Chuck Wendig is having a flash fiction contest. 1,000 words on the “War on Christmas” could win you free swag. Writer’s swag!
Here’s my entry. Hope you enjoy it!
The ramshackle sleigh glided over the snow packed lands. It sprayed a powdery mist of snow as it cut over and around the white rolling hills. The horned beasts galloped along letting out small light puffs of foggy breath. Their reins clicked and clacked as the crude bells, made from cans and rocks, jostled with their gait. The man at the reins was tall and thin with a great bushy beard and hair to match judging by the curls that peaked beneath his soiled and sewn cap. He wore a thick, dirty, faded coat, made before the snow fell, and patched from tatters many times since, it matched his pants and cap. If you could describe his suit it would be muck colored with a hint of red. He’s worn it for 6 years, and that makes him the longest one to keep it by his account. A hard trick, being Santa Nik for so many years.
The ground cracked and the snow opened up beneath him. The bottom of the sleigh crashed against the wall of the pit trap where it dangled above sharpened sticks. The beasts that pulled the sleigh lurched and then leaned forward to hold the load. “On!” he screamed as he snapped the reins hard. They called out a wine and step-by-step pulled the sleigh from the pit.
Santa Nik pulled on the reigns and the beasts halted. He hoped off the sleigh to inspect the cargo. Everything seemed in order, tied down nice and tight. “‘ere ya’ go boys, ‘ere go.” He said as he pulled out food for his beasts. “Ya’ did a fine job pulling me out. Guess PTB Bauers knows I’m coming. Right on time as always. We’ll tell the old sod it’ll take more than one trap to keep us from our duty.” He stroked Blitzers mane. “I say we leave him a bit of ye’ own special coal in his stocking.” He winked. Blitzers clomped his hooves in agreement.
Santa Nik resumed his post behind the reigns lashed them twice and cried, “On! We have presents for the good little boys and girls of Carhart!”
He watched the hills of snow for any sign of traps or ambushes. He spotted the tale-tale signs of a bad trapper and broke course away from the area. “Ha, better luck—” a bolt hit him in the shoulder. Three more shooters burst from the snow and fired bolts. They found their marks knocking Santa Nik out of the sleigh. The beasts careened out of control and over the hill.
Santa Nik tried to crawl but he had already lost too much blood, he felt cold. The first shooter walked over to him. He was a young man, he wanted to hate him but he could see remorse and desperation in his eyes. “You have to take it.” Santa said, “take the suit and the sleigh. Give them hope. We can’t survive without a little warmth in this cold world.” He touched the young mans face and left a bloody hand print. He looked down at his chest with bolts sticking out, blood running out of the wounds. “I’ve never seen it so red its beautiful.” Marley nodded he knew what he had to do.
“Looks like Xmas comes early for us!” Grincher said. “The red bloke dead?”
“Yeah.” Marley said. “I’ll get the sleigh.”
“Good, PTB Bauers will want it accounted for. Big pay-day for us. Hell, I could be PTB next term.” Grincher let out a cruel laugh.
Marley ran back over the hill.
“What in the fires of heaven took you so damn long? And where is the sleigh?”
“Sorry Grincher, sleigh hit an ice cavern. It’s gone.”
“Damn. We’ll have to drag this bastard back ourselves. That’s on you for losing the damn sleigh.”
PTB Bauers was over joyed with the news. Finally, that no good Santa Nik was dead. He didn’t need anyone coming into his town and misleading his people. It was all a dirty sham anyway to get their trust and then lead them into the frozen wastes. He’d heard it from PTB Scrooge a wise and prudent man. “String him up in the center of town Grincher let everyone know that Santa Nik is dead. Remind them I’m the only ones who they should believe in. Remind them of the cruel world I protect them from.”
The next morning when the people of Carhart awoke there were gifts by the fire-place wrapped in twine and leaves, fruit and nuts filled their stockings. In an act of defiance they headed toward the town center to pay their respects. Through the crisp air they could hear the clink and clack of Santa Nik’s sleigh gliding over the snow. The crunch-crunch of their steps picked up as they ran for the town center. They gasped in awe and cheered, the body of Santa Nik was gone. In its place hung a board with the message “Happy Xmas to all and to all a good year!”