Santa sat in his sleigh.

It had been three days since the attacks. He wasn’t going to go out this year. He didn’t see the point.

He had been killed. Repeatedly. He had no idea that Ideas could be damaged like that.

So wantonly, with such glee. It … it was unnatural.

And that poor child who witnessed it all. Seeing his dream die over and over again. What must that have done to him?

Santa knew, deep down, that he should have found the child next he slept. Comforted him, tried to take the pain away. But Santa had no idea what to do with his own pain, let alone someone else’s.

No. Not this year. He couldn’t face it. Not with the shame.

He sighed.

Not that it mattered. He’d looked at the time line for this christmas and there was nothing there.

Just a huge blank spot.

Santa took that to mean that The Bad Idea managed to cross over.

A silent sob shook him.

Santa’s final present to The Other Side – sending them a homicidal idea with delusions of Godhood.

He supposed that they’d have a few more things to worry about that remembering a stupid flying fat man. He wouldn’t put it past the Idea not to tell them it was all Santa’s fault anyway.

“See, Rudolph. Barns. That was my mistake.”

Rudolph tried to ignore the crack in Santa’s voice and convinced himself that the sleigh was shaking because of turbulence. Even though they were on the ground.

“Excuse me?” A female voice called. “Santa? Are you…I can’t believe I’m asking, really. I mean, you’re in a red costume, in a sleigh with a reindeer with a red nose. If you’re not Santa then you’re doing a great impression of him.”

Santa was, to be honest, very confused. He could hear the voice, but couldn’t see its owner yet.

“Go Away,” was his best reply.

“I tell you,” the speaker carried on, undeterred. “It would probably have been easier just mailing myself to you, because you’re a hard man to find. But, like, every year you get sacks and sacks of letters.”

Santa carried on. “It doesn’t matter what you say. Or what you do. It’s all going to be over in a few days anyway.”

“Yeah. That’s kinda what I was going to talk to you about.” The woman threw herself onto his lap. She had bright pink hair.

And she was wrong. She wasn’t…from Here.

He tried pushing her off. “What are you? What do you want? God – what are you doing here?”

An old guy in the robes wandered past. He just shrugged, apologetically, and turned back to his Virgin Mary.

“That was random,” said the girl. “Santa. My name is Mona.”

***

Today’s image was supplied by Martine Pedersen.

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It had been three days since the session with the duck and, despite causing something to appear, Ramona was the first to accept that she wasn’t the world’s best Tupperware conjurer. Tulsa. Tupac.

Whatever the fuck they were called.

She had tried everything – closing her mind, filling her mind, focusing on a task and letting that occupy her mind.

She had focused on sigils, ideas, candle lights, tarot cards, photos, shapes, her quiet space.

All it had got her was a head ache.

And a bunch of manifestations that disappeared within an hour.

Well – that’s not entirely true, and she was grateful for every mistaken take-away delivery and every winning lottery ticket that her meditation sent her way.

But it wasn’t the great success story she wanted. And, in the face of adversity, she went for a walk.

“Fuck me, it’s cold.” She pulled her coat tighter around her – partly to try and keep the warmth in, partly to make sure her tits hadn’t frozen off. A stray thought wandered through her head about the difference between Siberian and Austrian winds but she had no idea where it came from so she decided to ignore it.

“If only meditation was that simple,” she grumbled.

***

The shops taunted her. They were always at the end of the road and, no matter how far she walked always seemed to be the same distance away. “If this is a dream I won’t be impressed.”

She couldn’t work out what she was doing wrong. Unless she was doing nothing wrong and was just trying to hard. The thought and walked and when she looked up, the shops were behind her.

Still, she couldn’t shake the thought that she was missing something. Something important. Something Hassan had said?

“I was a child. How on earth am I meant to remember that? Idea trees. We planted idea trees, one of which was mine. I’d forget – but I’d come back. And I was Ra-Mona – the house of lights.”

She sighed, watching her breath plume in the cold night. “What was it about that? It’s the lights. I’m sure of it. Unless it was the idea tree.” She was outside a quintessential corner store. Sold everything and nothing. She pushed the door and listened to the bell ring.

“Why the fuck wasn’t it a clue tree.”

***

She grabbed a basket and began filling up – milk, coffee, bread, biscuits – and headed to the counter.

