Posts Tagged ‘Winter Holidays’

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 336: Little Wonders 19 – Bittersweet Christmas


The Night Before Never

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, with no one making merry or wearing lampshades.

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

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

Toys?  Check.

Lumps of coal?  Check.

He 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. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 282: Dreidel Of Dread: The Very Cthulhu Chanukah


Dreidel Of Dread: The Very Cthulhu Chanukah

by Alex Shvartsman

Twas the night before Chanukah, and all through the planet, not a creature was stirring except for the Elder God Cthulhu who was waking up from his eons-long slumber. And as the terrible creature awakened in the city of R’lyeh, deep beneath the Pacific Ocean, and wiped drool from his face-tentacles, all the usual signs heralded the upcoming apocalypse in the outside world: mass hysteria, cats and dogs living together, and cable repairmen arriving to their appointments within the designated three-hour window.

“This will not do,” said Chanukah Henry. “I will not have the world ending on my watch, not during the Festival of Lights.”

(Continue Reading…)

Genres:

Cast of Wonders 225: Little Wonders 9 – Comfort Food


The Four Stewpots

by D. K. Thompson

Review: The Four Stewpots
by Darcy E. (14 friends, 27 reviews) 1 star out of 5

I’ve been coming to uptown for the past year since getting a new job and moving to Whittier, and somehow had never seen The Four Stewpots before. I’m actually not a stew fan. I like my food fresh. Soup is okay, some days. Stew? Bleh. It’s been sitting for ages – this place actually suggests one pot they have is a thousand years old. Bon Apetit? But my daughter’s first report card had come home from junior high – she’d done exceptionally well – she wants to be an astronaut, a monster make-up artist, a superhero, a cryptozoologist, or a cartographer of parallel universes – whatever she decides to do she’ll be brilliant, and so as a reward, I let her pick. She saw The Four Stewpots as we were driving down the street, right next to Undercity Comics, and demanded we go there. Again, I do not like stew, but I am a supportive and proud mother who wants to encourage my daughter’s academic achievements, and realize that it isn’t always about me. At least, until it’s time to write the Yelp review.

It is time to write the Yelp review.

(Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 185: Marley and Cratchit

Show Notes

Thanks for listening, and from all of us we wish you the merriest of holidays and a happy new year!


Marley and Cratchit

by David Steffen

STAVE 1: THE MARVELOUS MACHINE

In those days Jacob Marley was full of life and vigor.  His smile shone so that anyone who saw him soon smiled widely in return.  A moment in his presence would make one’s worst burdens seem lighter. His optimism and generosity brought out the best in others, catching easily as a torch in dry straw.

(Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 184: Wine for Witches, Milk for Saints


Wine for Witches, Milk for Saints

by Rachael K. Jones

My grandmother would have disapproved of a Tinker in a Father Christmas suit, my customary dress in the children’s hospital each December. She believed no good could come of frivolity in our profession, when a routine procedure could end in tragedy. I saw her point when I found myself delivering bad news in costume to a 7-year-old and her sick friend on Christmas Eve.

Maria wasn’t supposed to be in Lia’s hospital room to begin with. She should have been in the Puppet Ward with her little brother Enzo, who was infected with puppetism. Instead, the two young girls curled up cross-legged on the hospital bed, divvying up sweets I knew Lia shouldn’t eat in her condition. Congenital heart failure didn’t require abstention from sugar, but with her transfer imminent, the Coromancers advised against heavy food, as it could interfere with medical magic.

I didn’t know how she’d smuggled in the contraband, but that was Maria. It wasn’t easy for siblings of sick children, stuck in a hospital for days on end. Maria coped by slipping into all sorts of places she shouldn’t go. But on Christmas Eve, we all tended to look the other way.

(Continue Reading…)

Genres:

Cast of Wonders 150: Little Wonders 7 – The Season of Goodwill

Show Notes

You’re listening to Little Wonders, our thematic flash fiction collections. This week we bring you our final episode for 2014, and lucky number 150 – a pair of stories for the inspired by the Season of Goodwill.


The Secret Ingredient Is

by Emmalia Harrington

Susan stirred the pot of soup, frowning. Hunger was supposed to be the best seasoning, but the jar was empty and there was no time to prepare more. Besides, Great-Aunt would hate it if they served something like that to guests.

Stepping away from the stove, she scanned the shelves yet again. There was salt, garlic, peppercorns, nutmeg, allspice…nothing spoke to her. Rocking back on her heels, she tried to think of what Great-Aunt would do.

The first order of business would be to run to the garden to pull up the biggest, freshest and most colorful vegetables, and see how many eggs she could muster from the quail. Once that was done, Great-Aunt would run to the shopping district to wrangle an excellent price for smoked tea. She would follow this victory by purchasing fish that still smelled of the water, and filling her basket with bread still steaming from the oven.

(Continue Reading…)

Genres:

Cast of Wonders 110: The Alchemist’s Children


The Alchemist’s Children

by Nathaniel Lee

Jen’s brother was crazy, and it was her father’s fault.  Jen had only the faintest memories of the man – he’d left when she was still a toddler, so all he was to her was a vague booming voice and a scratchy chin – but Newton’s troubles were clearly the result of their father’s influence.  Their father, the alchemist, who had promised to write every week.

Newt was, even now, locked in his dorm room, attempting to distill Truth in an alembic.  His roommate had called in desperation after the fumes had sent half of the floor into a coughing fit and the other half into a hypnogogic trance in which they spouted strange and terrible prophecies.  Jen had fielded the call in their mother’s absence – she was at the lab, working on synthesizing a promising new polymer – and she recognized the telltale signs of alchemy.

