This story should have been placed at the end of the first week.

The story was set up for this as a mini-climax. But at the end of the day – because it wasn’t an original photo – I wasn’t comfortable putting it in. Now it’s outside of the story, that’s fine. If someone comes and says “Can you take this photo down, please.” It won’t ruin the line of the story.

It has a title. But for today it’s just “The Boxing Day Special.”

***

“Are you sure you got this right?”

The older man nodded.

The were in a barn.

“It was a place like this. And there was the mother and…not the father. But not in a daylight-broadcast shout show way. The birth was strange. And the strange was wondrous. This was why the child was venerated.”

The first nodded. “Ok. So. The woman is pregnant – in a manner that is strange, but which you don’t remember. And they travel for miles.”

“Yes! Across the snowy tundra, through the dark forests, they travel. And they can’t find a place to stay. And it’s ok – because she’s not ready to pop. But at the end, she’s going to give birth, and they need to stop somewhere.”

The two were cleaning out a barn. They were wrapped up warm against the chill of Coldmas.

The younger asked again. “Are…are you sure this’ll catch on? I mean – the jolly guy who brings presents is very popular.”

The older stopped, stretched his back and sighed. “I don’t know, Thorn. When I woke from this dream things made sense. That…there could be some kindness in the world. That people would help each other. And even if no one celebrates this with is – at least I’ll have that.”

They looked at the clean space in the middle of the barn and went outside to get the trough.

“Ok – so. They got to an hotel?”

The older man looked confused. “What? OH! Yes. A hotel.” He gathered his thoughts.

“And the hotel,” he continued. “It was this swanky movie star and palm tree affairs. All gold plate and zirconium. You know – posh.”

The younger man nodded, eyes gleaming at the thought of such wealth.

“So they try and check in. ‘Hello. My wife’s about to have a baby. We have no where to stay. We’re no so rich.’”

“They didn’t say that.”

“Well – not in so many words – but that was the gist.”

“What happened?”

“Well, the hotel staff said ‘Oh a baby! That’s so wonderful. Maybe you should have thought about that before traveling. You’re not staying here.’ And that went on all over town. Right down to the dive hotels that rent tubes by the 15 minutes.”

“And you wouldn’t want to lie down there, let alone have a child in a place like that.”

The older pointed. “Exactly. I’ll make you right on that one.”

“So what happened?”

“They passed through town and came to a farm. The farmer actually had no room, cussed them out, sent them on their way – but the farmer’s wife stopped them. Said that, even through they had different surnames, and had travelled carelessly, that was no reason not to help. And she lead them to the barn.”

“On their travels their story had spread, and soon people came to see this child with the wondrous heritage. And they came to see. They followed the couple.”

“That sounds odd.”

“It was more than odd. It was wondrous. If only I could remember why…”

“So – that’s it?”

“No! Three fortune tellers – a palm reader, a stone thrower and a cardomancer-”

“Credit or Debit?”

“Hmm?”

“The card guy.”

“Oh – playing.”

The younger looked even more confused. “He was an actor too?”

“What? No! Look – it doesn’t matter. They had all divined the special nature of the child and they had left the resort they were working in, rented a cart and came to  see the child. And they even bought gifts.”

“But – why?”

“It…it was because….Oh.”

And the older remembered why.

***

They spent the rest of the day dressing the barn in the style that the dreamer remembered.

And finally, they found three to play the wondrous family: Mother; Not Father – but not in a daylight-broadcast shout show way; and the baby.

“That was why it was wondrous,” whispered the older man, his voice cracking with emotion. “Because the child was the Son of Dog.”

“Are you absolutely sure you got this right?”

And this is how ideas grow.

If you totally mishear them.

***

This image was supplied by Lee. He’s Dec 8, for those who don’t remember.

If it’s you and you want it taken down, hit the contact us mail link on the website’s main page.

