I looked up sceptically at the tree.
It wasn’t a fir tree, or a pine tree, or any of the other sorts of trees that one would normally associate with Christmas. It wasn’t even a pear tree, with an amusingly-placed Partridge Family reference.
It wasn’t decorated in any way.
It wasn’t a Groot, and as far as I could tell it wasn’t an Ent. Although I suppose, in my supremely nerdy taxonomic way, it would have to be an Enting anyway, since it was only about chest-high. Too big to be a bonsai anything, too small to be much use to anyone or a challenge to even the most weedy lumberjack. And it was in our living room, which would normally provide it with ample lumberjack-protection anyway.
It was also right in front of the television, which was downright unprecedented.
Maybe, I thought, it was watching the television.
I rummaged for the remote, then turned back – noting as I did so that it was quite bizarre to actually have plant life in the living room that wasn’t being chewed by Creepy’s clearly-apex-omnivore teeth in a complete and disgraceful slap in the face to nature – and switched the television on.
I watched what happened for a moment.
Then I turned the television off.
Then the phone rang.
“Creepy,” I said as soon as I picked up, “that had better be you.”
“Hatboy!” Creepy’s voice came after a three-second delay that I had come to associate with him calling from somewhere strange, like a spacecraft or alternative timeline or the telephone box down the road at the deli. “Don’t turn on the television!”