J. Jay Waller
Clad in a dirty, blood-colored suit, a portly bearded man with long white hair rose from the chair across the interrogation cell to greet me. He adjusted his black leather belt before reaching sausage fingers out to grip my hand.
“Satan Lucas,” he introduced himself.
I managed to get my name out past my stifled laughter. Either his parents had a twisted sense of humor or it was an alias. This couldn’t be the most dangerous being on Earth no matter what Phil, my boss, had to say. This was a prank. Okay. I’d play along.
“Know who you look like?”
The wrinkles around his eyes tightened as he pulled a pipe from his pants pocket. He shook his head, jowls swaying. Lighting a match, he fired the tobacco in the corncob bowl. His eyes twinkled with each puff. I recognized danger in those eyes, a caged animal.
“Santa Claus,” I continued. “A couple of elves, a big chair and there’d be snot-nosed kids forming a line out the door.” The burning tobacco had a woodsy aroma.
The fat man glared for several heartbeats before motioning with his fingers, a quick movement, flicking away an annoying insect.
A chill inched up my spine. Where the hell did Phil find this guy? Probably an actor or hypnotist. Or one of those fucks from containment. Just being around those perverts made my skin crawl.
“You’re here because I escaped. Or as your people characterize it, failed to return.” The rotund man took a draught of tobacco and blew out a gray cloud. The smoke wreathed the air around his head.
“Sure,” I agreed, to keep things moving, but something nagged at the back of my mind.
“I hate this once a year bullsh—”
Phil opened the cell door and motioned me into to the hallway. We stepped into a room with a two-way mirror.
“Don’t let his camouflage fool you. That,” he inclined his toward the fat man, “is the most feared and powerful asset the government has. Figure out how he—”
“Fuck! You couldn’t come up with a better gag than this? The male stripper I sent on your birthday, that was funny. This…is sad.” I looked toward the counterfeit Saint Nick. He stared straight at me. A coincidence. No one could see back through the mirror. His gaze shifted to the left.
A strangled gasp escaped from Phil. His face ashen, he trembled. “Can’t stay any longer, I’ve got a family. He can see…everything.” Phil ran, disappearing down the corridor.
“You’re trying too hard,” I called after him. “Fuck this.” I turned to leave, then paused. What if…no. But, Phil looked genuinely terrified. Time to get to the bottom of this. No one outsmarted me.
I stepped back in, closing the cell door behind me. “Satan Lucas, Santa Claus—anagrams, very clever. I know Phil didn’t come up with that.” My gaze lingered on his eyes.
“So, why didn’t you hire that male prostitute last night?” the Santa asked.
I felt cold flash over my body. I was online, just curious…nothing more. I never even clicked on the personal ad.
“When you awoke at seven thirteen this morning, you regretted it.” he continued.
“Impossible,” I whispered. No one knew about that.
“I know.” The round man closed his eyes and lifted his chin. “I see…everything.” His eyelids shuttered upward, then his gray gaze centered on me.
“Want to know why your father left when you were ten, why you boss goes to Thailand every year, or what the President is thinking right now?” He grinned, yellow tobacco-stained teeth. “Your mom did catch you and Tommy during the junior high sleepover, but pretended she didn’t see, hoping it was just a phase. After all, boys are curious little things.”
My stomach clenched. That was her favorite phrase anytime I did something she didn’t approve of. I stumbled backward until my spine was against the reinforced concrete wall.
The fat man stood. “The King of Anatolia was the first to capture and use me, seventeen hundred years ago. Kings, governments, all use me to find out about their enemies, their own people. To do that,” he motioned to his red suit, “they let me out one night a year.”
J. Jay Waller and his wife live in Anchorage, Alaska. He enjoys writing fiction when he is not skiing, hiking or enjoying the beautiful Alaska scenery. He has had short works previously published in Alien Skin Magazine, Sideshow Fables, Butterfly Affect Anthology, Hungur Magazine, New Bedlam Project, Golden Visions Magazine, Rotting tales and State of Horror: Louisiana.