Here Comes Santa Claus

Ah it’s the Holidays! You can tell from the festive charm and snow in the air. You vaguely remember it being July yesterday but, oh well. Upon leaving your house to spread charm to your neighbors you walk three feet and hit a huge transparent barrier. Is, is this glass? You feel up the glass interior until you notice a large hand grasp your home. You have seconds to decide, what do I do next?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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123 thoughts on “Here Comes Santa Claus

  1. anekole

    Sorry, this may not be good, but I’ll give it a try.

    When I was younger I used to collect snow globes. All different types of snow globes, rather it be tiny, angel statures, posing in the center, glitter floating lightly around like snow. Or it’d be a Disney Princess, with a colorful gown on, and birds all around her. Some of them cranked, like music boxes. You would twist the knob a few tirmes and a lovely tune would play.

    I thought about them all, in the China cabinet at my Grandfather’s house. On the bottom self, visible for everyone who went deep enough into the room could see. I thought about the little people inside of them. The characters coming to life like the toys off of “Toy Story”. That thought kinda freaked me out, so I decided to just lay back, chill, and take a quick nap.

    But, that wasn’t the smartest idea. As I woke up, gasping, I thought, “What an odd dream.” A dream about being in one of those fancy snow globes. Slightly floating in the water, confetti glitter all around, a little gingerbread house behind me, running towards the glass so to see a closer look at the dark brown eyes that stared at me in bewilderment.

    – Ari Nekole

  2. cosi van tutte

    Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately. I’ve been trying to catch up on my post-Christmas sleep.

    Anyway, here’s one last story before the prompt changes…

    Sheila held the snow globe in her hands. It wasn’t the cheap twenty-five cent snowglobe you can get from an Aldi’s checkout line. You know. The kind with a blobby shaped Santa standing on top of a blobby shaped house. Nothing in there is well-defined, but everything in there is brightly colored and sparkly.

    No. This one was nothing like that.

    This one was special.

    The inside was empty. No houses. No floating candy canes. No creepy Santas.

    Nothing but the snow.

    The snowflakes swirled and spun every time she touched it. She didn’t even have to move it at all.

    It was very special.

    A man in a world-weary leather jacket had given it to her on her sixteenth birthday. He had looked into her eyes and whispered, “When the time comes, you will know what to do with my gift.” And then he’d left.

    Sixteen years later, the time came and she knew.

    Sheila carried the snow globe to the man in the hospital bed. His gray-green eyes were dulled and closed. His breathing so shallow and irregular. His body so thin and tired. “David.” Her voice was a gentle whisper, but to him it was a siren’s call.

    He struggled to open his eyes. “Sheila.”

    She brushed his sticky bangs off his forehead. “I’m here.”

    “Let me go.” His voice, once so vibrant and rich, was a dusky rattle. “It’s time.”

    She looked at his face for a long time, memorizing it, loving all of its details.

    “Sheila.”

    “Yes. It is time.” She showed him the snow globe. “You know what you must do.”

    He opened his eyes as wide as he could, but they were still only half-mast. “Help me. Please.”

    She took his hands one at a time and laid them on the snow globe’s crystal dome. “I’ll miss you.”

    David smiled. “When the time comes, I’ll see you here.” Having said that, he disappeared.

    Sheila looked into the snow globe and watched him run down a long snowed-over hill. Springtime pursued him, filling in his footprints with grass and meadow flowers.

    He ran, happy and healthy and whole.

    He never looked back.

    He was right where he was supposed to be.

    He was home.

    Yet, Sheila cried for his loss. For she knew that her time had not come.

    She would have to wait. For another sixteen years.

    1. Observer Tim

      There is a lovely magic in this piece, somewhere on the border between Hallmark and the Twilight Zone. I wonder if she’ll be able to help others find the way out, or if love is required. Either way, this is an enchanting tale in both senses of the term.

  3. Observer Tim

    SNOW GLOBE

    Spinners: check.
    Sparklers: check.
    Roman Candles: check.
    Assorted Firecrackers: check.
    Inflatable Statue of Liberty: check.
    Best Fourth of July Ever: in the bag!

    Tom took an armload of stakes out to mark where things would go, but stopped short on the doorstep. A word formed in his mind.

    Snow.

    There’s snow on the lawn. And a snowman. And a Christmas tree. What happened to August, September, October and November? Maybe Jeff next door would know; he ran to the edge of his yard and vaulted the picket fence.

    As he picked himself up off his lawn, Tom reflected that he had done just that. He’d reflected off some kind of glass wall. Faced with the unknown, he called out to a higher power.

    “Marg, can you come down here? Something’s wrong!”

    She was down in a trice and stopped on the front porch in her sun dress.

    “Tom, what is this? It doesn’t snow in July, not even in Idaho!”

    “That’s not the half of it dear. There’s some kind of glass wall around our house! I’m going to complain to City Hall about this. It’s a violation of my civil rights!”

    “I don’t think the city does this sort of thing, honey. And look through the glass; we’re not the only ones affected.”

    She was right, of course. There were rows upon rows of houses, each in its own glass cube. But unlike his, all of the people in them were frozen in place. What could it be? Was it terrorists? Who had the power to box up American houses like snow globes?

    Marg interrupted his ruminations. “Look!” she shouted, pointing skyward.

    A giant hand came down from the sky and lifted the house under glass into the sky. Once clear of the others, it began sliding along as if on some giant conveyor belt. Thousands of houses were laid out in a giant tableau.

    “Marg, I don’t think we’re in Boise anymore.”

    After several minutes the robot hand, for that’s what it was, set the house down on a large platform. Rotund gray aliens in red coats with white fur fringes surrounded the home, waving metal instruments. Finally a fork lift carried a door over and placed it against the glass. An alien opened the door and stepped in.

    Tom punched him in the face.

    “Why did you abduct us? Did Trump put you up to this?”

    “I am unsure what this Trump you speak of is. Please do not be alarmed. We are taking four million of your people to a new planet in enclosures designed to provide a psychologically comforting atmosphere.”

    “Snow globes?”

    “Precisely. Unfortunately, the stasis generator on your unit failed and we must replace it. This will take a moment, please be patient. You will be returned to suspended animation shortly.”

    “But where are you taking us? Is this some kind of alien zoo?”

    The creature looked perplexed.

    “Zoo? No, we are relocating you so the human race can be preserved. You are too entertaining a species to be allowed to go extinct just because an asteroid crashed into your planet.”

    At that the alien turned and walked out. Tom lunged at him, but froze in position as the stasis field re-engaged. His final thought was that he’d forgotten to ask why the aliens were all dressed like Santa Claus.

  4. Pete

    Holidays at the hospital gift shop. Always a drag, but this year my wintertime blues are abated somewhat because of the new girl. She arrived yesterday, while I was outside of my split level shoveling. I’m always outside shoveling. In Arizona. Probably why my back feels like a cheap coat hanger holding a wet quilt. Anyway, I was scraping the pavement when I got an eyeful of her.

    Mally, the new princess beside me. Lord have mercy. All glitter and glamour, hair shimmering, catching the light from that ice castle of hers. Maybe my eyes are going dull but I think maybe she winked at me, but again, it could have been the fog.

    I’ve been on this shelf for nearly seven years, untouched in that wedge of desert sun that filters through the gift shop blinds every afternoon. Before that it was a warehouse in Tuscon via a sweltering warehouse in Mexico. So to see a new face—a face like that, well, it’s enough to get my water boiling.

    By the looks of things Mally will be long gone before New Year’s. A little girl’s room, or perhaps some old ladies house. Either way, she’s the kind of girl who can really brighten up a place. I shovel a little faster with her around. I wake up, do my stretches, survey the shop. Not much going on, Linda’s working the day shift, which means eight hours of The Walking Dead on her cell phone and something to the tune of twelve dollars worth of chocolate’s going the way of charitable donations.

    But this Mally I tell you, I can’t get enough. Even if it is preposterous, really, to get all worked up over it. Again, a girl like that and an old stiff like me? Not in the cards. Larry would have helped me along. He always had the answers. Good ole Larry the Gnome. The guy wasn’t much to look at but had an answer for anything. Two years he hung around, then one day he hopped a truck headed for Canada to chase down his dream—a little Hawaiian hula girl on the dashboard of a northbound truck.

    I didn’t get it at first, the way he could drop everything and chase his dream. Hell, I didn’t even know he could walk. But now, looking at that glorious globe to my left, I get it, oh man do I get it.

    Mally ain’t no hula girl, I can tell you that. Besides, what do I say? I mean, to I take the strategic approach? “You come here often?” Or “What’s the forecast?” Nah, a lass like that, she’s heard it all before. So I get back to shoveling, but not really shoveling, because it hasn’t snowed in my globe in three years. Global warming and all.

