12 Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas: Greetings from the Krampus by Ryan Bartlett (illustration)

Posted by on Dec 25, 2013 in 12 Days of Christmas | 2 comments

12 Days of Christmas: Greetings from the Krampus by Ryan Bartlett (illustration)

I was particularly excited to have Ryan Bartlett participate again for our writer and illustrator showcase, because Ryan is an incredible artist. In case you missed his Dark Carnival piece, check it out here. He is a fantastic artist and we’re beyond lucky to have his genius in another round of Pen and Muse showcases. I give you all “Greetings from the Krampus” by Ryan Bartlett. For inquisitive minds, this piece was done in charcoal and in reality measures 11.5″ x 20″ . Greetings from the Krampus By Ryan Bartlett Ryan Bartlett is an artist from Orange, California who specializes in drawings done in charcoal and other dry media. In addition to constantly consuming work from other artists, Ryan takes inspiration from a variety of sources including history, nature, technology, horror, science fiction, and an intense observation of the surrounding world. He carries a profound interest in rendering characters and beings that appear to have lived in another time and place before they materialized on the surface of the paper. He is an artist who is driven to visually depict the strange, overlooked, forgotten, or unappreciated. In addition to being seen on music album covers, Ryan’s work has been seen in shows and exhibits around southern California....

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12 Days of Christmas: Second December by Jamie Adams

Posted by on Dec 20, 2013 in 12 Days of Christmas, Writing | 0 comments

12 Days of Christmas: Second December by Jamie Adams

Second December By Jamie Adams A flutter of kicks in her belly woke Cary just in time to notice the smoke billowing into the living room from the kitchen. Cursing, she ran into the kitchen and flung open the windows, batting a towel frantically in front of the shrieking smoke alarm. When she opened the oven door, more smoke-filled the room. “So much for the sugar cookies,” she said, pressing a hand on her protruding stomach. “That’s okay. I probably shouldn’t have even been entertaining the idea of feeding any to Isaiah anyways, not until he’s older. Not that I wouldn’t have eaten them, too.” There was still too much smoke to try and retrieve the pan of charred remains from the oven, so Cary left the windows open and went back to the living room, finishing stringing the lights she’d been working on before the urge for an impromptu nap hit. Isaiah would be home in an hour, and she wanted all the decorating to be done before he got back. He’d never know the difference, really, but the colored lights twinkling above his head would catch his attention and hold him captive for a time. She was just finishing cleaning up the culinary disaster when the front door opened. “Cary? We’re back! You should see this little guy’s cheeks, it’s got to be about ten degrees out.” Cary stretched out her arms as she hurried into the room. Amanda passed the baby to her, tucking his stroller in the front closet. “Thanks for coming today. I just couldn’t have gotten this stuff done with this little man tucked in one arm the whole time.” Amanda smiled, braces glinting. “You’re welcome. I need the money for Christmas presents anyways.” Cary handed her the check and a couple of peppermint chocolates . “How’s Matt? Have you heard anything from him lately?” “He called last week, but the connection cut out after just a couple of minutes. Isaiah got to hear him, though, so that was good.” “When does he come home?” Amanda asked, sinking into the couch and fidgeting with one of the baby’s brightly colored toys. “In May. We’re pretty sure, anyways.” Just in time for their anniversary. First September Cary and Matt had dated through all of junior year, but over the summer they’d had a series of arguments and seen little of each other.  At the first football game of the year, they made up in the bed of Matt’s pickup truck. That was the first time Matt mentioned marriage. First October Making up with each other resulted in a number of positives – including on a pregnancy test. The timing was inconvenient but not impossible, Cary could finish school before the baby would be born and they’d always planned, without saying as much, on having kids early on. That was the second time Matt mentioned marriage, and this time the plans solidified. First November They took engagement photos in the woods, where the flaring red and orange formed canopies overhead. Their parents were supportive but not enthused. Matt’s insisted that he figure out immediately what it was he was going to do to support a wife and child immediately upon graduation. That was the first time he mentioned the army. First December Matt turned eighteen. He and Cary and the baby in her belly had their own quiet little celebration at the corner table of the only Italian restaurant for forty miles. Later Matt went out with some of his friends and picked up a ticket for disturbing the peace. The next day was the...

