The winter holiday season is here. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, we at MetaStellar hope you have a holiday full of cheer.
The holidays have long been a subject of speculative fiction, thanks to the religious and secular mythology surrounding the holiday. Some of these stories go into surprisingly dark places, while also capturing what makes this time of the year so special for so many. Here are some festive stories to read by the Yule Log.
Boogieman Vigilante by Alpheus Williams
My kind have been around long before they crucified Christ. We were around when Christmas was the Winter Solstice, Easter was the Spring Equinox, Halloween was Samhain and they celebrated May Day with Beltane.
We were around before the Christians stole our holidays and made them boring.
Read full story here. (Reading time: 10 minutes.)
Changeling by Ursula O’Reilly
My grandmother had a distinct talent for storytelling. She would sit beside the open fire on a winter’s evening, her fingers busy knitting, her grandchildren gathered around her. We would beg to hear one of her captivating stories, and she usually relented.
Grandma had grown up in a small rural village in Connemara, Ireland. A place where myths and superstitions were closely woven into the fabric of everyday life. The mystical and the magical, she taught us, were all around in the natural world. I cannot recall any of her stories now, except for one. A tale so bizarre I have never forgotten it.
Read full story here. (Reading time: 6 minutes.)
Enough by Belinda Brady
I spot something tucked away at the beginning of the track, hidden behind a pile of snow. Moving in closer, I see it’s a wooden sign, its dark post sticking out of the ground with two mossy planks of wood on top of it, “Beware of Snow Witch” written in big, messy letters.
The Snow Witch was an urban legend, told through generations. The story goes that the witch had promised her hand to a powerful warlock, but got cold feet and called the wedding off. He was so heartbroken, so incensed with rage, that he cursed her to an eternity trapped in these woods alone, only able to leave once she found someone to take her place. A task easier said than done, as no one who knew the story dared venture into the woods.
Except for me. I didn’t believe the story for one minute and certainly wasn’t spooked by it.
Read full story here. (Reading time: 3 minutes.)
I’ll Be Home For Christmas by Rhonda Parrish
He didn’t sound like he’d aged a moment since we’d last spoken almost ten years ago.
Which made sense because he’d been dead for all that time. For nearly as long as he’d been alive.
Read full story here. (Reading time: 2 minutes.)
Christmas at Grandma Minerva’s by KT Wagner
“I guess I’d better check it out,” Minerva grumbled. A butcher knife in one hand and her trusty broom handle with the nails pounded through one end, in the other, she shuffled across the room, stood on tip-toe and squinted through the peephole. Her neighbor, Louise peered back. Her face appeared distorted, but the rot alarm hadn’t gone off.
Bang, bang, bang.
“Hold your ever lovin’ horses, Louise,” Minerva fumbled with the six locks. One couldn’t be too careful, what will all the troubles.
Minerva turned the knob and the door burst open. Louise filled the doorway, hands on hips.
Minerva brandished her weapons, looking the intruding woman up and down. “Stick your tongue out,” she ordered, knowing full well Louise was fine.
Louise rolled her eyes and complied.
Minerva nodded. “Shut the door.”
Read full story here. (Reading time: 6 minutes.)
Sugar Plum Ghosts by Stephanie Parent
That tune seemed familiar… Something she had heard rumors of, but never experienced herself… Yes, she was sure now, a certainty that hit her like a shiver up her spine. It was the theme of the Sugar Plum Fairy, still as bell-like as when it was played by the orchestra, but slow and breathy and sad. The sound came closer, and along with it the image of a Sugar Plum Fairy materialized from the darkness and swam before her eyes—no, not one dancer but many. Some in sparkling white tutus and others in purple or pink, some with wide smiles and others with anxious, exhausted eyes behind the glitter, and finally, one woman with her limbs wilting mid-arabesque, joints snapping like a marionette’s, crying in pain as she crumpled to the ground.
A deep, aching cold rushed into Nell’s body like smoke, hollowing out her limbs, freezing her on the spot. She felt bony hands on her bare shoulder—why hadn’t she pulled a sweatshirt over her tank top?—and this time, there was no comfort to the ghost’s touch.
Read full story here. (Reading time: 17 minutes.)
A Winter’s Morning by Micah Castle
Stephen eyed the black blob, taking a few steps back. This was not coffee; this was nothing he had even seen before. After several minutes, he decided something had to be done. He couldn’t just stand there all day. The blob would probably stain or outright ruin the floorboards. But, he thought, he wouldn’t bring this to his cousin’s attention. Thomas wouldn’t do anything anyway.
He tried to pick it up but it moved, rippling. Stephen’s hand stopped before touching the dark thing and he quickly returned it to his side. He watched as the thing continued to ripple and vibrate, and as his eyes widened, small tears in its body opened up and began ejecting sickly green fumes.
“What the hell. . .”
Read full story here. (Reading time: 19 minutes)
Terrence J. Smith is MetaStellar's assistant fiction editor. He has contributed his writing to nonprofits and both print and digital publications. He enjoys all things technology, but remembers to meditate and appreciate the outside world.