Santa was running behind schedule, and he didn’t look closely to verify that the drink the children of the house had left him was milk, not the dreaded eggnog. Santa downed the drink in one gulp and instantly knew he was in trouble. As the eggnog made its way into his stomach, he felt the changes in his body begin.
Santa’s eyes turned from sparkling blue to glowing, bloodshot red. His face elongated, bones stretching and re-shaping beneath his skin, producing a massive, gaping mouth full of pointy teeth. His fingernails grew until he had a set of razor-sharp claws on each hand. Dark, wiry hair grew on Santa’s arms and hands, and his ears disappeared into his head, replaced by a set of throbbing, vein-laced horns.
Santa scanned the living room, searching for the one thing that could counteract the effects of the eggnog. His eyes were drawn to the top of a door frame, and there he found his salvation. A sprig of mistletoe hung there, white berries and pointy green leaves a welcome sight.
Santa ran for the door, only to find his path blocked by the family dog, a so-called “labradoodle”, baring its teeth and growling. Santa scooped up the dog with one hand and stuffed it into his mouth, devouring it in one bite.
Santa reached the mistletoe and tore it from the door frame with one claw-tipped hand. He tossed it into his mouth and swallowed. Almost immediately he began to change back into his jolly old self. His eyes regained their blue shimmer, his horns vanished and his ears re-appeared. The dark, wiry hair on his hands and arms went away, and his claws turned back into normal fingernails. The change complete, Santa breathed a sigh of relief.
The sound of tiny footsteps drew Santa’s attention to a little girl of perhaps five creeping down the stairs. The girl gasped when she saw Santa, her mouth a round “O” of surprise, and then a huge smile spread across her face. Santa had finished placing the gifts around the tree before downing the eggnog, but as he put a finger aside of his nose, he thought there might be one more gift up in his sleigh. He vanished up the chimney and was back in a flash, setting a large gift-wrapped box down in front of the little girl. The child tore off the paper. She opened the flaps and giggled with joy as a puppy jumped out of the box and began to lick her face.
“What are you going to call him?” Santa asked.
The girl thought for a moment, then smiled. “I think I’ll call him ‘Eggnog’.”
A shiver shook Santa’s body and his face took on a greenish hue. He clamped one hand over his mouth and was somehow able to get back up the chimney and onto the rooftop before vomiting a gush of yellow fluid mixed with bits of fur, bone, green leaves and berries into the white snow.
© 2009 Robert C. Eccles