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“So, what now?” Ramona was sitting in The Sidetrack Cafe. There was a fearful, but impressed, circle around her and Mona.

“Well, you can’t stay here. Don’t forget you’re still in that lighthouse.”

Ramona choked on her drink. “Oh God! Nono, not you.”

The old guy in robes sitting at the bar shrugged, smiled nervously, and turned back to his Virgin Mary.

“Steven is with me! How long have I been out for?”

Mona pulled a cherry from her drink. “Well. We can access anytime at all from here, so…you’ve not been gone at all.”

Ramona shook her head. “I will never, ever get my head around this stuff.”

Mona lowered her tone. “Well, seeing as you being here freaks them out, that’s not so bad a thing.”

Ramona nodded.

“Ok. But…what now?”

“Well – we do about our days. You get older, the idea stays the same and, at one point, you com over here. I talked to Simon in 10-15 and we wake him up. And you have access to the entire realm of This Side, and I get to walk about in a body every now and then. Oh – and there’s one other thing we have to do.”

***

Ramona was hiding on a walkway, way in the shadows of the Library.

Below her she should hear Mona’s voice. Impassive, Calm.

“Tulpa. A magically produced illusion. Or creation. An embodiment of an idea created through meditation.”

But she wasn’t here for that. She was here to see herself. Herself as a young girl, back where it all started.

They had talked about how it was possible for Mona to have told herself that she had to be there, if she had to be old to do the act of creation in the first place. There was some mumbling about all time taking place at the same time but Ramona stopped listening when she realised that she could watch.

And all too soon it was over.

Mona came up to her. “So?”

Ramona was lost in thought. “Ra?” Mona asked.

“Why have no one done this before?”

“This?”

“Yeah. Everyone has an idea of who they are. Why aren’t they all connecting like I am?”

“Maybe those ideas aren’t strong enough. I mean – there’s not loads of people in the cafe.”

“But it’s such an obvious thing. And – if I can attach myself to you, know what you know, see what you see. It could change everything.”

“Ramona… I don’t know if that’s such a great plan.”

“Why? We could pull the wall down. It wouldn’t be ideas walking around there, or us here. It would be different. And – look, no one knows what happens now. It’s different. It’s all blank. It’s… It’s like an idea tree before it grows.”

***

Ramona sat and thought, and focused.

And placed.

***

“GET AWAY FROM ME”

Ramona opened her eyes.

“Steve?”

“I’m warning you! Give her back?”

Ramona laughed.

“Oh, Steve. There’s no possession going on here. Look. Buy me breakfast and I’ll tell you everything.”

***

The place doesn’t matter. Neither do the people. Not really. What matters are the actions:

A fridge opens. A hand reaches for an egg.

It slips.

There’s a fumbling attempt to catch it, but it fails.

Hits tiles.

Cracks.

And there’s a pause.

A moment of distraction.

A pair of eyes starting at yolk and shell.

A moment of focus.

Minutes slip by.

Someone comes in.

A question: ‘Hey, you ok?”

An answer. “Yeah…I have this idea…”

***

The final photo has been provided by Lorna Andrikopoulos.

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The Bad Idea sat on its Throne of Nightmares. It was time.

It could feel the rituals taking place throughout time. It was about to become real. It wasn’t just The Bad Idea, it was the best one, too.

It heard footsteps coming down to its throne room.

“What is this, some kind of lair?”

What on earth was this? Someone coming to question it on its hour of ascension? “Eh..hello?”

A woman with pink hair walked into the throne room. With not nearly enough deference. The Bad Idea through that it had had seen her before. Maybe in the Cafe.

“Christ. Could you be more cliche? Good grief. You want to walk the earth as Darkness Incarnate. Really? Do you think you’re the only one to have had that idea? And – Ideas having Ideas? Does that work?”

The Bad Idea had had enough. He stood and roared. “Do you know who I am? I am Master here. You have decided to fuck with the wrong-“

“Oh, I know what you are. You think you’re The Bad Idea. But you’re just a shit one.”

