My brother and I didn’t believe in Santa Clause. We were sure that the stories my parents told us all were fairytales. None of the kids in town, or the world, would ever dream of being deemed a trouble maker. That was solely thanks to the disturbing Christmas folklores our parents told us. These stories were passed on from generation to generation, forcing children to believe because if they didn’t, you wouldn’t get any presents and worse, Santa would get you.
Every year, worldwide, everyone boarded up their windows and doors, had their children sleep in the living room where the fireplace roared the entire night offering the best defense to Santa’s primary choice of the entrance. Everyone would decorate their homes with vibrant colorful lights and leave presents wrapped for their ‘good’ boys and girls. Kevin and I laughed at how people believed that if you didn’t follow these precautions that some guy was going to break into your home on Christmas Eve. Yeah, it was hilarious.
My brother was the only kid I’d ever known who tried to be bad by pulling pranks. But there was one year when he was really bad. He’d sabotage, bully, and steal. My parents warned him about his unfavorable behavior, begging him to be good or he would be placed on the naughty list. Of course, he laughed at them because everything was a joke to Kevin. Getting in trouble was his full intention, he was desperate to see that nothing would happen to him on Christmas Eve.
Kevin’s mischievous prayers had been answered because Christmas was approaching and my parents only boarded up the windows to their bedroom. The fireplace wasn’t prepped as no firewood had been cut, there were no colorful lights or presents.
What the hell, I thought, maybe they finally get that this stupid tradition is just that, stupid.
My parents wanted me to sleep in their room with them and Kevin to sleep in the living room, by the fireplace. This request sent Kevin and I rolling on the floor in a puerile frenzy, but we agreed because Kevin was going to prove that Santa wasn’t real.
That night, I laid in my parent’s bed nestled between my father’s snoring and my mother’s nonstop fidgeting. I heard a sigh coming from the living room and decided to go check on Kevin. Maybe he was still awake. Carefully, I climbed over my dad and hopped out of bed. I crept across my parent’s fuzzy carpet, gripped and slowly turned the bedroom doorknob. I chuckled softly as I caught a glimpse of dim lighting that barely illuminated the living room creep into the crack of the ajaring door. Kevin must’ve been afraid of the dark, so he snuck his night light.
Something else to tease the wuss about, I remember thinking.
I peeped through the crack of the ajar door into the living room, hoping to find an opportunity to frighten Kevin but I found myself glaring in absolute horror at the tall, bald figure that stood over my brother’s speechless, shaking form. The creature’s thin silhouette read not human as its pruny ivory skin seemed to glow in the dim room as it stared down at Kevin with its milky golf ball shaped eyes. I wanted to scream as I saw Kevin sitting on the couch staring back at the emaciated figure that was hunched over him.
The creature opened its mouth full of long, sharp, leaky fang-like teeth that were covered in thick crimson liquid that dripped onto the floor. It lifted its hands and flexed its long fingers with its machete length claws. The creature slowly and gently wrapped his hands around Kevin’s torso. It lifted my brother up before its pale face. Kevin watched the monster back, whimpering as if he were trying to speak or even breath. Before Kevin could do either, the monster shoved him into its mouth, head first. Blood splattered across the room onto the unboarded windows, the unlit fireplace, and the couch where Kevin had been sleeping. I thought I heard him screaming, but I was so horrified by what I was witnessing, my sense of hearing was temporarily seized.
“Santa,” I whispered as the creature continued to devour Kevin.
As the monster feasted, I could hear the crunching and ripping of bone and flesh between every chew. Blood oozed from the sides of its mouth and in between its long sharp teeth. Its hands were coated with viscera and chunks of skin.
Before I knew it, Kevin was gone and the monster turned and sluggishly dragged its feet toward the fireplace. It squired up the chimney using its long, bony legs to propel it upward.
I stood there fixated on the blood-spattered living room, for what seemed like hours, awestricken, confused and petrified. What had just happened? Was that thing gone? Was Kevin dead?
When I found the courage to leave my spot at the door, I turned to see my mother sitting at the edge of the bed sobbing softly and my father lying down gaping at the ceiling.
“Wh-,” I began but stopped. I hung my head, lost in my brother’s last moments.
“We told you guys,” my father snapped, still staring blankly at the ceiling.
“I-“ I began to gag as the image of the monster chewing through Kevin’s bones played in my memory.
“I’m sorry. But it had to happen. That’s how Christmas goes,” my mother said through her sobbing, “If we hadn’t given him up, then another child less deserving would’ve gotten eaten. Take this as a lesson learned, Max. Please don’t make us go through this again.”
My heart threatened to jump from my chest. It was impossible to breathe at a steady pace. I couldn’t decide if I could feel any emotion because I was stuck, reliving what I had seen repeatedly. My brother had just been eaten by a creature before my very eyes. The truth made my knees numb as the life had bled out of me and I collapsed under my own weight. Before I hit the floor, my brain shut off and everything went dark.
It had been years since Kevin died, but I never forgot his last moments. He became known as the kid who dared Santa Clause and I became known as the kid who lost his mind, living out his remaining days in an insane asylum.