"Well it couldn't have been Steve." She paused. "Could it?"
I suddenly felt guilty, like it was me who had killed Sylvie. "I'm sorry to say, but it seems he's the only who could have killed her. He didn't come into the room till a bit later on."
"But was he there when Elise screamed?"
I remained silent. She had a point, so I nodded down the stairs and we descended into the prison room. The printer whirred, so I grabbed the printout and read, "'Back so soon? I didn't realise I was such captivating company?'" I grinned. "It even has the word captivating in italics."
Suzy smiled back at me. "Look at us. Trapped in a basement with a psychopathic fir tree, by a betraying murderer, and we're laughing about italics."
The printer whirred. "'Less with the psychopathic.'" I read. "We could start a business like this, dictate it to the tree and print it instantaneously."
"I'll buy you a shop to start the business, if we escape."
"A big book shop, how about that?"
"Oh, talking of books, I've got some book vouchers for you." She handed me a wad of world book day vouchers. "My mum posted some to me, because she works in Waterstones."
I accepted gratefully and smiled. "I love bookshops."
The printer whirred. "'I hate them. They're graveyards.'" I read. "It's ironic really," I added, "because the only way you can communicate with us is by printing onto the skin of your deceased cousins."
"Poetic." The Christmas Tree said.
I and Suzy took a double take. "What?"
"I said 'poetic'." The Christmas Tree spoke.
"But you can speak!" Suzy pointed out the obvious.
"Obviously. We can murder, plot and break through doors, is it really a stretch of the imagination to presume we can speak?"
I tilted my head from one side to the other. "I see what you mean. Do you have a name?"
"Equalising me, are you?" The Christmas Tree asked.
"Answer the question."
"No. I do not have a name. We trees don't need them."
"Well I think we should name you." Suzy announced.
"If you must." The tree replied.
"We'll call you Douglas, because there's a type of fir tree called a Douglas."
"You can't give him my name!" I exclaimed.
"Why not? Two Douglas' won't hurt!"
"Considering that I'm a 'psychopathic' Christmas Tree and he carries a gun, I think we both will." Douglas the Christmas Tree announced.
We all laughed and I said, "Ah well, you'll just have to call me by my middle name, to prevent confusion."
"And what's that?"
"Yeah. Duncan. What's wrong with that?"
"Your name is Douglas Duncan?"
"Your parent's must have hated you."
I was about to reply when suddenly I worked it all out. "It was the pancake who did it!"
"What?" Demanded Suzy.
"I knocked the plate back and the sample of needles spilled onto the plate. When you put the pancake down on the plate, the needles got stuck to it. When Elise got the pancake, it attempted to kill her, for wanting to eat it, but instead killed Sylvie. It must have been the pancake which locked the door, and that's where the pine needles came from."
Suzy grinned. "I never thought I would, but I totally believe that."
I nodded. "But now, we need to escape."
"I've got it!" She took the world book day vouchers back from me, and went to get a vial of medicinal alcohol from one of the shelves. She picked up her gun, bid farewell to Douglas and then led me up the stairs to the door. She stuffed the vouchers into the lock and unscrewed the lid of the medicinal alcohol. "No!" I shouted. "That's fifty pounds of book discounts, to be used separately, you're about to burn!"
She didn't care, and like a terrible pyromaniac she burnt the book vouchers. I screamed at the smouldering ashes of the book discounts and then stopped as the door clicked open. "How did you know that would work?" I asked.
"John Pertwee did it in Spearheads from Space."
I backed her as we hurried across the hall and leapt into the back room, rolling across the floor to the weapons rack. The fifty calibre rifles weren't going to help us, so we both took a nine millimetre twenty two calibre handgun. "Once more unto the breach?" I asked.
"Aye aye Captain!" Suzy replied.
We raced out of the back room, into the hall then into the front room, pulling out our guns and firing them at the gigantic pancake monster, that stood over the shackled bodies of Steve, Elise and David.
David grinned when he saw us, through a hole carved by the flight of my bullet. The twenty two calibre bullets weren't very good but at close distance, and for such a big and thin target, they worked a treat.
"You've got to be kidding!" Cried Suzy.
"As the midwife said to the goat!" I replied, as the pancake creature fired blasts of batter at us.
She ducked as a splatter of batter hit the painting of a burning sofa behind us. That was when David took his chance. He leapt out from behind the creature and raced towards us, jumping over the ruined sofa and to our side. "With me!" He shouted.
I and Suzy flanked him as the pancake monster advanced on us, and we backed out of the living room into the hall. He ran into the back room and me and Suzy stayed blasting the pancake monster with bullets. One bullet roared through the monster and smashed something behind. It was Steves antique Whimsy Collection, which he'd put up when his parents had come to hand him Bitzer, and had forgotten to take it down. I heard rustling in the back room and I fired three more shots. Then David raced behind us and whipped out an improved welding torch. The gas tank roared and flames erupted out of the nozzle, hitting the pancake right in the middle, making it look like one of my pancakes.
It started to burn more and more intensely and then suddenly, it exploded into flames. The whole thing burnt to a cinder and we stepped over it, kicking the flames out. Steve and Elise climbed up and walked over, Elise making sure we were ok, Steve checking on the Whimsy's.
"What on Earth just happened?" Elise demanded, pausing half way through her sentence to choose the right word.
I sat her down on the remains of the sofa and smiled. "What have you heard of the Paranormal Christmas Trees?"
To return Christmas 2014 with 'Firy of the Christmas Trees'