It’s the week before Christmas, but I’m just not feeling the spirit like I used to. Maybe it’s because of last year’s terrorist attacks and the war and the tragedies since then, the impending doom concerning Saddam Hussein, the horror of the serial snipers in the D.C. area in September and October... but I’m just not in the Christmas mood and I don’t think anyone else is either. This year Santa might hang up his sack. I’m sure the toy store warehouses I rob for my gifts would be glad to know that. Besides, who really believes in Santa Claus anymore? Nobody. To the few that do believe, I’m sorry, and I hope your holiday is nice despite the lack of mystery gifts.
Please disregard the above entry. I did go on my worldwide journey last night. I found Christmas in a stranger and a friend of mine, the two most unlikely persons to save Christmas. It’s a long story, so let me start at the beginning.
The night I wrote the last entry, December 17, my employer and friend Josh Gentry had a minor heart attack and was taken to the hospital. A loyal friend, I went to see how he was doing as soon as I heard. I lied and told the nurse I was his brother. I also used those special persuasive powers vampires possess to help her see things my way.
Josh was asleep, but in stable condition. I was glad to see that. Before I turned to leave, I noticed my friend’s roommate, another cardiac arrest victim whose heart attack had been much more severe than that of my friend. I looked at that gentleman and felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck. My mouth went dry. I knew exactly what was happening. I was in the presence of another vampire.
You must be thinking that as a man who travels around the world every year, I must run into others like me often. And you’re right. In fact, there were several vampires fighting in the wars I’d been in, on the opposite side. Several VC vampires, some blueblood bloodsuckers in the War of 1812, and even a few Nazi vampires during WWII. I’m sure that if Hitler had known he’d had immortals in his army he would have seen to it that all of his Aryans were turned into an unstoppable race. Thank God he never found out.
Another question on your mind must be, “If you met other vampires on opposing armies, how did you kill them?”Sunlight is merely a slow poison and a stake through the heart only ruins our shirts. So how do you destroy something that can regenerate after every small wound? Simple. You blow the thing apart. I always insisted on working with explosives and cannons because I knew that if I ever came across another vampire, that would be the only way to kill it. And I’ve destroyed my share of vampires. In fact, at the time I had never met a vampire I liked. All the ones I met were fighting for a negative cause. So when my senses told me that another vampire was in Josh Gentry’s room, I became very nervous.
I focused my sight to a higher plain because vampires can make themselves invisible... from humans, that is. You can’t hide from another vampire. Hovering over the bed of Josh Gentry’s roommate was a fine mist, seen only by my keen eyes. The mist began to disappear, and I had no idea where it was going. Then it struck me. The mist was entering the man’s body through his nostrils. I had never seen anything like this and was very curious. The man twitched, then the EKG jumped once before flat-lining. I called for a doctor or nurse, and was asked to step out of the room. I did as I was told, but I kept my eyes on that man’s nostrils, waiting for the mist to retreat. I soon got my wish as the mist drifted out of the room. I followed it downstairs and through the ambulance entrance into a dark alley.
I licked my lips and said,“Materialize. I know you’re there, I just want to see you.”
And just as I had asked, the thin gray mist collected itself into the shape of a man, then his outline became clearer and clearer until every tendril of vapor was gone and in its place was a creature whom, if seen on the street by the common man, would be confused for an average human being. Except for the way he was dressed.
He was extremely pale, as all vampires are (except one), and his gauntness was accentuated by the heavy black robes he wore. I was not alive during medieval times, but the robe worn by this figure definitely looked like something out of that era. The twentieth century brought about some comfortable clothing materials that I am ever so grateful for. The things I’d worn in the preceding years had been so ragged that I wouldn’t put them back on for a million dollars. Yet here was this man, a vampire, wearing something from the 1300s.
He looked at me and used his powers to look inside of me, as to find out who I was. He then asked in a deep, morose tone, “Are you really that surprised to find someone like you?”
“No,” I said. “I’ve seen other vampires before, but I’ve never seen one feed in the form of a vapor.”
A thin smile sent wrinkles through his dead face. “That’s not what I meant.”
I perked an eyebrow. “No? Then what did you mean?”
He chuckled. “You know how boring eternal life can be. We cannot simply go on living normal lives like those we feed upon. It would drive us mad. We have to have some other purpose to our immortal lives.”
“I live like any other man,” I said.
He chuckled again and set his black eyes on mine. “Sure you do... Mr. Dasher. Clever name considering what you do every December twenty-fourth.”
I grimaced. “So you know what I do. Good, I get tired of keeping it to myself. What’s your point?”
“Being Santa Claus is your raison d’etre. If you couldn’t do the things that that immortal legend does, you’d probably go insane. There are others who do the same thing. They haven’t become Santa Claus, that’s unique. But they live as gods in Egypt, or oracles in Asia. They crave worship. They feel that, as vampires, they deserve things that the average man cannot have. Children love you at this time of year. They may not know you personally, but they pour their hearts out to your legend, and you revel in it. Tell the truth.”
I shrugged. “I like making children happy. Is that wrong?”
He flashed a cold smile. “And they love you for it. Admit it, you get your jollies from it.”
I sighed. “Look, I started doing it for my son and recently something happened that brought about a lot of bad memories so now I’m considering giving it up. I did it to make my son happy. I don’t do it for kicks.”
“Do you mind if I call you Nick?”
“That’s my name, that’s what it’s there for. What’s yours?”
This time he shrugged. “I don’t have a name. I haven’t been seen as anything other than Death since the time of Bubonic Plague.”
My eyes widened. “You’ve been doing this that long?”
“It’s all I have left. The plague took my family, so, as Death, I deliver peace to end the suffering of those who pray to die. I feed within their hearts, killing them quickly. The man in the hospital just now was dying anyway, and I needed to feed.”
I scowled at him. “So you play God to feed your bloodlust?”
“Not God, Nick, Death. One could easily say that you are playing God by delivering to the children that which they want most.”
I had no answer for that.
“We need these personas, you know. You may have started playing Santa Claus for your son, but now you do it for yourself Immortality wouldn’t be worth living without it.”
I sighed. “Maybe you’re right.”
He stepped toward me and without even realizing I was doing it, I stepped back from him. He laughed, “You are the last person who should fear Death, Nick. I just wanted to tell you something.”
“Go to Atlanta. There’s a club there called The Slow Drip. It’s a gothic bar for young people, but a few of our kind frequent there. Go ask to speak to a man named Ernest Bronson. You’ll like him. You two have a lot in common.”
“Okay, I’ll go on Christmas Eve.”
“No,” he said. “Go tonight. Now.”
“I’ve got to work in a little while.”
“Call in sick. Talk to Ernest tonight. I think you just might change your mind about staying in on Christmas Eve.”
I sighed again. “Fine, I’ll go tonight. But as late as it is I probably won’t beat the sunrise driving back.”
“Fly. Save time.” And with that, he stepped back and simply drifted apart as a haze on the cold night air.
I took a deep breath, then did the same, catching the wind north toward Atlanta.
I was there within an hour. I reformed into human shape and asked the first person I saw if he knew where The Slow Drip was. He didn’t. In fact, the next four people I asked didn’t know where it was either. I was starting to feel annoyed, like the Grim Reaper had sent me on a wild goose chase. But the fifth person I found, a young lady with about a dozen facial piercings, pale skin, and dyed black hair, knew exactly where I could find The Slow Drip. Apparently it was a place that shied away from daylight. I made a guess that the owner was a vampire.
When I finally got there, it was worse than I had imagined. Barely dressed or naked teenagers danced on the floor, couples clad in black sitting in the dark corners shooting up heroin or drawing each other’s blood and licking it as it leaked from the wound.
I looked at every individual and didn’t see a single vampire. Not an immortal one anyway. Then I looked to the bar and saw a man with spiked bleached blond hair wearing a black tee and slacks with a white blazer. He wanted to stand out from the others. This had to be my guy.
I walked up to the bar and shouted as to be heard over the music, “Are you Ernest Bronson?”
He smiled and nodded. He then said,“Let’s go to a table in the back so we can talk in private.”
He stood up and walked behind the bar, where there was a door that led down several concrete steps. I followed him and shut the door behind me. In this subterranean room, the booming music was nothing more than a minor pulse on the wall.
He sat down behind a round table and gestured for me to do the same. Smiling, he asked, “So how did you find out about me?”
I smirked. “Death sent me.”
