The Christmas Hater

“Grandpa! Are you ready?” his grandson who everyone else except his mother called Little John, so as not to confuse him with his grandfather called John, was tagging at his sleeve.

“In a minute, little John, give me a second” John combed into place a couple of stray hairs into place. He had been maintaining an impeccable beard since he had turned twenty eight. Women swooned over his beard and men envied him. Once he overheard his neighbour saying “It’ll get thin and patchy when he is old. Wait for it”.

Now he was sixty nine years old and his beard looked as perfect as always. Even white had not altered its style to the worse; it had just transformed it a pure and wise beard. 

In short, John was very proud of his beard.

“We will be late for the Christmas market!” little John was losing  all patience. As all kids of his age, loved the colours, the music of the toys, the hot chocolate and the candy flavours so rich one could taste them in the air. The city was in the Christmas festive mood and all loved it.

All except John. He hated Christmas.

He must have been the only place on Earth that hated Christmas. But he loved his grandson so he was out of the comfort of his Christmas free living room and into the Christmas infested streets. He had hoped that his wife would join them, he depended on her the last fifty years to calm him down when he got angry. However, that day she made them dress in their matching red pullovers and ushered them out the door. “I have to finish baking the Christmas cookies!” was her excuse.

He had just bought caramelised almonds for little John and a hot wine for him, when John stroke his beard and thought “Well, I might survive this after all”. Not so many annoyingly happy people were around, the wine was good and the kid didn’t run away. If he knew how wrong his assessment was, John wouldn’t go out till May.

A tug on his sleeve. Confused he looked in front of him; little John was still where he had left him. The tug on his sleeve repeated and this time he tried to locate its source to his left and behind. A little girl wearing a strawberry hat looked at him expectedly. 

“Can I tell you now what present I want?”

John was confused. “Tell your parents, little girl”.

“But we are supposed to tell Santa. They are not Santa”.

“So go tell Santa. Where are your parents?” John concerned looked around for the little girl in the strawberry hat parents. No adult in the vicinity seemed eager to collect the little girl. 

“Aren’t you Santa?” she seemed confused and John speechless. Him Santa? But why?

“My grandpa is Santa!” exclaimed little John enthusiastically and with a content for being right the little girl with the strawberry hat started listing the gifts she wanted. She kept track of their number by counting with her chumby fingers. Before he had time to clarify the mistake or locate her parents, more kids surrounded them, as if they had appeared out of nowhere. They were drown to him like moths to the flame. 

He put the blame on little John who took a lot of his persuasion among kids’ cheers to convince him to stop shouting ”My grandpa is Santa!” on top of his lungs. He had hoped for parents support, for parents to keep their children under controlled, but today’s parents let them roam like little beasts.

Nightmare was the only word in his vocabulary that could satisfactorily explain what was happening to him. Hungry for gifts kids tried to catch his attention and tell him all the toys they longed for and his parents refused to buy them. He was drown in an ocean of happy Christmas spirit embodied by bewitched little devils, ready to devour him in exchange for a toy.

Panic, anger, confusion. Why him? Why did God hate him so much?

With a mind buzzing with little people’s voices, filled of too many Christmas words, John shouted angrily above them all “Santa is not real!”

Silence followed his words. A swarm of doe-eyed faces stared him on the verge of confused tears. Too many upper lips trembled with suppressed cries and a cynic pair of eyes stared at him satisfied that his suspicions were correct all along.

And by his side the confused and heart broken little John. The blood of his blood looked as devastated as any five year old would have been in his place. John cursed himself and Christmas and capitalism and parents who couldn’t keep an eye on their offspring. 

“Santa is not really me!” he tried to convince the mob in front of him. ”He left for another Christmas Market to visit other kids… But he knows what you want, so don’t worry”.

“You aren’t Santa?” again the little girl in the strawberry hat. She finally got the point.

“No. But he exists” John reassured her quickly.

“But you have Santa’s beard!”

“And his sweater!”

“He exists, are you certain, sir?” asked the boy with the cynic eyes.

“I am certain. Now off you go to your parents!”

Collectively the little people in front of him thought over it and reached a decision at the same time. Much to John’s relief, they decided to trust his word and live him in peace.

On their way home, John promised himself to not go out till May.

