CHRISTMAS TAKEOVER 2022: Armand Rosamilia

Cookies & Brownies

Todd Minor had done it again. Screwed Al Binder out of a promotion at work, likely ate his yogurt and definitely stole his future ex-wife.

The guy had been a thorn in Al’s side for years. He always got the better jobs, the most attention and the bigger awards at work.

Al knew it was all based on looks, too. Todd was half Al’s age, a good-looking guy with long dark hair pulled into a ponytail, even though the handbook clearly stated men could not have long hair. He had a great smile, too, which the ladies in the office swooned over.

Todd also had a nice car, the latest, fanciest model out there. He’d brag about having to order his next car. Custom-made this and that. If electric cars were the new thing, Todd had the next generation of them already. Total douche-bag.

Todd always frowned at Al when they were alone but never said anything, as if he was disgusted with him.

On Monday morning, Todd would bring in two dozen donuts from Dunkin for everyone on the floor. Knowing Al’s responsibility was to get there first and unlock the doors.

It meant Al got to eat the first donut. Usually the first three.

Todd did this on purpose, as he knew Al was struggling with his weight.

The pretty bastard just didn’t seem to care, wrapped up in his own perfect world.

He was in the break room with half of the women on the floor, showing pictures of his recent vacation to Italy. Al shook his head when Todd showed a picture of himself without a shirt on, and the women all smiled and moved around like the friggin’ Beatles were in concert back in the 60’s.

Al needed to get rid of this guy, and he’d started devising a plan. The Christmas party was coming up in three days, so he needed to put this all into action. Get rid of Todd once and for all. Make sure he looked like the fool he really was, and all these fawning women would feel stupid for thinking he was such a great catch.

Even Joselin, the woman Al had been trying to woo for months, would see what a waste of time Todd was. The two of them had lunch together most days, giggling like high school kids in the cafeteria.

It made Al sick. He’d tried to sit at their table once, a few weeks back, but Todd asked Al to sit somewhere else because they were having a private conversation and normally he wouldn’t mind, but… they were talking about things not meant for other people.

Not meant for Al.

Todd was strutting around the office the morning of the Christmas party, wearing a stupid Santa hat and handing out candy canes to the women. Not to the men.

Al wondered if he could get Todd in trouble with H.R. or just wait until tonight and get his plan into action.

Stick with the plan.

The biggest part of the plan would be the Santa suit. Al had spent a fortune on the rental this time of year. If he’d been better prepared, he would’ve thought up this plan weeks or months ago and gotten it then. Heck, for the rental price he could’ve purchased one last January or February.

Al hid the suit in the janitor’s closet upstairs and acted like nothing weird was going to happen. As if this was just another office party, where the same people were going to get drunk, the same people were going to be mad about the others getting drunk, and Al would eat way too much food and have some of the people stare at him.

Not that he cared. This was the meal he waited for each and every year. He’d make sure to swipe as many cookies and brownies into napkins and then head to his desk, where he had his drawers filled with Tupperware containers. He’d be feasting for the rest of the week.

Todd arrived fashionably late to the party, wearing what looked like a tacky tracksuit. Red and green and festive.

He still had on the dumb Santa hat and was all smiles as he went around and shook hands with the men (but not Al, who he casually ignored) and made sure to hug and/or kiss all the ladies.

Al was pissed. Almost mad enough to not eat the bacon-wrapped shrimp or the delicious meatballs coming around on trays. Almost.

He drank a few shots of bourbon to loosen him up and get him in the mood to do what needed to be done. Al kept watching the clock. He’d set his plan into motion right at eight o’clock, when everyone was in the building but before the real Santa, or the person playing him tonight, was going to show up.

Al watched as Todd kept making the rounds, never staying in one place for more than a minute. Smiling and slapping backs, as if he was everyone’s friend. As if he was important.

A quarter to eight, Al went upstairs and got dressed in the Santa outfit, which was hard to do in the confined space of the janitor’s closet.

He went back downstairs and when he exited the elevator, he made sure to smile. “Ho Ho Ho,” he yelled.

Everyone stopped talking and stared at Al. Only the music still played, which happened to be a Rick Astley song. You know the one that they always play.

“Why is Al dressed like Santa? He looks ridiculous,” Todd said loudly.

More than half the people laughed.

Al was furious. He wasn’t going to let Todd get the best of him yet again. He needed to remain calm.

Instead, he pulled the .357 tucked in the suit and pointed it at Todd.

Men and women gasped, everyone fell back, and gave Al room.

Everyone but Todd, who smiled and shook his head. “Seriously, Al?”

“Serious as a heart attack,” Al said and hated what he’d said. That was corny and typical. He’d think of a better comeback later, when all of this was done.

“You won’t get away with this,” Todd said, waving his hand. “Whatever this is, actually. Is there a point to you dressing as Santa and pointing a weapon at me? Have I wronged you, Al?”

Al laughed. “Have you wronged me? Of course, dammit, you’ve wronged me. So many times I’ve lost count.”

Todd shrugged. “Then I’m sorry. Can we get back to the party? I’m looking forward to the seafood entree option this year.”

Al was also looking forward to it, but he wasn’t going to walk away now. Not with all of these witnesses.

Now he was scared. If he shot Todd in front of everyone, he’d likely need to kill all of them, too, or he’d go to prison.

Al hadn’t brought enough ammo with him, though. No way he’d be fast enough to shoot everyone before they escaped, either.

