The North Pole was silent and dark. The North Pole was always silent and dark. The North Pole had never been anything but silent.
There were no igloos for little elves. There were no reindeer. There were no magical talking snowmen. There was no house with windows aglow, or tinkling lights draped over evergreen boughs.
There was no island of misfit toys. There were no gingerbread houses or freshly-baked cookies. There was not even snow; just a single cold layer of thinning ice.
At magnetic north, encased deep in the ice, a dark shape slept dreaming, its formless mass spread over mile upon mile. Its eldritch mind echoed in the dark recesses of mankind’s subconscious, shaping his thoughts, his feelings, and dreams.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow couldn’t sleep for thoughts of the bringer of toys, the jolly old man with cheeks like roses and nose like a cherry. As they one by one drifted off down to the gates of deeper slumber, jolly old St. Nicholas etched his face into their minds, lulling them into a peaceful serenity.
The small children’s parents snuck out in the night, and put out the stockings, flew-flewbers, and tom-tooklers. They ate the cookies left behind for Kris Kringle, and drank all the milk before cuddling back into bed, compelled to enforce their children’s petty holiday whims.
As the last children’s parents drifted back off to sleep, the mass in the ice shifted imperceptibly an inch. A smug sense of contentment oozed out of its pores as it felt the day of its triumph approach. The sun beat down hotter across all of the earth, and the flames bounced around and slowly, but surely, melted down its prison. The ice began cracking and its mind became stronger, and children more firmly clutched onto their teddies, visions of sugar-plums dancing through their heads.
The world was asleep and content, waiting expectantly for Santa Claus himself to emerge to come bring them joy. The ice cracked again, and water leaked through. The mass shifted once more and tore ice asunder, allowing grasping pseudopods to poke their way up.
All through the world, children lying asleep found themselves dancing with dear old St. Nick, who ho’d and ho’d and ho’d as the black formless spawn burbled out of the ice, spreading with the speed of well-oiled lightning. Night spread south from the north, and the sweet dreams and happy thoughts of children, aged one to ninety-two, made its expansion nigh on unstoppable.
The world was enveloped in eternal night. The Mayans were right, but just four days off.
Happy holidays, all. Enjoy it while it lasts.