Payback, by R.S. Pyne

She screamed a lot before the end.

When Jaxx said she was infected and had to be put down, he just wanted to kill her. The madness in his bright eyes allowed no argument. He threatened to shoot anyone who disagreed and leave them for the Walkers.

I felt sorry for the nameless girl who crossed paths with our supply run and expected us to save her. Instead, Jaxx did … things. He always was a twisted bastard. Not one of us, but she deserved better. He had known her before, unlucky enough to meet again in less civilized times.

Just Sit On It For A Minute, by Barney MacFarlane

Peter had an acronym. A current necessity. Some more attractive than others, admittedly. And not I.B.S. – though linked.

P.I.B.S. was his, occasionally categorised as P.R.I.S. In that he shared a syndrome, almost as vital as an acronym. Even stuff deemed hateful six months back was acceptable now. What wasn’t now acceptable was de rigueur then. Got that, Harvey?

P.R.I.S. – Persistent Rectal Irritation Syndrome – sounded like a life sentence.

Scratchy Arse, they labelled him when, albeit furtively, assuaging his grievance.

Now, in this enlightened era, he scratched and yelled his acronym: “P.I.B.S.: Permanent Itchy Bum Syndrome!”

In his circle, who argued?

History’s Lesson, by Sankar Chatterjee

Temperature hovering near 8-degree C, it drizzled the entire day, matching the city’s gloom from a recent upheaval due to a super-power’s sudden political decision. Greta Reynolds, a German devotee attending the Christmas Eve Mass inside the Church of Nativity, whispered to her friend Marla Dieter: “In no way, I could have postponed my trip to this holy event, based on the action of a single person. I thought we Germans already taught the world the consequences of unchecked dictatorial power.”

Ms. Dieter responded: “History has a tendency of repeating itself. I don’t believe in this case we learnt that yet.”

The Mad Monk of St. Saba, by Guy Fletcher

Over a century ago a monk from a western land came to Mar Saba, not far from Jerusalem, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and dwell in a cave by the monastery.

He’d witnessed war, the massacre of civilians and wanted to cleanse his soul. However, the “Furies” tormented him even more on cold, clear desert nights. There was no holy protection.

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” he cried out into the indifferent mountain air.

Not many days later, certainly not 40 nights, he threw himself off the sand-coloured cliffs to oblivion … or perhaps into the light.

Resolution, by Don Tassone

“So are you making any New Year’s resolutions?”
“None at all?”
“Because I can never keep them and, when I don’t, I get frustrated.”
“I see.”
“How about you?”
“Well, I’ve made one.”
“What is it?”
“It’s no big deal, really.”
“Come on. No, wait. Let me guess.”
“Lose weight.”
“Eat healthier?”
“Exercise more?”
“New job?”
“New car?”
“Bigger house?”
“Save money?”
“Take up golf?”
“Learn a new language?”
“I give up. What is it?”
“To be more content with what I have.”

New Colonialism, by Sankar Chatterjee

John was hiking on Triund Trail leading to a gorgeous valley surrounded by the Himalayan Mountains. Soon, he noticed many of the fellow young Indian hikers had constantly been munching on brand-named salty snacks, while gulping sugary drinks. Previous morning, he’d read a newspaper article in which the doctors were reporting higher rates of obesity coupled with diabetes in the younger generation.

Now, John understood. As the westerners started to restrict these junk foods, the multi-nationals found new addicts in Asia. These profiteering companies have capitalistic obligation to the Wall Street without any moral obligation to the citizens of poor nations.

Holiday Sunshine, by Russell Conover

The sun hadn’t come out for days, and the townspeople were not happy. Sure–a white Christmas might be nice, but no snow was falling. All they saw were gray skies and cold winds.

Then, on Christmas Day, the clouds parted and the rays of the sun shone through. For an hour or so, the blue skies and warmth improved everyone’s mood and brightened the holiday. The gray returned thereafter, but for a brief period, the rays of light did wonders.

The residents were so ecstatic that they booked flights to Hawaii for next December. Warmth, vacation, and holidays–paradise!