Thursday, December 24, 2009

#fridayflash: The Antigravity Flymabob

The Antigravity Flymabob
by Eric J. Krause

Beezle charged through the workshop, sweat beading on his forehead. What had the elves done with it? The Antigravity Flymabob was the only thing that would get Santa around the world in one night. Sure the reindeer would get him off the ground, and they could weld a rocket onto the sled, but flying and magically flying were two very different things. Why couldn't the elves be as careful as the gnomes?

He heard all the fanfare that accompanied the take-off, punctuated by Santa's jolly ho-ho-ho's. Wouldn't that end quickly if Beezle couldn't find it. The elves, always looking for a way to get on the gnomes' good side, had promised it'd be on the sleigh, but ten minutes to go and where was it? They might be great at making toys, but when it came to magic you couldn't trust an elf as far as you could throw him.

Beezle grumbled under his breath. No Antigravity Flymabob here. He'd have to go out and tell Santa. He'd just ask the elves, but he doubted they even remembered making the promise, let alone where they left it. At least no one outside the North Pole knew gnomes existed. The entire blame for a ruined Christmas could rest on the elves' scrawny shoulders.

Beezle hurried out to the launch pad. Every second counted if they were going to get Santa off with enough time to keep Christmas on schedule. He busted through the door and into the crowd.

"Wait!" Beezle shouted. "Don't go yet!"

With all of the noise, no one heard him. He looked over to the sleigh and saw the Antigravity Flymabob latched snugly in place. He glanced over to the group who'd promised to put it in. They looked over at Beezle, smiled, and saluted. Before turning back to watch Santa depart, they said something. Though Beezle couldn't hear over the din of the crowd, he could read their lips. "Merry Christmas, Beezle!"

Beezle grunted and allowed himself a small smile. Maybe the elves weren't so bad after all.

Friday, December 18, 2009

#fridayflash: Summer Santa

Summer Santa
by Eric J. Krause

"Santa left a present, Uncle Jim."

Jim patted Nat, his four-year-old niece, on the head. "No, Natalie. Remember? Santa Claus only comes at Christmas."

"I saw him, Uncle Jim, I saw him. He was even dressed for summer."

Jim would have to ask his sister, wherever she was, if Nat often had imaginary friends. It'd keep him prepared for next time he came to visit. "What did he look like?"

"He had on shorts and a t-shirt that he painted red. And he took off his beard and his belly. Mommy says summer Santa has a total surfer's bod."

Jim struggled to keep a straight face. "I don't know, Nat. That doesn't sound like the Santa I know."

She glanced around and leaned up to give him a conspiratory whisper. "Santa is Daddy."

"Oh yeah?"

She nodded, grabbed his hand, and lead him to the living room. "See? There it is. He didn't need to wrap it because it's not Christmastime."

Jim peaked into the room. In the middle of the floor stood a wicker basket with something oozing out. Oh crap, was that blood?

"Nattie, honey, why don't you go up to your room? I'll be there in a couple of minutes."

"But I wanna see what Santa brought me." Her bottom lip quivered. Brent had confided in him once that he was helpless when she pulled off that look. If what was in the dripping basket was what Jim thought, would Brent ever again be around for it to work its magic? Not if Jim could help it.

"It's not for you, sweetie. Santa only brings grown-ups gifts in the summer."

She started to protest, but a quick offer of a trip to the toy store and ice cream shop hushed her up. She skipped up the steps, humming a song as she went.

Jim turned his attention back to the wicker basket. That had to be blood. What else could it be? He hesitated for a second, not wanting to see, but powerless to walk away. He'd never really gotten on with Brent, felt there was something off about the guy, but was he capable of this? More important, was this why Sara wasn't here?

He flung the lid open. Relief and horror mixed, becoming one. It wasn't Sara, but the decapitated head of some shaggy-haired blond guy. The stench of death wafted up at him, and though his stomach turned and clenched, he kept himself from losing his lunch on the already stained carpet. Puke after this is solved, he told himself.

A flash of color on the lid tore his attention from the head. He found a piece of paper inside with "You're next, you cheating whore," written in what was probably the blond guy's blood.

