Timothy had always loved Christmas. It was his favorite time of year. He loved the lights, the music, the presents, the movies, the laughter… he loved it all.
Each Christmas Eve, Timothy’s parents would tuck him gently into bed. They told him he’d better get to sleep, because Santa doesn’t visit the houses of children who are still awake. As he lay in bed, his heart would race in excitement, and he would wear himself out as he imagined opening up all of his wonderful Christmas gifts the next morning. Soon he’d be fast asleep, with a smile on his face. That was the usual routine.
But this Christmas Eve was different. Timothy just couldn’t fall asleep. He’d tried everything. He’d counted dozens of sheep, but with no luck. He was simply too impatient, and too excited. He knew this year was sure to bring the best gifts he had ever seen.
All of a sudden, he heard a soft clatter coming from downstairs. He glanced over at his clock. It read 2:47 AM. Who could possibly be up at this time? He knew his parents were fast asleep.
He was struck by an idea, and his body shook with joy. Every child dreams of meeting Santa, of catching him in the act, stuffing gifts underneath the tree. Timothy wished for this most of all. Could this finally be his day?
He leapt out of bed, but was sure to be quiet as he tip-toed down the hallway. He walked slowly to the top of the stairs, and looking down, saw what looked like the figure of a small man hunched over the plate of cookies he and his mother had baked the day before.
As Timothy crept down the stairs, he heard the loud crunching of chocolate chips, and the guzzling of milk.
“A little sweet for my tastes, boy.”
Timothy stopped in his tracks.
“Who… who are you?” he asked.
The man did not move for a moment, but then slowly began to turn around, standing up straight as he did so. Even upright, Timothy could see that he was very small, about his height. At 4’7, Timothy was one of the tallest students in his class…but this man was a grown-up. He was dressed in a little grey trench coat, and a matching grey top hat. By his side lay a small, grey sack.
Timothy could not help but notice how strange the man looked as well. His skin was almost as grey as his clothing, and his features appeared too small for his face, as if someone had simply placed them onto his head as an afterthought, not caring about how odd they made him look. His little snub nose stuck out at an odd angle. His ears were wide and pointed, and so miniature that they were hardly there at all.
His mouth, however, was disproportionately large. It formed into a smile that stretched from little ear to little ear. Timothy felt a bit uneasy as he looked at it. Blonde straw hair fell down from within the man’s cap. His most striking feature was his small, beady eyes. They were a bright and brilliant green.
The man’s smile grew even wider as his eyes met Timothy’s, so wide that Timothy thought it must surely be hurting him.
“Well hello child. The name is Rodman B. Greene. But you can just call me Mr. Greene.”
“What are you doing here? Where’s Santa?” asked Timothy.
“My dear boy, don’t you worry about that. Don’t be alarmed, now- come closer. I’m just here because he and I have a sort of… agreement. You see, he brings toys and treats to all of the good little boys and girls. That is well-known. Every kid expects a visit from Mr. Clause on this fabulous winter night, as they should. But what they don’t know is that I too make a stop at every child’s home. I come early, and I… check on things.”
“Check on things?”
“Yes, m’boy. I come to each house an hour or two before Mr. Clause. It’s a lot of work, you know, checking on millions of children, seeing if they’re awake, or asleep as they should be. He doesn’t have time for all of that. He can barely get the presents out as it is. So I stop by, and I make sure everything is as it should be. In return, I get certain benefits. I take the cookies and drink the milk as well. I’m doing Mr. Clause a favor, really. There are only so many cookies a man can eat. Though that’s not a problem for me.”
“Because I’m insatiable, boy. Now don’t interrupt, it’s rude. Didn’t your parents ever teach you manners?”
“That’s better. Now where was I? Oh yes, so I come to the houses, and I determine if they’re filled with good children, or very naughty children.”
At this, his smile grew even larger still.
“Oh Mr. Greene, I’ve been so good! I’ve been good the whole year long. I’ll just go and hop in bed right now!” said Timothy.
“Oh my child, my poor child. It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately.”
With that, he stepped forward and placed his cold hand upon Timothy’s cheek.
“Mr. Clause doesn’t come for naughty children. No, for you, there is only me. Only Mr. Greene.”
Suddenly Timothy felt faint. His vision was starting to go, everything around him fading into blackness. He collapsed to the ground, unable to move or speak, unable to utter a cry for help.
Mr. Greene crouched above him.
“Don’t worry child. It will all be over soon.”
With that he let out a laugh, and for the first time Timothy could see into his mouth. There was nothing but row after row of sharpened teeth, stretching down his mouth, down his throat… nothing but pale, pointed teeth. Before his vision faded completely, Timothy saw those teeth descending on him. He fell into unconsciousness.
Mr. Greene picks at the food between his teeth, then flicks it away. He gathers up the small, clean bones off of the living room floor, and carefully places them into the little grey sack.
Reaching into his trench coat, he removes a rolled piece of parchment. He unravels the paper, and follows the list down to ‘Timothy S.’. He crosses out the name, and writes ‘Naughty’ beside it. He giggles.
“So many more children to visit. So many more delightful children.”
With that, he picks up his sack, flings it over his shoulder, and heads toward the chimney.