A sense of Christmas cheer filled the air, the joyful glow of childhood excitement and wonder. Each year Marissa and her little brother Kaleb made sure to leave out Santa’s favorite snack: cookies and milk. Secretly though it wasn’t so much for Santa as it was to bide time. The siblings wanted to catch Santa in the act and meet the jolly gift-giver, but every year they fell asleep.
Determined, this year would be different, this year they would meet the man in red. Ushered to their bedrooms by their parents, Marissa and Kaleb exchanged a knowing glance, once their dad’s snoring began, they would be safe to sneak into the living room under the cover of darkness and hatch their plan. Sure enough, at 1 am, their father’s snoring began like a train in the night, the sound covering their tiny footsteps. Once in the living room, Kaleb slid open the fireplace so Santa could get in, never understanding why their parents would lock Santa out like that.
Fireplace open, cookies and milk on the table, now all they had left to do was to conceal themselves. Taking the couch cushion off and grabbing the blankets and pillows from their room, they built the perfect hiding spot; Santa wouldn’t suspect a thing. In their fortress, they giggled and snickered with excitement, barely able to contain themselves. Every now and then they would check if the coast was clear and sneak a few cookies into the fort. As the children sat sleepy and full of sweets in their fort they began to doze. Not today Santa Marissa thought as she shook herself awake. Uncertain if she had missed something she peered out of the pillow fort and noticed a faint glow coming from inside the fireplace. As she stared it grew brighter and brighter illuminating the living room. “Santa’s here” she whispered with excited shaking Kaleb awake. Groggily he sat up and peered out at the light, from its glow a figure emerged. “Santa?” the siblings whispered in unison.
Slowly the glow faded a bit, their eyes gradually adjusting to the dim living room. What they saw was not Santa but an omnimorph. Though its appearance was strange it seemed to exude a presence of joy and wonder. It was carrying two perfectly wrapped gifts, each one seeming to vibrate gently in its wrapping. Making its way over to the tree it placed them both delicately under it, patting them gently with satisfaction.
Making its way to the milk and cookies it paused for a moment as if uncertain what to do with them. Slowly it picked up a cookie, perhaps considering what it had seen humans do, and gently crushing it into its mask. Then taking the milk it did the same as if attempting to mimic human consumption. Seeming satisfied that it had participated in the human ritual it turned to leave, wandering back to the fireplace. The light from within once again shone as if a portal had opened. Before it left, however, something seemed to catch its eye and it stopped short.
Covered in milk and crumbs it stared at their father’s Christmas sweater sitting on the rocking chair beside the fireplace. It then looked down at its own garbs, clearly dissatisfied, definitely needing something more Christmasy. Picking up the Christmas sweater it examined it, turning it over in its hands, maybe wondering if it had enough reindeer on it. Then as quickly as it had appeared, it swept back through the fireplace, Christmas sweater and all.
The children stared at each other wide-eyed with disbelief, not moving from their fort for a long time. Then, with trepidation, they made their way into the living room, shuffling to the two gifts under the tree. Marissa caught her breath as she read her and Kaleb’s names on the wrapping. “Marissa” Kaleb said quietly, “Is Santa an Omnimorph?”