Friday, December 20, 2013

Advent Ghosts 2013: The Stories

At this hour, existence itself seems exsanguinated, a colorless chiaroscuro of ebony earth, pale stars, and uncountable gray shadows. Stones groan in the cold, and frost-seared branches snap beneath the weight of accumulated ice. Or could those sounds be caused by something else, perhaps that oddly shaped shadow slinking behind the nearest hill? But look: The east flushes red, a thin line on the knife edge where land meets sky. The day will come, but huddle in a little closer as we all wait out the cold. We have a gift we want to share with you.

Let us tell you a story ...
"And Downward, He Glided" by Tony Chavira on Minefield Wonderland
"Olde Haunts" by James D. Witmer on In Response
• "Freaker" by Anonymous (see below)
• "Schneekugel" by William Gregory (see below)
"Winter in Amsterdam"by Joseph D'Agnese on Daggyland
• "A Primer in Butcher Shop Management during the Holidays" by B. Nagel (see below)
"Christmas Widow" by KJ Mansfield on
"Fresh Ghosts" and "The Night Before" by Ken Leonard on
"Holiday Shopping with a Smile" by Phil Wade on Brandywine Books
"A Good Man" and "Innocents" by Loren Eaton on I Saw Lightning Fall
• "The Cryptid," "Midnight Visitors," and "The Pet" by Peter Stein (see below)
"Free For All," "Last Words," and "Violation of Trust" by Himanee Gupta-Carlson on Gupta-Carlson Short Stories
"The World in Solemn Stillness Lay" by John Norris on Pretty Sinister Books
"A Christmas Wish" by Craig Scott on CS Fantasy Reviews
"Little Lambs" by Chestertonian Rambler on The Winding Road to Roundabout
"The Pale Light Shines" by Davin Malasarn on What's Davin Eating?
"War and Peace on Earth" by Hunter F. Goss on Hunter F. Goss
"The Box of Special Decorations" by Simon Kewin on Spellmaking
"Vacancy" by Elizabeth Damewood Gaucher on Esse Diem
"The Devil's Gift" by Sandra Seamans on My Little Corner
"Ghost of Christmas Present" by Jason Jones on Catchy Title Goes Here
"The End of Darkness" and "Naughty List" by Eric Douglas on Books by Eric
"Like Me" and "The Visitor" by Michael Morse on Rescuing Providence
"The Lost Son" by Leanne Stowers on Write On
"We Are Arrived" by Paul Liadis on The Struggling Writer
"A Christmas Elegy" by Rachael K. Jones on Rachael K. Jones
"Come In" by Rhonda Parrish on Rhonda Parrish
"'Tis Better to Give" by Derek Manuel on Derek Manuel
• "Librum Diabolo" by Thomas Joyce (see below)
"Five Minutes" by Patti Abbott on pattinase
"Knocker" by Nathaniel Lee on Mirrorshards
"Contents May Settle During Shipment" by Scott G.F. Bailey on six words for a hat
"Gifts" by Lester D. Crawford on Lester D. Crawford Blog

* * *

By Anonymous

I accepted his Facebook friend request because he looked nice. He was a lot older, but he had every one of my friends already on his list.

Then he wouldn't stop commenting. Why did I date that guy? Did I eat dessert? Didn't I know I looked better in blue? Freaker. I hid him from my newsfeed but I was afraid to block him. My friends said he was cool, that I should just stay on his good side. But I unfriended him anyway.

Shit, he's texting me now.

"Good boys and girls know better. I have something for you."

("Freaker" copyright 2013; used by permission)

* * *

By William Gregory

Again the ground shook violently beneath my feet, an earth-shattering quake so intense the entire planet seemed jarred from its orbit. All sense of gravity was lost as the unconscionable churning continued its wrath. But then, as suddenly as the ferocity came, the eerie calm returned. A temporary quiet enveloped the landscape. Snowflakes began to drift from the sky. However, these lulls do not quell my fear, for these unworldly tremors are common this time of year.

Daddy, it looks like there is a man inside this thing!

Sure, Princess.

Really, there is!

Princess, it's time for dinner.