“You’re coming with me, Todd. Get on the elevator,” Al said. He needed to get back in control. Already a few people were looking around for the waitstaff to get a fresh drink. The food would be out soon, too.

“I’d rather stay here with all of my friends and have a good time,” Todd said.

Al was furious. “No. I wasn’t asking if you wanted to go onto the elevator. I was demanding it.”

Todd shook his head. “Not interested.”

Al shot into the air and a large piece of the ceiling tile fell, nearly hitting him.

Everyone stopped moving. No more looking for the next drink, no more eyes on the door where the food was going to come out of.

“The next one will be a warning shot through your chest,” Al said to Todd.

Todd shrugged again, as if none of this affected him. “Fine. Everyone, enjoy the party. Don’t worry about me and Al. We’ll talk this out like gentlemen. Like adults. Figure out why Al thinks I’m so against him and everything about him, all the things I don’t like and talk about.”

“You’re talking about me?” Al motioned for Todd to get on the elevator.

Todd got on like they were simply heading upstairs for another mindless day of work.

Al stepped in, still aiming the gun at Todd.

“Where are we going, Al?”

“The roof.”

Todd smiled. “Can we stop at my desk and get a sweater first? It might be cold.”

“No.” The doors to the elevator closed and Al saw everyone else was rushing forward. If he was smart he would’ve sent the other elevator up first.

They rode in silence. Al was surprised and also a little frustrated that Todd seemed so calm.

“You go first but go slow,” Al said when the doors opened and they were on the top floor. To the left was a doorway that led to the roof itself, exposing them to the elements.

It was December but it wasn’t as cold as it usually was. No snow, no strong winds.

“Now what? Are you going to push me off of the roof, shoot me and push me off of the roof, or shoot me and leave me on the roof?” Todd asked. He still looked calm.

Al saw there was no locking the door to the roof from this side. He wished he’d figured that out sooner, because he would have devised a way to keep the door locked. Blocked would’ve been good.

“I’m sorry. Is that what you want to hear, Al? I apologize for being mean to you. Did I know I was being mean? Yes.” Todd shrugged again. Al hated when he shrugged. “I guess, if I had to do it all over, knowing we’d get to this point, I would still do it. I gotta be honest. I’m sorry I got you this mad. Obviously I didn’t realize you had a few screws loose. I knew I was getting under your skin, and that was the fun of it. I’m a bully. I pick out the weakest in the herd and make their life miserable. It makes my life better.”

“You’re even worse than I thought,” Al said. “What a horrible person.”

“Guilty as charged.” Todd smiled and started to walk toward the door. “I’m going back to the party. By now the police have been called and are en route. You’ll be arrested for brandishing a gun. Making pretend you’re Santa, too. That has to at least be a fine.”

Al had the weapon inches from Todd’s head as he walked past. “Stop or I will shoot you.”

“No, you won’t. Because you’re spineless, Al. if I thought for a second you’d actually shoot me, I would actually be listening to your direction,” Todd said.

Al shot him in the back of the head.

Todd fell to the ground and Al emptied the gun into his back.

The door to the roof opened and his coworkers rushed out.

They saw Todd, bloody and dead on the roof. Al holding the gun.

“Police are on the way, Al. Put down the gun,” someone said.

Al didn’t want to go to jail.

He ran to the side of the roof, looked down at the busy street. Saw red lights in the distance and knew the police would be here within the minute.

“Don’t do it, Al.”

“Let him do it. It’s my tax money that’s going to have to front the bill for his time in prison. Let him jump.”

“Have some compassion. Al is disturbed. We all knew it. Is this all really a surprise?”

“No, but still… we need to be the better person. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Al walked around the roof until he could see the parking lot below.

Every day, Todd parked in the first spot closest to the upper management parking area, as if he was one small step from being a boss.

Al began to strip out of the Santa suit. “Hey, can someone return this for me? The receipt is in the pocket. Thanks.”

“No. Do it yourself.”

“I’ll do it if you promise not to jump.”

“He still has the gun.”

Al moved a few inches to his left, trying to gauge the wind up here. No use in doing this if he’d miss his target down below.

He unzipped his fly and began to pee over the side, hoping the urine would hit Todd’s car far below.

It maybe did, a few sprinkles, but most of it was taken on the breeze.

“Feeze,” a police officer yelled from the doorway.

Al turned and all of the fellow employees got a good look at his small package. He didn’t bother to zip back up.

As the police officer started to approach slowly, Al saw two more cops ushering the people back inside.

“This was some party,” Al yelled with a smile and a wave. “Save me some cookies and brownies.”

Al stepped backward, into space, and waved once more before he plunged down to certain death, willing his body to hit Todd’s car.

Boo-graphy: Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he writes when he’s not sleeping. He’s happily married to a woman who helps his career and is supportive, which is all he ever wanted in life…

He’s written over 150 stories that are currently available, including horror, zombies, contemporary fiction, thrillers and more. His goal is to write a good story and not worry about genre labels.

He not only runs two successful podcasts…

Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast – interviewing fellow authors as well as filmmakers, musicians, etc.

The Mando Method Podcast with co-host Chuck Buda – talking about writing and publishing

But he owns the network they’re on, too!

He also loves to talk in third person… because he’s really that cool.

You can find him on his website for not only his latest releases but interviews and guest posts with other authors he likes! and e-mail him to talk about zombies, baseball and Metal.

