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A Plague of Santas

Emily Dorffer is a technical editor who has cerebral palsy. Her love of writing is only rivaled by her love of cats and her wonderful mom. You can read a free disability themed short story anthology she compiled here: smashwords.com/books/view/801344.
It starts innocently enough in November. A shortage of cookies and milk at the grocery store, a faint jingling at night, the lingering scent of peppermint. To the children, this means a flood of presents is right around the corner, but the adults know there's much more to it than that.
Soon, people start spotting obese men dressed in red and white, their snow-white beards permanently speckled with crumbs. They know everyone's names from the most reclusive shut-ins to newborns. With little more than a glance, they know exactly how naughty or nice you've been. If you so much as jaywalk, they will know, and everyone will know they know.
Even your deepest desires can't hide from the jolly men. They see you when you're sleeping, and they know when you're awake. When a Santa glances at you as he blares Christmas carols from his sleigh on the I-10, you know he knows exactly what you want for Christmas, perhaps before you do yourself.
Of course, things only get worse as more and more of them appear.
Airports shut down as reindeer clog the sky. Collisions faster than the speed of light wouldn't end well for anyone, so travelers must seek other means of travel. Unfortunately, the roads are little better as more than a few Santas prefer to keep their reindeer's hooves on the ground until Christmas Eve. Nothing says true misery like a traffic jam that reeks of lichen and reindeer dung.
So much for heading home for the holidays. You're lucky if you can make it by January.
The best you can do is send cards or maybe a present, assuming you can get your hands on some wrapping paper. That's never easy when dozens of gloved hands are grappling for the last roll. The shortest employees in every department store are stuck hiding in the break room or trembling behind shelves as Santa after Santa attempts to jostle so-called lazy elves into their sleigh for a speedy trip to the workshop. He may see you at all times, but Santa doesn't always have the best eyesight.
Meanwhile, the bakers, those poor, brave souls, are stuck slaving away at their ovens twenty-four seven. The overpowering smell of freshly baked cookies will cling to their very soul weeks after December, yet they keep trying to satisfy the seemingly endless, sugar-starved swarms. They don't have the time or resources to bake anything else, not even a single cupcake. And they wouldn't dare try to turn a Santa away, oh no. Getting between a Santa and his cookies is as dangerous as getting between a grizzly and salmon, especially if he's got a loaded sack with him.
As Christmas draws near, parents exchange emergency preparation strategies in hushed whispers. Tips for who can reinforce roofs so they can withstand countless hooves, how to safely extract a stuck Santa from a chimney, and how to deal with excessive presents blockading them in their own homes are exchanged over mugs of eggnog. Parents warn their children to stick to requesting small gifts. It's far easier to deal with a thousand candy canes than a thousand German Shepherds.
But the children don't understand.
How could someone who brings gifts be bad? To them, the horde of Santas is little more than an army of doting grandpas who just want to make them happy. So they write their letters to him in secret and tiptoe to the mailbox in the dead of night.
On Christmas Eve, the world sounds as if it's covered by a thunderstorm as hooves thud against roofs around the globe. With no cookies or milk left thanks to their month-long binging at bakeries and grocery stores, the Santas take what they can get. While they gorge themselves on sugarplums and other goodies, their reindeer devour entire gardens. In the morning, not a single crumb or weed remains. Despite the Santas shoving themselves down chimneys and shoveling junk food down their throats, not a single person awakens before they've all left their presents. Why that is, no one knows.
Perhaps it's better that way.
At last, morning arrives. For the lucky families with nice, wise children, cleaning up is a mere inconvenience at worst. Candies are easily stashed away in pantries; stuffed animals infest attics while staying out of everyone's way. The cleverest children's families are delighted to find pounds of jewelry they can sell so they can afford all the presents they really want and then some.
Not everyone is so lucky. Emergency rooms are packed with parents who broke bones tripping on the toy cars scattered across the stairs. Animal shelters open to find thousands of kittens and puppies abandoned at their doors. Even with the Santas gone until next year, the chaos is far from over. And they will return.
As long as people still believe in them, they will return.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, December 23rd, 2019


As much as I love Christmas, even I have to admit the holiday season tends to be exhausting and chaotic. It's still worth the insanity though, especially when I get the chance to bake Christmas cookies without having to worry about a horde of fat men eating them all!

- Emily Dorffer
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