Bronson laughed. “That guy’s got issues. But I don’t suppose we’re much different. So tell me about yourself. I don’t look inside people like he does, I think it’s too much like rape.”
I flinched at that last word, thinking of Marie.
“Sorry if I struck a nerve,” he said.
“No, it’s okay,” I said.
“Well, you know I’m Ernest Bronson, how about you? What’s your name?”
I stuck my hand out, and he shook it.“Nick Dasher, pleased to meet you.”
He grinned. “Nick Dasher? As in Saint Nick and Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Dondor and Blitzen?”
I smiled. “That’s right. Formerly Rudy Kringle.”
He laughed. “That’s cute! So, like Death, you took on an immortal legend’s duties. That’s neat.”
I nodded. “Death gave me the impression that you did also.”
He smiled. “Yeah, I give out candy and goodies to the children each year.”
He sighed with a smirk. “Think about my initials.”
I burst out laughing. “Good lord! You’re the Easter Bunny?”
He grumbled, “I’m not a bunny. I was born Ethan Brandle, and I like keeping my initials. It’s a minor inconvenience that I’m thought of as a bunny, when other cultures recognize me as a goddess named Ishtar or Ostara. Too bad I’m a guy, I’d love to get recognition as a deity!”
I laughed again. “Yeah, I bet.”
“So how do you feel about being a saint?”
“I’m no saint. I’m a vampire, I feed on human blood. I just so happen to enjoy giving to children on Christmas.”
“Yeah, I feel ya.”
I took a closer look at him and noticed a tan. “Why aren’t you pale like the rest of us?”
“I don’t want to be confused for one of the wannabes upstairs. It’s spray-on.”
I laughed again. “You know you’re in the twenty-first century when a vampire can get an artificial tan.”
“Hey, I did it in the late twentieth too,” he said with a grin.
A thought suddenly struck me and I burst out laughing.
“If anyone upstairs were to hear that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were sitting at the same table having a conversation, they’d think we were mad!”
“Don’t forget,” he said, “we were paired up by the Grim Reaper. And I’m not a bunny.”
We had a fit of giggles for a minute, then when I got my breath back, I asked, “So how did you come to be the Easter... goddess?” I laughed again.
Grinning, he said, “I’d rather be called a bunny than a goddess. A god, sure. But not a goddess. I’m quite proud of my manhood, thank you very much. Anyway, I was bitten in New York during the first year of the Great Depression and lost my family. I decided to liven up the holiday I had died just prior to for my son and daughter, Lincoln and Gloria. They were eight and six at the time. I lived the rest of the year as a bum, sleeping in dumpsters during the daytime and feeding off other homeless people at night. They didn’t mind dying, they had nothing to lose. Every Easter of my kids’ childhood I’d use money I begged off the street to buy them candy and toys. After a while, their friends got jealous, so I started giving to more and more. By the time they were grown, I had gotten so used to it, I couldn’t give up. Even when I moved down here in the fifties and opened this place. Back then it was a beatnik coffeehouse. In the sixties it became a hash bar for hippies. In the seventies it was a disco, and in the eighties it was a trendy health club. Then the nineties brought on the gothic craze and I was happy to supply the aspiring vampires with a place to hang. But despite the dark pretenses, I’m still generous to the kids. You get the idea.”
I nodded. “That’s very similar to how I became... who I am. I died in 1746 and had to leave my family alone except on Christmas.”
“Wow, that’s a long time. Not as long as Death, but you’re older than the American Constitution!”
I smirked. “I fought at two battles of the Revolutionary War. I fought in just about every other war after that, too. You turned in the thirties, did you fight in World War Two?”
“No, I was still living like a bum at the time. My son, Linc, fought in the war. He died at Normandy, twenty years old. It broke my
“Could have been worse,” I said. “You could have been fighting at his side when he fell. My boy, Robert, died at Concord.”
“True. Linc died, but Gloria went on to do some great things. She was even in a beauty pageant. Her mother died in a traffic accident, but I’m happy to say that Gloria lived her life to its fullest and died in 1996 at a very nice age, seventy-three. Natural causes.”
“Lucky gal,” I remarked.
He nodded, saying, “Yep. In forty-nine, after my wife died, I resumed life as an average man. I became Elroy Buttle, a bailiff at night court. I had been a lawyer before my mortal death, and I wanted to stay close to the legal action.”
“Were you in ’Nam?”
He smiled. “I didn’t last thirty minutes in the jungle. I played dead so my body could be brought back home.”
“Yeah, me too.” I began feeling more comfortable. It was strange, as I’d never met any vampires who were nice to me. Not that Death had been particularly nice, but he meant me no harm; nor did Ernest.
“You seem nervous,” he said.
“It’s just that the only other vampires I’ve ever met were trying to kill me from the other side of a battlefield.”
His eyes lit up. “You mean you’ve never met any of our celebrities?”
Ernest grinned and sang, “The Lizard King didn’t say he could do anything for nothing.”
My jaw dropped. “He’s a vampire?”
“He’s been in my club before! Think about it, only two people supposedly saw his body, the doctor that signed the death certificate wasn’t a real doctor, and his coffin was nailed shut. It was easy for him to fake it.”
The mention of a coffin being nailed shut made me think of Marie again and I shuddered once more. Trying to take my mind off of it, I asked, “What other celebrities do we have?”
He leaned in closer. “Remember that rumor about Edgar Allan Poe dying of rabies?”
“He never had rabies. It was bloodlust.”
I laughed. “You’re kidding? I love Poe!”
“We all do, he’s a great guy. And he loves the classic Universal horror flicks, and just about anything with Vincent Price. In fact, the reason Price was in so many of his movies was because the man himself insisted on his favorite actor bringing his stories to life.”
“Wow. Is Vincent Price a vampire too?”
“No. Sadly, Vincent is gone. He was offered the life, but after starring in The Last Man On Earth, he decided that life as a vampire would be a lousy one. He wasn’t completely wrong, either.”
“What about Elvis? Is he one of us?”
Ernest laughed. “No, the king is gone, but not forgotten.”
We talked some more, about our mortal lives as Puritan huntsman Arthur Tennyson and New York attorney Ethan Brandle, about our children and their lives, and we realized just how much we did have in common, and we became fast friends. We spent most of this past week together, but that first night was the best.
He looked at the clock on the wall and saw that it was nearly six o’clock. “Sun’ll be up soon.”
“Yeah, I’ve got to head back home before it rises.”
He slapped at the air. “Forget about it, stay here for the day. I’ve got an extra bed in the back.”
“You live here?”
“Yeah, it’s cheaper that way. Remember, I was a lawyer and a New York bum once.”
I laughed. “Okay, thanks.”
“No problem. One thing, though. A question.”
“Why did Death ask you to see me? He doesn’t usually steer people my way, especially people from far off.”
I sighed. “I guess he thought you might make me change my mind.”
“Change your mind about what?”
“I’m considering staying home this Christmas.”
He jumped out of his seat. “What?”
“I started doing it for my son, and he’s been dead for over two hundred years, so I really don’t see any reason to keep at it.”
He shook his head and said, “Your son? Nick, do you have any idea how many sons and daughters you have? All those kids you deliver presents to love you. One of your nicknames is Father Christmas for a reason, you know. You deliver to orphanages,
“Of course I do,” I said. “My boy was brought up in an orphanage.”
“There you go. You’re the only parent those kids have, and you only visit them one day out of the year. I wonder how they would feel if that one visit didn’t happen. I go around every Easter because I don’t want the weight on my chest of being the guy who ruined a holiday for the children. Is that what you want to be? The Grinch who stole Christmas?”
I licked my lips. “They’re all my children, huh?”
“That’s right, Father Christmas!”
I smiled and shook his hand again.“Thank you, Ernest.”
“Does that mean you changed your mind about making your rounds on Christmas Eve?”
I smirked. “That’s right, Ishtar.”
He laughed. “Go to bed, I gotta close things upstairs.”
After spending most of the past week with him, I did make my rounds last night. And that’s how the Grim Reaper and the Easter Bunny saved Christmas in 2002. Strange but true.
I'm not an artist when it comes to drawing, but it's the best I could do.
By the way... I couldn't decide on his clothes, so I drew him in a traditional Santa suit. Although trying to enter homes late at night on Christmas Eve in a bright red suit would usually attract attention, he's a vampire and often enters in mist form. ;)
I just cannot believe my luck. Here it is, Christmas Eve, and the guilt from last year is eating me alive. I keep re-reading what I wrote last year about how I was forced to kill my good friend, George Bucher, and how my former life was ruined by his brother Thomas, and that has eased the pain some. But not enough.
