Shock Totem #10 (Jan 2016)
- Closing for Submissions
- Shock Totem Returns!
- Apex Publications Acquires Shock Totem Book Line
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 8
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 7
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 6
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 5
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 4
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 3
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 2
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Tag Archives: Christmas
Our good friend Steven P. Bouchard has written a classic-style holiday poem for Thanksgiving, and we’re very pleased to share it with you. We hope you do the same.
Late after dark on All Hallows Eve,
After mischievous tricks and collecting of treats,
Skeletons chattered, dead things were screaming,
And sugared-up children were twitching and dreaming.
Deep in the woods in a leaf-covered clearing,
The foxes were gathered, the time was a-nearing.
In the fog that transitioned the night to the day,
To the keening of fox-calls, formed a frisky, dark shape.
And out of the haze stepped a fox-headed mum,
Who quieted her troop with the snap of her thumb.
Her name it was Frixxa, the Matron of Foxes,
She gathered her children to sit upon rockses.
With fog rolling slowly, and moonbeams aslant,
She lifted her arms and she started to chant.
The troop circled in and joined in her song,
With chatters, and wooing, and barks short and long.
Then beyond the darkness came gobbley noises.
The foxes gave chase, unleashing their voices.
And when the Fair Frixxa’s song came to an end,
Turkeys aplenty were corralled in the glen.
Now unearthly birds summoned back from beyond
Were squabbling all dazed from a year being gone.
So henceforth the foxes would fatten and feed them.
For soon the Fair Frixxa would certainly need them.
The night’s work all finished, the matron stood up,
And gave out her blessing to each kit and pup,
And as morning broke she dispersed with the mist,
A long silhouette as the sun’s rays first kissed.
A fortnight and half having passed in the glen,
Darkness fell early, the troop called again.
And out of the mist-shrouded night came the matron,
Wearing an orange- and brown-colored apron.
A week it then took them to ready the flock,
As feathers were scattered and blood soaked the rocks.
But once preparations were fully complete,
The clearing was cleaned and the foxes were neat.
Then hundreds of thousands of plump burlap sacks
Were tied up and hoisted on strong foxy backs.
And as the night fell on the Evening of Thanks,
With a word from Fair Frixxa, the foxes broke ranks.
And over the land they did carry their gifts,
With joyous yip-yapping, on feet running swift.
At each house and shanty they stopped at the door,
And with a quick pause left their offerings poor.
Frixxa, the mischievous maiden of foxes,
Took her own path and dissembled some lockses,
She entered the dwellings on silent fox feet,
To gaze at the children in beds all asleep.
And those she found worthy, or needy, or right,
She left a small gift under pillows that night.
To some she left wishbones, and some pretty pennies,
But to most just a blessing, and some didn’t get any.
And to those very naughty and evilest of kids,
Which is so very seldom (but sometimes she did),
She would leave a fair warning to send them a shiver,
Like wattles, or giblets, or eyes, or a liver.
And back to the clearing when all this was done,
Fled Fair Matron Frixxa, and her troop, every one,
To await the slow breaking of the sun’s early rays,
As each gift is discovered on Thanksgiving Day.
As people all over give thanks and then feast,
The fox-headed mum gives a nod to the east,
Then Frixxa Fair gets one last autumn trick in,
Transforming into a reindeer named Vixen.
About the Poem: I’ve always wondered why Thanksgiving gets a bum deal, blowing right by and being overshadowed by Christmas. I thought about it and realized that Thanksgiving doesn’t have any figurehead like Santa or the Easter Bunny—the turkey is not a herald of the holiday: its dinner.
Also, kids don’t really have anything to look forward to on Thanksgiving–not like Easter Eggs, Trick-or-Treating, or presents from Santa. There are not many holiday movies or TV specials with Thanksgiving in the foreground. So, “Fair Frixxa” is in response to that, giving the holiday an icon to follow, and a more tangible give/receive motif like the more popular holidays. While I don’t usually write poetry, this just begged to be written as a pastiche to the traditional “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” This is my attempt to bridge elements of Halloween and Christmas together, and to firmly plant a Thanksgiving legend in its proper November place. Now, if I could only get Boris Karloff to narrate it…
About the Author: Steve lives in Maine with two kids, two dogs, two guinea pigs, and one wonderful wife. This is his first published work.
