Remember when you used to believe in Santa Claus until you were told at a certain age that he didn’t exist? That it was really your parents who got you your Christmas gifts?
I’d been told only seven years ago, at age eight, that there was no Santa. I’d opened my mouth in horror. I’d also let my energy down, as I had dragged my feet to my room over the shocking revelation.
Of course, now at fifteen, I knew how unrealistic it’d be for a man to deliver presents to every good girl and boy from the North Pole in one night.
But my ten-year-old brother, Tristan, wouldn’t let go of accepting that Santa Claus didn’t exist.
I walked into my living room, where the decorated Christmas tree stood. Tristan watched TV.
A mad scientist made robots and dressed them up as Santa Claus.
“I’ll make all those children happy, after their parents told them there is no Santa Claus,” the scientist said. “Perhaps, Santa is just not what they imagined.”
The scientist finished assembling the last robot. He pressed a button on his remote that said, “Activate.”
The robots’ eyes lit up. They walked toward the man.
“Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,” said the first one. “I am Santa Claus.”
“Father Christmas,” another robot said in an English accent.
“Babo Natale,” a third robot said in an Italian accent.
“Perfect,” said the scientist. “Now I will make everyone believe in Santa, and they will also be loyal to him.”
“Yay,” Tristan said.
“Tristan, that’s just a TV show,” I said.
“Oh, Cassie.” Tristan turned off the television. “What’s Christmas without a jolly old—”
“He’s not real. Aren’t you going to be in middle school next year?”
“What does that have to do with this?”
“Everyone’s going to think you’re crazy, still believing in Santa and falling for a TV show.”
“Maybe Santa was a robot this whole time.”
“You’re joking, aren’t you?”
“Whatever.” Tristan stood up. “Don’t be surprised if you get coal tonight.”
I crossed my arms and glared at Tristan. No way would mom and dad give me coal. I hadn’t misbehaved all year. Even then, it’d only happened occasionally. I’d still received gifts every Christmas, including when I’d believed in Santa.
A few hours had passed. My family and I had eaten dinner. I now lay in my bed, only to hear a bang on the roof. Gasping, I bolted up and hopped out of my bed. I opened my window and looked up. There was a sleigh, and hoofs scraping against the roof.
I closed my eyes and shook my head. I gazed again. The same things remained there. And a heavy figure climbed into the chimney.
This can’t be happening, I thought. Santa’s not real.
Despite being taught not to do this when I was little, especially on Christmas Eve, I left my room and walked down to the living room. My heartbeat raced and my palms sweated. I rushed my breathing.
The boots showed themselves. I inhaled and backed away. More of the figure’s red clothes revealed themselves, followed by a white beard. The figure showed his face—only to have it look more metal-like than flesh-textured.
This couldn’t be, though—unless some unknown scientist or genius had super-advanced tech to created a Santa bot like on TV. Still. That couldn’t happen in 2018.
The eyes glowed yellow. The robot turned to me. “Ho, ho, ho,” it said in a robotic tone. “You have to go back to bed, or else you’re getting coal.”
I ran back upstairs and into my room. I leaned against the door and breathed. Who could’ve done this? Should that person be reported to the police?
Perhaps, so. I hurried to my parents’ door and knocked. “Mom, Dad, wake up!”
My mother opened the door. “Cassie, what’s going on?”
“There was a Santa robot downstairs!”
“Now’s not that time for nonsense, Cassie.” My mom closed the door.
“I’m being serious!”
There was no answer. I stomped down the hallway and knocked on Tristan’s door. Tristan opened the door.
“Tristan, there was a Santa bot downstairs, like the one in that show you were watching.”
“No, that was just a TV show.” Tristan closed the door.
“It was like that, seriously!”
He reopened the door. “Have you lost your mind, Cassie?”
The roof shook.
“Earthquake!” cried Tristan.
“It’s not an earthquake,” I said.
The vibration came to a halt. I looked around. My bedroom door had remained opened. I turned to the window. The Santa bot and reindeer rode away on the sleigh.
“Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,” the robot said from outside. “And to all a goodnight.”
“That doesn’t seem right.” Tristan rushed into my room. “Those reindeer look fake.”
I approached him.
“Santa’s voice sounds strange,” Tristan added.
“That’s because he’s not Santa,” I said. “That’s a Santa robot.”
My parents’ door opened. Both my mom and dad entered my room.
“What’s that outside?” my mother asked.
“A robot Santa along with robot reindeer,” said Tristan.
The sleigh landed on the house across the street from mine. The Santa bot hopped out.
“Yes,” the scientist’s voice echoed from outside. “Soon, you will also start being loyal.”
“What was that?” asked Tristan. “He… he sounded like the same mad scientist on TV.”
“Let me be considered the nicest man in the world,” the same voice said.
More sleighs soared outside. The sky also glowed yellow.
“Hey, Cassie, why don’t we go back to sleep?” asked Tristan.
Gasping, I turned to him. His pupils glowed yellow. So did mom and dad’s.
“No, no!” I rushed downstairs. I put on my boots and coat and dashed outside. The same mad scientist as on television walked down the street. All the neighbors stared at him, with yellow eyes.
“I’ve been considered naughty forever by my parents,” the scientist said. “I’ve always wished that Santa existed. But now he is going to take all your prized possessions and give them to me.”
I inhaled and ran back inside. A Santa bot had my electronics, beauty products, Tristan’s action figures, and mom and dad’s photo album.
“Stop!” I cried.
The robot turned to me. “You are not loyal.”
I rushed into the kitchen and grabbed a rolling pin. I wacked the robot. But it grabbed me.
“Hitting is naughty,” it said. “That means you are getting coal… forever and ever.”
I kicked the bot and returned to the kitchen. I filled a glass of water. But the robot grasped my wrist. The water spilled away from it.
“You are on my naughty list permanently.”
But the liquid spread to the robot’s shoes. The bot let go of me. Streaks of light electrocuted it. Its voice deepened and died out. The robot collapsed onto the ground.
Breathing, I stared. Yup, it made zero moves. I went outside. All the Santa bots lay on the street motionless. The people seemed to have gone off the spells. They gazed at the machines.
“Cassie?” my mom called.
“Yeah?” I turned to her.
“Cassie, darling, are you all right?” my mother asked.
“I’m fine, Mom.” I hugged her.
“You saved Christmas,” said Tristan. “I saw that are stuff is still here.”
“Well, more importantly, we’re all still here,” my dad said. “After all, Christmas is about spending time with loved more than it is about the gifts.”
“That is true,” said Tristan. “Family is more important than Santa.”