December’s Zeroflash entries

Why Santa Went To An Adult?

by Chloe Gilholy

It’s the night before Christmas, mince pies by the fire, I wonder if Santa will grant my desire? Ashton’s at work: full of dedication, I hope St. Nicholas gives him attention. Neighbours snuggle up in bed, wine spills around their heads. And Becca’s cleaning up all the sick, it doesn’t take much to make her tic.

Out from the window arose a shadow. I saw who it was, I say, “Wow!”

I’m 26, living in a blue flat. Before me stands St. Nick in his red hat.

“Isabella, you’ve been a very good girl, so I’ve got you a bundle of joy and a pearl.”

“Santa…why me? I’m an adult, with an arts degree.”

He lays presents under the tree. The spark in his eyes painted glee. “You have an adult’s body, but a child’s spirit lives inside thee.”

I hear another noise. It must be one of the boys. Ashton charges in, his crew and are ready to seal Santa’s doom. “HANDS UP BURGULAR!” Ashton yells.

I jump between the two men. “Keep the noise down. You’ll wake everyone up in town.”

“I am Santa Claus!” Santa says as he gives me a pearl necklace. “Thank you so much for the mince pies. Now if you can excuse me, I must go back to the skies.”

Santa vanished in the blink of an eye. The presents by the tree still piled up high. I dash to the window at the sound of a jingle. The police are left with nothing to do but mingle. There goes St. Nick in his sleigh, with reindeer doing both work and play.

Everyone leaves the flat. Ashton curls on the couch like a cat. He grumbles as the police drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, what a load of old shite!”

The Reunion

by Clay Sparkman

Eleanor had lived at St Joseph’s nursing home for nearly 20 years. And every day, until she could no longer move about on her own, she had gotten up, eaten breakfast, dressed in a pretty red pant suit with lipstick to match, and gone searching for Ed. Ed was the father of her three children and the love of her life.

When she died that June, her children were not there. Her heart stopped rather suddenly, and there just wasn’t time. Eleanor remembered the nurse holding her hand and saying, “It will be alright, Eleanor. Don’t be afraid. It’s alright dear.”

Then, she felt as though she were falling through space. The world was slipping away as she fell into darkness. At first, she was frightened, but then she just let go.

It was dark, but it was a good, radiant, warm space. Eleanor became part of what she had fallen into. She was floating through space–safe, warm, and full of love.

Then she heard a voice, and the voice said, “Eleanor, I’ve missed you so much, my love.” And it was Ed. She could hear his joy and emotion. She felt like her heart might explode.

And then she said, “Ed, where are you?”

“We’re together Eleanor. We don’t have bodies. But we are together, and we are one at last.”

Eleanor felt herself crying and laughing joyfully. All of her pain, sadness, and anxiety disappeared, and in that moment, she realized for the first time, just how much she had suffered for so long.

She could feel Ed. He had no body, and then his voice was no longer there. It didn’t matter. She could feel him all through her being, and she held him that way for an extraordinarily long time–possibly forever.

Underneath the Mistletoe

by CR Smith

@carolrosalind

Every year Christmas is the same. The jokes, the subtle digs, the rumours, they never seem to stop. And someone somewhere always goes on about a woman kissing Santa Claus. I would never have believed my mother was involved if not for the fact that every September she gives birth to another baby. They all look the same, you see. Their jolly, round faces reminding us all of Christmas, her insistence on them wearing red freaking me out.

Several siblings later, I finally plucked up enough courage to ask her what the hell was going on. Was she having an affair with Santa? Of course she denied it, storming out of the room leaving me to mind the boys, and the reindeer.

Anyway, this Christmas just gone, I planned on getting to the bottom of it once and for all.

As is the custom on Christmas Eve, the boys placed a plate of mince pies and a glass of milk on the dining room table especially for Santa. I waited on the sofa, hidden beneath a fleece, hoping to catch sight of him sliding down the chimney.

I must have fallen asleep. When I awoke the pies and milk were gone. Quickly pulling on the latex gloves, supplied with the testing kit, I picked up the glass and dropped it straight into the ziplock bag.

I’ve been on tenterhooks ever since, and now here come the results; the delivery man’s asking for my signature. He does a double take as he reads my name. Surely in his line of work he’s delivered to an Ms Christmas before? Ripping open the envelope, I flick through the pages eager for answers. As it turns out Santa Claus is my father too.