I, Nick Dasher, formerly Rudy Kringle, formerly Arthur Tennyson, am once again guilty of murder... and something much worse. Let me start at the beginning, last Christmas Eve, around an hour past midnight, in the area where I had lived as Mr. Kringle.
When I went to the Bucher house to avenge my “death” and dishonor, I discovered that Thomas no longer lived there. I looked through some old letters belonging to his parents and found his new address. He was living in an apartment with his fiancée. I took the address and hoped that the woman he was living with would either be asleep or not home. But as the song goes, if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.
Thomas lived on the third floor, so, after making sure no one was around, I floated up and tried to open one of the windows. I could see through the windows that the apartment was dark, which meant that they were most likely asleep. That was in my favor. However, all of the windows were all locked.
So I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and vaporized. It’s not as difficult as one might think, transforming into a mist. You simply relax and let your molecules spread out. In fact, a vampire has to be careful when at a party where alcohol and drugs are present, or else he might become relaxed enough to vaporize before the very eyes of his friends. That’s how easy it is. Then again, if a vampire were to vaporize in the presence of mortal friends on drugs, they would probably just assume that they were hallucinating. But I digress.
Once in mist form, I drifted through the grates of the venting system on the roof. From there, I floated through the shafts until I found Bucher’s room. I entered his room and reorganized myself again, coming together into a solid form.
I walked through the apartment, my reflexes at their sharpest. I didn’t know if Thomas was up for a late-night snack or a trip to the bathroom, so I was wary. I didn’t want him to see me and scream, waking up his girlfriend. I slowly made my way into the bedroom, only to find that no one was there. Apparently they were out at a Christmas party or something. Perhaps visiting relatives. I’m a very busy man on Christmas Eve, I have a schedule to keep. But I looked at my watch and decided I had an hour to kill before I had to be in the Central time zone. I had already made all of my East Coast deliveries, so I could
I walked around the apartment, glancing at the things Thomas Bucher owned. Modern things that I both marveled at and detested. In the kitchen there was a toaster oven, a Salad Shooter, a twelve-piece knife set, and a new microwave. I still used iron skillets and a hatchet. In the living room there was a stereo system with a CD player, a thirty-two inch television, and a DVD player. I still use a phonograph, which is playing a Louis Prima record as I write this, and a projector.
I looked into an oak curio cabinet with glass doors. There were pictures of Thomas as a boy, his parents, and one of George. That one made me sad. I missed my friend, even though at the end he had himself called me a monster and wished me dead. Remembering the late nights I spent joking with him, I cast my eyes down, and that’s when my heart stopped.
There was a picture of Thomas Bucher with his arms around a girl with bright brown eyes and dark hair. She was pretty in a plain way, much as the pretty girls during the Puritan days had been. In fact, this girl was from the Puritan days. It was the same girl that Arthur Tennyson had been married to, the girl I had been married to, Marie, my Marie.
I was in a state of shock. How could Fate be so cruel as to bring Marie back into my life as the future bride of my intended prey? I hoped and prayed that she would not be with him when he returned. Of course, one reason why vampires are called the damned is that our prayers are never answered.
I looked at my watch and saw that it was a quarter to two. I had fifteen minutes before I had to be on my way. But what if Thomas and Marie walked in some time before then? Would I be able to kill them both? I knew there was no way I’d be able to kill her. I loved her too much. But now, in this life, she most likely wouldn’t know who I was. She loved Thomas now, and I had vowed to kill him.
But could I do it now, knowing that I would be taking away from Marie the man she loved, the same way that vampire had taken me away from her over two hundred and fifty years ago? I looked back at the picture of George and decided that I’d have to. Thomas had taken something very special away from me, and despite the effect it would have on the girl who had once been Marie, I knew he had to pay for it.
As if summoned by my watch, the doorknob jingled as a key entered its lock. I dispersed again, hiding in the very air. Once the door was closed behind Thomas and his fiancée I waited for the light switch to be flicked on before materializing again.
Thomas froze and turned white. His fiancée looked at me. Her hair flowed over her shoulders and her dark eyebrows converged. She wore a red sweater with a Christmas tree knitted on it, and matched it with green slacks. She was radiant. But now she stared at me and said, “Who are you? How did you get in here?”
I stepped toward her, Thomas completely forgotten. He shrank back as I neared them. I looked her straight in the eyes.“Marie,” I
“I don’t know who you are or how you got here, but you’ve got the wrong girl, my name’s Jodie, not Marie.”
I stepped closer and touched her chin with my right hand. She tried to jerk away, but I steadied her head with my hand and looked even deeper into her eyes. I whispered again, “Marie.”
She narrowed her eyes, as if confused. Her voice a shaky whisper, she asked, “Is your name Arthur?”
My face lit up and I grinned feverishly.“Yes! You remember me!”
Thomas put an arm between Marie/Jodie and me and pulled her back. “He’s lying!” he shouted. “His name’s Rudy Kringle, he killed my brother! He’s a vampire!”
Her mouth dropped open in surprise. I frowned at Thomas, and then turned back to her. “Come with me, Marie,” I said.
Looking from me back to Marie/Jodie, Thomas must have sensed an opportunity to save his own worthless life. He grabbed her by the shoulders, ignoring her shout of, “Hey!” and thrust her in my direction.
“Yes!” Bucher said, “Take her and leave me alone! You can have her, just don’t hurt me!”
I looked at her as she shuddered in my arms, trying to escape my grip, then I thought long and hard. I could have had Marie when I rose out of Arthur Tennyson’s grave... but I didn’t want her to face life with a vampire, or life as one. I released her. “Go,” I said lowly.“You don’t want to see this.”
Thomas bolted toward the door, but before he could open it I was there, holding it shut with my right arm. I grabbed him around the neck and hoisted him into the air with my left, then threw him across the room. He landed in the middle of his entertainment system, smashing the television, DVD player, and stereo.
I opened the door and once more said, “Go.”
Marie/Jodie looked at her fiancé, then looked back at me.
I sighed. “He was going to feed you to me. Forget about him, you’re better off. Run!”
She started to cry. “I don’t know what’s going on. I’ve dreamed about you all my life... but I love him.”
Now I felt like crying. “He’s not worth your love. And neither am I. I won’t be able to restrain myself much longer, Marie, if you don’t want to be bitten by a vampire, you’d better run. Now!” I flashed my fangs as if to tack on an exclamation point.
Sobbing, she turned and ran. I walked to the window and watched her run to a black Mercedes, get in, and speed off. Once again, Marie was out of my life. I had worried about whether or not I’d be able to kill Thomas with her there, and now she was out of the equation.
I turned back to him. He was writhing in a heap. “Oh... I think my back’s broken. You bastard!”
I sighed. “I was always sorry for your brother, but you really shouldn’t have killed Rudy Kringle. What’s more, you shouldn’t have tried to use your fiancée to barter with me. You’re disgusting.” Not wanting to bloody myself up with several more deliveries ahead of me, I reached down and twisted his head with a crack.
I then opened the window and jumped out of Thomas Bucher’s apartment, not knowing where the woman called Jodie was headed as she drove off.
So this is not only a confession to killing George Bucher’s brother, it’s further proof that Arthur Tennyson is long dead, never to be exhumed. I’m Nick Dasher now, and by letting Marie go I finished nailing that Puritan’s coffin shut. And if you’ll excuse me, it’s bedtime for the people on American bases in Japan, so it’s time for Santa to start his rounds. Merry Christmas.
I put my pen down last night, but I’m not finished. There’s so much about the past that was awakened inside of me that I simply must document. When I saw that girl, the girl called Jodie, the girl that had once been Marie, it made me think of the first time I saw her, on the ship on the Atlantic Ocean, on our way to Massachusetts. She was wearing a thick white wool dress that totally obscured her feet. Her dark hair, which tickled the fingers like fresh pine straw, was tied back and put up in a bonnet. As was everything else on the ship, her dress was dirty. I didn’t mind, though. It seemed to attract me, the fact that her appearance wasn’t completely pure.
Yes, I truly loved Marie, more than life itself. I nearly died of grief when she was killed. I told you that I had to watch them die, Marie and Robert both. I couldn’t possibly have been more vague. But I didn’t tell you how they died. Both of them died for something that was my fault. I’ll start with Marie.