The Bad Idea charged at her, it would kill her, it would rip her still beating heart from her-

The tentacles on his face pulled back before the full feeling of revulsion hit him. She…

“You…You’re”

“Yeah. I’m not from around here.”

***

Mona sat on a chair. “So, Howard. I can call you Howard, right? All I’m saying is – you’re going to be a writer anyway. I just want you to write about monsters.”

The young man sat in his bed, blankets pulled up to his neck. “Who…are you? How do you get into my dreams?”

“Well. That could be one of the ways that THEY come to us. In dreams. Look – it works like this. When the stars are right, the great evil can walk the Earth. Until then, they are trapped. Locked away forever.” She smiled. “And I can promise you, your name will never die. And others will take your vision and keep that alive for ever. And you won’t even have to sell your soul.”

The young man thought about this for a while.

“You know… that’s not a bad idea.”

***

The Bad Idea was backed up in its throne. It was terrified.

“Can you feel that? My idea has just given someone one. This is it. This is how you end. You want to be on our side? I’ll send you there forever.”

“No…please. Don’t.”

***

Simon stood on a cliff. It was night. He was looking out over a strange sea. In the sky a woman with pink hair was rearranging the stars.

“This must be a dream,” he said.

“What gave it away?”

He span round. The same woman with pink hair was gathering wood behind him.

“Was it the star moving?”

“Nono.” Said Simon. “More that the stars are so far away, but I can see the colour of your hair as you move them.” He looked back. She was still moving them. “How are you…”

“She’s my twin. You should watch.”

Simon turned back. “The stars look like mine now.”

“Yep. And now they’re wrong for him.”

The Bad Idea appeared, on its knees. It was crying. “Please. Don’t do this.”

“Simon. Kick the trash out.”

Simon was frozen.

The Bad Idea turned to the boy it had tormented. “Please. I’m sorry.”

“This is a dream, Simon. And it’s yours. He can’t hurt you.”

Simon gave The Bad Idea the timidest of kicks.

And it flew over the cliff and sunk beneath the waves.

Simon stood between two pink haired women. The one he talked to first seemed to glow. “Is it dead?”

“No,” said the glowing woman. “It’s sleeping until the stars go back to the way they are. Which will never happen.”

“But in strange eons, even death may die.” Said the other.

“Really?”

“What?”

“In strange eons?”

“That’s what he wrote.”

Simon spoke again. “What are you two talking about?”

They grinned. “Let’s gather wood and talk about that.”

***

“So,” said Mona. “This is your idea tree. Terrible things happened to you, Simon. And just because you were smart and had a great idea. An idea so good, it’s why there’s two of us. But you’re going to forget these things, Simon. And you’re going to lose your way and go about your life. But one day you’ll see me. And you’ll remember a lot of things, and this tree will blossom and bloom. And you’ll take those terrible things and write them down and you’ll be keep it locked away.”

Simon nodded. But didn’t understand.

“It’s ok, Simon.” Said the glowing woman. “I didn’t understand either.”

***

“Two down. One more to go.” Ramona said.

“This is the best one.”

“Mona. I do believe you’re soft.”

***

They found him moping in his house.

“On. No, no, no. Not you again. You shouldn’t be here.”

“Santa. We’ve trapped that bad idea. He’s locked away forever.”

“So. That doesn’t change what it did to that boy.”

They explained about Simon.

“It doesn’t change what it did to me!” He yelled.

There was a silence.

A long one.

Santa shook, silently sobbing his fear and shame.

Ramona broke it. “Santa. You have to go out. Because your idea is out there. In millions of heads. In millions of hearts. Across time. You have to go out. And when you do, they’ll see you exist. They’ll know that you’re there.”

“How?”

And Ramona told him.

***

“Sir? I’m picking something up. I’m not quite sure what it is.”

