Wednesday, December 27, 2023



Art by Gabby

"Pretty puppy, Papa!" Darla exclaimed, immediately rushing in to squeeze the poor thing to death as only a tot can. Her father caught her before she could do any harm.

"Calm now, please," her father implored. "he's fragile."

"Fragile?" Darla asked. Her interest in the answer subdued her squirming somewhat.

"Fragile. Delicate. Easily hurt. We have to be careful with him since he's still so little."

The words "Okay Papa!" preceded a jerk toward the box in which the poor pup had been placed. The puppy, for its part, darted around the box, excited by the excitement.

"Darla, you're going to be a big girl now and you have to take care of the puppy. This means we pet like this-" he pet her head gently, "-and no grabs or hard pats. Okay?"


"Do you understand?"

"I 'stand."

"Show me on my arm please."

Darla stroked her father's arm politely and gently. Her father nodded.

"Okay, let's say hello."

"Hello!" was more squeaked than said as Darla flew out of her father's arms and toward the dog. Keeping her promise, she stopped dead at the edge of the box and tentatively lowered her hand down into it.

"Let him sniff you first - that's how dogs say hello."

The pup snuffled around Darla's hand for a moment before taking a playful nibble.

"Oh!" Darla exclaimed in another squeak. "He bit me!"

"He's trying to play - are you okay?" Her father extended his hand to look at her injury.

She drew her hands into her chest and started giggling and wiggling her shoulders back and forth.

"What's up sweetie?"

"He wants to play!" Such excitement could not be contained.

"He sure does - why not give him some more gentle pets? Maybe he'll lick your fingers this time."

"Oh! Okay!"

Darla lowered her hand into the box again and carefully, carefully stroked the animal as it wormed around, excited to learn the rules of this new game.

"Eek!" Darla exclaimed after a few moments.

"Oh? Did he bite you again?"

"No! Dah-Dee!! He's licking me!"

Her father let out a chuckle of relief.

"He likes you! Do you want to pick him up and give him a little hug?"


Her father helped her pick up the creature and snuggle with it for a moment.

"So, what do we name him?" her father asked.

[Author's note - this is where I normally put some twist, but you get to choose your own adventure this time. Highlight your selected choice. Happy New Year!]

Boring: "Spot!"

Cute: "Brownie! 'Cause he nibbled me like I nibble brownies!"

Absurd: "Doctor Henry Kissinger."

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Greater Than or Less Than?


Art by Gabe
"Greater than!"

"Less than."

"Greater than!" the bearded man in the plaid shirt punctuated his words by shoving the mustached man in actual flannel.

"Fuck you!" the second man exclaimed as he recovered his balance.

"Guys, guys, let's just chill," the bartender said, attempting to calm things down as best he could from behind the bar.

"Fuck off!" the two men said at the same time. The bartender responded by raising his hands to indicate he didn't want to cause more trouble. He brought his hand back down to the bar after a moment.

"You two know I can't have fights in here. Either you calm down or you take it outside."

"I'm calm," the mustached man said angrily. "It's this fucker who's mad."

"I'm not mad - I'm completely fucking sane!"

"Who said anything about sanity?" the mustached man asked.

"You said I was mad - crazy!"

"I meant you were pissed!"

"I'm not drunk either!"

"I don't care who's drunk, crazy, or angry," the barman said, sidestepping the wordplay issue. "There's to be no fighting in here - and that includes shoving, jostling, or other non-consensual contact. If you want to play rough, you have to leave."

"Sorry boss," the bearded man grumbled.

"I'm not - this guy's all fucked up." the mustached man said.

"What the hell are you two even arguing about anyway?" the bartender asked.

"He says there's greater enjoyment to be had from alcohol than from video games," the mustached man said, pointing at the bearded man. "And that's nuts."

"And he's--" the bearded man started before the bartender hollered over him.

"Gentlemen! Gentlemen! I don't care which brings you more pleasure, but you're both in my bar. If you keep this shit up, I'm going to make the alcohol stop flowing. Now will you both shut up?"

The men nodded and gave their assent - more into their beers than to the bartender. The bartender went back to the other customers.

"So what do you think," the bearded man whispered. "Are there more doors or wheels in the world?"

