I would not be a willing sacrifice, a worm unaware of the looming boot. I would fight!
| I was afraid to go into the store.
There was a man in there, a frightening fellow, and I did not want to go. He knew my name, and where I lived. He had been watching me for months, years even. I could hide nothing from his prying eyes. His notes on me ran long, pages and pages in length. And he was there, inside, waiting for me.
Emma didn't understand. She tried asking, wheedling, and cajoling. But I stood firm, my feet planted like a rock. I said nothing, even when she put her hand on my arm and began to drag me forward, toward my doom.
"We're going inside, Jay, and that's final," she said, casting a contemptuous glance at me. She had tired of the begging and resorted to outright orders. And despite the way I dragged my feet, I was in her thrall. She could not be denied – and I tried to deny her.
Lights covered the dim doorway, a haunting sign of what was to come. Strange creatures posed in the windows, their eyes menacing. I could feel them watching me. They were his creatures and I was helpless before them. They, too, had been watching me, their eyes weighing my imperfections, my sins, my crimes. And yet she dragged me past them and through the dark portal.
I heard a ringing and thought it was in my ears. I shook my head to dislodge the sound but nothing worked. It persisted, droning on and on and on. Emma seemed to hear it, and like it, her free hand tapping out the beat as she continued to pull me across the threshold.
The interior lights blinded me, and I stumbled, falling forward. She thought that I was a willing participant, a lamb ready to walk to my slaughter, and released her grip. My eyes had not adjusted to the brightness inside but I knew enough to make my escape.
I set off down the aisle as my vision cleared. Behind me, I heard her angry yell. Instinct slowed my step, but I fought it off. I would not be taken before my accuser, not this day! I ran, as fast as I could, weaving between surprised shoppers. Their eyes began to judge me as well, and I grew even more frightened.
I rounded a corner and collided with a man in a dull blue uniform. His beady black eyes fixed on mine as he latched onto my arm.
"Where're you off to in such a hurry?" he asked. His tone seemed jolly, but I could hear the menace beneath.
Behind him, I heard Emma approach, gasping for breath.
"Thank you, officer," she said. "He got away from me."
"Fast little sucker, isn't he?" He grinned at me, his white teeth flashing hungrily, and I shrank back.
Emma's hand replaced the officer's, and her grip tightened.
"Don't you ever do that again," she said, her breath still coming fast. "It's crowded in here, and I don't want to lose you."
With that, she continued her resolute march. I cast a despairing look back at the officer, hoping for salvation, for mercy. He only smiled an evil smile and shook his head.
Soon we stood in a line of sacrifices, feeble victims ready to be passed on as an offering to Him. The fools seemed happy, excited.
They were worse than lambs; they were worms, insects. Their fates hung above them, their doom sealed, and yet they failed to see the descending boot that would crush the light from them.
Before I knew it, we were in front of Him. He sat on a throne, a gilt chair covered with silver and holly, drops of blood spotting the leaves. I could hear the murmurs behind me, the ones who abased themselves like fools, but I would not bow down.
My struggle was futile. Emma—I would not deign to call her 'mother' anymore—lifted me bodily and set me on his lap. I froze in fear as his giant white paws wrapped around my puny body. A wild mane shielded his face and blue eyes glinted from the depths of his skull. He leaned even closer, a sickeningly sweet smell of peppermint wafting from his gaping maw.
I cowered in fear.
"And what do you want for Christmas, little boy?" he asked.
As though he didn't know. As though he hadn't stalked me all year, waiting for an opportune moment to strike.
I said nothing.
"Have you been good this year?" he asked.
Good? I would show him good! I would not be beaten down, squashed like a maggot into the pavement. I would stand my ground, fight for my life until it ended.
So I bit Santa Claus.