He popped out of the fireplace to the usual scene. Christmas tree in the corner, nearly lighting up the room with its inane twinklings. Stockings hung by the chimney. With care, of course. And a little table bearing a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. There was a note underneath the plate.
He glanced about. No baby Jesus in a manger. No three wise men. Nothing like that. Not even a cross hanging on a wall. So, not a Christian home. Or at least not of practicing Christians. Fine with him.
He chuckled with mirth, his belly shaking like a bowel full of jelly, and slipped the note from beneath the plate.
“Dear Santa,” it read, “I hope you like these chocolate chip cookies and milk. Please leave me lots of goodies. But not my brother Scott. He was being a brat today and should be put on your naughty list. Love, Randy Newcracker.”
He chuckled again. These cute little mortal children. They thought they knew everything about him. Oh, he kept a list of who was naughty and nice, but not quite for the reasons they believed. And what use had he of milk and cookies?
He was returning the note to the table when he spotted the postscript at the bottom of the little letter. “P.S. Sorry I didn’t leave no carrots for Rudolph. We were out and mom didn’t make it to the store.”
Rudolph. He always found it fascinating they believed he traveled around the world on flying reindeer. What good were flying reindeer? One might make a decent meal, he supposed. And what was he to do with the reindeer while he floated his way down the chimney? Leave the dirty beasts on the roof to raise all kinds of clatter?
He dropped the note and slowly spun around, taking in the room again. He sniffed at the air, the scent of the children coming to him.
“That way,” he said, pointing down a hallway.
His booted feet quickly followed the direction of his finger.
It was the second door on his left. It stood partially open. Without a sound, he eased the door open further and stared in.
Two boys, one probably nearing ten and the other little more than a babe, lay motionless in separate beds.
The man in the red suit crept into the chamber. “Visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, no doubt.” He chuckled to himself again. Keeping a sense of humor was important when you were more than a thousand years old. It kept you sane.
He approached the nearest bed, the one bearing the older child, a little boy with hair the color of summer grain. Not that the man in the red suit had witnessed summer grain in a long time. He lived too far north, where it was dark for half the year.
Smiling, he smoothed down his white beard and curled back his lips to reveal a pair of sharp fangs. Then he leaned over the child’s throat.
Ty Johnston has been writing short fiction for more than twenty years. When not busy writing or reading, he enjoys spending time with his wife, their beagle and three house rabbits. Find out more at tyjohnston.blogspot.com.