The general looked at the radar. “Stand down, Private. That’s just Santa.”

The private looked at his office. “Santa?”

The general nodded and announced to the tracking station: “This is NORAD Control. We have Santa on Radar. Make sure he has a safe trip.”

***

And throughout time, across the Ideasphere, breaking across our side, small lights spark as Santa crosses over.

Lighting up Time like his own personal universe.

***

Today’s picture was supplied by Martine Pedersen. Follow that link, and you’ll be told about Howard, too.

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Steven carried on talking. Had he noticed anything it would have been the rapid fluttering of his sisters eyelids, or the way she seemed to keel forwards, before Mona caught her and righted themselves.

He didn’t notice she was dying at all.

So. Don’t blame him.

***

It was white. Retina burningly white.

Ramona blinked and found herself looking in a mirror.

“Hello,” her reflection said.

“Shouldn’t you only speak when I do?” She reached her hand out, but her reflection didn’t.

Ramona blinked. A penny dropped.

“OH! You’re Her! Me! The .. Thing!”

Mona laughed. “Yeah. That’s me.”

They shook hands. Fire raged through Ramona’s head.

She blinked. “So…where are we?”

“I’m not sure. I think ‘between.’ It looks like you’re calling me into you, and so – in some way, you’re coming into me.”

Ramona blinked. “It that usual?”

Mona shook her head. “Never been done before.”

Ramona blinked. And looked concerned.

“You know,” said Mona. “You blink a lot. Are you ok?”

“I’m not sure. My head feels like it’s on fire. I’m seeing all these things.” Her nose started bleeding.

Mona nodded. “You’re getting all the ideas that I hold in my head in one go. Your head might not be able to contain it.”

Ramona stumbled.

“But if we don’t sort this out, you’re going to die.”

***

Mona snapped her eyes open.

“What were you saying?” Santa asked. “You just stopped mid sentence.”

“How long have I been gone for?”

“Gone where. You’ve been here all the time.”

Mona opened her mouth to ask something, shook her head. “No time. Santa. How does it work? Idea transplantation.”

Santa shuddered. “That’s what got me here today.”

“Please.” Said Mona. “I may not have much time.”

Santa shook his head and told Mona how he did it with the Idea Bomb.

***

“Ramona. Be me. Take the idea that you have an idea of yourself that’s not where you are. That you can be in two places at once. Do it.”

Ramona’s eyes rolled back in her head.

Her mouth foamed.

“Or…I could try,” Mona muttered.

***

Ramona opened her eyes.

“Steven?”

Steven stopped talking. “Mona? Are you ok?”

“I am. Yes, thank you. At least. I am now.” She tried to stand, thought about it, tried again and, eventually got up. “It’s nice that we get to meet, actually.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The last time we saw each other, you told me…to get my hands off her, I believe.”

Mona stepped from the circle.

“These hands?”

***

“And…you’re from over there? Oh, here. Use my tissue. I think it’s stopped now.”

Ramona took a tissue from a very fat man in a red suit. He had a huge white beard.

And was sitting in a sleigh.

“I…I hate to ask,” she asked, mopping the blood from her nose. “But…who are you?”

The man looked crestfallen. “Forgotten already. That explains everything.”

“Well – you look like…Like Father Christmas but.”

Santa laughed.

“And – you laugh like Father Christmas. But…”

Santa looked at her.

“Oh. Oh. My. God. You..you’re-”

Santa nodded.

***

“What have you done with my sister!” Steven screamed at the woman coming towards him.

“I’ve  saved her life. I’ve left her sitting on the lap of one of your biggest ideas. And I’ve come into her body.”

“You stole it?”

Mona laughed. “No. I borrowed it. We’re going to be sharing it from now on. I wanted to know what it felt like.”

***

The white was less blinding now.

“Mona. Are you scaring my brother?”

Mona laughed. “A little?”

