Christmas Short Story Competition

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For our Christmas meeting 2020, Cafe Writers were challenged to write a short story of 200 words beginning with the phrase, It was the week before Christmas, or It was the night before Christmas. Here is a selection of the entries.

Disaster Averted by Lindsay Woodward

‘Twas the week before Christmas and Santa had broken his leg. He lay in bed sulking as Mrs Claus paced around angrily.

‘I’m sorry, Mrs Claus,’ Twinkle the elf said, quivering with both guilt and fear next to her.

The irony wasn’t lost on Mrs Claus that this had all happened because the elves had decided to take a break, celebrating being well ahead of schedule. It was meant to be an innocent game of hide and seek. How was Twinkle to know, as he curled up behind workstation number seven, that Santa would walk in at that very moment and go flying over the top of him?

‘We’ll need to bring in extra elf power now,’ Mrs Claus huffed. ‘And I suppose, yet again, I’ll have to go and do the present delivering. This is the fourth time!’

Santa hid under the duvet with shame.

‘Right, Twinkle,’ she instructed, ‘get your best team together. I need a beard making. And this time I want the softest red velvet for my suit. Not that itchy stuff I had before.’

‘Yes, Mrs Claus,’ Twinkle said, before running off to get started.

It seemed Christmas was saved again, thanks to Mrs Claus.

What a woman.

A Christmas Murder by Ruth Hughes

I had volunteered to do too many murder mysteries and now on Christmas Eve. We were off to do The work house plot at Harrogate. There were 120 guests in a huge plush dining room decorated in gold and mirrors and huge glittering chandeliers. I was an extra floating actor due to the large numbers. I called myself Masie and said I was an under-scullery maid, I wore a slightly grubby mob cap and a voluminous apron. It was my job to go around and make sure all the guests know who is who and their positions in the work house. A lot of guests had ordered beautiful Dickensian costumes so I had fun curtseying all the upper-class ones as I wandered round. we have an actor on each table, you have to try to eat while ensuring your guests understand what it happening and through the evening, we move from table to table doing the same thing usually someone has died just as we arrive and then at the end someone else is murdered. The guests then get ten minutes to try and figure out who did it. There will be a prize for whoever gets it most correct then we say our goodbyes, put on our ordinary clothes, fall into the car and go home. Happy and content we have done a good job. Until next time.

‘Twas the week before Christmas…by David J Boulton

“Bloody Hell, it’s not that time again is it?”

To the doubters amongst you it may come as a surprise that reindeer can talk, but then, they’re careful not to be heard in human company; not even if it’s dressed up in a ridiculous red suit. 

“I don’t suppose the old fool has had a shave since last year.”

The little herd stood together in a huddle. Anyone looking on might have seen Dasher, Prancer and the rest. I mean, would you talk to people who’d given you such stupid labels?

“Why do we put up with it each year.” Blitzen complaining again. “I mean, we should be out there snuffling about in the snow for lichens with the others.”

As a narrator, and not one of them, I was instructed not to name them, but what the hell; it was Cupid who said, “that’s just it. Do you really want to be sticking your nose into the snow? Mine gets chapped.”

“It’s for the food they give us; is that what you’re saying.” It was Comet this time.

“And from what I’ve heard there isn’t going to be much more of that. Haven’t you heard of Amazon?”

Twas the week before Christmas by Simon Grenville

Twas  the week before Christmas but Oswald didn’t care.

Christmases’ had been pretty much the same for thousands of millenium. Not much happened. Not much changed.

Oswald was a microbe buried deep in the subsoil of Mars. Frozen in ice. Frozen for all time.

But he didn’t mind, occasionally he could send out a little electric pulse to his fellow microbes to check they were still there , and occasionally he’d get a quick electric pulse back so that was Ok.

Of course it had all been different once. Warm waters and a blue reddish sun.

But hurly burly wasn’t in it.

Different aquatic creatures striving  to evolve.

It churned up his mud oasis no end.

So no regrets when his sun imploded and a permanent winter descended.

Life was so much simpler now. Simply a state of permanent suspension.

But yesterday things became different.

Oswald wasn’t certain but he’d detected an almighty Prang coming from the surface.

And then a deathly silence.

Today a distinct whirling vibration edging closer.

The Chinese Challenger Spacecraft had landed, and even now was drilling deep into the frozen tundra.

Hells bells, thought  Oswald, that’s torn it .

