Little Samoth ruffled the tentacles that dangled from its white-rabbit face and plucked a nearby candy cane as long as its own body. It crunched and slobbered, feeding the treat into its vertical slit of a mouth, cellophane and all, crunching it down to the hooked end, and popped the last morsel into its maw.
The fire in the mouth of the gaping hearth had fallen to red-pricked ash. Outside the window, feathery flakes swanned down, untouched by wind and luminous in their own whiteness.
The creature tipped and turned its long white-rabbit ears but heard only the trickle of Elvis Presley singing about Silver Bells.
Nevertheless, Little Samoth tasted the shifting currents of space and time making strange conjunctions within the house as they passed through an otherworldly artifact built into the foundation.
Little Samoth abandoned the tree and manifested on the highest floor of the house. A wassail had gone on here in the upper rooms. Trestle tables had overflowed with roast boar and peacock, with flaming Christmas pudding and green bean casserole. Goblets and wooden mugs had overflowed with mead, spiced wine and Coca-Cola. The master's neighbors had danced with vikings, jazz age dandies and Victorian ladies and gentlemen, but all had gone quiet with the stroke of midnight, party guests fading into thin air, all revelry stilled. Not even a glass slipper left behind.
Now the house drowsed, glutted to somnolence with dance and music, food and sensation. Little Samoth snarled and gibbered, but the house stirred only sluggishly, unable to rouse from its torpid state.
The creature manifested one floor down beneath the master's bed. The master slept with his arm over the mistress. Little Samoth tapped its claws together and considered the trickle of space and time that flowed more strongly over its tentacles. Temptation overcame the need to discover the source of the disturbance. It darted to the foot of the bed, chortling as it climbed the footboard to the counterpane. It dug among the bedclothes until it found an opening to creep between the sheets and work its way to the mistress' warm bare feet.
Little Samoth twisted its tentacles together, snuffling with anticipation and running its tiny pink tongue around its lips. It extended a taloned paw toward her curled toes. It inched closer, scaly fingers reaching. It slobbered wetly, savoring the thought of biting off just the tiniest toe. The mistress would hardly miss it, and Little Samoth would never eat anything again lest it forget the taste. Just as its claws would have touched the mistress' foot, its paw seemed to slip aside, as it always did, in a direction that couldn't exist in a three-dimensional universe. It hissed with disappointment. The mistress was entirely untainted by inhuman genes and thus forever out of Little Samoth's reach.
Sulking under the blankets, Little Samoth tasted the master's thoughts for a sign of what caused the unsettling current running through the house. Tonight, the master slept without dreaming. The little monster contemplated that. A disturbance in the flow of space and time should pull at the threads that wound through and around the scars of old burns that wreathed the master's body.
On the other claw, the otherworldly monster who created Little Samoth had formed it out of the master's psyche, leaving much of the master in the creature. Little Samoth didn't sleep. It was sleep and waking, real and unreal.
Abandoning the mistress' toes with a longing snuffle, Little Samoth went from Master to the children's rooms. Little Samoth felt nothing like affection for the children, but they belonged to the master and to Little Samoth by extension. The boy slept, breathing softly. When awake, the boy could see and hear Little Samoth, thus Little Samoth could touch him if it dared, but it felt no temptation. The boy might be small and thin, but power boiled from his skin like a vapor and tasted bitter in Little Samoth's mouth and tentacles.
In the other room, the girl twitched fitfully in her sleep as did the unreal entity that lived in her. Little Samoth would not have touched her for any power in the universe, but neither she nor the thing she carried was the source of the disturbance.
Little Samoth materialized in the basement. It peered out of in a niche in the central column that supported the massive fireplace on the first floor. In the heart of that foundation lay the otherworldly artifact that channeled time and space.
Little Samoth stroked its tentacles through three, then five, then six and seven dimensions, sampling the streams converging on that point. The artifact would perform its function, and the metaphysical rivers would meet cleanly, opening a slip in time and space that the creature in the basement could not predict. Conjunctions of the same kind, greater or smaller, occurred a thousand times a day, a matter of almost no consequence at all.
Finding all as much in order as it could be, Little Samoth manifested again beneath the Christmas tree. The stereo warbled Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. Little Samoth shrieked with laughter, which woke the malk. The grey tabby cat stared into the shadow under the tree, and her eyes shone green.
Little Samoth stayed very still until the malk got up and strolled out of the room, her tail straight up and bobbing at the tip.
Little Samoth climbed to a high branch of the Christmas tree and raised its ears, curling its tentacle feelers and stroking them through five, then six, then seven dimensions as streams of space and time converged,
Something slumped in the grate. A pat of snow landed in the ashes with a sound like a falling birthday cake. Little Samoth swiveled its long white ears and stretched its tentacles toward the new sound.
