Posts Tagged ‘flash fiction’


A bright new star appeared in the sky on December 1st. It didn’t hover above a chosen town. It just wheeled alongside the other stars. But then the other stars went out and something in our collective psyche snapped. Panic lit the riots. Riots ignited mass hysteria. Mass hysteria burned into mayhem. There’s no media or Internet anymore but people say half of America died in a week. I believe it. Our guards in the entrance tunnel hear gunfire every night.

And they hear drums. A cult took over the factory in the valley. Some members of our camp escaped the cult. We don’t repeat their stories. We have nightmares of our own. But the cult believes there are “Elder Gods” in the sky. They say that Christmas never belonged to Christ and those with false beliefs will be consumed on Christmas Day.

Tonight we decorated the tree. We hung the stockings. We read stories to the children and tucked them in bed. We have modest gifts to give and a wild turkey to cook.

But I can’t sleep. So I put the tiny, cracked porcelain Jesus in the manger and went to the entrance tunnel. The rifle is cold in my lap as I stare at the leaden curtain of the opening and listen to the drums. I’ll be here all night, waiting to see what Christmas brings.



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keep-calm-and-sing-christmas-songs-3( Here’s a seasonal flash fiction piece I’m posting here as a gift. Well, it’s either that or a letter from the near future. You decide. )

Invasions come in two speeds: fast and slow. Fast invasions rely on surprise and a massive use of force. Think Normandy or presidential campaigns. Slow invasions rely on stealth and subversion. The opponent doesn’t notice until it’s too late. The Kringles, as I call them, chose the latter approach.

In the halcyon age of my parents’ youth, you didn’t hear “Jingle Bells” or see so much as a strand of tinsel until December 1st. Then it was the day after Thanksgiving, a day ominously dubbed Black Friday. Then it was mid-October while the Halloween rush was still in full swing. Then September right alongside the start of the Halloween season and two decisive fronts emerged. First, national department store chains added dedicated, year-round Christmas sections. Second, dedicated Christmas stores (or, more cleverly, ’boutiques’) popped up both as brick and mortar locations and online. Soon after that, Christmas in July parties became commonplace.

Even those who did notice the expansion of Christmas thought nothing of it. Capitalism had invaded first. Steadily growing revenues and entrepreneurial efforts were to be applauded, not feared. Nobody cared that the popular hues of paint and clothing colors all came from the Christmas palette. Nobody cared that people were humming “Here Comes Santa Claus” in May, in April, in March. Easter fell with little resistance because Christianity had run its course and fruit cake still seemed fresh that early in the year. Valentine’s Day was an even easier conquest because it shared the themes of love and over spending and sweets. It even dressed in red.

The Kringles were patient and devious. It was many years before Santa Claus served as Grand Marshall in the 4th of July parades and longer still before elves wearing red and white camo marched alongside his reindeer driven sleigh on Memorial Day. Thanksgiving, of course, had belonged to them for as long as anyone could remember.

I think the worst of it all, the most terrible thing, is that nobody seems to care. We just change the ornaments on our plastic trees, swap the strings of lights on the shrubs for a different color, and wrap the next round of gifts we can’t afford. We like not having quite so many colors to choose from. (Who has time for dozens of shades of white? Snow is beautiful.) We don’t care that our delivery people all wear pointed hats and shoes. We don’t worry that the most common boys name for years has been Chris and the most common name for girls is Kristine. People say it’s just a trend. But trends don’t last decades.

How did this happen? I think the answer is right there in the lyrics and the stories. We sing our conviction that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year” and Scrooge inspires us to “try to keep it all the year.” The lights, the parties, the joy, the smiles, the gifts, the food…we adore it all. The Kringles, whoever they really are, planned their campaign well. They found a weakness and exploited it. We handed our lives over without a shot.


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Pleased to announce that my flash fiction tale, “Displaced Demons” is now available for your reading entertainment in the UK webzine, Grievous Angel. It’s a quick take on a localized disaster involving oni, a popular form of demon in Japanese folklore. I wrote several flash and short stories last fall while taking a break from revising the novel I’m (still) working on and this is the first to be published.

I first learned about the oni while studying Japanese culture in college. But it was years later when I first read, The Funny Little Woman to my sons that I decided to write something involving them. It’s a picture book about a woman in Japan who loses a dumpling down a crack in her home and pursues it. She winds up on a subterranean adventure, is captured by the oni, taken to their city, and forced to make rice for them using a magic spoon.funnylittlewoman3

My sons and I loved it and I read it to them many times. Blair Lent’s wonderful illustrations are at least half of the appeal. The vistas of the underground lake and the oni city on its shore, in particular, stuck with me. I may need to go back there in a future, longer story. For now, I hope readers enjoy my first oni story.

Thanks very much to Charles Christian for including my work in Grievous Angel, which offers a steady diet of genre flash fiction and poetry.

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TTA PressTTA Press (publishers of Interzone, Black Static, Crimewave and much, much more) has a wonderful tradition this time of year. They offer an Advent Calendar of free flash fiction stories and poems as a way of counting down the days until Christmas. The pieces are mostly by writers whose work has previously been published by TTA Press, but not all. One of my flash fiction tales on this site will be included on December 17th.

Contributors this year include: Renee Carter Hall, Roy Gray, D. F. Lewis, Bob Lock, David McGroarty, Dennis M. Lane, Dylan Fox, Ian Hunter, Darren Gallagher, Anthony Watson, Rhys Hughes, Guy Anthony DeMarco, Damien Walter Grintalis, Aliya Whiteley, and others.

You can keep up with the calendar in the Black Static news feed or in the feed for either of TTA’s other two magazines. Drop in and meet some writers you may not have read.

Happy Advent, all.

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It snowed in much of New England last night and we’re expecting more over the weekend. Despite that, Halloween is still on Monday. In celebration of the weekend, here’s a tiny Halloween tale.

Wardrobe Crisis

by Craig D.B. Patton

“Where’s my best tux?” the vampire hissed.  “What have you done with my Halloween dress?” the witch screeched.  “Muh-wuh-wa-woooo!” the nude mummy groaned, withered hands covering his crotch.  The werewolf and the zombie, equally naked, let the hunchback up.  “Someone stole them!” he gibbered, pointing through the window to the darkening courtyard beyond.  The clothesline hung empty.  Below, scrawled on the weed-fringed stones in Jack-o-Lantern orange was a single word: PRANKED.  The monsters’ scream shook the last of the leaves from the trees in the distant village.  The high school seniors, resplendent in their authentic costumes, smiled.

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