And then, sometime in the empty hours, the sickness breaks.
You sit up in bed. And the friends who’ve kept vigil by your side stir, smile, murmur approvingly. The worst is through, but dawn still lies across a sea of night that seems nigh impassible. Then one of the group hesitates, says, "I ... have a story."
Oh, friends, come and share them ...
• "Trying to be Brave" by Rhonda Parrish on Rhonda Parrish
• "Naughty List" by Peter Stein (see below)
• "While All Things Were in Quiet Silence" by David Llewellyn Dodds (see below)
• "The Slaying Song Tonight" by Lars Walker on Brandywine Books
• "The Elders Said They Would Come" by William Gregory (see below)
• "Black and White" by Simon Kewin on Simon Kewin
• "He Sees You When You're Sleeping" by Phil Wade on Brandywine Books
• "In That Dark December: An Audio Exhibit of Solar Digital Transmission, ca. 2515" by B. Nagel (see below)
• "Elf" by Craig Scott on CS Fantasy Reviews
• "Beneath the Decoration" by Paula Benson on Little Sources of Joy
• "Their Painted Eyes" by Rachael K. Jones on Rachael K. Jones
• "Baby Doll" by Simon Cantan on Simon Cantan: Science Fiction and Fantasy That Moves
• "I Saw Mommy Kissing ..." and What If?" by Eric Douglas on BooksByEric.com
• "Going Home" by K.J. Mansfield on KJMansfield.com
• "The Gift of the Magi" by Patricia Abbott on pattinase
• "Hospitality" by Jason Jones on Catchy Title Goes Here
• "Comfortable Truths" by David Higgins on Davetopia: Fragments of a Curious Mind
• "The War on Christmas" by Paul Liadis on The Struggling Writer
• "The Fire Is Slowly Dying" and "Figure Eight" by John Norris on Pretty Sinister Books
• "The Christmas House" by Sandra Seamans on My Little Corner
• "A Deal is a Deal" by Michael Morse on by Michael Morse
• "Christmas Magic" by Lester D. Crawford at Lester D. Crawford Blog
• "Three, Wise" by Scott G.F. Bailey on Six Words for a Hat
• "Razormouth" by Loren Eaton on I Saw Lightning Fall • "Apotheosis" by Scott Garbacz on Advent Ghosts: Short Theological Fictions for the Dead of Winter • "Advent" by Bon Steele on The Process
• "Together Again" by Leanne Stowers on Write On
By Peter Stein
I had outgrown Santa rather young. As a child, I found his constant surveillance eerie. As a parent, you find yourself making concessions. When my daughter Lily told me to sit with her on Santa’s lap, my husband Steve laughed and said, "Come on! Where’s your Christmas spirit? Give the old retiree something to be jolly about!" I reluctantly gave in and stepped forward, sitting on his knee. He leaned close and whispered,
"I see you when you’re sleeping. I know when you’re awake. I saw it when you cooked the books, and I saw what you did with Jake."
("Naughty List" copyright 2015 by Peter Stein; used by permission)
"While All Things Were in Quiet Silence"
By David Llewellyn Dodds
Sleepless, desperate, he thought. "Prostitution is legal. Slavery is legal. But what would the people at Church think? That rich young Nikolaus, for instance—what a name, ‘Victory of the People’! But sell my oldest daughter as a sex-slave? And the younger ones, too, if necessary. Hey, it’s not like they were Baptized, yet. ‘Necessary’. Isn’t anything better? Begging? Other slavery? —No! It’s the best solution—I’ll do it!"
Then, "What’s that noise? Housebreakers? Murderers? Retribution? —so swiftly? Demons?! —to drag me away?!"
The shutters burst open. "That clank! Chains!"
"Not chains …" Gold glinted through the burst in the pouch.
("While All Things Were in Quiet Silence" copyright 2015 by David Llewellyn Dodds; used by permission)
"The Elders Said They Would Come"
By William Gregory
Thwack, thwack, thwack …
The blade penetrates every vein, every fiber of my core.
Thwack, thwack, thwack …
Pain! The pain is excruciating! They say this is the hardest part.
Thwack, thwack, crack!
The rest a blur—disorientation, constriction, suffocation. Dragging, the relentless dragging.
Then that wind. I remember that wonderful wind. I was the wind!
An unexpected release. My limbs re-finding their form.
Who are these creatures? Their breath so sweet and nourishing.
I feel so numb. So disconnected.
Thirsty. I’m so thirsty …
"Daddy it’s so beautiful! I can’t wait to decorate it!"
"Honey, mommy will be home soon."
("The Elders Said They Would Come" copyright 2015 by William Gregory; used by permission)
"In That Dark December: An Audio Exhibit of Solar Digital Transmission, ca. 2515"
by B. Nagel
... on Earth be of peace and goodwill to all mankind. Good Merrimass to you all, and bright hopes for tomorrow.
My fellow citizens,
I want to thank you all for the bravery and resilience you have demonstrated in the last four months of invasion and occupation. Even now, I am receiving reports of valiant resistance to the Hourde all along the fringes.
But advisors have confirmed the latest reports. The motes in the God's Eye Nebula are Hourde transporters, ETA unknown.
So tonight, on what may be our last night, let your last thoughts on Earth be of...
("In That Dark December: An Audio Exhibit of Solar Digital Transmission, ca. 2515" copyright 2015 by B. Nagel; used by permission)