And the sequel, The Power of a Gift
Copyrights owned by Rebecca Besser, 2010/2011.
Art Copyrights owned by Justin T. Coons, 2010.
All rights reserved
Table of Contents
THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS
THE POWER OF A GIFT
THE MAGIC OFby Rebecca Besser
“Hammond, where is everyone? Only half the
elves are here today.”
“They’re sick, Santa,” Hammond said with a
heavy sigh, as he too looked out over the workshop floor. “Ever
since Royce came back from cutting down Christmas trees with a
strange bite, more and more elves are getting ill.”
Santa crossed his arms and frowned. “Will
we still meet our quota for toys? I can’t have children going
“If we work longer shifts we should be able
to make it,” Hammond said, looking at a spread sheet that was on
his clipboard. “It’s going to be close. If anyone else gets sick
then we might fail.”
“Failure is not an option,” Santa said
sternly. “Do what needs done. After Christmas everyone can
Hammond watched as Santa walked away. He
hadn’t mentioned that the illness was the strangest he had ever
seen. Santa didn’t need the extra stress right now, as he was still
going over the Naughty & Nice List.
Turning toward the workshop, Hammond got on
the intercom and announced the shifts that would be needed to
ensure Christmas came on time.
“Hold him down!” Dr. Jim screamed. “If he
bites anyone, they’ll get sick, too. We already have too many of
“I’m trying, sir,” Milly said just before
the patient broke loose and took a chunk out of her arm with his
teeth. She screamed as blood shot everywhere, her eyes huge with
pain and shock.
Dr. Jim growled and grabbed the patient’s
arm, slamming it down on the table and securing it with tinsel
rope. “Milly, go get that bandaged and then admit yourself to the
Holly Wing. You’re now infected with the disease.”
Milly took a deep, shaky breath with tears
in her eyes. She had seen what happened to the infected and didn’t
want it to happen to her. Her eyes pleaded with Dr. Jim, begging
him to let her stay, to say she wasn’t infected.
Dr. Jim took a deep breath and softened his
tone. “Maybe we’ll figure something out. Maybe we’ll be able to
stop it. But you know as well as I do that you’ll try to infect
someone else once it takes hold. We have to be careful. Go and get
looked after. I’ll come check on you when I get done here.”
Milly nodded, her tears sliding down her
round, cheery cheeks that were already starting to pale. She
scurried out through the brightly painted red and white striped
As they swung shut, Dr. Jim bowed his head
and said a quick prayer, asking God to save them all. He knew that
this was a hopeless cause. There was no stopping the infection. He
pulled up his sleeve and looked at the pussy teeth marks that were
turning his arm purple. Soon he would be one of these flesh eaters,
one of the walking dead.
The room started to spin and Dr. Jim clung
to the table that held the elf who had already turned. The gnashing
of the patient’s teeth and the incessant moans began to fade as Dr.
Jim fell to the floor.
Two days later, Santa satHammond knocked on the door before
in his office, staring out the window. He watched white, fluffy
snowflakes float down from the grey, overcast sky, without really
seeing them. He had finished the Naughty & Nice List yesterday.
Today, he had read the medical report from the hospital.
Ninety-eight percent of the elves were sick or dead. He feared
after delivering presents tonight he would come back to nothing.
This might be the last Christmas ever, but at least there would be
entering. “Santa, we’ll be ready right on time. There were enough
of us left to load the sleigh. We’re exhausted, but there will be
Christmas for the children.”
Santa sighed. “Yes, for the children.”
Hammond caught the melancholy in Santa’s
tone. “We’ll figure something out, sir. Maybe things will be better
by the time you return.”
Santa shook his head and rubbed his
forehead. The pictures he had just examined flashed through his
mind. Pictures from inside the hospital, were the walls had been
drenched with blood. The red liquid had been everywhere, dripping
off the ceiling and candy cane railing, puddled on the floor. It
looked like a sadistic butcher shop. The worst thing was no one was
there. Bones and severed limbs had littered the halls and rooms,
but no living or moving thing was left. Everyone was missing. The
only indication that the missing elves had been able to walk away
was the trail of bloody foot prints in the snow, leading into the
“The sleigh will be ready in an hour,”
Hammond said and left, closing the door behind him.
The reindeer munched contentedly on the hay
that was laid out in front of them while they waited for Santa. The
sleigh sat behind them, loaded down with merrily wrapped packages.
The joyful colors of red and green added a festive and exciting
accent to the otherwise drab, brown shed.
Prancer was just bending down for another
mouth full of hay when he saw a movement to his left. He froze as
he sniffed the air. It smelled like an elf, but it didn’t. Looking
at the strange creature, Prancer let out a warning bleat.
The other reindeer looked up at Prancer’s
warning of danger, stepping back and forth, they tried to break
free of their harness’.
The creature ignored the animals and
instead headed for the sleigh. The little pale elf sniffed at the
velvet interior and must have liked the scent, because she climbed
in and burrowed underneath the packages.
Prancer snorted and looked~
at his team mates. He cocked his head as if to ask,
What was that thing
?’ The others snorted and tossed their heads.
