Edited by- Sanyam Garg
The grunts of the chained and clobbered animal attracted the village children to the landing grounds. They swarmed in like the youth did for ice cream trucks tens of decades ago. Alex was the only one of the band with no smile on her face. This was going to be her first reindeer encounter, but its appearance was nothing like in the legends she heard every night before her sleep. She ran towards the journeying haulage with the other kids anyway. The mercenaries guarding the 'shipment', continued to escort the cart through the harrowing snow storm, shoving the children away from the prize. Alex kept her distance but mustered courage and asked, "why are you hurting him?"
"He's food for Father Frost, young lady. Wouldn't want to upset the Lord, would we? It's the season." The fur-draped leader of the pack chuckled. Her face darkened and she lowered her head to gaze at the chalky-white sheet of show, smeared with the blood dripping from the poor creature's hooves.
She tipped her coat, and a battered, red Christmas bauble hit the cold surface. "Haven't seen those since 2027. Where did you find that?" The leader's tone suddenly turned hostile. The other armed men noticed, and at once, they all set their weapons to stun. She wanted to tell them it was just a gift for the reindeer, but Alex stood in the same place, pale and motionless.
The rest of the children scattered to get as far away from the scene as they could. All except one, who was fully cloaked, with shivering legs, clenching his hands to make washed-out fists. Strangely, the reindeer's nose was now glowing, altering between scarlet red and crimson pink. "That's not supposed to be happening! Do your jobs and pound that piece of meat!" Three of the men proceeded to savagely scourge the animal, but the nose glowed brighter than before, like he was signalling something.
The other 'child' now revealed himself. He was a small, shriveled man with a beard that extended till his torso. The guns were now pointed at him. He looked like an adorable little garden gnome, till his eyes turned red, as if laser beams were going to shoot out. "Rudolph, take cover, you old fool!" He screamed at the top of lungs, with a squeaky yet commanding voice. The red nose reindeer hurried to the icy willow tree a few minutes away, toppling over and dragging the armoury cart along with him.
The men were caught completely off-guard, and didn’t know who to fire at anymore. The little man pulled out two ticking time baubles, both of a colour strikingly similar to Alex's, and chucked both at the cluster of soldiers, exploding and murdering the four that were rushing to retrieve the prized reindeer.
Alex prepared to make a run for the woods after finally getting back to her senses, but a red-blue streak in the far distance forced her to halt. A candy stick shot past her face like a missile, impaling two foot soldiers at once, lined up with each other. She glanced back to the woods, to find the rugged and messy walking-myth himself, in all his glory, approaching the gory cluster at his own pace. She immediately recognised the old man by his iconic velvet hat. It was Santa. The holiday legend her friends used to talk about in the shelter houses for years. The blood-covered candy stick returned to his hand like a boomerang. He had a three-foot blade in the other, which he swung around like a warm-up.
The mercenaries all laid half-covered in snow, lifeless and quiescent, aside from the leader who was trying to make a run for it while covering his face with his fur-coat like a shield. "Elf, we've got a runner." Santa said to the little man. "Uh, it's Kyle, Sir." The elf corrected him, before cackling and bringing the runaway to his master, dragging him face-down till he could put his back against a snow-drift. "Ha, Claus," the envoy leader exclaimed, panting and quivering all at once, "Merry Christmas! It's been decades. How's the wi-?" Claus struck the man's head with the hilt of his sword.
"You and I both know how the wife is. Now cut the crap. Where are the others?"
"Dead. Frost finished them in the morn. You know he loves Reindeer." The man let out a disturbing maniacal laugh.
"Hmm. Blood lust. 'Tis the season then."
The enormous warrior pierced his sword through the Frost disciple's throat, ultimately decapitating him. Alex recoiled in disgust, but violence was quite common back in the village so her inquisitiveness remained intact. The man's head rolled down the slanting snow sheet, formed by the tapering drift, and topped the frozen arena like a decorative cherry. Rudolph galloped to his master after breaking off his chains by using the willow tree, and bowed down.
"I wasn't going to let them take away an old friend," Claus proudly ran his hand along Rudolph's razor sharp antlers, "Good to see you again. I couldn’t save your brothers though, lad, but at least we have each other."
Rudolph happily grunted while tugging Claus' beard with his teeth. The reunion was however cut when an abruptly triggered Santa shot Alex a probing look. "You. Girl. Where did you come from?". Alex, still shook by what she was seeing, steadily raised her hand to gesture towards the village gates. "Well, do you have carrots?" he asked, to which Rudolph's nose glowed a striking lava red. "Plenty, sir!" Alex claimed.
"We'll need some shelter as well. Pick up your shiny Christmas ball and hide it. Oh, and you'll be needing weaponry for when he comes."
"Their Lord," he pointed at the fallen corpses, "Jack Frost."
To Be Continued