It was the night before Christmas by Fran Neatherway

Jenny lay awake, terrified Santa would come down the chimney into her bedroom. Grandma said that’s how Santa delivered presents to all the good little children. 

Daddy met Santa at the front door when Santa delivered her presents, because that’s what Daddies did. Jenny had met Santa once, in his Grotto. She’d cried and run away from the scary white-bearded giant in the red suit.

Mummy and Jenny had been staying with Grandma, “to look after her”. Daddy wasn’t here. He was at the hospital, helping poorly people get better. Jenny talked to him on Mummy’s laptop, but it wasn’t the same. Mummy was sad. She said it was to keep them safe. Jenny wanted to keep safe from Santa. 

Footsteps were coming, big heavy footsteps, not Mummy or Grandma. Jenny hid  under the duvet, too scared to move. The door creaked open. She peeped out and saw a man carrying a big sack. Jenny screamed.

The lights went on. There was Daddy with a bag of presents. Jenny ran to him. He picked her up and hugged her.

“Two vaccinations and two negative tests,” he said. “Back to bed, sweetheart. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Jenny fell asleep immediately.

Twas the week before Christmas by Sophie Walters

Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the house, creatures were stirring, but especially the mouse. 

He scurried down the hall, and through the large door, dodging people and pets, before skidding on the floor.

Inside the kitchen, was the food he sought. He had to be quick, lest he be caught.

Up on the table, sat his greatest desire, it was a Christmas pudding, being lit like a fire.

He licked his lips, and readied himself, before turning around and climbing the shelf.

Up he went, careful and slick, and started to wait, still as a brick.

A woman was there, serving food and drinks, she was in the mouse’s way, so he had to think.

He ran back to the door, and with all of his might, he pushed and he shoved, and he closed the door tight.

The woman turned around, confused by the sound, and when she moved the mouse jumped up from the ground.

With the woman distracted, he took the food and ran, his pudding heist going according to plan.

His quest was over, and back to his hole he went, in bed he lay, his day well spent.

It was the night before Christmas by Theresa Le Flem

It was the night before Christmas when I saw it. I took the biscuits out of the kitchen cupboard and there it was, a small grey mouse nibbling away, with crumbs everywhere. 

‘Oi!’ I shouted. It shot off under the fridge. 

Fetching the cat, I carried him into the kitchen. ‘Basil,’ I told him firmly, ‘you have a job to do tonight.’ He didn’t look at all pleased. I put down a saucer of milk. It was nature after all, I told myself – nothing to worry about.

But I still lay awake in bed an hour later. Had I really set Basil up to commit a murder on Christmas Eve? Back to the kitchen I went, opened the door gingerly. The first thing I saw by moonlight were two shapes on the counter. One, I realised, was the turkey.  The other, Basil, chewing.

‘Oi!’ I shouted. He shot off. 

I switched on the light. ‘Basil, how could you?’ I cried. 

But he miaowed at me, ‘How could you?!’ he seemed to say.  

And the mouse? I switched the light off again and stood perfectly still. A rustling started up in the cupboard. Basil’s eyes lit-up. 

There it was! It had started on the mince pies!  

A brief encounter by John Howes

It was the week before Christmas. She had something in her eye – and he was a doctor, after all. So it seemed perfectly natural that he would lay hands on her. The grit was soon removed. A drunken Father Christmas gazed on this brief encounter on the station platform, a poignant moment, bound to change lives. The brass brand struck up ‘Silent Night’ as the couple headed for the buffet. Teacups in hand, they found a corner table.

Following a comfortable silence, she said, “I’m married.”

“So am I,” he replied.

Should they? Shouldn’t they? Worlds turn upside down on more trivial exchanges.

His train was called. Their fingers touched, their eyes met, their lips trembled. This couldn’t be. Think of the children.

The train approached.

“We can’t,” she insisted.

“You’re right,” he said. “Too much to lose.”

The band played on. Still, their fingers rested on the table, tip to tip. Everything else was in the past. Was it selfishness, or the truest love in the world?

He withdrew his hand. 

And touched her face.

Twas the week before Christmas by Simon Parker

Twas the week before Christmas and Jim Adams was on the Eurostar back from Paris, after a week-long business trip.

It was just after Christmas ten years ago that his father had died, and he’d been thinking about him a lot this past week.  He always made an enormous fuss about Christmas and loved every minute of it.  

