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Issue 7: January 2011

Welcome to the seventh issue of 10Flash and to a brand new year.

10Flash is a quarterly on-line magazine dedicated to genre flash fiction — science fiction, fantasy, horror, suspense, crime capers and slipstream.

Each issue  offers up ten flash fiction stories written around a common theme. Each story in this issue is a response to this directive — Santa Claus Ain’t Coming to Town.

The stories were written by established and emerging authors in the flash fiction market and they were free to interpret the theme in any manner — and in any of the genres — they choose.

Thank you all for stopping by.  There is an interesting selection of genre stories for you to peruse this issue, some by authors whose names you’ll know and other by newcomers.  I think they’re all great reads.

Robin Graves offers his very first published story in this issue of 10FlashUnlimited Delta is a sweet little tale that illustrates the notion that people are people, wherever we may go and how our technology may change.  We should all hope to have neighbors like the Fernandez family.

Gerri Leen returns once again with a poignant story of love and friendship — The Night Before NeverC. L. Holland is back, too,  with And a Cup of Good Cheer, a piece of dark fantasy that may make you shiver the next time you’re offered a cup of eggnog.  Mike Alexander joins us for the first time with It’s the Real Thing, another dark fantasy tale about a face-to-face encounter with the jolly old elf himself. You’ll get a bang out of Mike’s tale.

And talk about wicked fun.  Cooper’s Cut, from Lee Hammerschmidt, crawls inside the head of a compulsive loser who learns that you should take all of those familiar family stories with a grain of salt.   Cheryl Losch gives us Girls’ Night OutJennifer Campbell-Hicks introduces us to Man of the Stars and Shauna Roberts takes a gentle look at Global WarmingLael Salaets lets us ride the way-back machine to the sixties and sneak into John Kennedy’s oval office to watch The Nicholas Incident unfold.

Finally, Jodi MacArthur stops by once again to tell us about The Girl Who Was Chased by an Abominable Snowman with a Machete, a loopy story filled with valley-girl dialog and magic flying carpets and Big Foot and the Abominable Snowman.  Somehow, she manages to work in Santa Claus and nasty, edged weapons, too.  It’s bizarro fiction, something of a recent thing.  We hope you like it.  Hell, we hope you giggle out loud most of the way through.  We did.

All ten are swell stories. So have at them.

K.C. and Jude-Marie

Cooper’s Cut

crime caper by Lee Hammerschmidt

“You’re almost there, don’t get greedy,” Cooper said to himself, as he pulled a mittful of fifties from the purse.

He had gone through two-thirds of the purses and coats piled on the bed in the upstairs bedroom, their owners boisterously slugging down the holiday cheer downstairs. The party was in full swing, but it wouldn’t be long before the bird was on the table, so he had to work fast.

It was slow going, searching through each belonging and skimming accordingly.  Clean somebody out, they would notice and cause a ruckus.  So just take a percentage.  With all the hooch these clowns were downing they’d never know how much, if anything, was missing until much later.

He wasn’t quite there, but getting close. About seven grand in cash and a dozen credit cards. Then he would start on the jewelry in the dresser.

“Santa Claus ain’t coming to town, this year,” he chuckled.

[click the title to read the complete story]

The Night Before Never

fantasy by Gerri Leen

Kris Kringle moved silently through the workshop, making sure nothing had been forgotten by the elves.  Normally, they’d be starting their post-toy-making-frenzy party, but this year, the group was more subdued, the carols on low, and no one making merry or wearing lampshades.

Kris sighed and lifted his hand in a wave as he passed the break room but didn’t go in.

Inventory.  Yes, inventory would take his mind in the direction it needed to go.

Toys?  Check.

Lumps of coal?  Check.

e peeked out the window.  Elves hooking up the reindeer?  Check.

Reindeer fat–but not too fat, they did have to fly–and happy?  Check.

Rudolph’s nose at full power?  Check.

As Kris moved from the workshop to the adjoining kitchen, he sniffed.  Apple pie baking, ready to eat when he got home?

No.

[click the title to read the complete story]

Girls’ Night Out

fantasy by Cheryl Losch

“So here’s the thing,” she said, tension building with each sentence. “Every year I work my butt off to make sure you’re fat. I clean your suit, I polish your boots, and I make sure the elves build you a new pipe that won’t make you cough and wake up all the children.

I help you with the letters and the emails.  For crying out loud I’ve set up a naughty and nice sort on the desktop so you don’t even have to spend endless hours writing lists yourself any longer.  We’ve been able to eliminate those millions of rolls of paper that keep spilling around the den and down the stairs.

I keep the sack in good repair so the toys don’t land where they don’t belong and I even make the annual appointment for the sled tune-up. I can’t count the number of years I’ve kept this operation running smoothly and the one night, the one night we could possibly go out and I don’t even get to enjoy it.