GUEST BOOK REVIEW by Armand Rosamilia: Tender Is the Flesh

Tender Is the Flesh
“Cadaver Exquisito”

By: Augustina Bazterrica
Translator: Sarah Moses

Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: 8.4.2020

Genre: Horror, Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Pages: 223

Working at the local processing plant, Marcos is in the business of slaughtering humans —though no one calls them that anymore.

His wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.

Then one day he’s given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality. Though he’s aware that any form of personal contact is forbidden on pain of death, little by little he starts to treat her like a human being. And soon, he becomes tortured by what has been lost—and what might still be saved.

Armand’s Review

Brutal but in a good way. Well-written, very graphic and not for the faint of heart. Not even kidding. Likely the book of the year for me right now, too. The characters are brilliant, the impact of what’s happening makes you think, and the ending will tear you apart. But hopefully not eat you.

Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he writes when he’s not sleeping. He’s happily married to a woman who helps his career and is supportive, which is all he ever wanted in life…

He’s written over 150 stories that are currently available, including horror, zombies, contemporary fiction, thrillers and more. His goal is to write a good story and not worry about genre labels.

He not only runs two successful podcasts…

Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast – interviewing fellow authors as well as filmmakers, musicians, etc.

The Mando Method Podcast with co-host Chuck Buda – talking about writing and publishing

But he owns the network they’re on, too! Project Entertainment Network

He also loves to talk in third person… because he’s really that cool.

You can find him at his website for not only his latest releases but interviews and guest posts with other authors he likes and e-mail him to talk about zombies, baseball and Metal.

The Beast
The end of summer, 1986. With only a few days left until the new school year, twins Jeremy and Jack Schaffer are on very different paths. Jeremy is the geek, playing Dungeons & Dragons with friends Kathleen and Randy, while Jack is the jock, getting into trouble with his buddies.

And then everything changes when neighbor Mister Higgins is killed by a wild animal in his yard. Was it a bear? There’s something big lurking in the woods behind their New Jersey home.

Will the police be able to solve the murder before more Middletown residents are ripped apart?

Forget the conspiracy theories about Denver International Airport… this just got real.

When a massive snowstorm shuts down the airport and forces a plane carrying exotic and deadly cargo, those trapped inside the terminal have no idea what’s in store for them.

Can a group of passengers and airport workers band together to face the onslaught, or will they be ripped apart?

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Armand Rosamilia

Meghan: Hey, Armand! It’s always a pleasure to have THE Armand Rosamilia on the blog. Thanks for stopping by today. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Armand: The kids coming to the house each year, especially since I moved to Jacksonville in 2013. We live in a big neighborhood and get over 200 trick or treaters each year, so we set up a table in the driveway with stacks of comic books, stacks of Halloween themed books for kids and adults, and small bags of candy. They’re allowed to take one from each pile, which is confusing for some kids, who think they have to choose.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Armand: Since we added our Little Free Libraries beginning of 2020, we added the books to our Halloween giving. We also have extra books put into both Little Free Libraries (we have an adult one and a bench one for children) that get lit up and decorated, and it’s great to have so many people thank us for it as well as new people who didn’t know it was up or what it was at first.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Armand: Honestly… this is going to shock some people, but I love Christmas Eve more than anything, because I’m half-Italian and we do a lot of seafood. Then it would be Thanksgiving because my wife’s family makes a ton of food and we have it at our house. Third would be Halloween, maybe because we don’t have enough food, although I do eat a metric ton of candy all day and the few days after, until it’s all gone, so… maybe Halloween is my favorite, after all.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Armand: Every time my palm itches I shove it in my pocket. Then I get money. It’s worked a lot of the time. I wish it itched more.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Armand: Cthulhu. Gotta be. I am a huge cosmic horror fan, and Lovecraft was one of the first truly horrific authors I read everything I could get my hands on. Most of it was over my head as a kid, but Cthulhu hooked me from the beginning.

Cthulhu Rises – bramsels – CGSociety

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Armand: All of them. We watch the Investigation Discovery channel every night, and I love seeing a case I haven’t seen before. I wish they’d stop focusing on only Dahmer, Bundy and Gacy and do shows on the many other serial killers out there. Zodiac was always a big one I followed. I’m still wondering where DB Cooper and all that cash went, too.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Armand: None of them scare me. They’re all fascinating. One I wrote about (in my novella The Beast) is the urban legend about a Bigfoot in New Jersey in the town I grew up in. I read Weird NJ for years, with tons of fascinating sightings. Still pick up copies when I’m back in NJ, too.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Armand: Ed Gein. He might not be the most prolific, he might not be the smartest, but he’s the one I always read about. He inspired so many stories and movies, too. He even inspired songs, like Dead Skin Mask by Slayer. How cool is that?

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Armand: I was 9 in 1979 when I saw When A Stranger Calls. Scared the crap out of me. That opening twenty minutes is still scary. My parents took the family to the drive-in and me and my brother were supposed to be sleeping in the backseat but I stayed awake and watched and then couldn’t sleep that night.

As for books… I know Phantoms by Dean Koontz was the first horror book that got to me, but I read two or three a week when I was 12 thanks to my mother’s massive paperback horror book collection.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Armand: I accidentally read an Edward Lee novel once. Don’t remember which one, but it was gut-wrenching. I was able to tell him that years later at a convention, and Ed just chuckled.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Armand: By the time Hostel came out, I was already pretty much done with horror movies. I don’t remember why I watched it, but that was it for me. I grew up on the classics (Halloween, Friday the 13th, etc.) that had intense moments, plot, character, but then it turned into just a lot of gore and blood and over the top shocks in horror, which I wasn’t a fan of. Now get off my lawn, you damn kids!