    Sorry, a little snow globe humor is all. But the dust mounts on my glass like fog in the harbor. Not that Linda’s going to do any dusting. But it’s I hardly see the hand until it eclipses my world.

    Holy smokes, sweet mother of spheres! I forgot what it felt like to be rattled like that. I get my shovel going, hanging on for dear life because some old bird has me in her trembling claws.

    Veiny things, those hands. Freckled, rubbing and sliding all over my glass. She picks up my world and jiggles. Suddenly my clean precise swipes are eviscerated as two wobbly orbs bear down on me through the blizzard. It’s horrifying. The sloppy lipstick, wispy die job, the lines carved into the cheeks, and around the eyes. I manage a peek sideways to catch the princess looking on.

    Then, as though following my glance, the hands set me on the edge, teetering in the storm her eyes wander over to Mally’s castle. No, I must do something. I don’t have much, just that clean walkway to my house and now this princess next door. I feel my own old plastic hands grip my shovel. I’m no suburban grunt but a knight with a joust. And I can’t let her take Mally from me.

    Through the snow and the smear and the dust I can barely see as she takes Mally, my princess. Not on my watch. Time for this old I’m seething as my globe rattles. Inching towards the edge of the shelf. Another glance over to Linda, slogging down a peanut butter ball, glued to the phone. Let’s do this.

    The freefall is peaceful. The floor tiles racing towards me, the tilt of snowfall fleeing north to my feet as everything goes upside down. Then…

    Crash. A scream. Air, sweet gift shop air! White Christmas over my heads Footsteps rushing towards me. Then another smash of glass beside me.

    Mally. Our waters merge. Her glitter and my dust intertwine on the well traversed carpet. Our hands touch. For a swift moment we are out of our worlds. Gasping. A princess and a grunt, our eyes meet I feel my life is complete.

    We’re swept up, fussed about, tossed into a bowl while the mess is cleaned. I feel her beside me, scared, heaving breaths. I take my own breath of big of desert air. Grip that shovel. Tell her it’s going to be okay. The sun is out, the weather is warm, and there’s a whole world out there for us to discover.

  5. jhowe

    The First Disciple

    It’s been 2,620 years, more or less, since the momentous birth. It’s taken this long for the coming to occur; without fanfare, with no preordained declaration. The prophecy lives; the epiphany is here. Am I to judge the living? The dead? The world to come? My motive, at this time, is unclear.

    I’m dressed as the period deems sensible, or so I assume; a white frock of a fabric smooth and light. I’ve chosen the garb of a roving cleric. It seems reasonable. But times, as times do, have changed.

    I expected clean streets and flowing streams with the landscape teeming with people in brightly colored dress. I’ve had my finger on the pulse of humanity from time to time, checking here and there, keeping up, as they say. But apparently, I’ve missed something. Time, to me is unending and sometimes I forget the impact it can have. My presence, more of a metaphysical existence, can use a dose of reality.

    The structures around me are immense. I’m not surprised by the progress, as man is resourceful if nothing else. But these structures seem without limit, one after the other and soaring to the sky. The people travel in unfamiliar ways. I know about the new travel methods: cars, trains, planes. But the people seem to leave and arrive by no apparent means. I follow a man. We enter a clear spherical vessel. It’s crowded and we all remain silent as the walls vibrate. I make my way forward and run into a barrier I cannot see. There is no view through the clear walls and then we stop and I follow the throng. It’s snowing now and I shiver. We all walk in different directions, saying nothing, unsmiling.

    It’s the eyes that unsettle me, seemingly unseeing. Everyone walks quickly, faces taut, hands at their sides, and I know they can see because they maneuver around obstacles without incident. Their eyes have vision but no sparkle, no hint of happiness, no respect for one another. Other men and women dressed in uniform drabness patrol the streets, their faces obscured by protective visors. There are many of them and they’re armed and they walk with an attitude of guile and unmitigated power. They are the police – there is no mistake.

    “Father,” I say to myself. “What have we done? Have we waited too long?”

    I hear music, faint but familiar. I follow my ears, rounding a corner and dodge people hurrying to unknown destinations. The buildings here are not as tall, not as sleek. A group of people form a semicircle around a woman in bedraggled clothing singing beautifully and playing an instrument not known to me. Silent Night. I sing along and they turn as one. A few stare and tilt their heads. The woman smiles and holds my gaze, her eyes as blue as the sky. Next, she plays Away in the Manger and we harmonize. More people arrive and a few join in as we sing. Soon the crowd is large and police officers form lines and try to break us up. They spray acrid liquids and shout and beat us with their clubs. But we remain and more people join us. Soon strange vehicles arrive with more police and there is more beating and more shouting.

    “Are you here for us?” she says, blood running down her cheek.

    “I am here.”

    “We need you, very badly.”

    “I am here,” I say. “And I need you to help me.”

  6. Reaper

    Part 41, I think this should likely go after next weeks, but we shall see.

    In the Beginning – Arise the Faithful

    Opening his eyes and looking out the window to spy falling snow and twinkling lights brought joy to his heart, like very little could. Christmas was always a wonderful time of year for men like him. What kind of man was he though? What was his name?

    Trying to remember caused pain to shoot from the middle of his head. There was something rotten at the epicenter of that agony. What it was remained as lost as what to call himself. The last thing he remembered was it being summer, and a requested betrayal. He was pretty sure there was a hammer involved.

    When he stopped thinking about it and took it on faith things were better. He thought that was how it was supposed to be. Eschewing the idea of dressing, he walked through a house he could not remember. He was sure it was not his own. He was equally sure the emptiness and silence were new. Why would his house have so much that appealed to younger women?

    Upon exiting the home he felt warm, which made no sense due to the snow drifting down. Still, the world seemed right. It seemed at peace for the first time in he did not know how long. Everything was good until he bumped into a barrier that felt like glass.

    He pressed his hands to the cool surface keeping him in this hell. He was about to pray for guidance when a giant hand gripped the sky above him. What could only be the hand of god lifted the home and the yard as the flakes slowly lessened. The world turned upside down and shook around him.

    Still he remained rooted to the earth. He did not slide from side to side. The only difference in his world was the wind, and how the snow flew up and began to fall back down again. It landed on his skin in flurries.

    The pain returned, driving Father O’Reilly to his knees. His eyes closed, and he wondered, in that moment, why he was spared. Then he opened his eyes and he knew.

    If not for the hand, retreating into the clouds, he would have thought it all a dream.

    Instead, he understood the truth without knowing. Not snow, but refuse was falling into the yard. O’Reilly mourned the dead; friend and foe alike.

    Of course he knew Chester was dead, but the discarded crab shells reminded him. A broken stiletto fell and he knew Nicole’s fate. An empty bottle of Old Crow and he understood that his friend, Jack, was gone. Newspaper flittering past told O’Reilly that Peter had gone the way of the dinosaurs. An undelivered letter and O’Reilly knew that a mailman, unknown to him but important to the prophecy somehow, had also passed from the world.

    The tumor in his head throbbed and O’Reilly shut out the world with his eyelids again. Everyone was gone. Everyone that mattered to this silent war. Everyone except the children, and the women, and the prisoners. Everyone except the enemy and O’Reilly.

    He knelt, a man with terminal cancer and a mission. A man saved by the enemy for reasons unknown to him. The enemy was legion and he was alone, standing against the incoming darkness. Or, rather, on his knees against it, as a man of prayer and faith should be. He uttered the only words he could think of.

    “Father, why hast thou forsaken me?”

    Tear slipped from his closed eyes. The rotten thing throbbed in his head, pulsing out pain and power. He wondered how he could survive alone in the night. As if in answer to both words and thoughts the streetlights came one. Nobody saw how good it was.

    1. Observer Tim

      Standing alone amidst the jetsam of fate.

      This is a powerful bit of writing Reaper. I haven’t read next week’s prompt yet (stupid time machine’s on the fritz) but this has the feel of an epilogue, or the calm before the final chapter. Superb as always. :

    2. jhowe

      This was very well done. You succeeded in successfully incorporating a snow globe into it, which in my opinion, is very hard to do. The falling snow/refuse was a great way to bring up the memories by showing and not telling. That was a really good idea and it worked nicely.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Very well done with clues to past characters. I feel O’Reilly’s pain and sadness. I’m also waiting for a “savior”, but think maybe that should be, hoping.

  7. ReathaThomasOakley

    Under a different dome 1906

    Horace sat at the top of the side porch stairs, feet on the third step, hands on his knees, looking east at the lightening sky.