I loved Christmas when I was a little girl. Santa Claus, the tree twinkling with lights in my living room, the anticipation of presents and cookies. The enchantment waned in my teen and young adult years, of course, but once I became a parent, the holiday was exciting once again. I loved providing the magic of Christmas for my own kids.
Santa has been out of the picture for us for several years now, and Christmas these days is more a source of stress for me rather than joy. The cleaning, the cooking, shopping, spending money on stuff we really don’t need—I’ve unfortunately become rather cynical about the holidays. It’s always a relief when it’s all over.
So all the sappy, sentimental, feel-good TV shows, movies, and stories don’t do anything for me. I will admit to still enjoying Rudolph and Charlie Brown, and my favorite Christmas movie is The Santa Clause 2 with Tim Allen, but otherwise, I find myself rolling my eyes a lot during the months of November and December. And don’t get me started on the saturation of Christmas music for two months.
Then I was asked to review O Little Town of Deathlehem, edited by Michael J. Evans and Harrison Graves. Christmas horror? Yes, please! Stories that won’t warm my cold, black heart, stories that would make the Grinch smile.
Catherine Grant starts the ball rolling with “One of His Own.” If you’ve never heard of Krampus, do a quick Google search before reading the story; it will be a much more rewarding experience. Krampus and his half-brother Sinterklaaus travel the world together on Christmas Eve—Sinterklaaus is the kind-hearted, benevolent elf who leaves presents, but Krampus is just looking to feed on fearful children. They enter the home of a drug-addled mother whose little girl is neglected and abused. For the first time, Krampus finds himself wanting to take care of a child instead of eating her. He whisks her away with him. As she grows older, she helps him with his quest on Christmas Eve. But then she wants his help with something else.
“One of His Own” is a great story, perfectly setting the tone for the anthology. Although their roles as good and evil characters are clear, Krampus and Sinterklaaus aren’t that black and white. Very well written, and the author gave the characters depth you don’t usually find in a short story.
Chantal Boudreau’s “Deck the Halls” is a familiar tale of a man who resents his mother and wants his inheritance sooner rather than later. He takes care of her, in order to not lose his coming windfall to nurses and caretakers. But she lingers, much to his chagrin, so he takes matters into his own hands. Things don’t turn out as he planned.
This is a fun, nasty little story that is truly the embodiment of “be careful what you wish for.”
Do you prefer live Christmas trees to artificial ones? “With Their Eyes All Aglow” by Jeff C. Carter might just change your mind. Ray is fascinated with insects and spiders. He is looking for a rare, extremely venomous spider in Myanmar, but is ready to return home to his wife and daughter for Christmas. He actually finds the spider colony, but realizes it has infested a once-trendy Christmas tree called “Nordmann Firs.” They are being grown to ship to the States—and Ray realizes that is the exact tree his wife bought several days earlier.
I don’t like spiders at all. “With Their Eyes All Aglow” was creepy, and made my skin crawl. Thanks to this story, I now know that real Christmas trees carry usually harmless bugs into homes. I’m sure I’ve heard that before, but was in denial. No more live trees or plants of any kind in my home!
“A Christmas to Remember” by JP Behrens could be a peek into Charles Manson’s boyhood until he grew up and gained terrible notoriety. Ten year old Nathan’s parents are Christmas shopping for him and his brother, a difficult task since Nathan seems to be obsessed with all things dark and horrible. His mother caught him dissecting a mouse with glee, and now he’s drawing pictures of mangled and broken animals. After shopping, Nathan’s mom follows him into the woods, and discovers his horrible secret. Somehow the family gets through Christmas, but that night, Nathan’s mom discovers he has put his present to use in the most awful way possible.
This story could also be a look into Michael Myers’s childhood. JP Behrens has written a shocking story about every parent’s worst nightmare.
Twenty stories make up this anthology. You’ll find a Santa-werewolf (or would it be werewolf-Santa?), evil ornaments, Christmas in a zombie apocalypse, evil Santas, and of course, Krampus. What you won’t find are sappy, sentimental, ABC Family Channel stories. So if you’re tired of Christmas cheer, grab a copy of O Little Town of Deathlehem, and let the holiday dysfunction take you away.
O Little Town of Deathlehem is available through Grinning Skull Press. All profits from the anthology benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.