David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

The Yuleist

by Jon

I stood amongst the cedar trees, my snowshoes caked with snow, listening and waiting.  I checked my weapons again, the icicle in my left, the sharpened peppermint stick in my right, making certain I had not cracked them without noticing.  This would be the final battle. There was not enough belief in the world for all of us.

I had tracked Grandfather Frost for miles before catching him by the shores of the Baltic. Hours we fought, before I finally knocked him down, then held his head under the surf until he finally grew still.  When I let go, he melted away, leaving only a faint scent of snow and gingerbread.

I made camp in the forest, but that night a sound woke me. I awoke to find a small present wrapped in silver and gold by my head.  I unwrapped it to find a lump of coal and a note: I SEE YOU.

I burned the coal and the note in my campfire. “Ho ho ho,” I whispered in the flickering light.  In the morning I traveled north. I knew where to find him.  It had come down to the two of us, as I had known it would all along.

Behind me I heard the sound of jingle bells.  I turned and there he was, blue eyes blazing above red robes.  “Kris,” he said with a wink.

I nodded back. “Nicholas.  I’ve got a present for you.”

As we charged, our laughter echoed in the forest.

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