InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ A Purity Short: The Un-Christmas ❯ It Was A Dark And Dreary Night ... ( Chapter 3 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Chapter Three
It Was a Dark and Dreary Night …


"It was a dark and dreary night, that Christmas Eve of Yore, as lighting flashed through the long, narrow windows, casting spidery veins of light across the frigid stone floor of the cold, dank corridor that young Evan Zelig—already an intrepid explorer, even at the tender age of four—had to—"

"Lightning?" Valerie interrupted with a snort of disbelief.  "Since when do you have lightning storms in Maine in the middle of December?"

Crossing his arms over his chest, Evan slowly shook his head, affecting a stern expression as he gazed upon his wife.  "It was a freak storm," he replied haughtily.  "Besides, it's my story, right?  So if I want it to rain, it'll rain."

"I thought you were going to tell a story about what might have happened had anything happened at all," she pointed out, taking the glass of eggnog that Sydnie slipped into her hand.

"I'm just setting the mood, woman," he informed her, planting his hands on his hips.  "Now, do you want to hear this or not?"

Valerie giggled and settled back against the fluffy pillows on the sofa.  "All right, Roka," she said with a flutter of her hand.  "A dark and dreary night.  Gotcha."

"Actually, it was daytime."

"Daytime?" she echoed dubiously.  "But you just said—"

Wrinkling his nose, he shifted his gaze upward as his brow furrowed in thoughtful lines.  "Yeah, you're right.  Night sounds better.  We'll go with that."

Rolling her eyes, she grinned despite herself.  "Okay, okay, Roka.  Get on with it."

Evan slowly shook his head, but must have been satisfied that she was going to listen, because he straightened his shoulders and strode over to shut off the overhead lights before taking his place in front of the happily burning fire on the hearth, his outline glowing warmly in the dancing, flickering light.  Then he made a show of clearing his throat before he resumed his story . . .


Creeping down the silent corridor as the heels of his shiny boots echoed off the unforgiving stone floor, Evan Zelig tried to hurry past the hulking suits of armor that stood, silent guardians, along the way.  Weak, thin light seemed to make the dark voids—hollows where eyes could be staring at him from the shadows—somehow more sinister, much more menacing, and he quickened his step, his heartbeat sounding in his ears as he scuttled down the hallway toward the wavering light that fought to push back the gloom where it spilled into the dusk; shadows cast by the huge fire in the chamber at the end.

"Mummy!  Mummy, are you in here?"

Gin Izayoi Zelig stepped out of the small powder room just off to the left.  She was a diminutive woman, as delicate as the morning sun, as fragile as the quivering winds of early spring, wrapped in the folds of satin and lace and the finest silk—a confection of beauty, untouched by age—the brightest star in young Evan's world.

When she spotted her son, lingering in the doorway, she smiled, lifting a demure hand to draw him in closer, the intricate crochet lace spilling from the bell sleeves like a waterfall.  "There's my precious boy!"

Despite his advanced age, Evan allowed his mother to draw him close, to give him a little hug and muss his hair affectionately.  "Mummy, have you seen Papa?" he asked, his eyebrows drawing together in a marked frown of concentration.

Straightening up, Gin smoothed the yards of silk that was her skirt.  "Your papa," she repeated thoughtfully, tapping a delicate fingertip against her lips as she carefully glided across the floor to the row of frosted windows, the gray light siphoning through the weathered panes.  They fell on the thick tapestry rug—rugs that his mother had so painstakingly sewed during endless nights by the great hearth—in blotches of half-formed light, slowing creeping, creeping to intercept the shiny toes of Evan's black boots.  "Your papa is in his study, I should think," she finally said, turning swiftly to smile upon her son.  "Best you should leave him be for now.  He's hard at work."

"But it's almost Christmas," Evan protested.  "Surely Papa can't work all day!"

"Now, Evan, your father works hard to make sure that we have this beautiful home," Gin replied in a soothing tone: the same tone she used whenever Evan would wake in the midst of the fell night, victim of the nightmarish dreamscapes that ran rampant through a young child's mind.  "Why don't you come help me?  I was just getting ready to make candles."

Letting out a tumultuous sigh—a dejected, sad sort of sigh—young Evan shrugged, then turned on his heel to slip out of the room once more.  Making candles was women's work, and surely nothing worthy of the second son of the North American tai-youkai!

Even so, the pervasive darkness of the hallway sought to envelop him once more, and he couldn't quite help the way his feet quickened their pace, taking extra care to tread a little more heavily, as though the dull cadence of his heels hitting the floor—slightly muffled by the carpet below his feet—might chase away the pressing gloom.

He came to the crossroads: the stairs that descended to the right, down to the main floor below, where he could see the dim and wobbly light that greedily clung to the bottom of the door: his father's study.  The steps to the left rose at an unforgivable incline, the murkiness touched by the oily haze of light that refused to venture far into the darkness.

Biting his lip, mustering his courage—remember, if you will, our intrepid hero was only four years old—just a baby, albeit an extremely and awesomely cute baby, but back to the tale—Evan ran up the staircase, his heart thundering in his ears as he prayed that he could make it before the inky shadows reached out to grab him, to drag him down into that empty void under the steps where the evil entity—Evan called him 'Bubby'—maintained that the monster lived: the one who loved to eat small boys, especially extremely and awesomely cute ones like Evan: the most dreaded and feared Monster Under the Stairs.

