This is the best way to spend Christmas. Settled by the fire with the cats on our laps, watching movies, relaxing. It’s Christmas Eve, and we’ve finally got the boy off to bed. Typical Christmas Eve; he didn’t want to go to bed.
The wife tuts and says, “He’s just excited about Father Christmas coming. And he’s only six.”
The clock on the mantelpiece has just struck midnight. The wife looks at me.
“You should put his stocking in his room,” she says.
“Isn’t it your turn? I can’t move.” I indicate the cats. They’re sprawled all over my lap, purring loudly. They’re not usually this affectionate.
“Well, I’m the same,” she says. She is. Two more cats are curled around her. They came in from next door, I think. That big ginger tom looks familiar. I know they’re not ours, at least.
I hear a cry from upstairs, and we both start. In the quiet, it’s very loud. “I’ll go,” I say, and one of the cats on my lap digs its claws into my stomach in protest. I push them off – they’re heavy, these creatures, and very reluctant – and head upstairs, carrying my drink with me. I’m not missing out on that, at least.
There’s another couple of cats in the hall, watching. Where did they come from?
Sam’s in his bed, sitting up and pointing out of the window when I get to his room. I give him a frown. “What’s up, buddy?” Sit down on the edge of the bed.
“They’re coming!” he says. He looks scared. He should be excited. Behind me, one of the cats pads into the room, rubs against my leg.
“Father Christmas, yes,” I say. “But he won’t be coming unless you lay down and get some sleep.”
I’m already tucking him in, but he’s resistant. The cat jumps up onto the bed, purring. Sam gives it a sharp look, then back to me.
“They’re here!” he whispers, terrified. “They’re here!”
You can find more about Isabel, and read her continuing web serial, Amnar, here.