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Armand: As a child, I went as Ronald McDonald. I don’t really remember it too well, I was about five. I’ve seen the pictures, though. I look like a creepier young John Wayne Gacy. My mother made it for me since we were poor.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Armand: It’s a tie between “Halloween” by The Misfits or “Halloween” by King Diamond. I play them both every year because they’re awesome.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Armand: Anything chocolate. I make sure we buy a giant bag or three of Kit Kats, Twix, Milky Way, etc. and then slowly pocket as many as I can before my wife catches me. In my office I’ll go and dump handfuls into my file cabinet, and then eat them over the next few days. I hated getting pennies as a kid. Just don’t open your damn door, lady. No one wants your loose change.

Meghan: Thanks again, Armand. You’re definitely one of my favorite people to have on. Before you go, what are your go-to Halloween movies and books?

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Classic. Simple as that.

Halloween. Still a great movie. The original, not the awful remake.

Every horror book ever written or to be written. Halloween is the perfect time to read a scary book. Yes, my answer is a cop-out but I felt so much pressure to answer this in a timely manner. Stop looking at me like that. And get off my damn lawn, you kids!

Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he writes when he’s not sleeping. He’s happily married to a woman who helps his career and is supportive, which is all he ever wanted in life…

He’s written over 150 stories that are currently available, including horror, zombies, contemporary fiction, thrillers and more. His goal is to write a good story and not worry about genre labels.

He not only runs two successful podcasts…

Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast – interviewing fellow authors as well as filmmakers, musicians, etc.

The Mando Method Podcast with co-host Chuck Buda – talking about writing and publishing

But he owns the network they’re on, too! Project Entertainment Network

He also loves to talk in third person… because he’s really that cool.

You can find him at his website for not only his latest releases but interviews and guest posts with other authors he likes and e-mail him to talk about zombies, baseball and Metal.

The Beast
The end of summer, 1986. With only a few days left until the new school year, twins Jeremy and Jack Schaffer are on very different paths. Jeremy is the geek, playing Dungeons & Dragons with friends Kathleen and Randy, while Jack is the jock, getting into trouble with his buddies.

And then everything changes when neighbor Mister Higgins is killed by a wild animal in his yard. Was it a bear? There’s something big lurking in the woods behind their New Jersey home.

Will the police be able to solve the murder before more Middletown residents are ripped apart?

Forget the conspiracy theories about Denver International Airport… this just got real.

When a massive snowstorm shuts down the airport and forces a plane carrying exotic and deadly cargo, those trapped inside the terminal have no idea what’s in store for them.

Can a group of passengers and airport workers band together to face the onslaught, or will they be ripped apart?

GUEST POST: Frank J. Edler

Demand the World’s Greatest Candy

We need to talk. About Halloween candy. You’ve got it all wrong, I guarantee it. I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, no way Mr. Frank, Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups are the best Halloween candy, I’m certain of it. And, while you make a good case, Reece’s are an incredible Halloween candy to score in your trick-or-treat bag (and I maintain that Reece’s Pieces are superior to the peanut butter cup, but that’s another argument for another time), they are not the ultimate score.

The problem is, the ultimate Halloween candy goes criminally unnoticed year after year. It’s not right. The greatest Halloween candy to land in your trick-or-treat bag (or bucket, which you shouldn’t be using anyway because trick-or-treat buckets are limited and cumbersome) is Willy Wonka’s Bottle Caps. See? I know, you just smacked yourself in the forehead and said, Duh!

What? You didn’t smack yourself in the forehead and say, Duh? There’s no possible way in the name of all the ghosts, ghouls, witches and Whatchamacallits that Willy Wonka’s Bottle Caps are the ultimate Halloween candy? They can’t possibly be better than a Reece’s (in any form), Snickers, 3 Musketeers or Skittles. You are a fool if that is your mindset.

Listen, I get it. You’ve been bombarded with big chocolate advertising you’re whole life. It started out with the chocolate bar, graduated to chocolate covered candies that refuse to melt in your mouth. From there it was peanuts and nougat. Add in a cookie and cover it with caramel. All wonderful, to be sure. But the more the big candy companies vie for your Halloween dollar, they more complex and over-thought the offerings become. With clever marketing they sell you on overindulgence. It’s unnecessary. You need to find your roots.

Let’s get back to basics, the sugar!

The heart of any candy, chocolate or otherwise, is sugar. Nope, it isn’t the cocoa bean that makes the confectionery world go ‘round. It’s the sugar cane!

Willy Wonka’s Bottle Caps are masterpieces of the use of sugar in candy.

When you think sugar you think candy, cake, flavored juice bastardizations and, of course, soda. Soda! Liquid candy! Mr. Wonka, when not slaving away over the Ultimate Gobstopper, married the best of both sugary worlds and created a soda flavored candy! Bottle Caps!

You must’ve tried them at some point. They are hard and disc-shaped like Smarties (another fine and underrated Halloween addition to any discerning trick-or-treat bag). They are chewable Necco Wafers but with a less chalky finish. They are fruity and vibrant like Skittles or Starburst. And, most amazing of all, when you bite into them there is a sort of effervescence on the tongue. No, they aren’t carbonated candy but they taste like carbonated candy. You’re favorite soda pop in a fun little bite-sized candy!