Santa’s solemn face stared back at him as
he pulled his shiny, black leather belt tight over his paunch,
securing his red velvet coat.
“This is it, old boy,” Santa said to his
reflection. “Time to deliver all the Christmas cheer.”
He was still staring at his reflection, as
if he could find all the answers in his mirrored self, when Hammond
“It’s time, sir,” he reported to Santa.
“The sleigh is loaded, the reindeer are ready, and it’s time for
Santa inwardly winced at the false cheer in
“Christmas Magic, indeed,” Santa mumbled,
turning and putting on his hat. “Let’s get this over with.”
Hammond looked close to tears as he watched
Santa walk out of the room. He may be a three-hundred-year-old elf,
and had cried maybe two times in his adult elf years, but this was
the saddest thing he had ever seen. Santa was depressed about
Christmas, and nothing could be done to pull him out of it.
Moving to the window, Hammond watched Santa
board the sleigh that had been pulled outside. The snowflakes
danced, the reindeer pranced, and the thirty elves who weren’t sick
tried to cheer. They fell flat and looked dead on their feet.
Santa cracked his magicHammond watched them take off. It was
whip, the silver and gold strands glinting in the gas street
lights, and with a half-hearted, ‘
, they were
perfect as always. At least some things stay the same, he thought
with a sad smile, watching Santa until he couldn’t be seen any
longer. When he looked back at the village, his eyes fell on the
condemned hospital. He shuddered. Despite the new snowfall, the
blood on the ground in front of the main doors was still visible,
now showing pink instead of bright red.
Turning from the window, Hammond set about
straightening the few items Santa had used while getting dressed.
He was placing the last item, a silver comb, on the dressing table
when he heard the first scream.
Rushing back to the window, he looked down
on the quaint village that was nestled in the arctic glaciers of
the North Pole. What he saw made him gasp in shock as fear gripped
his heart with its icy fingers.
Santa went through hisWith a heavy heart Santa left beautiful
duties, and that’s what they felt like to him that night, duties.
Normally it was a pleasure for him to give gifts. This year he
didn’t care. He knew unless a miracle happened Christmas would
cease to exist. What he couldn’t understand was, why wasn’t
Christmas Magic helping now? Why hadn’t it stopped the outbreak?
dolls for good little girls, and skateboards for good little boys.
Thinking of the delight in their eyes when they ran down the stairs
in the morning to find their special gifts, made just for them,
brought a faint smile to his lips and a rose tinge to his waxy
cheeks. He decided right there, right then, this was going to be
the best, most beautiful Christmas ever, even if it killed
With renewed vigor, Santa stood tall, and
marched to the chimney with determination. Yes, Christmas was going
to be wonderful, illness and death would come, but not until after
he had made sure Christmas would shine in the memory of every
person, in every house, that he touched that night!
Hammond stood frozen, not quite believing
his eyes. Elf-zombie after elf-zombie came pouring into town,
moaning and waving their arms. It was like some circuit in their
festering brains remembered that they were supposed to be there for
something. In fact, they were supposed to see Santa off, but they
were too late, and it was now too late for the elves that had
arrived on time.
The hungry horde fell on the tired, weak,
healthy elves like they had never eaten before and needed
sustenance so badly that they couldn’t help themselves. Flesh was
bitten and torn off with cruel hands, claws, and teeth. Pale faces
and foggy eyes contrasted with bright red blood as it shot through
the air, spraying everyone. Some of the elf-zombies were cackling
and catching blood drops on their tongues, just like small children
do with snowflakes.
Hammond shuddered. The gore was
unimaginable. He had never seen such violence. That was something
reserved for humans, not elves. They were supposed to be happy,
peaceful beings. This was not their way.
A gleeful moan sounded behind him. Hammond
whirled around to see five of the elf-zombies standing in the
doorway with sadistic grins on their rotting faces. Blood still
speckled their cheeks from the feeding frenzy in the
“No,” Hammond said,As his back hit the wall, his hand came in
raising his arm to protect himself as they advanced toward him.
contact with a silver-reindeer-topped cane. Lifting it high over
his head, Hammond let out a wild war cry and slammed it into the
head of the lead zombie. It whimpered and fell to the floor to
Hammond was shocked with himself, and with
the fall of the elf-zombie. Renewed hope warmed his heart. He would
go down fighting. These creatures were not taking Christmas away
that easily. They would pay with their lives.
“You can’t have Christmas,” Hammond yelled
and battled the four remaining foes.
They weren’t fast and they weren’t smart,
so it didn’t take Hammond long to dispose of them. With a crocked
grin and a cocky swagger, he left the dressing room, dispatching
every zombie that was unlucky enough to cross his path. A few other
healthy elves saw what he was doing. Taking up arms, they followed,
and they fought.
Santa was on the last leg of his journey.
He had one country left to deliver toys to. He knew it wouldn’t be
long before the children would awaken and the true Magic of
Christmas, joy and love, would be spreading all over the world.
That was his gift to the mass’. It was the only thing that gave him
the strength to go on.