Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Santa Is Coming

Santa Is Coming

     “Santa Claus is coming tonight.”

     Those were the last words Bree’s mother said to her before she turned off the lights and shut the door. There was no light in the room. None. Then a little sliver of light appeared under the door. Her mother had turned on the Christmas tree lights. Bree whimpered. She slipped her hand under her mattress and felt a calm come over her as her small hand wrapped around the knife she’d hidden there. She wouldn’t let the fat fuck hurt her this year.

     “I’ll kill him Trey,” she whispered. “I’ll kill him for you.”

     The light came on in her room and she pulled her hand back. Her mother stood in the door, her dark eyes searching the room.

     “Did I hear you talking to someone?”

     “No mama.”

     “You be good, darling. You hear me Bree. You don’t want to end up on the naughty list. Not like…” Her mother’s eyes drifted off and her mouth fell slack as she tried to remember the name she was going to say.

     “Not like Trey,” Bree finished for her.

     Her mother’s eyes cleared and she looked at Bree. “Who?”

     “Trey. Your son. My brother.”

     “Are you back to that nonsense again. You’re my only child. Always have been.”

      “No,” Bree said. “Trey was older than me. Nine last year… when Santa took him away.”

     Her mother laughed, nervously. “Santa doesn’t kidnap little boys and girls. Go to sleep Bree. Dream of sugar plums and when you wake up, there will be presents under the tree with your name on them.”

     “If I’m here in the morning,” Bree said, “because he might just take me. I’m nine now and last year…” Her voice cut off and she let out a sob. She couldn’t bring herself to say what he had told her when he took Trey. He’d been slack jawed, standing there next to the Santa Claus, as though he didn’t have a will of his own. He was scared though, Bree saw the puddle on the floor and the wet spot that went down his leg. She’d been paralyzed when the Santa had spoken.

     “Next year, Bree. I’ll be coming for you next year, whether your naughty or nice.”

     She’d screamed, once he was gone and her parents came running, but they didn’t understand what she was talking about.

     “He took Trey! Santa took Trey!”

     “Honey, who’s Trey?”

     After Christmas break ended and Bree went back to school, there were other kids missing. The students that were there all had a different look in their eyes. They were afraid. All except for Billy. He didn’t have any brothers or sisters. He raised his hand and  asked where Donny was.

     “Who?” The teacher asked.

     “Donny? And Jenny. She’s not here either. Did they move?”

     “I don’t know what you are talking about, Billy Crumb.”

     Fenton had tried to get his attention, but Billy didn’t notice. He was too intent on trying to remind his teacher who Donny and Jenny were.

     “You can’t have forgotten who Donny is,” he said, genuinely confused. “He had red hair and freckles.”

     Miss Stephanie put her book down that she was preparing to teach out of and opened up her attendance book. “I don’t have a Donny on the list, nor a Jenny.”

     Billy turned around and looked at Bree. “You know who I’m talking about, don’t you?”

     Bree shook her head no. One by one, Billy asked the other kids if they didn’t remember who Donny and Jenny were. One by one the other students shook their head.

     “Have you all lost your minds?” He screamed.

     “That’s quite enough, Billy,” the teacher said. “I think maybe you’d better go see the principal.”

      He never came back. On the playground, Bree and some of the other kids discussed what had happened, traded stories. Seth Johnson’s sister was taken and now his parents acted like she’d never existed. It was the same with everyone.

     “Why don’t they remember, but we do?” Betty Sawyer asked.

     “I think he wants us to remember,” Seth said. “He wants us to be afraid.”

     When they went back to their classroom, Billy’s desk was gone. The student’s exchanged looks with each other, but no one said a word.

     Now it was a year later and he was coming for her. Her mother stood at her door and shut the light back off. “Sweet dreams,” she said and then shut the door.

     As soon as she was alone again, Bree pulled the knife out from under her mattress and put it under her pillow. She closed her eyes and pretended to sleep. Everyone knew the fat man didn’t come unless you were asleep.

     She opened her eyes. Her door had opened. The hinges squeaked. She saw him silhouetted inside the frame.

     “You’ve been naughty, Bree.”

     She slipped her hand under the pillow. “I want my brother back,” she hissed.

     “You don’t have a brother.” He moved and stood over her and then reached out to pull her from the bed. Bree pulled the knife from under the pillow and slashed his hand. He didn’t bleed. Bree had expected blood, but the only thing she saw were wires. Then the Santa’s hand healed over, new skin growing as she watched, filling in the opening until there was no evidence she’d ever cut him.

     “What are you?”

     He didn’t answer her, he just lifted her up and threw her over his shoulder. Then he dropped her into his bag. It was crowded in there. She felt someone’s leg push into her ribs.

     “Bree, is that you?”

     She recognized Seth’s voice. “Yes.”

     “Did you cut him?”

     They had all agreed to kill the Santa. They didn’t know whose house he would visit first.

     “Yes. What is he?”

     “A Vambot.”

     Bree thought about it. She had never heard the term before, but she instinctively knew what it was. Santa was a vampiric robot.

     “What’s going to happen to us?” Another kid asked.

     Bree recognized Richard’s voice, but she didn’t answer him. She knew when she saw the Santa’s eyes. They were Trey’s eyes. And she recognized the shock of red hair that stuck out from under his hat. But she didn’t tell Richard. He had a deep voice… his was the first in their class to change, and she’d heard how the Santa’s voice sounded scratchy. He needed new lungs. But she didn’t tell Richard this. He would find out soon enough.


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