Scarecrow-thin and leaning on a harnessed reindeer, he limped from the mist. A blood trail paralleled his footprints in the calf-deep snow. "Well, we had a good run, Dancer." His breath misted in the cold, and blood ran from the wound in his side, dark on his red-furred coat. Santa fell. Dancer knelt, and the old man lay against him. "I figured I would die in the snow." Santa watched the swirling constellations of falling flakes from the moonlit sky above. Dancer looked away. "But I never thought it would be the frost that killed me. Ey, Jack?"
A boy swathed in white appeared from the shadows. "I got you, did I?" Jack leaned in close to Santa's face. He listened to his belabored breathing, felt the heat of his bloody wound, saw the mourning in the reindeer's eyes. "I did!" Jack jumped up. "After all these years of.... I got you!"
Santa coughed blood. "You couldn't stop this year's gifts."
"Who cares? This is the end! Finally, winter is mine! All mine!" Dissolving into a snow flurry, he blew away.
Santa smiled. He switched off the stage blood's pump and closed his eyes for a nap. "Merry Christmas, Jack."