The following is the piece I submitted for Apex Publication’s A Merry Little Apex Christmas Flash Fiction Contest. Obviously, I didn’t win, but the winning story was quite enjoyable. You can find it here.
Pick Your Own Doom
Lily and Jackson pulled boxes of decorations out of their crinkly plastic department store bags. Jackson had just finished settling their Christmas tree in its stand. Lily had insisted on a real tree for their first Christmas together.
His efforts to re-root the thing had been accompanied by curses and shouts that drew sharp glances from Lily. His hands were badly scratched from the tree’s sharp needles.
As they opened the boxes, Jackson thought he heard a low chuckling.
‘Did you hear that?’ he asked.
Looking a bit ashen, Lily shook her head.
Shrugging it off, Jackson unwound a strand of lights. With a grimace at his already punished hands, he began to work the lights into the tree. Lily ducked in around him to hang ornaments.
Halfway up the tree, Jackson jumped back, cursing fiercely and clutching his hand.
‘Jackson, try to control yourself,’ Lily said disapprovingly.
Her complaints died when he held up his hand. A nasty gash was running with blood.
They heard the wry chuckle again, unmistakable this time.
A husky male voice bled out of the air around the tree. ‘You murder me, take me from my family, and bring me home like a trophy, but that’s not enough, is it? No, you have to humiliate my dying corpse with gaudy decorations. Despicable.’
Lily and Jackson clutched each other.
‘I will not stand for it!’
Screaming, they ran from the room. The haunting laughter of a bitter and dying spirit followed them.