Winter Comes Again

by Sameed Sayeed

With the summer rays receding,

And the trees abscising leaves;

With the breeze becoming bitter

As a warning for long sleeves;

 In the bleak and heavy silence

When the world is on the wane–

Woe to the cold and lonely

That Winter comes again.

As the colours lose their lustres,

And the clouds eclipse the sky;

As Nature creaks and whistles,

And the threat of snow is high;

As the dried-out dregs of Autumn

 Mesh and molder in the rain–

Woe to the tired and hungry

That Winter comes again.

With the hearth prepared with kindling,

 Yet no match to make it flame;

With the hours like days elapsing,

As the darkness stakes its claim;

Whilst the frost creeps through the houses,

And fogs ev’ry windowpane–

Woe to the broken-hearted

That Winter comes again.

In the stern and stagnant labyrinth

Where the blights and burdens grow;

In the deep and dark foreboding

From the eerie streetlamp glow;

In the sweeping desolation

Yielding nothing much to gain–

Woe to the drifting shadows

That Winter comes again.

 

Why Do I Bother Writing a List?

by Katie Vandrilla

            When my ex-true love asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I gave him a list.  He then chose to be “creative,” and get me what he thought I wanted.  All Hell broke loose.

We had to sell the five golden rings to afford a larger place.  There was no question about it; we had to buy a farm.  The eight maids only knew how to milk, so took over the barn.  The dozen drummers and eleven pipers started a band, which caused the nine ladies and the ten lords to dance and leap about the farmhouse.

I tried to find solace outside, but all the birds drove me insane!  There were seven swans and six geese taking over the pond.  The three hens and four calling birds were trying to join the partridge in the pear tree, but it was just a sapling which couldn’t support the wait.  It snapped under the pressure, and so did I.  I ran screaming from the property, and never looked back.

Whose idea was it for twelve days of Christmas, anyway?

Memorandum

by Kelly Griffiths

TO: All elves & NP support staff

FROM: Engineering

CC: Mr. Claus

Date: December 20, 2017

Subject: NEW Software Roll-out

 

In an effort to remove subjectivity, guesswork, and error margin (small as it is) from the coal/gift ruling and optimize systems output at the North Pole, the engineering department is pleased to announce The Coal/Gift Process Software.

 

This ethos-weighted algorithm for determining child-virtue will revolutionize The List and assure fair and equitable treatment for all. Gone will be even the faintest hint of discrimination based on race, color, sex, or gender(s). (Mr. Claus’s white maleness has been a growing concern, his only culturally sympathetic attribute being his struggle with weight control.)

 

Childish behaviors are ranked on a malevolence continuum and multiplied by the number of incidents. The number of deeds is multiplied by the behavior number then divided by the total number of appreciable deeds, annually. The quotient is then squared by the child’s belief number as calculated by child’s defense/ridicule of Santa’s existence and/or number of hits on santatracker.com.

 

Simply type a name into the field. The software assigns each child a numeric value. A number of five or greater assigns the child good-enough-for-a-gift status. Children whose numeric value is less than five will receive the standard bag of coal, along with a naughty note (which no longer need be personalized, as the system pulls the relevant data fields and generates the note).

 

If a child shows the early signs of conservative ideology, uses his/her hands as an invisible pistol, or stares listlessly out the window during the recycling video, the software is capable of addressing such anomalies with appropriate binary redress. Children who pull the wings off butterflies or litter in national parks are automatically zeroed out.

 

Here’s to an efficient Christmas enterprise!

Mina, The Rebirth

by Ksenija Perkovic

My beloved,

The canvas of my soul will never retrieve its true colours as it had when you held it on your palm. I smile, laugh, breathe… indeed, I do many things, yet I live one empty life.

You say it’s the blood that gives life to the power… defies humbleness and despair. That can not be true, my love, for the words unspoken speak louder than a blood. If one can’t find delight and meaning in unspoken, they can not truly feel the pleasure of music… hear the intensity with which the unspoken occupies the maze of a beautiful soul. The music that I secretly play in my mind every night as I count hours to fall asleep.

Here I am, with so much to give you, and all I wish to offer you is my meaningless heart. Drink it, my love, drink, I scream inside myself… until it dries and I am ashes. I am not attached to vain fulfillness of its wastelands, for it weights less than a feather of a sparrow in my eyes. I believe not in debths of its sage clarity, but rather take it for a warden that imprisoned my soul and pulled us apart.