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Red sky in the morning

“Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. The dawn is promising, the day will be treacherous. We have to walk through the mists with care, but they can bring us the price we have longed for”. The Captain stood tall on the prow of the bridge, the mists already gathering around him. The early sun rays turned them red. Red as blood, red as rubies. The pirate crew cherished spilling blood and they longed for rubies. “An easy day isn’t waiting us, but if we go through the mists, then we will have all we looked for the last 10 years. “

The cheers of the sailors echoed over the still sea, but they were replaced soon by silence. The fog was becoming thicker with each passing moment. The cold seemed to sip through their skins and settle in their bones. As soon as the sun rose above the horizon, the red mists were gone and it could have already gone and they would never know. They could not see clear enough; the tip of their noses was the end of their world.

One-Eyed Joe went to the Captain. “This is not a normal mist”. A long pause followed. The Captain always thought it useless to confirm the obvious. Men should keep their words sparse as they can never be taken back. Also, he never repeated a command twice, so you better listen carefully, unless you wished for a swim with the sharks.

One-Eyed Joe continued: “Let us say, that this is indeed the fabled weather that will get us what we want. What will we do once the Bride of the Sea comes to us?”

“She will not come to us” the Captain corrected his Second in command. “She will sing and we will follow her instructions”.

The other man didn’t fear this moment as much as he should. He could not see anything on the sea, but he had faith that somehow his Captain will not lead them astray. He never had before, so why should he do it now?

“All right. We have good chances that we will navigate through this terrible weather and reach the Bride. Then what? How do we not get eaten? How do we get the treasure for ourselves?”

“We will persuade her” answered the Captain, as if it was obvious to everyone.

“But how?” an answer was never given. Even though he could not see any part of his Captain face, he suspected that the pirate was smiling one of his wicked smiles that made women swoon.

Hours in silence passed. The mist was so thick that you could pick up a knife and carve a nice, big piece out of it. No one dared to move and try it.

A woman’s voice broke the silence. It was sweet and at the same time every single man (and woman) on the ship felt ripples of fear traveling down their spines. She was calling them to her; they longed to go, but at the same time they feared the end.

“Row 10 degrees to the left” the Captain commanded and they started to move through the horrible weather.

Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning, was what the old fish folk sang.

“What if we fail?” One-Eyed Joe dared to ask in a barely audible whisper.

The Captain hated to state the obvious. He wasted no breathe to say they would die.

Daughter’s boyfriend mistaken for burglar

The night was falling heavy on their little village. The Magician could not remember when the last time this occurred was. Excited about the magical event he decided to spend the night on his rooftop, along with his equipment and take notes on his book of magnificent observations.

What a day to be alive. According to his data the night was weighing 40 kilograms today, and if that was true, then they had a new world record. He could not wait to go to the Mage’s Guild tomorrow. The middle aged man could see with the eyes of his fantasy his colleagues. Glad with in their long robes of different colors, they would make the golden hall look like it was lit up by a rainbow. He would ring the bell on top of the podium and with a suave flick of his wand, he would start the presentation.

“The night was heavy…” would be his first words. Or maybe not. He had to find an opening phrase that enabled him to show off but not come across as unprofessional. He tried to work on his presentation, but excitement led him to the day his won the Nobelisius Prize in Magic and all the glory it would be bestowed on him and his descendants.

The Magician’s fantasy of a dinner consisted of salmon and attended by the most disguised men of his field, was interrupted by a noise in the backyard. Damn you! He thought annoyed. He was about to get funding for researching spells for avoiding flying water balloons. The cat, Mr Kippis, must have been playing around again. He had specifically told him that he was not allowed outside at night; maybe a passing troll would eat him. The cat of course gave him the middle finger and went on and on for about half an hour of how cats now days were oppressed by magical families.

With a sigh the Magician climbed down the ladder to check on Mr Kippis. A softer thud reached him again. Maybe a troll was indeed trying to eat the cat. For a moment he considered the possibility of letting the cat been eaten, but then he decided against it. His daughter would be mad at him.

Slowly he moved from the front of the house to the backyard, thinking of a good remark to tell to the cat. But it was not Mr Kippis who found lurking in his back yard, but a man dressed in black. Despite the warmth of the night he was wearing a black hat. The noises came from his efforts to open the kitchen door, that thankfully had locked himself a couple of hours ago.