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12 Days of Christmas: Twelve Black Hearts For Christmas By Wulf Francu Godgluck

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in 12 Days of Christmas, Horror, Writing | 1 comment

12 Days of Christmas: Twelve Black Hearts For Christmas By Wulf Francu Godgluck

Twelve Black Hearts for Christmas By Wulf Francu Godgluck “Hollyshitballs, it going to eat me alive. Again!” The two-story building loomed terror and furious against the pale winter sky. Its front doors open wide like a snarling mouth ready to devour any who entered. The second floor glowed yellow like demonic eyes from the windows. It’s only a building. That’s what I thought each morning I stood in front of the hell of all evil, more commonly known as Saint Vic’s High. Until my senior year I was the scrawny, dorky kid with a trazillion allergies and digestive problems. You know you were considered less than fly-shit when not even the EMO kids would touch you. Yeah I use to be that kid but not any more though. Not since Josh Willbrie took my hand in front of the zombie hyena popularity pack and, front and center, smacked his lips on mine. He, the high school quarterback and team captain kissed me of all people. Gizznicks! No one gasped in horror or cursed. Actually, I don’t think anyone noticed. We spent that summer together. He even invited me to watch him practice with the team. Strangely, after that epic event, high school seemed less scary… Or was it just that now I had been accepted into the higher pecking order of the superior popular kids? A big hand came to my hair ruffing the brown nest into more of a bed head. “Hi Booger,” he placed a kiss against my cheek and latched his arm around my shoulder. I blushed every time. Smiling, I quickly forced the smirk off my face. He stepped around to face me and his golden brown eyes stared darkly at mine. “Don’t, please. I want to see you smile more.” Before I could squeak a word his lips brushed mine. Fellow students past us without stopping to stare. It was no secret Josh was gay. He was like the trophy gay guy every one loved and kept high on the pedestal polished and shining and me? I was the speck of a stain so small against the backdrop that not even a microscope could pick me up.  He changed that — ok by now you get it. The likelihood of us being a couple was like a comet plummeting into the earth and the human race dancing around naked with unicorn horns attached to their heads because no one got killed. Fucking unimaginable! “What you got?” he asked as he pulled away and scaled the stairs but immediately held out his hand for mine. “Bio,” I shrugged, “double chemistry then algebra.” Our fingers touched and he wove his into mine, pulling me up the steps with his strength. Our shoulders bumped and our backpacks brushed against one another while we walked into the school. Stopping at his locker, not letting go of my hand, he retrieved his books. “A full day in other words.” He sounded disappointed. I knew he wanted us to skip class so we could get busy. Hey, we’re teenagers, of course we did the whole getting naked with limbs in different positions and certain appendages hard as nails drilling thing. “Sorry, Josh.” I apologized. He slammed his locker door and pulled me to him in a hug. “It’s cool. Besides you want to become a doctor so we can go live some place nice,” he smirked. Being this close to someone you liked your body did its own thing. Knowing no one could see, we rubbed against each other. “See you at lunch?” I shook my head, “You have a meeting...

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12 Days of Christmas Schedule of Writers and Illustrators

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in 12 Days of Christmas | 0 comments

12 Days of Christmas Schedule of Writers and Illustrators

The Dark Carnival Writer and Illustrator Showcase was a hit! We had thousands of views and some incredible drawings and stories to share. In fact, Kristen and I loved them so much we wanted to host another one… this one, for December. The 12 Days of Christmas Writer and Illustrator Showcase is going to have stories from all genres, from romance to horror and we are open to submissions with themes of December, Winter, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve. We already have a ton of incredible submissions. Here is the schedule below.    Here is the 12 Days of Christmas schedule: 12/15/13 The Spirit of Christmas by Michelle Davis 12/15/13 The Snow Was Falling Christmas Eve by Mark Matthews 12/16/13 The Elf And The Cracker by Ken Mooney 12/17/13 Santa’s Treats by Mari Wells 12/18/13 Memories On a Tree by Emily McKeon 12/19/13 Twelve Black Hearts For Christmas By Wulf Francu Godgluck 12/20/13 Second December by Jamie Adams 12/21/13 Krampusnacht by Colleen Britton 12/24/13 A Christmas Eve Wish by Kristin Rivers   These writers and illustrators have worked extremely hard. If you have time, I’d encourage you to check out their pieces and leave them a comment. Show them a little love! A huge thank you to all of our participants who are brave enough to share your holiday and winter tales!   Which story is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!...

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12 Days of Christmas: Santa’s Treats by Mari Wells

