Timmy’s eyes opened. He’d heard something … something out in the hallway. He’d heard footsteps. Could it be?

He rose to sitting, clutching his blanket. His head was just inches from the ceiling, because his was the top bunk. Below, David still slept.

As quietly as he could, Timmy lifted the covers and jumped to the floor. Then he crept to the door and slowly turned the doorknob. The wooden door groaned a little as Timmy pulled it open. He tip-toed into the hallway, his slippers muffling footfalls on the hardwood.

Timmy turned left then right. The footsteps had gone left, he thought, toward the activity room, where the Christmas tree stood.

He concentrated to maintain a lingering silence as he moved toward the end of the hall. When Timmy reached the room, he saw the figure’s shadowy outline. He couldn’t make out much in the darkness, but Timmy thought he could see a plump belly and beard. His mind added the red suit and hat, the black boots. Could it be Santa? If so, Santa was just standing and staring toward Timmy.

Then Santa flicked on the Christmas tree lights. Timmy could discern the fake beard and cheap suit.

Santa removed the velvety hat and pulled away the white beard, revealing a face smeared with red paint, or maybe even blood.

“Here I stand, your phony Santa, your broken dreams,” Josh told Timmy. “Here I am, dear boy, absorbing your sadness and fear and, from it, gaining power.”

Timmy’s lip quivered. “You’re not Santa,” he muttered.

“No, lad, I am not,” Josh said. “For Santa is a myth, a lie constructed to make orphans like you feel as if they matter.”

Josh smiled. “But orphans do not matter, boy,” he continued. “You are nothing without Santa, for Santa is hope. And once I’ve crushed your hope, you have nothing! I bring not gifts, but terror!”

Josh stood, fists on hips, a shadow in the bright lights, cackling. Other orphans had heard the commotion and joined Timmy near the doorway. They watched the jolly, bogus Santa in horror.

“Go fetch Headmaster Corey,” David whispered to Wesley, and Wesley darted toward their caretaker’s quarters.

Corey had not heard the uproar because he’d been listening to Beethoven, concentrating on writing his memoir about his time spent in theCongo. He’d led a mission to the region, saving hundreds of lives and building dozens of schools and hospitals. He’d also established a scholarship program and introduced broadband to many inhabitants before returning to the TCK Orphanage, which he’d constructed 10 years ago after raising enough money through donations and fruit sales.

Wesley knocked and pushed open the door before Corey could answer.

“Headmaster!” Wesley exclaimed. “An intruder has unleashed dread upon us orphans!”

Corey stood. “I cannot allow this!” he shouted, following Wesley down the hallway.

When they arrived at the activity room, they found Josh throwing opened cartons of spoiled milk at the orphans. He evidently had stored the containers in a burlap sack.

“This is what Christmas is!” Josh screamed at the orphans. “Never forget this!”

Corey grabbed a ruler and flung it toward Josh, knocking one of the smelly weapons from his grasp.

“Who do you think you are, scoundrel?” Josh demanded.

“I run this place!” Corey answered. “Why are you terrorizing these children?”

An evil grin reappeared on Josh’s face. “I exist to obliterate hope. I gain strength and happiness from destroying hope, and drowning Christmas spirit is a byproduct of that never-ending endeavor! Your orphanage was the perfect locale!”

“Well it ends now!” Corey said, turning to grab a baseball bat. His gaze returned to Josh. “Is that blood on your face?” Corey asked.

“Yes,” Josh answered. “It’s chicken blood.”

“You’re sick,” Corey said angrily as he sprung toward his enemy.

Josh reached into his sack and retrieved a pickax, but he was too late. Corey swung and hit Josh’s right knee. The dastardly Santa screamed in pain and fell to the floor as Corey pummeled Josh’s back.

“Pay close attention, children,” Corey said as he continued to beat Josh with the bat. “I’m saving your Christmas spirit! Never lose hope.”

Just then, someone cleared his throat. As Josh, barely conscious, gasped and bled, Corey and the children turned toward the sound.

A figure, this one with a true tummy, authentic beard and bona fide Santa suit appeared from a dark corner and entered the tree’s light.

“I’ve been watching all of this,” Santa said. “It has brought a tear to my eye. I’m so proud of you, Corey.”

“But if you were there all along,” David said, “why …”

“I want you children to know,” Santa interrupted, “that you should never lose hope and never lose touch with your Christmas spirit.”

The orphans cheered. Then with their help, Corey and Santa dumped Josh’s broken body through an open window.

Until morning, they sang carols in fellowship. Then Corey made a big breakfast and the children opened Santa’s gifts. And hope was never stronger at the TCK Orphanage.

1 Comment

  1. This story is absurd and outrageous! “Santa dumped Josh’s broken body through an open window” and then they all “sang carols in fellowship” for hours. Wow, really? No one thought to show poor Josh any Christmas spirit, did they? No, everyone just sat around, including Santa, while Corey nearly kills Josh. WWBabyJD? I am certain he wouldn’t beat defenseless Josh with a bat for throwing some spoiled milk around. What kind of hope are the orphans supposed to have after this horrific scene? That Santa is some sort of vengeful bastard who gets a kick out of watching someone get beat unconscious?

    Oh, and Corey’s resume, oddly inserted in the middle of this story, is laughable. After all his supposed accomplishments you would think he could do better than caretaker of an orphanage. What’s TCK stand for? Teach Children to Kill?

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