“Not warm is it?” The woman behind the counter looked friendly enough but Ramona wasn’t sure she was in the mood for conversation. She tried, anyway. It’d be rude not to.

“It isn’t. Reminds me of a book. The entire opening was set in this torrential rain storm. It focused on a rider who, whenever he met anyone, gave them the same message:’The witches are abroad.’”

The woman laughed. “And everyone he said that to said, “That’s nice for them.”

They laughed until it felt forced. Ramona looked around the counter and saw a pile of scarves. In amongst them a silver and white one. Parts of her brain burned.

“That…is really… I…” Ramona pulled it out of the pile.

“Oh those? I make them myself. I was going to make more of those because I love the wool, but I couldn’t get any more in that colour – so that’s the only one there is.”

Ramona looked into the middle distance, miles away. As she sharded into The Sidetrack Cafe, Mona spoke the words for her. “I look like this because this is how you looked when you created me.”

“Pardon?”

Ramona crashed back. “Huh?”

“You were saying something about how I looked?”

Ramona shook her head, flushed and suddenly excited. “No. That was how I looked when I created her.” She looked around the shop. “Do you have any hair bleach? And some dye.”

***

Today’s photo was provided by Dan Poulsen A first for Dan.

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It had been three days since Simon had woken screaming.

Brad was in first, pulling his son from his sodden bed. The bed, it turned out, was so set it had to be thrown out. His eyes weren’t focusing when his dad had got to him, and Simon had punched and kicked until his dad could calm him down.

He then withdrew, sat and rocked. Or cried silently.

A day in the hospital and all his parents could be told was that he was in shock.

They had been about to accept a sedative but Simon had snapped out of his state long enough for his opinion about that very clear.

And, that night, both Brad and Janet had heard him walking about the house late into the night.

The found him the next day sleeping fitfully under the sofa.

Over the next couple of days he had been more communicative – but he still wasnlt sleeping.

Janet was beside herself. The doctor’s had warned them both about not making Simon feel guilty for being like he was; that he was obviously terrified of something; that guilt would make him withdraw more. She tried to be happy and smiley around her son but she needed to know that he’d come back to her.

Brad had more pressing things to worry about – interviews with the police and social services. Warnings about what they’d do to him if he’d touched a hair on his son’s head. He was less than pleased and was seeking legal advice. As he hissed to his wife. He didn’t pay his taxes to be called a pervert.

In the space of 3 days, the house that was so happy, so solid, had broken.

***

Simon was siting by the fountain. He found looking at the water calming. Comforting.

It took his mind off Santa being murdered over and ov-

He looked at the water, and took a deep breath.

It stopped him thinking about the dark, the impenetrable dark that held things unimaginable, things dancing and gibbering and eating and killing and –

“Son?”

Simon jumped; looked up at his dad. His eyes were dark, sunken. Brad hated to think how little sleep he must have had.

“Are…are you ok, son? You know you can tell me, right?”

Simon thought about the dark Gods waiting to kill him; thought about the monster with the tentacled face, murdering Santa again and again.

Tears ran down his face.

He wrapped his arms around his dad and sobbed into his chest.

“No, dad. I…I don’t think I am ok.”

***

Today’s image was supplied by Chris Wild

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The Bad Idea lounged on its Throne of Nightmares.

It had what it wanted. Oh, it had taken all night but, in the end, Santa and that brat of his had broken and told it what it wanted to know.

On reflection, it hadn’t taken that long at all. Maybe just 40 minutes. 10 after it told them what it wanted.

But it was having so much fun that it made it last all night.

And the idea was simple.

It chuckled. Oh – such a wit. It saw what it did there.

No. It worked like this – implant the idea of an idea over there. Wait for someone to grasp that idea. And then it becomes reality.

Or..something like that.

It drummed its fingers together. There were some finer points to iron out. It’s not as if there was a tentacled god on the other side that he could pass the idea of itself into.

And…

It hadn’t thought about this in any real sense. It couldn’t find a point in the timeline it could access that it crossed ov-

Oh.

Oh. How droll.

It roared with laughter. How would it be able to see itself? It wouldn’t exist in the Idea Timestream. It would exist over there!

And  there was a point, very soon, where it just ceased to register on this side at all.

Oh – it was all coming together.

And the plan was glorious.

It would carry on seeding the idea of itself into the minds of fools, the deranged, the dangerous, the powerful. But this time the idea would carry a command: Sacrifice. Spill blood and open a portal.