An older gentleman was sitting opposite, and he smiled as Jim sat down, saying “busy week?”.  Jim rolled his eyes and smiled back, saying “just mad, but it’s over now”.

Jim had an overwhelming feeling of calm and wellbeing talking with the man but after a while, closed his eyes.  He woke up with a start in an otherwise empty carriage, with the train stopped in St. Pancras Station.  

Jim noticed a shabby copy of A Tale Of Two Cities, one of his favourite books, on the seat opposite.  “I have to catch the man and return his book”, thought Jim.  Fully awake now, he leapt off the train and ran down the platform, but there was no sign.  Sorry that he’d missed him, Jim opened the book.  

On the inside of the cover was a hand-written inscription: “Happy Christmas 2010, Jim.  All my love, Dad xx” 

Christmas To Do by Christine Hancock

‘Twas the week before Christmas and I’d lost my list.

No, not that one, that’s the card list, out of date now, except for that robin from someone called Bill.

Bill who? His or mine? Leave it for now, too late to reply, whoever he is.

Two lists for the supermarket, this week and next, which is which? When to go? Is Christmas Eve too late?

Those lists are menus, one for each day, I don’t know why I write them, they’re the same every year. 

The present lists. No! Don’t even go there.

I need the list for the market. There, hidden beneath yet another recipe for stuffing.

Chipolatas and sausage meat, steaky bacon and a gammon joint. Every bit of a pig. How about a boar’s head? No, don’t be silly.

Turkey! Will they have a turkey? If I get it now, will the weather be icy, or must I find room in the bulging fridge? Should I get it from Sainsbury’s, will there be any left?

Eggs! Eggs? No, it’s Christmas, not Easter.

Don’t panic! Calm down. There’s plenty of time. A whole week to go. 

Mustn’t forget to take out the giblets. 

Don’t worry, I’ll start another list.

Twas the night before Christmas by Kate A. Harris

‘Twas the night before Christmas when I slowly opened the old white wooden shutters.

Did I hear the jingling of bells? 

Was it Father Christmas and his reindeer bringing our presents?

I don’t think so.

Back in the mid-1950s our rambling Old Rectory wasn’t heated. I pulled my pyjamas closer to keep warm against the bitter cold. Jack Frost had left amazing patterns on freezing sash windows. My warmer breath had melted the frost. 

Cupping my hands around my eyes I stared into the darkness. Fresh, white snow had covered the garden. A white Christmas!

My youngest sister slept peacefully, softly breathing, oblivious to me creeping around. I shut the shutters and quickly crept back into bed. 

The old oak stairs creaked. The bedroom door slowly opened, to Santa, dressed in red. I shut my eyes. 

Next, something woke me. I jumped up.

“Wake up, wake up. Father Christmas has been.” My sister shouted.

At the bottom of my bed was father’s new woolly boot sock overflowing with goodies. Excitedly discovering chocolate money, a rubber, pencils, sharpener, box of wax crayons, writing pad, until my favourite present, Timothy, a large, tin headed doll stuffed with straw! Another doll for my collection. 

Happy Christmas everyone.

Pre-Christmas Lunch by Madalyn Morgan

It was the week before Christmas when Alison’s new boss telephoned. 

‘Who was that?’ Peter asked when she returned to the sitting room. 

   ‘Dee Saunders, from the office. She and Simon have invited us round for a pre-Christmas lunch. I said we’d go.’

     ‘When?’

     ‘Tomorrow.’

     ‘Oh, no!’  

     ‘Why not? Dee’s lovely and you’ll like her husband Simon.’ 

     ‘Will I?’

     ‘Like you, he was at Oxford and he’s also a lawyer.’

     Yes, Peter thought, who didn’t think I was good enough to work for his law firm. ‘I can’t tomorrow, darling, I’m going to a partners meeting.’

     ‘Since when?’

     ‘Since Sir John emailed. Lunch at his club to discuss my promotion. I have to go.’ 

     ‘Of course. A promotion? I’ll telephone Dee and tell her,’ Alison said leaving the room.

     Relieved that he no longer had to see the arrogant Simon Saunders, Peter opened a bottle of his best wine and poured two glasses.  

     ‘It’s fine,’ Alison said on her return, ‘Dee and Simon are coming here for a pre-Christmas lunch on Sunday. Ooo, my favourite wine. You spoil me. What shall we drink to?’ Alison raised her glass. ‘I know, to new friends!’

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