by C.L. Sidell
The tree was too big for our house; its crown bent under the ceiling and too-long branches snatched our sleeves when we walked past.
“Best find in the state!” Pops boasted.
We woke Christmas morning to find every present under the tree open, a red-eyed ghoul crouched among wrapping paper and pine needles.
“No good,” it hissed, fangs bared. “I require greater compensation”—it scratched the trunk—“for losing home.”
Pops scanned the room. Then, finger shaking, pointed at me.
“You can have him.”
A scream clawed at my throat as Pops slunk backward, and the creature, salivating, slowly approached.
A native Floridian, C. L. Sidell grew up playing with toads in the rain and indulging in horror stories. She holds a master of arts in both English and library & information science, moderates two creative writing groups, and reviews books for the Florida Library Youth Program. Her work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in 34 Orchard, 50 Haikus, 805 Lit, Dark Moments, The Dread Machine, opia, Quarantine Quanta, Spark: A Creative Anthology, and others.