I find hard to bring this letter to an end.

My eyes are hurting me as I look upon tomorrow. Will there be any? Or will there be present? You decide for me, my love. As I repose in seclusion of my own thoughts, I wish for nothingness of this world, only hoping to see you again… just one more time before I enter my grave for eternity.

 

Yours eternally, Mina

Carol Practise

by Alyson Faye

The children’s voices warmed the chilly air. “The snow lay…. deep and crisp and even…”

Ellen clapped her hands. “Wonderful Class 3a. But I believe we can do a tiny little bit better. Let’s do it once more.”

Several eight-year olds pouted and one tiny lad slumped to the ground pretending to shoot himself. Ellen ignored the signs of rebellion. Her class had to win this year’s Primary Schools Inter Counties Carol Singing Contest. She would not be beaten again. Her eyes turned heavenwards, hoping for inspiration. Or A Sign.

Like a few angels, singing and dropping by, she thought wryly.

Instead the grey skies sneezed and decanted their fruits.

“Everyone look, it’s snowing. Your singing has summoned it forth.”

The flakes drifted onto freckled upturned faces and were siphoned into open mouths. It had been a while since lunch. The head teacher strode across the playground.

“Let’s go inside children. Come on in. That’s quite enough for today.”

The pupils surged for the doors in a stream of undiluted joy.

The Head turned to Ellen, her eyes as grey as the sky, “Sorry Miss Munro, but health and safety rules. We have to keep the children warm. Perhaps you would consider rehearsing in the hall? I know the acoustics aren’t as good but…”

Ellen felt a sob raise its unprofessional head. Her inner Gareth Malone was unappreciated at Thurston Primary.

A guy like that

by Sreemanti Sengupta

The first time she saw him, she was in no mood to notice. At best he looked like a grumpy Santa. “I don’t need another shitty boss in my life.” Sure enough, he was soon hovering over her, correcting her grammar at will, taunting her on the choice of verbs. She cried inside. She thought of Mumbai, the city that made her dream, drink and fall in love. The city where freedom was a tad too free.

“Sure you are alright?” he asked the day she couldn’t quite hide her tears remembering her first kiss. She hurried on without an answer.

The next day she saw him staring right at her as she did her hair in the cracked glass.

“I-I am thirty-seven.” She smiled through her pain and took a long puff from his cigarette. “I don’t think so” ”Well, a year here and there.” He texted her that night – “You are mad at me and I am mad about you.”

The next day was weird in office. They couldn’t look at each other and sent secret messages through grammar corrections.

“Conjunctions are important, they join things.”

“So are pauses, little things like commas, they are like fine ladies who are playing hard to get.”

“You are writing advertising copy, not saving the world.”

She looked up and saw his smoldering eyes. He almost mouthed the words to her,

“I am a recovering alcoholic”

“And eighteen years my senior.”

The best pick up line he could think of?

“Did you know we are all Gods?”

The café shook under her feet and her hands trembled.

“You mean…”

“Shhh…they’ll think you are crazy.”

She could have touched his pure loneliness right there. Instead, she moved closer, sniffling, and lay her head on his shoulders.

“I think adjectives brighten everything up.”

 

One Day

by T. Gillmore

They are here, thumping on the rooftop. Through my window, clumps of snow tumble from above, streaking the glass. I can’t believe he built an army. All this time I thought he was a myth.

I sit in bed with my son by my side. Ever since the cancer had happened, he rarely sleeps without me. I caress his head, looping his baby curls around my finger. Before he fell asleep, I told him silly stories. His giggles are the perfect remedy to comfort my pain and worry about his future. Life can be so cruel. I want to see him grow, graduate, —find true love.

Wind blasts through my bedroom, scattering Christmas cards and get-well wishes off my nightstand. A man appears and chuckles, causing his belly to wobble.

His beard—white as a bright cloud—hangs from his chin and blends with the fur lining of his red coat. He kneels near me and asks, “Are you ready?”

“Yes,” I whisper. My stomach shakes, and I shiver with cold sweat.

He opens his hand and glitter swirl in the air, forming into a candy cane. “Eat this. You will be cured.”

I point at my I.V. bag. “I have to be tube fed.”

“This will melt in your mouth and release my army of nanobots. They will stop those cancer invaders from attacking your cells.” He places the candy cane in my hand.

I bite hard on the candy as if chomping against this disease. The peppermint dissolves, and so did my pain.