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Dear Satan,


Art by Francis

Santa rode the hellhound ragged.

"Onward, beast!" he cried, kicking his heels into the creature. "Onward! Onward!"

The beast obeyed as best it could. Its supersonic speed made the pair look like a blur to anyone they passed.

It had been a cruel trick, but that's what comes of making deals with the devil. It seemed like a shortcut. It seemed like a good deal. Don't they always?

The problems started when the sleigh broke after dodging a particularly nasty bout of anti-aircraft fire. Santa and crew had managed to limp home and patch things up enough to finish the rounds, though Prancer and Dancer would take months to recover. The whole mishap caused a rift in the North Pole community.

A debate raged through January and into February as to what fundamental changes should be made to the sleigh and present delivery system. One major camp wanted to up-armor the thing and issue flak-jackets - at least for use through active war zones. The other major camp pushed for speed above all else - why worry about being hit if you can't get hit? Terms like "acceptable casualties" and "titanium bathtub" were bandied about. The cost, both in materiel and man-hours, was another sticking point - if there was a lucky strike or other issue, would any of this be worth the trouble?

It was into this fray another red-clad figure stepped. Satan, visiting the North Pole to belatedly pass along some mis-addressed mail, listened with interest. Attuned to strife, he quickly formulated a plan. An offer. It was simple enough: the reindeer would work for Satan for a time and Santa could ride a hellhound. It couldn't pull a sleigh, but it was faster and impervious to the weapons of man.

When asked why he wanted the reindeer, some words about worming into children's hearts were spoken, though they rang false. The issue at hand, however, forced Santa to make a decision. After much haggling and contract-writing, a bargain that ensured Satan would never harm the reindeer was struck. Provisos for the repair of the sleigh and other improvements to Santa's workshop were included. It was too good a deal to pass on - especially as it was only to last one Christmas. Or, at least, that's what Santa had thought.

The deal had originally been set to end at 11:59pm on New Year's Eve the next time New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve were on the same day of the week. The wording had been waved away as magical formality when first questioned - the to Eves were seven days apart and are always on the same day of the week (if Christmas Eve is a Thursday, New Year's Eve will also be on a Thursday).

At the last minute, however, Satan asked for a one day extension. He asked to change New Year's Eve to New Year's Day and Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. No one worried too much - after all the bargaining back and forth, what was another 24 hours?

As you may have guessed, not all was fine. While Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve are seven days apart, Christmas Day and New Year's Day are 359 days (360 days on leap years) apart. Barring manipulation like the switch from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar, Santa had signed a permanent deal.

"Onward! Onward!" he cried again, pushing the beast to its limits. Every ounce of hate he had for himself for sentencing his reindeer to servitude to Satan came out in his treatment of the hellhound. Where once he was jolly with a belly full of jelly, he was now hateful with a heart full of spite.

The Devil, for his part, watched and laughed. He wondered what Vixen was thinking as Santa whipped him, seeing only his hellhound form.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Mister Green Christmas

[Author's Note: this was written for the 2023 Weird Christmas Flash Fiction Contest.]

“He’s right behind us!” Jangle screamed as we ran. It was a waste of breath. Of course he was right behind us.

For my part I knocked over a dozen shovels and shoulder-checked a six foot snow globe in the hope that the debris might slow down our pursuer. Vixen neighed frantically a couple dozen yards ahead.

It was madness.

We sprinted forward, jumping over small boulders and juking around corners. We raced through the lunatic’s labyrinth expecting every step to be our last.

“Here!” Jangle cried out, ducking into a hole. I nearly decapitated a decorative thermometer as I used it to swing myself into the crevice. A gate clanged shut the moment I was inside.

“That should hold him for a bit,” Jangle tried to convince himself.

“Fuu-uuck.” I let out, catching my breath.

Then a yelp pierced the air. The smell of burning hair started to fill the tunnel.

“Vixen!” we yelled in unison.

A maniacal laugh boomed from outside the gate. We watched in horror as the madman gripped the reindeer’s now-glowing head in his hands.

“Whatever I touch starts to melt in my clutch,” he said, following the statement with a smug laugh. “I’m too much.”