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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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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