The Red Lantern Fly

As I stood outside my apartment building, smoking a cigarette in routine fashion, the smoke coiled upward, like a twisted staircase, and disappeared into the gray New York sky. The familiar burn in my lungs grounded me, reminding me of the newfound peace sobriety had brought into my life. The rage, once as unstoppable as a freight train, had long vanished, leaving only echoes in the darkest recesses of my memory. Though my days were mostly serene now, there remained one thing that threatened to unleash the demon within me. One thing that could shake me to my core and make my blood boil: the accursed Red Lantern Flies. These spawns of Satan seemed to descend upon the city overnight, laying siege to the sidewalks, the parks, and any outdoor area where the sun cast its warm embrace. Their crimson, alien-like bodies swarmed and multiplied like an invasion force, desecrating everything they touched. As I took a drag from my cigarette, one of the vile creatures landed on the toe of my shoe, its feelers probing, searching for something – anything – to latch onto. With a guttural growl, I stomped my foot, extinguishing its life in an instant. But the satisfaction of one small victory was short-lived, as I knew the relentless swarm would soon return. My once blissful strolls under the sun’s gentle rays had transformed into a desperate, anxiety-inducing battle against these relentless pests. The war seemed hopeless, as every Red Lantern Fly I crushed gave birth to a dozen more, undeterred by their brethren’s fate. I exhaled, watching the smoke rise above the battlefield – the brick walls, once strong and proud, now defaced by layer upon layer of the unwanted intruders. I felt my anger building as the flies closed in, turning the once quiet moments of reflection into a dance of death. The Red Lantern Flies taunted me, inching ever closer to my feet, and daring me to strike. They knew I was losing this war, and they reveled in it. As my cigarette burned down to its filter, I retreated back inside my fortress, sealing myself off from the relentless horde. With the windows closed and the AC unit roaring to life, I prayed for the day these malevolent creatures would be vanquished, for the day I could reclaim my simple pleasures in the sun.

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