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  • Writer's pictureArthur Mills

Candle Face Victim #23: The Shattered Shepherd

Candle Face Victim #23: The Shattered Shepherd

Candle Face Victim # 23

April 2, 2024


I'm slumped on my couch, overwhelmed by exhaustion yet dreading another encounter with a lost soul. The weariness is bone-deep. Night after night, I'm visited by souls in anguish. Once again, doubt has started to creep in, saying I'm not the savior they need. Perhaps it's time to surrender, to become one with the shadows. Candle Face has crafted her plan masterfully, preying on my vulnerabilities with precision. I'm at my breaking point, my faith in myself dwindling to nothing. As despair consumed me, an evil melody filled the room, stemming from the darkest corner of my living room. Materializing from the shadows was a man of the cloth, his presence marked by an inverted cross around his neck. He signaled for silence, demanding only my attention. And so, he began to share his story:

My life, once a steadfast journey devoted to God’s teachings and unwavering service, had been a sanctuary for people seeking spiritual guidance amidst life’s tumultuous seas. “Never lose faith,” I would proclaim from the pulpit, my voice resonating through the strong walls of our church, echoing a belief that the sheer power of faith could surmount all adversity. Yet, amidst my unwavering declarations, I found myself unprepared for an encounter that would question the very foundation of my beliefs.
On an evening painted with the vibrant hues of an Austin sunset, the legend of Candle Face shifted from a myth to reality. The atmosphere around me shifted as I ventured home from an evening service. The air thickened with a sense of dread that was almost suffocating, and an unsettling warmth wound its way through the streets. Then, as if born from the very shadows, she materialized under the dim glow of a streetlight that flickered as though hesitant to reveal the secrets it guarded.
Her form contrasted the divine radiance I had dedicated my life to spreading. The burns that marred her face weren’t merely physical scars but were signs of unspeakable torment and profound loss, each one etching a deeper wound into her very essence—a history of agony. What might have once been an expression of innocence was now a grotesque display of suffering, her features a disturbing testament to her tragic fate. The most unsettling aspect, however, were her eyes—or rather, the hollow voids where her eyes should have been. These hollow depths seemed to gaze into my very soul. The sight struck a primal chord of fear deep within my being.
Yet, amidst my fear and unease, I discovered an anchor in my faith. It was as though the very flames ravaging her existence were now testing the strength of my beliefs, challenging me to withstand the searing heat of this ghostly encounter. My heart, though racing, was fortified within a stronghold of spiritual conviction; my faith, hardened by years of devotion and service, remained unyielding. In that moment, my faith served as both shield and sword, a genuine stronghold against the encroaching darkness that sought to engulf me.
“I do not fear you,” I declared, defiant against the oppressive silence figure before me. This declaration wasn’t born from a place of arrogance but emanated from a deep-seated belief in the protective power of the divine, a conviction that no entity, no matter how evil or sorrowful, could sway.
As her terrifying yet pitiful form stood silently before me, it became the crucible within which my faith was to be tested. Facing her meant confronting the physical embodiment of the doubts and fears that haunt the minds of all believers—the existential pondering of why a compassionate God permits suffering in the world and the challenge of maintaining one’s faith in the face of inexplicable evil. Yet, standing there, under the flickering glow of the streetlight, with darkness pressing in from all sides, I felt an unprecedented strength surge within me, a reaffirmation of my life’s calling to serve as a beacon of hope and faith in a world all too often shrouded in evil.
“Why do you stand silently before me, spirit? Speak up!” My steady voice declared.
“I come to challenge your faith,” she finally replied as a hot breeze brushed against my face. And so, our nightly dialogues began, not as clashes of swords but as duels of belief and conviction. Candle Face, drawing upon the very scriptures I held sacred, challenged me with passages from the Bible. “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light,” she recited one evening, her eyes—or the voids that were her eyes—glowing with an unholy light. “How can you trust what you see or believe?”
I countered with the shield of my faith, invoking the words of Christ, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Our exchanges grew more profound as the nights progressed, a battle of wits and scripture that stretched into the depths of the night.
“Why do you cling to your faith when it blinds you to the suffering around you?” she challenged on another occasion, citing the scripture, “Faith without works is dead.”
“My faith compels me to love and to serve, to be a beacon of hope amid darkness,” I responded, fortified by the words, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Our debates raged like a storm; in each verse, she wielded a wave crashing against the steadfast rock of my conviction. Yet, with each encounter, a sliver of doubt entered my heart, eroding the bedrock of certainty upon which I had built my life. Candle Face’s mastery over scripture and her uncanny ability to wield the Word as both sword and shield left me reeling. Her challenges and questions weaved threads of doubt into the fabric of my once unshakeable faith.
