You better damn behave...
I was generally a good kid, I'd say. But I guess like most children in the 80's, I had my moments, and could be a right little shit. Especially when I got mixed up with a 'bad' crowd; they weren't too bad really, but next to my sheltered childhood, they were absolute terrors, and my parents tried on several occasions to get me to stay away from them.
The thing is - they were fun. I was a quiet kid, small for my age. I think I got swept up in the excitement, and - I have to say, the illicitness of running around with a gang of kids, causing mischief, kind of in our own little world. We didn't do anything too terrible; we lit a few fires, played a few pranks at school and around the neighbourhood. But then there was the 'incident' of '88, which happened to all the members of our gang, all on the same day. It terrified me into good behaviour, and I never again walked on the wild side. You see, my mum had told me a scary story when I was younger, and it stuck with me.
I had never believed in 'Santa Crawls' until that incident. It gives me chills even talking about it to you, but I'm hoping that you will keep quiet, and hold it as a secret. That's to protect me AND you, I hope you understand that... because this is all true! It's not some silly fairy-tale grown-ups tell their children to make them behave. I can see you shaking your head at me. But you must believe me.
Let's go get some hot chocolate, then I'll tell you. I'll tell you all about Santa Crawls, and how I am still here to tell the tale.
It had been a long, dark winter, bitterly cold, with everyone wrapped up in hats, scarves and gloves, my mum and dad blowing onto icy hands as we all stamped into the house with the shopping, desperate to get the fire started.
The streets were aglow with evening lights, and once November came, the windows of the houses were lit with festivities. I don’t know why I was being such a terror that day, or even if I was that bad. I do remember mum must have got to the end of her tether, as her face was suddenly very close to mine, making me jump, and as she pointed a finger she hissed at me: “If you don’t start bloody behaving, Santa Crawls will crawl down the chimney and turn you into the very toy you want the most!”
I can tell that you’re sniggering. There’s no point hiding it. It may sound a silly thing now; just an irritated mother trying to get her kid to behave, but trust me, those words and the image it evoked, scared the life out of me. I can remember my skin went all kind of cold and horrible when she said those words to me, and my stomach felt like it did just before I had a tummy bug. It must have frightened me very much, as I barely spoke another word the rest of the day. And I began to look at the chimney, with its tiled fireplace below it, with a feeling of dread.
Thankfully, the rest of November and December flew by, partly thanks to my fun buddies at school, and though I was a tiny bit subdued and my mum’s words still haunted me, I was looking forward to Christmas. So many cool things were on my list this year; a bike, roller-skates, my favourite collectable monster figures… if I got even one of the items I wanted, I’d be happy as anything. We all chatted about the things we wanted; Sam wanted a monster toy collection, Tez was gagging for a brand-new mountain bike – a really flash one, so that we could go biking and scrabbling about together, and Steve-o, who was slightly quieter than the rest of us, wanted a certain set of books as he loved reading up on stuff about animals and bugs.
What should have been happy memories of that Christmas were forever sullied. I don’t remember much, except for hearing the hushed, solemn tones of the police who came to talk to us after my friends were all found dead on Christmas morning. All three of them, in their three separate houses, contorted in a state of shock, their bodies broken and deformed, barely human. No motive for their terrible deaths was ever discovered; no evidence or signs of a break-in surfaced. There wasn’t even much blood, I found out years later from police reports; their hearts had simply stopped in shock.
My mum never told me the proper details; she was very pale when the police left, and my father was even more withdrawn than usual. I cried in my room when I was told that Sam, Tez and Steve-o were all dead. I cried even more when my mum was extra nice to me afterwards.
Every time I thought of my fun, spirited friends, I thought of Santa Crawls, and my dreams grew into vivid nightmares that terrified me and made me wake, screaming, in the night. Kids at school talked about rumours that the bodies had been twisted into impossible shapes. Sam resembled a monster: the toy he had most wanted. Apparently Tez had had his bones broken, and his arms and legs were formed into circles, like wheels on a mountain bike. Steve-o was like a giant cockroach, his body flattered down and smoothed so it resembled a shell-like casing.
Of course, I never knew if these reports were the truth. I could find very little in the way of accounts, and much of the report implied a sort of ‘inconclusive’ theme.
I’ll tell you about my nightmares. You mustn't breathe a word of this to another soul. My dream was this:
It was Christmas eve night, and I wasn’t asleep in my bedroom, but in the living room, in front of the big old fireplace which was now cool. I’d hear a shuffling, a scuffing, a squeaking and a grunting coming from the chimney, and I’d sit up in terror in the dark, a single candle lit, my eyes wide and white. My gaze would not leave that chimney, and sure enough, he somehow appeared above the grate, in Father Christmas colours, but dirty and worn, and he screeched as he began to crawl with his huge body across the carpet towards me, up on his massive elbows, his face terrifying and teeth missing, his dark eyes glittering so black they looked empty in their sockets.
He dragged a large hessian sack in a gloved hand behind him as he crawled, and I knew he was coming for me, because I had been bad. The sack was full of children’s bodies, for some he distorted, and others he took, to play with…
As time went by, the dreams and the fears lessened. However, my mother never mentioned Santa Crawls to me again. You be sure never to mention him to your children either, because no matter how naughty they may be, they do not deserve to have this crawling monstrosity invade their dreams.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS! (sweet dreams one and all...)
About the Creator
A mum, a friend to many and I love to explore dark themes and taboos in my writing. I am an optimist with a dark side...
Hope you enjoy! I appreciate all likes, comments - and please share if you'd like more people to see my work.
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