    ‘Nother night done, he thought, ‘nother day to get through. Wish it’d rain, air feels like a blanket, like a lid, ’bout ready to drop on toppa me.

    Horace folded his arms on his knees, bent his head to his arms, then sat back up.

    “My Lord, I stink,” he said out loud, then laughed. Behind him was a nearly empty house, the furniture John Palmer’d bought for a wedding present sitting in the old Palmer stables, but with the finest bathroom in town, with bathtub so big he could stretch out in it and soak long as he wanted. He remembered when Sue Ann had shown him the magazine, Good Housekeeping he thought, with a whole page showing a Standard Manufacturing all porcelain bathroom. He’d send off a letter, just like she told him, carefully enclosing a six-cent stamp, all the way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the catalogue.

    Now he had a room that met every requisite of modern sanitation and design, just like the advertisement promised. Only thing not true was the price, unless folks had different meanings for low cost.

    Upstairs he had all that and down here he smelled like out the back door of the saloon he was visiting more and more.

    What’s happenin’ to my life, he wondered. Ain’t the air ’bout to choke me, it’s this goddam house.

    Ten rooms, two floors, and an attic loomed over him.

    “Lord, Lord, Lord,” he put his head back on his arms.

    “Suh? Don’t mean to bother you none…”

    “What?” He turned. “Oh, Dessie, didn’t know you was up. Didn’t hear the door.”

    “You be wantin’ some coffee? I got the pot on.”

    “Yeah, yeah, coffee’d be good. Wait up, I ain’t asked you ’bout wages. You been workin’ and I ain’t…”

    “Don’t fret ’bout that, the ladies been payin’ me to do for you and Miz Sarah.” She pulled open the screen door.

    “Ladies?”

    “The aunts, they gotta stay on their place, so I’s here, to do, and to, to, uh, see to Miz Sarah, look out for her.” She closed the door behind her. “Coffee be right out.”

    Horace watched Dessie fade into the gloom of the kitchen as the heavy air seemed to move down closer to his back and shoulders.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is the perfect reflection of your earlier piece, Reatha. I can tell the tale is nearing its conclusion simply because everything other than the characters is moving more quickly. It’s like standing on a country road watching the dark clouds roll in across the endless prairie sky. 🙂

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, Tim. I think this part of the story will soon be over, but who knows what the next prompt will bring. Your last line here is really nice, I might borrow it.

    2. jhowe

      This was really easy and really enjoyable to read. You have quite a talent for creating consistent and interesting voices for your characters. You take something as simple as taking a bath and make it great. I do hope though, that Horace gets to take that bath.

  8. thejim

    I backed up slowly and fell to the ground as this large hand came toward me. Before it had a chance to touch the glass that surrounded me it pulled back and disappeared. I sat on the ground in shock. It was if my eyes were opened for the first time or if I was transported to a different place. I felt the snow on the ground but it was not snow it was plastic. I looked up to the sky and it seemed like the sky but with careful observation I couldn’t clearly see out it was so blurry.

    Trying to get my head around what was going on, I made my way to the glass, I slid my hand across it and followed around my house and then back where I started. This is defiantly a snow globe. I need to see what is on the outside. I tried to clean the glass as best I could but it still was clear. I could make out a room with a door. From this angle it appeared I was up higher on a dresser or something. I went to my garage and retrieved an old rusty pipe wrench, but after several attempts I could not break it. I could not generate enough power to make even a scratch in it.

    I sat in my fake house and wondered how I was going to escape this toy prison. Days, weeks, months went by with no movement from the outside world. Every day I would sit on the front porch and just watch and wait for something from other side of the glass

    I became unhinged. I started breaking things throwing stuff around. My house was a disaster. After my tantrum subsided I began to clean up then from the corner of my eye I saw a flash of light. I ran to the edge of my plastic life.

    I could see a bright object at the edge of a wall. I waiting for movement but there was none. Disheartened I went back to cleaning my home once again I saw lights again. My mind began to race. Was someone out there were they watching me. Well, let them look, so I began to turn on all the lights in the house the more I did the brighter the glow came from outside. I slowly turned them off and the effect was what I thought, I controlled the brightness.

    I turned off all the lights and picked up the flashlight and slowly moved it around my room till out from the glass I saw a glow outside the glass wall. I finally found what I was looking for on top shelf of a book case a snow globe. I shined the light on it and my whole house lite up. I reached up to pick up the globe and as soon as I did it felt like an earth quake.

    I softly moved the globe I could see out the front of the glass a figure which was, apparently, me. I took the globe gently to the garage. I lifted the rusty old pipe wrench and gave the top of the globe a good whack trying not to bring it all the way down to smash my house. The blow shook my world, I expected glass to come down but instead water began to flow out I held on to the edge of the door as water rushed pass me. Have I been in water this whole time? Then it hit me – AIR – I gasped, I tried to breathe but could not, my precious life force water that I had been breathing was gone and I choked and gasped for air or water to breath. Finally as I felt my life slowly leaving me, I thought, the prison I wanted out of so desperately was what kept me alive, irony at its finest.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a lovely and surreal take on the perils of acting before thinking. I wonder if the snow globe regresses infinitely. Did he introduce a break in the pattern, or did every version of him break their snow globe too and so doom the universe. Hmmm. 🙂

  9. Trevor

    Word Count: 555

    A Snowglobe Reunion

    It was such a beautiful Christmas morning. I stared outside my living room window at the winter wonderland just beyond the glass. Snow fell from the light gray sky, blanketing the front lawn in a quilt of white. Across the street, the neighbors’ house was adorned with sparking Christmas lights and a smiling snowman stood in the yard. Not content to spend this gorgeous winter day inside, I threw on my parka and snow boots and hurried outside into the swirling snow.

    That’s when I saw it. The barrier of glass above my head.

    My rational head had no explanation for this. And it wasn’t the only strange occurrence I noticed. As quickly as it had started, the snow had subsided. All of the houses, including my own, were identical, right down to the twinkling decorations. And the snow beneath my feet was unusually hard. My boots didn’t even leave an impression.

    “What is going on here?” I thought as I stared at my strange environment, feeling as if I had awoken on some strange planet. Then, out of nowhere, the glass became tan. I looked up and, seeing the wrinkles and calluses, realized what I was looking at was a human hand grasping the glass exterior of my “home”. Then, I saw something that stopped me dead in my tracks. Something that put everything into perspective. Something that jogged my memory and made me remember what had brought me to this strange place.

    An emerald ring on the ring finger of the hand holding my glass-encased environment.

    For Christine, the situation revolving around her boyfriend was a mixed bag. Their relationship wasn’t always perfect, but Christine knew that deep down, Jarred was absolutely devoted to her. The fact that they both worked in the same department store only strengthened their relationship.

    One day, only 5 days shy of Christmas, Christine and Jarred were in the stockroom, getting Christmas supplies to decorate their store. Christine was busy getting lights while Jarred was getting a box of snowglobes that was on a high shelf.

    Jarred’s loud scream followed by a loud crash as the ladder toppled over still haunted Christine’s dreams. Her only savior was that the vision of her boyfriend’s blood escaping from his head had finally escaped her memory. The next few days were ones of deep grief and depression for Christine, withdrawing from her friends and family.

    Then, one morning, the snowglobe appeared on the kitchen table. And inside was her beloved Jarred, sound asleep inside one of the fake houses.

    Christine wasn’t one to believe in magic, but she had no other explanation for how her dead husband’s spirit could end up in a snowglobe that wound up in her home. She didn’t know if Jarred was aware of this situation, but the feeling of him always being there for her reassured her and made her feel secure.

    But on the other hand, she had no idea how Jarred would feel once he found out about his imprisonment to a Christmas novelty item. Would he be happy to always be close to Christine-or would he be miserable at the prospect of spending his life inside a snow-filled prison? Christine had no way of knowing.

    The love of her life was so close to her…and yet she couldn’t feel more apart from him.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a tragic and touching. Something magical has happened, and I like the way it’s presented “as-is” without explanation. Is Christine keeping Jarred alive through her love, or trapping him in a form of hell? Probably a little bit of both – that’s what love is like among the humans.

      My only quibble is that I could have used a bit clearer break at the perspective switch.

  10. tkennedyme

    The snow globe had creeped me out from the start, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. The little Victorian house inside did look a lot like my home, which probably had something to do with it; but that was the reason I kept the stupid thing in the first place. I thought my wife and daughter would get a kick out of it.

