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Monday, December 10

Silent Night

"Silent Night"
Short Fiction - Holiday Tales
by Rod Drake

On a winter’s night in 1944, a few of us, stragglers from the 3rd Army, now deep into Germany, were settling in for the night and hoping that the weather would get warmer sooner rather than later. Somewhere in this winter wonderland was the rest of the 3rd, no doubt in heavy-duty tents with heaters and hot food, probably using the tanks as wind breakers. In this snowstorm, we would never find them.

So we decided this abandoned barn would do; at least it was dry, and a little fire would add some warmth. We could cook our C rations, so we wouldn’t starve, although real hot food prepared in the mess was running through our heads, not visions of sugar plums. Even army food sounded good to us tonight.

Cpl. Manning made some coffee, and although it was rot-gut, it put some needed warmth back into us, and made us feel more like soldiers and less like snowmen. Jenkins had cigarettes and passed them out. Between that and the fire, we were starting to thaw out. Larrimore found some lanterns by a stall and lit those for light.

“Hey,” Manning called out, “look outside! It’s stopped snowing.”

Sliding the barn door open, we saw that he was right. The sky was now crystal clear with thousands of stars twinkling brightly down on us. One was particularly sharp and large. I think it was a planet, since it wasn’t twinkling. Probably Venus.

“Check that big one out overhead,” Cpl. Denally exclaimed, “it’s like the friggin’ Star of Bethlehem!”

And at that, we suddenly all looked at each other. “What day is this?” I asked, shaking snow out of my machine gun.

Jenkins looked at his pocket notebook, grinned at us and said, “What do you know, sarge; it’s December 24.”

We laughed and went back inside the barn. Time for a lousy tin supper and then some welcome shut-eye.

Just as we were settling in again, I heard something move in the dark area of the barn. The next few seconds are still a mystery to me. Three Nazis lunged forward, towards the fire, and I fired my machine gun at them in a wide burst.

Except that the safety was on. And I never have the safety on. Ever. I don’t know how it got switched on. Anyway, those Nazis weren’t harmed. Which was just as well. They turned out to be sixteen- and seventeen-year-old unarmed kids. They had their arms upraised in surrender; all they wanted was some heat from the fire.

Carmichael could speak some German, and he found out they were separated from their unit like us, were cold and looking for shelter. Their boots had holes in them and only one of them had gloves. Carmichael told them to sit down by the fire and gave them some coffee. They thanked us, and then, in the Christmas spirit, I guess, produced some loaves of bread and Italian sausages from their packs. We made sandwiches for everyone, and one of the German kids had discovered several bottles of red wine where they had been hiding in the barn, so we all enjoyed a nice meal that night.

As if that wasn’t enough, now that the snowstorm had ended, a few of the stranded farm animals wandered back into the barn. A donkey, some sheep and two pigs.

“What is this,” Jenkins laughed, “the manger in Bethlehem?”

“I don’t know,” replied Denally, “if these three German kids count as wise men, but they did show up at this stable with gifts.

“And nobody died tonight. The war stopped for a few hours,” I added. “That’s pretty much a miracle.”

As we bedded down in the straw, Carmichael joked, “So who’s the baby Jesus?”

“I hope it ain’t Patton,” responded Larrimore, “or we are in for one foul-mouthed savior.”

We all laughed, even the German kids after Carmichael translated, and enjoyed a peaceful sleep. Santa Claus didn’t come, but it was still a memorable Christmas Eve.

Rod Drake often wishes his life were as exciting as his fiction. Check out Rod’s other stories on Six Sentences, Flashes of Speculation, MicroHorror, Flash Forward and AcmeShorts.

Wednesday, December 5

Somewhere to Turn

"Somewhere to Turn"
Short Fiction – Humor
By Linda Courtland

"I want you to meet someone," Allison says. "Get in."

I slide into my best friend's new car.

"In 100 yards, turn left," a soothing male voice says.

"Thanks, Brad." Allison giggles, flipping her hair.

"You named your navigation system?"

"He's my new boyfriend."

I guess it's an improvement over the one who just broke her heart.

"Follow the road for six miles," Brad says.

"See how considerate he is? He anticipates my every move."

"Did you bring the tickets?" I ask.

She points to a corner of the touch screen. "Brad's holding them."

"In 400 yards, turn right."

"Shouldn't we get on the freeway?" I ask.

"Brad probably knows a shortcut."

Two miles later, we're cruising through gang territory.

"Let's turn around," I say.

"Brad will protect us."

At a stop sign, some tattooed teens move toward us.

"Brad?" Allison says.

The group hurls obscenities in our direction.

"Brad??"

Allison makes a decisive U-turn.

Brad's screen disintegrates into a manic mix of colors.

"Recalculating route," he says, pulling himself together. "Turn right in 200 yards."

"Don't fall for it," I say.

Allison gets on the freeway.

Brad breaks the uncomfortable silence.

"Recalculating route."

Several miles later, we exit the freeway.

"Turn right ahead," Brad says.

Allison turns left.

"Brad told you to turn right," I point out.

Allison clenches her jaw. "Yeah, but it was the *way* that he said it."

Allison's hand flies over the dash, pushing buttons.

"Destination ahead," a female voice says.

"You gave Brad a sex change?" I ask.

"Maybe being a woman for awhile will teach him some sensitivity."

We pull into the parking lot and pay the attendant to enter.

"A woman would never send us through that neighborhood at night," Allison says.

A 10,000-seat sports arena towers in front of us. Brad chimes in.

"You have reached your destination."

"Does he think I'm an idiot?" Allison asks.

We pull into a parking space.

"I'm sorry, Brad, but I just can't do this anymore." Allison presses a button, plunging her ex into utter darkness.

We get out of the car and start walking.

"I'm sorry it didn't work out," I say.

"He was too bossy, anyway."

But a single tear traces her cheek.

"We had some good times," she sighs. "I hope that we can still be friends."

"Everything will be okay," I tell her, meaning it.

"Let's get some wine," she says.

We head toward the concession stands. Two guys stop to look us over.

"They're kinda cute," I say.

The guys take a detour in our direction.

"I'm not sure I'm ready yet," Allison says, facing the true source of her sadness.

We recalculate our route.


Linda Courtland would be lost without her GPS navigation system. Check out her flash fiction at Six Sentences, Flashshot, and right here at Fictional Musings.