Flash Fiction Challenge: Maureen the Christmas Moose

peeping moose maine 1997That’s Maureen peeking from between the trees there. She’s a little bit of a Christmas cookie fiend.

Every Christmas, Maureen follows old Santa on his route, and if he doesn’t eat all the cookies left behind for him, Maureen comes in and cleans up any remainders.

She always figured there was no harm in it and she was sure the old elf knew anyway. He always seemed to leave one or two cookies untouched.

One year, as Maureen was following along well behind the sleigh, she noticed Santa’s sack had developed a tear and some of the toys were falling out. Oh no! Santa didn’t seem to notice. Some of the children might not get their presents!

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms.

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14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Maureen the Christmas Moose”

  1. *Krampus*

    “Is…is that…a moose?” Davey heaved out between gulps of air. He and his friend, Eric, dashed through the woods, twisting and turning to avoid the maze-like growth of trunks.

    “Shut-up and keep running!”

    Chains clattering and a discordant bell screeching made Davey peek over his shoulder. A dark-furred creature with sharp black horns and serpent tongue strode after them, carrying a squirming black bag over its shoulder. Davey moaned as the thing leered at him, fangs glistening from the light reflected off the snow.

    “Over there!” Eric shouted, pointing at a small cabin in the middle of a clearing. Both boys forced failing legs to hurry toward the shelter. They burst through the door, locked it behind them, and huddled beneath the window.

    “I told you you shouldn’t have taken that present from the sleigh,” Davey whined.

    “You grabbed one too!”

    Hooves clomping on the wooden stoop out front silenced them. A booming knock rattled the whole house, and the kids wrapped their arms around each other, cowering. “Ha! Ha! Ha!,” came the cackling voice of the monster through the thin barrier. “Santa rewards the nice, whilst I receive those filled with vice! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

    Silence descended like a shroud. The boys waited for a few minutes, before Eric dared to glance out the window. “He’s gone!”

    They grinned in relief, until Davey noticed the fireplace. “Oh, sh-”

    Clawed hands grabbed them, and stuffed them, screaming, in the sack.

    The stolen presents fell, opening to reveal lumps of coal.

    Word Count: 250

  2. Toys are falling.
    One—then two.
    Oh what’s a Christmas
    Moose to do?

    She snorts, bellows,
    Calls, and yells—
    But no-one hears
    Above the bells
    On Santa’s sleigh
    High in the sky.
    What can she do?
    She heaves a sigh.

    She doesn’t have
    A nose so bright,
    To shine ahead,
    And light the night.
    But she is magic.
    She can fly.
    She leaps and bounds
    Into the sky.

    She calls her friends—
    They’re magic, too!
    With all his crew;
    Fairies, dragons,
    Birds on wing—
    They work together
    As they sing.

    They catch the toys,
    When they fall—
    Each bike, each trike,
    Each rubber ball.
    Video consoles,
    Smartphones, trains—
    Until one single
    Toy remains.

    A kit with needles,
    Floss, and thread—
    They see it falling
    Straight ahead.
    They grab the kit,
    And fly fast—fast—
    They catch the sleigh
    At last, at last!

    To a helper elf,
    They toss the kit,
    He threads a needle,
    Doesn’t quit,
    Until the sack is
    Whole again. . . .
    He turns about,
    And pulls a rein.

    The sled slows down.
    They load it up—
    Each laptop, book,
    Each baby cup.
    ‘Til everything is
    As at first,
    Before the sack
    Began to burst.

    Santa, elf,
    And reindeer fleet,
    Smile and nod,
    With each hoof-beat.
    Then Santa shouts so
    All can hear
    “Merry Christmas, my friends,
    I’ll see you next year.”

    Christmas Moose
    And friends now share
    Santa’s cookies
    In the air.
    They’ll meet next Christmas,
    At the Pole—
    Just in case,
    There’s another hole.

  3. Maureen was, of course, no ordinary moose. His mother, seeing that her son had one red eye and one green one gave him a girl’s name hoping it would toughen him against the inevitable bullying. It didn’t really help.

    Being able to fly every Christmas Eve was a surprise to Maureen’s mother, as was his taste for cookies. Santa suspected it came from some left-over magic stardust in the sleigh’s wake, though he never did figure out why it only affected Maureen. Maybe it was because this was Maureen’s birthday, maybe compensation for the eye colour.

