Out of the Woods: A Christmas Story

Christmas-tree-roofIt was, fittingly, early December when I began to contemplate my own mortality. There was always a vague awareness that nothing lasts forever, but I am descended from a family of hardy stock, a number crossing the century mark. Bad luck can fell anyone, but in my relative youth I had no expectation that I would be the one upon whom misfortune would be visited.

Visitors were unusual, as I lived far out in the woods. I met the instrument of my doom, a strange young girl, under circumstances that seemed innocent at first. She was walking, ambling really, when she saw me. She stopped and just looked. Mere seconds later, she broke into a run toward me, stopping some few feet away. It was in that moment, I would later realize, that my fate was sealed. Now it is my lot to accept it.

The girl was joined by a much larger man. Soon both were pointing at me, and it was evident that I had become the focus of their interest. To my horror, I saw that the man was carrying an axe. He approached. He raised the axe. He brought it down, cutting into me. All I can remember of the next moments is searing pain. When I regained consciousness, I was lying down and tied up, which was unfamiliar and disorienting. I was being carried. At last, I was brought into a brightly lit house and dumped on the floor near the fireplace.

I must tell you that fire terrifies me. Whatever Promethean bargain these kidnappers had made, I wanted no part of it. Give me winter cold before risking conflagration.

A woman appeared and greeted the young girl and the man. All three just stood around as I lay on the floor, helpless, but soon they stood me up. Even as I felt my life force draining away as a result of my axe wound, they seemed unconcerned: I was to be an exhibit for their cruel amusement.

The man wrapped electrical wire around me. What form of torture could this be? Was I to be electrocuted? Nothing could be worse than the axe, I reassured myself. They brought me water, which was welcome – but I worried this was part of the electrical torture.  When he plugged in the wire, I mercifully felt nothing.

Weeks passed. The man, the woman, and the girl paid little attention, but every so often they would put something near me. A considerable number of these objects piled up on the floor. I was given more water.

One morning, there was a great commotion. The girl raced to me and began pulling apart many of the strange objects on the floor. Soon the man and the woman joined her, pulling apart some of the objects themselves. They seemed happy, mocking my despair. I vowed revenge.

I knew I was dying. There was no hope for me. Despite the rations of water, I was on borrowed time. I could hold out a few more days, certainly, and might manage a week or even two, but the end was near.

My sick and twisted captors, not satisfied to kill me and put me on display, proceeded to terrorize me: They lit the fireplace. I was in a panic, unable to escape. My thoughts raced. There must be some way out of this.

That was when I decided that fire could be my friend rather than my enemy. Mustering every bit of my failing strength and courage, knowing it was the last desperate act that I would ever be able to perform, I fell into the flames. My dehydrated body was immediately engulfed, just as I hoped. I could not save myself, but I could take my murderers with me. Burn in Hell, you barbarous sadists!