ever.

      Regardless, Christmas no longer seemed to be on her mind as she trailed through the room, her thoughts completely consumed by the strange gift. Did she know an Eckle? Was it so obvious that she simply wasn't realizing who it was? She giggled. Perhaps it was a secret admirer who had seen her moving in?

      Her momentary laugh stopped, however, as she stepped back into the kitchen, her cheerful grin snapped away. She felt her lower lip tremble as she gazed at the table, a familiar parcel perched neatly upon the wooden surface; its writing gleaming out towards her.

      From Eckle.

      The Cybunny couldn't move as she gazed at the package.

      "Impossible," she mumbled to herself, her eyes wide. "I thought I left it outside..."

      Her heart began to race, pounding away painfully at her chest as she paced towards the parcel. It's perfect presentation, the single golden string, the brown paper... it was definitely the same package, but how...

      Freya shook her head, bending down as she picked it up. "Silly me," she said returning back to the passage, her eyes focused entirely on the door. "I do let my mind run away with me sometimes."

      The snow had begun to fall heavier and Freya braced herself as she went outside. Slowly she placed the parcel back down on the landing, watching as the snow delicately formed a frosty layer on the top of the package as she went back inside.

      Exhaling a hearty sigh, she closed the door behind her and turned.

      Freya screamed.

      There, at the end of the small passage, was the package, its perfectly wrapped paper completely devoid of any snow. The Cybunny threw herself back in shock, painfully banging her head on the glassed door behind.

      Freya merely stared, her heart pounding away ferociously at her chest as she struggled to move. She could feel her brow dampening as her forehead creased. This can't be happening, this can't be happening...

      But it was. This time she was absolutely certain that she had left the parcel outside, but there it stood, the glistening nametag once again reaching out towards her. From Eckle. Slowly she began to walk towards it, her tail beginning to tremble in fear.

      The snow outside had shrouded the winter sun, dousing the house into a darkened shadow. Freya squinted as she crept up on the golden string, gently picking it up, her mind desperate for a logical explanation.

      "Time to sort this out," she said firmly to herself, making her way back outside, the package lodged carefully within her arms as she stepped into the oncoming blizzard. The snow was beginning to settle upon the ground and, as Freya made her way down onto the street below, she had to catch herself from slipping upon the glacial puddles that were forming.

      Her neighbours house was only a mere couple of feet away, yet the journey seemed to take forever as the Cybunny forced her way through the pelting snow, trying her best to protect the mysterious parcel from the onslaught of weather. Slowly she trod along the pavement until she reached the tiny bungalow, her cold paws stinging as she knocked upon the door.

      It wasn't long before the elderly Ogrin had arrived, his spectacles steamed over by the sudden gush of cold as he stepped outside.

      "Oh, Freya," said Greshin, beginning to shiver himself. "Please, do come inside, you'll freeze over out here!"

      "Thank you," Freya replied as he led her inside, her ears relaxing as the warmth of the nearby fireplace floated over a well-appreciated warmth. The house was considerably smaller than her own, but was decorated warmly for the holidays, a string of glowing lights beaming out towards her as she stepped into the cosy dining room. As Greshin sat down, he beckoned for the Cybunny to do the same, yet she remained standing.

      "Whatever seems to be the problem?" the Ogrin asked, detecting the fear plastered upon his neighbours face.

      Without wasting any more time, Freya placed the parcel on the table carefully. "Is this for you?"

      Greshin quickly wiped the steam off of his glasses as he gazed down, his hands beginning to tremble as he read the name tag. For a mere moment everything stood still, the gentle clicking of the clock halting as the wind outside hushed. Freya watched as the Ogrin's expression began to widen, his eyes enlarging behind his glass frames.

      He finally turned to the Cybunny, his voice croaky. "Do you know who Eckle is?"

      Freya shook her head. "No idea, I assumed it was delivered to the wrong house?"

      "Eckle..." He paused, his eyebrows narrowing as he tried to contemplate the situation. "Eckle used to live in that house of yours..."

      He gazed at the Cybunny, his expression blunt.

      "But she passed away just before you moved in."

      Freya remained motionless. No, it can't be possible...

      "So who sent the parcel?" she finally asked, her tiny whimpering voice barely audible over the sudden gust of wind outside.

      "There's only one way to find out," replied the Ogrin as he tenderly removed the golden string. Freya watched in fear as he slowly undid the wrapping paper, a small box revealing itself beneath. Slowly, Greshin lifted the silver lid and the duo peered inside.

      Held within was a single card, its plain surface holding only a single word. Welcome.

      The Ogrin smiled. "Maybe she just wanted to welcome you to the home?"

      Freya shook her head. It was a lovely thought, but she couldn't distinguish the sinister feeling she was absorbing as she gazed upon the card. Greshin watched as she picked up the card and opened it up, her expression beginning to expand with fear.

      Freya gasped as she read.

      I'm coming home for the holidays,

      From Eckle.

The End

 
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