Mercy by Heather Harrison

Gerald glanced at the hitchhiker staring out the passenger side of his truck. “Did ya’ hear me, son?”

“What?”

“I said, if you’re looking for mercy out that window, you won’t find it there. This world ain’t for giving mercy and when it does, it comes with a price.”

Slouched against the worn leather seat, the hitchhiker pulled his gaze away from the barren landscape, eyes drawn to the anomaly marring the desert sky. He inhaled a sharp breath and slid further into his seat, hands grasping the dashboard.

“It’s getting bigger,” he mumbled.

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Wishbone by Jennie Boyes

The castle ruin was the only shelter Famine could see for miles, a shadow cast on withered land, on mud, bracken and brittle heather. And on bones. Beyond was the sea, and snow clouds on the horizon. The gatehouse, its great rounded towers broken and jagged at the tops, stood defiant in the desolation, like an old, wounded knight after a battle. Wind, sea-salt, and even War had not defeated it, and as Famine traced the silhouette against the sky, he could have believed the castle would withstand time itself, if such a thing were possible.

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Red Christmas by Mike Ramon

It was cold enough to freeze your balls off; he wanted nothing more than to be back at home, sitting in his big green recliner and sipping a hot cup of cocoa with little marshmallows floating in it. But no, the little bastards needed their toys. That was bad; worse was that those toys had gotten more complicated (and more expensive to make) over the years. Once upon a time, a little red truck or a simple rag doll would have been enough. Hell, even the days of the Etch A Sketch and Easy-Bake Ovens hadn’t been so bad. A few brats burned themselves with those ovens, but was that his fault? No, siree; they’d asked for ‘em, and they’d gotten ‘em.

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