Does your precious peanut butter cup do that? Didn’t think so.

It’s cool. I know I’ve got your attention now. Its that marketing thing. Willy Wonka doesn’t wield the advertising budget of the other guys. But, Willy Wonka doesn’t need to invest in a Wall Street marketing firm to get his goodies sold. Nope, he puts his money where his mouth is. He takes it on down to Flavortown!

Still, its hard as hell to score yourself one of these little treasures on Halloween. The best you can hope for is that you’re local trick-or-treat stop has invested in a Willy Wonka Halloween candy mix ‘n match bag. They’ll have Nerds, Sweet Tarts, Laffy Taffy, and Gobstoppers. And of course, they’ll have those precious treasures, a sleeve of Bottle Caps.

Don’t be shy. Demand the Bottle Caps. Let it be known you want Bottle Caps and nothing less! Dip your grubby little hands into that bowl full of sugar overdoses and go for the Bottle Caps. Take two, you are in the know now.

Demand Bottle Caps when all they have is m&m’s and Twix (which, by the way, we all know that the Left Twix is the superior Twix.) Say nay when you are offered a Dum-Dum lollipop and tell the sugar dispenser they are the dumb-dumb for not stocking Bottle Caps this Halloween. Turn your nose up at Hershey bars, Crunch bars and Dove medallions.

Make a stand! Demand Bottle Caps.

This is a process. It won’t change in the course of one or two Halloweens. Play the long game. Get the word out around the neighborhood that the kids demand Bottle Caps first and foremost! Soon the adults will be stocking up on bulk purchases of Bottle Caps to be the most talked about house on the block that Halloween. Sooner or later you’ll get that one adult who has to stand out all around town. They will be giving out full sized tubes of Bottle Caps, the ultimate score! Greater than a full sized chocolate bar, more treasured than a two-cup Reece’s package. The full sized, large disced tube of Willy Wonka Bottle Caps is the greatest treasure anyone can hope for at Halloween.

We can get there. You and I. Together.

Happy Halloween!

Frank J. Edler is the author of many twisted novels and uncanny short stories often cited as ‘laugh out loud’ reads. His writing walks the fine line between horror and the bizarre. He resides in New Jersey, a land that is both horrific and bizarre. When not writing, Mr. Frank hosts the wildly popular Bizzong! The Weird & Wacky Fiction Podcast heard exclusively on Project Entertainment Network.

Death Gets a Book
Vincent and his nagging wife, Wanda wind up getting themselves killed in Tijuana. Vincent wakes to find that he is now the Grim Reaper. With minimal training he is cast into the world of Deaths to collect the souls of the dead. The only wrinkle is his dead wife has come back as a screaming Banshee. She is hellbent on getting her husband to realize that its not ’til death do they part and he is set on getting through his first day on the job.

He will not go it alone. Along the way he is helped by his co-workers: a cowboy, a midget, an action figure and a bumbling grim reaper from Salem.

Will Death get the soul to Charon’s skiff by the end of the work day or will a squadron of maniac Banshee’s stop Death and upend the balance of power in the underworld? And, will Vincent ever be rid of his nagging wife?

Death gets a book and now you do too!

Scared Silly
What do you get when you mix a penis eating zombie with a downtrodden grim reaper then add a pinch of lycanthopic mad scientist, sprinkle it with a grocery store full of living food and mash it into a frightening red eyed monster?


Let author, Frank J Edler, take you into a world of not-so-serious horror. This collection features five frighteningly funny tales from the wicked and wacky writer. Laugh yourself to death as you read the stories: Old Scrote, SPLAT!, Death Gets A Life, GROSSeries and Wolfberries.

Brats in Hell
Otto Van Der Noodle has just been crowned the Bratwurst King of Wisconsin when he is gunned down in cold blood. Otto finds himself in line at the pearly gates when he is accidentally cast through the gates of Hell.

Otto lands in the middle of a power struggle for the throne of Hell. Satan rules the underworld with an iron fist and a delicious bratwurst. Satan’s brother, Dagobert has just found his secret weapon, Otto Van Der Noodle and his prize-winning bratwurst.

Dagobert will try to tip the balance of control in Hell using Otto’s delectable bratwursts. But Satan may have found the ultimate weapon in his new favorite pet demon.

Souls will be tortured, demons will fight demons and bratwursts will be cooked. Who will come out as the top chef and leader of Hell when the cook-off to end all cook-offs is fought?

Read BRATS IN HELL to find out. Its the WURST book ever written!

It’s hard being a Killer Brain. Just ask Scatter, a Killer Brain who just wants to be a Killer Brain. But he can’t, his parents want him to get a job. Scatter would rather do what he does best, terrorize the city with his pack of Killer Brain friends. But Scatter is about to find out life isn’t fair.

Crazed neurosurgeon, Dr. Justin Case is out to avenge the death of his parents at the hands of the Killer Brains. And now he has Scatter in his sights. Along with his cohort, Coda, Dr. Case will stop at nothing to exact his revenge and seek the closure he has sought since he watched his parents get devoured by Killer Brains as a child.