“It’s working.” My hands tremble, remembering my relapses. “Unless it’s a placebo that only stops the pain, I had those before when I was a test subject. Please tell me.”

“Placebos, never! My dear, I’m Santa Claus.” Santa folds his arms. “Placebos are Krampus job.”

Christmas Greetings

by Susi J.Smith

Holly held her notepad in front of her chest. “What about my checklist?”

“We don’t need it.”

“Of course we do, it’s Christmas and Christmas means checklist. Things won’t be perfect if we forget something.”

“Christmas isn’t supposed to be perfect; it’s supposed to be fun.” Adam yawned, pulling crumpled clothes from the drawer and throwing them into his open suitcase.

“What kind of idiot thinks Christmas is supposed to be fun!”

Adam smiled. “Is this really about Christmas?”

Holly scribbled on her pad. “What else could it be about?”

“Me meeting your dad.”

“Are you going to iron those clothes?”

Adam sat on the bed, pulling Holly down next to him. “Your dad’s going to love me. Who wouldn’t, I’m friggin’ fantastic.”

Holly sighed. “Couldn’t this wait a few months?”

“It’s been 6 years!” Adam strode over to the wardrobe, throwing open the door.

“Exactly, a few more months won’t matter.”

“It’s Christmas; a time for families. Don’t you think it’s about time I met yours?”

Holly stood, folding the clothes neatly into the suitcase.

“…He does know, doesn’t he?”

She looked up, frowning.

“Holly, he does know?”

“What’s to know?”

“He knows I’m a little person, right?”

Holly straightened the duvet. “Dad’s not sizeist.”

“But he doesn’t know?”

“No.”

Adam slumped against the wall. “Holly, he’s picking us up in fifteen minutes, don’t you think you should have told him?”

Holly squeezed his shoulder. “I didn’t tell him because it doesn’t mean anything.”

“No wonder you’ve kept us apart.”

“It isn’t you.” Holly’s eyes glistened with tears. “Adam, I have to tell you something. I should have told you years ago—”

The doorbell chimed a discordant Jingle Bells. Holly slumped to the door.

“Adam, I’d like you to meet my dad; Santa Claus.”

IF I SAID YOU HAD A BEAUTIFUL BODY

by Angela Greenwood

‘If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?’ Melanie turned her head and gave the overweight, balding, drunken man, her most withering look as she walked away from the bar without ordering a drink. She really wasn’t enjoying herself. Most of the guests at Gran’s, evening wedding party, were rather old or married or both. The wedding itself had been really special and Gran was very happy. She had been on her own for too long and it was good that she and Jim, had met and fallen in love with each other.

Melanie went back to her parent’s table. ‘Some obnoxious man has just tried to chat me up,’ she said disgusted and added, ‘just like the music the D.J’s playing, all the men here are so ancient.’

‘I hope you aren’t including me in that statement,’ laughed her dad. Feeling bored, Melanie slumped down into her chair and looked around the room, desperately trying to find someone else near to her own age, when a good looking young man walked over to their table.

‘Hi, I’m Tony, Jim’s great nephew. Unfortunately I missed the wedding because my flight was delayed. Uncle Jim suggested I came and introduced myself to you. Can I get anyone a drink?’

‘Yes please,’ said Melanie, sitting up straight, aiming a dazzling smile at Tony. ‘In fact why don’t l come with you to the bar?’ Ignoring her parent’s amusement, she went with him.

After a while, a few more drinks and lots of talking, Melanie and Tony decided they’d join the dancing throng, even though the music was old and dated. They hit the floor just as the D.J. began playing the Bellamy Brothers…

Dear Mr S Claus

by Lynda Kirby

I attach the completed application form.

You ask that I also provide a statement of skills not covered by said form. The following is a list of positive traits I will bring to the job.

  1. I am a team player but can work on my own, if required. My disposition is a happy one, and I enjoy making others laugh.
  2. Having trained for several years in anticipation of joining your team, I can achieve super speeds. If you require timings for distances, I can send them on request.
  3. Weight training enabled me to build stamina and muscle. I have great strength to carry and pull many tons without loss of speed or vigour, and superb endurance.
  4. I can work in any climate as neither heat nor ice affect me. The same applies to high and low altitudes.
  5. My metabolism is such that I eat as much as I want without gaining weight. Consequently, all food left overnight will be consumed thus pleasing the young customers.
  6. Over the year, I studied the route on my laptop, and guarantee I will never get lost.
  7. I like children.