Something scuffled and scraped in the chimney. Tarry black ash spilled across the hearth and onto the oak floor. Slowly, a foot emerged from the chimney throat, a bare white foot in a leather sandal, followed by a bare white calf bristling with black hair.
The chimney could by no means accommodate man or creature large enough to match the leg, and nothing larger than a rat, or Little Samoth itself, could bend a spine around the last corner, but as Little Samoth uniquely knew, space, like time, was relative.
A second foot appeared beside the first. Something grunted. The foot scraped across the hearth as a knee came down in the ashes, exposing the back of a hairy white thigh. The second knee arrived, and a fringe of black cloth fell over the thighs.
A rump followed the legs, and something more or less a man backed out through the yawning mouth of the fireplace. It stood, shaking its black robes around it and pulling its black hood lower over its face with black-gloved hands. Stooped like a hunchback, it turned a slow circle, studying the room all garlanded in gilt and holly, the tree aglitter with tiny lights, presents wrapped in shiny paper peeping from beneath its skirt.
To Little Samoth, stroking the air with sensitive tentacles, the intruder tasted like swamps and marsh gas with a subtle undertone of human sweat and dirt and a thin film of power hardly worth noticing.
The visitor glided toward the parlor door, its robe sweeping the floor as if the wearer floated more than walked.
Curious, Little Samoth tasted the dimensions. The approaching streams would not reach their intersection for several minutes. Little Samoth manifested on the second-floor landing behind a marble-topped table. The cowled head rose like a black moon over the horizon of the stairwell. At the top, it turned its hood from side to side. Little Samoth flattened its ears. One way slept the master, the other way, the children.
The intruder turned away from the children's rooms toward the master's door. Along this corridor stood sometimes five doors, sometimes seven and sometimes nine. Tonight, Little Samoth would have counted seven if counting had any meaning to it. Five were natural in the master's world. The rest went where they went and opened where they shouldn't, some to empty rooms, some to rooms where other things lived, some to histories and futures, worlds and half-worlds, places altogether alien and inimical.
The invader glided down a hallway that stretched far beyond the length of the house. Little Samoth couldn't manifest at the end of the hall because the hall had, for the moment, no fixed end, so the little monster materialized behind an antique jar on an antique table, neither of which had ever existed in the house before, then behind a mirror that was sometimes there and sometimes not and never reflected the room in which it hung. The uninvited guest glided past the glass, casting no reflection.
The intruder passed an ironbound door of oak planks that was somehow eighteen feet tall, though the ceiling here was only ten. An ordinary panel door led to a small spare bedroom in which a woman sometimes sat combing her hair before a dressing table and the guests who had tried to sleep there many decades ago had never been seen again.
Little Samoth moved itself to the built-in bookshelf where an eclectic selection of books from Master's childhood came and went without notice. It peeked out between a dusty, thirty-year old volume of A Christmas Carol on one side and The Goblins' Christmas on the other.
The intruder stopped, turning its cowled head from side to side and up and down, looking for something it expected to find in the hallway of the master's house.
As Little Samoth settled between the books, the streams of space and time converged on the artifact at the root of the house, and the corridor expanded. Before the cowled intruder, a slab of black stone appeared in the middle of the wall, set flush with the flowered wallpaper.
Little Samoth's tentacles quivered. The door smelled of sea and smoked with sleeping menace.
The intruder raised its arms before the featureless slab of the door and began to chant.
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."
A simmering darkness trickled around the edges of the door.
Little Samoth perked its ears and hunkered like a frog, resting its elbows on the shelf and folding its claws to see what the invader meant by summoning the entity to whom that verse referred.
The chant went on, a paean and a petition.
The stone slab cracked open on a strip of dim green light. The unwanted guest waved its arms as if directing an orchestra and chanted louder.
"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
Little Samoth considered whether it wouldn't be best to rouse the master, but curiosity held it in its place between the books on either side, which had become brightly-illustrated versions of The Night Before Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The door ground wider on its invisible hinge, and oddly, it moved neither right nor left nor up nor down but some direction orthogonal to the three dimensions of the Earthly world.
Beyond the chanting, waving acolyte, the opening door revealed a landscape of green-crusted stone from which grew a city of eyeless, green-slimed towers, their sides and columns scarred with hieroglyphs whose meaning trickled into Little Samoth's consciousness. A thousand ancient, star-born things lay sleeping under the wing of a cyclopean monstrosity in this necropolis that dreamed under fathomless seas.
Had Little Samoth been equipped to experience anything like dread, it would have trembled with foreboding. As it was, it merely hunkered between the books to see what would happen next.
The invader chanted louder now, perhaps indifferent to to the possibility of rousing the master, and perhaps the door and the chanting intruder were no longer in precisely the same universe as the rest of the house.
