Day 18: A Christmas Ghost Story

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories. Hard to believe we’re up to day 18 already. I hope you have been enjoying reading the stories as much as we enjoyed writing them.

Today we’ve got a Christmas ghost story. It features (some if not all) of the following words: angel, ambivalent, blaze, baffling, zipper, estate, fiasco, honeymoon, blurt, eruption, collision, diamond, mysterious, grizzly, naked, and drunk.

So without further ado here, courtesy of 8L Michaeline, is today’s story.

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Unbeliever

A grizzled ghost from an old magazine looks at a young woman in a bed, possibly.

Stronger than death. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

The first thing you should know about me is that I was a nuclear physicist. I didn’t believe in woo-woo, and I didn’t believe in goddamn ghosts. I believe in the laws of nature and mathematics. And, yeah, sure, my girlfriend told me about that baffling Hamlet and his “more things in your philosophy” quote. But ghosts aren’t real. I never believed.

The second thing you should know about me is that I was supposed to get married last Christmas to the most beautiful woman on the planet. Kind, smart, super-sexy and she loves me too. But I was hanging lights on our house (our first house) after a freak rainstorm, and the law of gravity ruled against me. What a fiasco. No wedding, no honeymoon, and she still wears my diamond and gets drunk every night while I continue to not exist. Believe me, it’s the last thing I wanted. Continue reading

Day 17: A Change of Plans

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories. Today’s entry was initially going to be about a pair of spies working undercover who had been trapped into getting married, so as  not to blow their cover.  Unfortunately, the bride just could not seem to keep the look of loathing off of her face during the ceremony. Fortunately, another idea came to mind.

This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: angel, ambivalent, blaze, baffling, zipper, estate, fiasco, honeymoon, blurt, eruption, collision, diamond, mysterious, grizzly, naked, and drunk.

So without further ado here, courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, is today’s story.

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A Change of Plans

Sophie stepped up on the padded dais like a queen preparing to address her subjects and turned to face the tri-paneled mirror wishing she was almost anywhere else.  The glass of champagne that the bridal shop assistant was doing a marvelous job of keeping refilled barely took the edge off the pain of shopping for a wedding dress in the company of her mother and mother-in-law-to-be.

To call today’s shopping session a fiasco would be putting things mildly.  One would have been hard-pressed to have found three women with more diverging tastes or stronger opinions.  And don’t even start on the ulterior motives. Continue reading

Day 16: Bear With Me on This

bear-2051844_640Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.   We’re trading yesterday’s New Year’s themed story for a “will they or won’t they” wedding tale.  This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words:  angel, ambivalent, blaze, baffling, zipper, estate, fiasco, honeymoon, blurt, eruption, collision, diamond, mysterious, grizzly, naked, and drunk.

So without further ado here, courtesy of 8L Jeanne, is today’s story.

***

Bear With Me on This

“I hate to say this, sweetie,” Lilith said, turning away from the window that looked out on the church parking lot, “but I don’t think he’s coming.”

The bride, who was dressed in a poufy white tulle confection that made her look like a snowball cupcake, promptly burst into tears. On her finger, a diamond the size of a small planet winked in the thin winter sunlight.

“I can’t believe this,” Megan wept, mascara sludge running down her cheeks. “Jeremy promised me he’d be here early this morning. He promised. Look again.”

Lilith pretended to look out the church window, where the tidy lot remained wonderfully devoid of Mercedes SL convertibles. Then she caught sight of her own ghostly reflection in the window, dressed in a pale pink dress with a princess waistline and puffed sleeves. She looked absolutely ghastly. Continue reading

Day 15: A Visit from “Saint” Nic

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today’s entry features Detective Cassie McColl and Nicolai Papadopoulos, who readers of the blog might remember initially appeared several years ago in a series of Friday Writing Sprints.  They’re some of my favorite characters to come out of a Writing Sprint; I hope you enjoy catching up with them too.

This story features (some if not all) of the following words: secret, story, diary, snowflake, diamond, snuggle, forest, catastrophe, plan, buffet, traffic, surprise, signature, memory, flamingo, and whisky.

So without further ado here, courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, is today’s story.

***

A Visit from “Saint” Nic

I gave the zip-ties encircling the wrists of the latest felon to cross my path a tug to make sure they were secure before handing him off to the security guard for transport to the local jail.  That made eight, with four hours still to go on my shift.

