A Candle on My Table

A candle was all that was between me and this—well—this feeling that was all around me. The power had gone out in this isolated hunting cabin, the place I had sought refuge when an awesome and freakish storm of lightning, rain, and ferocious wind swept through the woods and mountains like a tidal wave ravaging a coastline. It lasted only thirty or forty minutes, but it was terrifying—then it was gone.

As the storm passed, all was quiet, motionless, dark around me. But a feeling remained, like someone spying on you, like someone lurking behind a door that you did not want to open.

I watched the flame on my candle as it shimmied in the blackness.  Only a glow, a small wavering light in an otherwise shadowless, impenetrable dark.  It burned so unafraid, yet I could see that it was slowly dissolving, disappearing with each flicker of brightness.  Would it last long enough to protect me?

I could feel something strange in the room.  It was a heavy, sullen, morbid smell, a slow, cautious movement that seemed to make the flame flicker.  There was a sound, too, but maybe it was just the wind outside, just the trees rustling as they shook and shifted in abeyance to the wind, but I could not be sure.

The door had opened a tiny bit, then slammed shut.  I cringed at the sound.  It was as if someone, or something, had stepped inside.  Were those footsteps dragging or claws that scraped across the bare wooden floor?  A window shutter flapped against the side of the house, knocking, banging.  A clap of thunder sounded, then a swirling gust of wind swept through the cabin like a tiny twister disrupting things that got in its way.

The flame of the candle stretched out to the side from the breeze, almost daring to give up its hold on the wick.  It wavered in the gust before it snapped back in place.  A chill ran down my spine.

The candle burned lower.  The flame began to sputter as it tried to stay lit.  I could feel the darkness closing in on me.  I could hear a sound getting closer, scraping.  The candle wick glowed, then darkened.

I was alone.  I was without light.  I held my breath.  I was terrified but could not move or scream.  As I succumbed to the fright, I collapsed on the floor like a building that had been demolished.  My head hit the wooden floor—hard.  I did not move.  Blood pooled all around me.

Then my dog took the last few steps before reaching me.  He was dragging a soaked burlap bag of pots and pans he had found somewhere outside.  He dragged them next to me, then laid down alongside me where he stayed until eventually I was found.

But I was dead.