Lords have mercy we’ve reached the December challenge! It’s the last one of this terrible year! (The one where we lost a lot of incredible stars, a referendum to stay in the EU and the will to live to Donald Trump)
Do not fear! We’re going to get you through the last of it with two awesome sets of stories from our bloody beautiful writers. As of now, you should be able to start reading and voting for the November Revolution Challenge – as with last time, click on the month to vote, and the individual piece to read the entry. You can vote multiple times and vote for any of the previous months as well! SO GET SHARING! (Please)
So to December’s challenge. It’s one that I personally did not enjoy writing, not only because I was nice to people but also because I am a green fur ball this time of year (Scrooge is reserved by Bill Murray). The theme for December, if you haven’t cottoned on, is CHRISTMAS. We’re going to have a slightly shorter writing time for this one as I want to give the gang a break between Christmas and New Years, meaning we won’t be back until January but have no fear, writing will be here (hopefully!)
And now for the example piece by Steve ‘Do I have to wear the Santa outfit?’ Archer
A Novel Dreamer Indeed…
I am not a fan of Christmas.
I know, I know; this is not the best opening to a Christmas story outside of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but I feel I need to be honest with you. I could spout on about the idiosyncrasy of each snowflake as it falls, swaying in the cold and bleak December winds; I could try to remind you of the multi-faceted religious starts of this ridiculous holiday where some buy presents out of love and respect, some buy them out of obligation and some buy them because “this is what you do at Christmas, right?”
I don’t believe in any of these. I buy presents for my loved ones, out of love and respect for the time and energy they have given me. I accept their gifts, not out of Christmas cheer, but out of the genuine like that against all my cynical views of the world, someone actually knows me and has taken the time to think about me. I’m sorry, you didn’t come here for a lecture, you came here for a Pratchett/Gaiman/Adams styled look at Christmas, didn’t you? That’s what I do, right? I emulate the voices of those dry British-humoured writers that I grew up with and I add my own distorted fantasy into them. Well, I won’t let you down. This is a story of presents.
The story begins, funnily enough, on the 24th of December. Stanley opened the shutters on his windows to a Dickensian London. Not questioning the sudden change of atmosphere – he actually rather liked it – he strode out of his bedroom and into the spare room where he changed into period get up. Today was a day off, he worked in town as an accountant under the dismally depressing Davidson, Davidson and Davidson. His boss, one of the Davi-triad, had been less than happy with Stan’s performance of late and felt that he should take a day to “remember who you are”. He had been writing more and more recently; on breaks, in between papers, whilst waiting for the double decker public carts. He had this thought that he didn’t belong in accounts. He enjoyed numbers, he enjoyed the antisocial-ness of it all, he even enjoyed the unavoidable flirting with the even more unavoidable Ms Blanche.
Back in the current narrative, Stanley stepped out into the hustle and bustle of people and horses sloshing through the mud-strewn street. Snow didn’t exactly permeate in London, it kind of hit the ground running and got lost. He stepped through the mesh of bodies and placed himself in front of a large stone stall with a strapping Blacksmith by the name of Badger – the name given to him for on his travels he had seen sights that caused a streak of white to run down the side of his head. *
“Much planned for your evening, Master Thomas?” Badger called over the bangs of his hammer.
“I hope to see you for a flagon at The Dreamer tonight!” replied Stanley, “I shan’t intrude upon you any longer, sir!”
Stanley had watched Badger work for a few months, fascinated with the way he moulded heated steel into weapons and wonders that Stanley could only dream of. He continued on his way up the street when he chanced upon a triad of people much more approachable than his current employers.
“Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls! I give to you the spectacle of London! We at the Lysistratian Theatre put forward to you a three woman play of the likes you have never seen before!”
Stanley had been to the Lysistratian before, the refreshing change of pace provided by the piercing vocal range of the performers lead to torrents of roses thrown upon the stage each night. Many had questioned why the theatre never had male performers, often commenting that they thought the stage to be cursed (eee!**)
“I hope to see you three for a celebratory drink at The Dreamer, after your show! May you break someone’s leg, but never your own!” Stanley shouted to the leader of the trio, who nodded in reply and returned to her advertising as Stanley returned to his jaunt. He thought of his year, in which he had met these people and how much he appreciated their place in his life. He even chuckled to himself – something he rarely did – as he realised that it had been just over a year since he “missed the ferry” and had to stay the night, allowing him the company of Ms Mealing of the theatre. She had been his gateway into his current social scene and re-evaluation of his life; he could not thank her enough.
As he neared the centre of town, he stepped into a local emporium to see an old friend. Jon stood behind the counter, though his personality filled the room. Jon had the ability to make any room feel better with a wry comment or a well-placed anecdote. Steve had moved back to the city a few years previous, though it wasn’t until he had chanced upon an errand for work and spent the evening going through accounts with Jon that he felt that he truly belonged. As with his previous encounters with people throughout the day, he invited Jon for a drink at The Dreamer and was on his way.
As he stepped back out into the square, he heard the tell-tale notes of his final stop before his destination. He darted through the throng of people bustling about their shopping until he found young Richard, affectionately known as the Crazy Diamond. He made his trade as a bard, though his talent allowed him to pursue any path he should desire. *** Stanley did not bother interrupting him, having planned for this, and threw a coin with a note wrapped around it into the maestro’s hat and walked away.
And so he arrived at The Dreamer, his heart started racing as he pushed open the door. The people around the tavern ignored his entrance, which did not bother Stanley as he needed the pause to settle his nerves. At the bar sat a broad shouldered man with a mighty beard and a heart of gold; for which he had been given the nickname The Lion of London. Stan stammered as he ordered two whiskeys and turned to the Lion. Stan had known him for a few months, and had been in awe of him ever since.
“You know; they’ve published one of my stories today in the paper.” The Lion said with a somewhat shocked expression on his face.
“It’s about bloody time,” cheered Stanley. He quickly returned to his quiet demeanour, realising this wasn’t the time.
“It’s incredible to think,” the Lion continued, “that in this day and age people will pay for my random scribblings.”
Stanley choked on his drink. The Lion, the man whom Stanley thought one of the most impressive writers he had the chance to meet, thought just like him. The man had the power to conjure worlds and titans before you with a single sentence and he sat before Stan somewhat human.
A few hours and several drinks later, the group sat around a table. Some were good friends, some were mere acquaintances, but all were united there that night by Stanley. He stood at the end of the table and looked across them all, his heart glowing with pride and love for each of them and cleared his throat. They turned to see what he wanted to say.
“Now I know I said I am not a fan of Christmas and I will happily admit I have no presents in tow, but I wanted to thank you all for the presents you have given me this past year. You have all played a part in my happiness and as long as I shall live, I shall strive to return the favour.”
It was at this point that he realised he had not eaten and collapsed in a heavily drunken state.
*For those not in the know, Picto also goes by the guise of Badger Travels.
**This play on Kirsty has been inserted to prevent the previous pun of a “meal for the senses.” I hope you appreciate the play on Pearce and Torrance and know that I love you three! (Please don’t hurt me.)
*** All of these people are extremely talented, though Rich is bloody awesome.