My Fantasy-Writers.org buddies and I enter a writing contest each year called Weird Christmas, run by Craig, who enjoys the strange permutations of the Christmas season. Unfortunately, most of those that entered didn’t make it to the final cut, as what happens in publishing. It’s a very competitive business.
But not to worry. You can enjoy them here.
Seasoned Soldier by Andy Clark
Christmas Eve, Ezekiel stood at the same corner he had manned for decades. Gone was the Sears, with
its bustling crowd of shoppers, rushed people of all ages, beaming with excitement. Yet each night, he
rang his bell. Still, he wore the uniform discarded long ago by his fellow soldiers. Still, he called out:
Alms for the poor.
Medicine for the sick.
Shelter from the cold.
Once, it had been different. He’d walk the two miles from the shelter to here, people smiling or ignoring
him. Many avoided the corner he stood at, approaching the store from the other side, hiding from
ghosts they carried inside themselves, images of the damned. Some tossed in a few coins or a dollar.
Now and then, the season’s message would grab someone, and twenty or more dollars would hit his
pot. When this happened, Ezekiel scanned the crowd while giving his benefactor the same “Merry
Christmas, and God bless you,” he gave everyone. He may have been a soldier of God, but he had no
arms against muggers.
Each night, he’d pack his kettle.
Returned proudly to the shelter.
Bio: Andy Clark lives in Richmond, Virginia, USA, with his wife, son, and two grand-dachshunds. He works for the state as an IT Manager and has been writing for fun and the opposite of profit for fifteen years. He hopes you enjoy the story.
Red Handed by Tom Trussel
Yeah, and I’m the Easter Bunny. Cut the crap, tell me your real name! Fleeing the scene, resisting arrest? You’re a piece of work, aren’t you?
Multiple counts of illegal entry all across town. Petty larceny. Caught red-handed with a large sack of stolen goods. So many it becomes grand theft. Stealing presents from under the trees on Christmas Eve? You scumbag!
Nine counts of wildlife trafficking. That poor one harnessed at the front of your unlicensed vehicle has a bruised nose. Animal abuse!
Speeding. Reckless endangerment. No ID. Illegal immigrant? So. You have the right to remain silent…
Image Credit: The image is AI art by midjourney based on my prompts and any free it use it they see fit.
Tom Trussel lives in Norway with his wife, two kids and assorted snow shovels. He has only recently taken up writing, and is currently working to fill the obligatory drawer of unpublished stories. He has had some drabbles published online and in print anthologies, the latest in a forthcoming anthology by Breaking Rules Europe. A few of his stories can be read at TomTrussel.com
Vindication by Karen B. Jones
“Please, Santa. I hope I was good enough this year. Please grant me my wish,” the seven-year-old pleaded.
Tommy sat quietly at the table as he had been taught, his hands folded, mouth closed. He needed to be as good as possible.
He looked forward to the holiday feast. It didn’t matter that he had barely enough to eat the last few days. Mother always scrimped in the days leading up to this, the biggest dinner of the year.
“Are you ready, Tommy?”
“Yes, mother,” he whispered. It was in his best interest not to anger her.
Last year she feasted on warm puddings and juicy turkey.Tommy? He got sent to his room after eating watered-down bone soup made from her leftovers and week-old moldy bread.
Tommy never knew his father, a sailor lost at sea, his mother told him, but he imagined him as kinder, a big grin always on his lips.
As Tommy watched the small wooden table magically fill, he wiggled in his chair wondering if it was the table or his mother.
“Stop fidgeting, Tommy. You know how I hate it,” his mother warned. “You don’t want to go to bed without dinner again, do you?”
“No, mother,” Tommy whispered, instantly going still.
Finally, everything was on the table; squab, turnips, rice with gravy made from the bird’s juices, hard rolls, and an apple cobbler, a true treat.
As his mother sat down and folded her hands, Tommy closed his eyes. Please, he prayed. Please.
His mother gasped. When she didn’t start her daily blessing, Tommy opened one eye. His mother, blue in the face, stared forward, unseeing.
“Mother?” he asked.
Hands still folded, she fell forward, her face smacking the plate, cracking it.
Tommy stared, folded his hands, and prayed aloud, “Thank you, Santa.”
Grabbing the closest drumstick, Tommy ate his fill. He wouldn’t go hungry this day.
