“The Undeliverables” • by Allison Mulder

After naughty and nice, Santa had a third list.

The Undeliverables.

It wasn’t the distance, or lack of time; he was Santa.

It wasn’t a matter of wanting too much, or deserving any less.

It was interference—parents who put strange gift boxes straight in the trash, whose fingers dug into children’s shoulders.

It was lacking houses at all, let alone chimneys or Christmas trees.

It was any child beyond reach, beyond what Christmas Magic could correct.

This list needed subtler touches, as opportunities arose, sometimes far outside Santa’s usual time frame. Sometimes it took years, but he came through. In hopeless moments, in escape attempts, or in aftermath—long overdue wishes from childhood appearing as if to say, You’re safe now.

This list, he checked hourly. 

Allison Mulder grew up in the Midwest, and enjoys cheesy jokes and eldritch horrors in equal measure. Her interests will inevitably be out of date by the time this bio is printed, but the ever-shifting rotation includes: cooking, crochet, D&D, anime, videogames, and the creepiest creatures that the cold, black depths of the ocean have to offer. Her stories have appeared in Fireside Fiction, Escape Pod, Cast of Wonders, and more. You can find them at allisonmulder.wordpress.com, though Allison herself is more easily found on Twitter as @AMulderWrites.