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  • Writer's pictureArthur Mills

Candle Face Victim #20: The Unsteady Path to Belief

Candle Face Victim #20: The Unsteady Path to Belief

Candle Face Victim # 20

March 18, 2024


Fed up with sleeping on the couch, I decided to head upstairs to sleep in a bed. As I ascended the stairs, I spotted the shadowy outline of a man lingering in the bedroom. Unsure whether he might lash out at me like some spirits had before, I cautiously proceeded. Gently, I pushed the door open wider to gain a clearer view. He seemed just as wary as I was, which eased my tension. Entering the room, I leaned against the wall in silence. He interpreted my quiet demeanor as a cue to begin.

Every city has its myths; Austin was no exception, and I knew them all — or so I thought. My steps were always unsteady, a limp betraying the half of me that never quite woke up after a car accident. I talked to myself because sometimes my own voice was the only reassurance that I was still alive.
I frequented the downtown scene, a network of vibrant streets that throbbed with music and life, and yet I was always on the fringes, an onlooker to the enthusiasm I could never fully embrace. There, I met my “Lady Friend,” a term she insisted upon with a laugh that carried warmth and an edge of something darker. She was entranced by the stories that breathed life into the shadows of our city, particularly one: Candle Face.
My Lady Friend was a believer. She spun stories of Candle Face with a sacred passion, her eyes alight with the reflection of unseen flames. She spoke of a danger that haunted the woods in northwest Austin, a creature with hollow eyes and a molten smile, and how it sought out those who dared to doubt its existence. I listened because I loved the sound of my Lady Friend’s voice, not her words. I should’ve listened to her words.
“You don’t believe?” she’d often asked, a playful note in her voice that didn’t quite mask the undercurrent of frustration.
I’d shake my head, dismissing her stories with a crooked smile. “I believe in what I can touch and see with my own eyes. Stories are just that, stories.”
One evening, the air crisp with the scent of turning leaves and distant smoke, my Lady Friend took my arm and led me away from the familiar streets of downtown. We took a taxi to the far northwest corner of town and then walked toward the woodlands, her stride purposeful and mine increasingly hesitant.
“Why are we here?” My voice wavered, a contrast to the confidence of her grip.
She turned, her smile unsettling in the failing light. “I want to show you something, something real. You’ll believe then, you’ll believe.”
The woods closed in around us, the trail narrowing with every step. The deeper we went, the more I felt the weight of unseen eyes, the heat of a presence that seemed to coil around us, silent and expectant.
We reached a creek, its waters filled with sorrow. It was there that I saw Candle Face for the first time.
The figure emerged from the shadows, all at once there and not there, its face a creepy wax mask with two dim flickering flames where the eyes should be. A steamy hand, surprisingly solid, reached for mine, and I recoiled — but not quickly enough.
“Thank you,” Candle Face chanted, its voice the sound of a night breeze rustling through dead leaves.
My Lady Friend’s laughter, tinged with a madness I had never heard before, rose above the sound of the creek. “You should have believed.”
Panic clawed at my throat as I tried to pull away, but Candle Face’s grip was unyielding. My limp became a desperate drag as I was led into the deepening gloom, my screams swallowed by the sound of the trees laughing along with my Lady Friend. Her laughter echoed behind me, a soundtrack to my disbelief unraveling into raw, primal fear.
My limb made me stumble as Candle Face guided me towards the shadows. The shadows welcomed us, and I realized that Candle Face was no myth. It was as real as the pain that shot through my useless leg, as the betrayal that hollowed out my chest. My Lady Friend, with her stories and avid belief, had fed me to her monster. And as I was led deeper into the dark, I finally believed. I believed in fear. I believed in betrayal. I believed in the end.
The face before me seemed to soften, the candle eyes dimming with something that might have been satisfaction. It spoke words that flickered like flame, “Belief is the beginning and the end. You see, only when you believe do you truly see.”
And in that final moment, I saw everything.

The spirit began reaching out his right hand but quickly withdrew it while glancing back toward the shadows as if he knew he had made a mistake. I didn’t push the issue. I thanked him for his time and told him I’d try to help him. He looked at me surprisingly, like he didn’t know I could respond. He winked and limped back into the shadows of my bedroom.


Personal Note to My Readers


It seems I have gained the ability to communicate with my nocturnal visitors. This might be the second or third instance where I’ve directly talked with them. As they share their stories with me, I refrain from posing questions; instead, I absorb what they say. After they departed, I wondered why I couldn’t ask questions. With time, I hope to be able to ask them questions. I can’t do it yet. I want to; I just can’t.


This reminds me of my childhood struggles against Candle Face. Initially, she would enter my house through unlocked doors, prompting me to lock them. Then, she started coming in through open windows, leading me to close and lock those. My family ridiculed me for these actions. Eventually, I discovered that recognizing the dream state allowed me to manipulate it. In a notable encounter with Candle Face, I saw her outside a window trying to open it. Even though I knew I was dreaming, I felt compelled to secure the window to prevent her entry. I managed to fly to the window and lock it just in time. She moved to another window, but I was locking it ahead of her. Mastering dream control led to an epic showdown with Candle Face. I hope I’ll similarly learn to navigate and control these “dreams” involving the lost souls. I have a lot of questions to ask.

 

Key To Understanding

To ensure readers grasp the full context and significance of this article, it’s crucial to be familiar with Arthur Mills’ award-winning memoir The Empty Lot Next Door, inspired by actual ghostly events in Austin, TX. The book provides essential background information, and without it, the nuances and depth of this article might not be fully appreciated. Therefore, reading The Empty Lot Next Door is highly recommended for a more enriched and coherent understanding of this article’s content and implications.


To purchase The Empty Lot Next Door, please visit Amazon


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