Gremlins in our "Monsters" issue (Also: "Secret Santa" by Sarah Walker)

Thank your local gremlin for a free story out of WFQ's latest Monster-themed issue, and read for more details if you received a copy that our gremlins had a hand in (un)crafting.

Gremlins in our "Monsters" issue (Also: "Secret Santa" by Sarah Walker)
Photo: Amblin Entertainment / Warner Bros.

While I'm a big fan of Joe Dante's 1984 masterpiece Gremlins, I'm an even bigger fan of his 1990 follow-up Gremlins 2: The Next Batch. The sequel took the basic concept and expanded it into a glorious demonstration of the little monsters' cinematic potential.

Now, as much as I enjoy these films, I'm less of a fan when they pop up in our own work, which is the topic of this newsletter.

Last Friday, I was made aware of two problems that made it through our verification process and into print:

  • Our printed page numbers were not showing up on all the pages they should have been.
  • We did not print all of Sarah Walker's Secret Santa story!

Both of these issues have been addressed earlier this week. If you purchased a Kindle version, the updated version may already be on your device. (If not, delete the book and download it again.) If you purchased a physical version - congratulations, you now own a limited edition collector's edition!

I'm (mostly) joking on that latter point (hanging around gremlins tends to rub off on you). If you did purchase a physical copy before Tuesday, March 19th and would like a replacement, e-mail with a photo of the incomplete last page of Secret Santa and a copy your Amazon order receipt, and we'll get an updated version out to you free of charge.

If you don't want to jump through all of those hoops, but wonder what secret Santa was keeping, Sarah's generously agreed to let us print her story here, so that no one has to miss out. (And if you haven't purchased our Monsters issue yet, this gives you a hint of what you can expect - multiplied by 40 - like gremlins caught in a fire sprinkler!)

So, without further ado...

Secret Santa

By Sarah Walker

“Your snowman looks mentally deranged,” Grant shouted to Ramirez, who usually bagged groceries but was currently painting a decidedly demented-looking snowman on the store’s front window. Pale, shadowed faces pushed against the glass nearby, eyes black, desperate.

She couldn’t believe it. Only six a.m. and they were already lined up by the dozens despite the cold.

She hated Christmas. She played with her piercing.

‘Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer…’

“I love this song!” an overly cheerful voice exclaimed from the back of the store.

Of course he’d like it, Cat thought as she watched Jones glide by, bright Santa sweater grinning sinister at her as he passed.

She must’ve been making a face, because Ramirez whispered, “He isn’t normally like that. He usually is like you.”

Cat looked at him in surprise. “No way.”

Grant appeared from behind, shoving a tub of candy canes down on the checkout counter.

“Yeah, no bull, he’s into death metal. Outside work he’s all Slayer shirts.”

“Seriously?” Cat couldn’t believe it.

“Yeah. But this Christmas he…well…he just…started looking, and acting, like that.” He motioned towards the fastidious beige-slacked manager chatting happily with customers.



Five p.m. at last. Cat was ready to go, but she’d agreed to stay until the “Secret Santa” gift exchange party.

She never knew what to get, and dreaded what hers would get her, but she couldn’t refuse to participate. So here she was standing with socks wrapped crookedly in red and green, just like last year.

A hand tapped her shoulder.

She turned, finding Jones staring. He stood too close. His sweater looked even more garish, snowflakes, tinsel, and reindeer like Christmas-themed vomit erupting from Santa, who stared flat and black-eyed, like Jones.

“Let’s turn that frown upside down!” Jones proclaimed, shoving a package towards her. She smiled, gave him his gift, and then sheepishly opened hers.

It was a Christmas sweater.

The exact same one as the manager’s.

Over his shoulder she could see Grant and Ramirez laughing so hard they were crying.

She managed to reply, “…thank you…sir.”

He grinned. “Well, try it on!”

She tried to back out, but soon her coworkers joined the chorus.

Working to keep from grimacing, she pulled the sweater over her Bauhaus t-shirt. It felt heavy, too heavy…and damp?

It smelled like wet hair.

“Now you’ve caught the seasonal spirit!” the manager said, pleased.

Cat made herself smile, though she felt ill.


After the party and at home finally, she grabbed the edge of the sweater to take it off, done with Christmas (forever she hoped).

But it wouldn’t come off.

She tried again. It was stuck.

Confused, she pulled harder, yipping. It hurt! She lifted up the edge of the sweater. The yarn had grown into her like vines made of red and green thread. She could see it moving underneath her skin.

Somewhere “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” began playing.

Cat smiled, in a strange daze now.

She loved that song!

“Merry… Christmas,” she whispered.

Then she began to sing.

Thanks for your patience with us as we work our way through these kinks. To leave you with something to look forward to, I've received word from our readers and editors that our next issue - focusing on the Folk Horror theme - is coming along well and there's lots of great new original stories we'll be sharing with all of you.

So, stay tuned, as we'll be releasing more details on that issue in the next couple of weeks.

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