Armand’s 2016 Updates – Signings, Cons And Releases


2016 was supposed to be a slower year for me with book signings, conventions and leaving the house… so far it looks like another busy year is upon me.

After a nice and relaxing opening 6 weeks I’ve started to pack everything in…

Friday February 12th

Book signing for Dirty Deeds with author Wayne Stinnett at Golden Lion Cafe in Flagler Beach, Florida

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Saturday March 19th

Mandarin MiniCon 3

From 11am-5pm I’ll be a vendor outside of Mythical Mountain in Mandarin FL selling some books, hanging with other cool vendors and seeing some excellent cosplay, too!

Tuesday March 22nd 

Release Day for the haunted house novel The Enemy Held Near, co-written with Jay Wilburn and released by Devil Dog Press

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Thursday April 7th – Monday April 11th

The Novel Experience Event (TNEE) convention in Atlanta, GA

I’ll be there with the newest releases as well as a huge back stock of books. Sharing a table with author Jay Wilburn, so you know it will be wild.

Tuesday April 5th

Release Day for the contemporary fiction novel Belford Stories, featuring photography from Tammy J. Kelly

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Friday April 15th

Belford Stories book signing with me and photographer Tammy J. Kelly at Belford Brewing Company

Will feel great to be back home after more than 12 years away! Details

5:30-8:30 pm

Saturday May 7th

Free Comic Book Day book signing at Nerdz Comics And More

Flagler Beach FL

Tuesday May 31st

Release Day for Dying Days 6

Friday July 22nd – Sunday July 24th

Scares That Care Weekend convention in Williamsburg VA

My favorite convention, looking forward to it. Will be sharing table space with Jay Wilburn, Mark Tufo and Devil Dog Press. There will also be a special taping of Arm N Toof’s Dead Time Podcast with co-hosts Armand and Mark wearing kilts and joined by Joe Ripple and Brian Keene (also in kilts)

? October

Spooky Empire convention in Orlando FL

I will return to hang with cool authors, be on jam-packed panels and check out the celebrity guests! More information like set date as it gets closer

*****

That’s just the start of everything coming up in 2016. Look for many more releases and appearances!

Armand Rosamilia

Flagler Beach Fiction Series on Audiobook


All seven books in the Flagler Beach Fiction Series are now available on audiobook and all narrated by the great Jack de Golia. 

Flagler Beach Fiction Series

Check them out in order:

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Kokomo’s Cafe Complete

Golden Lion Cafe Complete

J and J Fitness Complete

Flagler Fish Company Complete

Nerdz Comics And More Complete

Change Jar Books Complete

Bahama Mama’s Complete

Guest Post: Stacy Green


Title: Shots Fired
Author: Stacy Green
Series: Delta Detectives 
Release date: January 18
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
 
Cage Foster is finishing up a long shift as a criminal investigator for the Adams County, Mississippi’s Sheriff department. He’s eager to go home to his fiancé and new baby when a report of shots fired at a friend’s historical antebellum home changes everything.
When Cage arrives at Magnolia House, he discovers a victim on the front lawn and realizes his friends are still trapped inside. A domestic dispute between two guests has gone horribly wrong, and the hostage negotiation team won’t arrive before the situation explodes.
With time running out, Cage must sneak into the house through the long forgotten tunnel once used to shuttle slaves back and forth. Once inside, his only hope is a surprise attack, but the old house has tricks of its own. 
Will Cage be able to save his friends, or will he become yet another victim of a furious husband hellbent on punishment?
 