But daddy…

("Schneekugel" copyright 2013 by William Gregory; used by permission)

* * *

"A Primer in Butcher Shop Management during the Holidays"
By B. Nagel

Set the scene. The holly sprigs, the garland, the mistletoe above the door. The smell of cinnamon and apple cider. It draws in the shoppers, younger ones wide-eyed and pointing at offal and hooves.

Turkey. Ham. Lamb. Goose.

"Welcome to my shop. What would you like? For how many?" Check for liver spots, musculature, smell, texture. Reach across, feel it in your hand. Do you have the proper tools? Does it fit in your oven?

Turkey. Ham. Lamb. Goose.

I prefer turkey. Keeps the meat sweet, oily. This one just bought a turkey breast for Christmas alone.

We'll follow him.

* * *

"The Cryptid"
By Peter Stein

He'd heard the tales of the beasts that shared his mountain but he'd never seen one. They said that when the snows fell their hardest in the deepest blizzards, you could make out the form of them. They were said to walk upright but with curious posture. Then the day came and it happened. He was out gathering snow to bring back to the cave when he saw one. It stood on two legs, but was small and it's back was straight. Rather than fur like his own, it wore what looked like leather skins! "What horror!" thought the yeti!

("The Cryptid" copyright 2013 by Peter Stein; used by permission)

* * *

"Midnight Visitors"
By Peter Stein

"Three ghosts?!" scoffed the old man, his face lined and hard and disbelieving. "Bah! Humbug! I'll have no ghosts in my home, lest they be paying me rent!" And however cold and cynical he may have been, he could not ever have been accused of being ill prepared. For skeptical though he may have been, at twelve and then one and again at two, as three spectral visitors entered his bed chamber, bound they found themselves, imprisoned in the man's mystic circles, drawn in blood runes upon the floor. And the best of debt collectors they would ever have be.

("Midnight Visitors" copyright 2013 by Peter Stein; used by permission)

* * *

"The Pet"
By Peter Stein

There are few greater joys than watching a child's excitement. As they tore through the wrapping of their packages their enthusiasm only grew. Finally there was one left. A big one with both the children's names on the tag. The parents exchanged a meaningful glance.

"What is it?" asked one.

"It's something you've been wanting. Something your father picked up on one of his trips."

With a gasp they removed the wrapping to reveal a small box with holes cut in the top.

"Be gentle," father said. "It's delicate."

Both children squealed with delight! At last! Their very own human!

("The Pet" copyright 2013 by Peter Stein; used by permission)

* * *

"Librum Diabolo"
By Thomas Joyce

If you're reading this, you must have found the book. Heed my advice and burn it, as I should have done. It was surely conceived in the fires of Hell. Send it back!

DON’T try to read the words; it will only lead to disaster. I hastily write this warning as the beast, summoned by my naivety and those damned words, hammers on my door and time is running out. How the foundations shake with every blow!

I hear it ascending the stairs; its voracious scream drowns out the howling winter wind. IT'S HERE! It's here! It has come for

("Librum Diabolo" copyright 2013 by Thomas Joyce; used by permission)


J F Norris said...

I sent you an email last night with my link. Maybe it got lost. Here's the link again. Thanks for the invite!

"The World in Solemn Stillness Lay"

Loren Eaton said...


It's up! Sorry for my slowness. Had a late night and am just now working my way through my inbox.

Loren Eaton said...

Mr. Gregory: I know this is your first attempt at the challenging form known as a "drabble," but your end result is excellent -- especially if one happens to speak a little German.

B.: This one sounds completely normal -- up until the last line. Then chills. Serious chills. Understatement serves true horror.

Peter: Dear reader, Peter Stein deserves many congrats, because when he learned of this event, he began penned three to four drabbles a day on Facebook. Friend him so that you can read them. You won't be disappointed.

strugglingwriter said...

Loren - sorry if mine wasn't spooky enough. I went with what the muse gave me.

Thanks again for hosting!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Loren Eaton said...

Paul: It was great! No worries, sir.

Patti: It's up!

Phil W said...

Man, this list is bringing it. Thanks again for hosting the storytelling, Loren.

Joseph D'Agnese said...

This has been such a fun year. Slow clap and thanks to our illustrious impresario.

Loren Eaton said...

Thanks, gents! I'm most glad that you could join in.