Santa, by Zane Castillo

He waited until his daughter was in bed before grabbing the stack of wrapped presents and dashing towards the Christmas tree. The multicolored lights flashed intermittently on the tall pine tree as he quietly placed the gifts under it. He then took the smaller presents towards the various Christmas stockings on the fireplace mantel and cautiously dropped each present into them.

As he stood back to look at his handiwork, he heard footsteps behind him to which he turned to see his daughter beaming at the gifts under the tree. He hesitated … then rapidly exclaimed, “Look what Santa brought you!”

We Met, by Eric Smith

“Tell me about yourself.”

“I’m convinced critics wildly overrate ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Citizen Kane’. I’ve survived two threesomes, one polyamorous and prolonged, the other a one-nighter; I detested both but don’t care to explain why. I hate fruitcake but love long walks in the snow—the light, dry kind. I enjoy listening to rain on a tin roof while drinking hot chocolate and re-reading Dostoevsky’s ‘The Idiot’. I vote for the lesser of two evils without dismay. In my perfect world, people relegate football an inconsequential status and presume accused folks innocent. And you … what floats your boat?”

“I’m just leaving.”

Nice on the Holidays, by Winston Van Lance

Jäger Shots and Anime, a Normal Christmas Eve with my sister.

“Excited about tomorrow?”

I shrugged.

Ordinarily, after a bottle of my favorite liquor, I’m full of holiday cheer!

But not tonight.

“Where’s the enthusiasm, Paul? You love Chinese Food on Christmas!”
“That’s true … but it’s different this year.”

Vivian laughed.

“So what if if I’m not invited? You should still go.”
“Seriously? You can’t expect me to go without you!”

“I won’t let you snub our family because of me.”
“They snubbed you, just because you’re gay.”

I shook my head. “Why shouldn’t I?”

“Cause you have Christmas Spirit.”

A Midnight Not So Clear, by Reynold Junker

“What are you doing here?”

He was dressed in a red flannel suit trimmed with soot-spotted white fur. He was eating a double mint chocolate chip cookie.

“What do you think I’m doing here?” She was dressed in a spotless white lab coat. She was carrying a sack of half-dollars.

“This is my one night of the year. Don’t you have a calendar?”

“Sorry, Tubby. When duty calls I go, 24/7. And don’t forget to brush your teeth and floss after you eat that cookie.”

He climbed back up the chimney. She disappeared into a cloud of Listerine vapor.

Christmas Eve Delivery, by Tikvah Feinstein

Keith felt not welcome in the room he rented from Darla, whose widow status warranted taking in boarders.

Sadly he admitted: I’m alone, turned sixty today, tomorrow is Christmas, and only three months left of unemployment benefits.

He rose to investigate scratching on the door to the garden.

Before he saw it, a white cat raced between his legs and scrambled under his bed. Stunned, worried if the cat belonged to someone, he sat down.

The cat quickly jumped onto his lap and immediately gave birth to three kittens.

Awed, in wonder, Keith cradled his warm moist cat family.

Boiler Room Blessings, by Ronald Guell

Put your phones on hold and listen up, you bunch of losers. We’re changing the game today. You all must know that the market for blessings has been hot lately. The goal is $20K for the day, and the top earner of the day gets, wait for it, a $500 bonus.

I see a hand raised? What can I do for you, sprout? “Sir, I’ve gone over the script, and it seems odd to be pitching blessings.” That’s a great point, Mike. You’re fired! Mr. Personal Man, get on that list of wannabes. I want that chair filled by noon today.

Winter Inspiration, by Russell Conover

Sandy was stuck for a topic for her Flash Fiction story. She’d brainstormed for an hour, but had nothing. Frustrated, she put on her jacket and took a walk.

Immediately, her senses became sharper. She heard the calling of the birds and the flowing of the river. She felt the winter breeze on her face and the sun’s glow on her neck. She saw the kids throwing snowballs and enjoying hot chocolate. She’d never really NOTICED winter’s activities, but so much was happening.

Sandy U-turned and headed for her computer. Ideas were rampant, thanks to what she’d just seen. Eureka!

Silent Night, by D.S. Levy

Frosty moon. Pretty flakes like shards of glass floating through the black sky. Ornamental trees, wrapped packages, the scent of cinnamon–depressing. On radio: Dean Martin’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Every goddamn time the bells in that song ding, you flinch. Never your phone.
“Refill?” says Stacy, carafe in hand. “On the house.”
The way Dean holds a note. The fucking way he drags it out.
Bells, hollow, tinny, taunting, mocking. Ring, goddammit.
Stacy wipes down counters.
Drink up. Next year, a new life. As in, get one.
“’Night.” You wait, hope. “Merry Christmas.”
Just another silent night.

Death At A Morgue, by Danielle Keating

For once, I was surprised to see a mutilated body at the morgue. The body’s owner was the victim of some horrific murder; the flesh covering his stomach was sliced off, his intestines were unraveled. Blood stained his body and the floor beneath it. My coworker pulled out another knife, completely unfazed by the carnage. When I closed my eyes, I still saw the organs. Both the sight and thought of this mangled body made my breath falter.

I’m a mortician, so seeing guts doesn’t scare me, but it does bother me when said guts are mine.

Mannequin Manor, by Danielle Keating

My new house is creepy as hell. Well, maybe not the whole house, just one room in particular. The room in question is full of mannequins; there have to be about a dozen, probably more. I thought it was no big deal until I saw three of them move.

After seeing three mannequins take a few steps, I thought I was just paranoid. However, my suspicions regarding the dummies were confirmed when I heard the three from earlier talk and smelled two more rotting.