If it was up to me I’d have made a public spectacle of walking him out the door as a warning to all of the other wanna-be criminals in the area, but the owners of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino preferred a more subtle approach.

Definitely a mistake on their part.

Considering how many arrests I made in the past four hours alone, the subtle approach was lost on an appalling number of the casino’s guests.  At this rate, there would be no one left to gamble or chow down on what had to be the biggest all-you-can eat buffet I’d ever seen, before they rang in the New Year later this evening. Continue reading

Day 14: New Year’s Resolution

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories. Today we’re sharing Part Two of the story that began yesterday, in which our heroine, horologist Sandy Sharp, searched for clues about her missing father and encountered a mysterious otherworldly character at midnight in the clock mechanism room of Big Ben’s tower.  Part Two of the story features (some if not all) of the following words: secret, story, diary, snowflake, diamond, snuggle, forest, catastrophe, plan, buffet, traffic, surprise, signature, memory, flamingo, and whisky.

So without further ado here, courtesy of 8L Jilly, is the rest of story.

New Year’s Resolution

The mystery man was so tall, Sandy’d had to stand on tiptoe to reach his collar. He’d been fast enough to catch her wrist, strong enough to block her and absorb the momentum of her entire bodyweight as she swung the hammer at the panel. He could have broken her hold on him, could have swatted her like a gnat, but he didn’t.

He leaned down, just enough to allow her feet to settle back on the ground and relieve the pull on the fabric of his uniform. Above her clenched hand, his shoulders rose and fell in a slow, steady rhythm. Under the peak of his hat, his brown-rimmed hazel eyes gleamed, focused and calm. Waiting.

Seconds dripped by. The pounding in her chest slowed to a rapid thump-thump-thump that made it easier to catch her breath. Then her whole body started to shake, making the gold braid scratch against her fingers. With a supreme effort of will, she opened her hand and stepped back out of reach.

He straightened to his full height, walked around to where her hammer lay forgotten, picked it up and returned to present it to her with a polite bow. “I apologize for frightening you. I suppose it’s too much to ask that you forget you ever saw me?” Continue reading

Day 13: Midnight Reflections

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories. We’re at the mid-point of our set of stories; I hope you’ve been enjoying them as much as we have.  Today’s story takes us to the Great Bell of London, where something out of the ordinary seems to be afoot.  This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: secret, story, diary, snowflake, diamond, snuggle, forest, catastrophe, plan, buffet, traffic, surprise, signature, memory, flamingo, and whisky.

So here, courtesy of 8L Jilly, is today’s story.

Midnight Reflections

Bong!Bong! … Bong!

The unmistakable chimes of the Great Bell of London, commonly known as Big Ben, resonated across the moonlit, traffic-free city. A random snowflake drifted from the cloudless sky and settled on the roof of the Elizabeth Tower. It was officially Christmas.

Below the belfry, in the mechanism room, Sandy Sharp, the youngest horologist in the Palace of Westminster, waited until the last echo of the final chime faded. Then she threw the temporary switch that disconnected the hour train that caused the half-ton hammer to strike the fourteen-ton bell.

She wiped her hands on her jeans and traced the raised, gold-on-black inscription at the base of the legendary clock. Made in the Year of our Lord 1854 by Frederick Dent of the Strand and the Royal Exchange, Clockmaker to the Queen, from the Designs of Edmund Beckett Denison, QC. Fixed here 1859.

Officially the clock was shut down for refurbishment, but the powers that be had decreed the Great Bell should ring out to celebrate the start of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The Keeper of the Clock had asked for volunteers to babysit the process, and the other mechanics, who had families to consider, had accepted with guilty relief when Sandy offered to cover both shifts. Continue reading

Day 12: My Steampunk Christmas Story

Christmas postcard with Santa Claus and bag of toys in a basket suspended by greenery from an airship, with "Greetings to one and all - Merry Christmas." Color postcard, ca. 1916. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections. N39376.

Christmas goes so well with an airship or two! (Image via Missouri History)

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories. We’re trading yesterday’s disillusioned travelers for a party on an airship (let’s hope that goes well). This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: secret, story, diary, snowflake, diamond, snuggle, forest, catastrophe, plan, buffet, traffic, surprise, signature, memory, flamingo, and whisky.

So here, courtesy of 8L Michaeline, is today’s story.

