I took part in a Christmas Drabble competition organised by The Cult of Me blog. I've never considered drabbles - stories of 100 words, no less, no more - my forte, but Christmas was a topic that drew me in to try what I could do. One of my drabbles, Memories, was chosen as one of the 12 Drabbles of Christmas, but I thought it might be a fun idea to share all my entries with you - especially since the winning entry is related to one of the focus areas of this blog and all of them could be seen as historical fiction.
The first one I wrote was an attempt to write about the Finnish mythological aspects of Yuletide. Quite by coincidence, my wife also chose the same theme for her drabble, Midwinter, and hers was - quite deservedly - chosen as the better of the two. But, here's my entry nevertheless:
Home is scrubbed clean, Yule straws spread onto the floors. In the gloom outside, a sauna stands waiting.
A family crosses the snow covered yard. They shed their clothes, climb onto the benches.
The father pours water onto the stove. Heat wafts up, enveloping the children and elderly alike. The beat of birch vihtas cleanse the bodies for the celebrations.
At twilight, a lantern leads the family away. The father tosses one more ladleful onto the stove and leaves the door ajar. Steam escapes into the night air.
As the lantern recedes, elves and ancients enter the sauna.
My other non-winning story takes us back in time to winters spent in the front lines. This is more of a fantasy story, since it is not based on any known historical facts. Still, awful things have been known to happen when men have been hungry...
‘They have good meat down there,’ Bones said with envy.
Jack nodded, looking down the hill. The enemy patrol had been lucky to find a farmstead that had not been raided already. The bloody tracks on the trampled snow told of at least three butchered pigs. The scent of grilled pork made his stomach growl.
But, one had to make do with what one had. Jack looked back at Bones who was stripping the two sentries they had caught unawares.
‘Don’t worry. When they send men to relieve these guys, we’ll have enough to bring proper Christmas to our men.’
In retrospect, that final line could have used some more 'punch' to make it more effective. Finally, my third story was the winning entry already linked to above but reprinted here for completeness' sake.
Garacg ran, breath freezing onto his muzzle hair. The moonlit forest was untouched but by the rare animal. It was Garacg’s world. Its creatures his to hunt down and eat. The cold winter kept the humans huddled inside their strange dwellings.
A sound carried in the air.
Garacg hesitated and stopped by the trunk of a frozen tree. A village ahead.
A door opened. Someone staggered out. For a moment the sound became clearer, its notes familiar.
He shivered. Memories. Of a time when he had sung Yule songs.
Garacg howled at the moon, trying to drive the pain away.
So, there you go: I simply had to touch on one of my favourite topics in that one: werewolves. Not only have the poor things lost their humanity, but their holiday celebrations as well...
I hope you enjoyed them - I certainly enjoyed writing them! In case you want to read some more Christmas Drabbles, please check out The Cult of Me blog linked above as well as my wife's blog, Wrestles with Words.