By Dean Moses

Shelly Lancaster hadn’t noticed when it happened, only that it had happened. Thousands of pulsating lights were draped from and wrapped about the apartment building’s otherwise drab exterior: a rainbow phantasmagoria that infiltrates the body and warms the heart with season’s cheer. She blew a vape of condensation and observed it as the cloud obscured all those pretty lights. Somebody had beaten her to the act, and she was thankful they had. Each blinking bulb brought back that magical childhood feeling. She melted into nostalgia’s itch and entered the building.

***

The glow from outside penetrated the window and clothed the studio apartment in a burgundy hue. It gave the red-light district a new connotation. Shelly soaked in the radiance, beholden by this one semblance of mirth.

“You’ve been a bad girl.”

The beast emerged from the room’s claret mist—a rapid blur with a string of Christmas lights trailing behind its form like prison chains. Shelly cried out for aid, but it was already too late—that thing was upon her, its horrid features glistening in the fairy lights’ warm radiance.

“All those pretty lights!” she screamed as her last holiday season faded from view.

***

Two detectives gazed upon the apartment building, examining its chipped brick and mortar. One of them sucked on a cigarette.

“This place could do with a little cheer, it’s the holidays for God’s sake.”

“The deceased had told a neighbor that she wanted to cover the whole thing in fairy lights, poor thing never got a chance.”

The detective stomped out the cigarette butt; sparks erupted.

“I hear she’s a real mess.”

“Sure is. Slit her wrists and hanged herself with a spool of fairy lights—probably the same ones she was gonna decorate this shit hole with.”

“Real shame indeed.”

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