Author's Note: This story was written for ChristianWallis's Christmas Jollytime Murderfest Competition with the prompt Mall Santa.
Sarah walks up to the ‘Lane of Snow’, her little guy gripping her hand firmly with his tiny, fat, fingers. He looks up at her and gives her a toothy grin, his lips giving way to small white teeth, barely poking through his gums. She looks down and smiles back, before walking into the sparkling white line-maze. The white walls of the mall shine around them, a sheen of light reflecting off the linoleum. Sammy gazes around in wonderment at everything around him, the glistening silver lanes, the tinsel on the tree, the shiny linoleum flooring, and the presents and gifts stacked high around the throne. She looks up, sizing up the line in front of her, but is snapped out of this by a tiny voice.
“Uppy,” It says. She looks down, seeing her son craning his neck to look up at her, arms outstretched, his tiny hat nearly falling off. He was so cute in that red Santa hat. Stopping by that dollar store on the way, no matter the temperature, was a great decision. He’d look so cute in the photos. She bends over to pick him up, hugging him tightly to her chest as she stands back upright. Her son rests firmly on her shoulder, eyes darting around the place. The tinsel glistening on the branches of the large Christmas tree, the giant candy-canes, nearly glowing in the shine of the overhead lights. It must be so nice to be a child, to take in the world.
She looks ahead, the man in the red suit drawing ever nearer, another screaming child being carried off of his lap. She notes that the Santa hasn’t been doing so well, but dismisses it as something like a bad smell, or the flashing of cameras that’s making the children upset. Sarah didn’t want her little tyke to go up there screaming, but the way he looked at the Santa, wide-eyed and joyful, she couldn’t let this pass. Maybe that Santa’s shift would end by the time they got up there anyway. Maybe her little Sammy would get a different one.
Sarah looks up. Another screaming child, being carried off, their face twisted into a scrunchy shout. The Santa adjusts his beard, a sour look coming over his face. He reaches his hands up to receive another kid, this one simply sitting there, looking up at him, before jumping off his legs and running off. The child, tears staining his face, and shoulders of his jacket, runs towards his parents, hugging his father close in, not glancing back until another unhappy tyke was upon the lap of the crimson-clad man. He smiled, bouncing the girl upon his knee, before, like all the kids before her she began screaming.
Sarah sighed, and put down her little Sammy. She wasn’t sure if she really wanted this for him, to see him go up there just to begin crying. She looked around to see if she wasn’t boxed in, and, upon seeing the sea of torsos behind her, each holding up or the hand of their own children, she decided that it was okay to wait it out. Anyway, her little guy might like ol’ saint nick anyway. She holds Sammy out in front of her, giving the one-year old a little shake, his red-and-white hat jostling off of his nearly bald scalp. She picks it up, plopping the too-big cap straight back on his head. It covers his eyes, and he reaches a tiny fist up to pick it back up off his eyes. He smiles, shaking his arms around, and laughs a small laugh.
“Hey, Sammy. Are you ready to see Santa?” Sarah said, setting him down. Sammy jumps, maybe an inch off the ground, his open mouth emitting a sound that was partway between a shriek and a laugh, flapping his arms up and down as he shouts.
“Yeah! Yeah!” He says, his mouth exaggerating the movements. He jumps off the ground, arms outstretched, his little fists raised towards the sky. Sarah laughs a little. She loves this little man, so vibrant and full of energy. She wonders what it will be like to see him grow up, into a child, a teen, an adult, and then… she stops thinking about it. Best to live in the moment, now, rather than to spend time worrying about the future. She’s sure he’ll grow up just fine. She stares intently at the ceiling for a moment, before she is quickly brought back to reality by a small tugging at her hand. Sammy’s voice starts again, saying a slurred
“Mommy. Mommy!” Sarah looks down to see one of the elves, then down at Sammy, and smiles. He jumps up and down with excitement.
“I’m gonna see Tanta!” Sammy shouts, his vocal cords straining to make the sound as loud as he can, barely a conversational pitch. The elf picks him up, and Sarah begins walking to the child pickup, glitter and false snow crunching softly under her feet. She turns to watch Sammy, her head hitting a pine tree’s branch as she does so. Blushing with embarrassment, she steps forward, and smiles at her son. Sammy, looking over, smiles back, but the smile fades as he turns to see the scarlet-clad figure sitting atop an icy plastic throne, its garments shining in the bright light above its head. Santa smiles, and stretches out his arms to greet the little boy.