 

My brother says great things about you, and your business, and I wish to be part of such a successful venture.

 

Yours sincerely

Randolph the Reindeer

Eric & Josh

by Jack Koebnig

@koebnig

‘What’re you doing Josh? There’s no room.’

Josh ignored Eric and continued to drag himself along the carpet; hands and elbows flying.

‘Hey!’ Eric said, shuffling to his right, the wooden leg of their father’s favourite armchair digging painfully into his arm. ‘There’s …’

‘Shhh … stop moaning. I’m here now.’

If there was one thing Eric hated more than getting an elbow in the ribs, then it was being told what to do: Don’t spit! Don’t throw stones! Don’t run carrying a pair of scissors! Don’t wait up for Santa! Don’t eat over your arm or with your mouth open! Don’t! Don’t! Don’t!

I’ll do what I want, Eric said to himself. I’ll hide under dad’s chair if I want to.

‘So what are we doing?’

Eric continued to stare at the base of the Christmas tree. Still nothing. Josh sighed then asked his question again in a voice that, according to their mother, could wake the dead.

Eric clamped his hand over his brother’s mouth. ‘Do you want to scare him off?’

Josh nipped at his brother’s fingers. Eric removed his hand from Josh’s mouth.

‘Don’t bite.’

‘I’ll bite if I want to bite.’

I guess, Eric thought, you can’t tell either of us what to do. We’re brothers, all right.

He pointed at the Christmas tree to the left of the fireplace.

‘Look.’

Stacked decoratively around its base were boxes varying in shape and size, each wrapped in colourful, festive paper.

Eric couldn’t believe what he was seeing. ‘How did that ..?’

‘How did what?’

‘We missed him,’ Eric said, shaking his head. ‘Again!’

‘Missed who?’

‘Who do you think?’ Eric said, continuing to point at the pile of Christmas presents. ‘Santa Claus.’

Christmas Greetings

 by Susi J.Smith

Holly held her notepad in front of her chest. “What about my checklist?”

            “We don’t need it.”

            “Of course we do, it’s Christmas and Christmas means checklist. Things won’t be perfect if we forget something.”
            “Christmas isn’t supposed to be perfect; it’s supposed to be fun.” Adam yawned, pulling crumpled clothes from the drawer and throwing them into his open suitcase.

            “What kind of idiot thinks Christmas is supposed to be fun!”

            Adam smiled. “Is this really about Christmas?”

            Holly scribbled on her pad. “What else could it be about?”

            “Me meeting your dad.”

            “Are you going to iron those clothes?”

            Adam sat on the bed, pulling Holly down next to him. “Your dad’s going to love me. Who wouldn’t, I’m friggin’ fantastic.”

            Holly sighed. “Couldn’t this wait a few months?”

            “It’s been 6 years!” Adam strode over to the wardrobe, throwing open the door.

            “Exactly, a few more months won’t matter.”

            “It’s Christmas; a time for families. Don’t you think it’s about time I met yours?”

            Holly stood, folding the clothes neatly into the suitcase.

            “…He does know, doesn’t he?”

            She looked up, frowning.

            “Holly, he does know?”

            “What’s to know?”

            “He knows I’m a little person, right?”

            Holly straightened the duvet. “Dad’s not sizeist.”

            “But he doesn’t know?”

            “No.”

            Adam slumped against the wall. “Holly, he’s picking us up in fifteen minutes, don’t you think you should have told him?”

            Holly squeezed his shoulder. “I didn’t tell him because it doesn’t mean anything.”

            “No wonder you’ve kept us apart.”

            “It isn’t you.” Holly’s eyes glistened with tears. “Adam, I have to tell you something. I should have told you years ago—”

            The doorbell chimed a discordant Jingle Bells. Holly slumped to the door.

            “Adam, I’d like you to meet my dad; Santa Claus.”

One Day

by T. Gillmore

They are here, thumping on the rooftop. Through my window, clumps of snow tumble from above, streaking the glass. I can’t believe he built an army. All this time I thought he was a myth.

I sit in bed with my son by my side. Ever since the cancer had happened, he rarely sleeps without me. I caress his head, looping his baby curls around my finger. Before he fell asleep, I told him silly stories. His giggles are the perfect remedy to comfort my pain and worry about his future. Life can be so cruel. I want to see him grow, graduate, —find true love.