    By age twelve Maureen had developed a spectacular rack that spread as wide as Santa’s sleigh. However the extra weight never hindered his flying ability.

    That year Maureen watched a small toy train slip from the bottom of Santa’s sleigh and begin to fall earthward. He tried to bellow at Santa to warn him but no sound escaped his throat. What could he do?

    Where he got that burst of speed he’ll never know but he dove so fast he caught that toy between his antlers. Then he sped into the trail of the sleigh and retrieved the other toys as they slipped from Santa’s bag.

    When Santa landed at his next stop and saw what Maureen had done he praised him saying “Maureen with your rack so wide – you have saved my ride tonight”

    Now Maureen rides as Santa’s caboose every year and Santa makes sure he saves some extra cookies for him.

  4. Title: “Cookie Moose-ter”

    “Sit down my children and gather around. I need to tell you a story of Christmas’ past. Some say it is just a legend, but you can judge for yourself. There is special magic that happens just on Christmas Eve.

    Many years ago, Christmas morning joy had been threatened. When Santa assembled the reindeer that Christmas Eve, all the reindeer including Rudolph, had the dreaded ‘Reindeer Flu.’ The story that’s been passed down is that a moose named Mo the monster pulled the sleigh that year all by himself. When Santa’s sleigh returned early Christmas morning, the reindeer changed his name to Maurice because he was nice.

    There have been other close calls to no presents on Christmas morning. This one is about Maureen the Christmas Moose. They say that Maureen was Maurice’s joyous offspring. She inherited the magic of being able to fly…but only on Christmas Eve, and followed Santa every year. They say it was to eat some left behind Christmas cookies.

    Well this one year there was a mighty storm. Santa’s grand bag containing all those presents ripped, and children’s presents were falling out.

    Did you ever not get Christmas presents?”

    “No,” responded the children.

    “That’s right! Legend has it that Maureen saw what was happening and quickly dove down and hooked a large burlap sack with her large antlers, and collected all those falling presents. Do you know what Santa did for Maureen?”

    “No what?”

    “He went on a diet that night.”

  5. Maureen the moose had been following Santa for years, eating leftover cookies at the houses he visited on Christmas Eve.

    But this year, as she ran through the woods below his sleigh, she paused at the sight of presents in the snow.

    Santa’s bag has a hole.

    Maureen tried to gather the presents, but only a few fit in her mouth. She saw a squirrel watching her from a tree.

    “Help me?” she asked.

    The squirrel disappeared into his hole.

    “Hibernator,” Maureen mumbled.

    A crow swooped down.

    “Help me?” she asked.

    The crow cocked his head. “Nice, for me.”

    “These are from Santa. How dare you!” she snorted.

    The crow backed away, flapping his wings.

    Maureen stood over the presents, wondering how she was going to get her cookies.

    The crow returned with friends.

    A murder of crows. She shivered.

    The birds landed on branches above her, eyeing the presents she was guarding.

    The cawing began as they descended.

    She bellowed, dropping to the ground and covering her eyes.

    The sound of a whip reverberated through the cawing. Santa had returned and was driving off the crows as his reindeer surrounded her protectively.

    “I knew I could count on you,” Santa said. He tapped his bag. “This hole appears to have been made by a beak. Someone must have gotten into the workshop through a window.”

    The moose gasped. “You mean, this was a set-up?”

    “I think so,” Santa replied. “But you had my back, so their plot was foiled.”

  6. “Oh, no!” Maureen said to herself. “Santa needs those presents!” She began scooping them up with her antlers. But she knew that wouldn’t work for long – she could only carry so many, and the rip was widening.

    Moose look ungainly, but they can run pretty fast. Maureen laid the presents she had already collected in a protected place, and raced ahead of the sleigh. She knew she would have to out herself to Santa, but it was okay. The subterfuge had begun to weigh on her. It would be a relief to know that he knew.

    Santa landed right on schedule. “Hello, Maureen,” he said. “What’s all this?”

    “Your bag has a rip,” she said. She wiggled her ears nervously and said, “I spotted it when I was following you.”

    The jolly old elf’s eyes widened. But before he could say anything else, one of his elf helpers shouted, “On it, Santa!” and swarmed over the top of the sack, sewing kit in hand.

    Two more began backtracking. “Excuse me,” Maureen said politely, and loped off after them, shouting. “I got most of them. I’ll show you!”

