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A Hundred Years

by Ellie Lieberman about a month ago in urban legend
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The Candle

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years but, one night, a candle burned in the window. Until that point, the old-time candle- the kind made from fat and whale blubber- was only ever a minor detail. No different than the logs the cabin was built from originating from a different tree than what was familiarly grown after the attempted reforestation of the 70’s. The surrounding area was a small logging community stretching back to its earliest formation.

Some claimed the candle was simply another sign of the times. “It’s not like they had electricity back then,” the debate often went.

Other claimed some idiot bought it at one of those reenactment type places, like Salem, and replaced it every few years as a joke. After all, Summers grew hot and if the heat could melt crayons, the wax from Baby Bell cheese, and the tar from the road itself, surely it would melt the candle. And, no, the surrounding umbrella of foliage from the yearly-thinning trees did not offer nearly enough shade to preserve it.

Either way, while it drew a hint of fascination from the small number of tourists and hikers, it was far from the more fascinating topic: The cabin itself. The true story fell into obscurity, taken over by the classic cliches. Cult sacrifices and killer haunting and the like.

The root of it all was always the couple that, once upon a time, lived there. They were a new couple. A woman whisked away from her home down the shore by her husband who recently built said cabin. Various versions were told to the out-of-towners on the back of restaurant menus or motel pamphlets. Occasionally, stories would be spun around a campfire- the kind where someone broke off from the group for the sole purpose of doing a jump scare at the most opportune time.

That’s how they found it, one late night in July. The flame danced, a warm, soft glow. A beacon into the night.

The camper raced back to tell her friends and, of course, they didn’t believe her. Until they, too, saw it for themselves. Their claims were written off by the locals as yet another prank and the group received quite the lecture from local law enforcement over trespassing on a historic and unsafe site.

But the candle remained lit.

It reignited the tourist industry and local business boomed. The stories were told with new fervor, now focusing on that curious candle, with the woman at the center of the narrative.

“The wife had gone mad with homesickness,” people claimed. “She took her husband’s logging ax and chopped him up and hid him in the basement!”

“No, no, no,” Others would argue. “He was a miner, and she was a witch and now that it’s been a hundred years, she’s back, looking for more victims. It’s all very Hansel and Gretel, except it’s a candle instead of candy!”

The longer the candle remained lit, the more law enforcement could find no reasonable explanation. Interest grew.

Historians from all over dug into old records in the back room of the small library. They dug through census and land deeds and marriage and death certificates and newspaper articles. Anything they could get their hands on.

That’s when the disappearances began. Every once in a while, someone might have gotten turned around in the woods. Suddenly, though, the numbers were staggering and once someone went missing, they were just gone. Never to be heard from or seen again. Old mining shafts were explored as a possibility, and, though, human remains were found, they were written off from an old mine collapse that occurred around the same time as the cabin. The current poor, lost souls only became swept up in the narrative, with very few considering the grief of the families.

“Has anything like this happened before?” Reporters asked.

“The candle has never been lit before,” came the locals’ reply.

The cops refused access to the cabin, now claiming it was part of the ongoing investigation. The outside world turned their suspicions on the town itself. There was no denying that the sudden influx of revenue kept the struggling small town afloat.

Until it was the locals, eager to prove their innocence, who also began to disappear.

Religious figures tossed their hats into the mix. Some sought to expel evil spirits or exorcise demons. Others to protect the potential resting grounds of those who had perished, including what most people assumed were the original couple.

Then came the theory that struck such a primal chord it could only have been a sort of intuitive truth- the kind that ran bone deep. “There’s something out there in the woods and the light is calling it.”

“She’s calling it here!” People cried. “It’s what killed her husband and now it’s killing us!”

All efforts turned into a frenzy to douse the flame. No amount of fire extinguishers or water could stop it from burning bright.

Still, people went missing, well into October.

Alongside their pictures in the paper, reporters ran periodicals of anything anyone could find about the couple and the cabin. They shared that where the wife was from, it was common practice to light a candle to guide lost souls home. The husband, who was from the town where he built his cabin, often warned to keep any hint of light off at night. He was not the only one to warn something similar in journals and letters. No one specified why. Only that intuitive wisdom.

Something was out there, and the light would call it.

“Saying its name is like lighting a candle,” some believed. Others theorized their forefathers simply didn’t know what it was either.

In a fit of mass hysteria, on Hallow’s Eve, everyone overtook the law and the religious groups and broke into the small cabin, ready to confront whatever they might find. What they saw, no one had anticipated.

Carved into the wall, with intertwined hearts were the words, “My darling love, I’ll wait for you for a hundred years.”

Outside, when the veil between worlds was thinnest, one figure emerged from the old mine shaft and one from the front of the house. They came together, illuminated in the moonlight, joining hands. As a breeze swept around them, the apparitions disappeared along with the leaves, and the candle blew out.

urban legend

About the author

Ellie Lieberman

A New Jersey transplant, Ellie Lieberman lives now in sunny Southern California. She works with the fairies on her handmade business, Acorn Tops, when not writing or illustrating.

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