Wind blasts through my bedroom, scattering Christmas cards and get-well wishes off my nightstand. A man appears and chuckles, causing his belly to wobble.

His beard—white as a bright cloud—hangs from his chin and blends with the fur lining of his red coat. He kneels near me and asks, “Are you ready?”

“Yes,” I whisper. My stomach shakes, and I shiver with cold sweat.

He opens his hand and glitter swirl in the air, forming into a candy cane. “Eat this. You will be cured.”

I point at my I.V. bag. “I have to be tube fed.”

“This will melt in your mouth and release my army of nanobots. They will stop those cancer invaders from attacking your cells.” He places the candy cane in my hand.

I bite hard on the candy as if chomping against this disease. The peppermint dissolves, and so did my pain.

“It’s working.” My hands tremble, remembering my relapses. “Unless it’s a placebo that only stops the pain, I had those before when I was a test subject. Please tell me.”

“Placebos, never! My dear, I’m Santa Claus.” Santa folds his arms. “Placebos are Krampus job.”

RONNIE AND THE RED RUG

by Claire L. Smith

@clairelsmxth

With the winter sting rippling the rims of his rug, Ronnie broke into a run. The make-shift cape hung from his throat, flowing behind him like a river of red. The snow crumbled beneath his brand-new boots, the houses inhabiting the street flying past him. His laughter levelled those he passed, his vibrant giddiness spreading like a virus as he soared past them. He felt his naïve worries fall from his tousled hair and onto the rug, into the snow behind him like the snowflakes that sprinkled from the dark grey sky.

Torn from his self-absorbed bubble, Ronnie skid to a halt as he spotted her by his third neighbour’s fence. The girl was smaller than he, her long hair not enough to protect her from the freeze. Her nose squashed into her slacks, snow coating her like a sugared custard.  The red rug embraced Ronnie’s shoulders, locking away the heat seeping from his body. Ronnie reached to rub the soft fabric between his fingers, the warmth of its internal love seeping into his skin. Ronnie wrapped the cape around him, encasing his selfishness until she started to cry.

He dove down until she was captivated, confused and covered with his kindness. The red rug hugged her better than any parent ever could, the warmth gift numbing the chill in her hungry bones. She smiled at him, her eyes dripping joy instead of pain and red rug or no, Ronnie felt the warmth return.

Santa’s Epiphany

 by Emily K.Martin

@ekmartinauthor

The push of a single button activated the last of the deliveries to the Samoa Standard Time Zone. Kris sat back in his swivel chair and stroked his white beard, eyes glued to the glowing message: Order Complete.

Jessica held a mug as she sat by the crackling fire, watching her husband. Beside him sat an empty plate with dark cookie crumbs and a half-finished glass of milk. Christmas felt different this year, as expected, but the tone was not the anticipated comfort and joy.

“Are the reports going well?” she asked.

“Hmm?” He flinched as if she had broken his meditation. “Oh, the reports. Yes, flawless. Sure, absolutely; everything went well. The Elfbots saved us a lot of work, really. I don’t have to deal with the steep roofs and dirty chimneys and attack dogs and snow drifts in Norway and ugly sweaters in America. God will be happy I wasn’t gluttonous with cookies. And I’m not working up till the last second and nearly having a heart attack every time I hear—”

He swigged the last bit of milk. “A child waking up.”

Jessica could read her husband as clear as jingle bells. “You miss it.”

“Well, maybe, it’s just—what if the Elfbots forgot something? Violet Rodriguez needs her doll placed in her bed since she’s been sick. Cooper James was just diagnosed with diabetes—what if they don’t bring the sugar-free candy canes? And then there’s—”

“But every year was insane; deliveries made you cranky.”

Kris tugged his lower lip, but then his eyes lit up like a tree. “I got it! Yes! Next year you can get a sleigh and deliver half the gifts. I need your help, my beautiful, amazing wife!”

Jessica swigged the last bit of her Guinness. “No shit, Santa.”

Only a Few Minutes Until Luncheon 

by Steve Lodge

@steveweave71

Now, here on my show on Radio XLYPK, I’m always getting handy ideas from people, which I am happy to pass on to my listeners. Now, here’s a darling little tip from dear Maudie, from right here in Peramattoo County.

She says in her email, “Dear Emily The Impaler, when your listeners have guests arriving unexpectedly at their home, I recommend giving them a French Quiche before making them a coffee.”

