The fire was dwindling, holding onto the last flame before it vanished completely. He awoke at what he guessed was the middle of the night. Ernest Grainger saw the fire’s last flame burning but there was not a chance he was going out in this weather to collect more wood. The grandfather clock ticked and tocked, ticked and tocked. Grainger sat up on the couch, rubbing his cold hands, and stood. He turned to his best friend and worst enemy – the typewriter. For over a month, Grainger had tried and struggled to place an idea in his head, down on paper. He had a case of writer’s block, an inability to start or continue stories. The wind howled outside and a branch scraped against the window. It was quite eerie, alone in the house at night while the wind howled and the rained poured and the storm raged on. Grainger knew he would not be able to get to sleep again, so, with nothing else to do, he sat at the typewriter.
The word: UNDERWOOD was printed on the front. Listlessly, Grainger inserted the paper and sat with his fingers hovering over the keys. While in America, Grainger had won a bet for the typewriter. The first one to reel in ten fish, a man had said to him, will win the typewriter. Turns out, Grainger got ten and the man had eight. Grainger won both a typewriter, and dinner for a week. The wind howled again and brought Grainger out of his thoughts.
He bent over the keys and typed: Chapter One. He sat there looking down at the paper, his eyes unfocused, and nothing coming down on paper. Then something made him jump, and Grainger bumped his knees on the table, nearly knocking over an empty glass and an ashtray. Rubbing his knees, Grainger suddenly felt a cold draft whistling against his ankles. He stood at once, and headed towards the cold breeze. It was coming from the spare room, and Grainger could hear the whistling noise of the wind. He turned and saw the broken glass on the wooden floor. Above, the wind whistled through where the window had been.
Someone’s thrown something at it, Grainger though, or they’ve broken in. They’re in the house, they’re in the h – And suddenly, there were cold hands around his throat. He was totally taken by surprise and Grainger could feel the life draining out of him.
This is what it’s like to die, he thought, This is what…
His thoughts trailed off as the hands were tightening, cold and white knuckled. Suddenly, Grainger’s arms dropped to his side, and Grainger remembered something that could save his life. The bookcase – and the books. With a wandering hand, Grainger reached for the bookcase, and with the last strength left in him, seized a hardcover and whacked it over his shoulder. The hands were squeezing… then they fell limp, and Grainger heard a thump. Wheezing breathlessly, Grainger knelt down and tried to catch his breath. When he knew he could stand without passing out, Grainger stood and turned. The man had a black beard and messy hair to go with it, with a scar along his left eyebrow. What’s more, he was knocked out, and no longer strangling. At once, Grainger ran down the hall to the kitchen and dialled the police.
About six minutes later, the police turned up and carried the still man out. One policeman explained that the man was wanted by police. He was carried away in the back of the police car. Now inside and out of the freezing cold, Grainger sat down at his typewriter again. This time, he felt different, he felt inspired. Despite his near death experience, he felt alive! He knelt down slowly, and suddenly remembered the broken window. It could be fixed later, he thought and began to type – he began to type! And suddenly remembered why it was so cold – it was Christmas Eve.
It was a Christmas miracle!