July 11, 2010

The Snarf Scarf

A horror story from 1996.

It was, in appearance, an ordinary scarf. Soft, slightly fuzzy with age, the beautiful blue and green wool knitted in the ancient argyle pattern, with a blaze of brilliant yellow running through it, the scarf had lain on top of the dryer for as long as memory served. But that was only when someone was in the laundry room.

When there was no one around, it would raise one end up and survey the room through eyes that simply looked like two more fuzzy bumps. On days that Mother had been in a hurry and left the laundry lying in a basket, the Snarf would slither down from its perch high on the dryer, and wind its way through the basket, searching for nourishment. Its favorite food was single socks, which tasted slightly of apple. (It couldn't stand to eat two that matched, which tasted strongly of pear.) Still, socks, being cotton, aren't particularly nourishing to a creature knitted from 100% Highland Wool, and it would occasionally nab a pair of the children's underwear. Not too often, though, lest it be discovered. The first rule of survival the Snarf had been taught by its mother was NOT TO BE NOTICED. Things went along in this manner for several years. Sometimes the Snarf would hear Mother wondering where the socks had gone to, and it would live a little closer to starvation for a time, so as NOT TO BE NOTICED. Then disaster struck.

The family in whose home the Snarf had taken up residence left on a month-long holiday. They had a lovely time in Hawaii, driving through the jungle, and splashing about in the ocean. The oldest boy even learned how to surf. But Mother had not left any laundry out in the laundry room before they left, and the Snarf felt it was beginning to fade away. Its brilliant yellow stripe had dimmed, and was now so pale that it appeared nearly white. The Snarf knew that without immediate action, it would fade completely and die. It slithered down from its perch on the dryer and underneath the laundry room door. Slinking and sliding, the Snarf moved from room to room, searching for nourishment.

In the back of the dwelling, it found a large tower divided into sections. It was full of laundry, neatly folded. The Snarf could smell the socks in the top section but it didn't have the strength to climb that far. In another room, it found that the floor was littered with dirty laundry. The Snarf absolutely abhorred consuming dirty laundry, but in view of its weakness, it forced itself. It was even able to choke down a few pears of socks. Much stronger now, it climbed to the top of the tower in the other room, and curled around the underwear which it intended to eat in the morning. The Snarf's timing couldn't have been worse. Late in the evening the family returned from Hawaii. Mother noticed that Kelli's room was suddenly clean, and feared burglars (though what burglars would bother to clean a room, she had no idea.) In searching the entire house for signs of intruders, Jennapher found the Snarf in her bureau drawer and called Mother.

Mother came just in time to see it slither down behind the drawers into the darkness. They pulled all the drawers out and found the Snarf cowering in a corner. She returned the Snarf to the laundry room, and the Snarf thought that all would be well. In fact, for a few days it was feeling very smug to itself. It had broken the first rule, NOT TO BE NOTICED, and there seemed to be no reprisals coming. Mother was very careful after that to keep the laundry out of the way of the Snarf. As soon as the dryer stopped, she would hurry in and take all the clothing out, and put them away.

Father put a stiff strip at the bottom of the laundry room door to keep the Snarf from escaping again. And the Snarf once again began to starve. One day it got the idea to crawl into the dryer and eat while the laundry was drying. This worked fairly well for awhile, although once the Snarf became entangled with a brassiere that had hooked itself on the dryer wall. The Snarf solved the difficulty by eating the brassiere, hooks and all. It decided to stay out of the dryer, though, after two things happened. First, it had been nearly strangled by a pair of aggressive tights, and second, it noticed that the heat of the dryer was really too much for its 100% Highland Wool.

The Snarf was beginning to shrink in places, and that was extremely uncomfortable. The Snarf continued to fade, and grew weaker, until it knew that if it didn't eat soon, it would die. It resolved once again to go abroad in the house, and waited impatiently for evening to come, and the house to become still. Quietly it slithered down from the top of the dryer, and slipped through the door, which Steffi, the youngest of the children had left slightly ajar that day.

It slipped through the house slowly, lurking in the deepest shadows, so as NOT TO BE NOTICED. The Snarf crept under the door into one of the bedrooms, and saw to its amazement that Mother actually locked her children up behind bars at night. Somewhat startled, the Snarf wrapped itself about the leg of the bed, and slid up, emerging onto the mattress. Sure enough, Steffi was sleeping here. She didn't seem to care that she had been locked away in a cage of bars. Steffi turned slightly in her sleep, and her pudgy legs flipped the blanket off. The Snarf was extremely hungry. It watched Steffi for a few more moments, consumed with pity that any living creature should be locked up.

The Snarf felt compassion, and wanted to make sure that the mean Mother would not leave her locked up to starve, as she had done to it. Moving slowly, so as NOT TO BE NOTICED, the Snarf wrapped its tail firmly around Steffi's mouth to keep her from crying out, and began slithering its head toward those dainty toes...