It was 1751, five years after my death and two years after I took on the persona of Santa Claus. Marie was now married to Jacob Futterman, a man I had called my friend. He treated Robert as if he were his own son, which I was both happy for and sad about. I mentioned earlier that Robert never knew me as his father. That was both vague and deceiving. He knew me later in his life, but as a friend, not a parent. I’ll get to that later.
Four years after marrying my Marie, Jacob Futterman began hanging out in pubs more often, drinking more and more alcohol every time he went in. He was a large man, thick through the chest and shoulders as a result of how well he chopped wood. He had stringy brown hair, a low brow, and a bulbous red nose. Because of his size, he thought he could get away with doing just about anything that crossed his mind. Including beating his wife. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
You’re probably wondering the size difference between myself and Jacob. He was five feet and eleven inches, which at the time, made him a giant. I’m estimating his weight to be about two hundred and fifty pounds. I am five feet and five inches, and weigh approximately one hundred and forty pounds. But you see, to a vampire, lifting someone who outweighs you by more than a hundred pounds is not only easy, it can be done with one hand. In fact, it can be done with the left hand if you are right-handed. Which I am.
It was one night in October when I came out of my cave in the forest to pay a visit to my widow and our child. I didn’t elaborate on how I spent my years prior to becoming Nicholas of Myra, but they were not pleasant. I fed on deer and wolves, which heightened my senses a bit. In the movies vampires are able to transform into wolves. I suppose I could do that if I wanted to, but seeing how I gained wolf-like reflexes from their blood, I don’t really need to.
I visited Marie’s home with Jacob and peered through the window. Another perk of being a vampire is that you can cloak yourself in invisibility if you don’t want to be seen. That’s what I usually do on Christmas Eve. But on this particular night, it helped me spy on the love of my life. I had told her in life that I would always be there for her, and I made good on my promise. Jacob was drunken and randy on this night. He had always showed my wife respect when I was her husband, but on this night he was doing the exact opposite. He was practically raping her. Of course, in those days there was no such thing as spousal rape. It was a wife’s duty to be her husband’s come-bucket. Rape or no rape, he was violating her. And it infuriated me.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t burst through the window and kill him. From my perspective at the time, it would be much too damaging for Marie to bare, seeing her “dead” husband murder her new man. So I waited. I stood there, watching him
rape my soul mate, and waited.
The next day, I didn’t sleep. I sat in the shadows of my cave, watching. It was a hole in the side of a hill, draped with leaves and pine straw, virtually invisible to the eyes of those whose senses are not as sharp as mine. On many a morning I was awakened by the sounds of hunters and lumberjacks bounding outside of my little cubbyhole, and on this morning I waited for one lumberjack in particular to show his face.
Sure enough, just as the sun was peaking over the trees in the eastern horizon, the big brown boots of Jacob Futterman trudged past my cave. He had an axe on his shoulder and didn’t realize that he was a lamb being led to slaughter.
I flew out of my cave and speared him, hitting him so hard that I believe I heard his hip crack. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay out of my cave for long, or else I’d start to weaken in the sunlight, and I knew that it wouldn’t be long before others began coming into the forest. I did, however, want to take the time to let him see my face. I stared him right in the eye.
His eyes grew to the size of saucers as his jaw dropped. “Arthur! No, this cannot be!”
“Oh, but it is,” I said, allowing my eyes to turn yellow as I bared my fangs. I grabbed him by the forehead and exposed his neck, which I ripped into violently.
You must be wondering why I killed him in this manner as opposed to breaking his neck, as I did to Thomas Bucher. I did this because Thomas was a minor pest, a disturbance I wanted to be rid of quickly. Jacob had not only violated my wife, but he’d betrayed me. I could not stand for that. And having been bitten by a vampire, I know how painful it is. I wanted him to feel that pain.
Another question that usually arises from the topic of a vampire bite is how can the biter prevent the bitten from coming back as a vampire? Simple, really, if you know how the body’s physiology works. Blood still flowed from my neck when I was dropped in the forest. The“virus,” for lack of a better word, that was in the saliva on my wound flowed through my veins shortly before my heartbeat stopped, thus turning me. If you bite someone and want to make sure they don’t come back, you bleed them dry. It takes a little longer (which is one reason why I didn’t bite Thomas, I was on a tight schedule), but it’s worth it if you don’t want more vampires running around. The last thing I wanted was for Futterman to wake up in a coffin, then go banging on the door of his wife as to get revenge for me, her dead husband, killing him. So I waited until the wound on his neck was dry before I went back into my cave. With Jacob dead, I thought all of Marie’s problems were over. But I was wrong. They were just beginning.
Marie Cook-Tennyson-Futterman was thirty years old when she attended the funeral of her second husband, the man that five-year-old Robert thought was his father. I shuddered whenever I heard the boy’s name: Robert Futterman. Both Marie and I knew deep in our hearts that the boy really was and always would be Robert Tennyson.
I mentioned that Jacob liked hanging out in the pubs, but I didn’t mention his best friend and drinking buddy, Erik Potter. Potter was rail-thin and firy-haired. One could tell by how he walked at Jacob’s funeral that he had drunk more than his share that day. I had never really liked Erik Potter, but we knew each other as we were both hunters. I think he may have even been one of my pallbearers. Whether he was or not, he was still familiar with the way I had died. And now Jacob Futterman, his best friend, had died in the same fashion. He used his drunken mind to put two and two together and came up with the wrong answer.
In the middle of the Lord’s prayer, Potter jumped up and pointed at Marie. “Both husbands had their throats torn out within five years! It must be she behind this treachery! She’s... She’s a witch!”
In documented history, the Salem witch trials of 1692 were the last executions of those believed to be witches. However, they were not the last. At least one “witch” execution took place between then and 1751. I know. I was there. At least, I was close enough to hear the commotion. I didn’t actually see it happening. If I had, I’d probably never be able to sleep. Just the sounds from it were enough to shatter my mind.
Potter: “Open the casket! Let the witch lie to rest with her victim!”
Marie screamed in terror, “No!”
Robert also screamed as his mother was jerked from his grip. “Mommy!”
Those sounds haunt my sleep, the sound of Marie’s shouting muffled as the casket closed, then the pounding of the hammers as it was nailed shut.
I wanted to fly from my cave, punish all of the people of our town and save Marie, and take her and Robert from that place... but I couldn’t. I was already weak from being in the sun the previous day when I killed Futterman, and the sun was in the middle of the sky at this time, it would quickly vanquish me before I could rescue my beloved. So all I could do was sit in my cave and listen to the sounds of her faraway screams... and the sounds of the shovels throwing dirt on top of the coffin.
I had to wait until the sun was gone and all the passersby were gone. I had to dig through Futterman’s grave to save her. I kept telling myself that Marie was a strong girl, that she’d be able to breathe shallowly enough to last at least one full night before suffocating. I was certain that by the time I could claw through the earth, she’d still be waiting, alive and well.
Midnight came. One policeman stood guard at the cemetery to make sure that nothing strange happened after the burying of the “witch.” I drained him dry in ten minutes. I could have snapped his neck, and I should have, but I didn’t for two reasons. If Marie wasdead and another victim was found killed in the same manner as her husbands... Well, I think you can see where I’m going with this. Also, I had been weakened by the sun and needed blood to strengthen me. I hadn’t fed since killing Jacob. So once he was dead and I was sure that no one else was around, I used my hands to throw the dirt aside and get to Futterman’s pine box.
I was frantic when I finally exposed the wood. I flung the door of the casket open... only to find two corpses. Marie looked like she was sleeping, but I knew better. I took her hand and held it against my face. No blood coursed through these veins. Whether she died of fright or of suffocation is something I’ve never figured out, but that really doesn’t matter when you get down to the bare bones of it. She was dead. And that was it.
Last year I wrote that vampires are capable of secreting all the natural body fluids that a human can. Including tears. As I closed the casket and proceeded to cover it up, many tears cascaded down my face. If I hadn’t killed Futterman, this never would have happened! But... he had violated her. He’d deserved to die. And for my crime she was punished. I hated myself. But most of all, I hated the townspeople that had buried her. I was still filling the grave when I planned my revenge, which had already been set into motion with the killing of the policeman. I went back to my cave, covered in dirt, and waited for the morning. Once again, I listened. I listened to them talk about the Futterman boy, Robert, and how he was now in the nearest orphanage. I listened to speculation as to how the witch had used her dead husbands. But most of all, I listened to the people find the policeman I’d killed and speculate. He was killed in the same manner as Jacob Futterman, and as Arthur Tennyson five years before! It has to be the witch, she escaped the casket!