My Steampunk Christmas Story

It was Christmas Eve, 1897, and Joey Lunardi had invited us all up for a party on his airship, but he was anxious, because he wanted the party to end so he could make it in time for midnight mass. The plan was to land in Central Park’s airstrip at 11 o’clock and we’d all get in electric taxis to the church. Best laid plans of mice and airmen, often go a-gley – in this case, the turning point was when the flamingos went missing at 10:35.

Claire LeMaire, star of stage, screen and Edison cylinders, had just won the diamond prize for guessing the most mystery dishes at the buffet. And Joey, he didn’t do anything small – it was a flawless 10-carat rock, hanging from a pretty hefty gold chain. Claire was waving the thing under the nose of her “patron”, Eddie the Rat, taunting him. “How come you never get me anything this nice, Eddie?” she said, while casting a flirtatious glance at Joey. Continue reading

Day 11: The Travelers

A Japanese transport plane flying over mountains

Even when things don’t work out right, take the next chance! Fly! (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories. Today we have internet relationships gone awry, a flight delay, and strangers on a plane.  Will it all work out?  You’ll have to continue reading to find out.

This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” entry features (some if not all) of the following words: snuggle, impress, mask, collapse, icicle, regret, famous, sneeze, scandalous, spark, impulse, and fantasy.

So here, courtesy of 8L Michaeline, is today’s story.

The Travelers

Kenji snuggled down under his airline-provided blanket, a mask over his nose to keep out the germs and to re-humidify the dry cabin air.

What a way to spend Christmas.

He’d tried to impress his American girlfriend by showing up on her doorstep on Christmas Eve, but his “girlfriend” turned out to be a 300-pound trucker with a wife and three kids. Kenji had collapsed in shock, and then the littlest one sneezed on him and spilled some apple juice on him, accidentally. Kenji regretted those hours on the internet, building up a fantasy future full of love and happiness, only to have his heart dashed to pieces and drowned in a toddler’s fluids. So, now, he was back on a plane – expensive first class, because the economy seats had all been full.

He’d be home by New Year’s Day, and have to explain to his mother why he was in debt up to his eyebrows, and still unmarried at the ripe old age of 31. He asked the stewardess for a bottle of wine, but was informed that no alcohol could be served until the plane was in the air and at cruising altitude.

Damn. Continue reading

Day 10: Botticelli Pizza

Photo courtesy of fearlesshomemaker.com

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today we’ve got a “Happily Ever After” story, with pizza.  This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: secret, story, diary, snowflake, diamond, snuggle, forest, catastrophe, plan, buffet, traffic, surprise, signature, memory, flamingo, and whisky.

So here, courtesy of 8L Kay, is today’s story.

Botticelli Pizza

For some insane reason, I decided I wanted to throw my parents a surprise buffet party for their anniversary at Christmas. I’d fretted about it for weeks—the menu diary, the signature cocktail, the tiered cake, the special music, the decorations, the tableware, the linens. I’d just started my catering company, and, I suppose, I wanted to show off.

Showing off—yeah, it’s always smart to try to show off on your first gig, in front of family, in December.

Why had my parents wanted to get married in December? Practically on Christmas Day? Continue reading

Day 9: Mistletoe Reboot

Couple embracing wrapped in Christmas lights

Welcome to Day 9 of the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today we’ve got a couple whose “happily ever after” could really use a reboot.  This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: snuggle, impress, mask, collapse, icicle, regret, famous, sneeze, scandalous, spark, impulse, and fantasy.

So here, courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, is today’s story.

Mistletoe Reboot

Maddie looked at the shards of broken glass and dried greenery at the bottom of the ornament box and wondered if the universe was trying to tell her something.

Dan had given her the mistletoe filled globe on their first anniversary; a reminder of when they first met at a holiday party thrown by mutual friends.

Back then they’d been full of plans and dreams for the future.

After they got married, they bought this cabin from her grandparents, envisioning vacations with friends, big family gatherings, and festive holiday celebrations, but it turned out those plans were just a fantasy.

In reality Dan spent most of his time at the PR firm, dealing with his clients and their scandalous exploits while Maddie focused on finishing her graduate work and establishing her counseling practice.

They’d reached a point where they both had successful careers – well respected in their fields if not the elite of the rich and famous – but somehow they’d lost sight of each other along the way.   They’d fallen victim to exactly the problems Maddie spent her days successfully counseling her patients about.

The irony was not lost on her. Continue reading