He made it to the top of the stairs without being dragged to his death, only to barrel straight into his father's legs.  Cain caught him and arched an eyebrow at the boy as he hunkered down to look him in the eyes.  "Evan?  Be ye all right?"


"Be ye . . . what?"

Evan turned to frown as Bas stepped into the living room, a rather blank expression on his face.  "Hush, Bubby.  You're interrupting my story."

"What story?"

"He's telling us a medieval version of the Un-Christmas," Valerie said.

Bas slowly shook his head.  "A medieval version of—Oh, God . . ."

"Why haven't you told me this story already, puppy?" Sydnie piped up from her place, curled up in a thickly overstuffed chair near the hearth.

Bas grunted.  "Because we're not supposed to talk about it," he told her, shifting his gaze from his mate to his mother.  "So, Mom, why are we?"

Gin giggled half nervously and waved a hand at her eldest son.  "It's not the real thing, Sebastian.  It's just a theoretical story of what might have happened . . . and I kind of like my big, fancy dress."

Bas didn't look impressed with his mother's assertions, and he slowly shook his head.  "This can't be good," he muttered.  All the same, he wandered over to Sydnie and picked her up, only to settle her in his lap against his chest when he sat down, instead.

"Tell me, puppy, did you really scare poor Evan with the Monster Under the Stairs?"

"Poor Evan, nothing," Bas muttered then chuckled.  "Yeah, that part's accurate, even if the rest of it is utter bullshit."

Evan heaved a longsuffering sigh.  "Can we get back to it now?" he asked, pointedly giving his brother a very droll look.

Valerie nodded and held out a hand.  "By all means, Roka.   You'd just run into your dad's legs."


So, back to our young hero.  Having just eluded the dreaded monster under the stairs, Evan hopped around his father's feet, reveling in his perceived victory.  "Mummy said you were busy working," he pointed out between happy bounces.

"Aye, but I cannot work through this, the most holy of days, now can I?" Cain said.

Evan laughed and clapped his hands.  "Can you play with me then, Papa?  Can you?"

A vague shadow seemed to creep over Cain's features—a darkness that young Evan did not understand.  "Well," he drawled, digging his hands deep into the pockets of his velvet knee breeches, "There are a few other things that I must see to, Evan.  Why don't you go look for Sebastian?  I am sure he will play with you."

Face screwing up into a marked frown, Evan shuffled his feet and gave a little shrug.  "Bubby won't play with me.  He tries to feed me to the Monster Under the Stairs.  He wants me to die!"

Clearing his throat, Cain lifted a hand to cover his mouth for a moment.  "'Die' is a harsh claim," Cain finally said at length, as though he had to consider what he was going to say before he said it.  "'Tis better to say that perchance he might feed your cousin, Morio to the Monster Under the Stairs, but Sebastian realizes full well that your mother would miss you and would, doubtless, begin asking questions, were you to suddenly disappear."

"Because Mummy loves me!" Evan concluded happily.

Cain nodded slowly.  "Quite so, son.  Quite so."

"So, can you play with me, Papa?  Ple-e-e-e-e-ease?"

Scratching the side of his head, Cain let out a deep breath.  Then he smiled at Evan and spared a moment to ruffle his hair.  "Sebastian!  Sebastian, come hither!"

A distant rumble erupted in the stillness of the great castle.  Borne of the moans and groans of the quiet places, the unspoken shadows, 'twas as though the very bowels of hell had been loosened upon them, growing louder, more sinister, and far more cloying with every passing moment.  Evan ducked behind his father's legs when Cain turned to face the fourth floor stairs.

"Aye, Father?" Sebastian said as he skidded to a halt on the landing before them.  Behind him, Gunnar, Morio, and, later, Mikio fell into place.

"Grant me a boon, and entertain your brother, can't you?"

Sebastian eyed his father, his face shifting into a thoughtful scowl.  "Must I?"

Cain nodded once.  "Aye, you must.  I am certain, betwixt the four of you, that you can keep one little boy out of mischief."

Rolling his eyes, Sebastian quirked his hand at Evan, as though to beckon him to come forward.  "Come, ye runt."

"But, Papa," Evan insisted, tugging hard on Cain's hand, "Bubby will try to feed me to the Monster Under the Stairs!"

"I told you, he won't," Cain insisted.  "Right, Sebastian?"

"Of course not," Sebastian agreed with a slow shake of his head.  "He's to scrawny to make a decent meal, anyway, but the Moat Monster might think he's tasty enough."

"Papa!" Evan squealed, letting go of Cain's hand in favor of using his claws to scramble up his father's clothing instead.  "Papa!"

Grimacing as he carefully dug his fingers under Evan's quaking hand, Cain shot Sebastian a quelling glance.  "No feeding your brother to any of the castle pets, Sebastian," he reiterated.

Heaving a longsuffering sigh, Sebastian reached over to drag Evan off of Cain.  "Come along, fellows," he grumbled, heading for the stairs that led back down to the second floor.  "Perchance we can bury him under a few feet of snow . . ."

Wiggling around as he pushed himself up higher on Sebastian's shoulder, Evan peered back at his father  just in time to catch the calculating frown that had stolen over Cain's features.  Then he turned and strode down the hallway.  A moment later, the unmistakable sound of a closing door left the house once more in silence, save for the footfalls of impending doom as Bubby and his three henchmen bore Evan off to what had to be the lad's imminent demise.



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Final Thought from Cain:
… I have never, in my life, ever used the word, 'hither'
Blanket disclaimer for The Un-Christmas:  I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga.  Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al.  I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.