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

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).

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Archive for the ‘Jon Hansen’ Category


Friday, December 31st, 2010

George stood on the edge of the viewing platform and looked down at the city.  Farther away he heard the crowd chanting the countdown for the New Year.  They did not see him; nevertheless, it sounded like a timer ticking down on his ruined life.  Family gone, his old life gone, his hopes and dreams, all gone.

“Anything has to be better than this,” he breathed to the night and leaned forward.  He fell.  The January cold ripped at him, howling in his ears as he fell, faster and faster.  But before he reached the pavement he heard the strangest sound–

“You’re my last one, then,” came a rough voice in George’s ear.  “Congratulations.”

George realized he was standing in the street.  Beside him was a strange creature, a ruined mockery of a human being.  The creature smiled at him.  “No time like the present,” it said.  “You can start with, well, yourself.”  It pushed a bundle of rags on the ground with a toe, rags which George realized a moment later were his mortal remains.

“What the hell is going on?” said George.  He felt like he was breathing mud.

“It’s a simple job, really.  I did it, you can do it.”  The creature pointed down at George’s corpse.  “Pick it up.”  Then it pointed past George.  He turned; not far away stood a horse-drawn wagon.  The horse appeared to be an iron statue, until it stamped a hoof and gave a spinechilling whinny.  A wisp of flame flared from its nostrils.  “Don’t make it angry,” said the creature in quiet tones.

Still in disbelief, George bent and picked up his crumpled body.  He paused by the side of the wagon, wondering how careful he should be before finally tossing the body into the wagon.

“Well done.”  It smacked George on the arm. “Goodbye, then.”

“Wait,” said George. “Who are you?”

“I don’t remember.  Doesn’t matter.  I’ve collected the souls of everyone who’s died this past year.  Everyone.”  It made a grin of broken teeth.  “Last one in gets the job for the coming year.”

“You mean–”

“Yep.”  The creature nodded, then turned away.  “It’ll be a long year.  But it’ll end eventually.”

“What happens to you now?” said George.

As the creature faded into nothing, it shrugged. “Doesn’t matter.  Anything has to be better than this.”

The Yuleist

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

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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