Image Credit: Pixabay
Bio: Karen Jones is a writer currently living in Florida. With a degree in creative writing (40 years ago), she finally got around to the writing part. She hopes you will enjoy her offering.
Life is a Box of Christmas Chocolates by Beth Turnage
The space is too narrow. I cannot move. My head, hands, feet, and body lay in the coffin’s grip of an unknown force, holding me fast as if I shouldn’t breathe.
But I do. With one ragged breath, then another, pain strikes against my bounds before I exhale in blessed relief. With surprise, I spot my reflection on a clear sheen above me.
I gasp. How did this happen? What was my crime? Was I abducted off the street in the night?
A jolt. A jostle. A weight lands on my chest. One blink, then another, and my eyesight clears, and a woman’s face, much like my own, presses against me. But her unblinking blue eyes stare wide and unseeing. Her skin reflects a flat metallic pallor under her brightly colored cheeks, while her gay red and green clothes belie her death.
Horror grips my heart when I realize I have no memories of who I am or any explanation for why I’m held captive in this prison. Then I hear voices.
“Wish upon a star, Tommy.”
“I just did.”
“I want Mrs. Claus for Christmas dinner. And don’t tell me she’s not real! I wished on a star!”
A woman laughed. “Some little boys crush on their teachers. You? Mrs. Claus.”
A door shuts, my heart races and each breath rasps knife-sharp as the sides of my enclosure squeeze tighter. A sudden, weird crinkling noise startles me.
A cruel ripping sound accompanies a blinding flash of light. The weight on my chest lifts. When my eyesight clears, I found my lifeless companion vanished along with the top of my enclosure. A monstrously large face stares at me with feral glee.
“Mommy,” he said. “Can I have another chocolate Mrs. Claus?”
“Yes, just one.”
The monster strips my metallic sheath, leaving my chocolate skin naked, and I shiver. To my horror, I’m naught but a morsel to this rapacious creature. He lifts me to his mouth. With his sharp teeth, he severs my feet and swallows. The rest of me follows one bite at a time.
Image Credit: Pixabay.
Beth is a freelance ghostwriter, writing most romance and science fiction for her clients.
Winter’s Kiss by Christopher Grounds
Charlie resolved to get Anna’s attention every year, but as the years passed him by, so did Anna. Once, as children, they built a snowman in her yard. Afterwards, cheeks flushed, she kissed him. It was the crowning moment of his life. For Anna, it was Tuesday.
This New Year’s Eve, Charlie vowed things would be different. He stopped at a florist near Bloomingdale’s where Anna worked and bought yellow carnations. They matched her hair.
Anna was booked all day, but her coworker, Brigette, offered to deliver the flowers. He added a note: “I’ll be waiting where you first kissed me. Your secret admirer.”
With hours to kill, he crossed the street to the pub.
Soon after, a group of women sat in the booth behind Charlie. He recognized Brigette.
“I heard Anna’s secret admirer came by again.”
“Can you believe he brought yellow carnations?”
“Doesn’t he know they symbolize disappointment and rejection?”
“That’s why they’re perfect!”
They all cackled while Charlie, face red, signaled the bartender.
Hours later, he staggered from the pub into the icy air. He walked to Anna’s house, intent on waiting for her. Children played in the yard next door and Charlie’s addled mind perched upon an idea. He offered each a quarter to build a snowman around him, in which he’d hide and surprise Anna. They agreed, piling snow around him, packing it tight. When only his head remained, they faltered.
“Go on,” he encouraged, “She’ll be home soon and I can barely feel the cold.” His whole body had gone pleasantly numb to the chill.
Anna arrived home late from her New Year’s party. She gasped to see a figure waiting in her yard. Could it be her secret admirer? Her spirits fell as she approached and found only an oddly-shaped snowman. It reminded her of the time the neighbor’s boy, Charlie, helped her build one. She wondered where he was now. Sighing, she took the nearby flag proclaiming the new year and wedged it into the snowman’s stiff, gloved hands. “Oh well,” she said, then gave it a kiss.
Image Credit: Pixabay
Christopher Grounds is a writer, sommelier, and remote tech support guy originally from San Antonio, Texas. He has a bachelor’s in English with a minor in Creative Writing from Sam Houston State University. When he’s not writing or working, he’s perfecting his barbecue technique or kayaking in an alligator-infested lake. He currently resides in Huntsville, Texas, with his wife and two cats, Arthur and Yorick.