- short fiction by Gitabushi
Santa Claus died on December 25th in the early hours of the morning. His death caused the Depression. I know it sounds crazy, but I was there.
Of course, if you’re reading this, it means I’m dead. I’ve set it up with my friend down at the Herald to fly up here and look for this if no one hears from me within a week. I hope it works, because somebody needs to know.
For so many years I just thought it was a nightmare, maybe just some child’s method of explaining events that are beyond a child’s scope of understanding. Everyone I told either laughed or got angry, so I learned to keep it to myself. But too many bodies have been turning up lately. It’s bad enough that it’s on the same night every year, but the fact that it’s all over the world is even more telling. Of course, that same fact made it hard to see the trend, but now that I know, it was easy to track down.
If I just come out and say it, you won’t believe me, and you’ll perceive this writing as a spoof, or maybe a cruel-minded hoax. But it’s vital that you believe, so I’ll give you the facts first.
You’ve been told in your history classes that the Great Depression started on November 10, 1929. Wrong. Yes, there was a market decline that started on that day. But the despair, panic, and global economic devastation didn’t actually begin until December 25th, the day the world woke up and found that, for the first time ever, Santa didn’t bring anything.
Imagine the results of that discovery. Try, if you will, to imagine a world in which Santa did bring presents every Christmas for generations, then suddenly stopped without warning. It can be hard for children to learn that there is no Santa Claus, so imagine how hard it was on the adults. Picture their pain at the sight of heart-broken children, distraught without presents to open on Christmas morn.
Think of it: a betrayal greater than Nixon’s, a shock more jolting than Kennedy’s death. It’s no wonder that nearly every adult lost faith in the world, so that a minor market dip escalated into a major financial catastrophe; that so many people committed suicide rather than face their disappointment; that so many suicides concealed the small slaughter; that no adult from that era will admit Santa ever existed, and even started buying presents themselves to perpetuate the Santa Claus “myth;” that children from that time remember the mood of despair more vividly than they recall a lack of Christmas presents, but their first clue was a barren Christmas tree.
Have I convinced you yet that Santa didn’t come that 1929 Christmas Eve? Because he actually did make it to some places that night, before he was…No, I think I’ll explain it another way.
I was three months shy of my fourth birthday, and was eagerly anticipating Santa’s visit. I lay in bed, awake. Gentle flakes had fallen earlier that evening, and the moon shone down on the fresh white snow so brightly that I didn’t need a candle as I slipped out of bed and down the stairs. No child could resist mysterious sounds on Christmas Eve. It had to be Santa Claus, it had to be!
No! It was a regular man, face pale in the moonlight, a dark cloak wrapped around him as if to ward off the winter chill. He seemed weak, perhaps starving. I remember that I almost spoke aloud, to offer him something to eat. But some sense stopped me, and I really believe that saved my life.
At that moment a sound came from the roof, and the man froze. I mean, he was already completely motionless, but there was a change, as if every sense sharpened. He suddenly looked like my cat when it sees a bird fluttering with a broken wing. Like a predator when it senses his prey. Then he disappeared.
Yes, disappeared. One second he was there, the next he had vanished from view, like the shadows had swallowed him in one silent gulp.
A large sack landed in our fireplace, accompanied by a small avalanche of snow, and then a large man was squeezing out of the hearth place. He was huge, but moved quite rapidly for his bulk. His motions were without haste, but within seconds the stockings were full and the presents were underneath the tree. Santa paused to take a bite of the cookie I had left the night before, and then–
It’s hard to describe what happened next. I guess Santa has to be able to move quickly, if he can travel to every house in the world in a single night. That speed was all that kept him alive for those few minutes, but in the end, the pale man was faster. As I’ve since learned in my research, beings such as this man can move inhumanly fast. They wrestled desperately, but in complete silence. It was obvious that it was to the death. The last image I had was of Santa’s booted feet kicking in mid-air, then going limp.
I must have fainted, because the next thing I remember is my mother shaking me awake, scolding me for trying to stay awake and catch Santa. I thought it was just a nightmare until I found out that many of my friends did not get visited by Santa that year. But no one believed me when I told my dream, even when I pointed out the cookie crumbs ground into the carpet. And as I grew older, I realized that no one ever discovered a body, dressed in a red suit or not, so it must have been a bad dream.
But now I have finally realized to the truth: Santa was killed by, and has become, a vampire.
I know that despite my careful building of my case, you don’t believe me. You can’t, because it’s too strange, too far outside your known world. So I challenge you to test it. Investigate the three or four mysterious disappearances every Christmas. Read accounts of the unusually high rate of suicides at Christmas during the Depression, and consider how a “fall” from a great height can help to conceal puncture marks and a general shortage of blood in a body.
Consider, if you will, how a vampire out-performs the average mortal, and then calculate the effect of augmentation on a man who already does not age, already can fly around the world, can already move incredibly fast and dexterously, already only comes out at night. And thank whatever God you worship that Santa comes out only once a year. Be grateful that he retains enough scraps of his generosity and compassion that he limits himself to just enough blood to sustain himself for another year, or he could depopulate the Earth in a twinkling.
And so, since I now know the truth, it falls to me to eliminate this monstrosity. I may be over 70, but I have gotten myself in great shape. Good enough to be taken seriously in my attempt to be the oldest person to make a solo visit to the North Pole. And if I can find him in daylight, maybe I’ll have a chance. If not, I hope they find my camp, and this laptop computer, and this account. And I hope someone believes, before it’s too late.
Remember, he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.
And he’s HUNGRY.
December 21, 1995