Santa had to die some time thought Death as his skeletal reindeer headed towards Rectory Close pulling a sleigh of spooky surprises. Slayer, his lead reindeer, co-coordinated a soft landing on the roof of Number 2 Rectory Close. Without leaving tracks in the deep snow Death got to work – it was his belief that the nine families in this Close had been remarkably lucky this year – things would be evening out this Christmas morning he thought as he left turkeys, crackers, stockings, presents, snowballs, and cards for the shining, happy people. I’ll be greeting you later.

With his work complete Death lifted off from the roof. As he did so, Timothy Sprake crept out of bed and sneaked downstairs to open a present or two before his parents awoke. What was in the stocking hanging from the mantelpiece, he’d never seen that before? Tentatively he put his 7-year old hand into the bottom and then he started to shriek. Something was biting his wrist and eating his forearm; Timothy couldn’t pull his hand out – his parents came running into the room and tried to pull Tim and the blood-soaked stocking apart. Eventually the stocking belched and Tim was free with his arm badly chewed up to the elbow.

“Who gave him that stocking?”, asked his father as he dialled for the ambulance and police. “I have never seen it before,” said Tim’s mother, tying a tourniquet around the screaming Tim’s arm. The stocking moved to the chimney and disappeared into the chilly morning.

At Number 4 the Kaylors were gathered around the tree undoing their presents under the watchful gaze of a toy reindeer. As Mrs Kaylor moved to pick up a box wrapped in black paper, the reindeer barked a warning “Don’t open that”. Mr Kaylor glared at the toy and asked “Who’d have thought that toy reindeer would be so technology advanced?”. Mrs Kaylor stroked the reindeer in a kind way and then undid the bow on the box; instantly she was headbutted by a squawking jack-in-the-box who then sprayed gas in her face before bursting into flames. His eerie laugh echoed around the room and the children started to cry as Mr Kaylor dowsed his wife with eggnog.

At Number 6 the Fosters were enjoying a hearty breakfast – they decided that some Christmas crackers would be appropriate. Ben and Nigel, the twin brothers, pulled one and read the motto together “Enjoy the rest of your life, if you have time”. Ben placed the paper hat on his head and it immediately turned into a crown of thorns piercing his scalp and making him yelp in pain. Nigel was still holding the end of the cracker and a curl of smoke came out of the end which manifested into a giant ghost that threw the candles into the tree. Mrs Foster picked up the rest of the box of crackers and was about to throw them into the fireplace when they transmuted into bats, which screeched around the room polluting the punch and tormenting the terrier. Tinsel from the tree crept across the carpet like caterpillars and tried to throttle Ben as he tried to remove his crown. An eerie voice proclaimed “You will be king forever”.

At 8 Rectory Close the Foremans were admiring the family’s new car, which had mysteriously arrived in the driveway overnight with everyone claiming someone else must have bought it. Ronald Foreman, clothed in dressing gown and slippers, climbed into the driving seat and put on his seatbelt. He switched on the ignition as the rest of the family milled around. The seatbelt tightened automatically to fit Mr Foreman’s ample girth. As he looked into the mirror he saw the face of Death smiling back. The belt continued to tighten as the car, now with a mind of its own, knocked down the rest of the family and then hurtled into the garage with Mr Foreman lifeless behind the wheel.