13 Jan “My Sister and I Stayed Up Late to See Santa. Something Else Came Instead” – Creepypasta
For most people, Christmas is a time of joy, a long-awaited reprieve from the daily grind of life. It’s where families huddle around crackling log fires in the most gleefully tacky sweaters and tearing open the bright presents hoarded away under the blinking lights of the Christmas tree. It used to be like that for us.
But for the last decade, it’s brought nothing but fear.
My sister still refuses to talk about it. Every time I try to bring it up, her jaw tightens, and she retreats out of the room. I don’t blame her at all. But that night has weighed on my mind for years, like a ball on the end of a dragging chain. I need to tell someone about it.
It was Christmas Eve, and I was already lost to dreams, exhausted by my own ardent anticipation throughout the day for the morning after, fuelled by copious amounts of sugar and cartoons. Through the mental veil, a faint voice chimed through. At first, I took it to be part of my dream landscape. But it repeated itself, becoming clearer until I realized it was my own name.
A tiny figure hovered in the distance, flickering within my vision mirage-like. It was followed by a sudden growing tightness in the centre of my chest, compressing my breath. I was compelled to stagger towards the shadowed stranger, a hand clutched to my wheezing chest.
My blissful dreams of unwrapping my brand- new Gameboy dissolved into the pitch-black reality on my room, that same weight pressing down on my lower ribcage. As I squinted up, I saw my sister perched on my chest, still dressed in her dotted pyjamas. Her face was devoid of exhaustion, eyes wide, a familiar manic grin plastered across her face, one that caused me both excitement and trepidation.
“I heard him,” he exhaled, “he’s on the roof- him and his reindeer. He’s here, Anthony, at our house!”
I barely paid attention to her words, instead trying to shift the throbbing migraine from being woken up.
“What are you talking about?” I grumbled, rubbing at my tired eyes.
Annie pouted. She diverted her fist into my elbow in a playful punch. I jolted up in bed, now fully awake.
“Santa, idiot!” she exclaimed.
At eleven bordering twelve, I had already a healthy scepticism towards the subject. But Annie remained a devout in her childhood belief. She was already a ball of energy, but the season just seemed to amplify it. She watched Miracle on 34th Street and How the Grinch Stole Christmas religiously through the holidays. Neither my parents nor I couldn’t bear to remove that joy, instead allowing her to retain her innocence for a little longer. I still find myself pining for those distant days when she still loved Christmas.
“Annie-“ I began.
A heavy thump above us interrupted my groggy rebuttal. Annie, practically vibrating with excitement, hushed me. We listened as the sounds trekked across the expanse of the ceiling, as if someone was moving about up there. She grinned at me, arms folded, a smugness lacing her excitement.
My heartbeat had been as rapid as hers as we began our dismount down the stairs, her hand gripping mine, but not from exhilaration. My first thought wasn’t Santa Claus on his supersonic rounds throughout the world, but a burglar intent on finding a way into our house. The only thing I wanted to do was bury myself under my blankets. However, Annie had always had the final word, ever since we had been in the womb. I didn’t discard the possibility of it being an elaborate prank, but if the goosebumps prickling Annie’s forearms and her hyperventilating was acting, then it was an Oscar-worthy performance.
After pushing open the living room door, we tiptoed in. The silver and gold wrapping paper glimmered under the dimmed lights, the dark, bristling outline of the Christmas tree perched over it, like a slumbering dragon protecting its hoard. We both squeezed behind the sofa, peeking our heads out at the extinguished fireplace. By then, the sounds had reached such a volume that I was surprised our parents weren’t already awake.
The grate that covered the fireplace exploded off, soaring into the air. It slammed into the ground and skidding to the halt just several inches away from our hiding place, the sound of the impact swallowing Annie’s resultant shriek. As the dark cloud dissipated, instead of a pair of polished black boots, crowned by the white trim of a pair of red velvet trousers, stood a pair of soot-dusted, cloven hooves, a forked tail swaying between two powerful, furred legs.
The figure’s presence filled the room, taller than any adult either of us had ever seen. A tattered black cape was draped over its massive stature, obscuring the rest of its features from us, aside from its bestial lower half. Two horns curved outward from under its hood, scraping the underside of the ceiling.
With a snort, it hurled down the heavy burlap sack it had been dragging onto the rug in the centre of the living room, before thundering over to the side of the room. It paused by the tree and raised a bauble up within its clawed hand.
Before my twin could scream, I slapped a hand over her mouth. Her lips quivered beneath my trembling fingers, teetering on the verge of a complete panic attack.
“Please,” I mouthed.Hot tears soaked into my knuckles. Her overworked lungs swelled with smothered hyperventilating. I was choking the life from her, but I refused to let go, knowing that the slightest sound would seal both our fates.
The heavy burlap sack that had been sitting motionless in the centre of the room on top of the soot-blackened rug collapsed onto its side. A strangled gasp escaped Annie’s mouth between my enclosed fingers. We tensed up, certain that any second we would be dragged out from the safety of the shadows and into the light, to face the terrible thing that had invaded our home. But the thunder of its cloven hooves never came. Instead, it dragged a gnarled talon over the soft fabric of the white fur-trimmed stockings that Mom had lovingly pinned to the mantlepiece just above the fireplace. Over the frantic pounding of my own heartbeat came the crinkle of fabric. It was loud enough to pique my curiosity, craning my head over the edge of the sofa.
