Nine Candles of Deepest Black
by Matthew S. Cox
Published by: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication date: September 15th 2016
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Young Adult
She saw it coming. She knew it would happen―but no one believed her.
Almost a year after tragedy shattered her family, sixteen-year-old Paige Thomas can’t break free from her guilt. Her mother ignores her, doting on her annoying little sister, while her father is a barely-functioning shell. He hopes a move to the quiet little town of Shadesboro PA will help them heal, but Paige doesn’t believe in happiness anymore.
On her first day at school, a chance encounter with a bullied eighth grader reawakens a gift Paige had forgotten, and ingratiates her into a pack of local outcasts. For weeks, they’ve been trying to cast a ritual to fulfill their innermost desires, but all they’ve done is waste time. After witnessing Paige touch the Ouija board and trigger a paranormal event, the girls are convinced another try with their new fifth member will finally work.
Once the darkness is unleashed, it’s not long before they learn it will give them exactly what they asked for―whether they want it or not.
Sleep decided it wasn’t on speaking terms with Paige that night. After hiding in a ball for some hours, she risked a peek at the darkness. Nothing looked wrong. Nothing felt wrong. She reached up and turned on the little lamp on her nightstand, then pulled her foot up and looked. Two red dots proved the thorns weren’t a dream.
“Amber?” She looked around. “Are you here? Did we mess up? Did we do something bad?”
The crickets outside grew deafening.
Whispering came from the bathroom. Paige gathered blankets at her chin and shrank down.
Rasps and titters continued, unchanged by her voice. Of course, the thought of the bathroom made her acutely aware of the need to use it. Figures. Paige stared at it for a while, unwilling to leave the ‘safety’ of the blankets. Ugh. What am I, six? My bed isn’t gonna stop a demon. She peeled the blankets away and stood, hands balled to fists at her sides. Step by step, she crept to the door between her bedroom and its attached bathroom, favoring her right foot. The two-inch gap offered a view of whispery darkness. The voices grew louder as she got closer.
“Something’s going to jump out at me.” Paige grasped the edge of the door. It doesn’t matter how much I expect it; I’m going to scream. She braced herself and whipped the door open.
The whispers ceased.
Paige stared at the strip of light leaking in from her bedroom, stretched over the white tile floor and shaggy bathmat. Her gaze settled on the empty spot where she’d left the thorn. Of course it’s gone. She allowed herself to breathe again and fumbled for the light switch. Eerie became bright, clean, and normal. Paige avoided stepping on the bathmat on the way to the toilet.
Not two seconds after the stream stopped, a creak came from the bedroom. She shot upright where she sat and pulled her pajamas as far up her thighs as she could without standing. “Who’s there?”
She finished up and moved to the door, peering around the corner at an empty bedroom dark in comparison to the mostly white bathroom. I’m either losing my grip or I’ve pissed something off. She thought about what Mackenzie said… New Hope. Maybe I can find an old witch there who can fix this.
Nothing felt off, so she swiped at the bathroom light switch and scurried back to bed. The warm cocoon of blankets embraced her with the prospect of a rapid fall to sleep. Paige reached up, switched off the nightstand light, and snuggled into the pillow.
Seconds later, she sensed a presence and opened her eyes.
Melissa’s face hovered inches from hers, staring into her soul.
Paige shot upright, screaming. Melissa backpedaled and fell on her butt.
“Holy crap.” Paige grabbed her chest. “You scared me half to death.”
Melissa looked down. A mermaid doll dangled by one arm from her left hand.
“I’m scared too.” Melissa crawled to the bed and grasped the edge, peering over it. “Can I sleep here tonight? Someone was talking in my closet.”
Paige swallowed hard. “Okay.” She held up the covers.
Melissa crawled in and cuddled close. Paige lowered her arm and wrapped her little sister in a blanket hug. A nose full of strawberry-tinted red hair wasn’t the worst way to spend the night. She tried not to think about anything, especially not about the shadowy figure hovering over the candles. Melissa’s breathing changed, indicating sleep within two minutes. Mildly jealous, Paige closed her eyes.
Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.
Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- after="" and="" br="" deliberate="" fiction="" happens="" intellectual="" it.="" life="" nature="" of="" questions="" reality="" science="" that="" the="" what="">
He is also fond of cats.<- after="" also="" and="" cats.="" deliberate="" fiction="" fond="" happens="" he="" intellectual="" is="" it.="" life="" nature="" of="" p="" questions="" reality="" science="" that="" the="" what="">