The Last Night of Christmas

The night before Christmas. Cold. Damp. Windy. Yet somehow everyone remains happy. Snow falls in heaps, the wind howls against windows as if trying to claw its way in, and the children. The children sleep quietly, full of joy and excitement for the morning ahead. For tomorrow is Christmas after all. A day where families can come together to make each other the happiest they’ve been all year. And after such a miserable year as this, do they not deserve it? All other problems and worries would fade away as pure jubilance overcomes us all. Beautiful lights brighten up the streets, presents sit under questionably decorated trees, milk and cookies sit and wait for the man whose gifts are cherished by all. And with the clock striking midnight, it was time for his job to be done. Silently, he slipped his way down through the narrow chimney. He crept through the house, making not even the slightest of sounds. He stood by the child’s bedside and gazed upon it. So sweet and innocent. So peaceful in its slumber. So… Fragile… And exposed. The man’s fingernails grew and sharpened into razer-sharp spikes, each capable of slicing through steel as easily as if it were butter. He pulled his hand back and aimed it towards his target. One slash towards the side of the neck should do the trick. It was time.
“Well Noel, now I understand why they call you ‘claws’”, chuckled a thin and sickly-looking figure from within the shadows behind. “Is this what the humans consider to be a gift nowadays? Things sure are different from when we were young!”
“If you don’t stop lurking in the shadows, Golge, they’ll never stop calling you the ‘bogeyman’, like I know you so detest”, growled Noel. “What do you want? I’m busy”.
“Yes… I can see that”, said Golge, peaking his head over Noel’s shoulder to see the sleeping child, still ever so quiet. “But let’s not kid ourselves, Noel. You know exactly why I am here”.
Noel retracted his claws and turned to face Golge, eyes filled with a burning hatred the moment they found him. This was not how he desired his night to go.
“We both gain our powers from the children, you from their happiness and I from their suffering”, continued Golge. “And you are a… How to put it delicately… A simple being. More children are beginning to suffer with each passing year, so I knew it was only a matter of time before you decided to end it for them. One head at a time of course. And all of this death because you fear what would happen if I grew stronger than you”.
“So you’ve come to stop me?” laughed Noel heartily. “Hatred may be at an all-time high right now, yet you are still no match for me. Run back to your cave while I still allow it”.
Noel turned back to the sleeping child, only to see Golge was now standing in his path, having travelled through the shadows beneath them.
“If I may interject”, smiled Golge confidently. “I have been waiting for this moment for a very long time, as I believe have you. Why don’t we let the child rest a little longer, hmm? I’m sure its death will still be satisfying after we sort out our issues, don’t you agree?”
Noel sighed. He always knew this was inevitable, yet he hoped it would be several years before Golge finally plucked up the courage to challenge him. Having been as close as brothers in the past, neither truly had any real desire to kill the other. But to put Golge in his place before commencing with the plan to further weaken him. To show him how little the peak of his strength meant, only to push him even further down. That could be entertaining. Noel slowly nodded his head. Then he attacked.
He lengthened his claws once more to dig them into Golge’s chest, before violently ramming him through the wall, shattering it into hundreds of snow-topped rocks as the two fell into the dark alleyway below. Just as Golge knew he would do. Being born of the shadows, he merely sunk into the darkness, while Noel fail painfully to the ground. Silence fell. Golge did not reappear. Noel looked around frantically, trying to figure out where he would come from. He always knew he possessed the greater strength of the two, yet he often forgot about Golge’s abnormal abilities and superior combat strategies.
“Come out and fight me head on, you coward!” screamed Noel.
Golge just laughed. He laughed so loudly, reverberating the sound throughout the entire alleyway like a choir of madness.
“Oh, dear Noel. You think me a fool?” laughed Golge from seemingly everywhere at once. “I know full well I cannot measure up to you in a direct competition of strength. So I will attack you from behind!”
Golge leapt out of the shadows behind Noel and struck him in the back of the head, flipped over him, and sunk back into the shadow dimension before Noel could even register what happened. Again and again Golge attacked, striking Noel from every angle he could. With shadows surrounding them, his path was completely unpredictable. He leapt, he punched, he laughed, he returned to the comfort of his realm, all while remaining completely unscathed. Though there is only so much punishment one can take before getting mad. And the anger was bringing out Noel’s true form. His claws extended even further as white fur began to sprout over his arms, all while his gaze became somewhat more bestial. As Golge jumped out one last time, Noel grabbed his face and ran as fast as he could towards the open street. Streetlamps and Christmas lights brightened up the road so much that there were few shadows for Golge to escape through. Not that Noel planned on giving him any time to escape anyway, as he rammed Golge’s head into the side of a car and punched it relentlessly with all of his strength, only stopping when the car was flat and Golge was motionless. Except it wasn’t Golge at all. The decoy melted into darkness as the real form attacked from behind with two shadowy blades, both blocked at the