Excerpt from “Ghost Light”

When she finally reached the front walk that led to the back entrance of the Colmann house (the “front” entrance was no longer used since the front of the house was actually facing a line of trees that were planted nearly a century ago by one of Ellen Colmann’s relatives who had owned the house before her) she stopped. An almost hidden set of stone steps was just visible beneath the snow. As many times as Lucia had walked up this road she had never noticed the steps before. For some moments she stood, transfixed, staring at those steps. Most of them were cracked and crumbling, and at the very top the steps disappeared into the snow. Suddenly Lucia felt as if she had, at all costs, to reach the house and find Ms. Colmann. She began heading toward the back door where her brother and she had entered just a few days before. She walked past a series of potted plants that were lined up across the length of the back porch. The plants were all dead and the dirt looked old and desolate. Huge icicles hung from the roof.
Lucia knocked on the door. She stood there, dazed and not really sure what she was doing. It was as if she were a marionette being controlled by someone, or something else. She knocked at the door once again, but harder this time, but still no answer.
Lucia placed her nose up to the door’s window and holding her hands cupped around her eyes, tried to peer in. The house was still. She walked over to the kitchen window, but that was too high for her to see into. So she walked over to the potted plants and picked two up. Carrying them over to the kitchen window, she turned them over, and stood with one foot on top of each pot. This allowed her to see through the window with relative ease, if a bit unsteadily.
What she saw took her breath away. Standing in the kitchen, looking right at her was a middle-aged man dressed in a blue shirt and light brown suspenders. The shirt looked much too big for him and his pants were dirty. His face was pock marked and incredibly sad. There was something about his clothes that didn’t look quite right to her. There was something old fashioned about him, she thought, something “old.” Lucia also noticed a light, bluish tint to the man’s skin, as if he were glowing like an electrical current. The glow would alternate between heavy and light tints that Lucia thought corresponded to the man’s breathing. Suddenly the man was standing right before her on the other side of the window. But Lucia had not seen the man move, which for a spilt second, seemed impossible to her. Suddenly the man’s pockmarked face was against the window and Lucia could see that his eyes glowed red.
Lucia gasped, lost her balance, and fell to the floor. She quickly got up and started to move restlessly back and forth on the porch. She slowly moved off the porch with the intention of looking in the other windows. Walking around the back of the house Lucia began to hear a slight rumbling sound. The ice on top of Ms. Colmann house was beginning to shake. At first Lucia felt as if an earthquake was happening and she quickly lost her balance and fell to the ground. Soon the giant icicles hanging from the roof began to break free and drop. She was in danger of being stabbed, and knew that she had to get up and run for it, but try as she might, she could not find the energy to move. It felt as if she were trying to move under water. The icicles began to drop with alarming speed and precision, getting closer and closer to hitting her. She finally managed to get to her feet and move.
Lucia slowly made her way around the back of the house, constantly moving back and forth to avoid the falling icicles. With each falling dagger of ice coming closer, she began to sob and slow down even further. She suddenly felt incredibly tired and fought the desire to sit down on the snow-covered grass in the back of the Colmann house. The icicles continued to fall, and one hit her on the right shoulder, knocking her down. She heard the creaking of a door and looked up to see the kitchen door open and the man who had been staring at her from inside the kitchen standing there.
In a voice as dry as old leaves he said, “Lucia, come quick; get inside the house!” The man spoke with an urgency that seemed to comfort her. She got to her feet and began to move toward the man with the pockmarked face. Then, out of nowhere she experienced an intense pain inside her head and a bright light flashed before her eyes. It was as if she were struck by lightening or standing in the middle of a lightning field. She felt a powerful electrical current move from the top of her head to her fingertips and toes. She felt the need to vomit, but before she could blackness overtook her.

When Lucia awoke old man Conklin was standing over her, breathing heavily.

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