[click the title to read the complete story]

It’s the Real Thing

dark fantasy by Michael Alexander

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

A plate of cookies and a glass of cola sat on the coffee table. Over on the old Bang & Olufsen, Burl Ives was singing Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas.  The television, volume down low, was playing a tape of It’s a Wonderful Life.

The taser was on my side table next to a glass of scotch and soda. I picked up the glass and took a sip, all iodine and peat, then idly played with the big black button sewn to my shirt. All in all, I was ready for the appearance of that Haddon Sundblom fat red jolly freak.

[click the title to read the complete story]

And a Cup of Good Cheer

dark fantasy by C. L. Holland

The magic was all in the hat, of course.  It had to come from somewhere and it certainly wasn’t him.

He hated it.

Made of festive red velvet with trim as white as fresh snow, it perched on a hat stand that bore a blank mannequin’s face.  It was an accurate representation of what it made of him.  Sometimes he woke from nightmares where he knocked the thing to the floor and, devoid of even an imitation head to sit on, it slithered across the room seeking him.

“Eggnog, sir?”

He turned to the green-clad elf who’d spoken, who was half his height and holding a steaming mug of creamy liquid.  He hated eggnog, but he’d learned over the years that the elves were literal creatures so he nodded.

“A large one.  Without eggs, milk, cream, sugar, or spices.”

[click the title to read the complete story]

The Girl Who Was Chased by an Abominable Snowman with a Machete

bizarro fantasy by Jodi MacArthur

So, I was camping.

At the north pole.

On a Sunday.

In winter.

And this giant ball of snow came rolling up to me. I thought it weird, but I was like, in freakin’ Antarctica. Or Artica. Which eva one’s on top, like who cares? The point is weird things happen there. Santa and shit. Anyway, I poked at it with my rattlesnake boot and it grew teeth and coal eyes and started chomping at me.

Of course, I ran.

[click the title to read the complete story]

Man of the Stars

science fiction by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks

First came the hiss, like water on hot metal and the windows rattled. I lifted my brush from a half-painted toy train.

Outside my workshop, light flashed across the sky. Impossible. The sun would not peek over the horizon for another four months. I wiped my spectacles on my apron and looked again; the light now emanated from the ice close by.

I whipped off the apron and peeled out the workshop door, clearing the steps with a leap to land with a soft crunch. Snow soaked my pants. Mary would scold me for that later.

The light had gone out, but the impact point was easy to spot. The snow had melted in a funnel shape, and at the bottom was a rock. I poked it — cool now — and picked it up.

Fist-sized, pockmarked, metallic sheen.

A meteor.

[click the title to read the complete story]

Global Warming

science fiction by Shauna Roberts

The first hint of the disaster appeared as filler on the evening news, another novelty item like the earlier “Big Alligators Found In Ohio’s Little Beaver Creek” and “Ice Floe Carries Polar Bears Into San Francisco Bay.”

When the perky news anchor leaned toward the camera, I stared at her exposed cleavage and paid little attention to her words. “This fall we’ve seen seals on ice, caribou on ice, even a frozen mammoth on ice. But this is a first. A bicycle on ice.” The film clip showed a bobbing ice floe with a partially constructed bicycle on top.

“Huh.” I went to grab a Pabst and adjust the A/C unit. I grimaced as I turned the knob to a cooler setting, thinking of the electric bill. But this November was even hotter and more humid than last year’s. The doctor had warned me that such weather could trigger Joey’s asthma.

When I returned to the living room, Joey was watching a toy store commercial. “Uncle Dave, I want a bike.”

[click the title to read the complete story]

The Nicholas Incident

science fiction by Lael Salaets

On October 30th, 1961, the Soviet Union detonated the “Tsar Bomba” over the Mityushikha Bay nuclear testing range, north of the Arctic Circle on Novaya Zemlya Island in the Arctic Sea.

The hydrogen bomb was the largest and most powerful nuclear device ever detonated with a yield of fifty megatons, equivalent to one thousand four hundred times the combined power of the nuclear explosives that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII.

U2 missions were deployed from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska to collect fallout data for the U.S. Defense Atomic Support Agency. One particular mission of this deployment, code name Toy Soldier, was to take aerial reconnaissance photographs of the North Polar Region.

President John F. Kennedy feared the worst.

[click the title to read the complete story]

Unlimited Delta

science fiction by Robin Graves

“We have a distress signal coming in.” 16-year-old Jenny Alvarez called to her family over the ship-wide com system.

Her father, Fernando, stopped his lunch preparations and stepped to the intercom.  “You’re the captain. Make the call.”

“Already have. They’re a little over four days from here,” Jenny said.

“Hmmm. Do we have the delta to get there and then home?”

“Still checking,” she said, in a tone of voice that meant leave me alone, I’m working.

“Fuel, velocity, momentum, gravity wells, mass,” Fernando prompted.

“Dad, I’ve been a pilot five years and a captain for three. Don’t you think I know how to calculate delta?”

[click the title to read the complete story]

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