“Well, don’t,” Ramona chided. “He spoke to me, remember? This was, after all, what we wanted.”

They smiled.

“I know everything you know. We have to do something.”

Mona nodded. “We do.”

Ramona thought. “I have an idea…”

***

Today’s image was provided by Melissa.

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“Hello?”

“Steven. How are you doing?”

“Ramona?”

“Hey, big brother.”

“Christ, Mona. I’ve been trying to get in touch with you.”

“Yeah? What’s up?”

Steven was knocked off his stride. He hadn’t talked to Ramona for years. He thought. For a lot of years. This wasn’t how he thought this conversation was going to go.

“I…I had this really freaky dream.”

“That…runs in the family. I’m sure you remember.”

There was an awkward pause.

“Steven. I need to ask you a favour. Can you meet me somewhere?”

“Ahh. Sure.” Yeah – a meeting. That could be better. “Where?”

“Remember that place we used to hang out as kids?”

Steven felt a cold lump in his stomach.

“Aaah… I’m not sure…”

“Sure you do. By the beach. We’d go there all the time.. Can you meet me there?”

Steven had started to sweat.

“Well.. I mean… I’m a bit busy.”

“Steven. Please. I have to show you something. And. I have to do something and I think you need to be part of it. And, even if you don’t. I want you to be.”

“Um.. When would that be?”

“Tomorrow.”

***

***

Which is how Steven found himself at the one place he didn’t want to be.

The light house.

There was a note tied to the door with his name on it.

Or, he thought has he tore it open, some other Steven.

“Steven. Don’t come up before reading this.”

“Ah no. He thought. It’s for me.”

“I don’t know much about you. I don’t know if you’re happy, sad. Married. Well, no. I know that bit. But I don’t know if you have kids. But that could be a memory thing. The things is – you might be what you imagined yourself to be. Your life could be what you thought it would be.

“Well…I was told what I was going to be when I was young. I was told what I was going to look like and what I could do. And you convinced me that wasn’t true.

“No. That’s not fair. I was scared. I let you do that because the truth scared me. I had another dream where I saw things, met a boy who told me I’d be lost, that I’d forget everything, but I’d come back.

“I met him a few months ago and I remembered everything, I remembered the idea that had been given to me. But I’m not there yet. I was told I was a House of Lights. And I’d tried everything to become that – but it was only 2 days ago that I remembered I had a house of lights.

“So, you can come up now.”

***

It was about half way up that he heard her. “Hurry, Steven. You have to look at this.”

He stumbled on the stairs.

“Steven. Don’t make me come and get you.”

He felt a roaring in his ears. His mouth filled with saliva, and he felt his stomach lurch.

Step after step he pushed himself up until he turned the corner and walked next to the light.

“What do you think of the hair?”

Ramona stood in a triangle, in a circle, with pink hair. “What do you think?”

He walked towards her.

“NO!” She shouted. “Don’t break the circle. I’m about to do something. Something I need you to witness. I’ve been practicing meditation, Steven. I didn’t understand before. Mona – looking like this – she was an idea. An idea of how I should be. I’m going to be that idea.”

“Mona! Don’t. Don’t do it. I saw this. I saw that…thing I saw her. She told me something. She told me-”

“What, Steven. What did she tell you to do.”

“She told me to talk to you.”

Ramona sat down and closed her eyes. “Ok, Steven. Talk.”

***

Mona looked at Santa. Everything’s about to change, now. And we’ll make things work. But it’s going to be a wild ride.”

Santa still didn’t like the girl on his lap. And he wasn’t sure he was going to like the ride any more.

***

Steven told her his dream; told her how scared he was coming here; told her that he didn’t want her to do anything.

And she focused on his voice, and kept the image of her as a child talking about the idea of her in the future in her head.

She felt a rush of energy.

***

“Do you feel that? Hold on to what you are, Santa. Hold onto that tight because-

***

Today’s image was supplied by Lisa

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