“It’s probably for the best that you got me,” she told Brandon, “since Mom can get quite irrational on the subject. She told Newt last time that if she ever caught him using anything other than straightforward, conventional science, she’d cut him out of the will.”

“Please!” Brandon paused and coughed, long and hard. “You’ve got to make him stop. Becky just walked in with a towel draped over her head and told me the date and time she’s going to break up with me.”

“My condolences,” Jen said politely.

“We’re not even dating!”

“Can you put Newton on?  I’ll see if I can talk him down.”

“He won’t answer the door.”

Jen tucked the receiver under her shoulder and headed for the kitchen.  Mom saved everything, in case it might be useful later. One of the junk drawers had to have her old address book and a lead on Jen’s father.  “Well, hold the phone up to the lock,” Jen said. She rummaged through piles of paper, capless pens, solitary screws, and knives with broken tips.  She heard several thumps, a clatter, and some muffled profanity, then silence. If she strained her ears, she could hear a faint bubbling, like boiling water.  She decided to try her mother’s tactics first.

“Newton!” Jen shouted, thankful she was home alone.  “You stop that meddling with the laws of reality right this instant!”
(Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 109: Nuclear Family

Show Notes

Today we present Alex Shvartsman’s story, Nuclear Family. Alex has been here several times before — welcome back Alex! Thanks for gracing us with an inventive seasonal story.


Nuclear Family

by Alex Shvartsman

Daddy said we couldn’t have a real tree this Christmas.

At first I was sad, but then Mommy said we would im-pro-vise.  I liked learning a big new word. It means use things we have in the house. Mommy and Daddy improvise all the time, ever since we couldn’t go outside anymore.

Daddy went upstairs to find some things to improvise with. I wanted to help, but Daddy said we all have to stay in the basement for a very long time, so we don’t get sick. I hate the basement. There’s nothing to do here. Mommy or Daddy go upstairs once every few days and bring things back down with them. Usually it is food and toilet paper and things, but sometimes they get a few books and toys and games from my room.  They run up and down the stairs as quickly as they can, because when they are upstairs they can get sick too.

This time Daddy was gone for almost five minutes, but he brought down a whole bunch of stuff. He put a tall coat rack in the middle of the basement to make the tree trunk and taped on some unwound wire hangers to make branches.  He gave me a green tablecloth and said to cut it into long, thin strips. Then we glued the strips on to the wire and put up a few ornaments. It didn’t really look like a tree, but Mommy said to use our imagination. I didn’t mind. Decorating the coat rack gave us something fun to do.

Then all of us had to take our radiation pills. I dropped mine and Daddy got really mad. He said that we already didn’t have enough to last us until it was safe to go outside and that we couldn’t waste any. He made me pick it up and eat it off the floor. Eww.

On Christmas Eve we moved the table next to the pretend tree and ate a holiday meal. Mommy made a big pot of spam stew and everyone was allowed to have seconds because it was such a special day. We even had sliced peaches for dessert. Mommy and Daddy didn’t eat very many, saying that it was a special treat for me. But they did try some because it was the last can and Daddy said he wasn’t sure when we would ever taste peaches again. Mommy shushed him. Then we sang every holiday song we could remember.

When I woke up in the morning Daddy was gone. Mommy said that he had to leave for a while but the way she was crying I didn’t think he was coming back. I got scared and Mommy told me to go open my presents.

There was some stuff under the pretend Christmas tree, but it was all toys from upstairs that I had from before. There was also a little box with Daddy’s share of the radiation medicine. Daddy is silly. Who wants pills for a present?

Genres:

Cast of Wonders 108: The Cardinals of Ever-June


The Cardinals of Ever-June

by Sylvia Anna Hivén

I put up with much when I was a boy. I had no choice, really, because I was orphaned at the age of eight, and an orphan has less of a voice than a mute.

I had no say when my sister and I were shipped off to a poor-house, run by a cruel man. I accepted that I had to work most of my waking hours and face hard fists if I refused. I endured the lice-infested beds, watery broths and poverty seeping into my very pores. That’s just the way life was. But no matter how much I could withstand, I couldn’t accept a life of misery for my little sister. This is the story of how in order to save her, I let her die.

Hearing me say that might leave you cold. I won’t blame you if it does. But in the end, when you’ve heard the whole story, I still hope you’ll find it in your heart to say a prayer for me.
(Continue Reading…)

Genres:

Cast of Wonders 107: The Surfacing


The Surfacing

by Kurt Newton

Eight-year-old Ellie Fortier exited the back door of her lakeside home into a clear moonlit night.  She was careful not to let the screen door slam shut. She didn’t want to wake her grandfather, who was babysitting her for the night but had fallen asleep in his favorite chair.  Her mom was at the hospital. Her dad — well, she didn’t want to think about her dad right now. What was more important was what she had to do.

Dressed in a light windbreaker, jeans and sneakers, she tiptoed down the back porch steps and hurried along the gravel path that led to the long wooden dock that pointed like a finger toward the center of the lake.  Lake Ochabee. When she reached the end of the dock, she hesitated.

She stared out into the open water.  She could feel its coldness and depth.  But she trusted it. If there was a God, she hoped he lay at the bottom of all that cold, dark water.

To her left, moored to the dock’s side, her father’s motorboat sat.  Alongside it, like a child close to its parent’s side, rested the small skiff Ellie’s father let her paddle around in.  As her small hands worked to untie the knotted rope, Ellie’s lips moved silently, repeating a chant she had begun fifteen minutes earlier after the phone call came informing her grandpa that there was still no change in her father’s condition. Daddy will be all right… Daddy will be all right… Oaky will fix it… Oaky will make it better…

Her fingers finally loosened the damp knot and she climbed down into the small boat. Without wasting any more time, she picked up the oars and began to row.
(Continue Reading…)