With range bottling inside him the Magician lifted his wand and casted the first spell that came to his mind. The burglar (because what else could he be?) turned to a grasshopper in a cloud of blue light and red glitter.

Triumphully, he picked the grasshopper from the ground. The grasshopper tried to escape but the Magician pulled its little black hat over his antennas. Unable to see or sense anything of its surrounding, the insect-burglar stopped moving.

Once inside the house, the Magician flipped open the lights and shouted for his wife and daughter. “Pumpkins!” he yelled “Come down”.

“What is wrong darling?” his wife yawing from the kitchen door.

“I got a burglar!” he showed her the grasshopper in his hands. “He tried to open the kitchen door and I transfigured him to a grasshopper” finished his narration with pride in his voice.

His teen daughter joined them at that point. Mr Kippis trailed in the kitchen behind her. The cat looked amused and his whiskers moved with silent laughter. His daughter on the other hand looked puzzled at first, but then angered was evident on her face. With a sudden movement she grabbed his arm.

“What have you done?” she shouted while snatching the grasshopper away. She tacked it carefully in her hands. “Turn him back how he was”.

“No!” he protested. ‘He tried to break into our house and we will turn him to police”.

“He did not! Why would Dan try to break into our house?”

“Because he is a burglar”.

“Dan is not a burglar. He is training to be a Knight.” She explained to her father.

“Why would a Knight try to break into our place?” asked the Magician perplexed. His wife rolled her eyes and the annoying cat was laughing on top of the kitchen counter.

“He is my boyfriend, dad” told him with fury his young girl. “Now turn him back to normal or I will turn you to a frog and let Mr Kippis play with you

TV

​Let me see you stripped down to the bone.

Let me see you make decisions without your television.
Once the bombs went off, everyone knew. It was not the sound of the blast, or the crashing of the buildings. Not even the horrific screams of the people with crashed bones and melted faces alerted the rest. The thing that made everyone aware of the beginning of apocalypse was television.

The few people that lived back at that time, that now were old and wrinkled and weak on their knees, loved to talk of all the technological advances they had at their disposal, especially of television. How beautiful were its colours and sounds. People had the privilege to enjoy cultures and wonders of the world without moving a hair’s length from their couches. According to my grandfather though, the most astonishing feature of television (or TV in short) was the news broadcast. You could learn about everyone’s gossips, politics, music, wars and scientific advancements right at the moment they happened.

Hearing this narration the first thing that comes to your mind is that our grandparents learned of the catastrophe through the news broadcast at the TV. The TV would be bustling with urgent noise, showing flashing images of suffering people and dead civilizations. The horror of the moment would be covered by a reporter for everyone to realise its full significance while sitting on a sofa.

However, it was not like that. What happened was that the magnificent machine went silent. No images invaded their homes, no sounds either. TV went blank. Then people realised that more of the sounds that were part of their lives since they were small, have been silent as well. No low humming of the refrigerator, not the sound of boiling water or the noise of the washing machine. Everything had been silent.

Me and the rest of my generation cannot fathom how that must have felt, being cut from the reality you knew, being disconnected from the world. After all we have been raised without knowing what was beyond the ruins our community lived in and our only news of the rest of world were the few pieces the brave and foolish wanderers of the wilds told us. But our grandfathers still got the same horror in their eyes when they thought of the day humanity’s destiny have been altered forever. The most horrific part of it all, according to my grandfather, was still not knowing who caused all this, because there was no way to get the news anymore.
AN: The first two lines are lyrics of the song Stripped from Depeche Mode.

Pen and paper

Before she obtained her weapons, she would have never been able to imagine what she could do with them. Once a pen and a paper were in front of her she was capable of everything.

Dragons would crawl out of the tip of her pen and mountains of ink and words would feel the page. She would let her imagination run wild and conjure up castles, prisons and give flesh to happy faces.

Did she dream of clouds made out of marshmallows and flying chocolates? It was done.

Did she dream of a princess in high heels humiliating a prince wearing pink skirts? It was done.

Did she dream of bony witches slowing draining the blood out of young animals? It was done with a stroke of her pen.

Whatever she could ever dream or think of, it could be turned into reality. All she needed was a pen and paper.