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Subscribers Delights: December 2006 Issue




Flash Fiction written by members and friends of the MuseItUp Club. Submissions are invited for this page.*



Percy the Pedantic Penguin


by Susan Stephenson



Santa felt uneasy when he looked up to see ravens flying backwards against a pewter sky.


However, when he entered Pole House to find a penguin regarding him from the kitchen doorway, his neck hair bristled.


“What’s he doing here?” he demanded of Mary Christmas.


Crimson blotched her wrinkled face and tears clogged her eyelashes. She heaved a sigh. “Rudolph’s booked into a detox clinic. I phoned the labour exchange but they weren’t much help.”


“Another reindeer?”


“Booked out. It’s Christmas.”


“Musk ox?”


“None available.”




“I tried my best!” she snapped.


Santa remembered her mood swings and hauled back on his temper. “No, I mean, did you ask for a donkey?”


“It’s a very busy time of the year. All they had left was this stupid penguin.”


The penguin straightened and gave an ingratiating smile. “Hardly stupid, ma’am. I’m Percy, the Pedantic Penguin.”


Santa looked him over. Standard issue, black and white, annoying smile. “Can you fly?” he asked.


“Whom, I?”


“Oh, give me strength!” roared Santa.


“Actually, I can give you some speech tags to avoid or the rules pertaining to apostrophes of possession, but strength is not on my agenda. My chief goal is to uphold high standards of English.”


“Fat lot of use that is!” Santa ground his teeth and slumped into a chair.


The penguin blinked. “For what purpose would you have me fly?”


Santa took a deep breath. “I’m Santa Claus, in charge of Christmas present delivery. You know, from the song…’He’s making a list, and checking it twice…’?”


Percy, the Pedantic Penguin, stroked his chin with one flipper tip. “Personally, I’ve never found two drafts enough. I recommend King’s method of locking your list in a drawer for three months and…”


Santa picked up a bell-covered harness. “Stop blathering on about draughts! Surely you’re accustomed to the cold by now? I wonder if we’ve got enough pixie dust to make you fly and pull the sleigh?”


“In what way would that benefit me?” asked Percy.


Mary Christmas looked horrified. “Think of all the little children who’ll be disappointed, their faith destroyed, if Santa doesn’t arrive tomorrow. Could you possibly live with that on your conscience?”


The penguin pursed his bill. “Ma’am, a conscience is not a pre-requisite in the publishing industry. Those children are in part responsible for the demise of our language. Why should I want to help them?”


“Two buckets of krill and a year’s supply of fish,” shouted Santa, pounding his fist on the table.


Percy snatched up the jingling harness. “Let’s do the damn thang! Get dust, Fuzz-face!” he cried and waddled out the door.



Susan Stephenson 2006





Scene Through a Christmas Window


by Sonny Eagle




SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARVES the sign read in large gold letters. It was the theme for this year’s Christmas decorations in the windows of Myers Store in Bourke Street, Melbourne. Each year they would select a different fairy tale for an extravagant display promoting the Christmas spirit. Regardless of which fairy tale featured, my memory would retreat through the years.


Memory is certainly a funny thing. Like a door to the past, sometimes with rusty hinges that will not open, memory tricks you. You can’t see what is behind the door. At other times, the hinges resist but you can open the door a little and see through the mist to dim or vague events of the past. The most alarming times are when the door swings suddenly and freely open to reveal a moment you wish you could forget.


I was about eight or nine years old. We lived in a small country town in Southern Queensland. Our house was small, with built-in verandas on three sides. My bedroom had a window to the lounge room inside the house and a window to the yard outside the house. It was Christmas Eve. We’d decorated our Christmas Tree and my mother placed three stockings over the mantelpiece for Santa Claus to fill with our presents. She’d also hung some mistletoe from the ceiling, much to the mirth of my older brothers who sniggered about kissing. At that stage, we went off to bed.


Of course, I couldn’t sleep. The heat from a hot summer’s day was still oppressive but it was another reason keeping me awake. There were several fancy wrapped boxes around the Tree and I saw my name on some. I wanted to know what they contained. I kept peering through the window, afraid my brothers would sneak in and open their presents. I was almost asleep, with one arm on the window ledge, when I saw movement in the room. It had to be Santa Claus because it was a man carrying a large bag. He went straight to our stockings and started to fill them.


It was very dim in the lounge room, my mother had left two candles burning on a corner shelf, ‘So Santa can see what he is doing,’ she said. This allowed me to see my mother walk into the room. She did not seem at all surprised to see Santa but instead rushed over and started kissing him. Now fully awake and scared, I dropped down and pulled my blankets up over my head.


I can still remember waking next morning as the orange-gold rays of dawn entered my small bedroom through the outside window. It was a difficult night for me with dreams almost nightmarish. My poor brain was still trying to grasp one of the most disturbing events of my young life. I remember whispering to myself, I saw Mummy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe last night?


Sonny Eagle


Birthday Horror

by Elizabeth Bishop


"It's your birthday tomorrow."


"I hate birthdays, Shelly, I told you that." His jaw tightened.


"Come on, Matt.  Let's do something special."


"No." Terrible memories overrode his thoughts.


"Matt, it's your birthday!"


"I'll call you later."


Matt hung up the phone without waiting for a reply. Memories of his mother screaming at him every birthday raced through his head. Telling him he should never have been born; how he ruined her life. He began to hate birthdays at an early age. He didn’t know what was worse, the words she spewed or the hatred in her eyes. He closed his eyes and could see the dreaded cake she'd half-heartedly make. It always tasted like saw-dust.


Hours drifted by until the pounding on the door shook him out of his thoughts.


"Shelly, what are you doing here?" Matt asked as he opened the door.


"I brought you a cake. Maybe at least we can celebrate your birthday this way."


Sighing deep, he looked at his girlfriend. "Let me get something to cut it."


Matt lifted the knife and turned it over and over in his hands.


I will bury Shelly tomorrow, on my birthday. She'd like that.  I know Mom did.


 Elizabeth Bishop 2006


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