A big bang and an earth-shaking crash came from the kitchen. Nick, clinging to a half-unraveled string of twinkling lights, raised an eyebrow, “Guess we have a poltergeist who doesn´t like our taste in ornaments, huh?” April laughed as she approached the kitchen, convinced that the sound was the cat from next door sneaking in again. 

 

The night had begun innocently enough, surrounded by old decorations and tangled in tinsel; four friends could be found laughing. The air was thick with the scent of gingerbread and hot chocolate. In the middle of the hanging of ornaments, April took up the role of the unofficial leader, directing the hanging of mistletoe and the strategic placements of stockings. Elsa, the resident’s jokester, couldn´t resist the opportunity to turn every decoration into a punchline. While Nick and Caiti, ever the sensible duo, diligently wrapped garlands and kept the holiday chaos in check.  

 

In the kitchen, however, there was no cat to be seen. Only shards of broken plates and overturned chairs scattered around the floor. “Guys, you need to see this,” The others joined April by the kitchen entrance, and the four girls looked confused at the mess in front of them. The silence hung in the air, except for the distant ticking of the old clock over the fireplace. The girls looked at each other, wondering if it was the neighbor’s cat or something else. “I think the cat is having a bad day,” Elsa muttered as they ventured into the corridor. The sound of glass breaking and hitting the floor, lured them in the direction of Elsa and April’s bedroom.  

 

The room was crimson red. Bloodstains painted the walls, forming patterns of a macabre dance. Without a word, the girls slowly backed out of the room. Fear clung to them, and their laughter, now just a distant memory, could be heard echoing through the desolated halls. Caiti rushed to the front door, only to find it locked. Despite her repeated attempts to unlock it, the door remained sealed, like every window and back entrance in the house. 

Their safe home had turned into a prison, where the walls conspired against their escape. The friends huddled together, convinced that an intruder had broken into their home. Nick clutched a makeshift weapon, a sparkly nutcracker. She gave it some practice swings “This may be handy,” she said while they steeled themselves to confront the banging noises that echoed through the corridor.  

 

They approached Nick and Caiti´s bedroom. The once familiar room was also like the other one, drenched in blood. Their adrenaline pumped, and anger and panic flushed over them. They decided to split into pairs to cover more of the house faster. Elsa and Caiti investigated the bathroom and washroom, only to find more broken glass and furniture scattered around. Searching through the basement didn´t solve anything either.  

Elsa and Caiti started to believe that someone was pranking them. “There´s no one here,” Nick said. She and April came around the corner from the basement. The lights started flickering. Paralyzed, they watched the darkness swallow the house, leaving only the colored lights from the living room. 

 

The Christmas decorations looked uncanny in the dark, Casting long shadows in the faded light. Nick, holding on to the Nutcracker, led the other girls as they began navigating their way toward the light. The corridor was suddenly longer, and the floor felt like a treadmill. After what felt like hours, they reached the living room door. The air had gone cold, and the house was quiet. The only sound was the continued ticking of the old clock. The colorful Christmas lights made every piece of furniture distorted and faded. The lights were twisted and tangled around something big in the middle of the room. As they approached, the vivid lights revealed four lifeless bodies. The old clock started to ring, and a collective panic struck the girls as they looked closer at the bodies, realizing the truth. The dead bodies, tangled in the colorful lights, were their own.  

 

A big bang and an earth-shaking crash came from the kitchen. Nick, clinging to a half-unraveled string of twinkling lights, raised an eyebrow, “Guess we have a poltergeist who doesn´t like our taste in ornaments, huh?” April laughed as she approached the kitchen, convinced that the sound was the cat from next door sneaking in again. 

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