London, 2113.Racked by riots and ruled by corporations, London has grown to house over twenty-million people. Its limits stretch across the south-west of England.Pollution chokes the skyline, hiding the stratoscrapers of The Mile, London’s exclusive centre, from sight; though its gaudy neon signs penetrate the smog. Corporations rule after the collapse of the mid-2000s. The NHS, under strain from underfunding and the barrage of pandemics, chemical attacks and terrorism, found itself sold off, piece by piece, to the highest bidder. The augmentation companies moved in; buying what they liked. The National Health Bank rose, supplemented by other privatised care centres.
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by Constantine E. Kiousis
Colourful lights twinkled around the Christmas tree as muffled screams filled the darkened living room, Marie gawking from a corner as the hulking man stuffed her terrified mother into a huge linen sack before fastening it shut.
Hoisting the bag over his shoulder, he glanced towards the girl, moonlight glinting off his jolly eyes as he winked at her, a toothy smile across his soot-smudged, white beard. Turning, he ambled to the fireplace, the bag’s insides squirming, her parents’ stifled protests fading as he went up the chimney.
She couldn’t believe it.
Santa had gotten her letter!
No more bedtime!
Constantine E. Kiousis
Constantine E. Kiousis spends most of his time wandering through the worlds he has created, exploring every nook and cranny and constantly discovering new places and stories that need to be told.
He’s currently plotting ways to unleash the terrifying stories hiding in his mind upon the world, one word at a time.
by Jean Martin
Under the old king, it would have been the Feast of Stephen, the second day of Christmas.
But our new king took us back to the Old Gods and the old ways.
As he decreed, nine men and nine women were offered in sacrifice that morning, in the woods, near the spring that had been named for Saint Agnes.
The snow lay roundabout deep and crisp and scarlet. There was steam rising in the frosty air from the hot blood.
One small page, lying still on the ground, his dead eyes staring wide and empty at the grey winter sky.
A long-time fan of Sherlock Holmes, Jean Martin is a single lady, currently stuck at home in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, which is in the Monongahela Valley. She has been writing fiction for longer than she cares to admit and has talked to channellers, psychics, vampirologists, Anne McCaffrey, and some lesser-known authors.
by Chanelle Loftness
“You better not cry,” the creature croons.
I lie on the kitchen table. The Christmas lights that bind me dig into my skin. They send colours dancing across the kitchen’s walls and illuminate the creviced face of the sharp-toothed and horned creature standing over me.
“You better not pout.” Its sharp talons cut another piece of my flesh.
Wide-eyed, I scream around the Christmas stocking in my mouth.
It places the flesh on the cookie sheet by the others, dusting them with cinnamon and sugar, before sliding the sheet into the oven.
It continues singing as it grabs another cookie sheet.
Chanelle Loftness is a Seattleite who spent eleven years in San Francisco and now calls Chicago home. She was adamant that she wrote fantasy until the kind readers in a writing workshop emphatically told her she was writing horror; she argues there is a lot of overlap.
by Rich Rurshell
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, four colly birds…
If true, then Mother Nature is my true love. I won’t argue with that. I always loved nature.
I’m not sure why I stayed here. Leaving doesn’t seem appropriate.
Not while I’m like this.
These carrion crows are the only living things to have paid me any attention. If I can still call this me. A lifeless corpse staring into the winter sky from this ditch.
Just days ago, I was eating turkey. Now the birds feast on me. Nature’s way of redressing the balance.
by Steven Holding
He loathed the season of goodwill, but festive choirs congregating upon his doorstep really got his goat.
Red-cheeked warblers, arriving unannounced, expecting pennies for their impromptu performance!
Dozing, jarring harmonies awoke him. “The Twelve Days of Christmas”! He grimaced, determined to ignore the lyrical list of gifts being delivered at his door.
It got worse with each verse, until line number five. Like a broken record, the same three words repeated.
Barging outside, he shuddered at the sight of pale strangers bearing presents.
Five gold rings on five severed fingers, held in the cold dead hands of five carol singers.
by Warren Benedetto
There was something on the roof.
The children huddled behind the couch, their tearful eyes glistening in the warm glow of the Christmas lights. The house shook with each heavy footfall thudding overhead. Plaster dust drifted from the ceiling like snow. A low growl echoed down the chimney, followed by the metallic scraping of a heavy blade.
“What was that?” Annie whispered, her voice trembling.
“I don’t know,” Joshua sobbed. “Do you?”
He directed the question at the fat man in the red suit cowering behind the couch next to them.
Santa shook his head, his eyes wide with fear.
by Ali House
Chloe awoke touching something wet. As the fog clouding her mind lifted, she realised that the floor she was lying on was covered with an inch of water.
The room was unfamiliar, as were the six terrified women trapped with her. Nobody could remember how they got there or knew how to get out.
Suddenly the water began to rise. Within seconds, it was almost waist high. They cried out for help, searching frantically for an escape.
Their abductor watched from another room. As the water reached shoulder height, a wicked smile crossed his face.
“You’d best start swimming, my little swans.”
Ali House resides in Nova Scotia, Canada, surrounded by overflowing bookshelves and unfinished stories. Her novels include The Six Elemental, The Fifth Queen, and The Lightbulb Forest (Engen Books). She has appeared in Apocalypse, Love, Hate, Oceans, Zero Hour 2113, and Pride (Black Hare Press).
Check out more at https://alisonahouse.wixsite.com/home
by Amber M. Simpson
Aaron held Mia in his arms, slow dancing across his candlelit living room to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”
Her head rested on his shoulder, long hair cascading down his arm. His heartbeat raced from the nearness of her. Holding her like this was a dream come true.
With subtle deliberation, he swept her towards the doorway where the mistletoe hung, eager for the kiss he’d been longing for all night.
He lowered his head to hers, pressed his mouth to her cold, lifeless lips.
“Merry Christmas,” he murmured against her neck, covered with the deep purple bruises he’d left there.
Amber M. Simpson
Amber M. Simpson writes from Northern Kentucky, with a particular interest in horror and dark fantasy. Her work has been published (both fiction and poetry) in multiple anthologies, in magazines, and online. She assists with editing for Fantasia Divinity Magazine and is currently working on her first novel, Wolves Hollow.