As the climax of our spiritual duel approached, under a sky veiled by clouds and a moon obscured from sight, she posed a question that struck at the very heart of my belief. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” she asked, her form seeming to loom larger, permeated with the gravity of her words. “Yet here you stand, against me, a creation surely within God’s domain. Does not your faith falter at this contradiction?”
Her words were like a storm that threatened to capsize my soul, a flood that sought to drown me in a sea of doubt. At that moment, the foundation upon which I had built my faith trembled, and I found myself adrift, lost in the unrestrained waves of uncertainty. The undeniable truth of her presence, contrasted against my God’s unseen and unfathomable nature, tore through my belief like a ship damaged by jagged rocks.
“I... I don’t know,” I finally admitted, my voice a mere whisper, a frail echo against the storm of internal conflict that raged within me.
Candle Face smiled, a twisted, sorrowful smile. “Then you are mine,” she said. In that instant, I felt a searing pain in my chest, as if my very soul was being torn from my body.
As the air around me grew oppressively heavy, laden with a sense of impending doom, I was besieged by doubts that swirled around me like a relentless tornado. With each step toward our designated place of confrontation, my impending downfall grew louder, a discord of despair filling my heart’s silence. In this moment of profound solitude and introspection, a tragic realization dawned upon me—a realization so disturbing and full of sorrow that it threatened to consume me entirely. The battle of faith against Candle Face’s ghostly challenges, this duel of beliefs I had so willingly entered into, was but a snare from the outset, a trap I had blindly walked into with eyes wide open. The realization that her plan had never been to triumph through argument or discourse but rather to lead me into the depths of questioning my once unassailable faith was a revelation that filled me with despair.
The sorrow of this epiphany wasn’t merely in the acknowledgment of my impending demise but in the realization that my downfall was a direct result of my own actions—a testament to the fragility of human belief when confronted with the supernatural. In my enthusiasm to prove the unbreakable nature of my faith, I had been the architect of its unraveling, engaging in a battle doomed from its inception. The sadness that enveloped me wasn’t just born of the knowledge of what was to come but of the understanding that my fall from grace was self-inflicted, a tragic flaw in my quest for spiritual certainty.
As I kneeled before Candle Face for what would be our final encounter, her twisted smile wasn’t just a forerunner of my defeat but a mirror reflecting the folly of my pride; a part of me yearned for the chance to turn back time, to offer a word of caution to my followers, to implore them not to tread the same dangerous path I had chosen. But the hour was far too late for warnings, far too late for the regrets that now filled me with remorse so deep it was akin to physical pain.
In my final moments, as darkness took me, Candle Face granted me a vision of my church. I found myself seated in the pews of my own church, an unseen spirit among the congregation that had once looked to me for guidance, for light in the darkness. The sacred space, usually a haven of solace and peace, was now covered with doubt and betrayal, the air thick with the collective grief of those who had placed their faith in me. Instead of the prayers for my soul’s redemption that I might have expected, the murmurs that filled the church spoke of disillusionment and a sense of betrayal. They spoke of the changes they’d noticed over the last few months, corresponding with my secret debates with Candle Face. “He seemed troubled,” one said, “as if he were grappling with unseen demons.” “His sermons lost their fire,” another said, “It was as if he doubted the very words he spoke to us.” “How could he falter in his faith?” questioned one, the disbelief and disappointment evident in their tone. “He led us to believe, only to succumb to doubt himself,” accused another, their words a dagger to my already shattered spirit.
Rather than being a unifying moment of faith and reflection, my passing had sown the seeds of doubt among the individuals I sought to inspire and uplift. The church that had been my life’s work, the congregation I had loved as my own, now found themselves questioning the very tenets of belief I had endeavored to instill within them. My demise hadn’t been the martyrdom I might have once envisioned but had instead become a scandal. This event eroded the faith of my followers in their preacher and, by extension, in the teachings I had so passionately adopted.
As the vision of the church and its disillusioned congregation faded before my eyes, the last sight that imprinted itself upon my memory was the empty pulpit—a lonely symbol of the void my misguided endeavor had left in its wake. In my eager desire to prove the invincibility of my faith, I had, in truth, lost everything: my purpose, my flock, and the very essence of the convictions I had fought so passionately to defend.
This final revelation, witnessed from the shadowed confines of the church that had once been a beacon of hope and faith, represented the most profound sadness of all. The realization that my downfall had not merely been a personal tragedy but had also led others astray, guiding them into the very darkness I had vowed to combat, was a burden heavier than any I had tolerated. The church’s loss of faith in their preacher, a man who, in confronting the embodiment of his doubts, had ultimately lost sight of his faith, marked the true triumph of Candle Face. This plot twist sealed my tragic fate and cast a long shadow over the legacy I had hoped to leave behind. In the end, the story of my life—a story once filled with hope and unwavering belief—had been irreversibly altered, rewritten as a story of conviction undone by doubt, a sad reminder of the peril that lies in the pursuit of absolutes in a world governed by questions without answers.