I listened as they exhumed Jacob’s coffin... and found that “the witch” was stone dead. So who was the real villain?
The next night, I fed on Erik Potter’s only daughter, a girl of thirteen years. I know I said I never kill children, but she was an exception as she was an extension of the monster, Erik Potter. And the ends justify the means. I bled her dry so that she wouldn’t return.
I went back to my cave, slept for a few hours, then awoke to listen some more. Potter claimed the Futterman widow was the witch and now his daughter has been claimed by this monster! I smiled as I heard this.
One night, about a week after killing Potter’s girl, I sneaked into what had been Marie and Robert’s home and borrowed Jacob’s money and some of his clothes. They were much too big for me, but they were better than the filthy suit I’d been wearing in the cave since my funeral. Anyhow, I needed some clean clothes in order to enact this plan of mine. And I hoped that nobody would recognize me as Arthur Tennyson. The mind’s eye tends to get fuzzy after not seeing someone for five years.
Once well-dressed, I made my way into the pub, where sat Erik Potter, drinking to excess. He was already drunk when I entered, which was in my favor. Even if he did recognize me, his senses were dulled by alcohol, so he couldn’t be sure. I told him I was new in town and asked about any empty houses. He told me about the Futterman home, where the witch lived.
“Witch?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “She killed her two husbands. You favor her first in a way.”
I smiled thinly. “How did she kill them?”
“Their throats were torn out.”
I smiled more widely. “Sounds more like the work of a vampire than a witch! Was it known for certain that she was responsible for her husbands’ deaths?”
He frowned. “We dug her up after a policeman was killed in the same way. She was dead, so I suppose that proved that it wasn’t really her.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Well, since she was innocent, I suppose it must be a heavy weight on the conscience of whomever it was that accused her of being a witch.”
Potter snorted. “I could’ve sworn it was her, but then...” He paused to wipe his eyes. “My daughter, Elizabeth... She was killed in the same way.”
I gasped. “How horrible! When was this?”
“About eight days ago,” he replied.
He shrugged. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” I said, thinking that he, just as Jacob had been two weeks before, was now a lamb being led to slaughter. “Let me buy you a drink so that we can drink to her life and memory.”
Potter thanked me and allowed me to buy him a drink. And another. And another. Andnother. Before long, he was unconscious, which is exactly what I wanted.
I cloaked myself when the bartender turned his back. He had been paid, so he didn’t mind that I’d seemed to have left hurriedly. I put an arm around Erik Potter and hoisted him in a standing position. Impersonating him to the best of my abilities, which is another talent vampires possess, I said to the barkeep, “Good night,” and carried my scrawny intended victim out of the bar.
Had there been any people out on the streets that night, they would have thought it odd that a man could travel while his feet dragged behind him on the ground. Fortunately, he didn’t live far from the bar. I used his keys to enter his home, then I dragged him to the bedroom. There lay his wife, Victoria. I smiled at the foolish Erik Potter, then bent down to feed.
The next morning, from my cave, I tuned my ears in on the sound of the townspeople. It seemed that Victoria Potter had been murdered, in the same fashion as her daughter, the policeman, Jacob Futterman, and Arthur Tennyson! And sleeping soundly beside her was her drunken husband Erik, who, amazingly, had blood on his lips; her blood.
He was tossed into the street by some of his former friends. I threw my voice into their hearing distance, “He’s the witch! He killed them all!”
I then grinned and heard him say,“No! It’s not true! I don’t know what happened!”
A woman screamed, “Kill the witch!” I recognized her voice as that of Anne Partridge, a friend of my wife. If it was true that Potter was the witch, Marie had been killed unjustly, and by Potter’s doing! Of course her friends would want her death avenged!
As the sun began to set, I stepped out of my cave to watch. Erik Potter was tied to the nearest tree, and then a bundle of leaves was swept around his feet. And then a torch touched the leaves. Potter screamed as the flames engulfed him and, even though I was in tears at the sight of my revenge for my wife’s life, I could not help but laugh. I still felt responsible for her death, but seeing the man who directly called for her death die at the flame helped. Did I say I knew of one witch execution after 1692? Excuse me, there were two.
Now, let me focus on Robert. After the death of Erik Potter, I decided that it would probably be a good idea to become human again. I used the rest of Jacob’s money (except what he and Marie had set aside for Robert) to rent a room in a nearby town so that I could get a job. I’d been through Holland, Germany, and the Netherlands the previous year, so I knew their customs. An elf named Black Peter supposedly helped St. Nicholas during his journey to deliver presents. So I became Peter Black.
I was Peter Black from 1752 until 1775. Nobody seemed to notice that Peter Black didn’t age over a period of twenty-two years. I kept to myself. So why did I change in 1775? Because something major happened in my life that affected everyone in the country: The American Revolutionary War.
I tried not to get involved, but I just happened to have been in Concord at the time of the bloodiest battle that century. And trust me, when a vampire describes something as “bloodiest,” you’d better believe it was pretty damn bloody. The only war that was worse in terms of gore was the Vietnam War, in which I “died” as Washington Diedrich. I fought in almost every major American War there ever was, and lost a life in all of them except World War II, in which the United States was very victorious and fortunate. But no war affected me as much as the first. That bloody battle wasn’t until after, though. At first, I was in Lexington. I saw the troops arriving and heard all the commotion. In fact, you may find this hard to believe, but I almost made breakfast out of Paul Revere.
In a lot of historical accounts, it’s debated as to what Revere shouted as he galloped throughout the countryside warning the minutemen of the British forces’ approach: “The Redcoats are coming!” or “To arms!” Well, I was there. He said both, but he changed his call after someone intervened.
I had a prostitute in a dark alley, about to feed on her. Just as I was about to bite, I heard that idiot shout,“The Redcoats are coming! The Redcoats are coming!”
The girl was immediately brought out of the trance I had her in, shrieking, “Oh my God, my father is off to battle! I must warn him!” So she ran off, leaving me without a meal. Naturally, I was upset. So I did what anyone who didn’t know at the time that history was being made would do. I decided to kill the messenger.
I flew after him until we were in a dark area, then I descended upon him, tackling him and taking him off of his horse. I grabbed him by the throat and hissed, flashing yellow eyes and fangs,“You just cost me my breakfast, boy! Perhaps I should take it out of your throat instead!”
I covered his mouth and moved my hand from his neck, then opened my hand to bite, but a window above us opened and an old man in a Republic uniform stuck his head out and shouted, “What’s going on out there? Have the Redcoats made any advancement?”
Revere squirmed out of my grip and shouted the only two words that could come to his mind, “To arms!” I think he was trying to tell the man to shoot me, but it didn’t come out that way.
I let him go and called back to the officer, “The Redcoats are coming. He said so. Didn’t you, boy?”
Revere repeated, “To arms!”
The officer gripped his gun and said,“Mount your steed, be off to warn the others. Quickly now!”
I practically threw Revere onto his horse as he piped out, “To arms! To arms! To arms!”
There’s nothing in the history books about Paul Revere being attacked by a vampire, I don’t know if it’s because he was too afraid to tell his superiors, or if he did tell them and they thought him mad. Of course, if Paul Revere had said that he’d been attacked by a vampire, school may be taught in an entirely different way. They’d focus more on vampires in history than on actual history itself. After all, vampires are such interesting creatures, if I do say so myself.
Once Revere was gone, I looked around and saw the minutemen approaching. One of them looked very familiar. He looked like a male version of Marie. About thirty years old. Then I did the math in my head. No! It couldn’t be!
I took a closer look. It was. I had followed Robert to that orphanage and delivered presents to him until he was thirteen, then he stopped believing in Santa. I hated to do it, but I knew I had to let him go at that age. But seeing him now, seventeen years later, was such a shock!
I ran up to him and looked him in the face, my eyes bright. He wore his shoddy uniform and gave me a strange look.“Do I know you?” he asked.
I was grinning so widely my face hurt. “Yes! Your name is Robert Tennyson, is that correct?” I caught the mistake seconds after I made it.
He gave me another weird look and said,“My name is Robert, but my last name is Futterman. How do you know me?”
I had to think up some lame excuse.“I was in the Bancton Orphanage. I am Peter Black, do you remember me?”
Robert looked up, thinking, trying to remember anyone by that name at the orphanage. He shrugged. “I ran away from that place when I was sixteen, my last two years there are but a haze in my memory, so I’m sorry if I don’t remember you.”