last second by the claws of Noel. Golge backed away slightly, while Noel turned to attack. Claws heading towards his face, Golge ducked to slice from below, only for his blades to be stepped on by the foot of Noel. A kick to the chest knocking him backwards, Golge quickly rolled back to his feet, narrowly avoiding the flurry of claw swipes that followed in his wake. Noel was getting madder, meaning he was also getting stronger and faster. With every swipe he threw, his muscles grew even further, and his skin became even furrier. Even his mind was changing, become less human and more like the beast he once was, and was now becoming once again. Golge lunged a sword towards Noel’s eyes, only for it to be caught by the claws of one hand and cut to pieces by the claws of the other. Another slash from the side with his other sword, only to be met with the same end. Now unarmed, he didn’t have much chance of blocking the backhand strike from Noel that flung him into the side of a building, easily crashing him through the wall. He painfully sat up to see where his foe was. Noel was slowly walking towards him with a murderous glint hidden within his bestial glare. It was time for Golge to take this a little more seriously. He quickly leapt to the sky and raised his hand, summoning multiple bolts of lightning to strike him at once. Wasting no time, he pointed his other hand towards Noel, channelling all of that energy directly at him, pushing him back through the snow. But as he fell further back, his rage rose to even greater heights. He too was now going to be completely serious. As the lightning burned off his famous red and white coat, his bear-like fur finished growing out all over his skin. His muscles and body all grew out to over twice their original size, as did his claws and teeth. His hands and feet formed into paws, his eyes turned as orange as the sun, and his skin hardened to create a texture that felt much like bone, except far stronger. Now in his true form, he had no trouble walking through the lightning barrage as if it were naught more than a gentle breeze on a warm summer’s day. With this newfound strength, he easily leapt through the electrical wave to grab Golge in his teeth, biting down hard on his arm to crush it entirely. He slammed Golge back down to the floor and ravenously bit and scratched at him, staining all of the snow around them red with his blood. As Golge stopped moving, Noel roared furiously into the air.
“This is what happens to those who mess with me, Golge!” roared Noel. “I will destroy every miserable child I can find, and then I will make sure your weak and feeble self suffers for eternity for all you have done!
With his mind now overcome by beastly instincts, he had no hesitation in going in for the finishing blow. That was, until he saw Golge’s smile, and that sinister laugh he was ever so fond of. He was broken and beaten in a puddle of his own blood. What was so funny?
“You still don’t get it, do you?” laughed Golge. “Did you really think I would try to fight you head on without a back-up plan?”
Golge slowly raised his hand to point behind Noel. There, standing in the distance, were the children. Every last one who lived on that street. And they all had their phones out, recording everything that was happening.
“I connected their phones to every device on this planet. You just showed every human what you truly are”, said Golge slyly. “And now, dear Noel, their symbol of joy is gone. All they feel is rage and despair. And we both know what that means, don’t we?”
Golge’s body slowly and limply rose to the air. With every human on the planet fuelling his power, he too could reveal his true form. A thick storm of black energy erupted out of his body, transforming him into a horrific shadowy beast. A beast that we have all seen, yet few would recognize. That little demon that hides in the back of your mind, fuelling all of your negativity, your hatred, even your nightmares, except now it was taller than all the houses around it. And with all happiness temporarily sucked out of the planet, Noel had nothing to give him strength. While Golge grew larger and stronger, he instead shrank back into his more human form. Golge looked at Noel, feeling joy within himself for the first time in countless years. Except, this was not the joy you or I tend to feel, no. This was a much more devious and malevolent form of joy. The kind of joy that arises when you have the chance to do something horrible to somebody you hate, all while knowing there is nothing they can do to stop you. The kind of joy Noel had been fearing for much of his lifetime. Golge stared at Noel’s face with his enormous, shadowy eyes, and he uttered a single word. A word that sparked an unforgettable terror throughout Noel’s veins. An instruction that fear would force him to follow.
And he did. Noel ran as fast and as far as his now weakened legs could possibly carry him, never looking back through fear of what might be following him. Meanwhile, the children looked towards their shadowy saviour, unsure of whether or not this outcome was to be celebrated or feared. The child who Noel intended to kill before the fight slowly and cautiously walked up towards Golge.
“What… What are you going to do to us?” it asked, its entire body shaking nervously.
Golge slowly returned to his more human form, a pleasant smile appearing on his face as he shrank back down to a normal size. He knelt down beside the child and whispered softly into its ear.
“Oh, child. You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout, I’m telling you why…”
Golge evaporated into a cloud of black smoke that covered the entire street, carrying his voice in a much deeper and darker tone.
“Santa Claus is running, from town”.

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© A. L. Plumb 2020

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