"We Revolve Around You"

The Dakota Planet

"We Revolve Around You"

The Dakota Planet

"We Revolve Around You"

The Dakota Planet

By the Candle’s Light (part 4)

the fourth and final instalment

Here for the first instalment,

Here for the second

and the third 


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Horrible, inhuman screams pierced the air. White shapes filted in and out of the space around us. Coils of blackness followed them, obscuring the already dark corridor. Eugene swung the pipe around like an inexperienced swordsman, wildly and in every direction. The ghosts darted around and every time he managed to cut one clear through, it vanished in a puff of smoke.

And what did I do? I had no weapon, nothing like the pipe Eugene used in place of a sword. But I did have a candle. It was small, and likely wouldn’t last much longer. Yet the ghosts shied away from it.

So I made use of that, thrusting it out before me like a shield.

Back-to-back Eugene and I stood, each with our make shift weapons, a circle cleared around us. They still swooped and shrieked around us, but at last the white figures subsided a little.

“I say we run!”

“Which way did we come from? I don’t want to get back against a wall!”

I thrust the candle out, trying to get out bauble of light to shine as far as it could.

“That way,” I pointed, though I didn’t know if Eugene was watching.

He tensed beside me; grabbed my hand. “Now.”

We ran through the horde of ghosts which parted before our weapons like the Red Sea parted for Moses.

Empty arches led off in different directions. Darkness continued to swirl around us. To my new horror, the candle had grown smaller. I had my skirts bunched up uncomfortably to make running easier (I was still trying to hold onto Eugene.)

A sudden flash of white; a ghostly face directly in from of mine.

I screamed, tripped, landing on the cold stone floor. The candle rolled out of my hand, its flame extinguished.

The apparition was still there, gearing up for another attack. My fists clenched. We were so close to getting out; I could feel it! What right did it have to stop us? I had nothing I could use; the candle’s light was gone and I didn’t know where Eugene was. A solid shape pressed against my side through the skirt of my dress; the book I carried with me since sneaking out of my Aunt’s party. I would never finish it now.

With a scream, I threw the book as hard as I could.

My aim was slipshod at the best of times; now was something truly spectacular. The slim volume traveled straight through the apparition. A hole gapped in its chest. I barely had a chance to register its features; it dissolved instantly.

Then I was alone.

I choked back a sob. Now was not the time to panic. I could stay calm, couldn’t I? Tendrils of a mist-like substance were forming near the ground, like frost would soon be forming as the days grew colder. I shivered.


No answer.




Desperation clawed at my throat. Shaking – from the cold, from the fear, I don’t know – I stood and groped my way to the wall. My arms out like a blind woman (in this darkness, I wasn’t better off.) The stone was colder than expected when my hand touched it.

Mist lapped at the hem of my dress like water. It had reached my ankles now. A chill wind blew by – by now I knew, not a good sign.

Yet nothing appeared by my side. No ghosts of dead relatives. No malevolent shades. Not even a tiny wisp to light my way.

My footsteps echoed as I walked, bouncing off the walls.

Stone, mist, and echoes – while my thoughts churned like a storm brewing. Why so many ghosts? Why did they never leave this passage? The passage itself seemed as big as my Aunt and Uncle’s house. Yet not a trace of it was seen from within or without.

The house was old; enduring a million renovations since its founding so that it looked mismatched while still retaining what ever style passed for modern. I guess I understood how it could hide so much.

The mist was up to my knees now. Then a little past my thighs. I kept a steady path forward, hand always on the wall.

Loneliness crushed around me, thick as the white mist.

I would not be doomed to wander these passages forever, I told myself. I would not be like these ghosts, forever trapped in the past.

Ghosts like my mother, who had been murdered last year. Murdered, apparently, by an old lover. Her letters rested in my pocket. It was hard to imagine her with anyone but my father. If I were to give a definition of love, it would have been them. Hell, he even died trying to protect her!

But everyone had a past. Sometimes it came back to haunt you. Literally.

Perhaps that was why Aunt was so cynical. Within this passage I’d also found evidence of her. She, too, hadn’t always been with my Uncle. But Aunt’s story ended differently than my mother’s. Aunt was alive, but I don’t think she was the one with the happy ending (oh, how alive she looked in that photo I found – the one where she had her arms around that man.)

I wondered how many other lost loves and tragic stories haunted these corridors. I recalled the painting room (ages ago, when time still had meaning). That one portrait caught my eye, the one that filled me with heartbreaking sorrow.

I paused, closed my eyes, and felt the place around me.

No, that loneness wasn’t mine. That sadness? – it stemmed from a different source. The mist rose to my chest.

