Genre: Fantasy, Holiday, Short Stories
What risks will you take for the perfect bounty?
Mice have no business jumping in parachutes, you say?
I couldn’t agree more.
And yet, here I am, about to throw myself into the void with nothing but a piece of cloth tied to my back.
But at the other end, if we succeed on this suicidal mission? The mythical Christmas cheese platter with its deliciously creamy Morbier.
Join the adventure as our hero faces his fears in his quest to put his paws on the perfect Christmas dinner.
I hadn’t really thought I was afraid of heights before this moment. The kitchen table never fazed me, the kitchen counter was easy play, and the top cupboards were easy peasy so long as I stayed away from the edge.
But here I am, in the rafters above the living room, my tail shaking from fear and my paws clutching nervously into the lines in the wood as Lana is explaining for the hundredth time how to work the parachute.
Yes, parachute. On a mouse.
Years ago, Bibi, one of our forefathers—I forget how many generations, I’ve never been good with numbers—came across a picture in the living room, one of a human falling slowly from the sky and landing safely on the ground. The man wore a helmet and goggles and a backpack for the parachute and was welcomed by his friends with open arms.
Bibi swore he would make the same thing for mice and that it would change their lives drastically.
It certainly changed his life; he died when he tested the first prototype.
But before moving into the afterlife of infinite cheese, Bibi passed on his passion for flying to several other mice. The crazy ones. The ones who wanted to get the humans’ food from the kitchen table instead of the trash. Who thought mice should have the best parts of the cheese and not just the crust or the moldy bits. The ones who thought baiting and running away from the cat was a game.
Unfortunately, having no survival instinct isn’t the same as being stupid and they figured out how to make it work. Only lost two more lives during flight tests.
And now, here, today, it’s me who’s supposed to fling myself into the void, with nothing but a flimsy piece of cloth to save me from splattering myself all over the tiled living room floor.
See, as it turns out, human napkins are the perfect size for making parachutes for mice.
The research department nicked a whole lot of them from the humans, in different sizes and materials. The paper napkins weren’t solid enough, which Huba discovered to his chagrin when he fell to the floor with a splat while the napkin gently flowed down after him, folding in on itself as it did a little dance in the air. The high quality linen napkins were too heavy and didn’t hold the air well enough. Cara was more lucky than Huba in that she survived her slow-motion fall but her right hind leg would never be the same.
The cotton everyday napkins were just right. Yuba did a victory dance and was allotted an extra piece of Josephine cheese when he elegantly landed on all four legs after jumping off the old fridge in the basement. The parachute had unfolded itself perfectly, and the strings attached to the four corners of the napkin and Yuba’s four legs held without a problem.
The prototype was validated.
Which is how it ended up on my back. I’m in the best team of hunters our family has seen in generations. Our team of four has pulled off the most impressive catches, going from an entire loaf of bread to two choice pieces of Roquefort blue cheese. That last one earned us our names in the hall of fame.
So it seemed natural—to everyone except me, that is—that our team should use the parachutes to pull off the heist of the decade.
Genre: Fantasy, Holiday, Short Stories
Publication Date: 25/12/2020
In the freezing Norwegian countryside, a family of nisse watches the humans celebrate Christmas on their farm, with delicious dishes and shiny presents — as human tradition dictates.
The nisse long to join in the festivities, watching quietly from outside as the farm’s occupants celebrate. Without real hope, they wonder if the humans will remember the nisse tradition.
The nisse don't need food to survive or presents to be happy. They need someone to believe in them.
The Magic of Sharing is a tale of hope and sharing — porridge and sleds included!
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Short Stories
In a tiny village perched at the foot of a great glacier in the French Alps, a specific brand of crazy haunts its inhabitants.
An old lady bakes poisoned cookies. A man robs the bank every time he sets foot inside the doors. A woman tries to murder her husband whenever he cooks.
Old legends. Repeating crimes. A melting glacier. Cold Blue Eternity takes the search for answers right into the belly of the beast.
Genre: Fantasy, Holiday, Short Stories
The Christmas tree stands at the very center of the action during the holidays. It lights the way through the dark, guards the gifts, brings joy.
But once the holidays end and the needles fall, the owners kick the trees to the curb. Quite literally.
Which is where I find them.
I listen to their stories, good or bad. And help them transition into the next phase of their existence.
A Second Chance is a fantasy post-Christmas story about letting go of the past and finding new beginnings.
Everybody loves a good Christmas tree for Christmas. But once the holidays are over, the trees must go. Nobody wants an old skeleton with twisted limbs and hardly any needles left, standing in the middle of their living room, reminding them that the party’s over. So before they go back to work, back to school, back to their everyday lives, they remove the pretty decorations, take down the lights, remove the bright star, and throw the tree out.
Nobody cares what becomes of them.
Most of the time, if they can get away with it, they’ll dump the tree anywhere. Even some families who have a fireplace don’t go through the trouble of cutting up the tree for firewood. They prefer the wood they bought at the store, which is the right size, and isn’t sticky, and won’t soil their fireplace. And won’t require any physical labor on their part.
In the countryside, the trees that aren’t used for firewood usually end up in a ditch, or in the forest, looking up at their living siblings, as they waste away.
In the city, where the risk of getting caught for littering is much greater, most trees are lucky enough to be deposited in a place that will allow them to be recycled.
A place like this.
I stand guard in front of the City Hall, watching over the dying Christmas trees. It is two days before the end of the school holidays, and high season for throwing away Christmas trees.
The city has dozens of these stations, spread out in different neighborhoods and suburbs, in the hopes that people will go to the trouble of bringing their trees. We know from experience that they will not bring them to the waste collection.
Yesterday I brought back over a hundred and fifty trees. From the looks of it, today we’ll go over two hundred.
I approach a large fir tree which is leaning against the wooden fence we’ve set up. She’s almost two meters high and has perfect proportions. Her branches still have all their needles, standing to attention. She has no wood boards nailed to her trunk, or signs of having been screwed into a tree stand. The last ten centimeters of the trunk is slightly darkened. She’s been allowed a flowerpot, to continue the semblance of life while she served her family.
I brush the fingers of one hand lightly across the needles.
Christmas presents going way above the lower limbs. Two types of white lights; fake candles and falling snow. Foie gras, snails in their delicious buttery sauce, beef, potatoes, the traditional bûche, and an apple sorbet trou Normand—in Armagnac.
I smile at the fir. “You got a good one, huh?”
I lean in and take a good sniff. She smells of wood smoke, long family dinners, and children’s laughter. No yelling about going to bed, only long hugs and sweet kisses. No lack of anything, including love.
This fir has lived every Christmas tree’s wet dream.
I walk farther down the fence to a pine tree with several broken branches and very few needles left. The pines are usually quite resistant and rarely lose their needles, even after being used as a decoration for over four weeks.
“What happened to you, babe?” I whisper as I trace my hand along one of the broken branches stripped of needles.
Two boys fighting. One probably five years old. The other closer to ten. They’re pulling on a fireman’s truck, the smallest boy screaming that it’s his, his older brother claiming that he can use it as long as his brother isn’t playing with it.
The mother coming through the door as the boys crash into the tree. What are you doing! she screams at them, her hands coming up, vibrating, next to her head, as if she’s resisting tearing out her hair. Why can’t you get along for two minutes? Why do you have to ruin everything?