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Short Stories 365:347

Back when I was on my own, I'd throw a party I called "Christmas for Losers." It was a neat idea, and led to creating other gatherings for those of us who had nowhere else go to. It also led to the worst freaking New Year's party ever, where I had bought some "sparkling non-alcoholic apple cider" and we were all ready at the countdown and we toasted and swallowed and...

So, hey, have you ever rung in the New Year by choking, gagging, throwing up into your mouth a little, or surrounded by people who are doing the same and/or yelling, "Vile!" at the top of their lungs?

Turns out "sparkling non-alcoholic apple cider" has a best-before date.

"In the City of Warm Red Light," by Upon a Midnight Clear, this wonderful, cynical, and hysterical story from Marshall Moore immediately put me back in the memory of those days of randomly gathered people with nothing else to do trying to make it through yet another holiday.

That's exactly what this story is, and it goes deliciously over the top without seeming to be completely impossible. Characters who are gathered through tangential connections with one woman who the narrator knows are brought together for a holiday dinner, and - predictably - things start to go wrong from almost the start. But "going wrong" is one thing, and "self-immolation" is another.

I laughed so hard reading this (even when I maybe shouldn't have, but that's the cynical part I was talking about that Moore did so perfectly), and it really put a grin on my face.