    Maybe it wasn’t the globe itself that gave me an uneasy feeling. Maybe it was the guy who gave it to me, right outside the airport in Wichita on Monday. I had been in such a rush to make my flight that I didn’t even see the little old fella until I had plowed right through him outside the revolving doors to check-in. The snow was blowing sideways, as I remember, whipping against my face like a hundred little bee-stings. I was holding my coat up against my head and sprinting from the cab to the entrance, knowing my chances of making it to Delta 3201 were slight, at best. The cabby had told me that the guy on the radio said any planes scheduled to take off after 3pm out of Kansas were probably going to have to wait a day or two. 3201 was scheduled for wheels-up at 2:50. My watch read 2:35.

    That was the single thought that flashed into my head as I saw the massive, chubby fingers descend onto the house from above; stranded in Wichita, with an outside chance of making it home on Christmas Eve. Anyone would have been just as panicked as me to make that flight. Anyone would have plowed into the pale-faced man lugging a sack of snow globes into the airport, scattering his wares across the sidewalk in every direction.

    And anyone would have told him they were sorry, but they didn’t have time to help him pick them up. I had a flight to catch, after all. My daughter would be miserable if I wasn’t home in time for her Christmas pageant.

    He was stooped over low, wearing a too-thin coat. I don’t remember much about his face, except that it was old and pale and his eyes were dark. But I remember the smirk. He told me to wait just a second; and he reached into his sack and pulled out one more globe. He smiled at me – but his eyes weren’t smiling at all – as he handed me the globe.

    “That’s all right,” he said. “Give this to your little girl. It’s a special one.”

    That malevolent smile was all that I could see now, as the giant hand clasped firmly on the invisible dome just above the house. The ground shook. I tried to shout inside to my daughter to stop, for God’s sake, put the globe down! But it was too late. I braced myself as the new fallen snow floated off the ground around me and began to swirl.

    1. Observer Tim

      This reads like it could be the start of a fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm. You did a good job setting the slightly surreal atmosphere and building the sense of dread. I wonder if there’s a way for the MC to get out of this predicament… 🙂

  11. Beebles

    Well this wasn’t supposed to be a poem and then well it kinda was. I also wanted to do something light hearted. Guess I didn’t get anything i wanted for christmas. Hope the italics work, fingers crossed.

    There it is again, the chink of glass.
    I rest my hands against the surface and I scream.
    But you don’t hear me. You won’t or can’t,
    Depending on the time of day.
    The tree lights sparkle behind your head
    Like a halo
    Like you’re already dead.

    You love this time of year. I know you do.
    A time for jolliment and merrity and mirth.
    It’s an excuse. So you can be like everybody else.
    Or is that them to be like you?
    But they see you as you are. They look at you and say,
    Where are you?
    Why did you go away?

    But you can’t bear to answer, can you?
    You know in your heart where I went, but cannot tell.
    And you try hard not to admit what you know is true
    That you imprisoned me down here.
    Within this sheer base cylinder, the warmth and ice
    Where liquid shards
    Bind and entice

    I teeter, feet upon your frozen shame
    It’s all that prevents my head from going under once again
    You could use this season’s cheer to kill me now
    And then you could relinquish all your fears
    Of my perpetual, clear and accusing gaze
    That spears
    From beyond the haze

    I can see you clearly, from down here
    Your bright red nose a beacon of distress above the cheery leery grin
    Your visage stretched, disfigured by refraction
    Magnified, as you pick me up and pull me in
    No wait. That is your face, a pale pitiful sight
    My mistake
    Not distorted light

    And it is ironic, don’t you think
    The more you look upon the smooth and shining glass
    The more obscured becomes the man reflected there
    The man who you so dearly want to be
    The one who stands crying, gazing up toward the tumbler’s brink
    Screams silently
    From inside another drink

  12. jhowe

    I really hate snow. But then, I choose to live in West Michigan, so who can possibly muster any sympathy? Shouldn’t someone who detests cold winters live somewhere warm? One would think so. Oh, there’s plenty to do: skiing, snow shoeing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, sledding, snowman building… all invented by people who’d much rather be tiptoeing through the tulips on a bright spring day if only there wasn’t so much dang snow.

    Summers are great though. All twelve weeks of it. Around here, winter has an unrelenting habit of lingering. You’d think by April, that you could put away the boots and parka. But that would be wasted energy when the inevitable 16 inches lake affect snow gets dumped on the daffodil sprouts and throws them for a freaking loop. But they carry on, and eventually come up and thrive. One could learn a lot from a daffodil.

    It seems like just yesterday it was July, with the sun shining warm and kids playing video games in the house and the grass growing tall, in need of yet another mowing. And then it hits me like an invisible wall: I’m a gosh dang curmudgeon!

    This is something new for me. I’m usually pretty upbeat and don’t often use words like gosh dang and freaking. If you’re going to use an expletive, go for it I say. So don’t expect me to hold back next time the urge strikes. I’ll get it out of the way right now… hell.

    Now I realize it’s really warm outside. Thanks to global warming or El Nino or the weakening polar vortex or Donald Trump or whatever reason is in vogue, it’s sunny and 51 degrees and the grass is still surprisingly green, on the second day of winter, in Michigan! I also realize I’ve been doing a lot of complaining and pretty much ignoring the prompt. But I’ve done this before. By next week I’ll be writing about philanthropist hoboes or right winged male hookers or possibly a half stoned Rastafarian in Jamaica. But don’t get me started on the Caribbean… not when I’m here, in the 51 degree weather that seems practically balmy to me, but to a Jamaican would feel like a goddamn deep freezer (don’t say I didn’t warn you).

    So it’s time to think like a daffodil. Don’t be a wet blanket like me. Don’t use bad words just for effect. Get out your snow shovel and get some exercise. Unless of course, you have a bad heart. That’s what plow guys are for. For thirty five bucks, they come and clear your driveway and when the monthly bill arrives your heart gets a workout all over again. But don’t fret. Next year, the arrival of spring will be such a relief, it’ll be almost worth it. Until you have to go out and rake up the clumps of sod the snow plows churned up.

    1. jhowe

      Even though I wrote something silly and kind of off kilter, the weather really is mild here (record high temps) for this time of year. I’d be interested in hearing what it’s like and what is normal in your part of the world.

      1. Beebles

        very entertaining Jhowe. Here in Lincolnshire uk it is the same, confused flowers stumbling through the lush meadows and squirrels and hedgehogs having beach parties on the freshly blown in sahara sand. ‘Tits up’ i think is the phrase.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          A wonderful digress on the weather and Michigan. I like this kind of work from you. Now listern tight, high temp in San Antono today, 81degrees , Christmas eve, 83 degrees, cool front Christmas, 80 degrees. “Dont cry for me, Michigan!

      2. Observer Tim

        Alas, southern Alberta is seasonal; highs around zero (32 American) and a blanket of snow that really wants to turn to ice but can’t quite be bothered. Right now it’s -14 (about 7°F), but it’s a dry cold. At least it’s supposed to warm up next week…

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      That was a very nice weather report with lots of wise advice. We had to go to Orlando today where it was 82, Thai food was equally warm. Back in Wyoming, where we go for summers, it was a balmy mid-20s, 2 below last week. Nice to be in Florida.

    3. JosephFazzone

      I enjoyed reading this, jhowe! It really showed a lot about how you think. I can relate. I live in Los Angeles. It’s been cold and a bit windy, by L.A. standards. There’s always that chance of rain, but that’s usually as close as we get to seeing actual rain.

  13. Kerry Charlton

    How you can escape into the ‘grit’ of this lifestyle amazes me. You write with such power and accuracy. Somewhere in my mind, when you write of Sarah’s life, I think of Sally Fields playing her part in a movie.

        1. rle

          Yea I know, I don’t write much here anymore. I still read as often as I can though, and I just had to chime in with my official weather report. I’m just a little south of you jHowe in central Ohio. It’s 9:30 PM and it’s currently 61 degrees, and the best part is, we’re under a severe thunderstorm watch for the next couple of hours. The buds on my flowering cherry tree are very confused, I’ve been sweating my ass off for the last week cutting firewood, the cattle are temporarily back on pasture, and my lawn needs cut, but I’ve already cleaned up the mower and put it away. Sure feels a lot more like April than late December. Go figure. Merry Christmas everyone!!!

  14. Observer Tim

    WANDA’S REALIZATION
    A Crisis at Christmas, Penultimate

    Uncle Roger lays d-d-unconscious on the floor. Why can’t I write the word ‘dead’? He deserves it. How did he get here? How did he get out of prison? My head is sore from the effort of trying to write him out of existence.

    At least part of me is free; I’m not doing the primary writing now. I could tell that when Tanni and Wallflower came in, since Roger specifically told me not to write either of them into Limbo.

    Tanni is sitting naked in my lap, cat-girl arms wrapped around me and purring up a storm. She’s inside my personal space, but for the first time since I was six I don’t mind. I bury my face in her soft fur so she can’t see the tears of relief.

