Sarah had always been infamous for her disobedience and indiscipline. Right from the day she learned to walk and do enough on her own, she had started creating her own arsenal of pranks and tantrums. No amount of advice or punishments could reduce her reckless mischief. She was about 6 and complaints from school had become a routine thing. They even hired a caretaker to keep an eye on her while both of them were at work. She quit in a week.
That year, almost a few days before Christmas, suddenly her fascination for Santa Claus started showing. At dinner, out of the blue, she asked her father who Santa was. He gave a rather detailed description about the fat, old bearded man, about his reindeer sleigh and all the gifts. He saw her eyes light up as he proceeded with the description. Seeing her unusual interest in the character, he also told her daughter about how Santa has a naughty list and how the naughty kids don’t get any presents during Christmas, before reminding her that if she didn’t change her ways and start being good to everyone in school, she won’t get a present from Santa.
‘Santa talked to me yesterday’, she had answered when they asked why she wanted to know about him suddenly. But she refused to share any further details about their meeting.
Convinced that it was either only a part of the sudden obsession her daughter was experiencing or another one of her pranks, the parents shrugged that comment off.
Strangely, Sarah started being less and less mischievous in the following days. There were fewer reports of ill-disciplined behavior from the school too. Even though her parents were confused about the sudden transformation, they were utterly relieved at the same time.
‘Santa wants me to be a good girl. He tells me what to do’, she had told them when they asked playfully why she suddenly became a good girl.
Even though the remark was a bit weird, they didn’t take her seriously. It’s all a child’s imagination, they said to themselves.
On 24th December, Sarah claimed she was visited by Santa Claus the previous night. Her parents received the announcement with nothing but pure alarm and surprise. They asked her who she was talking about, but once again she remained adamant about sharing more details. But she told them that Santa reminded her to make sure she stays off the naughty list so that she gets a gift on Christmas day. After deciding to look deeper into her new subject of attraction after all the Christmas rush, they delved deeper into the Christmas preparations.
As the last of the remains of the villa burned into ashes, the little girl squinted at the dark yellow flames against the dark background of the night. Tears welled up in her eyes as she wondered why her parents weren’t coming out. She had mixed the magic potion Santa had given in their pudding just as he asked to. He had also asked her to light the house on fire to deliver her family from all the sins and wrongdoings.
Now as the fire slowly died down, a shadow emerged behind Sarah. Instead of sleigh bells, the figure had chains attached to his outfit. His green hat perched on top of his head contrasted with the red robe he wore. His face was now contorted in an ear to ear sneer. He approached Sarah and gently caressed her hair.
‘You have done well, my child’, he whispered, squatting near her so that she could hear him properly.
Sarah turned to face the figure next to her, wiping the tears from her cheeks.
‘Am I still on the naughty list, Santa? Will I get my gifts now?’, she asked pleadingly.
‘No, Sarah. But keep on doing this, and you will have better gifts each year. Now come with me. I have a lot in store for you’, he hissed.
The ember that glowed in the cold night was the only witness to the evil cackle that followed.