Tag Archives: Christmas

Early Christmas Present

Hello all! The star of my zombie collection, The Z Word, is back in a new short story called Check the Halls (for Brains and Zombies), available in An Undead Christmas in paperback and for Kindle.

In this story, Zach escapes a ton of zombies and takes refuge in an apartment building, only to see a lit up Santa displayed on a nearby rooftop. He follows it to discover a small community of survivors who, after almost shooting him, invite him to Christmas dinner. Inside the safety of their fenced-in private school, they have some semblance of a normal life, enough to enjoy the holidays together. But is their haven really as safe as they think? Check out Check the Halls (for Brains and Zombies) and many other fine holiday zombie shorts in the new collection by editor Anthony Giangregorio.

A Holiday Zombie Story

Hello all! I was asked to write for an upcoming holiday horror book that collects zombie short stories that take place during Christmas. Fun, huh? It’s about my favorite zombie killer, Zachary Ward (recurring character in The Z Word), who is chased into a building in the city by zombies only to discover a school in the distance decorated for Christmas. He heads towards the survivors, gets to know them and celebrates Christmas like only a true zombie apocalypse hero can…by saving the day and killing zombies!

Here is a schematic for the school where he makes new friends and helps them out a bit:

Image

I was having trouble picturing the property, so I drew one up as a rough sketch. It really helped move the story from building to building. I may have to do this more often!

Anyway, the book won’t be out until closer to the holidays, so keep an eye out for it! And if you haven’t read The Z Word, check it out!

Kissing Clauses

The holiday season had clearly taken hold of Philadelphia, and Martha was forced to swerved between more people than she had ever seen on South Street before. She passed Repo Records and finally swerved left to get off of the main street and head down to Bainbridge for a while. The relief allowed her to slow her pace and take in the sights of a road less traveled during her usual holiday shopping routine.

She passed a junk store she’d never seen before and out of the corner of her eye spotted something that made her stop dead on the sidewalk, leading a homeless man to bump into her. He excused himself and continued around her as she turned to look in the giant window filled with vintage holiday objects. She scanned the display, past a plastic wreath that had seen better days, ignoring a small set of Rudolph salt and pepper shakers to a shelf that was eye level. There they stood, and she instantly flashed back to childhood at her grandparents’ home in the suburbs. Santa Claus, hands behind his back, leaning in for a kiss. Mrs. Claus, hands also withdrawn, leaning in for the same kiss, standing on a little pedestal that Martha knew would make Santa’s wife spin and play a cute little holiday song similar to those that came from children’s jewelry boxes. Martha turned and entered the store, opening the door a little too boisterously, causing the bell attached to the top to ring with more violence than it should.

She could practically hear her grandmother tell her to be careful as she reached for one of the statues. The man at the counter, old and frail beyond his years, looked up at her over his wire-rim reading glasses. He smiled and approached her, fixing his aged suspenders as he walked.

“Interested in the kissing Santa and Mrs. Claus, young lady?” She nodded and put a hand out to take the statue of Mrs. Claus.

“Careful now,” the elderly man warned her. “Those are hand painted and from the 1970s. Do you know the set?”

She thought back to Christmases past and could practically smell the spaghetti sauce cooking in her grandmother’s kitchen. She could see the chestnuts roasting in the fireplace, her grandfather worriedly checking them every few minutes. Even the old marble table where the two statues sat year after year came into view for Martha.

And then she remembered what happened to the set. Her little sister was playing with them, winding up Mrs. Claus, when the tragic event took place. A stumble, a fumble and Mrs. Claus’ severed head rolled up to Martha’s left foot. A frantic aunt sneaking the statue away and quickly playing doctor with quick dry rubber cement, and it was almost like it never happened. But Martha could tell; she could spot the spider web crack in the statue’s neck in an instant, maybe just because she knew it was there.

“Young lady, are you okay?” the man asked her, waking her up from the memory. She shook her head.

“I’m fine. I would love to purchase this.” As she turned the statue, examining Mrs. Claus’ white apron, her green dress and the puckered lips, she noticed a tiny crack in the neck.

Christmas Balls

“Look at the size of those balls.” She stopped and looked at me like I was crazy as I pointed down toward the bottom floor of the mall where they were unpacking the Christmas ornaments. “What? Christmas balls?”

She gave me a dubious look because she knew why I chose that particular diction to express my thoughts.

“Wow, those are huge,” she remarked.

I debated commenting, but refrained, like a good boyfriend. “Can you imagine unpacking stuff like that every year? I don’t even like pulling out the five boxes of decorations I have, and they’re normal sized. That’s insane.”

We both rested our arms on the railing so that we could take in the largeness of the event taking place down there. From afar they looked normal, but we knew the sheer size of the ornaments alone was intense. The tree in King of Prussia Mall puts the one in Rockefeller Center to shame. The ornaments are easily twice the size of my head.

“I’ve never seen the mall decorations until they’re actually finished decorating…this is intense,” she said to me. “They’re huge.”

“I know, right?” I said with an evil grin on my face. She shoved me and continued on her way, as I lingered behind for another moment to snap a shot.

Christmas Memories (My First Nonfiction Post)

It’s Christmas, 1982, ’83, ’84, ’85, pick a year, any year.

Santa came and went, church is finally taken care of, the celebration with my mom’s side of the family is over, and we are now at my Pop-pop’s house, anxiously awaiting presents from Aunt Mary and Uncle Mike, two notorious over-spenders when it comes to us and holidays.

“Looks like Santa left something here for Dennis,” my Pop-pop would say.  “I wonder why he would leave it here.”   The first year, and possibly the second, it was pretty new and exciting.  After that, it became as predictable as the end of Mickey’s Christmas Carol, which was another part of our annual Christmas tradition.  But the first year, it was exciting to hear.  I could not help but think of how envious my sisters must have been.  I mean, come on, Santa had given me an extra present.

Pop-pop handed over the gift, and I looked at my parents with excitement.  I tore it open and lifted the lid to find…potatoes.

“Uh oh.  Looks like someone was bad this year!  Santa brought you potatoes!” my grandfather said.

That first year I was confused as hell.  Why would Santa bring me all those presents at home only to leave me something odd like potatoes at my grandparents’ house?  And if I knew anything about Christmas from all the movies and television specials, it was that bad kids got coal, not potatoes!  That was when I realized Pop-pop was laughing, and it was contagious.  Everyone started laughing.  And then I got it.  I was the victim of one of my Pop-pop’s pranks.  And I loved it.

So it became a part of Christmas.  Every year, I got potatoes.  And for some reason, even though we all expected it, every year we all laughed and laughed.  But the thing was, I did not even get to keep the potatoes.  He would say that they were his lunch for tomorrow.