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Candles

An eleven year old would've never imagined such a sight...

Mrs. Smith once again rushed upstairs after work with heavy steps and shut her bedroom room door behind her. After his mom’s strange entrance, Joan, her eleven year old son tried to follow his mother into the room. His delicate fingers reached out to the doorknob and just like the last two days, he found that the room was locked. Instead of turning away from it like the last two times, Joan decided to stand there, holding his breath and keeping his body in place making sure his mom is not distracted from what seemed to sound like a prayer.

Nearly six minutes passed and Joan began to hear a phrase that he had never heard before, repeatedly, in a rhythmic way getting louder by the second. It was his mother. His hearing was numbed by the chant and got desensitized to it. It was almost as if the hymn had always been there. As the aggressiveness in his mothers’ voice took a rise, the corridor lights started to flicker. The flickering sound of the fluorescent light sounded much like his heartbeat. He could hear his pulse loud in his right ear and felt goose bumps climbing up his legs. This wasn't the adrenaline he felt when he watched the movie, Sharks, with his older cousin, Josh. This was different. He needed to get away. Joan needed to get away but he also wanted to find out what had taken over his mother. He reached out to the doorknob one more time, once again reminding himself that it was locked. As he brought back his arm closer to himself, he noted the sweat his palms had left on the knob, the moistness causing it to become wet and slippery.

The chills wrapped around his neck and he rushed downstairs skipping one and even two steps at a time. Making his way to the garage for a ladder, he realized he had not heard from his two year old brother for an hour now. “Oh...shoot”, he whispered to himself, throwing his palm on his forehead. ”No, No, NO!” he tried to convince himself what he was thinking cannot be true. Joan wiped off the sweat from his forehead and carried a ladder to his mom’s window. He threw it against the wall so it lined up exactly with her window frame. He heard what sounded like whimpering. It was him. It was Joan’s two year old brother. He knew it. He persuaded himself to stop using his imagination and focus onto making his ladder stable enough for him to climb. Height, Joan’s biggest fear. “It has to be done, Joan”, he told himself. “Do it for your brother.” He shut his eyes and clenched his fists before lifting his right foot. With his eyes still shut he reached out to grip either sides of the ladder and exhaled deeply.

As he got closer to the window, he began to feel strange warmth. Without giving it too much thought, he continued to climb, not paying too much attention to his shaky legs. With his final step, he placed his nose on the window glass.

“ALEX!!” he cried, interrupting his mother’s chant. He noticed the burning white wax candles and twine used to tie his brother. This looked familiar. He recognized this practice from a black magic book he came across in the school library two years ago.

Mrs. Smith turned around. “You… Welcome”, she greeted, reaching out to one of the candles, taking no notice of the hot wax dripping on the back of her hand. She pulled out a photo of Joan from a black bag and lit it on fire. Joan, still shaking on his ladder began to feel burns in his back. He let go of the sides of the ladder and fell on his back. The fall on top of the moist grass from the storm earlier this morning made it harder for the neighbors to take notice.

The next morning, Mr. Patterson, the next door neighbor horrifyingly observed Joan’s body lying in the front lawn of the Smith household. He banged on the door in hope for a family member but nobody answered. He realized the door was left unlocked and upon his entrance, he observed the absence of the Smiths and their belongings. Except, there was something unusual. There were several burnt out candles lying in the middle of the room. Darkness occupied all corners of the residence.

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