“That is fine,” I said, still grinning, “I remember you.”
He shrugged again. “Very well. Are you in the military?”
I shook my head.
He smirked. “If you live here, you had better get your hands on a gun. Word from the Boston Common is that the British are on their way.”
I bitterly mumbled, “Yes, I heard someone yelling about that earlier.”
“That would be Paul Revere. He’s a good man.”
“I’m sure he is,” I said, wondering how my son would take the news that I’d just tried to eat that so-called good man. “I’ve got a gun upstairs, do you mind if I join you on the battlefield?” I had a feeling something might happen to him if I weren’t there watching over him. In fact... hell, I won’t ruin the story by jumping the gun. I guess that’s a pun, but you won’t get it until after you read what I’m about to reveal.
My rifle in hand, I joined Robert and his crowd of minutemen. Having seen my son grow up, I knew the types of things he would want to talk about, so we engaged in casual conversation. I asked him all kinds of personal questions that he didn’t mind answering, such as how many girlfriends he had courted and if he had any children. He told me he was engaged to a woman that reminded him of his mother. I tried to probe him for more, but he wouldn’t say anything else. I suppose watching his mother buried alive traumatized him. I don’t blame him.
To make a long story short, by the time we reached the British troops, Robert and I were friends. I wanted badly to tell him who I was and what had happened to me, but it was ludicrous. Physically, we were the same age, he’d never believe I was his father!
We reached the battleground and everything was tense. I looked across the fields at the British soldiers. I remembered when I was in the old country and relied on these same men to protect me and my parents. It’s funny when you outlive several generations like that, and the friend becomes the enemy. The same thing happened during the Civil War. I was sympathetic to the South, because I had seen the first American Revolutionary War and understood that it was basically a repeat, only this time with slavery in the balance. I was neutral on slavery, seeing how I am a slave of my own eternity. But I’m rambling.
As I’ve said several times before, vampires’ senses are so much stronger than those of mortals. We can smell certain emotions or feel the body giving out excitement. There was a lot of electricity on the battlefield that night. One man in particular didn’t like the way my son looked. I could feel his body heat, I could smell his sweat. He was paranoid, hell bent on the idea that Robert Futterman, born Robert Tennyson, was going to be the first Revolutionary to fire a shot, and that if he didn’t take action, all hell would break loose. But there was no way I was going to let that happened. So I did it.
The Revolutionary War. Battle of Lexington. “The Shot Heard ’Round The World.” The single gunshot fired from an unknown rifle that signaled the slaughter of 8 American soldiers. Yes. I did it, to save my son. I know my story is starting to sound corny and far-fetched to the point of being a whopper, but hey, at least I didn’t come over on the Mayflower. Still, you’re probably thinking I’m the Forrest Gump of vampires seeing how I’m Santa Claus, lost a wife to latter-day witch trials, had a run-in with Paul Revere, and fired that fabled shot at Lexington. But don’t worry. I’ve never met any presidents, so that’s as close to fame as I’ve ever gotten.
Robert and I fled the battle scene, unable to believe what had just happened. He then told me that Paul Revere and Samuel Adams had moved on to Concord and that we were to join them, with a stronger force than what had been at Lexington. Again feeling the need to protect him, I went with him. I wish I hadn’t.
Knowing the etiquette of British military maneuvers, we decided to get the best of them by hiding behind trees and walls to fire upon them as they marched by. I looked over to the tree behind which Robert had been standing and saw behind him to his left a Redcoat aiming at him. Instead of simply warning him to watch out, I stepped back and fired my own rifle, taking my son’s would-be assassin down. I wasn’t thinking, though. By stepping away from the safety of my own tree, I was opening myself up to the British gunfire.
A bullet hit me in the side and took me by total surprise. I fell over, and when he saw this, Robert looked at me with horror and said, “Peter! No!”
I knew that bullet would have no effect on me, but my son, my friend, had no idea. He then did the same thing that I had done. He left the safety of his tree to shoot the Redcoat that had shot me. I knew what was about to happen. The exact same thing that had happened to me. Terrified, I looked up at him and screamed, “Robert, don’t!”
But it was too late. His chest spouted blood as the bullet entered. He landed right
next to me.
I crawled over to him and wrapped my arms around him. “Damn it, Robert, why did you do that?”
He spat up some blood, then looked up at me. “You’re my friend. I knew you’d do it for me.”
“I’m more than just your friend, Robert. Do you know that?”
He laughed hysterically. “I felt it from the first time I saw you. I don’t know who you are, but I knew you’d be special to me.”
I sighed. “Just think of me as your guardian angel.”
“So I shall.”
Weeping, I said to him, “There is just one thing I need to hear. Tell me you love me.”
“I do,” he said. “I love you. Father.” He stopped. And he thought about what he had said, wondering why he’d said it. But before he could say anything else, he was dead.
Still weeping, I stood up. Another bullet hit me, but I was ready this time. In fact, several bullets hit me, but I hardly took notice. They had murdered my son, and I was angry enough to withstand a cannon blast.
History books say that while the Revolutionaries only lost between 80 and 90 men, the British troops were cut down by 20 percent. I have to say that I contributed heavily to the British body count. When the battle was done, I lay down to rest. My bullet-ridden body was added to the accosted American soldiers and dumped into a ditch. For the second time in my life, I woke up in a grave. I knew that Peter Black was now dead. So I left New England for the South, and changed my name to Julian Nies, from the Scandinavian Julenisse.
So now you know what happened to Marie and Robert. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t turn them as to keep them with me for eternity... but I would see to it that their mortal lives were more comfortable than they were and that they
didn’t end as a result of my own doing.
I’m not usually one for self-documentation, but unlike most people like me, I actually have a conscience, and the particular dilemma recorded here has been weighing heavily upon it for several years now.
If I were to come right out and say who I was, you’d never believe me, especially if you were to see me walking down the street. I’m a slender, dark-haired man that you would guess to be thirty. Though not vain, I suppose I could call myself handsome. I’m not a rich man, though I could be if I wanted to be; therefore I dress very casually. Again, these things separate me from the rest of my race, who tend to be flamboyant and wealthy. I work in a twenty-four hour department store, stocking in the toy aisles at night. That makes it easier for me to know which toys the children like best.
My name is Nick Dasher. At least, that’s the name I’ve been using for the past few years. I’ve had to change it from time to time, along with the cities in which I’ve made my homes. I’ve had lots of names, from the obvious to those that have taken a good bit of thought. But I’m getting indifferent in my old age, hence the corny moniker that I now employ. I’ve used English variations of nicknames of the legendary Saint Nicholas of Myra from other countries, such as Nicholas Sanct, Peter Black, and Simon Klass from the stories of Holland. I’ve turned the Germanic Knecht Ruprecht into Rupert Nectar, the Scandinavian Julenisse morphed into Julian Nies, and the Roman saint Befana became Samuel Befana (I was less creative on that one, but no one noticed). Then, once the American legends became commonplace and their origins forgotten, I started creating names based on those. For a while I was Washington Diedrich (from the first names of the pseudonym and author of History of New York, in which America was given its first glimpse at a written account of the legend). Not long after the 1823 release of the poem “A Visit From Saint Nicholas,” I took the name of Clark Moore, borrowed from the poet himself. After a while, it became more difficult. So now I mostly use the names of either Kriss Kringle or St. Nick, and the name of one of the eight famous reindeer. Nine if you count the one with the red nose.
The point I’m trying to make is that I act as that figure known as Santa Claus. I don’t expect anyone to believe that, but I need to tell this story anyway.
Though I look like a man in his thirties, I’m actually two hundred and eighty-three years old. I know what you’re thinking. If I’m really Santa Claus, how is it that I’m not even three hundred years old when the stories of Saint Nicholas have been spread since the fourth century? Well, that’s a long story, but since it’s not really what I wanted to tell, I’ll make it quickI was born Arthur Tennyson of London. When I was in my middle twenties, I decided to stop living as my father had. Despite protest from my family, I joined those seeking freedom on a ship to the so-called New World. And just in case you’re wondering, no, I wasn’t on the Mayflower. My story’s not quite that corny.
On the journey across the Atlantic Ocean, I met a girl named Marie. She was the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. Okay, wait. I won’t lie. As time passes, people evolve and their features change. These days, there are girls more beautiful than Marie, but in my time, there were none. Just as soon as we reached America, we were married, and a child came soon after. It was a boy, Robert by name. Those were the happiest times of my life. Of course, little did I know that I hadn’t much life left in me. Not a year passed after Robert’s birth that I was killed.