**The Shots Fired novella was originally a part of the Protect and Serve anthology.  The Re-release of this book includes new added scenes. ** 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Stacy Green is the author of the Lucy Kendall thriller series and the Delta Crossroads mystery trilogy. ALL GOOD DEEDS (Lucy Kendall #1) won a bronze medal for mystery and thriller at the 2015 IPPY Awards. TIN GOD (Delta Crossroads #1) was runner-up for best mystery/thriller at the 2013 Kindle Book Awards. Stacy has a love of thrillers and crime fiction, and she is always looking for the next dark and twisted novel to enjoy. She started her career in journalism before becoming a stay at home mother and rediscovering her love of writing. She lives in Iowa with her husband and daughter and their three spoiled fur babies. Stacy loves to hear from readers! Visit her website at stacygreenauthor.com, or Facebook at www.Facebook.com/StacyGreenAuthor
 
 
 
Stacy Green, Award Winning and Best Selling Mystery and Suspense Author
 
2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze Medalist for Best Mystery/Thriller (Ebook)
 

 

Are We Still Using Blogs in 2016?


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I used to post a lot. All the damn time, in fact. I’d average 2-3 posts and 2-3 guest posts a week. Tons of information I thought would be helpful, amusing or just something for me. I could also rely on the posts getting shared and commented on and people wanting to join in on the fun. When I started this blog way back in 2009 or thereabout, it was as a struggling part-time author trying to make the leap to full-time author who is so wealthy I never wear the same pair of socks twice. 

I’m a full-time writer but the pair of socks I have on has way too much wear for my liking. 

I podcast. Two podcasts, in fact… (shameless plug time in 3…2…1…)

Arm Cast Podcast – new episode every Friday

Arm N Toof’s Dead Time Podcast – new episode every Wednesday

Both on Project iRadio 

I get a ton of interaction when a new episode goes live. I used to post about a new episode on this very blog but no one really seemed to care enough to read it, yet I have a very strong listening base. I guess they listen but don’t read about podcasts. 

Is blogging and having a website no longer viable to reach the masses? Do we simply worry about Facebook and Twitter and the next Big Thing and keep connected there? 

Your thoughts… if anyone is actually reading this, that is…

Armand

Armand’s 2015 Year In Review


2015 was another solid year for me when it came to releases. While the amount of new product slowed, the same amount of words was released in my estimation. My goal each year is to hit 400,000 words written and except for a couple of short stories currently awaiting publication, everything else was released via self publishing or through a small press in 2015.

I had 30 releases, which was less than the 45 a year average I’ve done the last two years. I also went through my works and eliminated all of the serialized stories that made it into complete collections as well as redundant releases I did myself.

Box sets were still a big deal for me in 2015. A lot of my secondary sales through them as well as key Amazon ranking came because of the box sets and I hope to continue to be involved in a few more in the future.

OK, time for the breakdown by month for me and 2015…

 

January

Ultimate Undead Box

Ultimate Undead Collection: The Zombie Apocalypse Best Sellers Boxed Set (10 Books)

The last day in January Dying Days was published in this box set along with notables Joe McKinney, Bobby Adair, TW Piperbrook, Michaelbrent Collings, Sarah Lyons Fleming, Shawn Chesser, Rachel Aukes, David Moody, Timothy W Long and Eric A Shelman. The best part? it’s still only 99 cents!

February

SoH NC

State of Horror: North Carolina

February 8th I was in another State of Horror anthology (you already know my initial involvement in the franchise, so I won’t digress) which featured some really cool stories by  Nathanael Gass, Frank Larnerd, Randal Keith Jackson, Kathryn M. Hearst, Spencer Carvalho, Kenneth W. Cain, Frank J. Edler, Stuart Conover/Kerry Lipp, Susan Hicks Wong, Matt Andrew, L.J. Heydorn andMargaret L. Colton

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State of Horror: Illinois

The audiobook for State of Horror: Illinois came out on February 20th (narrated by the wonderful Jack Wallen)

March

Dying Days: Origins by Armand Rosamilia

Dying Days: Origins

The audiobook for Dying Days: Origins came out on March 3rd, narrated by Jack Wallen. Obviously I enjoy working with Jack on these audiobooks.

CJB Complete AUDIOBOOK

Change Jar Books Complete

March 13th the audiobook version of this came out, narrated by Jack Di Golia, who did the entire seven book run for me. I couldn’t be happier working with him, either.

