Most people could hear the roar of mixed conversations, the sudden bouts if laughter, perhaps even the tiny tinkle of the silver bells hung in the tree, which would swing on the limbs when someone passed nearby, but to him there was only the wind. Making polite small talk as he made “the rounds” it was the howling wind that he kept time to not the festive music. Even in the house it was like a physical presence; pressing against the windows, tearing at the strings of lights, throwing a chill over everything, and ripping the door from icy fingers. It was in such a moment of wintry bluster that he dropped all pretense as the thing within him, that lay mostly dormant, reared it’s head. Those around wouldn’t have noticed that he nodded or muttered ascent less often, that he now looked past the speaker rather than at her, but he had. As their eyes locked every muscle tightened, his hair stood on end, and he ever so slightly inclined his head.

The room cooled noticeable as icy daggers were shot across the crowded floor. The innocents between them fidgeted caught in a tension they could not place as both still hid behind their normality, at the surface. Below was another story altogether. In truth each was hunting for weakness with boiling blood waiting for a moment to let lose the beast within.

It was nothing specific, no obvious trait of inhumanity, just some subtle mark of predator in the stance, in the calculated movements, in the eyes. There could be no way of knowing what the sickness crawling within the other would be, but in the moment when monster recognizes monster all else falls a way. He could see the coldness of someone who did not care, the aloofness of one who is permanently detached from the human condition, he saw what he tried so desperately to keep hidden.

In the mirror of the strangers eyes he saw himself.

The need to stamp out that which resonated so deeply within him warred with the anger that his secret might be just as visible to others. Something akin to a smile formed on the stranger’s face, not out of happiness but out of the fact that they shared…anything, even if it was just a secret between monsters, as cold and alien as the winter wind.