Well, our Flash Fiction challenge this week at Terrible Minds was to write a title that uses alliteration, like “Sally Sold Seashells by the Seashore”, and then a corresponding story. 1000 words, any genre but vampires. Now, let me start off by saying I had way too much fun writing this, so, it’s 1600 words. I could not cut it short. Sorry. I hope it’s enjoyable anyway. Have fun.
Satan in a Santa Suit
I’ll say this right off the bat: I have no use for Christmas. Each year, it gets more expensive; children are born, the elderly live longer, and this has a direct impact on my pocketbook.
I have even less use for Santa Claus.
When I pass the façade of North Pole in the mall each December, I feel like kicking the three foot plastic candy canes up where the sun don’t shine, specifically, the ass of the creepy fucker trying to pass as Père Noël. I’d spare the elves; I generally empathize with college kids sacrificing all self-worth to make those last desperate few hundred dollars of the year so that they can survive the holidays.
Fine, I’ll admit it. I hate Christmas.
But, for this hatred, I survived Santa.
This representation of Father Christmas that I will speak of now was particularly disturbing to look at. He was short, perhaps just five-foot-six, well below my stature. He was also thin—not cokehead thin, but wiry—yet had a fat face. Thin people with fat faces disgust me. I pride myself on my well-built, masculine frame. Maybe I’m just conceited, but I hate thin people with fat faces. Especially ones that wear oversized Santa Claus outfits and a beard that looks like a child glued cotton balls to a garbage bag and then slapped it on his face.
He knew I hated him the moment I saw him.
A woman named Gabrielle had caught my eye. She was working at a kiosk selling stuffed toys—I was looking for a present for my sister’s kid, my niece. Fuck, I’m getting old. Anyway, I’d managed to talk her into giving me her number. That wasn’t the daunting part. What was? When I pulled my gaze from hers and it fell onto the wiry Santa across the hall that was staring in my direction. He wasn’t sitting on his plush throne or anything, just standing in front of the washroom entrance. It’s even more disgusting to see a thin fucking Santa hiking up his pants by the crotch before a crowd of shoppers.
Gabrielle waved me off with a smile I could get used to, and I gave her a nod before turning away from both her and Cokehead Santa. Yes, I’ve decided that I think he was a cokehead, despite what I said.
Now that I had this woman’s number burning a hole in my pocket, I was lighter on my feet, more alert, attentive, aware. So, I saw when Santa began to follow me. It was not hard to track his movements in the glass storefront windows adjacent to me. He watched me without relent, so I turned a sharp right into Victoria Secret. If Santa followed me in here, I’d know it was intentional.
I was glancing distractedly at some holiday lingerie when I felt him step up behind me. There was no actual sense of touch, but I felt him with my intuition. Sometimes that happens, you know.
“What the fuck do you want?” I demanded as I turned around.
Santa glared at me through glassy eyes. “I want to know why the fuck you’ve been following me.”
I furrowed my brow. “Following you? I’ve got better things to do with my time, buddy. Why don’t you run along with your elves and go terrify some more kids?” I turned away, hoping that would be the end of it. A saleswoman was heading in our direction. Maybe she would scare Cokehead Santa off.
“Is there a problem?” the young brunette asked, flirting with her eyes as she inquired.
I glanced around. Santa was gone.
“Guess not,” I muttered. “Just looking.”
I was on the other side of the mall when I spotted our skinny, fat-faced friend again. This time, it was much too late. I only realized I was staring down into the eyes of Satan—I mean Santa—when he had a knife point pressed against my jugular. He had caught me coming out of the washroom, thrust me against the wall of the long corridor down which the bathrooms lay. Then out came the blade.
I could feel the point of the six inch hunting knife cutting into my skin. I was certain it had when I felt a drop of blood crawl down my neck. I decided it was better to let Santa speak his piece.
“You’ve been following me all my fucking life, haunting me,” Santa hissed, glancing to his left in search of bystanders. Despite his height, his was strong enough to hold me to the wall with his forearm pressed to my chest, but had a knife not been at my throat, I’d have been able to push him off without blinking.
