It was dark. I tried to find the light switch. But my hand only pathetically wiped over the cold walls.

Every fiber of my body froze, except my face, which grew hotter and hotter as my heart beat faster and faster.

My hand jerked upwards and downwards yet found nothing but smooth wallpaper.

I dreaded what awaited me at it’s end, but due to the lack of options, I was forced to retreat into the lightless room. My hands let go of the wall and I clumsily ran into the darkness, unable to navigate at all. No matter how much I ran, I was unable to find any wall, any door, any end.

I heard thundering footsteps above me again, moving towards me. My heart stopped for a moment, the air grew colder and I waited with fearful tears leaking out of my eyes.

It was too much to take.

I tried to run back the way I came, but I had entirely lost my sense of orientation. All I knew is that the thick shadows were gnawing on my sanity. The silence was so loud, so pronounced and unbearable. It was worse than the footsteps. I tripped on something and my arm hit a solid surface. The wall. But what was there on the ground?

I was scared to touch it, to search for it.

I tried to take in the smell of the room. The dusty, old smell of an old, rotting house had been in every room but this one…

No, something else was rotting.

"I am," I thought involuntarily.

But no, what nonsense. There was a rotting corpse on the ground.

A rotting, mouldy, maggot-filled corpse.

My naked feet suddenly felt as if something brushed against them, something small and slimy. Something white.

But things cannot feel ‘white’, can they?

I wanted to get out of this corner, I wanted to get away from this corpse. "This is not me," I told myself.

"It is your room," a voice in my head replied.

My bedroom, my bed. I was so tired. I felt so unsafe.

I never felt like I needed someone else around me, I hated human contact. But in that moment, my heart was filled with the desire for comfort, safety and a mother.

"You cannot have your mother, but comfort and safety," the voice urged me on. "Go to bed, it is your bed."

I was obedient and lay down on my bed, and before I even had given it thought, hiding under my blanket.

"Even before the monster comes."

The monster. I changed into a fetal position, pulling the blanket over my head, unable to bear the thought of a monster appearing in my room. Not my room. It cannot be in my room. My room is safe.

My room is-

"Inhabited by maggots. Maggots eating their way through a corpse. Your corpse. Your smelly, stinking, rotting corpse," the voice in my head completed my sentence.

"No," I whispered frantically. "No, no, no. This is not it. This is not what I wanted to say."

"Who cares about what you wanted to say, if what I say is true?" the voice in my head whispered into my ear. I could feel the hot breath, smell the unpleasant scent of a fouling tongue as its words penetrated my mind.

But this could not be. I was in my bed. I was safe.

I was under my blanket.

My body relaxed. Nothing happened. The silence seemed more comforting and welcoming each second. I dared to look up from under my blanket to see that it was not as bad.

The last bits of moonlight caressed my window, and I saw my room to be as usual as ever. It was not wide and spacious. It was my room.

It was not cold. It was my room. It was not dusty. It was my room.

The door was ajar, alright. But it was my room. The light switch was… I tried to scan my room for it but it was still too dark and I tried not to care.

"The corpse is rotten. It is your room," the taunting whisper in my head let me know.

"No," I told myself. "There is no corpse."

"There is, there is," the voice replied. "Look for yourself."

I could not help it and saw something right next to me on the floor. I had never seen something as disgusting before.

The ground was green and white, the mould spreading everywhere like cobwebs. The carpet was full of rotten bits of flesh. The corpse's head was disfigured beyond recognition, and out of its eyes crawled hundreds and thousands of tiny, nasty, slimy maggots, shimmering in the moonlight.

I retreated under my blanket. It was just a dream. Just a dream.

"That is worse, is it not? Because if it is just a dream, who will hear your scream? Who will save you? Mommy won’t," the voice sniggered.

"Go away!" I screamed into my mind.

"Why? Are you not lonely? Do you not long for a comforting companion? I can cheer you up for ever and ever and ever," the voice laughed.

I buried my tearful face deeper and deeper into the dusty, moldy, smelly bed. I wanted to be away. Away from that corpse. I felt a prickling on my face. "It is the maggots," I told myself involuntarily, but was repulsed immediately.

"And then," the voice continued shakily, as if in an attempt to control its laughter, "Then I’ll gross you out for ever and ever and ever. It will never be boring, it will never be lonely."

I found it hard to breathe, but I pressed my face even deeper into the repulsive bed.

And then something happened that made my blood freeze, my heart stop. The silence had been intruded upon by light, slow footsteps.

Footsteps circling me, my bed. My teary face still buried into the rotting fabric, I heard the footsteps becoming louder, faster. More vigorous.

I stopped breathing. I knew it was pathetic but I still tried to cling to the hope, the illusion that the monster did not know where I am, that I was well hidden, that I was safe.

"Stop hiding. I’ll find you. I’ll find you anyways. Anyways and always," the voice screamed now madly, but outside of my head.

I waited. I waited. I waited so long.

The footsteps had stopped at last. The silence was unbearable.

The air seemed heavy. I almost ran out of breath and turned around so my face was away from the mattress.

Suddenly, a white hand, a hand with bloody claws penetrated my safe harbour, my blanket.

I was horrified and felt my body twitch. The hand moved towards me slowly, its movements not unlike a disgusting spider. It grabbed my hand forcefully, tried to pull me out of there.

Then a second hand pulled away the blanket completely and I stared into a disfigured, pale face. "I won," the creature spoke. As it’s blood-red mouth moved, I noticed the rows of sharp, yellow teeth. Repulsed, I tried to look away, but my eyes caught it’s glowing, yellow eyes.

‘Merry Christmas,' it spoke, and its lips curled into a sickening smile, blood flowing out from it’s thin lips. Face to face, I was with what seemed to be a disfigured, horrifying christmas elf, the red hat ripped and dirty, full of dry blood. The temperature seemed to drop a couple hundred degrees.

I screamed. I screamed so loud I woke myself up, fell out of my bed. For a moment, I expected to see the monster as close to my face as before… Then, the clarity of the memories of my horrible dream faded away. I only could remember… waking up at night… needing the toilet… the smell… the footsteps… the darkness…

But it was just a dream.

My mother can save me.

Mom… she probably did not send anything again this year as well…

Christmas without presents. Without friends, family… The holiday of love while feeling like the least loved person on earth.

But wait, there was a package. Right next to me. Right under the window, right where the corpse… but now, it had been just a stupid dream…

I took it, not unsuspicious, and when I saw that inside the unsuspectingly brown package was a present, stored in a festive red and gold wrapping, the letters ‘Merry Christmas’ written all over it, my pulse went up rapidly.

With twitching, trembling hands I took out a mirror.

And even though every fiber of my body told me not to, something just… made me look into it.

And what I saw was beyond horrifying, terrifying, disgusting, disturbing…

No, what looked back at me was no less than the face of the rotten corpse, slimy, tiny, hungry maggots crawling out of its eyes as they ate their way through the rotten flesh.

A voice sniggered behind me.

"Merry, o most merry Christmas."

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