The snow fell silently across the land below, seeming to shimmer in the silver blue light. The soft strains of Silent Night carried far on a night like this, but to those who had taken shelter in the old industrial plant tonight had thought the risk was worth it. The kids needed it tonight of all nights, they were on the ragged edge, and the adults hoped that this would help them. The adults prayed for just one night where the undead didn’t appear and attack.
But that prayer wasn’t answered, from out of the snow and darkness, a horde of zombies appeared, following the music they walked into the fence. As the numbers of the undead increased, the weight exerted on the fence grew until finally a section of fence collapsed under the weight and the pale rotting crowd poured into the complex.
Some of the adults ran outside, trying to stem the tide, while others began to load their supplies into the trucks parked around back of the main building, out of sight of the horde. All the defenders had to do was hold for ten minutes.
Betty heard the shouts and gunfire outside, she lay there trembling in the darkened room where moments before she had been praying for Santa to come, for life to return to normal. Ellie her big sister had told her that Santa had been eaten along with all the reindeer, she didn’t want to believe it but maybe Ellie was right. Maybe the elves had been eaten too as they tried to fight off the zombies and save Santa.
Tears trickled down her cheeks as her mind painted the picture of a blood splashed toy workshop, where undead elves staggered around the wreckage of toys that would never be delivered.
Santa couldn’t be dead, he was magical, she told herself, clenching her fists angrily. He couldn’t be dead. Santa will save us, it’s Christmas Eve.
But the fight seemed to drag on and on, and she knew if the kids could fall asleep in time, Santa would arrive and save them. She closed her eyes tightly trying to will herself into sleep, but the terror that filled her wouldn’t go away, it wouldn’t allow her to go to sleep. The other kids were probably asleep, it would be Betty’s fault if Santa didn’t show up and the zombies killed them all.
She began to cry again, she didn’t want more people to die. she wanted Santa, please let Santa come, she whispered into the darkness.
But then over the din of gunfire she heard something, something familiar. The jingle of bells. Her mouth dropped open and then the seven year old was up and running to the window that looked down into the fenced in yard of the industrial complex they had thought was safe to hide in.
The moon couldn’t be seen thru the cloud cover, but there was enough light to see the steadily falling snow. She trembled as she saw the undead pouring over the section of fence that had fallen. The line of adults that were firing into the mob, were slowly falling back one step at a time, trying to stay ahead of the undead.
She could still hear bells, then she saw him, Santa Claus who was running thru the snow, his belly bouncing, he dug thru the huge bag he carried, bells jingling on his belt. She shouted in fear, “Run Santa Run,” but Santa couldn’t hear her, and to her amazement Santa had pulled a large gun from his magic bag.
The other children in the room had rushed to the windows hearing her shout, and there was a collective gasp of terror as they saw the undead and the adults falling back step by step. And then they all saw Santa too, their mouths fell open in surprise, then something very much like hope began to rise in their little hearts.
And then Santa, incredibly leaped into the air and landed on the hood of a snow covered car, his white beard billowing. Betty gasped as Santa lifted his gun like a soldier and all the children heard him bellow into the night, “Every one of you undead bastards is on my naughty list and I aint handing out coal this year” and began to fire. Betty didn’t think Santa knew how to curse but she could forgive him this time. She began to cheer wildly, the other children joining her a half second later.
The zombies began to fall in job lots to Santa’s fire, as if the children cheering helped somehow. Jason Smyth, booger that he was, was cheering as loudly as anyone and had thrown open a window shouting at Santa to kick zombie butt.
Strangely the adults fighting for theirs and the children’s lives were laughing and calling out comments to Santa. Betty didn’t understand any of the comments, but the adults thought it was funny.
She could hear Mister Mike shouting something about a Figgy pudding alert, and Miss Amy saying something about Candy Cane Machine guns and Special Forces Elf squads. The adults had stopped retreating and were adding their fire to Santa’s and everywhere that hurricane of fire touched, the undead tumbled to the ground.
Betty looked down trying to see the entire yard, she knew Special Forces were soldiers, Miss Amy must have seen Santa’s elves fighting the zombies too. She so wanted to see Elves, with their pointy hats and shoes. But she saw nothing, those elves were really sneaky, she had been silly to think zombies could ever have snuck up on an Elf.
Silence fell so suddenly it took the children by surprise; it was broken only by the ringing of Santa’s bells, the last of the zombies fell dead into the snow. Santa looked up to the children who were clustered at the windows cheering him, his beard smoking, as he laid a finger aside his nose and winked up at them, then ran back the way he had come shouting out “Merry Christmas too all and too all a good night!”
The adults cheered and laughed as they pushed the car that Santa had stood on to block the hole the zombies had made in the fence. Some called up to the kids, telling Betty and the others to return to bed, that it was safe now. The kids ran for their sleeping bags and cots, no one wanted to be on Santa’s naughty list ever again.
As Betty lay back down, all the children heard the jingle of bells that grew fainter then finally faded away. After a minute Jason whispered, “Santa can sure kick butt for a fat man”
Betty frowned, Jason could be such a booger, but the sliver of hope and magic that had been planted in her heart wouldn’t die. Santa had saved them and saved Christmas too. She fell asleep, still smiling and for the first time since the undead had come, the fear wasn’t as intense.