But there was a knife at my throat.
“I don’t—I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said. “Guy, I’ve never met you.”
“Ha!” Santa exclaimed. “I remember the way you used to look at me in high school.”
“Like you wanted to kill me.”
“Oh, yeah, you and your buddies, Mark and Jason, always looking at me like I was fucking demented.”
“How do you know their—?”
“See this?” Santa pulled back the collar of his red coat to reveal a tattoo on his neck. It was simple, just three letters long: CM
J. The J was crossed out. “I knew one day I’d find you, and I’d kill you. Jason wasn’t hard to find because the fuck never left town, but you—you were harder to track down.”
“I don’t remember you.”
I did remember that Jason had been killed in a hunting accident last year, though. I think I was safe to assume that C represented my name, M, Mark’s.
Another drop of blood.
“Don’t remember me? Mike Coleman?” Santa asked. “You asshole popular kids used to call me Lollipop?”
I snorted now, unable to help it. Whoever had decided on that name had hit the nail on the head. But it wasn’t ringing a bell.
“No idea, man.”
Mike, Santa, looked down at my chest now. “I don’t believe you.”
“Look, high school was like… thirteen years ago. I don’t even remember girls I dated. So, if I ever did anything to make you—well, how you are now, I’m sorry.”
Santa looked up into my eyes, his hazel irises milky. “You’re a liar.”
I shook my head, trying to diffuse the situation. Why had no one come down this corridor yet?
“You killed Jason?”
Mike smirked. “It was nice.”
“He just kept asking why as he lay there on the ground, bleeding through all those buckshot holes. He seemed not to remember me, either.”
Trying to avoid sweating, appearing obviously afraid of this fuck, I said, “So… so maybe he was telling the truth, huh? I don’t remember you, neither did he; maybe you imagined everything in your head.”
Mike smiled now and pressed the knife deeper into my neck, beginning to shake. “I’ve already tracked Mark down. He’s next.”
The pain of the knife blade was causing white specks to appear in my vision. “You don’t have to do this. I’ll make it up to you, if you want.”
“You tell me, buddy. I don’t know anything about you.”
“Know what I want?”
I almost shook my head but remembered the knife. “No.”
“I want you to die.”
Within a matter of milliseconds, the knife was no longer in my neck but slicing into my abdomen as though I were made of warm butter. My heart palpitated as the agony roared through my body like lit napalm. Mike leaned all his weight against me as he dug the knife in to the hilt and then twisted.
Because of the blinding light, I could see only the red of the Santa cap in my vision.
They say that red is the colour of action, confidence, that it can stimulate energy and cause your blood pressure to rise. But also, it can provide a sense of protection from your fears and anxiety, and already being on your deathbed amplifies one’s sense of peace and imperviousness to danger.
If I was going to die, I wasn’t going to do it alone.
I managed to get a knee up into Santa’s groin, hard enough to cause him to stumble backwards a foot or two. It gave me enough distance to get my arm between us to grab the knife.
They say never to pull a knife from a wound, that it exacerbates blood loss. But it was my only tool. I’ve never felt torture like that of pulling the serrated blade from my own guts. For a few seconds, my muscles seized, nerves quit, and I dropped the knife to the floor. I could see the red—that hat—lunging forwards, so I dropped to the ground, on top of the knife, in protection of my tool. Reaching under myself, I grabbed the knife, and thrust it up at the Santa Claus, who, with his lollipop-shaped body, had lost balance in his pursuit and was in the process of falling on top of me.
The knife went right through his throat.
I don’t remember much after that. I remember the body of Santa Claus lying on me and I remember trying to call for help. Next, I’m waking up in a hospital, alive.
I’ll warn you again: I have no use for Christmas.
I have even less use for Santa Claus.
That’s why, this year, a year after my run-in with the late Satan—I mean Santa—I’m avoiding the holidays altogether. I will not attend any family gatherings, nor will I be buying gifts. Instead, Gabby and I are booking a Hawaiian cruise. Aloha.
PS. Merry fucking Christmas and all that. See you all in the new year.
© Lindsay Mawson 2011