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Holiday Playlist for the End of the World

Gwendolyn Kiste is a speculative fiction writer based in Pennsylvania. Her stories have appeared in Nightmare, Shimmer, Interzone, and Flash Fiction Online among other venues. She currently resides on an abandoned horse farm with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts. Find her online at gwendolynkiste.com and on Twitter (@GwendolynKiste).
"Santa Claus is Coming to Town"
No, he's not. But something else is.
"Baby, It's Cold Outside"
And getting colder. As the temperature plummets, people huddle in the streets, murmuring and pointing at the silhouette that dances along the horizon.
The silhouette doesn't care to hear their gossip.
It just keeps on twirling.
And growing.
"O Christmas Tree"
Your branches green delight us. As kindling. As reinforcements for the windows. As little handcrafted knives, because why not? Might as well tell ourselves we can fight this thing. Gives us something to do, so we don't think about the cold or the hunger gnawing at the hollow caves of our stomachs.
"Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer"
If only Grandma could be so lucky. She wouldn't scream as much. But Grandma's not the only one. Everyone screams as the gloom drags them through the streets. Then, when they reach the horizon, they don't scream at all.
The not-screaming is worse than the screaming.
"White Christmas"
More like "Red Christmas." The landscape looks like a half-melted strawberry snow cone. Probably not as tasty though. Which is a shame since food is all we can think about these days.
"Silent Night"
The wailing in the street has waned. And that shadow on the horizon, the one that never starves, never goes without, bloats ever closer to our front door. It will reach us soon, maybe by nightfall.
"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
Rest indeed. Rest in peace.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, November 24th, 2016


My father and I are Halloween people, but my mother is a dedicated Christmas aficionado. Starting every year on Thanksgiving, she plays endless loops of sappy holiday songs, and until New Year's Day, our ears bleed tinsel and good tidings. So this one's definitely for her. May her holiday be filled with bad jolly songs and not creeping alien creatures. Either way, though, she would probably still cook us a good turkey.

- Gwendolyn Kiste

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