I love reading holiday stories so much that this year I wrote two of them, both free short reads. The first is called Homecoming and is set in the world of my Reaper series. If you're not familiar with the series, Reapers are men infected with a parasite that turns them into cannibalistic zombie-like creatures. That has Christmas written all over it, doesn't it? It's set in an alternate version of the wild west just after a cure has been discovered for the infection. Homecoming is about the trouble John, a newly cured Reaper, has going back to his old life. I thought I'd share an excerpt....
A sliver of wood as thin as a snowflake peeled away beneath the sharp blade and drifted down to lay atop his bare foot. The scent teased his nostrils, but he held back a sneeze as he followed the stroke around the curve of the eagle’s uplifted wing. He didn’t want to screw up this delicate part and, besides, if he let loose with a sneeze now, someone from the house might hear him and that would be no good. No good at all.
Head bowed, John tickled the roof of his mouth with the tip of his tongue. His sister Alice had always sworn by that method of fighting off sneezes and she would have known. With hay fever and a preacher father who insisted they sit in the front pew every Sunday no matter what, Alice had had a lot of practice at smothering sneezes. She was gone now with the rest of his siblings. Eight of them and he was the only survivor.
Setting the knife aside, he picked up the small chisel. Really it was only a large square-headed nail he’d found sticking up from the soil a few weeks past. He’d scrubbed the rust from it and sharpened the end and it worked remarkably well for his purposes. The feathers…well now, that was the challenge here. He cupped the eagle in one hand, thumb anchoring the neck and his pinky finger curled around a leg. Catching his tongue between his teeth, he began the fine work.
The feathers had to be etched individually to make it look real. He could appreciate symbolic art, but he had his preferences. His grandfather, who’d taught him to carve, had made creatures so real looking that as a child he’d been convinced the hand sized wolves and bears prowled about his room as soon as he drifted off to sleep.
He blinked the sweat from his eyes and swiped his sleeve across his face. He’d nearly forgotten that. He had forgotten it. It was another memory come back to him, and a precious one. He wished he could remember them all…the good ones and forget about the bad. Wheat and chaff. Gather up the wheat, throw the chaff into the fire. Some days, it seemed to work the other way around. Some days it seemed there was nothing left but chaff.
If you'd like to read the rest, you can find it here.
Dragonslayer and has Christian and Fen talking about Yule and what gifts they're getting for their significant others. I wrote it for Mistletoe Madness. You can read it here and also enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Witch Bound and an Yggdrasil necklace.
Happy Holidays everyone, however you choose to celebrate. Do you have a favorite holiday story?