“Ho ho ho! Hello little boy. What’s your name?” The booming voice of Santa call out to Sammy.
“Tammy,” the little boy says, his expression changing. Instead of looking around at the plastic treasures the mall had to hold with one of wonderment, he watched the giant red-clad sphere of a man with an expression somewhere between shock and fear. Sammy, his wide eyes glassily reflecting the large smile, begins to squish his face into a tight screech. He began to flail his arms and legs, kicking and struggling at the elf’s hold. Tears flow, little rivulets of water running down Sammy’s face, staining his jacket and shirt. His hat falls off his head, and an elf scurries in to pick it up. The lady holding him quickly rushes over to Sarah, handing her the screaming child. She hugs Sammy in tight, rubbing her hand in small circles across his back.
“There, there,” Sarah says, whispering it gently into his tiny ears. “Please, please, please. Mommy’s here. It’s okay. I love you.”
She walks slowly away from the man, the red suit folding as he greets another child, this one wearing an ugly knit sweater. Sammy slowly stops crying, his tears becoming less and less apparent, his scream becoming less and less loud. Eventually, they fall off into silence, and he begins to close his eyes. His weight drops onto Sarah’s shoulder, and he falls asleep. He does so just as they reach the car.
Sarah wakes up with a start. She’s in a black room with a quilt covering her body, no light penetrating the darkness save for a small electric clock. Its feeble glow is just enough for her to see that she’s still in her room, her husband still beside her, sleeping, his soft breathing the only noise in the silence around. There is a sharp Tick!, as the clock’s display changes to a glowing red 1:52.
Silence rings in her ears, louder than any noise she’s heard before, with nothing to penetrate it. Strange. She could’ve sworn she heard Sammy screaming for mommy just a moment ago. Maybe that’s what startled her out of her sleep. She gets up, throwing her covers onto her husband with a Thump!, and walks slowly to her son’s room. Her footsteps echo loudly in the hallway, the noise filling her ears like raindrops do a barrel. It’s a short walk from her room to the nursery, but to her, it feels like hours on end. She reaches the door, and turns the knob to open it. A light creaking noise announces the opening of the door. Inside, she looks down at her son, who appeared to be sleeping just as soundly as before, if not, more so. In the light of the moon through his window, he looks unnaturally pale. Sarah walks over to him, no noise coming from her steps. She reaches her hand into the nursery and takes the covers off of him to find multiple streaks of crimson blood peppered across his body.
“SAMMY!” She wails, picking his limp body up. She begins to weep, holding his lifeless form to her chest, hot tears streaming down her face. As she does so, she hears a faint laugh echo throughout the room.
Ho. Ho. Ho.
Sarah wakes up with a start. She’s in a black room with a quilt covering her body, no light penetrating the darkness. The clock normally by her bedside has been turned off, its faint light no longer glowing, taking away her advantage of sight. Silence rings in her ears, louder than any noise she’s heard before, with nothing, not even her husband’s steady breathing, to penetrate it. She puts her hand to her right, and finds her husband's hand still there, with the rest asleep next to her, his fingers unnaturally cold. Comforted by this, her thoughts drift to Sammy, who she could’ve sworn she heard screaming for mommy just a moment ago. She gets up, throwing her covers onto her husband with a Thump!, and walks slowly to her son’s room. Her footsteps echo loudly in the hallway, the noise filling her ears like raindrops do a barrel. It’s a short walk from her room to the nursery, but to her, it feels like hours on end. Finally, she reaches the door, and turns the knob to open it with a chunk. Inside, she looks down at her son, who appeared to be sleeping just as soundly as before, if not more so. In the light of the moon through his window, he looks unnaturally pale. Sarah takes the covers off of him to find multiple slash marks, each seemingly created by a knife of some sort.
“SAMMY!” She shouts, picking his limp body up. She cries out, holding his lifeless form to her chest, hot tears streaming down her screaming face.
She is too distressed about her now-dead son to notice the red clad man standing behind her, his knife dully shining in the darkness.
Written by Derpyspaghetti