    And then the earthquake hits.

    I cling to Tanni as she squeals with joy. I’m not sure what an earthquake is supposed to be like, but at least it’s over quickly; first the apartment shook, then the jarring thud and the feeling of lightness. I don’t think earthquakes are supposed to damage gravity, but what do I know?

    Tanni grabs my hand and starts pulling me as she flies. No, not flying… swimming? That’s when I notice my clothes are soaked through. In fact, I’m breathing water, which is another level of weird. I’m definitely not writing this.

    We drift through the balcony door and out over the… lawn? But my apartment is on the fourteenth floor! And there’s snow on the ground and trees, and… um.

    Metal flakes are falling from the sky, drifting down like sheets of near-weightless aluminum foil. Each is squarish and about a foot across, and there are hundreds of them floating around.

    I finally clue in when Tanni hits the glass wall. Snow globe! We’re in a snow globe. Double-you-tee-eff? But I’m not inside the globe, I’m looking at it.

    “Lame transition, Tim.”

    “Sorry, it was all I could think of, Em. I’ll edit it later.”

    Huh? I’m in a study with a girl who looks a lot like me only her hair is blue and shoulder length, and a guy who looks like Santa’s scrawny brother on a metal peg leg.

    “No you won’t Tim. Wanda’s here, you know what that does to your editing ability. Typos only.”

    I look between them. “Do I know you two?”

    “I’m Tim, this is Emily. We met last year, in the ‘State of the Union’ prompt. I’m your writer, or a kind of self-projection of him.”

    “It was something about contracts, wasn’t it?”

    “That’s the one. There was a bit of a problem…”

    “Wait! You think I’m a fictional character, written by you! And there was some kind of evil you that made you write sex stuff and horror and things. Does Freud know about you?”

    “See Tim, I told you once she had a hint she’d get it. Wanda’s way smarter than you.”

    1. Observer Tim

      WANDA’S GIFT
      A Crisis at Christmas, Part Final

      “She’s not smarter than me. She’s just able to make the transition between character and metacharacter. When she gets back into her own stories she won’t remember any of this.”

      “Oh yeah, amnesia plot. Next you’re going to say it’s all a dream.”

      “Well, to them it will be. You can’t leave metastory in a character or their whole life devolves into a joke.”

      Wanda rounds on me, but addresses both of us. “Stop talking about me like I’m not here; you’re both just as much characters as I am. Watch this.”

      She types something on my keyboard. Suddenly Tanni and Wallflower are in the room with us. Wallflower looks surprised and nervous as she pulls the top of her dress back into place. A few more keystrokes and they vanish.

      Emily frowns, “What did you do?”

      “I put them back. This is about you and me, and that Uncle Roger monster. Why did you write him into existence?”

      Time for me to ‘fess up. “I didn’t. That was dark Tim.”

      “Hah! I said you were just a character too. What caused this?”

      “The USB with all my stories melted down, so I had to recover all of them. That got me thinking…”

      “And you decided to write a mash-up? You have got to be a writer. Okay, mister Meta, I put Tanni and Wallflower back; you have to do everyone else. And as much as I’d love to see you try otherwise, you’re going to have to make them think it never happened. Now get to it.”

      Ay-yi-yi; it’s like having a second Emily around. I sit down and start writing.

      ***

      “Merry Christmas, Eric! Merry Christmas, Wanda!”

      Jen pushes my laptop aside sets the box down on the coffee table. It’s about eight inches on a side and wrapped in purple velvet. Something inside goes thump.

      “What is it, Jen?”

      “It’s your gift, silly. You better open it before it opens itself.”

      Opens itself? I have a bad feeling about this. I pull the ribbon off and lift the lid, and a kitten jumps out. I reach for it but kitty is too quick. The tan and white fuzzy blur rushes up under my tee and begins chewing on my bra strap, purring all the while. I should be freaking out, but instead I’m giggling uncontrollably. Jen gives Eric a kiss.

      Eric smiles. “I told you she’d like it.” He turns to me. “What are you going to name her?”

      No thought needed, but I will change the spelling. “Her name is Tawny.”

      ***

      Merry Christmas, everyone. If you celebrate something else, I wish you joy and happiness doing so. Even if it’s just an ordinary day, may it be the best ordinary day ever!

      1. jhowe

        So, if this is the final part, are we going to be hearing anything from Tawny in future stories? You wrapped this up very nicely. Your methods throughout were very complex and enjoyable. I give you a lot of credit for pulling it off and keeping pretty much to the prompt, at least somewhat. Cheers.

        1. Observer Tim

          Thanks, John. The tricky bit was trying to match the narrative voice to the character; I hope the effect was a bit schizophrenic. 😉

          Tanni (the cat-girl/gatamorph) will be in her home universe with Captain Stefi and all the other characters from “My People”. Tawny (the kitten) is now a part of Wanda & Eric’s story.

          The USB crash is real; I spent the last few weeks copying all my stories off WD. It took a while because I kept stopping to read my stories and other people’s as well. 🙂

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Hi Tim, I enjoyed your character parade as well as any stories you put together. When I finish writing a story, I put it into Google Drive. You can always access even if you throw your lap top into a river.I also have a physical copy of everything I’ve ever written and keep them is a yearly three ring. So far, I’ve written close to three lineal feet of words. What I lack in quality, i make up in volume. Seven degrees? That’s a no no for San Antonio. Happy Turkey.

          2. ReathaThomasOakley

            Oh, Tim, so sorry about your crash. And, I truly don’t know how you keep up with all your characters, their adventures and their worlds.

      2. JosephFazzone

        I swear I read the whole thing with a smile on my face. So funny, and clever. I too go through those motions where I am having conversations with myself. They are great fun, but there’s always that smart ass me who gets the upper hand. I do not. Yes, you do! Awesome story, Tim!!

  15. cosi van tutte

    I heard them say “Merry Christmas” to each other.

    So.

    It’s Christmas time again.

    Weird.

    Wasn’t July just a week ago?

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. It probably is.

    I’m sure it is.

    I suffer from dyschronolo syndrome. It’s a rare condition that strikes only one person per century. I am the lucky person for this century.

    It’s a condition in which the mind can’t process the amount of days in between months. A month ago feels like a day ago. Six months feel like a week ago. Years…Only last month.

    No one knows what causes it. There is speculation that it’s caused by too much lactic acid in the blood, too much tv viewing during the developmental years, too many bumps to the back of the head.

    I only know that I have always been this way.

    Some say that dyschronolo syndrome is a blessing and a curse.

    Trust me. It’s only a curse.

    I’ve seen so many doctors in my life and endured so many experimental drugs.

    Experimental surgeries.

    Experiments.

    I don’t live at home anymore.

    I live here. In this lab.

    I am nothing to the people here. Just a fascinating test subject.

    I am just a lab rat to them.

    I don’t know how many Christmases I’ve lost, how many days and years have passed me by. I don’t know if my family misses me, if they’ve forgotten me.

    When is it day?

    When is it night?

    I don’t know.

    This lab is all whiteness with no clocks and no windows.

    I want to escape.

    I don’t know where I’ll run to, but I have to get out of here.

    I want to go home. If home is still there.

    I want my family.

    I want Christmas.

    I go to bed when they tell me to sleep. And so I sleep.

    I’ve done it for so many days, years, months, minutes, hours, seconds. They trust me to blindly, mindlessly obey.

    I always obey.

    What else can I do?

    This time, though.

    This time, I do not obey.

    I am strong.

    I am fast.

    I see my opening. An open door.

    I run.

    They try to catch me.

    They try to stop me.

    They yell for the tranq gun.

    No one knows where it is.

    They have never had to use it on me.

    Biddable, obedient me.

    I run.

    I flee.

    I fly.

    I am out the door into fresh air into freedom.

    No one will catch me.

    No one will stop me.

    I am free.

    Ah.

    What is this?

    What is it?

    I want to run home.

    I want my family.

    I want Christmas.

    But a clear barrier stops me.

    It is cold.

    It is smooth.

    Might be glass.

    Might be a special kind of plastic.

    I search frantically for a hole, for an opening, for a door, for an escape.

    It is cold.

    It is smooth.

    No matter where I put my hands.

    There is no escape.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hey Cosi, this is powerful. I hopped right in the mind of your MC. The flow was excellent, sad, poignant and scary at the same time. You were 10,000 years closer tob the prompt than I. My take on the MC, it’s entirely mental. How frightening to be on the mentally ill side and be captured. You actually describe an old movie, called the ‘Snake Pit’. I believe it was Olivia de Havilland who played the lead.

    1. jhowe

      This had an intensity to it, an internal spring that kept getting wound tighter as the story went on. The MC’s only choice now is to totally submit or blow up from the built up pressure. Nicely done.
      Ciao.