Now there doesn’t seem to be an attachment to the email with Maudie’s recipe, but she goes on to say that she is prepared to travel anywhere in the County and surrounding counties, to demonstrate her “French” as she calls it to interested parties. Erm, there’s a bit here about client confidentiality blah blah and being open to clients irrespective of gender and because it is December, she is willing to extend to groups. Says here also, she wears a purple leotard, though I don’t quite know what that has to do with anything, Marcie dear, I mean Maudie. She seems such a kind hearted lady and so cute judging by her profile pic. Well, listeners, you know what to do.

The News is at noon and I’ll be back tomorrow. Otis Cochise takes over after the News with his much-loved Afternoon Special. I wonder if Otis likes a bit of “French” as Marcie calls it. I always think he looks hungry, and, I’m sure he won’t mind me saying, a little bit haunted too.

Tell me more about that

by Patrick Quin

I’m at the coffee shop, trying to write, and there’s this seedy looking kid sitting across from me at the table over. Looks to be in his late teens, maybe early twenties. Hasn’t bought anything. He keeps tapping the empty tabletop with his fingers and glancing over at the entrance.

Ten or so minutes later, a dignified older gentleman shows up, wearing a camel blazer and black turtleneck, flecks of grey in his neatly trimmed beard. He takes a seat across from the kid. It quickly becomes apparent that he’s some kind of clergyman, interviewing the kid for a job connected to his church. I start paying particular attention when their conversation turns to the kid’s belief system.

“Tell me about your own faith,” the man asks.

“My own faith…yeah, I don’t know. I guess I don’t necessarily believe in, like, following a particular religion, but I do believe in…something, you know? A higher power.” The kid makes air quotes around “higher power.”

“Yes. Of course in the Christian church, this higher power is identical with a triume God, consisting of three persons—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—gathered under a single Godhead.”

“Right, yeah, that’s kinda interesting to me. Like, I never got how there can be three, but like…it’s all one, you know? It’s confusing.”

“It’s supposed to be,” remarks the man, a glint of mischief in his smiling eyes.

“I don’t know, I guess to me, being religiou—well, not religious, but more spiritual, I guess—it’s not just knowing rules that some dude wrote down. It’s more…I don’t know, like a personal connection you feel to a higher power.”

The kid looks proud of himself.

“Tell me more about that,” says the man.

The kid looks stunned. He has no idea what to say.

SANTA HITS ON GRANDMA

 by Irene Montaner

Grandma woke up in the sky.

She knew it wasn’t heaven, for it was freaking cold, the wind whistled wildly, and a huge man in red breeches and jacket was sitting beside her.

“Ho, ho, ho! You awake,” said the man when he noticed her eyes open.

Trying to remain calm and as pragmatic as ever, grandma said, “and you are?”

“Who would I be flying a magic sleigh on a freezing night like this?” replied the man amused. “White-fur trimmed red clothes, a white beard and a big belly. I’m Santa, baby.”

Santa finished his introduction with a wink of his eye but failed to impress grandma with his coolness.

“What am I doing here?”

“Oh that. You don’t remember anything, do you?” Santa stammered. Grandma stared at him with inquisitive eyes but did not say a word. “My dear Comet hit you when we were leaving presents at your son’s. A most unfortunate accident but I thought I could make it up for you and take you for a ride.”

“You eejit,” she yelled, “first your reindeer runs over me and then you kidnap me. You of all creatures, who is supposed to be all kindness.”

“And I am. Ho, ho, ho,” he said in a desperate attempt to make her like him.

“Wait till my husband, my son and grandson hear about it.”

“I wouldn’t worry about them. Your husband is snoring the night away, your son is drunk and your grandson is learning to play a song called ‘Grandma got run over by a reindeer’ on his guitar,” Santa said, hoping for a small victory.

Little brats. Grandma had always thought that her son had spoilt her grandson with so many Christmas presents but now she knew who the real culprit was.

Merry Christmas (And Zombies)

by Myrto zafeiridi

After the zombie apocalypse, we stopped celebrating Christmas. We just didn’t care anymore about such trivial things as carols, Christmas trees and presents, when we could see the insides of Aunt Mary, and Cousin Jimmy kept trying to bite us.

This year, however, we decided to invite some people over. We felt very lonely, barricaded in our house for so long, so we sent messages to almost everyone we knew who was still alive –in the conventional kind of way.

The evening was a huge success and everybody had a great time. My proposal to watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was perceived as tacky so we watched Miracle on 34th Street and ate lots of different canned food. We also played charades.