The door in the master's house seemed to enter the city, passing under queerly angled towers that enclosed the streets while never meeting overhead. Every angle would have violated the eye of a natural creature. Lines that should be straight nevertheless curved, and angles which should be acute behaved as if they were obtuse. None of it troubled Little Samoth. To its extra-worldly perceptions, space was, after all, relative.
Black smoke seeped across the threshold, reeking of ocean and disaster. The door, rushing now through nightmare streets, approached the central monolith that ruled the city, a tower of cyclopean blocks of slimy greenish stone which seemed to tilt whichever way the viewer looked so severely it could not possibly stand on its own foundations but must fall at any moment, crushing whoever stood below.
At the foot of this tower lay a door, acres in expanse. It might have lain flat on the ground or tilted in any direction at all in that world of mad non-Euclidean space. On its face was carved a creature not too unlike Little Samoth in outline--the pulpy head and tentacles of a squid on the body of a troll. The monstrous goddess who had pulled Little Samoth from Master's head had tried to impose a similar shape on it and only partly succeeded.
At sight of this door, the acolyte's recitation grew louder and more passionate.
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."
The great slab began to slide, grinding on its frame and turning in a direction undefinable in three-dimensions. Green light leaked from the crack, and green smoke rolled into the hallway of the master's house, reeking of sea and corruption.
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn," the invader cried, and tittered madly. "Lord, lord, wake and reward your faithful. Take this Earth as tribute and exalt your slaves." The arms danced madly, and the chanter gibbered, incoherent in its ecstasy.
The opening of the door had finally partly roused the house from its glutted sleep. It stirred and strained against an internal pressure like a rising belch and a pain like indigestion, but it couldn't expel the cause of its discomfort.
Amusement was all very well, but the awakened god emerging from the underwater tomb would not be a considerate guest in Master's house.
So incensed with fervor was the intruder that it did not notice the shadow slipping down from the inset bookshelf behind it. The master would have been startled to see his familiar demon begin to grow from the size of a healthy rat to that of a small dog and keep growing. Size being relative, it was convenient to be small. Usually. But there were exceptions.
The great carved stone door ground wider. Green light leaked out and spilled up the sides of the stone towers. A hand, the fingers long and clawed and twisted, appeared in the opening.
The shadow with the long white ears kept growing. The tentacles or feelers dangling from its white-rabbit face spilled across the floor.
In the alien city, the hand on the door pushed. The stone ground faster. From the green-glowing depths appeared the gelid dome of a pulpy head, and a voice boomed out of a twisted pocket in the universe, "That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die."
In the hallway, the acolyte flapped and babbled, and Little Samoth grew behind it, now high as a man's waist.
In dead R'lyeh, a second hand joined the first, and a swarm of tentacles like colossal worms appeared between them.
The shadow in the red Santa hat and coat stood high as a man's shoulder and still grew, and space being relative, the house accommodated it.
The invader squealed in ecstasy as the eyes of the monster appeared above the slowly-opening slab. "Ia, Ia, Cthulhu ftagn," the intruder shrieked. "Rise, lord, rise and reward your servant."
The lambent eyes turned toward the open door, staring into the house on Ash Street.
The black-robed intruder threw its arms high. "Speak, lord. Your wish commands me."
Behind the acolyte, a deep voice rumbled, "Merry Christmas to all."
The intruder spun. Its cowl fell back, revealing a white hatchet face with sunken cheeks and sagging mouth like running wax. It stared with weak, nearsighted eyes into the tentacled visage of something like a white rabbit and something like the god it had been trying to wake. It squeaked a feeble "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh..."
Then Little Samoth made a little white-rabbit hop, seized the intruder with paws and tentacles and bit off its head.
Something roared on the other side of the door. Little Samoth heard it with unearthly ears, but no sound passed the threshold.
Little Samoth crunched and slobbered, feeding the twitching body into its vertical slit of a mouth like a candy cane, robe and all, until it came to the sandaled feet. It popped the last two morsels into its maw and licked its fingers. Then it stepped to the threshold, reached across, seized the door that opened on the corpse-city of R'lyeh and slammed it shut.
Little Samoth, a creature no bigger than a healthy rat--because space, like time, is relative--retired downstairs to hunker under the Christmas tree and finish cleaning its paws to the deep voice of Thurl Ravenscroft singing Mr. Grinch. In the morning, the master and the mistress and the children would come downstairs and find the presents untouched, the house undisturbed, and all the candy canes missing from the tree.
She lives On Vashon Island with her husband Douglas Findley.
You can find A Very Cthulhu Christmas for free on Amazon along with her
short stories Audette and King of Midwinter available for 99 cents also on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Melissa-McCann/e/B00DL2AWT8/ref