A Matter of Faith: Chapter 1-5

TheCremationOfSanta

Friday.

It is time for another piece of A matter of faith.

Santa is dead.

Long live to Santa.

Or not.

Discover it now:

The morgue was always cold. It needed a cooling system to keep bodies cold. The bodies decompose in the heat, emit gases and smell horrible. Although it was a hygienic measure, Faith could not help thinking it as a refrigerator so that the worms had the food fresh for longer. And Willy, the night guard at the morgue, used one of the chambers to keep his dinner, which was an extra to think like that.

“What’s up Faithy Face?” the guard greeted her with a drop of mustard in his mouth.

“I’ve told you a million times Willy. Don’t call me that. And clean your mouth. If that Lockheart bitch sees you eating again she is gonna add another red line to your file.”

“Thanks Faith.”

The red line system of Miss Lockheart was similar to Catholic schoolteachers. Each member of the hospital, guilty or not, had an individual file. In each piece, she wrote the word “Good” in the edge of the sheet and at exactly the same height, on the opposite side wrote the word, “Evil”. The system was not very complex, but terribly effective in the mind of the director of nursing. Every evil action was recorded in the form of a small horizontal red line. And over them she put a consecutive number countdown. Something like this:

Physically, it cost ten red lines come from “Good” to “Evil.” But, to be honest and faithful to the truth, with a single red line, you got onto Miss Lockheart blacklist. However, ten were needed to complete a formal complaint to the personnel committee with a detailed list of all violations. But all this was already mere bureaucracy.

Faith had run out all long ago.

There was no need to worry.

“You look bad,” Willy commented looking to the stains in Faith’s clothes.

“Double shift, you know” she answered showing him the whole mess inside her jacket.

“Your shift ended ten minutes ago.”

“I know, but the Santa in the morgue… well… I found him.”

“Wow, that’s great!”

“Yeah, outstanding. Thing is that… well… I thought you could let me in before I go and…”

“Say no more,” he interrupted her.

“Thanks Willy.”

“You’re welcome Faithy…”

“Willyyy…”

“Oops, sorry Faith.”

He pushed the door and held it to let the young nurse go in. The cold in the room was still cooler than in the basement. Breath escaped from their mouths in waves disappearing into the air.

“It’s freezing,” Faith complained.

“Take this, put it on,” Willy offered a jacket.

“Thanks Willy.”

“I keep it in case I have to be inside for long.”

The door closed behind them. A fluorescent lamp flickered threatening to turn off.

“Let’s see,” Willy oversaw the list. “John Doe disguised as Santa in… yeah, here it is. Chamber 25.”

Faith shook. It was very cold, but this was not the reason, at least not entirely.

It was not the first time she had seen a corpse. She was used to it. It was something that could not be avoided working in a hospital. But in this case, it was different. He had not died under her care. She had found him in the street, outside the normal environment of the hospital. That was something else.

Willy pulled the sliding tray and it came out easily. A white sheet covered the body. And according to the size of the package, there was no doubt that it was her pot-bellied Santa Claus. The strange green suit he had worn was at the foot of the metallic bed. It had dried blood spots coloured in black areas where the stabbing had entered and his life exited.

“Weird huh?” Willy said.

“What?”

“The Suit.”

“What’s with the suit?

“It’s green.”

“Oh, that”

“It’s supposed to be red, isn’t it?”

“No, it isn’t.”

“What? Santa Claus wears red. Everybody knows.”

“Truth is, real Santa wore Green, Willy,” she corrected him.

“That’s a lie.”

“I’m afraid not. Coca cola used red and white and people started getting used to see it that way.”

“That’s bullshit,” Willy said. But in his mind, he began to contemplate the possibility that what Faith had said might be true. Although this is particularly true, the trick to make a lie become true consists in saying it with conviction.

“As you wish Willy,” Faith desisted. “Would you mind leaving me a moment alone?”

“You’re not going to sit on his lap, are you?” he joked leaving her alone.

Faith took her right hand out from the folds of the polar and showed him her middle finger all she could extend. Then, Willy closed the door behind him.

It was cold, very cold. A small puddle of orange juice, which probably belonged to Willy’s dinner, had been frozen in the corner of the room. Neither rats, roaches even, dared to face this frigid environment to harness the scraps and crumbs that the guard had left behind. There was only cold and death. With the exception of the remains of Willy, the rest of the room was exceptionally clean. The dead dirtied little. Through the frosty air she could smell odours of bleach, formaldehyde, stale air freshener and… cotton candy?

It should be a mistake, but it certainly wasn’t. She tilted her head to facilitate sniffing. Faith opened her nostrils and inhaled again and again. She was not wrong. Mixed in the aseptic environment there was a slightly sweet smell. She moved her head in circles around looking for a burst of caramel essence. She found the trail and was surprised when the tip of her nose pointed toward the body of Santa Claus. She bent over the body. It was hidden under the white sheet, but there was no doubt that the smell came from below. Still, curiosity pushed her too far. She had to lift the cloth to prove definitively.

Her hand was shaking. Her intuitive mind knew something strange was happening. The other part of the mind, the rational side thought of the possibility that all of that was just one of Willy’s pranks. Finally, the vengeful one was preparing to inflict the punishment if the previous poor bastard was right.