Hollywood Hellmouth

Hollywood Hellmouth

Also on the 13th, the first part of a trilogy came out, a horror humor tale written with Jack Wallen, Jay Wilburn and Brent Abell. This was fun to write. We debuted this at Mid South Con in Memphis to rousing success. Fine, we sold 5 copies.

State of Horror: Louisiana Volume I available March 17th, 2015

State of Horror: Louisiana I

March 16th State of Horror: Louisiana I debuted, with more great stories, this time from Chad McKee, Pamela Troy, Tommy B. Smith, Amanda Hard, Allie Marini Batts, Sarah Glenn, Armand Rosamilia, Ethan Nahte, J. Jay Waller, Alexander S. Brown, Henry P. Gravelle, Jay Seate, and Margaret L. Colton.

SoH LA2

State of Horror: Louisiana II

March 30th saw the second part of LA being released, this time with stories by Stuart Conover, Herika R. Raymer, Teresa Bergen, J. Lamm, Nathan Pettigrew, Armand Rosamilia, Ambrose Stolliker, B.A. Sans, Edward Moore, Anthony Watson, Jonathan S. Pembroke, J.M. Lawrence, and Melodie Romeo.

April

Fairly Wicked Cover

Fairly Wicked Tales: Dark Fantasy Anthology

April 19th Fairly Wicked Tales: Dark Fantasy Anthology was re-released and featured one of my short stories, “The Wolf Who Cried Boy.” Over 20 great stories are in this one, so buy it. Now.

May

anything but zombies

Anything but Zombies: A Short Story Anthology

On the 26th of May my short story “Down In A Hole” was featured in this Simon and Schuster release. Tim Curran, Jeff Strand, Rebecca Besser, MontiLee Stormer, Lee Moan, Tonia Brown, Jake Bible, Faye McCray, and Jimmy Pudge were all involved as well. Get it.

June

Tales of Magic

Tales of Magic and Misery: A Collection of Short Stories by Tim Marquitz

Tim put 19 of his stories together in this fine collection, and had other authors (such as myself) give him one of our stories to promote. He’s a swell guy. This came out June 6th. I had “Dying Days: Noah Stern” short in there.

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State of Horror: New Jersey

This audiobook came out on the 10th. Narrated once again by Jack Wallen and once again featuring a Dying Days short from me in it.

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Dying Days 5

June 16th Dying Days 5 was released. Putting this together I realize its my first self published full release for the year, as everything else was an anthology or audiobook previously out. I’d been writing up a storm up to this point in the year but most of it would be released later (as you’ll see) or written for the movie team and those books sometimes come out months in the future. Anyhoo… this is part 5 and it was released right in the midst of my annual #SummerofZombie blog tour.

July

This month saw the two year anniversary of Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast as well as the debut of Arm N Toof’s Dead Time Podcast, co-hosted by Mark Tufo. Both on Project iRadio.

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Hoboken Hellmouth

The second book in our trilogy was released on the 21st. Another fun time was had by all: me, Brent Abell, Jay Wilburn and Jack Wallen.

August

Bite Sized

Bite-Sized Offerings: Tales & Legends of the Zombie Apocalypse

This was a really cool charity anthology to help a friend in need who is such a big supporter of zombie authors. Over 30 authors contributed a YA zombie story, including my first-ever, a Dying Days story featuring the children of the family. It will definitely lead into my first-ever Dying Days YA novella in late 2016, too.

highway

Highway To Hell

This is the updated version. I changed the crazy sex parts and over the top violence and made it more in line with the rest of the Dying Days books. So far people have enjoyed the less intense version, although it still isn’t for the kids. I’d give it a solid R rating instead of the NC17 it used to be.

September

ChildrenGrave

Children of The Grave

September 4th this cool anthology came out. It’s a shared world anthology and written by Joe McKinney, Armand Rosamilia, Tonia Brown, Joe Mynhardt, Aurelio Lopez III, and Alex Laybourne. You don’t get any cooler than that group. Am I right?

