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Santa Suit Stories!

"The Haunted Santa Sailor Suit" - By Robin Merrill (Exclusive to Santa.CC)

santa suitBrian swore aloud to no one on his way to the bow. The ship was steering directly into the wind, so with each freezing step, Brian became more certain that Christmas cheer was not in his job description.

Brian's new mate, a freshly graduated academy kid, had just instructed him to go decorate the Christmas tree that was securely tied to the end of the boom. Brian had nothing against Christmas per se, but it was zero degrees out, not counting the wind chill, and it was pitch black four o'clock in the morning. Was this really necessary? The mate was just exercising his newly found power, which didn't exactly put Brian in the Christmas spirit.

Brian did manage to reach the bow, which brought some relief from the wind, at least until he had to climb up onto the boom. He entered the forepeak through the watertight door and sighed with relief at the small reprieve from the cold. The forepeak, which is really just a fancy name for "room on the bow," was believed by many to be haunted. Apparently the ship had been hit by a torpedo in an earlier life. Brian didn't believe that, nor did he care. He'd much rather hang out with the ghosts than get frostbite.

The mate had told him that the box would be clearly marked, "Christmas decorations," but Brian had his doubts when he looked at the pile of junk stacked to one side of the bow. He wondered if it was giving the ship a starboard list. Making sure he took his time, he began to move boxes of broken light bulbs, weightlifting equipment that would never get used, and nasty rotten old heaving lines that no one dared throw away. At the absolute bottom of the heap, he found an ominously large box that simply said, "Xmas." Yeah, clearly marked, alright. He smirked, imagining his mother's "They take the Christ out of everything," as he opened the box to see what Xmas had in store for him.

He was delighted to see what appeared to be eight miles of twisted and knotted lights, mixed in with several ugly metal ornaments that were intended to reflect the sunlight, creating a beautiful Christmas feel as well as a significant navigational hazard. He figured that he could definitely make untangling these lights last the better portion of the watch, and the next poor watchman could deal with crawling up on the boom with the extension cords.

He began to lay the Christmas lights out on the deck, when he noticed what appeared to be a Santa suit crumpled in the bottom of the box. Intrigued, he pulled it out. Holding it up in front of him, he was surprised to see a large coffee stain on the front of the suit. But then upon further inspection, he was far more surprised to see several cigarette burn holes dotting the suit. What kind of Santa smokes and drinks coffee in the forepeak of a ship?

Brian decided this was worth a walk back to the bridge. He could kill a good twenty minutes asking the mate about the Santa suit.

Of course, the mate had no idea. In fact, he was pretty sure that Brian was just pulling his leg.

"No," Brian said, "I swear, it was like a Salvation Army Santa suit or something."

"Well, I don't know what it's for," the mate begrudgingly spoke to Brian in the darkness, "Why don't you just leave it in the box, and we'll ask the Captain when he wakes up. I'm sure he'll say we can throw it out."

But Brian wouldn't be banished back to the bow that easily. Now propped in front of the space heater, he was going to make the mate kick him out.

"Don't you gotta wonder what it's for, though? I mean, what weirdo captain had someone dressing up in a Santa suit? Isn't that just kind of psycho?"

"Brian, I just don't care. Now please go decorate that tree."

Brian decided dragging this out any further just wasn't worth it, and moseyed back up to the bow. When he arrived, he was more than a little disturbed to find that the Santa suit was not where he had left it. He thought about returning to the bridge to share this development with his esteemed mate, but then realized with all the haunted bow stories, his masculinity might be at stake. His first thought was that one of his shipmates was messing with him, but who would voluntarily be up at this hour?

While contemplating his next time-killing move, he noticed something far more terrifying than a missing Santa suit. The eight miles of Christmas lights were perfectly faked out on the deck. It would have taken him an hour to untangle those lights, yet there they were, all ready to go, nice and neat. He felt his heartbeat quicken and instinctively reached for a cigarette, instead of running screaming from the bow.

He felt better after his first drag, that was, until he heard a soft voice say, "That stuff'll kill you." The voice was so faint, he wondered if it was in his head, and he suddenly really wished he had something stronger than a cigarette. He looked around the forepeak, but of course he was alone. Even though he felt pretty stupid, he took a peek down the hawsepipe, just in case there was a petite stowaway clad in a dirty, oversized Santa suit stuffed in there. Of course, all that he saw in the hawsepipe was the lonely, decidedly unfestive anchor chain.

For a lack of anything else to do, Brian opened one of the portholes, and was relieved to see that the sun was coming up. Ghost Santas probably calmed down a bit during daylight hours, right?

He finished his cigarette and crushed it out with his steel toe on the deck, and he realized with absolute certainty that he was being watched.

Fully regretting all the hallucinogenic drugs he'd ever done, he mustered up the courage to say aloud, "Okay, whoever you are, cut it out and come out where I can see you."

For a few seconds, there was nothing, but then Brian felt the soft arms of an invisible Santa wrap around his frame and embrace him with a warm and firm hug. That was it. Pushing away from the invisible hugger, Brian screamed like a teenage girl in a haunted prom movie, flung open the watertight door with a crash, and ran down the deck like it meant his life. He felt himself slip on the ice, then a sharp pain in his head, and then nothing but cold.

A short time later, Brian woke up in his own bed to find the First Mate standing over him. At first he had hoped it had all been a dream, but then he realized he was still wearing his boots.

santa suit"What happened?" Brian asked.

"I don't know," the First said, "the bridge just called me and told me you had lost your mind and hit your head. You alright?"

Brian swung his legs out of bed and sat up. "Dude, the ghost. He's real. He hugged me."

The First let out a belly laugh. "Then you're about due for some vacation time."

Brian insisted, "No, man, I'm serious. He's real. He hugged me. And he's wearing a Santa suit."

"A Santa suit? Well that's a new one. Come on, let's go check it out."

Brian shook his head, "I'm not going back up there. Not for a million dollars."

The First laughed. "You're going, or I'm going to tell your ex-wife this whole story."

"Fine," Brian grimaced, "But I'm not going inside."

By now, the sun was bright and reassuring. Brian walked back to the bow, feeling braver now, and bearing a significant headache. The mate opened the door to the forepeak and stepped inside. There were the Christmas lights, all perfectly faked out on the deck, ready to be hung.

"Nice job, Brian, that must have taken you forever."

Brian didn't say anything. He was staring at the neatly-wrapped present beside the lights. The present was marked, "Brian." He stepped over the threshold and picked up the gift. Brian gingerly unwrapped it, and then laughed when his unwrapping revealed a carton of Marlboros.

"Well that's pretty strange," the First said, "Somebody is really messing with you."

"Yeah. somebody," Brian said.

The First pointed to the Santa suit, neatly folded back in the box, and said, "We can probably throw that out."

But Brian, a little too quickly, said, "No, don't."

The First stared at him. "What?"

Brian answered, "I don't know. It just seems wrong to throw it away. You never know. Someone might need it."

"Okay," the First said, rolling his eyes, "I really think you need a vacation."

"Probably," Brian said, "but first, I'd really like to climb up on the boom and put these lights on the tree."

"Okay, whatever floats your boat."

The First left Brian standing in the forepeak, strangely at ease, and strangely committed to finishing his Christmas task, which he did. He even stayed an hour past his watch, just to make sure the tree was perfect.

The next day, he applied for vacation. And he never told another soul about his friend in the haunted Santa sailor suit.

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