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.