Honolulu Cover

Honolulu Hellmouth

On the 8th, right in time for the Imaginarium convention on Kentucky, we released the third and final part. Single digits of people flocked to our signing tables, creating such a noise the car alarms went off in the parking lot.

Dying Days 4 Audio

Dying Days 4

On the 17th Dying Days 4 audiobook (narrated once again by Amanda Lehman) was released.

The Louisiana Incident: Former Navy SEALs Vs Zombies

I wrote this novella based on a movie that was filmed but some people weren’t happy with it. So (because it is Hollywood and beyond me) I was listed as editor, the cover is just words and it has distanced itself from the movie by changing the title. The book is much better than the movie, by the way. Much.

horror 201 volume 1 small

Horror 201: The Silver Scream Vol 1

October 14th saw this extensive collection released. Nonfiction essays and interviews by film legends and authors such as Wes Craven, George A. Romero, Ray Bradbury, Ed Naha, Patrick Lussier, Stephen Volk, Nancy Holder, Tom Holland, John Shirley, William Stout, and John Russo. For some crazy reason they thought I had something to say on the subject, too.

Chelsea Avenue

Chelsea Avenue: A Supernatural Thriller

On the 30th Devil Dog Press re-released this book, one of my favorites and my first real full-length novel. Look for longer books from me in 2016, and most of them more thriller and less horror as I change things up a bit. This book is one of my favorites I’ve ever written, and you need to read it and tell me I’m right or wrong. As long as you read it.

October

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Paying The Ferryman

On the 18th this anthology was released. My short story, “Black Tooth Grin,” joined  Melodie Romeo, Rick Scabrous, Silas Green, D. S. Ullery, Brian W. Taylor, Diane Arrelle, Bryan Best, Tanya Nehmelman, Mariesa Inez, Rachel Hogan, S. H. Roddey, Jenner Michaud, Scott McCloskey, Heidi Lane, Brian Fatah Steele, Eric I. Dean, Herika R. Raymer, Lee Pletzers, and Jerry E. Benns writing fun stories about death.

Bahama Complete Cover

Bahama Mama’s Complete

The seventh and final release in the contemporary fiction Flagler Beach Fiction Series was out on the 20th. The audiobook followed in November, too, once again narrated by the great Jack Di Golia. This wraps up the series although I have a feeling we’ll see some of these characters again in the future.

Middletown

Middletown Apocalypse

Halloween saw the release of this cool anthology, where eleven authors took the kernel of the same basic story and made it our own. Hi-jinx ensued. Abel, Chesser, Evans, McKinney, O’Brien, Rosamilia, Shelman, Stallcup, Tufo, Wallen, Wilburn. So cool you don’t need first names.

November

highwaytohell2

Highway To Hell 2

November 3rd, at the basic start of my annual #WinterofZombie tour I always release a new Dying Days book. I still technically did, and it nicely combines characters from the first Highway To Hell as well as Dying Days: Origins.

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Dying Days Ultimate Box Set 1

Four novellas set in the Dying Days world are included in this massive box set: Still Dying: Select Scenes From Dying Days, Still Dying 2, Dying Days: The Siege of European Village and Dying Days: Siege 2
Plus… the two-story Dying Shortly set (now out of print except here) and 2 short stories previously only available on a website: “Dying Days: Downtown From Hell” and “Dying Days: The Scorpion”… Over 500 pages and more than 174,000 words in all! This special box set will only be available for a limited time at a special price of $9.99 but right now its only $3.49, so get a copy. Look for the second one in early 2016, too.

Hellmouth Box

Hellmouth Trilogy

November 23rd I released all three of these glorious books Jack, Brent and Jay and I had written in a convenient box set. Now you have no excuse not to read them. And its priced right now for only $3.49, so you really have no excuse at all.

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Flagler Beach Fiction Series Complete

I told you I liked box sets this year. On the 30th I put all 7 of the Flagler Beach Fiction Series books together in one massive 190,000+ word ebook collection and priced it at only $3.99. You’re welcome.