The feeling was the same as the one brought by the woman in the painting.

Perhaps it’s hers, I wondered. She had lost someone. Or perhaps someone had lost her. Either way, that presence lingered in this house. It was infused with the very foundations. It was everywhere and nowhere. It affected the people living here.

People like my Aunt.

People like my mother, long ago.

I wondered who else fell victim to this curse.

I though the mists would drown me. I held my head high, eyes closed, trying not to breathe it in too much. You would think panic filled me. Instead was a hollow peace. I knew the secret of the house. Or, at least I thought I did.

The instant I figured it out, there was a pop like a champagne cork being opened, and a pressure in the room lifted. All at once light returned to my eyes and I saw my surroundings.

Eugene was picking himself off the ground. The fallen candle was a few paces away. It seemed I hadn’t moved at all.

I helped Eugene up. His hand was warm. Having been in the cold mist, I was almost glad of it.

“You alright, Flo?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Just… there’s an odd look in your eye. That’s all.”

We stood close, hand in hand, the only living things in the passage. Though I had a feeling the dead were gone already.

And to the side was an arched door that hadn’t been there before. Perfect gentleman that he was, Eugene held it open for me.

“Ladys first.”

We emerged on the other side of a tapestry. It was a bedroom, everything decorated in shades of grey and pale blue. I knew those to be false books on the shelves. Fake flowers stood on the vanity. The décor was old, fashionable a few decades ago. The hearth was empty, only a blackened area where years of smoke and cinders stained the white stone.

It was my Aunt’s room, and it wasn’t empty.

“Florence! What on earth are you doing? Who is that boy? What happened to your dress?”

“Aunt, I’d like you to meet Eugene.” I took his hand again.

I looked, somewhat blindly, at her. I had expected our adventures in the passage to last days. At the very least the party should have been over.

I was half right; pale dawn poked in through the window. Music lingered in the air; the party must be winding to a close only now.

Aunt stood; approached us. She eyed Eugene with her classic disapproving look.

“You step outside, young man. I need to speak with my niece. You will be next.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

His gaze lingered on me as the door shut behind him. A ghost of a smile tugged at his lips. My face may have mirrored. Not even Aunt could vaporize the odd feeling in my heart.

“What is the matter with you, girl? First you disappear the whole night, then I find you wandered off with some boy? And how the hell did you find that passage?”

I was taken aback. Aunt never swore.

“You know about it?”

She hesitated. “I… I found I many years ago. When I was a girl, much like you now are. I… recall your mother saying something about it.” She sat down on the edge of the bed. “Now that I think about it, my own mother may have mentioned it once or twice. In passing. After father left.”

I sat next to her. Normally she would have scolded me for doing so in my dirty dress. She didn’t do that now; yet the difference between her clean gown and mine were much too evidence. If I noticed, that was saying something.

Without speaking a word, I pulled a photograph out of my pocket. It had gotten creased a little in my adventures after finding it. It had been a little faded to begin with.

“Where on earth did you get this?” Awe was in her voice.

I nodded to the passage, handing her the photo. It was the one of her and the mystery lover; so long it had to have been taken before even my mother was an idea in her parents’ minds.

“Who was he?”

“It doesn’t matter; it’s done and over with. You can’t redo the past.”

“Yet people spend an awful lot of time stuck in it.”

Aunt gave a melancholy sigh. “Things have a habit of not turning out well for those in our family. When it come to love, it would seem. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a curse.”

“Curses need to be broken, Aunty. Someone needs to come along and stop it. The past can’t be fixed, but the future is still salvageable.”

Aunt ran her hand over the photograph. “Perhaps you are right.”

A clock struck somewhere deep in the house. I thought of the one in the passage; the one in the same room as Aunt’s photograph.

Some of her old self returned then. “Well, go dear. Take that filthy dress of and find something nice to wear.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

As I shut the door, her attention was fixed on the figures in the photo.

Eugene was leaning on the wall. He smiled when he saw me.

“This won’t be a long good bye, will it?”

“I won’t let it,” I declared.

It was a promise I intended to keep. The ghosts of the house were still here, all around. But they were not as restless. They wanted closure. One day, I’d find it for them.

Reluctantly, I turned away from Eugene. This is not goodbye, something whispered in my mind. I smiled, and walked towards a party I had once been seeking to escape from.

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Daria Okruta
Daria Okruta, writer
Daria Okruta is currently a senior. This is her first year working at Dakota Planet and she hopes to make it a good one. In her spare time she likes to read and write. In the near future she hopes to publish some of her novels.
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