Seriously, I've never gone from an idea (it hit last night on Christmas Eve) to story so fast. It's the season that does it to me, I guess. Anyway, dear friends, I hope you enjoy this...and to one and all and your loved ones -- especially you, dear Yen -- Merry Chirstmas.
You'd Better Watch Out...
A different kind of Christmas story by Charles Spencer
Little Billy was always a naughty boy.
Naughty, and worse. In fact, for the entire past year, little Billy was an 8-year-old terror to his family and peers. He did a lot of bad things, from smearing his own shit on the mirrors in the girl's restrooms at his grade school to inserting himself into neighborhood snowball fights and the rest of the kids would run because his ammunition was snow-packed rocks to making his little sister trip and fall down half a flight of steps. In the worst cases, like when he nearly killed his own sister, he feigned innocence and said the classic four words, "I didn't do it!" Sometimes, he could point the way to the kid who 'really' did it (thanks to evidence he'd planted in a school locker or wherever was appropriate)...sometimes when he couldn't his parents, who both worked and therefore didn't have enough time for their kids, took too much of the blame for his actions on themselves.
But they couldn't have known about the things he did that were far, far worse. No one could have known little Billy was gradually developing a total lack of empathy for anyone and anything...he had become what psychologists would call a 'borderline sociopath', and it would only take a few years before he crossed that border. Unseen, he satisfied himself with pulling the wings off of flies and moths when they were unlucky enough to be slow in reacting to the boy. He graduated to much bigger prey very quickly. One day, unseen, little Billy took a puppy from the back yard of a neighbor...the furry little animal that couldn't have done the boy any harm was quickly carried to another neighbor's home where the parents had left for work, and he was shoved into a microwave oven in the kitchen. The boy turned it on 'high' and left to watch what would happen from outside through one of the kitchen windows.
That had been in the early fall, and the police were still investigating the incident as December was coming to a close...they didn't have a lot to work with since the cheaply-made microwave and the puppy exploded.
December was coming to a close...indeed, it was the night of December the 24th, Christmas Eve, as little Billy laid in his bed feeling restless and without remorse for any of the things he'd done. Like any little girl and boy across America and most of the world, he knew about Santa Claus. Unlike nearly every little girl and boy, though, little Billy didn't believe in Santa and he definitely didn't care. He did care about the presents that would be waiting for him under the tree tomorrow. (He stealthily found out what he'd get in spite of the rest of the family...his parents didn't hide the gifts before they could wrap them well enough.)
If little Billy had believed in Santa, he still wouldn't have cared less about the jolly old elf and that he discriminated in giving gifts only to those girls and boys who were good. The boy didn't care about anything except what he wanted. If he had believed, he would have laid in wait for Saint Nick to arrive and then he'd try to steal something, anything from his mythical bag of toys.
All the same, little Billy didn't believe.
Whether he did believe or not, however...there were some things he couldn't have known.
Little Billy hadn't been able to sleep...that was why, only a few minutes past 12:00 a.m. on December the 25th, he heard something.
It was a very slight sound, but distinctive, from above him...from the roof? It was a collection of footfalls -- no, that wasn't quite right. Little Billy couldn't help but wonder what it was. A moment later, he did feel something...it was as if something in the air had changed. There was an energy in the air he couldn't understand, and little Billy felt fear press around him like he was in the constricting coils of a python.
Someone was in the house...but as quickly as he realized that, the door to his bedroom opened quickly yet soundlessly.
Little Billy sat up in bed staring with fear at the sight he saw.
It was Saint Nicholas...Kris Kringle...Santa Claus. It was undeniable. He looked exactly like every traditional greeting card and painting and advertisement of one kind or another presented him. Tall and fat, covered in red and white except for his gloved hands and heavy boots, with a red and white cap that barely covered his elf's ears. His face was partly obscured by the snow-white hair that made up his beard...and yet...
...little Billy was surprised by something about Santa's expression. His eyes were hard above his red nose. Not jolly and full of joy, as any girl and boy (even little Billy) expected, but judging.
With a mystical blur of speed, Santa Claus was at his bedside and harshly grabbed the back of little Billy's neck with one huge gloved hand. The boy didn't even have the chance to scream as he suddenly saw himself rocket out of his room, down the stairs and then up the chimney to the flat roof of his home with Santa in the space of a couple of heartbeats. He didn't know anything about magic and the many things it could make possible, but he felt the urge to throw up from being carried up here so fast and his heart almost stopped when he saw the massive, unworldly sleigh and the reindeer reined to it. (Hooves, little Billy realized, he'd heard hooves...) In the sleigh were two more elves in green, one male and one female, and they looked at Santa with expressions of adoration.
But their expressions changed dramatically when they looked at little Billy, being carried to the sleigh literally by the scruff of his neck in Santa's hand. They both looked at him with hard faces, like Santa did. The lady elf said neutrally, "Tis good we have this one, finally." She spoke like she knew the boy...or knew of him.
Santa said in his deep, resonant voice, "Indeed...of all the naughty girls and boys on my list, I have waited too long for this one." His list, little Billy thought with fear...his list he checked twice...to find out...
The male elf nodded. "He is fit for nothing but the bag, then." The bag was huge and seemed to be made of thick woven fiber like burlap, and it took up most of the room in the huge sleigh.
"Open it," Saint Nick said without ceremony, and his fellow elves untied its strap that kept it closed...it opened, and little Billy couldn't see anything inside but darkness. But the bag looked full, he should have seen something, anything, in there. But there was nothing at all, only darkness that seemed to stare back at him. The great elf in red and white then turned Billy in his grip so they would look at each other. It was then Santa simply said, "I shall not see this world become even worse because of those naughty like you when you grow up. Because you are naughty, Billy, you are deserving of one thing. The Abyss."
Santa threw little Billy into the bag, then...his servants cinched it closed as they heard the boy scream. The scream didn't stop, but grew fainter and fainter. As if he was falling a great distance.
And that was the truth.
The lady elf smiled brightly and said, "Thankfully, there are not many more of the naughty to collect out there."
Her male counterpart offered, "Then we can focus on giving to the good, like always."
"True enough," Santa said as he took his seat in the great sleigh with them. It was unfortunate, but the worsening state of the world demanded that he give one more gift to everyone, besides all that he gave to the good little girls and boys. It was that he rid the world of the worst of the naughtiest of children, so they wouldn't take all things and people past the brink.
Santa managed a smile, then. It wasn't too much of a change in his normal schedule...at his speed, he would be done within half an hour, so he could get back to giving instead of taking. He took up the reins to his reindeer and commanded, "Up, up and AWAY!" The reindeer brightened as they gathered their own power and then took off pulling the sleigh behind them like a golden comet...but they didn't travel in the sky too far.
The next naughty child wasn't that far away....
This story is the copyright (2008) of Charles Spencer, and is the sole property of the author. No part of this story may be reproduced or transmitted, by electronic means or otherwise, without the express permission of the author.