    Upon their return, Santa gave her an enormous box. “Thanks, Maureen!” he boomed. “You’ve saved Christmas!”

    Inside were enough cookies to see her through to next Christmas.

    “You knew all along, didn’t you?” She looked sidelong at him.

    “Of course,” he replied. “But I wanted you to tell me. Merry Christmas, Maureen.”

    “Merry Christmas, Santa,” she replied, her mouth full of cookies.

  7. Maureen thought to herself, “This is my chance! I’ll catch all those presents and then I can resell them on eBay. Then I can buy all the cookies I’d ever want and not have to rely on that fat bastard’s cast offs!”

    A garishly-colored gift package landed in the snow in front of her. Maureen quickly walked over and pulled the wrapping off, revealing the slick green box of an X-Box One.

    Getting out her iPhone, Maureen said “Siri, check X-Box One on eBay.” The phone obediently replied “Looking…” and soon listings were scrolling across the screen. Dollar signs lit up Maureen’s eyes like sugar plums in small children’s heads.

    Maureen leaned against a tree as she finished posting her last listing. “These are set for the day after Christmas. When I get all that lovely Paypal money, I’ll email Keebler and have them deliver that load of Fudge Stripes.

    Maureen was drooling at the thought of all the Elvish goodness. She was so pre-occupied, she didn’t notice the bright orange jackets of the hunter who had quietly come up behind her. It wasn’t until the rifle bolt clacked into place that Maureen turned, and then it was far too late.

    The next thing she knew, Maureen was lying on the ground writhing in pain.
    “Mother of Mercy!” Maureen moaned. “Is this the end of little Rico?” A second shot silenced her.

    And Santa flew on into the night, never realizing the horrors that gift-giving can cause to cookie-addicted mooses.

  8. Maureen was a moose. She was small for a moose, half the size of her siblings. Because of this, she rarely was included in any of the moose games that were traditionally held on the first day of winter.

    She tried to befriend the reindeer, but she was considerably larger than they were, so she didn’t seem to fit in there, either. Too big for one group, too small for the other, she wandered, looking for the delectable willow shoots that she loved.

    At Christmas, she would often see Santa making his rounds. She smiled, because she knew that it was impossible for humans to see him. She felt special because she could see him so clearly.

    One chilly December, Maureen made her way to the place where Santa’s journey always began, only to find a field full of bickering reindeer.

    It seemed that the economy was bad at the North Pole just as it was everywhere else; the reindeer were striking for increased rations, but Santa simply couldn’t give them a raise.

    Maureen knew that if Santa sprinkled his magic dust on her, she could fly just like the reindeer and could pull the sleigh alone, but she didn’t want to take their jobs.
    Instead, she led the reindeer out to where she foraged and taught them how to find the tender willow shoots.

    They were happy, and invited her to lead the team. It was a spectacular Christmas, when eight reindeer led by a moose pulled Santa’s sleigh.

  9. Maureen was sleeping off a feast of fermented elderberries when the jingling sound scrambled her awake. Would she finally fly with the big red man? Maybe a reindeer would tire. And he’d see her graceful stride and say, “I need you!”

    But the team looked strong as they swooped into the night. Maureen cantered after them. She nibbled the sweet crumbles he tossed after each stop, obviously meant to keep her fueled, but soon she started losing hope. And then…something plopped into the snow. Her spindly legs scrabbled to a stop. The shiny thing was no crumble. As she looked up, another shiny thing plonked her on the head.

    The toys were falling! Blitzen, the gossip, once said they went down the chimneys for the children. Not into the snow. Maureen bellowed, but the jingling was too loud. She nosed the toys together as she trundled along, trying to catch him.

    Finally, the sleigh landed. Maureen yelped with her remaining might.

    “Who’s out there?”

    She forced her head toward the man. Nothing came out but a whinny.

    “Moose! Are you stealing my toys?”

    “Of course she is,” Blitzen snorted. “She’s a double agent.”

    What the…

    “I saw her with Boris and Natasha!” Donner said.

    “I saw her plotting against the flying squirrel!” Comet barked.

    “Get her!”

    Led by Rudolph’s beacon, the reindeer launched toward her. Maureen sprinted into the woods. When the hoofbeats stopped, she dropped into the snow to catch her breath. That’s it, she thought. No more elderberries.