The sack shifted around, like a deflated balloon being refilled with air. I watched, teeth clenched to the point of my jaw breaking as it slowly dragged itself across the floor like some grotesque, oversized maggot. As the mass shuddered closer, we were both able to make out a low whimpering, like a wounded dog. There was no doubting it anymore- there was something inside of it. Something alive.
It was then I did something that I still regret, well into adulthood. I edged my foot in the direction of the lurching object, while careful to keep it out of the periphery of the inhuman intruder, prepared to push it back in case it got too close. Although I ached to help it, my biggest priority of that moment was keeping my sister and I unnoticed and alive.
The trailing rope that knotted the bag shut came undone with the laborious efforts of whatever was restrained within to escape its confinement. A hand shot out of the opening, just inches away from where we were crouched, the pale flesh swollen by dark purple-bluish bruises, one that was unmistakably a child’s hand. It blindly groped around the floor, trying to pull the rest of the body it belonged to out of its abrasive cocoon. But before it could touch us, the creature’s huge, furred hand descended downward and jerked it back. The chipped fingernails nails raked the floorboards hard enough to leave trailing scratches in the wood. The horned figure held the wriggling, screaming mass aloft with a single hand, as if it were nothing more than air. With an annoyed huff, it resealed the bag, silencing the sobbing pleas before stomping away.
The bag was still screaming and struggling as the horned being yanked it along the ground back towards the fireplace. Its body seemed to dissolve into a black, vaporous mist that ghosted up the stack, his captive’s shriek echoing up with him. The removed grate levitated up and slotted back into place behind him.
Its leaving brought us no relief. After half an hour, after we were sure it was safe to breathe, Annie choked out a sobbing laugh, somewhere between relief and terror. I sat there, numbed by what we had just experienced.
We staggered up the stairs, my sister’s ragdoll-limp arm slung over my shoulders. I let her sleep in my room that night, the first time we had done so since we were toddlers. She clung to me like her life depended on direct contact with my skin. When our parents found us the next morning, they cooed, oblivious to our trauma.
The two of us sat shell-shocked on the living room carpet, presided over by our video-camera wielding parents, filming us as we unwrapped our presents and tried to look happy. But the experience of the previous night had sapped the joy out of what should have been the highlight of our year. Any physical trace of the creature’s presence seemed to have evaporated along with it- no blackened hoofprints, no items left in disarray from its curious probing. But the knowing looks we exchanged over our gifts confirmed the reality of what we had witnessed.
It had been Annie who had noticed the small package shoved under the shade of the tree, buried under the mountain of wrapping paper. It had been a stark contrast to the bright adornments that our other gifts had been packaged with, instead wrapped in drab brown paper, which had been sealed with a black silken ribbon. Her throat swelled as she swallowed, undoing the black ribbon that it had been tied with, to the loud encouragement of our mother and father, who failed to notice her trembling as if she was being forced to unwrap it at gunpoint. As she did, something fluttered off it to the ground, which I was quick to snatch up.
It was a blood-red Christmas card. My stomach lurched as I saw the front design- a goat-like man with a forked tongue lolling down to his hairy-mid-chest leading a procession of dour-faced, enchained children in one hand with a bristling broomstick in the other. The image of the trapped child in the sack wriggled itself back into my mind. The arching typography above it gave no relief from the scene- Gruss vom Krampus. Despite having no idea what it meant, a chill ran down my spine as I read it.
However, the inside was written in elegant, jointed English handwriting, bearing both our names at the top- To Annie and Anthony. My eyes followed every word that came after, unable to stop reading despite my growing sense of dread:
Since you’ve both been good this year,I’ll let you have your day of cheer.But I’ll leave this to remind you not to go peeping,especially when you should be sleeping.
A sharp gasp from Annie next to me almost made me drop the card. Gripped in her trembling hand was a grotesque doll, the exact image of the creature we had seen, but in miniature. It was the ugliest thing we had ever received in our lives, its brown body scored with stitch marks as if it had been torn apart and sewn together at least a dozen times before it had been gifted to us. Its oversized yellow glass eyes bulged out of its sockets, a pink velvet tongue hanging out of its mouth. Her bottom lip quivered. We both knew who had sent it to us, but neither of us had the courage to say. However, the message was clear- I’m watching you.
Every holiday season, the doll still sits on our mantlepiece. No matter how many times we tried to destroy or abandon it, we always found it hiding among the other holiday decorations whenever Christmas rolled around, miraculously undamaged. The gleeful malice on its face is enough to make the smiles of guests falter whenever they see it- even though they try to laugh it off, I can see them wince with discomfort at how lifelike it is. Annie can’t even look at it whenever she’s in the same room.
I’ve never been able to shake off the feeling of being watched around the winter since that night. I feel eyes burn into my back and turn around, expecting to see him there, ready to stuff me into his sack. But instead, I find myself faced with nothing. It’s that fear that he left behind that was his cruellest gift of all.
The shifting northern winds don’t just bring the chill of winter, but something far more ancient, that preys on the wayward and unwary. And if you’re unlucky enough for it to catch you, it will never let you go.