The odds are stacked against Scatter. He must navigate life while trying not to fall into the clutches of his would-be nemesis. Can Scatter get by without a little help from family and friends. He just wants to live life doing what he loves but sometimes responsibility has a way of rearranging your priorities. Join Scatter as he navigates through life, the job market and a city full of crazies all keeping him from doing what he loves, being a Killer Brain.

Christmas Takeover 17: Thomas R Clark: All I Want for Christmas, the first three chapters

For Christmas Takeover, Thomas R. Clark has given us the first three chapters of his story, All I Want for Christmas: A Tale of Holiday Horror, which can be found on Amazon.

And don’t forget that his book, Good Boy, is available for order today.

A mysterious, foul-mouthed Santa offers Christmas wishes, but at what price?

All I Want for Christmas on AMAZON

All I Want for Christmas

A Story by Thomas R Clark
3,038 words


“Nick? You’re playing some fucking joke, right? I mean what are the odds of this happening?” Bob Clark, manager of the Great Ontario Mall said to the elderly man in a Santa Claus outfit sitting before him. This guy was on point with the familiar red suit, complete with white and black trimmings. Oh, and the classic Santa hat. He even went as far as to wear the round-lensed spectacles. He was good. “Let me guess, you changed your name to Nick when you grew that beard out and started playing Santa?” He watched the old man shake his head.

“Nope,” the applicant said. “It’s always been my name. Nick Samuel. You do know Nick is a common fucking name, right? It shouldn’t surprise the shit out of you or anyone else.”

“It’s ironic, that’s all I’m saying.” Bob opted for damage control, so they could get on with the process. He wasn’t sure if he trusted this creepy old dude. “So I assume you’re interested in becoming our Holiday-”

“Yes,” Nick interjected, “I fucking accept. I’d like to be your holiday Santa.”

“Hold on a minute, Nick. I didn’t say you had the job.” The old man released a jolly chuckle of ho’s in response. Bob cut back in, “What’s so funny.”

“What? The ho-ho-hoing? I’m Santa, it’s what I fucking do. And, we saw you were looking for Santa’s Helpers, too.”

“We?” Bob raised an eyebrow.

“I have my own assistants. We’re the remedy to your situation.” The old man made a fist with each of his black-gloved hands and pointed his thumbs behind him. A pair of sultry women stepped out from behind Nick. Bob wondered where they came from. The last he checked, only Nick here in his Santa suit entered his office. These women manifested from out of nowhere. The pair stood at Mr. Samuel’s left and right. “These are my elves, Lily and Aggie!” The women curtsied on cue and handed Bob their resumes. He reached across his desk and took them, nodding as he did.

Bob was forced to admit, this was convenient. It would save him time and headaches. His former Santa, Kenny Saint-Claire, used his daughters as his helpers for years. But they grew up and moved out of town and Ken got caught groping one of the replacement Elves last year. It was quite the scandal for a small city like Fenton. Now Ken was fired and Bob needed a new Santa.

“Well, Bob? What do you say? Is it a deal?” the old man’s tone startled Bob. It was almost rehearsed, wooden, as if Nick were playing a role, not that of Santa, but of Nick Samuel. Bob fumbled with the resumes in his hand.

“Yes, that’s nice. Do you have references?” Bob forced out to regain control of the interview.

“We’re not from around here, as you probably guessed. We only come through this way every so many years. Last year I was in Auburn at another dying mall. They had the busiest season since their catalog anchors left. But, of course, I have references! Elves, do we have references?”

“Yes we do, Santa,” the women replied in unison.

“But Bob here, he doesn’t need to check them, does he.” He wasn’t asking them a question.

“That’s right, Santa, Bob doesn’t need to check our references. We’re all set.”

“I don’t need to check your references. You’re all set,” Bob said. He felt a warmth in his groin and was surprised to find his dick was getting hard looking at Santa’s helpers. This was an odd one. Bob was gay, and for the first time in his life since coming out, he questioned his sexuality, “You start next week, on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.”

“Excellent, Mr. Clark. It’s a pleasure doing business with you. Now, one thing, for insurance purposes, all the parents must sign a waiver in order for their children to sit on my lap. It protects me, protects them. You know how it is.” This was something Bob hadn’t considered. Nick was right.

“Damn, I don’t have one. I can draw a form up-”

“No, no need to do that. I have forms they can sign. It comes with being a freelance Santa.”

“Oh, okay, Mr. Samuel.”

“Call me Nick. Old Nick is what my friends call me.”

“Old Nick it is,” Bob corrected himself.

“So what would you want for Christmas, Bob?

“I wish for this Mall to have a successful, record-breaking shopping season.”

“Amen to that, Bob. Amen to that,” Old Nick said, before breaking back into a low series of ho-ho belly rolls


Mike Lombardo stood in the reception line at Steve’s funeral, trying to think about everything but his brother dying. It was difficult to do, to keep his mind blank, with the constant stream of mourners shaking hands, hugging or just nodding. Mike and his wife stood with his sister-in-law and mother. The line of people coming to pay their respects was a nonstop train all day. It was finally beginning to abate some, much to Mike’s relief.

Mike hated funerals, but he hated cancer more. The shit ran in the Lombardo family, rotting the men from the inside. First their father, John, and now Steve. Mike didn’t know what killed Grampa Lombardo over in Italy, but he was confident ass cancer ate him, too. Mike’s older brother came clean about how sick he was just after New Year’s, and he didn’t make it to fucking Thanksgiving. Mike didn’t feel sick. His brother hadn’t, either. But fear of a positive diagnosis prevented him from going to a doctor.