He slammed the lid back down. Shit. He needed to warn Sara, needed to get Natalie somewhere safe. When he got here and found Sara gone, he'd guessed she was out running errands. Now he hoped to god that was true. He dug in his pocket for his cell phone, but before he could flip it open, Brent spoke from behind.

"You picked the wrong day to visit, bro."

Jim spun around just in time to see a hatchet screaming for his head.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Holiday Story

With Christmas coming up, don't forget that a great gift writers can give their family and friends is a short holiday story. This doesn't cost much at all (maybe a few pennies when you factor in the printer ink and paper), and it's a unique gift that only those closest to you will receive.

I try to write one that fits on a single page (usually ends up being single-spaced with bigger margins than normal) so it's easy to fit into Christmas cards. My family has expressed that they love opening up their cards and finding a short holiday story to read. Though I usually write speculative fiction (more often than not on the dark side), I stick with nice and happy themes and ideas for this story. There's no wrong way to go, however. If your family and friends prefer that walk on the dark and scary side, by all means write it for them.

While I keep my family holiday stories simple black on plain white printer paper (though I usually type them up with a fancy font), you can dress yours up with colorful paper and ink. The sky really is the limit. So if you're searching for that little something extra for your loved ones, why not take the time to write a short story for them (or a poem if that's more your style)? They'll love the special feeling that such a unique gift can bring! Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

#fridayflash -- Slice of Cake

Slice of Cake
by Eric J. Krause

The slice of wedding cake thawed. She watched it. In the freezer for a year, and now out to find its final moments. She laughed at the irony, the similarity. That way she wouldn't cry.

Through this first year, their newlywed year, she smiled each time she popped open the freezer and saw their cake waiting to help them celebrate year one. Rick admitted he did the same. For the first six months, he couldn't have been a more perfect husband.

Then the late nights started. At first she understood. He brought home good money, better than good money. Enough so she could quit her stupid dead-end job to focus on being a mommy. Too bad he was shooting blanks.

Strike one.

Not to say she couldn't deal with it. Adoption was an option. Or a sperm bank. But it was still a blow to her happiness. A minor one, it turned out, to what she'd soon learn.

As part of her perfect little housewife routine, she did all the laundry. Rick knew it and should have been more careful. She couldn't decide if she was glad or not that he was too stupid to remember. How could he bring home a tiny leopard-print g-string that smelled of sex?

Strike two.

She didn't confront him. He always said he enjoyed that she didn't bring the drama, so she wouldn't start now. Anyway, it was better to wait until he created more rope to hang himself with. And preferably enough to hang whoever the slutty whore was he was banging.

Not long after that she realized he was too dumb to cover anything up effectively. For the first six months of marriage, not to mention the year they'd dated, he couldn't keep his hands off her. Pretty good, she realized now, for a guy who didn't have enough fish swimming in his pond. About the same time she discovered his secret, their loving dropped to once a week, twice if she'd hit the sexual jackpot. Gee, could those damp panties he brought home in his pockets way too often have anything to do with it?

She could live with both of those. Rick still provided her with a nice life. She had options. Adoption, her own affair, plenty of shopping. She could make due. Not just make due, but have a nice life. And since he thought he was hiding it all, he still treated her like a human being when they were together.

But what would she do if that respect dropped out altogether?

Strike three.

He stumbled home at seven AM on the morning of their anniversary at the exact moment she took it from the freezer. Their wedding cake. Their symbol, defrosting on the counter as she'd hoped their love would that night in the bedroom.

But here he was, twelve hours late, hung over with dried blood under his nose, lipstick on his collar, and who knows what kind of fluids in his undershorts. If he even managed to pull them on.

He mumbled something and somehow found his way to the stairs. With no need to have him call in sick to work, a perk to the millions he pulled in for his company each year, she let him go up to grab some sleep. And she turned her attention back to their cake, her cake.

Now, with dinner over, they looked at that slice of cake. Like their marriage, she'd dressed it up with a fancy serving dish and a new heap of frosting. Rick took a bite and wondered what the strange taste was. She could only shrug and suggest that the freezer added some interesting flavors.

She didn't mention that Drano, rat poison, and bug spray probably didn't taste so great, either.