  10. Maureen sat in her woodland lean-to, the light from her campfire glowing orange upon her face. Her belly was full with holiday treats. A satisfied smile was still evident despite digging between her teeth with a toothpick she’d whittled from a branch.

    What a Christmas it had been. Indeed, no one would soon forget the image of one single moose pulling Santa’s sleigh. Maureen had fantasized about doing that since childhood. What ungulate didn’t? She let her mind wander, reminiscing about her best Christmas ever.

    As she did every winter, Maureen appeared at Santa’s workshop sniffing for leftover cookies. Santa should have already been on his way to deliver toys to eager children around the world. But there he was, his head in his hands, lamenting the fact that his reindeer had suddenly and mysteriously gone missing. Christmas would be lost!

    “I can try to pull your sleigh,” Maureen had meekly suggested.

    Santa perked up. “You think you can? I mean…it normally takes a team of nine to pull it fully loaded.”

    Maureen’s chest puffed out with pride. “But I am a moose, Santa! I’m much larger and stronger than a reindeer.”

    A hefty sigh escaped Santa as he hoisted himself up from his bench. He nodded with resolve. “Let’s give it a try.” After fastening the harnesses to her, Santa took his place in the sleigh. “Go, Maureen, go!”

    And the rest would be history. Maureen would be known as the moose who saved Christmas.

    Now, with a big grin, she rubbed her full belly, then abruptly burped. “Damn, who knew venison would me gas?”

  11. “Quick, Rudolph, channel three!” her best friend Sandy texed, breathlessly. “Contest canceled.”

    Yeah! So what! It’s September,” Maureen shouted throwing her phone across the room. “His made-for-TV, rags-to-riches story is told a hundred million times between now and Christmas. And that song! God it makes me sick. How famous can one snot-nosed reindeer get?”

    “We were sweethearts that foggy Christmas Eve. Do you remember? NOOOO! I stood with your infatuated fans watching elves hitch you to that Jolly Old Geezer’s sleigh. I froze my tail off waiting for liftoff. Could you smile or wave? NOOOO… Mr. Nose High in the Air, Too Famous to Care,”

    “GOOD!” she texed back. Meanwhile yelling, “I can’t stand YOUR going to Santa’s Christmas Past Celebration with anyone but me. We were sweethearts, the Romeo and Juliet of the forest. We were in love.”

    “I hate this time of year. I hate you Rudolph and I hate that I still love you. I love you, my Christmas deer.” She gritted her teeth, “I’ve got four months of deep dark depression to get through.”

    Determined to be stronger than her tears and breaking heart and not pull others into her hellhole, she slipped into her Oscar-winning happy moose role.

    Seven days before Santa’s Christmas Past party her doorbell sounded.

    “Roses for Melissa.” Rudolph said from behind the bouquet, “Be my date?”

    As Melissa fell into his arms Rudolph whispered, “Maureen, my Christmas moose, I love you forever.”

    Her heart sang. “I love you forever, too.”

  12. With a flick of her velvety head, Maureen caught the first tumbling present on the tips of her antlers and cutting a jig of fancy footwork, she kicked the next one into the sleigh. “Whoa, Santa!” she shouted before realising the futility of it. Why couldn’t he learn Animalingo?

    Sighing, she surveyed the forest so drenched in snow, sparkling beneath the starry night. Such a wondrous sight! But this is no time for romanticism – Christmas needs me!

    Puckering her lips, the moose blew. A teeny squeak escaped, so she tried again. This time a shrill whistle shattered the still. Whiskers poked out from the undergrowth and above them a stream of red swept through the air. Lastly, out stepped Rudolph.

    “Aren’t you meant to be pulling the sleigh?” asked Maureen.

    “Noz, I az a scold. You shvistled?”

    Maureen nodded. “The gifts!”

    “We can help,” chorused the bunnies. Plunging through the snow, they gathered the brightly coloured boxes while the robins scooped up others by their ribbons.

    “Fanta!” Rudolph grunted.

    “Ho! Ho! Ho!” boomed the man as the sleigh swished to a halt. “I told you to stay home with some honey and lemon. Not that you understand…”

    “Zat’s what you fink. Your shack has sprung a leak!”

    On cue the robins squawked until Santa spotted the rip. “Dear birds and bunnies, I think you just saved Christmas,” he exclaimed.

    Two friends rolled their eyes to the sky, knowing full well the identities of the very wisest creatures in The Grotto.

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