One cold November evening, some fellow settlers and I set out into the forest to gather wood for fire. I strayed farther into the forest than my companions, and that was when I came across a dark figure leaning against a tree. I called out to him, asking for an identification. At first I believed it to be a friend playing a joke, or perhaps a native, what we called Indians or savages in those days. It turned out to be neither. It was a vampire.
I’m quite sure that if anyone reads this, they most likely don’t believe in vampires, but when you see an undead creature moving toward you with the speed of a cheetah, baring fangs and flashing yellow eyes, you tend to abandon disbelief.
If you’re asking yourself how fast a vampire can really move, trust me: I didn’t even have time to gasp. It’s actually kind of funny. Kids are always asking how Santa Claus manages to circle the world to deliver all of his toys in just one night. Well, that’s how. That and the fact that I have to bypass certain non-believing countries and the homes of the rich, where toys are easily afforded. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The vampire ripped the flesh from my throat, briefly fed, and left. I never saw him again, though I would clearly recognize him if I ever did come across him. A few hours later, the other villagers wondered why I hadn’t returned from the forest. A search party was sent out and they found my body. In those days, they didn’t go through the process of embalming, nor were there expensive funeral homes to bother with or wakes. To the distress of my beautiful Marie, I was put into the ground almost immediately.
Another major question about vampires: How long does it take after the mortal death to return? I honestly don’t know. When you’re dead, time doesn’t even exist. All I know is, I woke up in a crate in the ground. For hours all I could do was panic. I remembered the attack, but that was all. And now I was in a coffin. Once I coped with this fact, I regained my composure and dedicated myself to getting out of the grave. It took a while, but I dug myself up.
Legends of vampires had been going around almost as long as legends of Saint Nicholas, so I knew right away what I had become. I knew that there was no way I would be able to return to my village. Oh, I went back occasionally at night, just to watch Marie and Robert sleep. I missed them terribly, but there was nothing I could do about it. You must remember, these were the Puritan days. If they saw me back from the dead, they were certain to do horrible things to me. They would stone me or drown me or most likely burn me. And in those days, I had absolutely no idea what exactly could destroy a vampire. Besides, not long after my burial, a friend of mine took Marie as his wife so that he could care for her and Robert. My son never really got a chance to know his real father growing up. As far as he was concerned, Arthur Tennyson had never even been.
He may not have known me as his father, but I certainly knew him; I watched him grow up and, sadly, I even watched him die. But when he was still a child shortly after my death, I was determined to find some way to show my affection for him. And that, as if you couldn’t predict, is how I haphazardly took on the identity of Father Christmas. But please don’t call me Saint Nicholas. I’m anything but a saint. I’m just a guy who likes to give to children. The one thing that gives me more joy than any other is to see a smile on a child’s face.
That first year, I carved a puppet for Robert and left it on Marie’s doorstep. However, the other children, also knowing of the legend of Saint Nicholas, were jealous. And so, I spent the entire year creating things for the children of the village. Once the Industrial Revolution of the twentieth century made the mass-production of toys possible, I was able to give generously to as many children as I possibly could, no matter where they were. As I mentioned before, generosity is not common in my race, but I’ve always had a soft spot for children, far too innocent to kill. The majority of adult people, on the other hand, are scum that I am happy to remove from this planet. That doesn’t make me a monster, wanting to clean my home of the greedy and deceitful. Besides, like all vampires, I must feed on blood. Other than hideous criminals, I also feed upon the ill and the homeless, as to put them out of their misery. I may be soulless, but heartless I am not.
The stories of the North Pole, flying reindeer, and elves are nothing more than make-believe. I have been known to go down chimneys, but in the form of mist, which is usually how I travel the world on December 24th. It’s quite easy to move quickly while floating on the wind. But now that you know the basics of vampires and “Santa Claus,” it’s time for me to confess and get this story off of my chest.
Three years ago was the first Christmas since the Persian Gulf crisis that I could not enjoy. During that conflict, military families were separated, making the children very distraught. No amount of toys can replace a parent. Then again, isn’t that what I was trying to do with Robert after my mortal death? That’s a question I still haven’t been able to answer.
As I mentioned before, I work the night shift stocking toys in a department store (you can probably guess which one, but it would be safer to not give names of locations just in case this journal is ever found). At the time, I was going under the name of Rudy Kringle (it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the origin of that one). Rudy’s life was a good one. I had a lot of friends there. My favorite co-worker there was the night manager of the sporting goods department, a well-rounded, balding fellow by the name of George Bucher. He wore thick glasses over a bulbous nose, under which he sported a thick gray beard. In fact, he looked more like the traditional vision of Santa Claus than I do! There were others too. Once again, I’m not vain, but I liked to consider Rudy a likeable guy. But don’t bother trying to find me through those records. Rudy Kringle is just as dead as Arthur Tennyson and every other identity I’ve used, which is a shame, because I was really starting to like old Rudy. But once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
It was always understood that I was to have the night off on December 24th. I would be willing to work on the 25th, and on New Year’s, and even on Easter, but there was no way I could miss Christmas Eve because of a retail stocking job. And even if my boss was short-handed and needed me to come in on that night, I had certain ways of “persuading” him into letting me stay off. Sometimes being a vampire has some really neat perks.
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that, like every year, I had that night off and was able to make my rounds to deliver toys to the good little children. Going with logic, I start as far east as possible. I mostly stay out of Asia and strictly hit Europe. It’s strange how much England has changed over the past two hundred odd years. My last stops are in California (a place with few delivery points) and then I return to my home on the American East Coast to sleep before the sun completely peeks out from behind the trees.
In case you’re wondering, the sun doesn’t cause vampires to spontaneously combust on contact, like in the movies. However, too much exposure is unhealthy to us. Think of it this way: the sun is to vampires as carbon monoxide is to humans. In small doses every now and then, it’s not too bad. Too much at once is extremely fatal.
So if the sun is shining when I get back, I still have time to get back to my home and into my bed before any serious illness comes along. Yes, you read correctly; I sleep in a bed. That coffin myth is more malarkey; I simply sleep in a dark room. Can you imagine what would happen if I had a friend come over for dinner and he saw a coffin in my home? Or if I picked up a pretty girl for a night of sexual activity (yes, we can have sex; the blood we drink gets all of our fluids flowing), and instead of a bed, she had to lie on top of a casket? Please. Besides, I had my fill of coffins when I first woke up in one buried underground after that attack back on the original settlement.
Anyway, I’m rambling again. The point of this story is not to explain everything about vampires, it is to clean my conscience. Where was I? Oh yes. Because of my route, I have to deliver the toys in my hometown at around one o’clock in the morning, Eastern Standard Time. And it was during this time that the unthinkable happened.
There have been comedies in which guys in Santa suits were arrested for breaking and entering and burglary, also political cartoons in which the “real” Santa runs into a crook while both of them were trying to sneak into a place. I shrugged those things off, thinking they’d never happen. Christmas is a time of love and giving, even in a time when hate dominates the rest of the year. If a vampire can accept that, anyone can, right? Well, I guess not.
I had already finished all the large houses in the crowded areas and was now working on the places that sat alone. This particular home was in the woods by the highway, not too far from the large bridge that separated the passing cars from the filthy river far below. I floated up through the chimney in the form of a mist after leaving the gifts. That’s when I heard the noise below.
I heard a scratching and a slight metallic bump, like the sound of a cat going through garbage cans. I looked down on impulse to see the cause of the noise and saw that it was no cat. It was a cat burglar. You can imagine my response. This awakened a rage in me that was unparalleled. Some scumbag had the audacity to steal during the season of giving? Santa Claus is generally perceived as a spirit of peace and good will, but no one messes with my friends. And each and every person to whom I deliver is a friend of mine, whether they realize it or not. There was not a snowball’s chance in Hell that this man would get away with thieving while I was on the roof.
As I mentioned before, my kind has the speed of a cheetah, but also the reflexes of a wolf. I leapt down toward this man before he even realized that he was no longer alone. When I landed on the ground before him, showing my anger through my flashing eyes and teeth (another special effect that comes in handy when you want to scare the crap out of someone), he fell backward and landed on his behind, though he was unable to scream. I began to reach down for him, as to teach him one final lesson about the evils of theft.
