I got the hell out of there as soon as the screaming happened, of course. I was thoroughly creeped out myself, but I knew better than to stick around after someone died. Running always got me out of trouble, and it worked here, too.
The town quieted down after that. The whole month of November passed by in a flash. Frankly, I can hardly remember anything anyone did during that time. After that, people started putting up holiday decorations. I took a few of the ones I figured I could get to a fence in a different part of town, but some of them were plain out creepy.
Take the wreaths, for example. Nobody has a clue who put them up, but they're on everyone's door. Including mine. And every time you walk by, it bursts into flames. People have tried to move them, or look for an ignition line, but nobody can seem to find anything abnormal about it that would let it burst into flames. And even weirder, it never burns out. Some of the more religiously inclined members of our town have started worshiping them. They call it the Christmas Cult, and they dress up as Mariah Carey and sing "All I Want for Christmas Is You" around town. I try to avoid them.
On Christmas day, a present showed up at my door. I allowed myself a small smile. There's only one person who even knew where I lived, let alone get me a gift. Guin. I had given back her wallet by now, of course, saying that she must have dropped it that first time we ran into each other. She felt enormously grateful, and keeps finding time to meet up. For some reason, I agree. Life seems a little less grim around her.
I opened the box. Hah. Pepper spray. I had been joking to her earlier about how this was a dangerous part of town, and apparently she took that to heart. Well, I wonder what she would think of my gift.
I met her later at the tree lighting. She was wearing the sweater I gave her. It used to be my mothers.
She looked beautiful.
We sat under the starts, and kissed as the tree was lit. It was perfect.
And then it fell apart. I said something that crossed the line, she got mad and demanded an apology, my stupid pride wouldn't give it. She stormed away in huff, I ran down the stairs and out of the building.
Eventually, for some reason, I found myself at the laundromat.
"Don't think I've seen you before," said Debra.