Ink Magazine is thrilled to start publishing our first serial novel, Candlelight, with its prologue, "A Candle’s Shadow", by Sophomore Eden Harriman. Her writing will be published as a chapter each month, and readers can follow through the book on this website!
By Eden Harriman ‘23
I’ve always believed that candlelight is the best light for my line of work. It is the perfect balance that my creations need to thrive. Too much light would lead them to shrivel up and become shy. That shyness would cause them to hide from the light’s judgments, afraid of what it might say. But if there was no light, then my creations wouldn’t have anything to keep them in line. They would become egotistical, too full of themselves to think properly. That’s why I choose the dim, yet quiet balance of candlelight. There’s just enough light to keep my creations in check, but not too much that they can’t grow to their full potential.
I lowered my quill into the dark abyss of my ink jar. I had finished up my final journal entry for the night. I was still waiting for my buyer to come in to collect his order, which I had finished almost 2 hours prior. He was late, but I tried not to let that worry me. Most of my buyers came in later than they would originally state, trying to not look suspicious to outsiders. Almost everyone that came into my store was seen as suspicious by the community.
I blew onto the fine paper to help the ink dry before I placed my journal back onto my precious bookshelf. Sadly, the five books that laid on my shelves were, now, my only true companions in life. But they were the best companions one could ask for. To Kill A Mockingbird had always helped me through my critical problems while Of Mice and Men made the best shoulder to cry on. I caressed their covers and sighed to myself, letting my mind wander off into the deep corners of my most cherished memories. I thought of how much my life had changed since my first creation, and how much I missed everything prior. But before I could completely lose myself to my regrets, the soft clinking of a rusty bell echoed through my shop.
“Hello,” came a gruff voice. I turned around to find a tall woman standing in front of the door. The bell was still alerting me of her presence as she walked toward the counter. Her heels clicked against the floor, the sound vibrating through the walls and my clenched teeth. I sauntered over to greet her, all the while trying to decipher more about her, but from what she was wearing, I could tell that she didn’t want anyone to know more than she cared to let on. A dark fedora covered her eyes while a black trenchcoat hid the rest of her body. Compared to her pale skin, she almost looked like a reaper. She spoke again, her voice sounding like sandpaper scratching a wall.
“I’m here to make a purchase,” She stated. “But, if possible, I would like to make it custom.”
“Of course,” I replied. “I can make anything you desire, as long as it stays within my personal boundaries.” She paused, thinking over my statement, which made me even more curious than before. Her tinted lips pursed as she continued to ponder before she reached in her right pocket and pulled out a small, crinkled note. She slid it over to me as she spoke:
“Well then,” She whispered. “I hope that my request isn’t too, extreme.”
I cautiously picked the note up off the counter and peered at it. Everything about this woman screamed mystery and suspicion, but so did every other customer I had. So, I put my doubts aside and opened the note. My eyes grew wide as I read her order.
“Y..You can’t be serious?” I asked, my voice trembling with fear and disgust.
“Oh,” She cooed. “But I am.”
“I...I can’t make this. It’s too dark, too sinister, too..”
“Nightmarish?” She finished. I looked at her with terrified eyes. She seemed to almost grow in size and confidence as she too looked up to meet my gaze. I gasped. Her eyes were the color of a raven’s feather, and had the same mocking tone as a raven’s laugh. She knew all too well what she was asking of me, and how much damage this creation could cause.
“I know what I’m asking, believe me. But, sadly, it’s the only option that I have left.” She sarcastically sighed. I wanted to run, to hide from this horrible woman, but I had nowhere to go. So I stood tall and retaliated.
“I don’t think that you actually understand what you’re asking me to make. This... thing that you desire, it could destroy someone. From the inside. It could tear someone’s sanity apart, and make it impossible for them to recover all the pieces. I will never make anything this dangerous, especially if I know its true purpose.”
She sighed, “I was hoping you would be more considerate.” She began to dramatically pull out what appeared to be a large black jar from inside her coat. I became confused until I saw its contents. I squeaked in fear and started to back away from the woman. An inky, black hairball was shooting around inside the jar, ramming itself into the walls to try and break free from its prison. But no matter how hard it hit, it never made a dent. ‘How is this possible?’ I questioned myself. ‘Only Tamers can make such monstrosities...’
“You’re a Tamer?” I asked the woman. She began to laugh, as if what I had asked her was absolutely ridiculous.
“At one point, yes” She replied. “But that was until my teacher thought my creations to be too diabolical and fired me. But we showed him, didn’t we, my little friend?” She began to caress the jar and speak to it like one would to a small child. The hairball responded by ramming the glass right net to her face. She laughed once more and turned back to me.
“I was really hoping that you would help me out. You see, I want to expand my project, and I needed one of your creations to do that. But, since you’re being so stubborn, I guess that well have to go to Plan B.”
“P...Plan B?” I gulped. I tried to grab something, anything, that could help me defend myself against this crazy lady, but all I found was my journal. Might as well put it to good use, I thought as I lifted my heavy weapon.
“Yes, Plan B. You see, when my teacher first fired me, he had also wanted to try and stop me from continuing my work, which is what I suspect you will try to do as well. But I couldn’t let that happen then, and I won’t let it happen now. So, I used Plan B to stop him, and now I’ll use it again to stop you. And let me tell you, Plan B is very effective.”
She backed up to the front door and unscrewed the lid of the jar. The hairball inside leaped out into the free world, but was halted by the woman’s hand yanking it back. She whispered to it, which caused the creature to double its efforts to escape. She looked back at me with a sinister smile.
“I hope you like fetch.” Suddenly, she let go of the creature and ran out of the store. All I heard was a scream, my scream, before the world turned an inky black.
The woman in the coat walked out of the store, showing off an almost skip in her steps that she hadn’t had before. A few people on the street glanced over as she skipped toward a dark alley. As her foot touched the alley’s shadows, a blood-curdling scream erupted from inside the store. The people jumped back, terrified by the noise and the thoughts of what could’ve caused it. Because of this, no one was paying enough attention to the store to notice a medium-size hairball rolling out the door. While the hairball itself was most peculiar, what truly made it stand out was what it was carrying. A small, bloodstained journal, and the waxy remains of a candle, whose light had not too long ago been snuffed out. For good.