by Nerisha Kemraj
Jeremy waited for the lights to go out in his parents’ room before creeping downstairs by torch-light. He stopped at the Christmas tree, where he turned off the fairy-lights, and then settled on the couch, waiting. As the night wore on, Jeremy’s eyes began to droop.
A short while later, the voice startled him awake. “Wake up, Jeremy. It’s time.”
His ears pricked at the sound of clinking ornaments from the Christmas tree. Suddenly, the fairy-lights switched on to reveal a lanky frame dressed in a red and white suit.
Santa wasn’t at all what Jeremy had expected. Illuminated by the blinking lights, Jeremy saw that he was a lot thinner than everyone thought, except for a little weight around his mid-section.
“Do it!” The voice sounded in his ear, harsher this time. But Jeremy watched until the old man quietly placed the gifts under the tree.
Santa stopped moving when he heard the cock of the gun.
“Don’t move, fat-man-skinny-man!” Jeremy laughed, glad his father had taught him about gun-handling.
“Jeremy, what are you doing?” Santa whispered.
“No, what are you doing, giving us gifts we don’t want? You don’t ever give me the gifts I want!” he sobbed.
“Stop talking, and do it,” the voice ordered, and a chill swept over 6-year-old Jeremy.
“Just wait!” he cried, screaming now.
“Who are you talking to, Jeremy? Put that down, please. It’s me,” Santa said, taking off his hat and edging closer towards the boy as Jeremy’s mother ran in, hearing her son’s screams.
“Last year, you said I was too naughty to get what I want. Well, I’ve been naughty this year too. Goodbye, Santa.” Jeremy fired, and the voices laughed with him.
The lights turned on and Jeremy, horrified, saw his father—dressed as Santa—drop to the floor, bleeding.
Nerisha Kemraj resides in Durban, South Africa with her husband and two mischievous daughters. While poetry has been a love since high school, she began writing short stories in 2016.
A lover of dark fiction, she has over 150 short stories and poems published in various publications, both print and online. She has also received an Honourable Mention Award for her tanka in the Fujisan Taisho 2019 Tanka Contest.
Nerisha holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Science, and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from University of South Africa.