The only incident which threatened to ruin our fun was our grumpy neighbour’s sudden appearance around eleven. He complained that the noise from our soiree attracted all the local zombies and he was afraid they’d get into his house. It was an obvious excuse to come over, because when I offered him a glass of wine his objections promptly vanished and he didn’t leave until everyone had gone home.

As he was walking towards his front door, his shotgun on his shoulder, looking like Grumpy the dwarf returning home from the mine, a zombie jumped him from out of nowhere. We barely had processed what was happening when he fired, without breaking a sweat, making a bloody mess all over his doorstep.

“Are you okay?” we yelled, horrified.

“Fine!” he replied. “Looks like it was ‘the season to be jelly’ for this guy.” Then he went to get the hose.

He later explained to us that he had been a trapshooting champion in his youth, as well as a huge fan of Frank Zappa.

Java

by Dawn Lowe

He smiled when he recognized it. An old-fashioned paper chain. Java must’ve made it from bits of green and red packaging, gluing the strips together with paste. He pinched one of the red links with two fingers, raising it for his inspection, and heard its companions rustle together across the breakfast table. For where one link of a chain travels, the others must follow.

“Dada, Happy Christmas!” Java materialized from behind the kitchen counter, a tiny wrapped package in her hands. She was fresh out of bed, her hair adorably askew, nightdress wrinkled, a pair of pink socks laddering down her ankles.

He tried to look stern but failed. “There is no Christmas, light of my life.”

She smiled that lopsided way she did, revealing three missing teeth, and ran to his side. He knelt down and tried to smooth her hair. Her head was warm and her breath smelled of vitamin chewable tablets. She pushed the little gift she carried into his hand.

“I figured it out,” she half-whispered. “Today is Christmas.”

“No, Love. There hasn’t been a Christmas since I was five.” The memory flashed through his mind of a decorated pine stretching to the ceiling. On New Year’s Eve that year, the Hiram conquered Earth. Billions of invisible outer-space beasties. They outlawed war, drugs, religion—and holidays. Decades ago, they imposed their calendar system so no one could pinpoint those old special days, anyway.

“Open it,” Java said, touching her gift in his hand.

What could it hurt? He looked around before unwrapping the chewable vitamin tablet Java had given him—and felt the slightest whisk of air as an invisible hand snatched it away. Java sighed.

Then he felt it being gently replaced on his palm.

“I knew it was Christmas,” she sang.

Smallholder’s Christmas

by Victoria Woolfe

Tom finds Gilbert Huppy warming mittened fingers above the toaster. The air is touched with a scent of burnt offerings. A needle-free Christmas tree, sporting sparkle-free tinsel, nails Tom’s suspicions: Gilbert hasn’t changed his Christmas decor in the caravan’s forty years of use.

‘It’s Doris again,’ Gilbert says. ‘She’s eaten Christmas tinsel. Does it every December.’ He chews on a black wedge of toast, glasses bobbing on his nose. ‘Her way of boycotting commercialism. This way young Thomas, she’s in corner of field.’

Bloody hippy, thinks Tom, as they hopscotch their way through oil drums and car tyres. Free love, CND and a diet of nuts, berries and twigs. Blinking vegetarians shouldn’t be allowed to keep livestock.

Doris the goat is busy contemplating a tractor tyre. She turns a face of blithe unconcern, hayseeds trembling in her beard.

‘See?’ Gilbert parts her jaws. Between the milky teeth gleams a tassel of gold. Gilbert spins the goat around to show Tom the surprise: ta-da! – two tiered tails, one white and hairy, the other a less glittery version of the oral tassel. ‘Out at both ends. It’s gone right through her. What’ll it cost—?’

Tom unclips his stethoscope. ‘I’m afraid the Surgical Goat charge has gone up. It’s a hundred and thirty-seven pounds per stomach. That’s five hundred and forty-eight. Plus VAT.’

‘Man.’ Gilbert posts his crust into Doris’s mouth ‘But…I’ve got an idea. Stop the old bugger from eating Christmas again.’

Thank God, thinks Tom. A seasonal epiphany. Four decades down the road and Gilbert Huppy’s finally worked out he needs to take down the tinsel.

‘The nut roast gets a reprieve.’ Gilbert pulls the crust from Doris’s mouth and puts it back in his own. ‘This’ll learn you, Doris. This year—you’re dinner.’

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