James’s Note: You voted for Christmas Karma, and that’s what we’re delivering. I’m a big fan of alternate Santa mythology, so that’s largely where this came from. Also, if you ever get a chance, Google the connection between Odin and Santa Clause. Thank me later.
Joey was crouched under the coffee table, couch cushions piled in front of him for concealment. From his hiding spot, he had a perfect view of the chimney. He was going to see Santa Claus when he came down it, no matter how long he had to stay up.
His dad had told him that Santa wasn’t real, and that’s why he wasn’t getting any presents this year. Joey told his dad he was full of it. After all, his dad always said mean things when he got drunk. Which was most of the time. On the bright side, his dad had been too drunk to get out of bed and hit him for mouthing off.
Joey’s plan was to stay up and see Santa Claus, proving his dad was a liar.
Late into the night, as Joey was starting to nod off, he was snapped back to attention by a banging and thudding coming from the chimney. Joey beamed. He knew he was about to see Santa.
Sure enough, a man started climbing out of the fireplace. As he came into view, he sure didn’t look like Joey was expecting.
He was big, all right, like they say Santa’s supposed to be, but this man was enormous. His hat almost scraped the ceiling, and he looked far too wide to even fit through the fireplace.
His stomach was huge, like a vast boulder, but his shoulders were broader, giving him a hulking muscular look. He carried a leather sack over one shoulder that was so dark it seemed to swallow the light.
He was dressed like Santa, kind of. Except Joey expected Santa to wear red, and this man was dressed in black furs trimmed with white. His white beard cascaded down over his belly, and had beads of stone and bone braided into it. His hair, under his hat, was shaved on the sides, viking style.
Joey peeked out from his fort, attracting the huge man’s attention.
When he spoke, his voice was a deep bass rumble Joey could feel in his chest.
“What are you doing up, boy? You should be in bed.”
Joey’s eyes were wide as saucers. “Dad said Santa wasn’t real.”
“Did he, now?” The voice was slow and heavy. “I’ll have to have a word with him about that. He and I already have a lot to talk about.”
Joey crawled out from under the table. “Did you bring me any presents?” Joey asked, hopefully.
“No, boy. I’m here for your father, not you.” He walked past Joey, his footsteps heavy as he approached the bedroom were his dad was passed out. “Saint Nicolas will be along later with your presents.”
Joey tilted his head, confused. He knew Saint Nick was another name for Santa Claus. “You’re not Santa?”
The big man laughed. It sounded like thunder. “No boy, I’m not Santa.” As he opened the bedroom door, he pulled from his sack a long, thick bullwhip made of the same black leather as the sack.
“I’m Black Peter.”
The door slammed shut behind him. It was a good five minutes before Joey heard the screams.