Merry Christmas, Richard Matheson.

Happy Holidays, everyone.  I'm sorry this present isn't gift-wrapped, but here it is:  the sort of Christmas movie that I'd make for you guys, if I could.  Enjoy.


The monsters didn't like the cold.  It was obvious from their stiff gait and blue lips.  Most of all, it showed in how the larger monsters were in the rear, pushing them forward, rather than in front, leading them on.  They ran in packs, but that didn't mean they liked working together.  Between the climate and their miserable morale, it would take them weeks to reach his base.  That would give him just enough time to make his preparations.

It was going to be close, but he was used to being busy in December.  It almost gave matters a sense of normalcy.

He didn't plan to be here when they arrived, but he was sure he'd want to return, so that meant defences.  The first thing he did was abandon his house.  It was the place where he felt safest, but feeling safe and being safe were two different things.  It was also the place that held the most memories of the missus, though, and that was what made his decision so hard.  He was a sentimental man, and he just couldn't walk away that easily.  Reluctantly, he gathered up some of his most precious keepsakes, and moved them to the workshop, where they'd be safe.

There was the blanket she'd made for him, that one Christmas when he had a terrible cold, but he'd stubbornly refused to let anyone else do his job.  After that Christmas had passed, that blanket was always the first one they reached for when the northern winds got through the windows.  It was a symbol of their love, and a symbol of their marriage.  He held it up delicately, but it was still every bit as durable as the night she'd made it.

There was the grandfather cuckoo clock his helpers made for him.  It was a masterpiece; a clockwork recreation of the entire assembly line that they used back in the days when everything could still be done by hand, and a jack-in-the-box was the most complicated toy they had to worry about.  No camera could ever have captured an image of the workshop the way that clock did.  His staff had actually given him that gift that one strange Christmas after they unionized.  He'd always been a bit surprised by that, and on those short July nights, when things moved so quickly, he'd admit to himself that he'd taken it as an insult and a betrayal at first.  That clock had been their way of saying that there were no hard feelings, and he was still the only person who could do his job, and the only one they'd trust with it.  It had surprised him, finding out just how badly he had needed to hear that.  It wasn't easy moving the clock to the workshop, but he simply refused to abandon it.

The other thing that came with him was an oil painting of Mount Fuji.  She'd painted it herself, when they were on vacation one summer.  People thought they knew what he was like just because he was a celebrity, but she had it a dozen times worse being his wife.  If she hadn't sacrificed her own career to follow him up north, he knew she would have been a famous painter.  And she especially loved the mountains.  He carefully wrapped the painting up in the blanket, and locked them both away in the strongest chest he had.  Even if the monsters did break into the workshop, they'd be safe long after he was gone.

They were still coming; he could hear their howls on the wind.  Of course they would.  There was no one else left to kill.  But it wouldn't be easy -- a great many of their number had frozen completely solid in the frigid nights, and they would never move again.  Hordes of others had fallen through the ice, when it could no longer support the sheer mass of their numbers.  Others had thought themselves clever to take the safer routes, but then they'd discover the mines he'd set out for them.  He was determined to make his death as hard for them as his life was for himself.

The previous Christmases, he'd treated as just another war.  Something that he wasn't supposed to interfere with.  Even when it looked like the monsters were winning, he'd refrained from helping that year.  He'd convinced himself that just by doing his job, he was helping to boost the morale of the survivors, but now he was tormented by thoughts of all the good he could have done that year besides just handing out extra food rations.

It was too late for that now, though.  All his life, he had been the living embodiment of the spirit of giving.  Now, he was the last man on Earth, and there was no one left to give any presents to.  But there was still hope.  There was always hope.  Hope was the gift he gave himself nowadays.  And so, on Christmas Eve, when he was better equipped for travel than any other person on Earth ever had been, he prepared for another trip across the globe.  He hitched up his four remaining reindeer, armed the defences around the workshop, and lifted up, up into the sky.

If there was just one child left, anywhere on the planet, he was going to find them, and protect them.  He had to.

He was Santa.

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About The Author

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.