Twitteration – A Reason for Believin’

The challenge: Three words chosen at random by someone on Twitter (in this case @atfmb) crafted into a story in minimal time.  The words are in the tags.  Enjoy!

“There shouldn’t be a Santa Claus.” Evan stared at the data on his multiple screens as the computer reconfigured it into countless visual iterations trying to find some sense in the numbers.

“I’ve got good news for you then.” Leonard, his grad student, said as he cut a slice off his meatball with the side of his fork.

“Funny.” Evan said. “I’ve been looking over this data for ages.  Every cultural, mythical and legendary figure can be placed in the Cambellian matrix. Each has a place in the collective unconscious and serves a role.  Sometimes their role is usurped, but they always have a hole to fill and holes will always be filled by new versions of the old concept. Except this one.” He tapped the screen where the computer had generated a dancing Santa Claus infographic whose limbs were proportional to the ages at which children in different cultures ceased believing in him.

“This is your guilt over making me work Christmas Eve isn’t it?” Leonard asked.

Evan ignored the question.  He found it best to ignore most of what Leonard said. He’d been an unfortunately noisy sounding board. “The character just doesn’t make sense. He’s attached to the second most sacred Christian holiday, yet he eclipses it in popularity. He’s known in every culture. He has dozens of different names, Sinterklaas, Saint Nicholas, SIr Christmas but those that vary away from Santa Claus tend to be quickly lost.  He’s evolved in other ways, too. He used to be a name with no face, but over the years he’s been imagined and reimagined until he’s come to this chubby old man with the red suit and white beard. The elves, the reindeer, the sleigh all are additions to the original story, but unlike other characters once a new aspect gets established it doesn’t change.  It doesn’t get lost, forgotten or rewritten.  I mean, just think about the meatballs.”

“What about them?” Leonard said while chewing a chunk of said meatballs.

“Did you ever eat Swedish meatballs as a kid for Christmas? Did anybody?”

“The Swedish?”

“Here look at this.” Evan typed away and produced a Santa Claus timeline, showing where each aspect entered the lore. “Right there. Fifteen years ago, the tradition of Swedish meatballs began with a particularly vehement ad campaign and now everyone eats meatballs for Christmas.”

“Whass yo point?” Leonard said a glob of ground beef escaping his mouth at the tip of the t.

“It’s almost like almost two-thousand years ago, someone infected the human race with an idea, that has slowly germinated in the mind of every man, woman and child since.  As the infections spread the idea became more defined until finally we find ourselves with the meatball-loving, fat man we all know today, but why? What’s the point?”

“You’re not allowed to work Christmas anymore.” Leonard licked his fork.

A familiar sound they’d never heard before filled the office, like sleigh bells and hoof beats. A blinding light followed.  What appeared next could only be described in terms of a Venn diagram, in one field Santa Claus in the other human. This creature lie completely in the Santa Claus field.  It’s face was pure white fur with a red nose protruding.  The rest of its body was likewise furry, but the colors alternated from red on the belly and legs to white trim at the wrists and ankles and black on the hands and feet.  Something like a sleigh/spaceship hybrid sat behind him, filling the rows between the office cubicles.  A team of eight brown quadrupeds with antennae where their head should be completed the tableau.

Leonard dropped his fork.

The creature opened it’s great jawed mouth. A black tongue protruded with a bulb on the tip. The bulb opened and released a puff of some dark gas.  He bit down on it and it reconfigured itself to speak. “Hello, ho, ho. Earth.  We are Santarclas. We’ve come for Peace on Earth and offer goodwill toward men. We’ve waited long for this moment.”

Evan, Leonard and every other person on Earth that was having this experience found themselves speechless. The Santarclas knew only one way to show their kind intent.  Each one produced from its bag a plate of warm rounded beef.

“May we offer you a meatball?”


Illustration Friday: Scattered

I just discovered the new version of MS Paint on Windows 7. At least it’s new since the last time I played with Paint which was probably around 1995. Here’s my interpretation of IF: Scattered.

Illustration Friday: Scattered

The day my hair blew away.

More Fun Than A Hatful of Rabbits?

