“Did you get me some of the new holiday stamps?” Rebecca asked Jim, eyeing the various packages he was toting into the house.
“Sure did,” Jim replied, brushing the snow from his hair, “but they don’t seem like the reg’lar kind.”
Jim handed her the stamps and went back into the kitchen to finish unloading while Rebecca considered the design. The stamps didn’t depict a nativity scene, or Santa Claus, or even a winter landscape. They were circular, off-white, and slightly raised.
“Is it me, or do these look like clusters of little eggs?” Rebecca asked as she gently swiped her thumb over one.
“Ouch!” Rebecca examined her thumb and the bloody puncture mark in the center.
“Oooh, paper cut?” Jim winced as he removed his gloves and coat and sat down beside his wife.
“I guess,” she said.
“Do you want me to kiss it and make it better?” Jim cocked his head and raised a singular eyebrow.
She laughed and moved towards the stairs, decorating the Christmas tree could wait.
Two hours later, Jim woke up from a nightmare, his wife convulsing beside him. He flicked on the light.
“Beck, darlin’, what’s wrong?” he asked, touching her shoulder to wake her.
His hand recoiled as it touched her skin, slick and bumpy like hard gooseflesh, like the stamps he bought. Where he grazed her, the skin began to writhe and tear, almost pop. Little arachnid-like creatures with multi-colored eyes the color of Christmas lights spewed forth from the wound.
“Oh, God!” Jim screamed, springing from the bed and fleeing the room.
Rebecca stopped twitching and was still, the only movement the line of creatures marching from her shoulder to sprawl down the bed and beyond.
Jim ran barefoot through the snow, not bothering to knock on a neighbor’s door for help.
Everyone would be buying the stamps soon. Soon, there would be nowhere else to go. Jim only hoped he had goosebumps because of the cold.
Jennifer Ruth Jackson writes about reality’s weirdness and the plausibility of the fantastic. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Star*Line, Apex Magazine, and more. She lives in a small Wisconsin city with her husband. Visit her on Twitter: @jenruthjackson.