Updated: Jan 1
"They say the sun will come back
my one love
but we know how the minutes
fly out into
the dark trees
- W.S. Merin, The Solstice, 1987
“Whenever five or six people meet round a fire on Christmas Eve, they start telling each other ghost stories,” humorist Jerome K. Jerome wrote in his 1891 collection, Told After Supper. “Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about spectres...”
And, lest we forget Dickens’ most grisly holiday tale, A Christmas Carol.
Regardless of how you celebrate, The Parliament Press is bringing back the tradition of telling ominous tales by the fireside...
We're elated you've decided to join us. Take a seat and stay a while... The monsters don't bite.
Dear reader, we present to you ten haunting yet hopeful Yuletide tales from the voices of:
D.M. Siciliano (Inside), Wren Handman (In Restless Dreams), A.M. Wright (The Shrike and the Shadows), Brianna Sugalski (Disenchanted), Chantal Gadoury (Blinding Night), A.J. Vrana (The Hollow Gods), Nick Vossen (The Eldritch Twins), E.M. Wright (Sedition), Aislinn Honeycutt (Wandering in Wonderland), and Kristin Jacques (Marrow Charm).
We have displayed a snippet of each, and a direct link to each and every full story below.
Enjoy, and we wish you all an enchanting and bountiful holiday season!
An INSIDE Holiday Tale
As they entered the abandoned house, the floor creaked and groaned, lamenting their intrusion.
“I told you we shouldn’t have come. It’s haunted,” the last word fell away from Danny in a whisper.
“Yeah, and it’s Christmas Eve, we should be having eggnog and toasting our feet by the fire,” Clint added. The room was dim, as the sun outside was setting in the gray cloud of winter night. The icy air sliced through them. He fought back a chatter of his teeth.
“Don’t say fire, douchenozzles!” Heather’s dramatic eye roll was lost in the darkness of the one-roomed house.
With that mere mention, a spark ignited in the fireplace. First a crackle, then a faint light like a match flicking to life...
An IN RESTLESS DREAMS Holiday Tale
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
The house has been transformed into a winter wonderland. There’s frost sprayed on the window panes, stars and snowflakes glittering on strings from curtain to curtain.
Lights twinkle in every room, in every color of the rainbow. Tinsel and holly hang from corners or chandeliers, and snowflakes have been pressed onto door frames and lintels. It smells like fresh cinnamon, like apples, like a Lifetime movie come to life. We came home last week to shortbread cookies in the shape of bells, a gingerbread house already decorated. There was even fruitcake soaked in rum that Dad offered us and quickly took back after I choked on my first bite...
A THE SHRIKE & THE SHADOWS Holiday Tale
Eckard placed a split log on the crackling fire in the hearth of his cottage. Behind him, settled in their beds, his children slept soundly; their breathing as light as the flurry of snow outside. They had gone to bed hours ago, thankfully untroubled by nightmares. Usually they were plagued by them, these inscrutable shadows of terror that haunted their minds. Eckard understood where they came from and why there were dancing around his children still, and yet it worried him whenever either of them woke with a start in the middle of the night.
It had only been one year since their mother passed, and though time had buried her, the wound was still fresh...
A DISENCHANTED Holiday Tale
Brittany—December 24th, 1531
Garin pressed his knuckles against the wormwood bar top, the dull edges of the coins digging deeper into his clenched palms. He leaned protectively over the till before him, fighting the urge to chuck the tin box at the pair of brawling korrigans on the opposite side of the counter. For the umpteenth time he swept a black lock of hair from his forehead, set the gold medallions down, and began counting over again.
The pile of coins was deceptively sizeable, consisting mostly of gros. Each piece amounted to a portion of a livre at best. It would barely be enough to cover the end-of-month market run, he could already tell...
A BLINDING NIGHT Holiday Tale
“And why are we doing this again?” Thanatos asked, grunting as he hoisted one end of a large Christmas tree box over his shoulder.
“It’s Christmas,” I explained, struggling to keep my grip on the other end, while carrying a large bag of ornaments. “I’m determined to celebrate all of the holidays I grew up with.”
“If it’s anything like the day of eating, I’m all for,” Thanatos chuckled.
I rolled my eyes. I had insisted on celebrating Thanksgiving, even though I knew it was an American holiday. Thanatos had certainly enjoyed himself, eating as much turkey and stuffing as he could get on his plate. Darce had even seemed grateful to be among all of his friends and comrades, sharing a meal that we all were enjoying. I was thankful for food that I recognized...
An INSIDE (D.M. Siciliano) + THE HOLLOW GODS (A.J. Vrana) Holiday Crossover
Mason meandered up to the dilapidated porch steps of the ramshackle, wood-paneled house. Craning his neck, he gazed gingerly over its old, rotting bones. He’d circled the woods at least half a dozen times before he’d found the damn thing. Given how it blended in with the surrounding forest, it could have easily been mistaken for a hollowed-out tree at first glance.
The house appeared to careen against the icy winter wind that howled through the treetops...
A THE ELDRITCH TWINS Holiday Tale
The old abandoned manor creaked eerily with each gust of ice-cold wind that blew through its weathered cracks. With dusk approaching fast, the impressive structure stood like a crooked sentinel watching over the silent meadow below from atop it’s elevated seat between its nest of winter pines. Quincy could but think of one word to describe the imposing building, once grand but now fallen from grace; beautiful.
Lilly wasn’t really the aesthetics-loving type like her twin brother. In fact, she waltzed past him and slammed the old iron fence open with such force that one of the rusted bars broke off in her hand...
A SEDITION Holiday Tale
“You look—!” Royal finished with a gasp, his mouth hanging open.
Taryn smiled benevolently at him, pausing on the stair so he could take in her new gown. The green satin train caught on the stair behind her, the bodice showing off her narrow waist. The neckline swooped wide, displaying her collarbones, but as always, her sleeves hid her ams to the wrist, and her hands were hidden beneath black silk gloves. Her long copper hair was pulled half up and curled, catching the golden firelight of the many lamps glowing against the darkening of the day...
A WANDERING IN WONDERLAND Holiday Tale
'Twas the night before… Wonderland doesn't have any set kind of religious holiday in place. Festivals got carried from town to town, from family to family, until everything just sort of… melded together. Drinking, dancing, and gifts… that's what everyone in Wonderland celebrates. So this really doesn't work, does it?
Let's start over.
'Twas a cold and snowy night in Wonderland. The world outside the pearlescent walls of the Palace of Hearts was quiet and still. Fires burned in hearths and lights danced against the soft ice filling the streets. Children were nestled under covers...
A MARROW CHARM Holiday Tale
Armin winced and whined in his sleep. She shifted him closer on the hard cot, but the lean winter had left her body with too many sharp angles. He buried his tear stained face in her hair, where scent and proximity unwound the tight knot of his nightmares so that he relaxed against her. She envied him that unconscious peace.
She stroked a soothing hand down his back and stared through the bars of their cell. Her unfocused gaze snapped to attention as Elder Prast strode toward them.
“Armin, wake up,” she whispered, her voice scraped raw...