Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas after the End of the World by Cora Buhlert

Release date: December 16, 2019
Subgenre: Post-apocalyptic holiday story 

About Christmas after the End of the World:


It's Christmas… five months after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, blacked out the sun and covered most of the western US in ash.

Thirteen-year-old Natalie, her younger brother Liam, baby Olivia and family dog Bud are among the few still holding out in the evacuation zone.

Day to day survival is hard enough, but Natalie is determined to give Liam and Olivia an unforgettable Christmas… after the end of the world.

And who knows, maybe they'll even get a true Christmas miracle…

This is a post-apocalyptic holiday novelette of 10000 words or approx. 35 print pages. 




But as always after Thanksgiving, the holidays approached with seven-league boots. And just as Liam hadn’t forgotten about Thanksgiving, he hadn’t forgotten about Christmas either.
“Nat…” he asked a few days after Thanksgiving, just as Natalie prepared to go out on her daily scavenging trip with Bud, “…can we go to the mall to see Santa?”
Natalie sighed. She hated these kinds of questions. Olivia might be difficult to handle at times, but at least she never asked questions — partly because she couldn’t talk yet and partly because she couldn’t remember the world before. But Liam could remember. And talk.
“I’m sorry, darling. But you know that the mall isn’t open anymore and that there will be no Santa there this year.”
“Liar!” Liam exclaimed, his face flushed bright red, “You went to the mall to get stuff for Olivia and winter clothes for us. You said so yourself.”
All right, so he really did remember. And he was perfectly willing to call out Natalie on all her little white lies.
“Yes, I’ve been to the mall. But it’s no longer as it was. It’s… the shops aren’t open…”
Unless you smashed in the windows with chairs from the food court, that was.
“...and there are no people there. The ash fell onto the skylights and everything is cold and dark and empty. Sometimes, there are wild animals in there.”
And there were dead bodies. Natalie had seen one near the entrance of Penney’s and more in the parking lot, covered in ash. She assumed they’d been killed during the evacuation and just left there. Burying them would be the right thing to do, but Natalie couldn’t bring herself to go any closer. Besides, she was always scared that one of the bodies might turn out to be Aunt Ruth.
“But what about Santa?” Liam wanted to know, “Surely, Santa will come. I mean, he’s Santa. He can do anything, go anywhere.”
Natalie shook the head. “Not to the mall, I fear. After all, Santa is very busy and doesn’t have time to wait around in an empty mall all day.”
Liam paled. “But he… he will come for Christmas, won’t he? After all, he’s Santa and he’s not scared of some stupid yellow stone volcano.”
Natalie ruffled Liam’s hair and pulled him close. “Yes, Santa will come for Christmas.”
She’d make sure of that. Because even after the end of the world, Liam still deserved Christmas and so did Olivia. It was her first Christmas after all.
“And he knows we’re here?” Liam asked, “After all, no one else does.”
“He’s Santa,” Natalie said soothingly, “And Santa knows everything.”

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About Cora Buhlert:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. 

Cora has been writing, since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. She is the author of the Silencer series of pulp style thrillers, the Shattered Empire space opera series, the In Love and War science fiction romance series, the Helen Shepherd Mysteries and plenty of standalone stories in multiple genres.

When Cora is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher. She also runs the Speculative Fiction Showcase and the Indie Crime Scene and contributes to the Hugo-nominated fanzine Galactic Journey.


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