The night the snowstorm hit was the fifth day that ten-year-old William Feldson had been tortured by a sinister yard decoration. Outside was the blow mold Santa again, currently facing out into the street. The Santa hadn’t moved yet, beyond finding its way in the view of the window, but it was only midnight and every previous night would find the Santa outside his bedroom window. It was only a matter of time.
William wondered who had put the Santa back out in his view. He thought that it was his brother Gary’s doing, but there was no evidence that was the case. Every night, no matter where the blow mold Santa was placed, the blobby, sun-damaged plastic shell would creep its way to William’s window when he wasn’t looking. Every night.
He shuddered and shut his eyes, hoping to get to sleep. Perhaps he could sleep through the inevitably sinister events. Within minutes he drifted.
He woke up again at 2 AM. The clock ticked its continuous tock and William turned his bleary eyes to the window. Sure enough, between flurries of snow, a glimpse of the blow mold Santa could be seen, and the unmistakable, distorted face was turned toward the window, gazing inside.
William had enough of the plastic monster.
He threw on his boots and pulled his thick snow jacket over his pajamaed shoulders. He marched out to the mudroom and grabbed the flashlight from the cabinet under the window seat. He unlocked the door and stepped out into the cold, his flashlight darting wildly in the night. He strode to the Santa and found it had changed its position again, this time toward the front door, where he had come out. Enraged, William was determined to be rid of it entirely, even if that meant throwing away his dead Grandma’s favorite decoration.
He paused and stared at the Santa when he was about a yard away from it. Nothing about it seemed odd beyond the strange, distorted face. Stepping closer, though, that’s when William understood the expression; under the massive, ballooned jowls was a smile, and the heavy-lidded eyes were set to a scowl. The Santa, so inscrutable for days, was grinning wickedly.
William threw a punch at the fat, ugly face, eager to topple the mold. He was shocked to find that his blow didn’t land, instead, his hand was sucked up into the mouth of the plastic Santa, which had begun pulling him in, eagerly.
William screamed, but a gust of howling wind masked his cries. The neighborhood slept soundly.
The police had yet to find William. It had been three days. Any signs of where he went that night had been obscured by the fresh snow the night of and the day after. Beth had been crying since. To lose her mother was one thing, but for their youngest child to go missing was quite another. Bill Sr. had been advised by the police to stay at the house, in case his son came home. Against his impulse, Bill had done so, but this was the last day of that nonsense. He’d be out tomorrow, all day and night if he had to. He’d already taken a few walks in the neighborhood, keeping an eye out for his son. For now, he would spend his afternoon doing something productive. He was putting away decorations.
Bill Sr. approached the Santa blow mold. He never really understood why Margaret had kept the ugly thing around, but it was something that had belonged to her and Beth decided to keep it. He bent down to pick it up, but it was far heavier than he had expected. He stooped down, closer, bending at the knees. He wrapped his arms around it, lifting it with a sudden jerk. He nearly toppled over at the weight of it as the plastic beard rested against his face.
That’s when he smelled the faint scent of rot coming from the Santa Claus.