Author’s Note: This short was awarded an Honorable Mention in Area of Effect Magazine’s 2015 Christmas Short Story Contest.
It was a cold wind that blew in that day, unseasonably cold.
The Children of the Fall shivered as the icy wind arrived. It was then that they saw him: the man in white. Christmas was coming, indeed.
“Ready your resolve,” said their captain, Jacques, the old Pumpkin-Head himself. “Steady as it goes!”
Above their heads, the corpulent man called Claus rode a rusty dirigible, from which he commanded his elfish legions. He had a globular, all-seeing eye and wore a coat stained red with the blood of all that had stood in his way. So far, he and his men had taken Thanksgiving and begun forming a second front in July. Soon, they would have the whole year- that is, unless the children could stop them.
But, these children were no warriors. Clutching their tiny flashlights and pails, they seemed little match for Claus and his hordes.
“I’m s-scared, Jacques,” said one child.
“Everything will be all right,” he replied, “you’ll see. Just stay the course till then.”
Even still, Jacques found his own knees knocking as Claus closed in.
“Wait for my signal,” said he.
An overwhelming sea of cinnamon swept up into the children’s nostrils as the elves, dressed in moldy green uniforms, closed in. Jacques studied their approach, then threw his hand defiantly forward at the proper time.
From behind the front lines, a volley of incendiary apples launched into the sky. They burst into the enemy ranks and splashed up against the side of Claus’ dirigible. It took only a moment for the Northern forces to reconstitute themselves. Claus’ lead elf looked up to his commander-in-chief, who straightened out his crinkled robe and gestured for him to advance. The elf then turned back to his fellows and, with a shrill cry, ordered them forward. At that signal, they charged.
Jacques spurred his obsidian horse as the enemy made their move,.
“For the seasons!” he cried.
Then he charged forward, with the Children of the Fall, bedecked in monochromatic, threadbare costumes, at his side.
As the two forces clashed, Claus shouted at his legions, “I know when you are sleeping! Don’t fail me now.”
And so, the bloodshed began. Elves and children kicked and bit and screamed at each other. Jabs and blows, like fatal gifts, were exchanged. The battle carried on long into the night and then into morning. At last, the snow settled. Jacques and his children warriors emerged victorious.
Wounded and wearied, they glared up Claus. He, in turn, glared right back down at them.
“Not so jolly are we now, huh, old man?” said Jacques.
Claus spit out a mass of licorice chew as he jerked his ship about. With a burst of coal dust, it shot off towards the Northern Lands… and home.
“‘And to all a good night,’” said Jacques with a wave.
Those who had survived looked about, surveying all they had won and who they had lost.
“He’ll be back, won’t he?” said one child.
Jacques absently nodded and set a hand upon the child’s head while brushing his boney fingers through the tousled locks.
“Yes, but we’ll be ready.”
They looked to the horizon then, and watched the Sun rise into the sky, casting not a silvery shadow, but a warm, orange glow upon the land.