Posted by on Dec 17, 2013 in 12 Days of Christmas, Horror, Writing | 4 comments

12 Days of Christmas: Santa’s Treats by Mari Wells

Santa’s Treats By Mari Wells  I cuddled the kids into the reclining chair and read book after book about Christmas and Santa. Once my throat was sore, we got up and hung our stockings. In the kitchen we gathered up Santa’s cookies, and other treats. We quit leaving milk out the year my ex husband got food poisoning; we left a bottle of Coke, those special holiday bottles with the Santa on it. Carrots too, of course we’d leave a snack for Rudolf and the other reindeer. Twelve carrots, a plate of cookies and a bottle of Coke later; I tucked my two little excited babies into their beds. I told them not to get out of bed until the sun shone through their window. I sat in my room arranging a few bags of presents. I’ve found it easier to put all of one child’s presents in one bag when putting it under the tree, and filling stockings. The boys were quite for a while; I snuck from my room down the hall I was sure they’d get up with all the noise I made. They didn’t. Presents tucked under the tree, stockings filled, my only task was putting the carrots and Coke away. I swiped a cookie from the plate as I took the other treats back to the kitchen. After I prepared for bed, sad this year would be spent in my lonely dark room, not like the years past when Christmas lights twinkled across my ex’s bare shoulders and chest. I crawled in to bed and waited for sleep to pull me under. A bright light shines in my face; I’ve tried to hide under my pillow, when I realize what day it was. I stretched and sat up. A small crack in my curtains let sunlight in. The boys still hadn’t come to wake me up. Maybe they were already in front of the tree. I’m gonna be so mad if they’ve ripped open presents already, I thought. I stopped and peaked into their room as I make my way to the living room. Their beds were empty. I expected to see them in the front of the tree. I walked through the living room. A blanket covering up little bumps is sprawled across the couch. “Let me get some coffee guys then will start.” There isn’t an answer, I smiled to myself; little munchkins must still be sleeping. I made my pot of coffee and start my first drink; they still don’t make a sound. The cup, cradled in my hands as I walked to the couch and pulled the blanket off them. Pillows covered the couch, but my children weren’t there. I frantically looked for them, before I called the police.   ***   He entered the house through the window like every other house without a chimney. Scanned the room for any eyes that shouldn’t see the magic he performs. The stockings hung from the far wall were full, not much room for the treats he’d leave. Warm prickles form on his back, piercing into his spine. His lips curve into a smile. Showtime he thought. He bent on one knee and began to untie a large red velvet bag.  One brilliantly green box is placed under the tree. The large pot bellied elf stands and stretches. He picked up a small cookie from the plate and nibbled at it. From the corner of his eye, he could see a pair of dimpled cheeked cherubs. Their golden hair reflected the twinkling Christmas lights adorning the tree. He spat the cookie on the floor....

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12 Days of Christmas: The Snow Was Falling Christmas Eve by Mark Matthews

Posted by on Dec 15, 2013 in 12 Days of Christmas, Writing | 3 comments

12 Days of Christmas: The Snow Was Falling Christmas Eve by Mark Matthews

  The Snow Was Falling Christmas Eve A short story by Mark Matthews Author of STRAY and On the Lips of Children Story based on the song “Same Auld Lang Syne”     “Met my old lover in the grocery store The snow was falling Christmas Eve I stole behind her in the frozen foods And I touched her on the sleeve.” -Dan Fogelberg   The pit of my gut boiled with acid. It was burning through the lining of my stomach, seeping out and spreading through my body. This room would never be clean. Clothes and wet towels sprung from the ground like weeds. Dishes were always there. Memories dripped from the walls.  How often I used to be away from here traveling to a gig. Now the walls are my prison and I’m stuck. It started when I came home and the rooms were emptied. Divorce lawyer scrums followed. Another Christmas Eve with no call.Another Christmas Eve with just memories. My child used to smile at me. My wife used to smile. I had songs just for them. Now my voice is dry and lifeless. Bile rose farther up my throat.  I needed a tums before I burst like a volcano. It was time to go out. Not just go out, but go out.  Big. This bile in my gut will be shared with the world. It will burn up more than just me. I stepped outside to a fucking gorgeous snowy Christmas Eve. Each white drop fell from a frozen, Godless sky. Cold car seat leather made me shake .  My breath fogged from the cold. I would breathe fire and bullets soon. Hiller’s grocery store was open and the parking lot was full. Last minute shoppers out for just one more thing to make the family meal look just right. Like in the commercials.The warm steam rising from Turkeys out of the oven. The smiling faces in the kitchen. They make that shit up in commercials. It never happens in real life. None of it is real. We all just want to be a fucking commercial but it ain’t real and we will never get there. The electric door swinging open was mysterious.   The lights of the store made me squint. I was unsure what I looked like, but I knew I was ragged. I wondered if I looked like I had a pistol in my pocket. I wandered through the produce section looking at fruit. Green bananas would brown and rot. Apples unpurchased would bruise and be tossed. Milk cartons were tagged with expiration dates I would never live to see. Carts rustled back and forth. A woman leaned into the frozen food section eyeing the packs of corn and broccoli, picking through as if any one was different from the other. As if the next choice she made would give her the love she wanted. Her hair flowed down her back. She wore no hat. It was cold. She looked busy. I imagined how she would fall after she was shot. I imagined the splotch of red on her hair. I felt the power of the small pistol in my pocket. It was time to go out. I wanted her to see me. One person, at least, should see the pain in my eyes. With one hand reaching for the pistol, I touched her on the sleeve. She turned.  Her eyes flew open wide. The face. My memory. Synapses shot. Memories exploded like gunfire into both of us. It was her. Oh my God, it was her. My old lover in a grocery store.My old friend. ...

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