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A Different Christmas Story

by just_intoxicated03

That time of year was fast approaching. Everybody was giddy and full of holiday cheer. It was a time to be happy, to rejoice.

But it was not so for the man who now sat on an old, creaky, wooden stool. He twiddled his thumbs unconsciously and sweat rolled down his back despite the biting cold and his thick wool jacket. He barely felt the chains on his numb foot. Flecks of frost accumulated on the tiny hairs on his arms and legs.

From time to time a gasp escaped his bluish lips, but most of the time he made it a point to keep quiet, for he wanted to be able to hear the patter of Their feet if they should come closer to his cell. He was very much afraid of that sound; it meant that his suffering was about to start again, but what scared him the most was the sound of the bells. The bells that were attached to Their heads. The metallic jangling were spikes to his already torn soul. He wept, just like he did every year; wept for his lost life and family. The hot tears solidified into crystals of lost memories half-way down his cheek. He recalled the past winters, (and how many had passed he knew not) recalled every time of awakening to the cold, of emotions and memories that trickled then surged into his mind.

Every time he hoped that it was only an ugly nightmare, that at some point he would wake. But then came the jingle of bells, and the echo of Their footsteps resonating along the frosty brick corridor. The hinges would creak and the door would open, and as the piercing light chased away the shadows and blinded him, someone would unlock the chains and lead him out. Vaguely he remembers small hands around his own, urgently but gently leading him towards some unknown destination. As his vision cleared he would see cherub faces, and the peculiar thing was they were all knee-high compared to him, and the tallest of them came up only to his hip. Bells grew from their heads like trees. They crowded against him, a sea of compassionate faces, and they whispered sweet things and beguiling promises to his ear.

After a while they went away, and were replaced with gaunt-faced subordinates as small as they were. They were the silent ones, the stoic ones who shoved spoonfuls of bitter liquid down his throat. Sometimes he choked because of this, and they pounded his back until tears came into his eyes. He knew what the liquid did. It fattened him, enlarged his limbs and rounded his stomach. Afterwards they dressed him in velvet and groomed his beard, dragging hot iron curlers through it so roughly that at times it burnt his skin. Then he was forced to board a contraption which was tethered to great beasts with burning red eyes and foaming mouths, hot steam streaming out of their nostrils with every breath.

Each year he rode throughout the night. Suspended in their sleep the world knew nothing of him and his pain. He knew there was something terribly wrong with the boxes he dispensed. He could sense the animosity seeping from the beautiful silver wrappings, just as he sensed the evil from the cherub children. But on he went, spurred on by gaunt-faced masters which whipped him for every house he missed. And every time the thick, hard wood connected with his skin, he would cry with pain and anguish.


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564 Reviews

Points: 63214
Reviews: 564

Sun Jun 26, 2022 9:12 pm
RandomTalks wrote a review...


RandomTalks here with a short review!

This has to be the most tragic take on Santa Clause and on Christmas in general. I have never read something like this, or even imagined a situation where my favorite time of the year, the joyous occassion of Christmas could have such a terrible tale behind it. I think that is why this story works in so many levels. Its different, out-of-the-box and something that no one could have ever imagined.

And you executed it perfectly as well. Short as it is, the story hits the mark exactly right. You have portrayed San's emotions very clearly and from the very beginning there was this sense of wrongdoing in the narration, like something just wasn't right. There was always this feeling of being submerged, like we were watching this man and following him from underwater. Or maybe he was the one forced under the water, while we clueless readers were trying to transcend the depths to glimpse at his story.

I liked the ending especially when the cry associated with joy takes on a much darker meaning. It actually made me pause and think about all those childhood memories for a while. So if your intention was go spook your readers, then job well done! You achieved it perfectly.

But on a serious note, this was truly a very well written and unique and haunting story. I hoenstly don't know why you do not have more reviews. Thank you for sharing it with us!

Keep writing and have a great day!

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565 Reviews

Points: 1395
Reviews: 565

Sat Dec 15, 2007 6:22 pm
Stori says...

That was an interesting story. Maybe you could call it "The Reluctant Santa."

About the critique, I can't see any obvious errors. Good job.

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god -- the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!
— William Shakespeare