This is not the kind of Christmas pool where you put some money in the pot and draw names or something. This is a pond with a Christmas ghost.
“The Christmas Pool” is one of my pieces in the Southern Indiana Writers’ Group’s new anthology, HOLIDAY BIZARRE. We took our old CHRISTMAS BIZARRE anthology, removed the stories by past members, and invited current members to add stories centered on other holidays. The result goes from New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve. “Christmas Pool” is one of the old stories.
Psst! Wanna have a good time? Sometimes special days are a little TOO special. Spend a year with Southern Indiana Writers in their Holiday Bizarre.
THE CHRISTMAS POOL – excerpt
copyright 1996 by Marian Allen
I got back from Midnight Mass about 1:30, jumpy with that crystalline wakefulness that sometimes follows a victory over sleep. The sky was clear, the stars burned in quantities; more stars than I’d ever seen before. I let Baxter out of the house, and we walked.
As Carol, the former owner, had promised, the pool had frozen over. I had thrown a skating party for some of my closer acquaintances. Now, alone in the hours between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, I had a fancy to see the sky reflected in the ice.
As we neared the pond, Baxter stopped, lowered his head, and whined.
“What is it, boy? Come on.” I walked ahead, patting the side of my leg by way of encouragement.
Then I heard what Baxter must have heard: A weak, faded scream.
With one yelp, Baxter tucked his tail between his legs and scuttered for the porch.
I stood there, chilled inside my coat, and listened. Another scream, and another–pale and unreal, but undismissable.
“It…must be the ice breaking up,” I said, and followed Baxter back to the house.
Sure enough, the next day there were cracks in the ice and the weather lady said a thaw had set in the night before.
I went out after Christmas Eve Mass with a packet of freeze- dried grubs. Baxter refused to leave the house. Coward, I thought.
But, as I neared the pool, I heard them: the screams. They seemed louder this year and I ran to the pool, convinced that, this time, they came from human lungs. In the water, two fat pink arms reached up; a round face, too small for the arms, between them… mottled… gaping…
The panic passed, my vision cleared, and I saw the koi, lined up for feeding. I shook the grubs out in one grand spray and staggered home.
For the rest of the story and many more, go buy HOLIDAY BIZARRE. Only available at this time in print. Print is what all the hipsters read, you know. 12 dollah, no hollah.