ClickCease

Ali felt his way to the nearest chair. He blinked once, twice till he could make out the curved edge of the table in front of him. The man sat down on the seat opposite to his.

“Don’t you have any candles?” Ali asked.

The man shook his head. “They are in the attic. I tried getting them, but I was thrown out by someone. I haven’t been able to get in since then.”

“You didn’t see what threw you out?”

“No. Wait, yes I did. I saw glowing green eyes charge at me.”

There was something beyond the man’s sleep-deprived face that rubbed Ali the wrong way. His jaw flapped up and down, a sinister sight in the dark. Not to mention that despite the mark around his eyes, they were wide open like porcelain saucers.

Ali shook himself from his concern. “Glowing green eyes?”

So it isn’t a Bhut.

“Mind if I take a look around?”

“Not at all,” the man said.

It struck him as rather strange that the house did not have a single candle out. If it wasn’t a Bhut, then this spirit or beast in question had a deft hand. It must have hated light and stole the candles sometime during dusk or dawn, when the sunlight wasn’t as strong. That is what Ali thought until he stepped into the kitchen to see the unmistakable shape of an unlit candle.

Something snapped and Ali glanced down. He rolled his eyes at himself, of course he couldn’t see what it was in this darkness. He picked it up and traced a finger along it.  Soft and fuzzy on one end, hard on the other. A matchstick. What was it doing on the ground?

“Excuse me, sir?” Ali called out.

“Yes?”

Ali whipped his head around. The man stood there in the kitchen, silent. He hadn’t even heard him come in.

“Do you remember dropping this matchstick?”

The man inspected it. How he could do it in this darkness was unknown to Ali.

After a while, he returned it and shook his head. “No, I don’t remember. It must have fallen off the shelf.”

“Well, at least there’s still this candle.” Ali reached to his side, then his front and finally his back. His hands did not close around the almost-therapeutic feel of the small rune pouch.

His eyes widened. Ramin had taken it with him. Neither had noticed or perhaps Ramin didn’t think he would’ve needed it. Ali took a shaky breath. Sure, the runes were essential and could tip the scales in a life-or-death situation of which there were frequent in this line of work. But Ali could just try his best to avoid a confrontation with whatever spiritual force lurked in this house.

Unless the spiritual force found him first.

Ali straightened his composure. It wasn’t good to show fear or frustration in front of the customer. He was the reassurance, the hope of safety. If he was shaken then the man would be shaken as well. Bad energy like that was free food for the spirit.

In one quick motion, he lit the matchstick with the edge of the table. Ali gently dipped the matchstick, careful not to blow out the flame. Once the candle was successfully lit, he picked it up by the handle of its little holder and turned to the man.

“Could you show me the attic?”

“Yes, this way.” The man’s eyes flicked to the candle.

Maybe Ali was seeing things but he could swear a flicker of a grimace had passed over the man’s face. His eyes trained on the candle with mild irritation.

A quick throb pulsed at his temples. He was concentrating too hard, something his sleep schedule didn’t approve of. Ali scolded himself, he couldn’t spend what little energy he had on vague hunches.

They navigated through the house. The candlelight made the darkness darker, a minor price to pay for the safety of not getting possessed. Ali rubbed his free hand over his arms. The goosebumps were still there, and more chilling than before. The spirit must’ve noticed its mistake by now.

Which meant it most surely knew he was coming for it.

The man stopped in the middle of the hallway and grabbed a rope that dangled from the ceiling. He yanked it and a ladder dropped down.

“The creature is up there,” The man said.

Ali’s brows furrowed. He promised himself he wouldn’t go after the spirit but something about the man’s claims bothered him. Green eyes, aggressive, afraid of light, it was unlike anything he’d ever heard before. If he snooped around the attic, perhaps he’d find out more. The spirit could be disoriented if he left the light here, giving him a few seconds to do his investigating.  

He passed the candle over to the man. “Stay here, I’m going to investigate.”

Ali climbed up the ladder, careful not to make a sound. He pulled himself into the attic, which was lit by askew moonlight. Dust in the air danced in front of the window. Ali looked over his shoulder, one last check to see that the contractor was alright. The man looked back up at him and smiled.

The ladder folded back and the trap door snapped shut. Ali ran to it and banged his fist on the trap door. It didn’t budge.

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