After the preacher finished his testimony, he began to fade into the darkness from which he had appeared. Before disappearing, he paused and looked over his shoulder, locking eyes with me one final time. At that moment, his gaze had a profound weight, a mixture of resignation and a sense of duty. He shared a revelation that, despite the traumatic circumstances, he hadn’t forsaken his role as a preacher. Within the twisted, shadowy confines of Candle Face’s domain, he shepherded a new kind of flock—the lost souls.


He confessed that his sermons had taken on a darkly ironic twist as he now spoke of Candle Face’s mercy, portraying her as a savior to those doomed souls. In a world where hope seemed a distant memory, he preached about finding salvation in the very entity that tormented them. This unexpected role of preaching Candle Face's compassion, even as a twisted form of salvation in her hellish domain, was a testament to the complex manipulation she wielded over her victims. It was a reminder of her power to warp reality and identity, turning a once-devout preacher into a messenger of her twisted gospel.


As he stepped back into the shadows, disappearing from view, I was left to ponder the reality of his existence. The preacher, a man once driven by faith and a desire to lead others toward light and salvation, now found himself in an unimaginable predicament. Trapped in a world of darkness, preaching the virtues of the very being responsible for their suffering, he became a symbol of the ultimate psychological and spiritual conquest that Candle Face held over her victims. This revelation deepened the mystery of Candle Face’s wickedness and highlighted the tragic irony of the preacher’s fate—tasked with offering solace in a place devoid of true redemption.

 

Personal Note to My Readers


In the heart-wrenching story of Candle Face Victim # 23, we journey with a preacher whose life was anchored in the unwavering belief in God. This man of the cloth, who had devoted his existence to shepherding his flock toward spiritual enlightenment, encountered a challenge that would ultimately test the very foundation of his faith. The preacher’s battle with Candle Face wasn’t just a confrontation with an evil spirit but a deeper, more profound struggle within his soul. His belief in God, once as steadfast as the sturdy walls of his church, began to waver under the weight of Candle Face’s cunning arguments. In this moment of doubt, when his faith faltered, he lost the battle and his life. This tragic outcome is an emotional reminder that our faith, tested or questioned, is our strongest shield against the darkness that seeks to engulf us. Holding on to that faith might be our only chance against entities as manipulative and persuasive as Candle Face.


However, the task before us is discouraging. Engaging in a battle of faith against a cunning master of words, a being that can twist our deepest beliefs into questions and doubts, is a challenge of monumental proportions. Candle Face, with her ability to use our own scriptures against us, represents the internal and external conflicts that can lead even the most devout to question their path. Fighting faith with faith against such an adversary requires not just belief in the divine but an understanding and acceptance of our own vulnerabilities and doubts. It's a battle that demands resilience, courage, and, most importantly, the willingness to confront and navigate the complexities of our faith.


Learning to engage in this spiritual warfare and stand firm in our beliefs even when faced with a master of deception like Candle Face is essential. It may be the most challenging fight we ever face, grappling with questions without easy answers, but it’s also the most crucial. Our faith, tested and refined through these trials, becomes stronger and more resilient. Though ending in tragedy, the preacher’s story conveys a crucial lesson: the importance of holding on to our faith, even in the face of overwhelming doubt. For in this steadfastness, perhaps, lies our redemption and our victory against the evil that seeks to dim our light: Candle Face.


My own faith in myself has been restored.

 

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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