You'd better be good

Here’s a reprise from Christmas Past: a story from my Grey Scribe alter ego from Christmas Eve 2005. Ho. Ho. Ho!

We ran. The car lay abandoned in the ditch, and I remember scraping my feet along the roadside as we jumped before the car had even come to a full halt. Behind us in the darkness, I knew it was following us, impossibly flying through the air tracking our every movements. We had to hide, though we knew it would find us. Just like it did last Christmas time.

Ahead lay an old house, boarded up after a fire had gutted the inside and taken a sleeping old woman with it. We used to play in there a few years ago, and I hoped we could still fit through the hole in the rotten wood covering the back door. Being fifteen, I’m a different size to when I was twelve. I could tell Zep was thinking the same. He’s filled out a lot more than me.

“Come on!”, I yelled at him, grabbing his meaty arm and pulling him along. I didn’t want a repeat of last year. I wasn’t going to lose another friend.

Grown-ups never tell you the whole truth. They tell you about Christmas, and how exciting it is. They say Santa brings presents to the good little boys and girls. That’s only half the story though. They never tell you everything, do they?

I’d tried to be good, all year. We all had, after what happened last Christmas. By Summer though, it all seemed to be a bad dream. The heat didn’t help; no fair having the hottest Summer on record when there’s so damned little to do. We got heat crazy, and started carjacking, throwing stones at windows as we fled past. I was driving, lobbing stones with the rest. How could I have seen her in front of me? How? She shouldn’t have been on the road, just walking across like that. Stupid bitch. I couldn’t see her, and couldn’t stop either.

We didn’t jack any more cars after that. I lay awake for weeks afterwards, scared that someone had seen us.

Now, we’re running because Santa is coming.

I could hear him, high above us, circling to land. I let go of Zep’s arm, and made it to the door. The rotten board was still there, and the hole was much smaller than I remembered it. I pushed my arm through, then my shoulder. I heard soft thumps of hoofs on snow, and screamed. Somehow, I made it through the gap, and collapsed in the darkness, tears running down my face.

Zep hammered at the board, “C’mon man, get me through this. Stu, help me!”

I could see his face, pale and terrified through the gap in the door. There was no way he was going to get through, and no way I could get the board off in time. I took hold of his arm through the hole.

“Sorry, man.”

I saw the huge red shape behind him, blocking out the moon’s glow. A voice whispered, “Ho. Ho. Ho.”, and Zep was pulled from me like dust being sucked by a vacuum cleaner. I could see Santa dragging him along effortlessly, Zep screaming and tugging at his huge red arm as he was pulled along. It made no difference.

I watched as Santa threw him in front of his sleigh then unhitch his reindeer. They circled Zep so I couldn’t see him at all. Santa’s voice boomed out, “Feeding time, my beauties.”

The screams ended soon after that, though the noises I could hear now were much worse. One of the reindeer looked up and stared directly at me, it’s nose soaked blood red. Grown-ups don’t tell you how Rudolph gets his red nose. I knew then, and wished I didn’t.

They tell you that Santa gives presents to good boys and girls. They don’t tell you what he does to the bad ones.

There was no sign of Santa outside. It grew quiet, and I started to hope that Zep would be enough for him. I promised – promised! – that I would be good next year.

It was then that I heard the thump above me. Something was on the roof. I heard the bang of footsteps on tiles. Soot and snow fell onto the grate in the hearth. Black and white. That’s what it’s all about.

Santa was coming down the chimney.

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