Skullcrack City by Jeremy Robert Johnson

S.P. Doyle is a banker, and he’s up to some shenanigans when we first meet him. That much should be expected of anyone disreputable enough to become a banker, especially an ex-junkie. An unexpected promotion provides Doyle with an opportunity to set off on a quixotic mission to do some good with his improved access, seeing himself as a hero who can take down the corrupt institution from the inside.
To accomplish his lofty goal, Doyle will need some chemical assistance. Meth, it’s said, is one hell of a drug, but Hex makes meth look positively prosaic by comparison. As Doyle’s consumption becomes increasingly massive, the threads of the conspiracy he believes he’s unraveling within the bank’s records grow more convoluted and seemingly absurd. With Deckard, his pet turtle, as the only voice of reason in Doyle’s life, nothing is stopping the erratic and manic banker from slipping off the rails.
Unfortunately for Doyle, the conspiracy he’s stumbled across is far more sinister and far-reaching than even his feverish, drug-addled imagination could conceive.
Before long, Doyle’s swept up in a dizzying world of occult forces, reality-bending drugs, insane body modifications, corporate assassins, near-immortal doctors performing unspeakable experiments, and giant gorilla-like monstrosities–referred to as Skullcrackers–who speak with the voices of the dead. What possible chance could Doyle and a small band of resistance fighters have when struggling against such insurmountable odds, at least without making sacrifices that test the limits of what it means to be human?
Jeremy Robert Johnson has created a lunatic narrative that defies genre, incorporating elements of horror, science fiction, bizarro, and crime fiction into a captivating melange that’s sure to make any reader feel like they might be on the same drugs as the unlikely hero. The most amazing accomplishment of Johnson’s Skullcrack City is that the diverse threads of this story remain straight and easy to follow, a testament to the author’s extreme skill and attention to detail.

Santa’s Package by Nikki Noir & S. C. Mendes

I didn’t know Santaphilia was a thing until reading this story from Nikki Noir and S. C. Mendes. I can’t say I was surprised, just that it never crossed my mind to imagine there might actually be an official term applied to individuals with a Santa fetish. As a bearded man named Nikolas–who also happens to celebrate a December birthday–it almost seems disappointing that I’ve missed out on an opportunity to capitalize on this fetish existing.
There’s so much more to this story than just Amber’s frustrated attempts to find a man who is willing to fulfill her fantasy of making love to the Jolly Old Elf himself, though that does set the stage quite nicely.
Rooted in a possible hallucinatory experience when she was 12-years-old, Amber’s fixation on Santa begins at the same point when her family life falls apart. Saint Nick sits her down and tells her she’s special, warning her that life is about to become more challenging and assuring her that she’s strong enough to make it through everything. Ten years later, is it finally time for Santa to return?
At its core, Santa’s Package is a tale that delves into the potential ambiguity of that point where mental illness and legitimate visitation might coexist. How easily can our perceptions and attitudes be manipulated? Are there cases where someone seemingly insane is actually the victim of experiments and sinister machinations?
Santa’s Package may not answer these questions for you, but it’ll certainly raise new questions to consider and explore, and isn’t that what the best literature is meant to do? There’s a whole lot of potential inquiry crammed into this relatively small package, but if you’ve had the pleasure of discovering this one under your tree, you should certainly enjoy it.

Santa’s Package was released through http://www.godless.com as part of the AntiChristmas event for December of 2021. You can obtain a copy for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the Godless app for your mobile device. The link is below:

https://godless.com/products/santas-package-by-nikki-noir-s-c-mendes