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The Staircase Home

By @IsabellaAnn125

The Stranger

Chapter 1

In a land, called Land of Innocence, there lived a girl. One day, she was walking on a road heading home when she ran into somebody she didn’t know. He didn’t look like any other person that she had ever seen. He was very tall, wore a black cloak, always covering his head. He had grayish white pale skin. What also told her he was not normal was the fact that the white of his eyes were black, surrounding the glowy blue iris that danced in the blackness. Not only did that creep her out but more than that was his huge grin that reminded her of the chesture cat.

“Hello.” She said.

“Hello, little girl. Have you heard?” He asked her.

“Heard about what?” She asked curiously.

“About the darkness.” He said in almost a snake like voice.

“The…darkness?” She innocently asked.

“Yes. The darkness to come.” He replied and the girl looked afraid. In her land it was always sunny, so to think about a darkness coming over her land made her fear. She has heard of the darkness in the land of others and how it killed or other times almost killed them, the beast that lived there that is.

“What can I do to protect myself?” She asked. The Stranger smile widened. He then got behind her and pulled out something from underneath his cloak and held it infront of her, his long thin fingers with pointed fingernails startling her. It was a candle. A black candle to be exact.

“This will help you. All you have to do is light it whenever the darkness comes and it should keep the beasts away.” He said. “Do you want it?” He said while walking slowly infront of her, all the while the candle not moving.

“What is the cost?” She asked, already hooked.

The Stranger smiled and tilted his head oddly to his side. “Don’t worry about it now. You need this, I’ll collect payment later.” He said.

“Really?…” The girl asked surprised. “Okay.” He handed her the candle and she continued walking down the road to her palace. When she looked behind her, The Stranger disappeared.

***

It wasn’t long after that fateful meeting that she was on the room to her balcony and she saw it. The darkness was rolling in a stormy cloud. It completely overtook the sky and an eclipse of the sun happened. She grabbed the candle and some matches. She felt something surrounding her in her room. Hands grabbed her and and she struggled to light the candle. She began to panic and fought free. She lit a matchstick and lit the candle. She heard roaring and the hands and those they were attatched to hid away from the light of the candle.

She took the candle wherever she went but she soon started noticing a problem: The candle was being spent. She began to panic as lower and lower the candle melted. Then one day before it was spent she began to panic more as she noticed that the darkness was still going strong.

“Is there a problem?” A voice from the darkness sounded. She quickly turned around and lighted the face behind the voice. It was the Stranger.

“Yes! There is a problem.” She lifted what was left of the candle and she showed it to him. “The candle is almost spent and the darkness is still strong.” She frantically said.

He looked at the candle and lifted up an eyebrow. “Why do you seem surprised?” He began. “I never said it wouldn’t spent. All candles spent.” He finished. She sighed. It was true. Somehow she thought all this time that the candle was some kind of everlasting candle. She sat down on a table that resided in the middle of the room.

 The Stranger smirked and once again extended forth his hand in front of her where there was another candle on it.

“Want another one?” He said icily. The girl thought about it twice. Something inside her told her ‘No!’ but the fear that she had of the darkness was so strong.

“All you have to do is light it.” The Stranger said. The girl then got a match and lit the new candle as the other one extinguished away.

Time and time again the Stranger came back and gave her another candle. The darkness still did not back away. That is until one day the sun broke through the darkness and the beasts left with it. She went out into the balcony and smiled, breathing in a deep breath of relief. She smiled at the clear horizon.

“Child!” A voice broke the silence. She got startled and turned around, realizing the voice was coming from her room. She went back in and saw that it was the Stranger. He sat at the table in the middle of the room, looking intensly at her. She smiled and walked up to him. She pointed behind her and said, “Look! The darkness is gone!”

He didn’t broke his stare off of her, but said, “I know.” He gesture for her to come closer. She did, going around the round table and stopping right next to him. He got up and said, “I come to collect my payment, young one.” He said gesturing at the air, not looking at her. He motioned for her to seat down where he sat. She smiled and sat down.

“How much do I owe you?” She said, since the girl was very rich indeed. Do you take money?” She asked.

The Stranger chuckled. “Oh! I don’t take money.” He said turning away from her.

“Jewels?” She asked. The Stranger turned around to face her and bended down his head towards her level until his face was close to hers. “Your heart.” He said and then smiled his eery smile.

The girl’s face dropped. “My…heart?” She said taken aback. “But why?” She began. He straightened and looked down his nose at her.

 “Jewels! I have plenty of jewels.” She said, trying to bargain with him.

“You don’t understand. I’m not saying you could pay me with your heart as though it’s an option. The payment was your heart.” He said.

“But it’s my heart!” She said grabbing her heart that that was placed like a beautiful stone inside a hole in her chest. Every human heart was placed in the chest like this.

“Your heart already belongs to me. It’s not an option.” He said. He then grabbed her heart and ripped it out of her chest, leaving a heart shaped hole where her heart used to be. He grabbed her wrist with the other hand and began to walk away, pulling her along with him. She tried to fight him off but he was too strong. “Let me go!” She yelled. As they walked out of her room she grabbed the side door frame trying to stop him but he just pulled and her hand grasp snapped away.

Down the long corridors they went until they came to a door that she has never seen before. There were stairs that went down to who knows where, since she never been there before. He didn’t wait for her to take a step but dragged her down the steps, each step causing a wave of pain to her knees since she landed on her knees.

He dragged her on the floor. From what she could tell they were in a dungeon. There were many cells. The Stranger went to a particular cell that he opened and threw the girl inside. Her face planted on the cell’s wall and she winced in pain. The loud ‘BOOM!’ of the cell door closing behind her.

 ‘CLANK CLANK CLANK!’ She heard the cell door lock close.

“You are mine. Nobody will be able to hear you, speak with you, or see you, so you can scream all you want. You will be starving but you won’t be able to eat or drink. You will wish for death but death will not come. You will stay here until I say so.” He said and then left laughing.

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