A man Mike didn’t know was approaching the line. He looked familiar, but Mike wasn’t sure. Elderly with a white beard, and accompanied by a pair of lovely, albeit much younger women- one blonde, one red-headed. Both were painted into skin-tight black mini-dresses. And as cute as those women were, this was his cue to leave.

He felt the urge to pee come on. Mike knew his bladder and feared pissing his suit pants. He excused himself and made haste to the restroom, avoiding making eye contact with anyone who might wish to stop him and make conversation. Lombardo nodded to them, mouthed the words ‘Thank you’ in a nearly inaudible whisper, and ran off.

Mike made it to the urinal in record time, dripping while in the act of unbuttoning his pants. His dick was hard, for some reason. It was odd. He wondered why he would be sporting a woody at his brother’s funeral. It made pissing and directing the stream all the more difficult. The relief of finally breaking the seal was euphoric. Much like the last ten months of Steve Lombardo’s life.

The brothers shared a bucket list year. From concerts, finally seeing KISS, their favorite band, together. A trip to the State Fair, camping at the State Park. A trip to Atlantic City where they lost more than they won. They scoured garage sales, buying toys they owned as boys growing up. Their best picks?

The Shogun Warriors they got for Christmas when Steve was five, and Mike was four. This Christmas in particular stuck with Mike. Though he was young, he remembered it clearly to this day, playing with his brother with those giant robots, nearly as tall as they were. So when Steve insisted on being buried with the Shogun, Mike didn’t find it to be odd.

“They say you can’t take it with you. Well, I say fuck them, whoever the fuck they may be! If it’s what damned me, then it’s coming with me. Fuck ‘em!” Steve told him at Halloween. His wife balked at the notion. Earlier today, Mike handed the mortician a hundred dollar bill, and he slid the Shogun Warrior into the bottom of Steve’s casket. It was there now, resting next to his legs.

Mike left the lavatory and found his way back to the reception line. It was empty, for the first time today. He saw his son, five-year-old, Brian, standing by the photo board. It was covered in pictures of Steve, from his time in diapers up to the concert back in August. Brian was focused on a single picture, looking at it with curious nods of his head. Mike went to his son’s side.

The Polaroid printed picture was from the Great Ontario Mall about forty years ago. Mike and Steve were sitting on Santa’s lap. The eyes of all captured in the picture glowed a demonic red from the reflection of the cheap camera used. Christmas 1978. The year they got the Shogun Warriors. Mike remembered this picture and the day it was taken as if it were yesterday.

“Hey, son. That was your uncle Steve and me when we were your age.”

“Why is one blurry?” Brian asked, pointing to Steve, sitting on Santa’s knee. His image was a blur. His face, his hands, all clouded up. You could tell someone was in the picture, but who they were, you couldn’t tell. Mike only knew it was Steve because he knew the picture. He pulled the picture off the poster board and put it in his pocket.

“Come on, let’s go stand over here with Mommy and Gramma and say hello to people coming to say goodbye to Uncle Steve.”

“Okay, Daddy.” The little boy took his father’s hand, and the duo joined their family in the reception line…


Snow assaulted Fenton, New York on Black Friday. A freak lake effect storm with a below-freezing wind chill struck from the north of Canada. The snow was dropping an inch an hour on the Ontario shoreline city. Visibility was next to nothing. But that didn’t stop the regional shoppers from filling the parking lot of the Great Ontario Mall with their cars, trucks, and vans. If this were an indication of the shopping season to come, the mall was in store for a record year.

Retailers within the complex’s walls were holding incredible sales, drawing out the local residents. The mall was alive with activity, including the seasonal debut of Santa Claus and his helpers, taking Christmas wishes from the young brave enough to sit on Santa’s lap and have their picture taken.

Lines of traffic, headlights burning white circles into the falling snow, circled the building. Stuck in this jam, trapped in their Chevy Cruze, Mike and Lexie Lombardo waited patiently. Their son was sound asleep in his car seat. They were doing this for him, taking him to see Santa on the day he appeared at the mall.

For weeks little Brian had looked forward to this event. The little boy nagged his mother until she made a treat to bring Santa. Sugar cookies covered in green sprinkles. And yes, they brought enough to share with Santa’s helpers. After all, the elves were important, too! They made the toys.

The only positive thing? There were so many cars in line, the snow wasn’t covering the road. It was covering the cars, instead. The wipers of the Cruze pushed piling snow off the windshield. It was falling fast enough to cover the hood, the hot engine melting patterns in the accumulations. The farting sound of rubber squee-geeing across glass filled the car.

“Can you turn the wipers off? That sound is driving me up a wall.” Lexie asked her husband.

“I wish. The snow is falling too fast. I can’t believe this weather, Lexie.”

“Remind me again why we came out in it.” She said, rubbing her hands together.

“For Brian. To see Santa and give the jolly old elf some cookies and a Christmas wish-list.”

An hour and another inch of snow later, they found parking. Once inside the mall, the congestion wasn’t any better. Sure, there was no snow, but the heat of the mall combined with the heat of the bodies in the mall made for tropical conditions. Mike was sweating his balls off, beads of it poured down his forehead and neck. Lexie was flushed, her ponytail dripping in her own perspiration. But little Brian was a smiling bundle of joy.

