At midnight, the candle in the corner went out*. I did not see this: I just* turned around and saw the dark corner.
Was it the wind from out in the corridor? I knew it wasn’t. I walked over and lit the candle again with a match*. Just then, I saw something move on the wall, quick and sudden. I turned my head. The two candles on the table were out.
‘Did I do that?’ I thought. ‘Did I move quickly and the candles went out with my movement*?’ I walked back to light them again. When I did, the candle on my right went out and then the one next to it. No smoke came from the candles. At first, I didn’t understand. I stood and looked at them for a minute. Then the candle next to the bed went out.
‘What’s happening?’ I said. Then the candle in the corner went out again and then another*. One by one candles went out and the dark shadows came in.
‘I need these candles,’ I said. Who was I talking to? There was no one in the room. I took out my matches again. I began to light the candles again. I lit the candle in the corner again, but one candle at the window went out. I lit a candle next to the door and the one by the bed. But then four candles all went out at once in all the corners of the room. I lit another match and stood and watched.
Another two candles went out. I let out a cry. I dropped the matches and picked up* a candle. The candle in my hand burned* brightly. This was better: matches were too slow. I ran around and lit the candles in the room with the candle in my hand, but they all went out seconds later. I lit one and another two went out. I ran from candle to candle, corner to corner; and all the time, the darkness and shadows closed in on me. Now I was afraid.
I could not see. I ran and hit my leg on the table and fell. I let go of my candle and it went out. I stood up and got another. I turned around quickly and the candle went out again. Just then, the last two candles in the room went out. Now the only light in the room came from the fire. I moved towards the fire with my candle ready – and the fire went out too.
*went out – stopped shining, extinguished
*just – only, simply
*a match – a short, thin piece of wood for lighting fires
*movement – action
*another – one more
*picked up – held in one’s hand and raised
*burned – was aflame