  16. cosi van tutte

    So, yeah. This story traveled fifteen hundred miles from the actual prompt.

    Santa walked through the workshop, snapping his fingers and singing, “It’s the Holiday season. So, whoop-ti-doo and dicketty quock. And the mouse ran up the northern clock. Because at preecisely twelve o’clock, I’ll be comin’ down the chimney down. Hoo-Hoo-Hoo! I’ll be comin’ down the chimeney down.”

    Louie the elf tried to ignore the wrong lyrics escaping Santa’s lips. He tried so hard.

    “Down. Down. Down.” Santa stopped behind him. ” Soooo, it’s the Holiday season. So, whoop-ti-doo and dicketty quock and the mouse ran up the northern clock.”

    Mara Q, the elf next to Louie, gave him a sympathetic look. “At least, he’s singing the right melody.”

    Louie could feel the veins bulging in his neck. “But they aren’t the right words.” He splattered way too much make-up on Baby Twiddley-Toes’ face.

    “Because at precisely tweeeeeelvvvvvve o’clock–” He clapped his hands one two onetwothree. “—I’ll be comin’ down Hoo-Hoo-Hoo! I’ll be comin’ down Hoo-Hoo-Hoo! I’ll be comin’ down the whatsit thingeeee deeeeooooownnnnn-uh!” He clasped his large belly and Hoo-Hoo-Hoo’ed until his face turned redder than usual.

    It was all too much more than he could bear. Louie set his paintbrush next to his palette and stood. “I’m sorry, Santa. But I can’t concentrate on my work. I need you to shut up!”

    Santa stopped, drummed his fingers on his belly a couple of times, and—“Sooooo, it’s the Holiday season. Soo, whoop-ti-doo and dicketty quock. So, the mouse ran up the-”

    “Rrrraaaugh!” Louie ran out of the workshop before he could give in to his violent inclinations. He bumped into an annoyingly tall elf.

    “Oh! Hi there, little fella! You look like you need a hug.” He reached for Louie with open arms.

    “Rrraaaugh!” Louie kicked the taller man’s shins.

    “Ow! Ooo. Ohh, you must be a South Pole elf.”

    Louie rushed past him before the tall weirdo could try anything else. He ran outside only to find the Snow Miser out there doing a musical number with his nimble Miserettes.

    “Come on, girls. Sing it!”

    The Miserettes formed a chorus line and high-kicked while singing, “He’s Mister White Christmas. He’s Mister Snow.”

    “That’s right!”

    A poofy looking snowman swobbled onto the scene. He pulled the corncob pipe out of his mouth and sang along with the girls. “He’s Mister Icicle. He’s Mister—”

    Their voices faded into the distance as Louie ran all the way to the Forest of Occasional Return. He stopped.

    The forest stood before him, a singularly straight line of green wood and orange gumdrop fruit.

    Louie knew the stories about the Forest of Occasional Return. About the trees that were alive and spiteful. The rotten gumdrop fruit that attracted stormcloud bees. And the invisible wall that could not be penetrated except on the third Sunday of the fifteenth December.

    “What am I doing here?” He didn’t really have a good answer to that question. “I should go back.” He thought about Santa’s mangled lyrics. “No. I can’t go back yet. I won’t. No one can make me go back there.”

    He entered the forest.

    The nearest gumdrop tree walloped his back, knocking him flat to the ground. “Get lost, ya crummy dummy elf. This here is my land.”

    Louie stood and dusted himself off.

    The tree swayed sarcastically. “Oh, did you fall down?” He walloped him again.

    Louie rose to his feet. Ire radiated from him like light from a sunrise. “If you knock me down one more time, I’ll—”

    “You’ll do what, elffie? What? What? You’ll knock me down? Ha! I’d like to see you try it.”

    “Oh, you would, would you?”

    “Yeah, I would.”

    “Fine! I’ll go get my ax.”

    “Yeah, you go do that. I’ll smother you with my fruit and you’ll be attacked by stormcloud bees and won’t you be weepy faced sorry.”

    “Rrraugh! I just came out here for some peace and quiet.”

    “Oh, you yokel headed crummy dummy.” He smacked the back of Louie’s head.

    “Quit touching me!”

    “You shouldn’t even be out here. It’s two days before Christmas. Even I know that. You’re supposed to be slapping together crummy presents so Santa can deliver them to lousy, licey human kids.”

    “I know that.”

    “It’s your job and your responsibility.”

    “Shut up! I know what my job is.”

    “So? What? What? Get your crummy self back to work and quit bugging me.”

    “I can’t. Santa keeps singing the wrong lyrics. I can’t stand it. It’s just horrible. It grates my nerves into bits. Bits, I tell you. Really small, really frazzled bits.”

    “You crummy dummy. You never heard of ear plugs?”

    “Ear plugs.” Louie calmed down. “Oh. I honestly never thought of it.”

    The tree swayed with an irritating level of smugness. “That figures.”

    Louie returned to the workshop and found that Santa had changed songs in his absence.

    “Up on the roof top super quick. Look! There he is: the good Saint Nick.”

    He cringed. “That is nothing like the real lyrics.”

    “Up on the chimney for a smoke. Look! There he is: the good old bloke.”

    He snagged a spare pair of earplugs from the Mechanics Division and jammed them into his ears.

    And there was silence. Wonderful blissful silence.

    Louie went back to work with a big smile on his face

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I loved it, I liked your lyrics better than the original. In the middle of yor story, you made a reference to ‘The Christmas Story’. Don’t think I didn’t catch it! There are so many funny lyrics and lines, it’s hard to pick one over the others.

    1. Observer Tim

      Ah, so many things can be solved by earplugs. This is brilliantly silly, Cosi; I love all the references to the Christmas TV specials, and the fact that the problem can be solved easily within a half-hour window. 🙂

  17. Kerry Charlton

    MANY AN ANT HAS FALLEN PREY TO TENNIS BALLS

    I looked pretty good for a leaf-cutter who reached his 79th birthday last April. The
    girls still looked me over now an then, paced beside me when they knew the leaf was to
    heavy for me. They helped me carry my burden while the master choose not to look. For I
    knew when I couldn’t carry, I would be used as food for the workers.

    The monster children stared at us on the safe side of the glass ant farm .with it’s
    intrinsic catacombs, storage rooms and pathways. Only the most trusted ants could enter the food storage area, where the leaves decomposed and became tasty morsels for the queen and her servants.

    I yearned for the outdoors and my lost love, Rosalie. We had lived a quiet life under the elm tree in the monster children’s back yard. With 105 children to keep us company, life was never dull. The tree provided all the food we needed and we lived under a small rock a few feet from the trunk..

    Then one day, the monster children, and monster father dug up our colony, Rosalie was gone as were over half my children. We were imprisoned in a glass box with food and soil.. We started to rebuild as the monster children watched with glee.

    Occasionally, one of the children would escape the box and wander across the sidewalk despite being warned of the danger from tennis balls. Monster children used them as targets, bouncing the balls to try to squash us. Did they care our children were hurt or died from their nonsense? Of course not. We did have razor sharp pinchers to gather the leaves for food but the monster’s skin was too tough, so we used our neighbors, the fire ants to bite and spit their sting into the monsters, sometimes making them cry.

    I wasn’t proud of bringing the fire ants to our rescue, for the monster children’s father poured gasoline down the fire ant mound and lit. a match. Severe heat ran through the tunnels and burned some ants but most had reached the bottom of the nest which lay six to eight feet under the surface. So the monsters tried flooding the nest, a big laugh on them as ants can walk on water, especially fire ants..

    So war existed between the ants and monsters, a futile war, that no one won. T he purpose for which had long been forgotten. So tradition took over,war was fought because it was always so even to the oldest ants and monster children. Tradition, hate, tradition kill, repeated over and over. I grew sick over the turmoil but managed to survive until one day, one of the monster children got mad at the other, threw the ant farm at a wall. The glass shattered, we escaped to a new tree and a new rock.

    The monster children grew tired of the kill and the constant sting of our friends, the fire ants. They said it was boring to kill ants, there were better things for them to do. We knew better, we had won, we knew better, our colony was decimated, we knew better, we had won, we knew better, we knew better, we knew B E T T E R !

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hey, Kerry!

      I really enjoyed this story. I imagined the “monster children” being a horrible combination of Sid from Toy Story and Darla from Finding Nemo.

      The whole last paragraph was just so triumphant and awesome. It actually made me happy for the ants. Great job! 😀

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you cosi, this just popped out of my mind. I have had huge battles, both with cut ants and fire ants, so I decided to tell ‘The Other Side Of The Story’.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Joseph, I wasn’t sure where this would end up, but what the hay, it’s Christmas. At least the ants put up a better battle then the Dallas Cowboys!

