Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Susan crept downstairs slowly, curious about the noises she was hearing from the kitchen. The lights weren’t on. It was Christmas morning so it was still dark out at five in the morning. Her parents slept far away from the kitchen all the way upstairs on the second floor plus they had been celebrating last night so they were in a deep sleep. Susan, of course, had barely been sleeping at all. Her eyes had flown open at every little creak of the house settling. She kept a sensitive child’s ear out for the sound of sleigh bells or hoofbeats.

Neither of those sounds was coming from the kitchen. It almost sounded like burglars. The lights were off and all she could hear was the slight tinkling of what sounded like cutlery. Every now and then, it sounded like the fridge was gently being pushed forward a few inches.

As she got closer to the kitchen, there was the sound of sparks. The half inch of darkness underneath the closed door lit up bright blue like night-time television and then went black again. The clinking and the gentle scraping continued.

Susan was not a fearful child but she was getting nervous. She chewed on her lower lip with wide-eyed indecision. The contest in her between wanting to see Santa and wanting to alert her parents to possible intruders was violent but brief. She opted for the Santa glimpse.

Very, very quietly she opened the kitchen door a crack, pushed her arm through, and felt for the light switch on the wall. She found it. Light flooded the kitchen.

The sounds continued.

Susan opened her eyes.

It wasn’t Santa.

There was a giant long-legged metal spider on the kitchen table eating the toaster. It was like a black skinless patio umbrella with a streamlined teardrop-shaped blob of metal at the center of it the size of a microwave oven. Its mouth parts were gingerly tearing away the chrome skin of the toaster. It hissed a little and the blue sparks came again from its mouth as a perfect square of the toaster’s hide came away and disappeared into the maw.

Susan stood frozen to the spot. The spider didn’t know she was there.

Wrapping paper still clung to the spider’s legs. There was a colourful bow still smoking on the kitchen floor.

It didn’t have its light sensitivity sensors or earmikes installed yet so it had no idea that Susan was there or that the light was on.

Susan whooped with delight. Obviously her parents had set the time zone wrong and it had woken up early. She stroked the back of her hand to fire up her implant and snapped her fingers twice to set it to pet control.

The spider spasmed and fell on the floor with a crash. Susan could hear her parents waking up.

“Bad spider!” she said with a smile on her face. This was the best Christmas ever. Her friends were going to be so jealous.

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows