Happy New Year
It's 4 AM when she gets home. This is the problem with being the perennial designated driver, is that nobody wants to stop partying until she's well past exhausted, and she's way too concerned about the rules to let any of her friends sleep in a pool of champagne and vomit on somebody else's kitchen floor.

The whole apartment is pitch black and cold when Verna arrives, but she can hear the heater humming on full blast. Odd, that. She tries to turn on the lights, but they're malfunctioning. And that's when the creeping sense that something is truly wrong begins to filter in.

She makes her way to the kitchen in the dark, feeling for walls, and tries that light. No success. But there is a smell in there, like something rotting, that both turns the stomach and makes her hungry. Hard to explain, that.

Her phone's in her purse, so she pulls that out and goes for the flashlight app that comes in so handy, and the first thing she notices is that her sugar jar is broken. Looking around, nothing else seems the matter, except than when she steps forward, it is to a scraping, crunching noise. She's stepped on the remains of her light fixture and the bulb that was inside it. All right, now it's panic time. Someone has broken into her apartment and smashed the lights.

The first thing she grabs is a long, evil-looking, serrated bread knife with a forked tip. Everything else in her knife holder just doesn't have that 'wow' factor. The second thing she does is make a beeline for the door, and she holds that knife up all the way out to her car.

Dad's going to be pissed. But there's nothing she can do about that. On the phone with him, she sounds weak, scared, childlike. She calls him 'daddy' and makes her voice shake. So of course he's there in twenty minutes, despite having to drag himself awake.

On their way through the apartment, looking for monsters under the bed, he goes first and she won't let go of that bread knife for anything. They find no monsters. It's just that every single piece of glass in her entire apartment has been smashed.

In the ruin of her bedroom, she discovers another nasty smell: her broken perfume bottles, their contents combining in ways that flood the apartment with eau de fashion mag. They were thorough, whoever they were. On her dresser sits a memory from long ago, when Verna wanted nothing else than to wear pretty dresses and a tiara and pink. It's a lacquered wooden music box with a velvet lining and places to put rings and other valuables. When she opens it, the light from her flashlight comes sparkling back to her face in a thousand facets. Her jewelry isn't missing. The music plays, and a pair of dancers spins slowly in the middle, on a carpet of broken mirror.

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