“Dark X-Mas” Anthology Has Nine 10-Star Reviews!

dark xmas

Promotional image for the published anthology of drabbles “Dark X-Mas.”

The 48 hour promotional offer of Dark X-Mas Holiday Drabbles: 100 Word Holiday Horror Stories is about to end, and I thought I’d do some checking.

Seems the anthology, which features two of my Christmas horror drabbles, has garnered a whole 10 reviews, 9 of them five stars. The 10th is a one star by someone I suspect doesn’t understand the nature of microfiction, but that’s neither here nor there.

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“Dark X-Mas” Bargain!

dark xmas

Promotional image for the published anthology of drabbles “Dark X-Mas.”

I just found out that the ebook for Eleanor Merry Presents: Dark X-Mas Holiday Drabbles will be offered absolutely free on December 25th and 26th. I’ve contributed two “dark” Christmas tales among the vast multitude of 100-word tales of Yuletide horror.

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Eleanor Merry Presents: “Dark X-Mas” Anthology Now Available for Pre-Order

dark xmas

Promotional image for the anthology of drabbles “Dark X-Mas.”

Not the news I had hoped to deliver by now, but I just found out that “Eleanor Merry Presents: Dark X-Mas is now available to pre-order both at Amazon US and Canada for delivery on your Kindle device December 1, 2019.

Here’s the “blurbs” again for the two drabbles I have featured within its virtual pages:

Christmas Feast

For centuries, the innocent belief of children breathed life into Santa Claus, bringing him into the homes of millions every December 24th, laden with gifts for precious cherubs. But the world changed and children changed, and finally there was too little faith left to keep the old elf going and he expired.

But this year, Santa’s chief servant Alabaster found ten wee ones he could spirit away from their cozy beds at the stroke of midnight in order to supplicate themselves at the grave of St. Nicholas. These children desperately want Santa back, but what horrible sacrifice will they be expected to make to resurrect a very different Santa from what the world has ever known?

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Two of My Tales to be Published in “Dark X-Mas Drabbles Anthology”

dark xmas

Promotional image for the soon-to-be published anthology of drabbles “Dark X-Mas.”

Not one but two of my drabbles have been accepted in the Eleanor Merry Presents Christmas Horror anthology “Dark X-Mas”.

According to the blurb for Dark X-Mas Drabbles Anthology:

I’m dreaming of a Dark Christmas
With every little tale that I read
When the knife blades glisten
And scared children listen
To hear slayers in the night
Where sugarplums can be gory
In the frightening elf story
And trees eat favorite household pets
There are gifts on all the pages
Of terror through the ages
Told of gift giving regrets
I’m dreaming of a Dark Christmas
With every little tale I read
While the bright lights shine
And the family dines In the soft fireplace glow
So hold loved ones tight
It’s not Santa visiting tonight
Death lies buried in the snow.

I actually don’t know a whole lot about co-publishers Eleanor Merry and Cassandra Angler, but some other authors I’ve been published with before, including David Bowmore and Shawn Klimek, are participating, so I figured “what the heck?”

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Dueling Holidays

christmas wordle

Image found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

“Oh come on, Dave. Certainly during this Yuletide holiday you can celebrate with your family a little, put a present or two under their tree, herald the coming of your Savior. I’ll even wear mistletoe on the front of my waist tonight the way you like it.” Suzanne, winking naughtily, was pulling out all the stops to get her husband out of his recliner in front of the smoldering fireplace in the cozy living room so they could drive the fifteen miles to his brother’s house.

Instead, he just looked up at her with a forlorn expression on his forty-five year old face. “We sent Bob’s family a card, and they know we don’t celebrate Christmas. I mean, they do the whole Santa, reindeer, stocking thing.”

“Get up.” She grabbed his arm forcefully, and he let her pull him to his feet. They both were already dressed for the festive meal his younger brother and their family had every Christmas Eve, so it was just a matter of her getting him to the car. “I don’t care if they put Christmas pudding in the ears of all their elves on their shelves, we’re going.” The forty-two year old software developer gripped Dave with all the strength her gym weight training produced.

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Santa Lives in Arizona

desert christmas

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Seventeen-year-old Humberto knew they’d never make it if they stayed with the mob, so hours before dawn, he took his Mama, his pregnant older sister Esmeralda, and his ten-year-old brother Joaquin and slipped into America just a few miles northwest of Nogales.

“We are lost, Niño.” Mama was always worried. If they could make it to Tucson, Uncle Carlos would take them in.

“No, we aren’t. Rio Rico is just a few miles ahead.”

“Humberto, I have to pee.” Joaquin had walked hundreds of miles, but he was still just a kid.

“We’re in a desert. Go anywhere.” Humberto turned to Essie. “How are you doing?”

“I’m only five months along. Stop acting like I’m going to give birth any second.” Mama catered to Humberto, and she resented him acting like Papa.

“Mama! Mama! Look it.” The child was jumping up and down excitedly. “It’s Santa’s house. Look.”

The squat home with the low rock fence was decorated in red and white, but it was the fat old white man with the bushy beard smiling and waving them over that convinced Joaquin.