    2. jhowe

      My first story from the point of view of an ant. This was well done and socially intriguing. Your writing was really enjoyable and your message was inspiring. Good one.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you John. It is my first ant story. I had no idea what to do, then the glass hit me—-ant farm.The litle piss ants are tenacious little ‘you knows’ as well as the leaf cutters. Believe me, I have first hand experience. Thanks for stopping by.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Tim, sometimes it’s not easy to smile the day before Christmas. Usually, it’s the day after Christmas. Let’s see, cooking for seventeen tomorrow. Even if the other fifteen couldn’t make it, scattered around the country. Courage, Kerry!

  18. JosephFazzone

    In a flash, a brilliant white flash, I was transported in place in time.
    Gloves so white of cotton twine set my house just right.

    SNAP!

    A rat tat tat tat! A rump pum pum pum! And just like that, he was,
    the man of men, the merry, the myth… The mysterious Santee Claus!

    Describe him? Well Santa Claus like wardrobe, with a Santa Claus like beard, and those twinkling Santa Claus like eyes that twinkled, as the crinkled in a smile as wide as the day is long. He was delighted to meet me.

    “Franklin, I’m delighted to meet you.” His voice was low and warm that soothed and oozed in the brilliance of Christmas charm.

    He called me Franklin, should I thank him? I mean most people just made fun.
    But something in the way, his mannerism stayed caused me to take sum.
    His presence, he grew, as sure as a shrew, while he dressed somewhat comical.
    But the balls on this man to wear so much red were bordering on astronomical.

    “Franklin”, he said his cheeks rosy and red, “Not only am I delighted to meet you. I am here to give you a gift of gifts. So lost so kind, whom I’ve always adored, the selfless, the proud but always unadorned. I’m here to give you the gift you wanted in order to believe.”

    I was afraid, “I mean I’m twenty seven, so there’s never been much time for Santa these days. I thought I knew he/you didn’t exist when I used to believe that he/you did.” I looked at him plaintively. “You’re not real”, I said slowly. “This is a dream, and it’s just screaming cliché? What am I in, a giant snow globe? Who are you really? You were gigantic, and now you are my size.” I was in a huff, as I puffed and puffed. I wasn’t quite ready to give into this Christmas miracle stuff.

    He paused and looked at me as he complained. “You’re not using rhyme correctly. You’re going in and out, and it’s diminishing the miracle-ness of our encounter.”

    “Sorry”, I apologized.

    He spun in a circle, he spun slowly and neat, “With a tap of my toes, and off of my feet, I grow beyond stories beyond mountains to the sky! I’m ethereal, son, that’s how it’s done. Now watch me as I fly.”

    But he didn’t fly. There was a huge puff of smoke, and then he coughed and sputtered. He blurted an obscenity I wasn’t even sure I’d even heard before, and then he glared at me. “You see the whole thing fell flat. I told you to rhyme! Ugh! Rookies!” He paced up and down in a huff, and he puffed and puffed, it wasn’t just me struggling with this Christmas stuff.

    “Forgive me, Santa”, I said looking around. “You can understand my confusion. I thought you weren’t real.”

    “Well I am real”, he snorted, “But nowadays people don’t believe.”

    “So all those presents I got as a kid from you were real”, I said as it dawned on me.

    “None”, he said, “Why would I give you something with a name brand on it? They are the worst sort. If I had elves making you gifts, don’t you think I would use my own brand name? Why give them the credit?”

    I nodded. What else could I do?

    He took a breath, “I am talking about the spirit of Christmas, and what I do.”

    “Ah”, I said excitedly, “Some random stranger giving gifts by breaking into your house to deposit them does seem a bit creepy.”

    “Well especially when you put it that way”, he said with disdain. “Think of it more about a person who spends every moment of his life thinking only to give. The idea that I give gifts is not the point. You must only give yourself.”

    “Sounds selfless”, I agreed not believing that was as easy as it sounded.

    “Sounds like Christmas”, he winked knowingly. “A present that is never wrapped.”

    “So why do we get presents?” I asked.

    “That wasn’t me”, he said sadly. “People don’t listen to me. I can only appear to special souls. Sadly there are few as pure as you.”

    I didn’t feel so pure, but let the man have his delusions. He was Santa after all.

    “Gifts were the invention of the corporation, the machine that uses money as oil that churns and burns with greed, and twists the very fabric of Christmas into a merchandizing bonanza!” He was out of breath for a moment. He looked very sad as his eyes sank downward.

    I realized what I needed to do. “Santa”, I began slowly, “I suppose you know that this story should grow in hopes of teaching the masses…”

    He looked up, and I continued.

    “…but we masses need to wear glasses to manage the data that’s not taught in classes.”

    He smiled slightly.

    I continued a bit less shaken,

    “So thank you for what you’ve given and as long as I am living. I promise to tell this tale…
    so that you’re legend is never ending until Christmas is not for sale.”

    He bowed to me and gave me a grin.

    “Thank you, Franklin…” He took a deep breath and gave me a wink. “Thank you!”

    And then he bowed a second time and took a merry turn.
    Up up up he flew into the sky, and in my head I heard.

    “Christmas is as Christmas was, and nothing else holds true
    For the only gift worth giving is living within the depths of you.”

    ——–

    Merry Christmas everyone!!

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Joseph!

      This story had so many wonderful elements: the humor, the bumbled rhyming. But those last two lines were just perfect.

      Merry Christmas to you too! 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you for the spirit of Christmas, Joseph. I’m not sure of course, but perhaps you have spilled mout your entire personality in your story. You may deny the fact, but I’m not buying it. Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is beautiful in a lopsided kind of way. I love the way you brought the elements together around the theme of belief. The whole self-consciousness of the tale helps make it delightful, and the final message is wonderful. Merry Christmas to you as well, Joseph! 🙂

  19. Bushkill

    Snow Globe
    (Been busy with another project for a while … feels good to get back at these short responses. Enjoy …I did.)

    The world just ended.

    I mean, I moseyed up to the edge of the ice sheet, but I couldn’t go any further. It’s as if everything was done and there weren’t any more anythings.

    Terribly vexing.

    Stan, my lovable alpaca friend, was huddled down next to the igloo trying his best to keep the sun on his coat and the snow off it. Sometimes it would blow and gust so much that it was impossible to see even a little bit and Stan didn’t much like that.

    Jimmy was different. He sat just to my left, staring at the ice. His gleaming white coat shone in the harsh light but it would get dark soon and then the lights would dance across the sky. Jimmy was a bear of a man, too. He didn’t take anything from anyone else in the camp and had strong words, often growled, to anyone that got too close. Tough dude.

    There was the funny guy dressed in red too. Hat tilted sideways and always bellowing out in great guffaws, what a card. He kept a pack of reindeer on a pretty tight leash. Which he needed to do a better job of. One of them had gotten a little mouthy with Jimmy and had gotten bopped in the nose. It shone brightly.

    There was a kind woman, too. She was kneeling in the snow on the side of a manger. Which was bad enough, her skirts and clothes were going to get all wet, but she had put her baby in the manager! ‘Spose the hay is as soft as things are gonna get around here, but it’s got Dominic in a real tizzy.

    What could you say about Dominic? He was such an ass. Always on about something or other without a care in the world for the rest of them. Did he ever stop to think that they didn’t want to hear his musings? Probably not.

    Night came suddenly. It always did. One minute bright and shiny, and then the next, total darkness. A couple of seconds later the lights could be seen arcing through the heavens. It was a kaleidoscope of color at first and then it broke into its familiar rhythm, red, then blue, green, and finally yellow. The cycle would repeat all night long. They stretched long patterns across the curved skies.

    I could see them dimly, and shielded my vision from a glare to my right to see them better. It was quite beautiful.

    A shadow crossed the heavens and I felt the whole world move. Little tufts of snow stirred all around me and my friends. There was a heavy and sudden shake and then a soft ‘click’ that seemed to signal an end to the motion.

    Snow stormed around in angry little whirling dervishes. I tried to see my friends, but they were lost on the other side of the storm. All I saw was my frosty reflection, flipper to forehead, all black and white.

    1. gamingtheblues

      The serious, rather bleak life of a snowglobe figurine. Thank god he does not know of the world he is missing outside. I enjoyed this take on the prompt.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I enjoyed this immensely. I’m not sure your MC wasn’t a Walrus, perhaps a John Lennon variety. The descriptive verse was wonderful. Great response.

        1. Bushkill

          I was going for a penguin ala the Frosty Friends motif from Hallmark. My mom’s been giving them to me for close to forty years. I had to cut the Coke bottle – bear reference though. Thanks for your comment.