Unfortunately for me (but not for him), a car passed on the highway at that exact moment, its bright lights flashing through the trees and directly into my eyes. The burglar took advantage of my brief blindness and scrambled to his feet, then ran toward the highway. He had seen what I am, so of course I had to give chase. If I had known what would follow, I would have just let him go with a warning.
The car that had passed by those woods was a blue Chevy Cavalier. It looked very familiar to me, but I paid it no mind. The thing about this car that I did pay attention to, however, was the fact that it was weaving all over the road. It being Christmas Eve, I was used to the idea of people coming home late from parties while intoxicated. As the Cavalier sped along the road, nearing the railing of the bridge, it veered to the left. Predictably, it crashed head-on into the bridge’s guard rail, smashing the headlights, sending the hood flying through the air, and from the amount of steam, I’d say that the carburetor had been destroyed as well.
Worried more for his own welfare than that of the people in the Chevy, the burglar ran toward the car and banged on its windows, screaming for help. The passenger side door flung open and a boy of fifteen years flopped out onto the road. He had shaggy brown hair and the accident had given him a long cut down his right arm. The burglar ran to his side and grabbed him by his red coat, screaming that a monster was after him. The boy, far too drunk to process what was going on, looked around to see what was happening.
A few moments later, the driver’s door opened and out stepped the last person I expected to see: George Bucher, my friend from the store’s sporting goods department. He was just as drunk as the boy he had been traveling with, which explained the crash.
He looked from me to the boy to the thief and back to me again. “Rudy? What’s going on?”
The burglar screamed, “He’s a monster!”
As calmly as I could, I responded,“You’re the monster. Robbing someone’s home on Christmas? That’s the most monstrous thing I’ve ever heard of. Wouldn’t you agree, George?" George turned his eyes to the burglar and narrowed them. He then looked to the boy. “Thomas? Go to that house over there and call the police.” Normally, someone that had just been involved in an auto accident due to drunk driving would not want to call the police, but once again, I have a knack for persuasion.
Slowly stumbling to his feet, the boy called Thomas did as he was told, walking into the woods toward the house I had just visited. I was somewhat worried that once the police arrived, my cover would be blown. What was I doing on the roof of that house when I saw the burglar? Where did those gifts come from? How did get into the house? Needless to say, I didn’t have to worry about any of those questions.
George Bucher loved weapons. Having worked in the sporting goods department for over twenty-four years, he spent most of his time admiring the hunting supplies. And when the opportunity to actually use a gun presented itself, he decided that he would do just that. He leaned into his car and opened his glove compartment. Inside of it was a thirty-eight special wrapped in a greasy handkerchief.
As soon as the crook realized what George was after, he made his move. It was easy, seeing how he was actually closer to the glove-box, being beside the passenger’s door, while George had to reach through the car from the driver’s side. Not to mention the fact that George was intoxicated and therefore had fumbling hands.
Before any of us knew what was happening, that pistol was being unloaded on me. As an immortal, bullets piercing my organs have no fatal damage; in fact, my being shot is much like someone poking you hard in the chest with three fingers. Maybe enough to push you back a little, maybe even enough to give you a bruise. But by no means is it harmful enough to kill you or even take you off your feet if you see it coming.
I frowned at the shooter, and then pounced. He briefly screamed, but all sound was cut off when I buried my teeth into his throat. Another theatrical myth about vampires is the biting. There is no clean bite in which two small puncture wounds from where the canines alone had been. No way. The closest comparison that comes to mind is this: Ever see Jurassic Park? The T-Rex ripping flesh from its prey is very similar to how I feed. It’s messy, I know, but it’s the fastest way.
Once I was done draining the louse, I remembered that I was being watched. Actually, what reminded me of the fact that I wasn’t alone was the sound of retching from behind the car. When George stood up, traces of vomit on his chin, he screamed. “No way! You’re a freaking vampire!”
I tried to calmly approach him. There would be no way of persuading him to go along with this. I may have some strong powers, but I can’t make people un-see what they’ve seen. “George,” I said,“You may not believe this, but I can’t help what I am. This guy really was trying to rob that house, and then he shot at me. You saw it with your own eyes. Yes, I am a vampire, but my killing him was self-defense all the same. The police will be here soon, so we need to discuss what happened.”
He seemed not to have heard a single word I’d said. Instead, he reached down the front of his shirt and pulled out a cross. At first I was taken aback. Not because crosses have any effect on us, but because it had been a long time since I’d been attacked with that cliché. I mean, I had been a Puritan preacher’s apprentice, for crying out loud! My entire purpose for coming to this continent was religion! I ate, slept, and breathed Christianity, so of course a symbol of its religion was not going to harm me.
I shook my head because I knew that I would not be able to reason with him. “I’m really sorry, George. You’ve been a good friend and I hate that this happened.”
Before he knew what was happening, my strong hands were around his throat and I quickly snapped his neck. He was my friend and I didn’t want him to suffer.
Once again, my dirty deed did not go unnoticed. Another scream sounded out through the forest beside the highway, and when I looked I saw the boy, Thomas.
He shrieked, “You killed my brother!”
And that was the part that weighed most heavily on my conscience. He was barely fifteen, still a child in my eyes, and he had to see his sibling die at the hands of an undead creature. I’ve been living with that for three years.
I wanted to explain what had happened, but I couldn’t. There were no words. He looked at the blood on my face, the wound on the burglar’s neck, and put two and two together. He then looked around and before I knew what he was doing, he picked up the petrified branch of an old Oak tree, sharp at one end. The combination of horror movies and knowing that I ripped a man’s throat out with my teeth instinctively told the boy what to do. I accepted the fact that I had no alternative but to let Rudy Kringle die. After all, Thomas was technically a child, and I don’t kill children.
That branch piercing my chest hurt substantially more than the bullets had, and seeing how I had just fed, the blood that flowed from the wound was quite abundant. Thomas Bucher stood there a moment, just to make sure that he got the job done. I put on a performance that I consider quite well done. Once he was satisfied, he turned and ran back toward the house in the woods to wait for the police, tears streaming down his face.
As it turns out, the police had been looking for this killer for some time. Many homeless people and criminals had been turning up with their throats ripped out for years, and now there were two victims in one night and a witness to the murderer’s death. Thomas was viewed as somewhat of a hero for ridding the city of a monster such as Rudy Kringle. All of my friends and co-workers said the same thing. They never saw it coming. I was such a nice guy.
You must be wondering: What about the body? How could the police simply take the word of a drunken minor who claims he saw the man who ripped the throat out of a man snap his brother’s neck, then ram a wooden stake through the killer’s heart, only to have the body vanish? Well, there was plenty of proof to show that the boy was not the killer. First of all, there was the empty gun in the burglar’s hand. The owners of the house that Thomas had used to telephone the police had testified to the point that the boy had been in their home at the time of the shots. The theory was that the victim had been trying to defend himself from his attacker, only to miss all six shots. There was also a DNA test, which proved that the saliva on the throats of the victims did not match that of Thomas Bucher.
As for my body, I left a plentiful trail of blood over to the guard rail of the bridge. I jumped over the side, plunging over a hundred feet into the freezing water below. Blood in the water, as well as the possibility of hypothermia, convinced them that the killer was indeed dead. Not to mention that no one could survive a fall like that. No one except for a vampire, that is.
Needless to say, Christmas was ruined for everyone counting on Santa Claus that lived west of my former home that year. That was three years ago. Even though Thomas Bucher left me with no other choice, I hated to get rid of Rudy Kringle. I miss that job, I miss my friends, and I miss my home.
As I said before, I have a new life. I’m now Nick Dasher, a night watchman for a major toy manufacturing company. It’s just not the same, though. In case you can’t tell, I’m bitter. And if there’s one thing you don’t want to do, it’s raise the ire of a vampire, Santa Claus or no ever-loving Santa Claus. What happened with George and the end of my life as Rudy is probably the one thing I regret, aside from my losing Marie and Robert. However, I’m not done.
Tomorrow I’ll have another sin to confess.
It’s Christmas Eve again, and as I said before, the night I killed George Bucher was exactly three years ago. At that time, his brother Thomas was only fifteen, still a child. And now he’s eighteen years old, which makes him a legal adult. And you know my policy regarding children and adults.
I do believe I’m going to have to make a special stop at the Bucher house tonight while making my rounds. My “present” to Thomas is going to be the only bad gift I’ve ever delivered. Unless you count that time you received a sweater instead of a pony.
Blog of author Roy Hudson..