December

GreenRiverBlend

Green River Blend: A Supernatural Thriller

My last release of 2015 and one of my favorite stories. I liken it to a Bentley Little weird tale and so far readers have agreed. A little different from my traditional horror work, which I will be getting slightly away from in 2016. I’ll still have many horror releases and more Dying Days but this book (as well as Chelsea Avenue, both released by Devil Dog Press) will further expand what I’m doing.

Also look for my Kindle Scout-winning Dirty Deeds crime thriller in early 2016, too! Mark Tufo and I wrote an apocalyptic tale together (no zombies!) featuring Darlene Bobich and Mike Talbot. Look for that in 2016 as well… big things on the horizon for me in 2016.

Armand

Guest Post: John Mc Caffrey


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The Mechanics of My Writing Style

John Mc Caffrey

As far as I know, writing style isn’t taught in school. I’ve read of the various writing styles some writers utilize, but that was after I had already come up with my own. Mine seems to be a loosely based form of organized confusion. Typically, I get an idea and jot it down on a small notepad I carry with me. Later, I’ll transfer it to a spiral notebook and elaborate for a page or two and then leave it for anywhere from a week to as long as a year. The initial concept however, is never far from my thoughts, and I will pull out the spiral notebook jotting down more ideas. Some of these concepts never get written, but for the ones that do, I’ll sit at the computer and begin an outline. I try to break the outline up into scenes, much like a movie, and when I feel I have a good outline, I’ll once again, leave it for a while, working on something else. It’s only after I’ve separated myself from the initial idea that I will start writing in earnest. I don’t have a time frame, or some type of internal deadline I force upon myself. If the story isn’t working for whatever reason, I allow it to sit. I have one piece that I have been working on for seven years that I can neither walk completely away from, or approach it the way I want to. But when everything comes together, I’ll take the story to completion. This is what becomes my first draft.

Depending on the length of my first draft, I either start right away with the initial editing or wait for a few weeks. I’ll go through a manuscript numerous times, always finding something that needs to be changed, revised, or deleted. When I’m satisfied with what I have, (and I’m never truly satisfied—even after things are in print, I see what I could have done differently), I load it up on a Kindle and leave it with my wife, Karen, for proofreading.

She is amazing. She proofreads and edits what I was absolutely positive was an almost flawless piece of work and finds everything from punctuation mistakes to problems with syntax and continuity. I go back to the computer and once again revise, upload it to her Kindle, and only when I receive her thumbs up, do I consider it finished. Her support and continued eye for detail has been instrumental in the development of my writing. If not for her, it’s unlikely Nora’s Wish would have ever been published. After writing it, I was certain that it was too far outside my usual genre, and was uncertain there was a market for it. I loved the story, but it went into a folder where it sat for a few months. It was her continual urging, and in the end, outright demands that it needed to be published that I finally submitted it to the fine folks at Sirens Call Publications.

Nora’s Wish began with a conversation I had with my father, about how he wished he was able to change certain decisions he’d made when he was younger. That, and the thought that there are probably many elderly people who shared the same sentiment, and how awesome it would be if they all could magically have that ability, was the beginning of the story. The character of Ben emerged almost immediately, Nora soon after. It was their friendship, and shared forgotten isolation in Willow Manor that became the nucleus of exploring the possibility of changing their destinies. My father passed away before he could see how his simple comments to me grew into the published book, but I’m sure he would approve.

 

Nora’s Wish

John Mc Caffrey

 

Ben Jameson is a bitter retiree residing at Willow Manor, a home for the aged or those in need of care, and has nothing more to do than await the inevitable conclusion of a life wasted. Forgotten by his family, his days are marked by the solitary existence of books, loneliness, and regret.

A chance meeting with a terminally ill resident named Nora, and her unshakeable optimism in the face of her eventual demise, rekindles emotions he was certain were gone forever. Nora reawakens his ability to love, and with her compassion and her companionship, he comes to realize that even a life as wasted as his own can be salvaged and, given the right incentive, is still worth living.