“You’re welcome to stay here,” he said in spanish. “It’s Christmas and I’d love to celebrate with company.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of 23 December 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

Yes, it looks like Arizona, regardless of where the photo was actually taken, so I looked up “Arizona news.” Among other stories, I found one chronicling the arrest of hundreds of migrants that had come into the state across the border near Nogales, so I based my we tale on that event. After that, I tried to “Christmas” it up as much as I could, given the theme.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Ghost Before Christmas

christmas

Photo credit: Akshata Ram

Raymond walked into his bedroom with a fresh cup of coffee for a relaxing Sunday morning and found the Christmas decorations laid out on the bed next to his newspaper. “You never give up, do you, Mom?” Setting his cup down on the end table, the 45-year-old divorced engineer sat at the foot of the bed and picked up the dollar store Santa. “I miss you too, Mom, especially this time of year.” He knew his ex had her place elaborately decorated for the season, and that his three sons delighted in trying to guess what was inside all of the brightly wrapped packages, but he’d given up on Christmas and everything it was supposed to stand for when his Mom died a month after his divorce was final. Taking a deep breath, he picked up his cell and punched in a number.

“Hi, Sherry. Is it okay if I come over for a while? I’ve got some presents for the boys.” He listened and smiled. Of course, he’d have to go shopping first.

I wrote this for the 196th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 174. This is pretty much a “stream of consciousness” thing. I just wrote the first thing that popped into my head.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Penny

 

christmas in boise

© The Idaho Statesman

Sadje tagged me to continue (or in this case, finish) A Special Finish the Story Challenge for Nov started by “The Haunted Wordsmith.” Here’s the story as crafted by the various contributors.

Let’s start with Teresa:

Sounds of children’s laughter and joy floated down the stairs. Liam breathed deeply and smiled. Never more content in his life. All thanks to the penny in his hand.

“Don’t forget your change, sir,” she had said. Her smile ignited the flame he thought long dead. A brush of her hand against his, and he was hers.

The ladies in his life, in beautiful red holiday dresses, walked down the steps of the opera house still reveling in The Nutcracker.

“Did you like it, Daddy?” Alice grinned.

“Very much so.” He kissed Alice on the forehead, and held his wife’s hand.

The ringing of the Christmas bell called to the penny, and with a smile and tip of his hat, Liam dropped the penny into the kettle so that it may bring someone else as much love and joy as it had him.

“Thank you, sir and Merry Christmas.”

Cheryl:

That evening as the Salvation Army Santa Claus emptied his kettle into the bank deposit box, he noticed one of the coins sparkled. He thought it was his tired eyes, playing a trick on him, but there it was, almost begging him to retrieve it. He hesitated only a second or two and then took the penny.
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The Winter Rose

winter rose

© Sue Vincent

Nancy clung to the base of a gas street lamp just across the street from St. Andrews shivering as she listened to the beautiful hymns and organ music late on Christmas Eve. The tiny child’s clothes were too thin to ward off the December chill and wind, and the cloth wrapped around the perforated soles of her shoes did nothing to keep out the snow.

She couldn’t go back but no one else would take her. Papa had never come home from his sea voyage to America where he said he could earn a fortune for their poor family, and Mama had been beaten and murdered on the way home from cleaning the houses of rich folk, all for a few farthings.

Auntie Pierce took in her baby brother Benjy but said she wanted no “dirty little girl” in her home and sent her away to her friend Lady Harrington to work with the maids. The maids said she was too small and weak and would be nothing but a nuisance, so sent her back to her Auntie’s. Auntie’s man servant refused her entry at the door and she found herself alone.

A boy named Charley Bates discovered her begging on a street corner for just a few pence with which to buy bread and took her to Fagin with promises of work and pay. It was then she embarked on her new life as a thief.

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Let the Trees Be Burning Bright

christmas

© Roger Shipp

“I’m sorry but we’ll be needin’ this tree too, younguns.”

“But Pa!”

“Please don’t take it, Pa!”

Jeffrey and Constance wailed at their Father as he and three other large, rough men in heavy coats and workmen’s boots tramped into their one room sod house and took the first Christmas tree they’d ever had in their young lives. Ornaments of paper and tin, woven grass and dried corn shook free and fell to the dirt floor.

Their Ma held them back as the nine-year-old boy and his seven-year-old sister struggled. There were no presents for they were too poor, so their gayly decorated pine fir was their only symbol of hope and magic.

As the men retreated, their wives brought their children in either wailing or mute with terror. The women and their young huddled around the stove, burning hot with buffalo chips.

There were only a few such trees brought in from the mountains leagues afar, but burning them until dawn was the only way they knew to keep the werefolk at bay. Too late had the plains settlers discovered they’d homesteaded on lands cursed by the Heathen gods when the first white men landed in the new world.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2017 Week #51 writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction up to 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I seem to remember posting stories for this particular challenge in the past, but somehow have failed to do so for several months. I just saw a blog post by someone else which reminded me and also was sorry to see that only one other person responded, even though it first went online on the 20th.

Since we’re just a few days away from Christmas, I have been inundated with Christmas related prompts and it’s getting harder to respond to them creatively. I’ve been writing a lot of vampire-related short stories recently, so I decided to keep with the horror theme though not specifically addressing the undead.

In this piece, I’ve chosen something menacing plains settlers of the 18th or 19th centuries and made up the remedy of burning fir trees, uncommon on the grassy plains, in response to an attack of cursed were-creatures. The joy and glad tidings that Christmas trees symbolize for some had to give way to the practicality of defending against supernatural killers.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.