Confused among so many ways of thinking, her right hand took the initiative without consulting and lifted the sheet. The air was in motion and came to Faith like a wave in the sea. Punch, sugar sticks, shortbread, gingerbread dolls, cookies, cinnamon and ginger, smoke from burning wood and fir greens were introduced by her nose direct to the brain. It translated smells into happy childhood memories of past Christmases. And, unavoidably, a smile blossomed on her face.

Santa Claus’s skin was as white as the beard that covered his entire face and abundant hair of his entire head. His lips were lost in so much hair and his nose still kept some colour because of small veins in its rounded tip. “Too much alcohol,” the nurse who was hiding inside Faith thought. However, it did not make sense. A typical homeless alcoholic would smell of wine, trash, sweat and blood. This body, though had been cleaned, it smelled of fresh pine, fresh snow, old furniture, wood, candies and winter flowers.

Faith leaned further over the body and sniffed again. Her mind still resisted something so illogical. “Maybe it is the smell of softener sheet,” her rational mind said. But when the smell came to the pituitary, the rational retreated. A new mind, as an idea that germinated and grew at high speed, took place in front line of mind. A “No way. It is impossible” reasoning inside her caused her to almost cry. But it was cornered and had little space. This new idea virtually covered the entire thinking space. “Do not even think of it” reason cried in a last breath, right before being crushed by the new idea, which had grown so much that it was about to overflow and come to light.

And BAM!

“Could he be the true S…?”

She did it. The idea came out through the mouth and fell directly on the breast of Santa Claus. And just after touching him he inhaled so hard he seemed to want to introduce all the air from the room into his lungs.

Faith stepped back. The shock threw her against the wall of the room. She wanted to scream, but apparently, the speed and force with which she jumped to get away from the table had left behind the part of her brain that dominated her motor skills. Sitting on the icy ground, she watched the body, presumably inert, of Santa Claus raising his right hand and removing the sheet that covered him. The fabric fell with a thud, and so did the disguise that was lying at his feet. But the green colour had been transmuted into red. But she couldn’t take notice it for long, because no matter how wonderful it seemed, it had nothing in comparison with the spectacle of seeing a corpse rising from the dead.

Two thick feet slid down the side of the table and he jumped to the floor, exceptionally nimble for a man of his size and that was practically dead for a day.

“Uy, ay, fuc…, oh shi…, cold, cold, damn cold,” Faith listened from the floor.

His voice was as low as the twang of a huge bell.

Santa Claus jumped on the sheet that had covered up his body. His hairy belly fell over his lower abdomen that threatened burying in oblivion his tiny penis. But what really attracted her attention was the “Y” he had drawn across his chest and belly, the proof of the autopsy. The sutures were all there. He looked surprised, almost as much as Faith. With one of his stubby fingers caught the tip of a strand. He gently pulled it and saw the suture slowly falling apart from the base of his stomach.

Faith was paralyzed. The reasoning inside of her brain had collected its things, had gotten them into a bag and hung a sign saying “Closed” before leaving. The vision of Santa Claus removing the sutures made ​​her imagine how the recently closed wound would open and how the organs would be scattered across the floor. However, what followed was completely different. By then, reason was far away, so the surprise was not that great.

As the thread disappeared from the skin of the old pot-bellied Santa, the wound was closed by itself and without any scarring. Even the three stab holes that had not been sewn disappeared. Within a minute his body did not exhibit any imperfection but most than an obvious morbid obesity. He bent down with more flexibility than was physically possible to pick up his clothes. It was at that moment when his eyes met Faith.

“Ho, ho, ho. What do we have here?” he exclaimed dressing rapidly.

“You…you…you were dead,” Faith stuttered.

“Oh, that,” Santa said. “Yeah. I shouldn’t have resurrected within a few; Weird, hu?”

“But… but… you were stabbed. I was there when it happened.”

“Ah, it was you, very kind of you. Did you see them?”

“Who?”

“Who else? The Three Mage Kings! Those bastards kill me every year so I can’t take my holidays. I thought everybody knew.” He claimed waving his arms.

“Wait…”

Fully clothed, Santa Claus took a few steps closer to Faith. Bending over, his black leather belt squeaked by the effort and a strong smell of candy came with him. He grabbed Faith’s chin with his right hand and turned her face to both sides. His gaze travelled like a laser printer scanner. Occasionally he turned the chin again to stop at some point in her face.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized abruptly. “I have mistaken you for one of ours.”

A little voice inside the head of Faith wondered what “one of ours” meant, but the voice was buried by several cubic meters of fear, so she had no opportunity to ask.

“Forget all you have seen and heard. It would be better for you,” he advised her while he placed his pants well, which had been lowered when he bent. “I have a few hours left before I’ll be trapped at the Pole with those damn elves again. So I’m gonna spend some time looking for those three bastards and I’ll take revenge before returning to forced labour.”

At the other side of the room, there was a door with a metal plate that said “Crematorium.” Santa opened it and acted as if it were his own home. The oven was at the end of the room. Its door was designed to introduce coffins within the rails. Santa opened it and entered without the slightest effort. Somehow, Faith saw the fat Santa Claus turned around inside the crematorium. He still looked puzzled as if he still believed he could have misjudged her. Finally, Santa Claus smiled and waved his pudgy fingers in farewell. A second later he jumped and his body was twisted and deformed to fit through the vent hole of the oven.

Faith ran into the hall of the crematorium and approached the modern fireplace cavity. Her mind arrived a little later than her body, just when a cheerful “ho, ho, ho” came from the vent pipes.

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