The Cover of A Hatful of RabbitsA Hatful of Rabbits, a collection of my short stories, is now available for sale at and soon at other places as well.  It includes seven previously published stories (including my Writers of the Future Honorable Mention) and three never before released tales.  I hope you will pick it up, read it, enjoy it and pass it on to others.  Oh and it’s only available in e-book format (for now) and runs a hefty $0.99.  You can’t even get a Crunch Bar for that anymore and my stories are so much sweeter than candy.  Thanks for giving it a try.

You + Me = Alchemy

In the story Alchemy, I attempted to write something dark.  It was an adolescent pursuit I suppose, though I was far past adolescence at the time, but still an interesting experiment. 

The story centers around a central flip.  Religious extremism and what it causes people to do has been a central issue of the last decade. This causes many to place the blame for the acts on the beliefs behind them. In the story I posit someone taking a scientific principle to the extreme, mangling it and misinterpreting it and committing a horrific act. I enjoy it for its simplicity.

Interestingly, when some who know me read this story, they became quite concerned.  The distance between teller and tale that is evident and even frustrating to the author is often invisible to the audience. After some brief reassurances that I was fine and that no cats had been harmed in the creation of the story, life moved on. Still, I wonder sometimes if they haven’t put me on a watch for any unusual behaviors.

Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree

It’s funny.  When I published The Apple Tree I was very excited to see the direct reaction my fiction would get on a site that featured comments.  Ironically, though an irony apparently totally lost on some commentors, some people were more interested in my misuse of words than the story itself.  I’m by no means a grammarian.  I often tell people the either/or choice my college gave me: Sociolinguistics or Grammar.  It never seemed like much of a choice to me.  I know enough to construct the sentences in a way that feels right, and if a few rules get bent along the way, so be it.  At the time, I was embarrassed.  I felt like I’d let people down, wasted their time.  Then I realized, like Ashley in the story, I was giving too much power to words.  Words can’t wreck cars or kill people, but they can make you feel really bad about yourself.  Especially when they are forbidden or formulated into rules to use as weapons.  Ashley and I are stuck in a world where the damage is done, we just have to pick up the pieces and live with it.

P.S.  The word, never spoken, in the story is … ain’t. 😉

When Bank Robbers Were Heroes

Here’s a story I published a couple years ago called Held Up In 2008 I found myself suddenly interested in the world of economics when it all began to collapse.  It’s funny because a lot of the fallout is just hitting my personal life now, three years later.  I wrote this story, which is not meant to be overtly political, just to question the way our presumptions about institutions rub up against our presumptions about individuals.  We give corporations the full rights of man, yet we don’t hold them accountable the way we would any individual.  Indeed if one was to meet a man whose only motivation was profit and would commit all kinds of crimes and/or have laws rewritten to achieve that goal, we would call him an asshole.  When corporations do it and destroy themselves in the process we rush in to save them.  Playing with these ideas gave me a greater understanding of the 1930’s when all the heroes were either gangsters or western outlaws.

I’ve Had the Time of My Life

Over at Kasma SF, my story Brother, Can You Spare the Time? is now featured.  This is the honorable mention in WotF previously mentioned here.

The story was inspired by an idea that’s been floating around in my head for almost twenty years: the simple conversion of money into lifespan and how that would affect how we view economic issues.  It took more than a decade to develop the courage to believe I could do the idea justice.  I hope that I did.  Incidentally, the working title was Time is Money which is way too literal to sell, but did tickle me at the time.  I hope you enjoy the story and feel free to come back and comment.

Beware the Eldritch Haikthulhu

I joined Twitter and decided to create some content instead of just informing stalkers of my daily itinerary.  What’s the shortest short form writing I know, haiku, and what goes better with traditional Japanese poetry than Lovecraftian themes. 

Behold the haikthulhu:

Miskatonic U

Homecoming interrupted

Don’t haze the Shoggoth



Ex Libris the Mad Arab

Steep overdue fine


Visit Arkham, Mass.

College Town; Cthulhu Cursed;

 Denny’s Now Open

For more unbelievable Tweets like these follow me @BenSonofJacob.