by Shawn Odette
Casey is safe so long as she stays in the light.
Casey felt the hardness of the wall pressing against her back, her good leg clutched against her chest with one hand. The other held a mostly melted candle, its flickering light shined off the bone that jutted from her thigh. The pain was terrible but faded by the sense of terror that tried to consume her sanity. She was safe so long as she was within the light of the candle's weak glow.
"It will burn out soon," a guttural voice floated in from out of the darkness; the words coming from a mouth not made for human speech.
Casey suppressed a whimper.
"Leave me alone!"
The heat from the flame burned her knuckle. Time was running out.
A thin, wooden board etched with numbers and letters lay on the floor, just within the circular boundary of the candlelight. A blood-spattered planchet laid between it and her friend's lifeless foot. A once white sock, now soaked red, still clung to it.
The beast chuckled, menacing and mirthless. Its red eyes fixed on her's. She felt the creature's excitement.
She wiped at her eyes, surprised she had tears left to shed. Her prior pleas for mercy proved pointless, so she remained silent. She reached for the light switch in an involuntary motion before realizing what she was doing. The power was out, the breaker box blew with the arrival of the beast. Again it chuckled.
"Why are you doing this!?" panic tinging her voice.
"You summoned me."
"Then I un-summon you!"
Booming laughter reverberated off walls like a struck bell.
"It doesn't work that way. You play games, but you don't know the rules!"
Her lips quivered. Her grip remained tight on the last inch of tallow.
"Blow out the flame. Let's be done with this."
Putting her weight on her good leg, she pushed herself up, and she lost her balance, nearly dropping the candle. The red eyes drew closer as the candle flame began to flicker. A wolf-like snout sniffed at the air.
"Your friend was delicious. I wonder, will your soul taste as sweet?"
Hot wax coated her fist. Casey couldn't bear the heat much longer. Using the wall for support, she scooted across the carpet. A few feet was all she needed.
"You have nowhere to go."
Ignoring the beast, she inched herself along the wall, each movement sent searing pain up her ruined leg. Reaching, her outstretched hand brushed the wooden leg of an end table. Now holding the candle with her fingertips, the flame flickered, the beast drew closer.
Why didn't I think of this sooner? She scolded herself, pulling a stack of papers off the table.
She crumpled a page as the candlelight waned, a triumphant roar burst forth from the beasts toothy maw. Thrusting the paper into the last remnant of flame, the fire licked the page, turning it brown. The candle went out, bathing the room in darkness. The beast howled with delight as it rushed in. It was nearly upon her when the page caught and erupted in a blaze. A furious howl ripped through the room, threatening to shred Casey's mind.
Casey dropped the flaming parchment on the carpet, then grabbed sheet after sheet of paper from the stack, growing the flame to the size of a small bonfire. The beast retreated to the farthest corner, it's eyes aglow with a red fire of their own, remaining locked on hers. She met his gaze with a victorious grin. The carpet caught and spread. A wave of flame rippled out from the epicenter, tongues of bluish-yellow licked at the sofa then engulfed it. The conflagration illuminated the room. The beast gave a final, defeated howl, then vanished. Casey cried, a mixture of relief and dread. The flame cut off any path to escape.
Sobs turned to screams of agony as the flames reached her.