Letting the dyslexic write the words on the summoning paper had been the first mistake. The same five letters jumbled up and instead of the Lord of Darkness, Father of Lies, Angel of The Bottomless Pit standing in the ritual circle chalked on the floor, there was a surprised looking fat man in a red suit.
“Ho, ho, huh?” the man said.
He looked around at the four girls who were staring back at him, their black-painted lips hanging open. He had just been about to give the elves their annual pep talk to buoy them up for the final push. It had been quite a good speech. He’d been very proud of it, even if he had cribbed much of it from one of Coach Taylor’s speeches from Friday Night Lights. But the elves weren’t to know that. Then, there had been a flash of white light and he was standing in what, as much as he could tell in the flickering glow from five black candles, was a teenage girl’s bedroom. He could just about make out a poster of a familiar boy band pinned to the far wall.
“What. The. Eff?” said Emily, who was going by the name of Raven Darkmane this evening.
“Who’s this guy?” asked Pippa, who had chosen the name of Aurora Stardust for herself but only because Sharon had called dibs on Lilith.
“Well hello there, little girl,” the fat man said, bending down to smile at Aurora.
The girl recoiled as the large white beard loomed at her and let out a small squeal.
“Melanie, what have you done?” Raven asked, refusing to call the fourth girl ‘Medusa’ because right now, she didn’t deserve it.
“Me? It was your idea,” Mel, aka, Medusa snapped back.
“If you’d had let me write it–” Lilith sneered, but was cut off when Medusa threw the book of summoning at her head.
The four girls erupted in bickering, calling each other worse names than the ones they’d chosen for themselves.
“Come now!” the fat man said, dodging the bunch of foul-smelling herbs Lilith threw at Medusa, “you don’t want to go on my naughty list, do you?”
The girls stopped arguing to stare at the intruder.
“You dirty old perv,” Raven said, scowling at the man. The three other girls made disgusted noises of agreement.
“No, no. There seems to have been some terrible misunderstanding,” the old man said, trying to maintain his famous jolly persona, while getting increasingly annoyed at these young women. “I’m St Nicholas.” He grabbed hold of his belt and pushed his large belly out, striking the pose they must surely know, if not from the stories than at least from adverts.
The four girls looked blank.
“Kris Kringle? Papa Noel?” Still nothing. “Are you telling me you’ve never heard of Santa Claus?” he said. “Youth these days.”
“Santa?” Medusa said, realisation dawning. “Oh.”
“Oh. My. God. We’ve summoned Father Christmas!” Aurora said, covering her mouth with her hand.
“Look, I was one letter out.” Mel said.
“Well, it’s too late now,” Lilith flicked back her long plait. “What are we going to do about him? He can’t be here when mum comes home or she will go mental.”
“Hang on a second,” Raven said, silencing the grumbling girls. She turned to face the man in the circle. “You’re Father Christmas, right?”
“Why, yes, I am. And would you like to come and sit on my knee and tell me what you’d like for Christmas?” Santa said, slipping into his usual spiel.
The girls all let out a high-pitched ‘Eewwww!’
Santa was getting confused. He wasn’t used to a reception like this.
“Look, if you would just let me go and then we can forget all about this. I have a bunch of dispirited elves who are in desperate need of a rousing speech right about now.” He took a step forward.
“Not so fast,” Raven said. “Not till we get our wish.”
“Well, why don’t you write me a letter like all the other boys and girls?”
“Because,” Raven said, readjusting her long hair, which she’d dyed jet black for the occasion. “Other boys and girls don’t have you trapped in a ritual circle. There’s no getting out till we say so.”
Santa tried to step across the circle and realised the girl was telling the truth. There seemed to be an invisible force field stopping him from crossing over. He was starting to get really un-jolly about this whole situation.
“What do you want?” he said, a frosty edge to his words that scared the girls a little.
Raven wasn’t going to be put off. They’d gone to a lot of effort to perform this ritual. Going into that creepy magic shop in town and getting all the ingredients. Buying the summoning book from eBay. Even cutting their arms for the blood sacrifice.
“One Direction,” Raven said.
“All right,” Santa said, unsurprised. He’d seen that name appearing on a lot of Christmas wish lists this year. “Their album? Or the perfume?”
“No,” Raven said, with a grin. “The boys. We want them.”
“You want them to what?” Santa said, narrowing his eyes at the hungry expression on the young girl’s face. He’d seen a lot of greed in his time – small children stamping their feet demanding the latest toys – but this was something else.
“We want them to want us,” Lilith said, sharing the lustful glow in her friend’s eyes. “One for each of us.”
“Although don’t worry about Liam,” Aurora said.
The girls all nodded. Liam, they had decided, would not be worth it.
There had been a lot of arguing over who would get who. In the end, they’d drawn straws. Raven had ended up with Harry, of course. Mel was convinced she’d cheated somehow. But she’d got Zayn, and she was happy with that. Lilith and Aurora had got Louis and Niall, which they pretended to be OK with, but Mel knew better.
“That’s not my usual sort of present, kid,” Santa said.
“Do you want out or not?” Raven said, crossing her arms.
“Yeah, I mean, what’s the point in being the, like, Mr Christmas, if you can’t grant wishes. That’s what Christmas is all about,” Aurora said.
“Yeah,” Mel agreed. “Like, totally.”
Santa considered telling these girls exactly what the true meaning of Christmas was. He was going to give them his ‘it’s better to give than receive’ talk. But decided that there was a better way to teach them a lesson.
“OK. So you want me to make these boys want you?”
The girls nodded.
“More than they’ve ever wanted anything,” Raven said.
Santa smiled. A wicked glint in his eye that looked a lot more like Old Nick than Saint Nick. He raised a large, black-gloved hand and clicked his fingers.
Four boys appeared in the room, wearing too-tight jeans tucked into large boots.
The girls squealed, jumping up and down and hugging each other.
“Hi,” said Harry, flicking his long fringe out of his eyes, and smiling at Raven.
“Hi,” she said back, chewing on her bottom lip.
The four boys, walked towards the girls, a desperate, hungry look in their eyes.
“Ahem,” Santa said, reminding the girls to his presence. “I’ve held up my side of the bargain. Now, it’s time for you to let me go.”
Raven dragged her glance away from Harry and back to the old man. He was looking very pleased with himself. She thought that maybe they should keep him. See how many wishes they could squeeze out of the old git. But… she looked back to Harry, who licked his lips… what more could she ever want?
She lent down and rubbed at the outer rim of the white circle. Santa took a step over, staring down at the girls, his face dark and terrifying.
“I hope you girls have the Christmas you deserve,” he said. And with that, he was gone.
The girls turned back to the members of One Direction, flicking their hair and brushing down their clothes.
The boys took a step towards them. They wanted the girls. They took another step. They wanted them more than they had ever wanted everything in their lives. They were starving for them.
The girls closed their eyes, waiting for the kisses they’d dreamed of. The boys smiled revealing sharp, jagged teeth. They opened their mouths. Wider, wider, wider…