A ritual to be written from the delirious dream of some madman years before. And then lost forever.

The Bad Idea stood – speaking to itself.

“Going back, invading a dream, compelling a book to be written – that was child’s play. And I can seed the myth of the book throughout time. And it will only take one of them to attempt the ritual. One of them to grasp my idea.

“And as soon as that is done, I will walk The Other Side and bring pain and terror unimaginable.”

It started shouting, shaking it’s fist, flecks of acidic spit forming, and flying from, its twitching, writhing tentacles.

“And I will be the pathway through which other, lesser, bad ideas would cross over. I will rule them all. Physical and terrible. Every dawn would be blood red with the suffering of MY-“

It stopped, suddenly aware of what it was doing.

“Oh.”

It had been ranting. Ranting in the dark.

To no one at all.

How…how could that have happened. It coughed, suddenly embarrassed.

Oh.

But it was a glorious plan.

***

Today’s photo was supplied, once again, by Kostika.

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Ramona sat in her veranda contemplating the last few weeks. Which, seeing how full they were, felt more like months.

Her apartment never did get finished. It turned out Nathan wasn’t quire as enamoured with her spontaneity and quirky ways as he thought he was. And so they fizzled out. And even if she was earning a tidy sum, it wasn’t a salary for two, and he wasn’t going to afford that place on her own.

But, as luck would have it, a couple she knew were off traveling for a year and they offered her their place to sit for a year.

Mona moved their stuff into storage and her stuff in – including all her new possessions – lamps, candles, lights, lanterns.

“Maybe” she reasons. “I’m he house of lights. I am Ra Mona – the Sun Goddess.” She blushed at the thought of it now, and thought, somewhat sadly, that it was probably that straw which broke the camel’s back between her and Nathan.

Still, they gave the place some atmosphere, and she liked that her energy bill was going to be nonexistent for a couple of  months.

“Enough of this.” She announced.

She closed her eyes and tried again.

***

Her initial attempts at meditation were guided. Not having a clue where to start, she went out and bought a stack of CDs with breathing instructions and forest sounds.

They just made her want to piss.

And those were the ones without the pan pipes.

So now she was  au natural.

***

Focus on your breathing.

In.

Hold

Out.

Hold.

In.

Out.

Empty your mind. Focus only on your breathing.

Slowly inhale, slowly exhale.

Well. This is going ok.

I’m acing this focus thing. I have no idea why I thought it was hard.

All it is is listening to my breathing. Look

That’s in.

And that’s out.

This is in

And thi-

Piss

***

Breathing. Counting down from 10 to 1.

And 10.

Relaxing the legs, feeling the stress and tension drift away.

9

Feeling the weigh of my body in my legs.

8

Witness the tension and stress drain from my chest.

7

Hear the beat of my heart, and the roar of my breath.

6

Now my arms and shoulders.

5

Focus on the shoulders. Loosen any tension left there.

4

Now my neck.

3

Finally my head, Relax my head, but keep the line straight, so it sits upright, facilitating my breathing.

2

Feel, and accept, the weight of my body. Relaxed, with no stress.

And on 1, remove all verbal thought.

1

*

Ramona sits. She breaths deeply and clearly.

She is in her veranda, the windows gateways to the world outside, and barriers to it.

Like her eyes and mind. The gateways to Not Her, but barriers to it now – as she focuses inwards.

She feels a sense of happiness.

She looks so calm.

So happy.

So…who is she describing this to?

Her mind should be blank.

She..Her…

ARSE!

***

“Forget one hand clapping, is that the sound of me snoring?”

She snapped her eyes open with a snort.

“CRAP”

***

Something was different that last time. Her mind did focus on a single thought. It kept that thought, span it around in her mind.

And – at a timeless point in her meditation – she felt…something.

An outpouring.

In her contemplative state she examined the outpouring, saw it was energy, was content with that, and continued to focus on the thought.

When she started to come out, her meditative state reminded her that there had been an energy fluctuation and she emerged excited and rejuvenated.

Outside in the garden she had set up a summoning triangle – a place where she could contain anything she created safely, until she decided if it should be loosed on the world.

Triangle for summonings, circles for summoners.

She hoped.

She pulled open the door and saw her first success.

“Oh…DUCK”

***

Today’s photo was supplied by Tine Sørensen

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