As Nora’s health declines, they both dare to hope that the magic of a strange pendant Ben purchased from an antique shop as a gift for Nora will overcome the odds, offering them more time with one another.

 

Nora’s Wish is available on:

Amazon: US | UK | Australia | Canada | Germany | Italy | France | Spain | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil| India

Barnes & Noble (Print & eBook)

Kobo

iTunes

Smashwords

AuthorPhoto_JohnMcCaffrey

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — John Mc Caffrey writes tales of horror, the supernatural, science fiction, and fantasy. He was born in Illinois and grew up on the south side of Chicago. While still in grade school, he developed a passion for reading through the works of Tolkien, Poe, and Lovecraft as well as being addicted to watching Hammer Film’s at the local Saturday matinee. Today he lives in Northern Indiana with his wife where he writes in his spare time.

Guest Post: Mark Allan Gunnells


Flowers in a Dumpster

THE BOY WHO KILLED SANTA CLAUS

 

Seven year old Henry Childers crawled reluctantly under the covers of his bed. “But, Mom,” he whined, “I’m not sleepy. Can’t I stay up a few more hours?”

“It’s almost ten already,” his mother Tonya said with an indulgent smile. “If you don’t get to sleep, Santa won’t stop here tonight.”

“Do you think Santa got my letter this year?” Henry asked, sitting up against the headboard.

“I’m sure he did, honey.”

“’Cause I don’t want it to be like last year.”

Tonya sighed heavily and rubbed at her temples. She’d been hearing this same tirade from her son for an entire year now. “Henry, there was nothing wrong with what you got from Santa last year.”

“I asked for an XBox, and he gave me a Playstation. It’s not the same.”

“As I’ve told you a hundred times, maybe Santa was all out of XBoxes,” Tonya said, pulling the covers up to just under Henry’s chin. She and her husband had gone to every store in the city looking for an XBox last year, but they’d all been sold out. It had been a Playstation or nothing, but still it hadn’t satisfied Henry.

“I mailed my letter in October last year,” Henry said. “That gave him plenty of time to have his elves whip me up an XBox.”

“Henry,” Tonya said, a little more sharply than she’d intended, “you’re being awfully ungrateful. There are children in the world who have nothing. If you don’t start being more appreciative, Santa may decide to just skip our house altogether.”

“Okay,” Henry said, his lower lip poked out like a shelf. “I’m sorry.”

“Just get to sleep,” Tonya said, leaning over and kissing her son on the forehead. “When you wake up in the morning, you just might find that bike you’ve been wanting waiting under the tree.”

“You think Santa will like the cookies and milk we left for him?” Henry asked.

“I’m sure he’ll think they’re delicious. I’ll see you in the morning, sweetie.”

Tonya turned off the light, the small nightlight plugged into the electrical socket by the closet throwing a muted yellow glow throughout the room. She eased the door closed, leaving Henry to dream of Christmas morning.

* * *

“Do you think it’s safe to start?” Jonas Childers asked his wife. They were sitting in the living room, watching a SciFi channel marathon of the Silent Night Deadly Night films.

Tonya glanced at the clock, saw that it was just past one o’clock in the morning. “He should be sound asleep by now,” she said. “I think we can get started.”

“Good,” Jonas said. “It’ll probably take me ‘til dawn to get that bike put together.”

They went up to the attic, careful to avoid all the squeakiest boards, and brought down all of Henry’s presents. Tonya began arranging all the smaller gifts around the tree while Jonas unfolded the instructions for the bike and began assembling it.

“Shit,” Jonas cursed under his breath, trying to fit together two pieces that simply refused to fit together. “As much trouble as this is, Henry better like this damn bike.”

Tonya knelt next to her husband, took the uncooperative pieces and easily snapped them together. “Are you kidding? He’ll absolutely love it.”

“He better. I don’t want to have to go through another year hearing him bitch and moan like he did about that damn Playstation.”

“It did get a bit tiresome,” Tonya said with a giggle. “But Henry just wants what he wants, and he won’t settle for anything else.”

