All I Want
Jan liked Christmas the way other people liked porn. Or Collingwood Football Club. By December 1st her house was wallpapered with tinsel and baubles, her windows frosted with fake snow – despite the baking sun – and Buble was on high rotation. Candy canes dangled from her ears and reindeers danced across her chest. And every year she wished for proper snow, or at least a cool southerly, so she could wear a festive jumper without spontaneously combusting.
But there was one Christmas thing she hated. One particular song. Inside her own Santa’s grotto, she was safe, but whenever she left the house, she was skating on thin ice.
The discount variety shop in Westmarket Plaza was Jan’s usual go-to for decorations. The owner, Tuan knew what Jan liked and she knew never to play that song. This Christmas, though, Jan felt the itch to get crafty. But with all the local craft shops long gone, this meant a trip to the city.
Inside the stuffy carriage, people shoved Jan about like a dodgem car, and the air reeked of cheap perfume, whiffy armpits and rancid breath. When she finally tumbled out of the doors at Central Station, she was panting and damp, her face as red as her Christmas t-shirt.
Out into the streets, she dodged dog turds, phone zombies and spit puddles, and scurried towards the craft shop. She slumped in relief when she reached it and headed underground to the soothing land of fabric and scrap-booking.
But halfway down the escalator, she recognised the first notes.
She yelped and grabbed for the railing. But there was no way she could turn back. She held her breath and prayed it was nearly over.
‘You can do it, Jan,’ she muttered to herself. ‘Big girl pants on.’
She hummed Jingle Bells to drown out the god-awful wailing of that American woman and made a beeline for the sequins. But when she reached the spot where the sequins should be, there was only hot pink on the shelf.
‘Hot pink is not for Christmas.’ She huffed, then turned for the fabric section. This time, singing Silent Night through gritted teeth.
Again, empty shelves.
And that song was still blaring in the background, bashing her nerves like a pile driver.
‘Excuse me.’ Jan flagged down a middle-aged woman in an apron, Santa hat and name tag. ‘Tina, is it? I’m looking for felt.’
She shrugged. ‘Supply chain issues.’
‘But I need to…’
Tina had already slipped away down the ribbon aisle. Jan grumbled, then noticed that the song had started all over again. From the beginning.
‘No!’ Jan clamped her hands over her ears and lumbered for the wool aisle. Wool wouldn’t let her down.
But there wasn’t a single skein of red wool either.
‘All I want,’ she mumbled, then screeched. The song was like a parasitic worm. ‘All I want. No!’
Her brain sizzled in her head and the surrounding shelves shimmered. Tina reappeared, prodding at an iPad.
‘All I want…’ Jan spluttered, but Tina ignored her.
Jan swirled around and grabbed a pair of knitting needles. She lunged like a ninja across the aisle and plunged the size 8 steel needles into Tina’s meaty thigh. The woman yowled. Blood spurted from the wound and splattered across the perfect smiling faces on the pattern books.
‘You bitch.’ Tina spat as Jan yanked the needles out again, sending another spray of bright red blood across the linoleum.
‘Someone call the police!’ Tina sobbed. She limped away for the safety of the checkout.
‘All I want…Argh!’
With a howl, Jan followed her and snatched up a pair of scissors. She tore off the plastic and stabbed a six-foot blow-up Santa, who deflated with a long whining fart.
‘All I want…’ Jan panted, rushing towards the checkout, the surgically sharp blades in her hand. ‘Is for you to turn off that fucking song!’