The snow was pure and untouched in areas, like a soft white cloud settled and frozen to the ground beneath the starry night sky. Red and green lights sparkled in the crystal flakes, reflections of the bulbs strung along the downtown streetlamps. Candy canes, ornaments, ribbons and small toys littered the streets and walkways, left behind by families who had made their ways home by now. Santa smiled as he took in the sights. His weary breath fogged around his beard. He packed the last of his reindeer in his van and slammed the door (it never closed right unless he slammed it really good).
Santa reached into his big red coat and wrestled a pack of smokes from the shirt pocket beneath. Leaning against the back of his van, he pulled his beard below his chin, lit a cigarette and dragged deep. He hadn’t been able to get a smoke in all day, what with the parades and all the city’s festivities. He closed his eyes and let the frigid night air cool his itchy face (that beard was pure murder).
The past several weeks had been crazy, as it was every year. Children: yelling, screaming, laughing, running about all over the place as their parents shopped and fought each other for last minute items that they had only just discovered they couldn’t live without. Children: wanting, demanding, entitled little creatures who only wanted more, more, more. And Santa had to meet them all. It was no wonder that around this time, every year, he felt like he could just slaughter them all.
Santa finished his smoke and crushed it under his shiny black boot. He checked the van door to make sure it was closed and nothing could get out. He wrestled his keys from his front pocket and stepped around the van.
A child stood by the driver side door. Santa jumped, startled. It was a little boy, dressed in a puffy winter coat and snow pants, all bright green. He wore a hat that covered his ears, and a blank expression that bore a hole through Santa.
“Well hello there, little boy!” Santa recovered.
The boy just stared, as though he hadn’t heard. Or maybe the little guy was too afraid. Maybe he was lost and looking for his parents. Santa felt guilty for his previous fear; he, a grown man, afraid of a tiny little child that was probably looking for his help.
Santa realized his beard was still under his chin. He readjusted it as best he could and knelt down before the little boy.
“What’s the matter, son? Are you lost? You hungry?”
He placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder tenderly.
“Son? Do you need some help?”
“I didn’t get what I wanted,” the little boy said quietly.
Something in the child’s voice sent chills down Santa’s spine. He shivered in his big red coat like a bowl full of jelly.
“What. . . what was that?” Santa asked shakily.
The boy looked at Santa’s hand as it rested on his shoulder. Santa wanted to take his hand away, but was frozen to the spot.
The boy’s face changed as he leaned over and sank his small, sharp teeth into Santa’s hand.
Santa screamed and ripped his hand free. Red drops splattered along the white snow. He almost stuck his hand into his mouth, but decided against it.
The boy’s face had the same blank expression it held before. He reached a small, green-gloved hand into his coat pocket. When he took his hand back out a long, sharp kitchen knife came out with it.
Santa turned to run.
Three more children stood behind him, blank-faced and staring. Santa barked out a yelp of surprise, entirely unlike his big-bellied laugh. One of the children had the curved end of a candy cane sticking out of his mouth. He took it out, and Santa could see the sharp, needle-like point of the other side.
The child he had turned his back on grabbed his hand, trying to bite it again. Santa snapped out of his trance and shook the kid away, running in the other direction towards the downtown area. His red and white hat fell to the ground.
Children were everywhere. They lined the sides of the streets as he ran, joining in the chase behind him. They ripped strings of lights from the streetlamps and decorations from the trees as they ran. There were no adults anywhere in sight.
“Where are your parents?” Santa yelled as he ran. “You kids should be home in bed AHHH!”
Something dug into the back of Santa’s leg. He tripped over his shiny boots and crashed into the snowy street. He tried to pick himself right back up but couldn’t. The pain in his leg was crippling.
He reached behind him and felt around. Something big and pointy was sticking out of the back of his calf.
The children were slowly surrounding him. He crawled weakly as he tried to pull the object from his leg. It was buried deep.
The town’s clock-tower began to ring.
The Christmas lights twinkled in the snow.
Santa finally ripped the thing from his leg with a shout and threw it at the nearest child. It was a star, like from the top of a Christmas tree. It bounced harmlessly off the kid’s puffy coat.
“We didn’t get what we wanted,” the four children in front of him said in unison as they slowly advanced. One of them was holding an angel and twisting off its head. Santa’s skin began to crawl faster than his body could.
“We didn’t get what we wanted,” the children behind him joined in. It became a chant, one that swelled from the children nearest him to the ones coming from far away, thousands of voices in horrifying harmony.
“We didn’t get what we wanted we didn’t get what we wanted we didn’t get what we wanted we didn’t get. . .”
“LEAVE ME ALONE!!” Santa screamed.
A line of bright twinkling lights came quickly over his head and clasped beneath his chin. The wire dug into his skin with ferocious pressure. The little lights danced along his chest and beard as they choked him. The other kids were soon on him, biting, stabbing with candy canes, stars, icicles, sticks ripped from snowmen’s torsos.
The children laughed as they tore him open, one final present for Christmas night. They played and twirled and frolicked about in the blood-red snow as Santa’s vision turned gray. Like sugarplums dancing into the darkness.