A bright new star appeared in the sky on December 1st. It didn’t hover above a chosen town. It just wheeled alongside the other stars. But then the other stars went out and something in our collective psyche snapped. Panic lit the riots. Riots ignited mass hysteria. Mass hysteria burned into mayhem. There’s no media or Internet anymore but people say half of America died in a week. I believe it. Our guards in the entrance tunnel hear gunfire every night.
And they hear drums. A cult took over the factory in the valley. Some members of our camp escaped the cult. We don’t repeat their stories. We have nightmares of our own. But the cult believes there are “Elder Gods” in the sky. They say that Christmas never belonged to Christ and those with false beliefs will be consumed on Christmas Day.
Tonight we decorated the tree. We hung the stockings. We read stories to the children and tucked them in bed. We have modest gifts to give and a wild turkey to cook.
But I can’t sleep. So I put the tiny, cracked porcelain Jesus in the manger and went to the entrance tunnel. The rifle is cold in my lap as I stare at the leaden curtain of the opening and listen to the drums. I’ll be here all night, waiting to see what Christmas brings.