A cloud of ash and soot exploded out of the fireplace. Hacking and coughing, I batted at the ashen smoke with my arms.
The cloud cleared and standing in our living room, in front of Michael and I, was a man in a Santa suit.
“HO, HO, HO!” he laughed. He was emaciated and was covered in filth. His face wore a psychotic grin and I could see his teeth were yellow and some were missing. At his feet was a filthy burlap sack.
“Have you both been good little boys and girls this year?” the stranger said. “Because I’ve got something just for you.”
He rummaged in the bag and I could see it was full of an assortment of vile things: a dead cat, old rotten vegetables, what looked like an ancient carton of putrefying eggs.
The man pulled something out of the sack, something long and blue and metal. It was a crowbar.
“Merry Christmas!” he yelled manically. He raised the bar and ran toward Michael.
Then they were on the ground and he was swinging the crowbar high above his head and down onto Michael’s face. I screamed and tried to pull him off but he was too strong. He bashed Michael’s face savagely with the cruel bar, and with each swing above his head he laughed: HO swing HO swing HO swing.
Finally he stopped and Michael lay bleeding on the floor, his face an unrecognizable mess. I was sobbing. The stranger stood up and grinned his evil yellow grin at me.
“Well now,” he said, and dropped the bar. “Have you been a good little girl this year?”