  20. sudhiriyer

    I smell freedom. It’s in the air – Holidays, Christmas, and my birthday on Boxing day.

    I vividly recollect my crying in anxiety and nervousness during my exams earlier this year. I had felt victimized by the length of time that separated me from the happier days of December and by the gauntlet of Semester exams I had to complete back then.

    “I will be at Emmanuel’s, Mummy”, I shout as I leave the home. But then I realize, I am home alone for a couple of hours.

    It’s chilly. -5 degree Celsius, reads the weather app on my mobile phone. I walk down the steps outside my block and, as I often like to do, I jump off the last but second step and to land on lawn path cutting across our driveway. It often left me satisfied to land my feet exactly on the two spots that bore my shoe-prints from my repeated jumps.

    But today as I jump, I am thrown back after hitting myself against something that appeared to be a wall. The nose hurts. I try to feel my nose as it feels moist but there was no blood on my fingers. I could breathe, still, but the air smelled stale.

    What was that? There is nothing ahead. It is as clear as daylight. I rise and move my jaw in circles to make myself feel better from the shock.

    I stand on the last step and bend forward slightly and move my hands forward to feel the barrier, if there was any.

    Yes, there is something. Feels like glass, but little squishy.

    I press my hand into the barrier and it forms a depression and my hands enter in. I feel being pulled in. I try to withdraw myself by bending backwards but no sooner do I try to get myself out than I see a distorted image of a large hand from within the glass barrier clench me and my home.

    I transcend down through a vortex into a time warp and I see familiar objects floating around – my home, the neighbourhood, parents, teacher, school, my bicycle….

    And then, a familiar sight presents itself – Santa – but he is looking away from me. I see his big bulky back in Santa suit. I rejoice this special moment of being drawn into something so surreal. I inch closer towards him and cry out in excitement “Santa!” He turns back.

    Terror stares at my face!

    He has vampire fangs! Santa? I grasp for breath and feel my heart pounding hard against my chest. I feel every hair rising – Goosebumps of extreme fear.

    Terrified, I yell out: “Wh..Who are you? Sa-Sa-Santa? Your face? And fangs?”

    “I am not Santa. I am Krampus”, he replies in a loud, sinisterly voice.

    “Cr-Cram-pus?Who?”

    “I go around with Nick this time of the year.” the devilish figure replies.

    “Who is Nick?” I ask, still terrified.

    I watch the face has grown bigger in the moments we spoke, and the surroundings darker and with every passing moment. I now only see the face and its scary features with unavoidable clarity.

    “Nick? Ah, Nicholas! You know him as Santa Claus. I call him Nick. He gifts and I punish – punish the badly behaved children like you, Johny. This is time to read out your wrongdoings and improprieties to you.” And he continues with a litany of misdeeds, all of them reportedly mine –

    “Sticking chewing gum underneath school desks, copying in exams, missing school, forging father’s signature on absence notes and faking false doctor’s certificates, doing all your assignments and homework by halves, refusing to work harder to improve your grades…. the list is, well, rather, long and I have to punish you for these and time is not on my side this year. You see, I have a long list of homes to visit this year. There isn’t much goodness around and so Nick’s got lesser to do and I have more.” Saying this, he takes out a rusty chain and remarks, “This shall do for now to punish you with.”

    “But hang on, Cr-Cram-pus. How do you claim these are my misdeeds? What assurance do you have? I plead innocent. I have been at my best behaviour this year and have been really working hard in everything at school. My parents have been quite happy with my performance and behaviour. So what makes you think it’s me?”, I surprise myself by gathering enough courage to interrogate.

    I think to myself,”I may have rung my death knell by making that inquiry.” On the contrary, it turns out differently.

    “Isn’t this 52 Naivakananumi, Herlstone Park, 2454?”, he asks with a confused countenance and with a GPS like device in his hand!

    “Oh! No, Saint Crampus!”, I exclaim in anticipation of hope to send him away and by exhibiting my good behaviour by addressing the dastardly creature as ‘Saint’.

    I added,“This is 52 Vaikananumi, Herston Park, 2545. You’re at the wrong address. Miles away but so sound so similar. Not entirely your fault, Sainth Crampus!”

    “Damn! I had told Nick, I mean Santa, that I can’t operate these modern day inventions!”, he complains showing me his GPS device. “Fat fingers you see! I apologise for bothering you. I will key in the right address into this box and continue on my way. I have a lot of catching up to do.”

    “Will you put me back where I came from?” I ask, again in anticipation of being released.

    “Of course!” he says and disappears.

    I find myself on the last step outside my home, back into my real world. I hurriedly run back into my home. I pause, turn back and laugh out by staring at my address plate that is erect on our driveway at such an angle that I can read “52 Naivakananumi, Herlstone Park!” It’s the laugh of deception. I smell freedom again. It’s in the air!

    1. gamingtheblues

      I really didn’t see the little sneaker as lying!! He fooled me too! This was fun, interesting and entertaining in a tongue-in-cheek way. Silly it may be, but there is room for silliness in the Christmas Season!

    2. gamingtheblues

      I really didn’t see the little sneaker as lying!! He fooled me too! This was fun, interesting and entertaining in a tongue-in-cheek way. Silly it may be, but there is room for silliness in the Christmas Season!

    3. JosephFazzone

      That part where you talk about him always aiming for the same spot he jumped earlier is great! Such a random little detail that says so much about his personality. Great fun to read! I love the ending. Freedom is back in the air!!

  21. ReathaThomasOakley

    Under the Dome
    1906 (Early morning after last prompt story, very short, more might follow this week to move the story along. Horace took the third door.)

    Sarah slowly opened her eyes and wondered why she was awake, Baby was blessedly asleep in the cradle next to the bed, Horace was snoring next to her, the smell of whiskey stinging her nose with every ragged breath he took.

    “Fetch me the liquor,” he’d said, sharp like, soon as he’d got home from town.

    He’d laughed when she gasped and said, “Oh, Horace, you ain’t got snake bit, have you?”

    “Snakes ain’t likely, wouldn’t want me anyhow,” he’d said and she knew he’d started drinking in town.

    “You got Baby’s papers?”

    “Papers? Oh, the courthouse, the birth certificate. No, they gotta mail it. I gotta take a walk, don’t want no supper,” he’d said, then took the bottle and went out the back door.

    Baby’d woke up when he fell into bed. Now both she and Horace were asleep and Sarah was awake. Maybe something outside, gotta talk to Horace ’bout gettin’ us a dog, she thought as she slipped from the bed and went to the window and pressed her cheek against the glass.

    “So hot it’s been,” she whispered, then stopped at what she saw. Sarah didn’t bother with a wrapper or shoes as she hurried down the stairs and out the front door. The bare dirt yard was covered with snow; big, fluffy flakes fell on her eyes as she lifted her face to the dark sky. “Like home, like home, like home,” she said as she danced. But, suddenly she slammed against something hard and colder than the snow under her feet. “No, no, no…” she cried as she couldn’t move and tears wet her cheeks.

    “Sarah,” Horace sat up in bed. “What you doin’ bangin’ yore head on the window? Get on back in bed.”

    “What?” She stammered as she turned. “Oh, I musta…”

    “Don’t matter now, all that ruckus done woke the baby,” Horace got out of bed. “I’m goin’ downstairs, ain’t gonna get no sleep here.”

    As Sarah went to the screaming baby she felt as if a giant hand had reached into her chest and was tearing out her heart.

    1. gamingtheblues

      Reatha, I am beginning to learn who your characters are and this is a very good thing. I felt bad for Horace last week, being snookered by Sue Ann. Now…I despise him and my heart feels for Sarah. Next week you are going to tell me Sarah kicks puppies in her spare time ;(

      Excellent job creating characters that feel alive and real. This was really really good.

    2. Bushkill

      I missed the original, but your characters are quite alive. You say just enough to paint a picture and leave a little room for the reader’s personal reflection on each of them. Love it.

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      Your characterizations are so consistent from prompt to prompt. Especially with Sarah and her way of talking.

      As for this story, I feel so bad for Sarah. You’ve made her such a sympathetic character. I just want her to live happily ever after with Horace and her baby, but there’s that body in the future attic. 🙁 Poor thing.

      It’s going to be interesting to see how you handle her untimely but inevitable demise. 🙂

    4. Observer Tim

      I continue to be immensely pleased by your development of complex realistic characters, and the by the fascinating setting you’ve put them in. I can definitely feel for Sarah, and Horace, both too far down the road to turn back and each for their own reasons. Unless you have a major twist planned, I think the close of this chapter will be very tragic.

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