The boy was here to see Santa and tell the legend what he wanted for Christmas. He was a good boy all year, so no coal in his stocking. He gave zero fucks about the temperature. He cared even less about the line to see Santa, which curled through the mall and moved at a snail’s pace.

He stood there, holding a bag of snacks for Santa in one hand, and his mother’s hand in the other, being


With all the stress of the moment and location, Mike and Lexie had to admit their son was not a contribution to the trouble. The little things in life were working in their favor here. All of this made enduring the experience tolerable. As did Santa’s helpers.

Mike noticed the scantily clad beauties as soon as they rounded the bend. Santa was smack dab in the middle of a fake Christmas Village, but these ladies were shifting duties. And they looked familiar, as did the Santa. One blonde and one redhead. The sight of them made him forget about how uncomfortable he was standing in this line. Now the only thing uncomfortable was the unexplained boner Mike was popping in his jeans.

He put his arm around his wife. She reciprocated, dropped her hand and squeezed his ass. He never expected this from her in the mall, the sign she was horny. Maybe being drenched in sweat after being stuck in traffic during a whiteout of snow was a turn on. If it paid off, they’d have to do it again.

Another hour passed before they got near enough to the front of the line to fill out the paperwork for the pictures. They wouldn’t want anything more than the one complimentary shot, but there were still release forms and whatnot requiring signatures. It seemed like too much of a big to-do over something as simple as pictures with Santa.

“What’s up with all of this paperwork?” Mike asked the redheaded elf. Her name badge said ‘Aggie’.

“Legal mumbo jumbo. It’s the Twenty-First Century. Santa can’t afford any legal trouble, handsome.” She wiggled her eyebrows and shook her tits. Jingle bells hung off her tight sweater. They jingled and jangled as a result.

“Jesus, it’s like I’m taking a test. I’ve filled out auto loans and mortgages with less paperwork.”

“You can just flip through and sign at the ‘X’ on the bottom of each page if that will make it easier for you,” she suggested. He hesitated.

“But, what if we’re giving you permission to sell our child into slavery?” Aggie laughed out loud.

“With some parents, you’d think they wished for that. But no. It’s worse. You’re signing his soul away.” Mike shot Aggie an inquisitive eye. “Isn’t that what remote tribes of people think when you take their photograph, that you’re stealing their soul?”

“I forgot about- ” Mike started.

“Just do it, honey,” Lexie interjected. And Mike did, signing his name at the ‘X’ on a dozen more pages.

Fifteen minutes later Lexie handed little Brian off to Lily the Elf. A shit-eating grin covering the boy’s face with his eyes as wide open as they could go. A half dozen steps later, he found himself sitting on Santa’s lap.

“Hello Brian,” Santa said, following the boy’s name with a jolly roll of ho’s. “That’s a keen name!”

“This is for you and your helpers!” Brian handed Santa the bag of cookies.

“Oh isn’t this nice! Thank you very much, Brian. Lilly, could you take these and put them with our snacks for tonight?” The blonde Elf shimmied over to Santa and took the bag of goodies.

“I hope you like them!”

“What is your Christmas wish, young man?”

“My Christmas wish is for a puppy! I want a puppy for Christmas, Santa. I’ve been a good boy! My Christmas wish is a puppy! That’s it, nothing more!” Mike and Lexie heard their son. They looked at each other, sadness in their eyes.

“Well, that’s an easy one, Brian. It’s something Santa can handle. You keep being good until Christmas Eve.”

“I will, Santa. You know I will!”

“Okay, Brian. Look at the camera and say ‘Amen’ with Santa on three!” Lily the Elf said. “One… two… three… Amen!” Brian laughed as he repeated the words with Santa. Lilly snapped the photo and the flash lit up the Holiday set. The digital print captured the moment. Aggie handed it to Lexie. Brian took his father’s hand.

“I asked Santa for a puppy. Not a toy puppy but a real dog. Do you think he can swing it? He said he would! He said all Christmas wishes come true for good little boys, amen.” Brian eagerly spewed words out to his mother and father. They looked at Santa.

“I don’t know about that one, sport. We’ll see,” Mike replied.

“But Santa said my wish would come true if I was a good boy! And I’ve been a good boy, I’ve been the best boy, ever!” The tone of voice was downtrodden and dejected.

“Is there a problem with the boy getting a pet?” Santa asked.

Mike looked at Lexie.

“We live in a rental. The landlord has a strict rule. No pets,” Lexie told Santa. She held Santa’s gloved hand. He was strict about it. Not even a hamster in a ball or a goldfish in a bowl, ”I wish I could do something to change it for him.”

“Stranger things have happened. Amen.” Santa said, grasping Lexie’s hand with both of his.

“Yeah, whatever. Amen and all of that stuff. Merry Christmas, Santa.”

“Merry Christmas to all of you in the Lombardo family.”

Mike shook his head in denial. He hated disappointing Brian. Lexie hugged her husband and hung her head so Brian couldn’t see her face. Mike held her tight for another moment. Then, the three of them walked away from Santa and his helpers at the Great Ontario Mall.

Thomas R Clark is a musician, writer and podcast producer & engineer. His podcasts, including the popular Necrocasticon, can be heard on the Project Entertainment Network. He is the author of the novellas Bella’s Boys and Good Boy, published through Stitched Smile Publications. You can find Tom’s short story collection, A Book of Light & Shadow, on Amazon through his personal imprint, Nightswan Press. Tom lives in Central New York with his wife and a trio of Jack Russell terrier companions.