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All posts for the month December, 2015

12 Short Stories of Christmas: 12 Drummers Drumming

Published December 23, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day eleven click here.

The sound echoed off the walls of the caves, bouncing back to where Janet stood. It was the noise of her classmates running around through the smugglers’ caves.

There were ghosts in these caves, so the story went, but it was just a story, just something to keep people out of the caves when the smugglers used them.
Anyone who entered the cave uninvited would get caught by the drummer, went the story.

Janet, away from her classmates, pressed the button on the display to tell the story. The sound of drumming from the recording filled the cave, drowning out the sounds of her classmates.
When the drumming stopped and the display finished, the cave seemed silent and strange. Janet turned the corner to rejoin her classmates and frowned.
They weren’t there.
The tapping of drums started again; grew closer and closer and louder and louder. Janet screamed.

12 Short Stories of Christmas: Eleven Pipers Piping

Published December 22, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day ten click here.

The music drifted down the hallway and into Laura’s room. Slow and sad, it ended one note too early, Laura thought.  The absence of the final chord left the whole song feeling incomplete and creepy. Laura waited for the final note, but she fell asleep before it was played, if it ever was.

Laura asked her father about the music over breakfast the next morning.
Asked whether one of the servants was practicing and whether they knew they had missed the final note  which had made the music seem so full of longing to Laura’s ears.
Her father didn’t reply. He stopped eating, porridge halfway to his mouth, dripped off the spoon and back into the bowl drop by drop.
Her father told her never to mention the music again and to pay it no heed if she heard it that night.

As Laura lay in bed, the same music came floating into her room.
Laura got out of bed and followed the sound, unable to resist.

12 Short Stories of Christmas: Ten Lords a Leaping

Published December 21, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day nine click here.

The house lays empty now. High up on the hill you’d think someone would have noticed the flames. He revved the engine of his car and drove away from the shell of the house. There was nothing left in it for him now, nor for anyone.
But he had jumped and he had lived, even if the house had not.

12 Short Stories of Christmas 9: Nine Ladies Dancing

Published December 20, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day eight click here.

Back and forth. Left to right. They rehearsed the dance moves for the hundredth time.

The show was opening tonight and a talent spotter was going to be there, but there was only one part and thirty people performing. As they rehearsed the moves for the last time Jane and Sarah were trying to see how they could make sure the talent spotter would notice them before the other.

Jane was in the front row and Sarah was behind in the second row, but Sarah was slightly shorter than Jane and thought it only fair she go in front so she would be visible to the audience. They had practiced the dance moves so much that they had managed to come up with a way that they could both be in the front row for half of the song each and could dance round each other without messing up the dance.

Once the performance had started, Jane and Sarah began in the positions they were supposed to be in and as the song progressed tap danced round each other, but Millie a dancer to their left in the front row mis-stepped as Sarah was moving round Jane back to the second row of dancers. Millie tripped over and Sarah and Millie fell off the stage.

The other dancers tried to keep going, but with two of the dancers not in place and instead entangled together in the orchestra pit arguing quite loudly about whose fault the fall had been, no-one was that successful at making sure the show went on.

At the end of the performance it was deemed a failure, despite all the hours of rehearsal they had put in, though the talent spotter had not been able to make the show after all, so there was a chance to do it all again tomorrow.

12 Short Stories of Christmas 8: Eight Maids a Milking

Published December 19, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day seven click here.

James could hear the milkmaid singing as she worked. The song drifted up to his open window and into his study. Though he could not hear the words being sung, the tune settled itself in his head and he found himself humming as he worked.

The day was hot and there wasn’t even a strong enough breeze from the open window to rustle the papers on his desk.

The next day it rained and the milkmaid was gone. There had been an outbreak of smallpox in the town and her mother had contracted it. The milkmaid was in quarantine to see if she also had the disease. James hummed the song to himself that the milkmaid had been singing just the day before.

Within two weeks the milkmaid was back. It was a miracle, or so everyone said.

The weather was warm again and James had his window open. He hummed the tune which drifted through the open window down to where the milkmaid worked.

The tune reached her, settling itself in her head. “That sounds just like the song I used to sing,” she thought.

12 Short Stories of Christmas: Seven Swans a Swimming

Published December 19, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day six click here.

One of the carriages on the ride was broken again. A wheel had fallen off leaving the painted swan lopsided and unable to stay on the track around the ride. It wasn’t dangerous exactly, the swan would still go round and round, just slightly wonkily, but according to the manager of the theme park, no-one was to be allowed on the ride except Evan until he had fixed it. As Evan screwed the wheel back on to the side, he tried not to listen to the sounds of carnival music from outside, the songs were so repetitive that it had started annoying Evan ten minutes after he had started working at the theme park, now after ten years he was resigned to the songs and tried his best to block them out.

From inside the ride, there was a creaking noise, as if someone had taken just one step towards Evan.

Evan turned round but there was no-one there, so he went back to screwing the wheel onto the swan carriage.

No-one else at the theme park had worked there as long as Evan. There had been people over the years that like Evan had got to ten years, but no-one ever stayed here any longer than ten years except the manager.

He wanted to leave, ten years was way too long to stay in a job like this, he had started applying to other jobs, asked his manager for a reference, who hadn’t been best pleased that the park’s mechanic wanted to leave him, but as of yet no luck.

There was another creaking sound behind him, closer this time.

The wheel wasn’t going back on. He looked more closely at the axel of the carriage. It hadn’t fallen off, it had been sawed off, the broken metal had jagged edges from where it had been vandalised. Evan put his thumb on one of the sharp edges, and immediately took it away again, as the jagged edge cut his skin. He put his thumb  in his mouth to stop the bleeding, one drop of blood fell from his thumb onto the floor of the ride and he heard one last creak behind him.

12 Short Stories of Christmas 6: Six Geese a Laying

Published December 17, 2015 by julietstubborn

For day five click here.

£500 for the rent. £300 for the bills. At least £100 would have to be spent on food over the course of the month and he had wanted to buy some new shoes. These ones were so old his toes poked out the ends where they had disintegrated into nothing.

The goose started squawking from outside. He sighed. New shoes would have to wait. He had forgotten to factor in the money needed to feed the goose. He didn’t know why he didn’t sell it, it was probably a sentimental reason, though he spent most of his time complaining about the goose instead of being sentimental about it. He took the last bag of feed from by the door and clutching it in his hand he went outside. He dropped the bag of feed on the floor in his surprise. Next to the goose, so bright he had to shield his eyes, was a great big golden egg.

This was why he had never sold the goose!

He walked over and picked up the goose, dancing round the yard with the animal, who seemed less than amused and bit him on the arm, but he was too happy to care. Still smiling, he picked up the egg and went straight into town to buy his new shoes.

The next day, there was another one. This he used to pay off his debts, and his rent for the whole year.

The third day he bought a whole new wardrobe.

The fourth, a car.

The fifth he convinced his landlord to sell him the house, so he would never have to pay rent again.

The sixth day, convinced that his money troubles were over forever he quit his job, citing as reason that he had a goose that laid golden eggs, his co-workers thought him quite mad, but when he left on his desk the sixth egg the goose had laid that morning, they reconsidered their opinions.

On the seventh day, he went back outside into the garden to pick up the golden egg, but there was none. The goose was gone. There wasn’t even any feed left by the door to suggest the goose had ever been there.

And over the past six days he had not bought himself any food.