“Like mother, like son.”

Tonya swatted her husband on the arm. “That’s not true. I settled for you, after all.”

“Very funny,” Jonas said. “How about you settle for passing me those cookies.”

Tonya had baked a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies, half of which her family had eaten, the other half of which had been placed on a plate for Santa. She took the plate and handed it to her husband, who immediately scarfed down two of the cookies.

“Careful,” Tonya said, reading over the instructions. “You keep that up, you’ll soon be fat as Santa.”

“This isn’t for me,” Jonas said around a mouthful of cookie, spewing crumbs like a fine mist. “It’s for Henry. Think how disappointed he’d be if he woke up and saw that Santa hadn’t eaten the cookies he left for him.”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Tonya said with a smile.

“Hand me the milk, please.”

They did not leave out a glass of milk for Santa since that would curdle, but they placed it in a thermos to keep it cold. Tonya passed the thermos to her husband.

Jonas popped the top of the thermos and gulped down several swallows of the milk. Suddenly he retched, spitting milk into the air like a geyser, the thermos dropping from his hand and leaking its contents onto the carpet. Jonas clutched at his throat, making strangled gagging noises as milk and blood dribbled down his chin.

Tonya screamed and grabbed her husband as he collapsed onto her lap. His body was jerking with violent spasms, his eyes rolled up to the whites. He coughed violently, and more frothy blood sprayed Tonya’s arms, and she thought there were chunks of tissue mixed with it.

“Oh God, Jonas,” she screamed, crying. “What’s wrong? What should I do?”

“What’s going on?” Henry said, stepping into the room wearing his pajamas, rubbing the sleep dust from his eyes. “I heard screaming.”

“Henry, get the phone and call 911,” Tonya yelled frantically. “Something is wrong with your father; he needs an ambulance right away.”

“What is it?” Henry asked, wide-eyed, stepping further into the room.

“Henry, call 911 NOW!”

Henry started to turn toward the phone, but then he spotted the spilled thermos of milk and froze. “Did Dad drink the milk?” he asked, snatching up the thermos and waving it at his mother.

“What?” Tonya said, feeling her husband’s spasms tapering off, afraid to contemplate what that might mean.  “Your father needs help.”

“Did Dad drink the milk?” Henry said again, his old stubborn self. “This milk was for Santa Claus, not for Dad.”

“Henry!” Tonya screamed, desperate tears of frustration and helplessness streaking her face. “This isn’t the time—”

“THIS MILK WAS FOR SANTA CLAUS, NOT FOR DAD!” Henry roared, throwing the thermos across the room.

A numbness began to spread throughout Tonya’s body, starting in her chest and reaching out through her limbs. Comprehension came slowly, and it made her feel cold inside. Cold and empty.

“What did you do?” she croaked, her voice raw and raspy. “Henry, what did you do to the milk?”

“I poured Drain-O in it,” he said matter-of-factly, as if stating that he’d brushed his teeth.

Tonya was on her feet in an instant, the still form of her husband stretched out on the floor. She grabbed Henry by the shoulders and shook him, shook him hard. “Why would you do such a thing?” she shouted into his face. “Why in the name of God would you do such a thing?”

“I wanted an XBox!” Henry shouted back, wrenching out of his mother’s grasp. “Not a Playstation, an XBox, and Santa knew that. He knew that, and he gave me the wrong thing anyway. I wanted to teach him a lesson, make him pay for giving me the wrong gift last year.”

Tonya stumbled back, hands to her mouth, and watched as her son turned and ran back to his room, slamming the door behind him. She snatched up the phone and quickly dialed 911 while Santa chopped up a topless teenager on the television behind her.

© Mark Allan Gunnells

5/26/06

If you enjoyed Mark’s story, be sure to grab a paperback or Kindle copy (available in Kindle Unlimited, as well) of his Flowers in a Dumpster short story collection – out now from Crystal Lake Publishing:

With the link to Crystal Lake, as well, please: www.crystallakepub.com