The Fruit Cake Invasion

“What possessed you to input a request for fruit cake to begin with?” the repair man asked.

I shrugged. “Nostalgia.” I leaned to the side as the food replicator shot out another rock-hard fruit cake. I grimaced as glass shattered. I’d thought I had moved everything to safety. Apparently not.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. You say it’s spewed out nearly a thousand of these suckers?” The man scratched his ass as he dodged the next projectile.

I sighed and surveyed the various Old-Earth Christmas relics, now nearly buried in piles of fruit cake: an aluminum cone that I thought was supposed to be a tree, a tube that said Tootsie Roll that had a slit in the plastic of one end, two tiny crinkled pieces of silver material, and an over-sized sock with the name “Gertie” glued to the cuff in silver glitter, as well as several glass ornaments in bright greens, reds, and silvers, all in various stages of crushed, chipped, and broken.

I’d also found two Bing Crosby albums, a faded red hat edged with gnarly brown fuzz that might have been white once, a creepy elf-like creature that was missing both eyes, and a hard lump of something that might have been food once, wrapped in plastic with a label that said Grandma’s Home Made Fruit Cake.

Pam, my new lady friend, was fascinated by Old-Earth memorabilia, and I had fond memories of my great-grandpa telling us kids Old-Earth Christmas stories: sparkling white snow, hauntingly beautiful music, glittering lights, evergreen trees decorated with delicate glass ornaments and strands of silver, and, best of all, gifts for everyone. I wanted to get Pam something special for that day my great-grandpa had loved so much.

So, while listening to some cringe-worthy song about someone getting the most insane gifts over and over for twelve days, I had given the replicator a small sample of the fruit cake—that had taken a handheld precision laser to detach from the rest of it—in the hopes it would give me a fresh loaf I could give Pam.

I ended up with what could have fed the entire colony for a decade, if the stuff had been remotely edible.

“There, found what caused your short,” the repair man finally said, prying the chunk of fruit cake loose from where it had lodged in the mechanism. The replicator groaned and, thankfully, stopped upchucking fruit cake.

“What am I supposed to do with all of this? I almost chipped a tooth when I tried to eat it.”

The man shrugged. “Give them away for Christmas?” he said with a snicker.

I sighed. “What do I owe you?”

When he handed me the repair bill, I decided that Christmas totally sucked.

At dinner that night, I gave Pam one of the loaves, wrapped in a bright red bow.

“What’s this?” she asked puzzled.

“A Christmas present. Christmas was a tradition from Old-Earth. They called this a fruit cake. I think people ate it around the holidays,” I said with a grimace.

She turned it over a few times, then used a fingernail to try to puncture one of the strange, globular lumps in it. She giggled in delight. “I love it! I’ve heard of Christmas. I wonder why nobody celebrates it anymore.”

I grunted and chugged my glass of wine. I had a pretty good idea. “I wouldn’t suggest you actually eat this one, though.”

She didn’t seem disappointed. “Of course not, silly. Who would eat a fruit cake?” She hefted the thing in her hand. “I have the perfect place for it, though.”

The next time I picked her up at work, I found where she had put the fruit cake: on the floor, neatly propping open the door to her office.

Bah, humbug.


Bonus drabble! To put a little horror in your holiday, please enjoy “Sentient Tinsel.”


“Ugh, Becky, this stuff is terrible. The tree looks like it’s bleeding silver.”

Mark’s fiancé spread another swath of tinsel across the enormous Douglas fir.

Becky smirked and kept working. “Where’s your Christmas spirit? It’s festive. And I think it’s pretty.”

“It’s worse than glitter. We’ll be finding it for the entire next year. We’ll never get rid of it all.”

Becky stood back and surveyed her work. “Perfect. Get the lights, will you?”

Mark did as he was asked, but couldn’t suppress a shudder when the tinsel seemed to undulate, causing the tree lights to wink at him. He rubbed his arms. It was probably just a draft.

#

“Yucky, honey. Don’t put that in your mouth.” Lisa pulled tinsel from baby Jaden’s hands, but it wouldn’t let go. He began to choke on bits that had lodged in his throat.

#

Startled, Rik dropped his glass of egg nog at the bloodcurdling shriek from the next room. He found his daughter being throttled by a mass of tinsel from their tree. It bit into his fingers as he tried to pry it loose. He was already too late.

#

Nobody knows when or where the tinsel first became sentient. It was probably one of those collective consciousness things, where it came alive everywhere at once. A small town outside of Salem, Massachusetts was labeled ground zero, but that’s an arbitrary designation.

Nowhere is safe, and only fire can kill it. Make sure you get every last piece.

 

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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