Somewhere After Midnight

The most terrifying part of the ordeal was the patience.

The impossibly tall and withered old man that had sneaked into their house never said a word. It was completely silent throughout the entire ordeal. It had somehow slipped into their bedroom without raising a sound, proceding to carve up Jason's arms and legs with a sharpened tree branch, before proceeding to do the same with Kendra. Then it left the room, and the screams coming from Susie's and Johnny's rooms showed that it was doing the same. It was going from strongest to weakest, before anyone could escape.

Not once did it smile, or look angry, or even look bored. All that was visible on its face was a look of tterstillness, like this horrifying act it was comitting was nothing more to it than a daily chore in its life. Whatver it was.

The impossibility of the whole situation hadn't even crossed her mind yet. What the hell was it? She remembered going to Johnny's room the week prior, comforting him after he had supposedly saw an old man watching from his window. She should've listened to him. Maybe they wouldn't be in this situation now.

The naked old man had been beside the fireplace for a while now, heating some odd metal implement with notches and grooves carved in the surface for a while now. From time to time it would throw pine needles into the fire, sending up sparks from the left over sap.

"Please, let them go," Jason begged to it. "Do whatever you want to us, I don't care, but please, they're kids. Why are you doing this?"

The old man ignored him, picking up a pine branch that it had snatched from outside, and began to strip it bare, picking up its tool to care patterns in the wood. Could it even understand them? Or did it just not care?

"Please, we'll give you anything you want. We've got money, it's in the safe in our closet," Kendra said.

"Is the man gonna kill us, mommy?" Susie's throat was raw from crying, a fact that broke her heart.

Next to the fireplace, the old man cocked his head, pausing his carving for a moment. Could it understand them?

Thud. There was a faint sound that seemed to come from outside, like someone was walking around on the roof. Kendra's heart sank. Another one of him? Whatever hope they had of getting out of this alive, there was no way they could handle two of them.

The old man muttered something under its breath. It definitely wasn't English, nothing Kendra had ever heard before, but she could tell it was confused by the noise. It stalked over to the door, throwing it open and peering outside.

Jusat then the fireplace, which housed a perfectly healthy fire, suddenly was extinguished. The old man whirled around, almost running back to it. Placing one impossibly long arm on the mantle, it peered up the chimney, as if attempting to spot the offendor.

Kendra glanced over at Jason, who looked just as baffled as she was. What was happening?

Something came rushing down the fireplace, forcing the old man to back away snarling, almost getting its head crushed.

It was a man. Old, but not as old as the other one.Below his cheery eye, had a full white beard, which was in stark contrast with the red body armer covering a large gut. Almost every inch of his armor was covered in various guns, knives, and what looked like grenades patterned with snowflakes.

On top of it all, he was wearing a red cap with a white tassel on the end of it. Could it be…?

"Santa!" Johnny squealed in delight, forgetting his injuries just for a moment.

"Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas Jonny! I've got that Xbox you asked for, since you were such a good boy this year." Santa said, his eyes actually twinkling. "But first, I think there's someone on the naughty list who needs some attention."

The old man snarled at Santa. Even with the language barrier, she could tell it was furious.

"Yes, me. Did you think I was going to let you get away with your atrocities?" Santa pulled a shotgun off his back, pumping it. "Incidenary peppermint rounds. Just for you, you son of a-"

The old man jumped at Santa with blinding speed, sending them both flying through the door and out into the snowstorm. Through the glass, she could see Santa blocking a strike with the pine branch with a giant candy cane, kicking off the old man to get some space between them.

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