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Burnt Out

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Candles light the darkest places...don't they?


Castiel Novak was a nobody. A candlestick maker from Kansas, he made his way from humble beginnings to become an established name on city high streets, with one shop becoming two, and two quickly becoming ten. And yet he still stayed in his small studio apartment, above his original shop. He wasn't in it for the money, for the high profile customers or even for the popularity. It was the light that shone in people's faces when he handed them a candle, handmade with homegrown herbs and the finest dyes that made him appreciate what he did. There was nothing he'd rather do.

Making his wax creations was the love of his life- with every candle made, he ensured that all of his care and craftsmanship went into the initials that were engraved in each. They were so beautiful, in fact, that many customers, after buying, promise to never light it for fear of ruining its ethereal beauty. Castiel always reiterates that they are made for a purpose, but what can he do?

His first ever customers, five students sympathetic of the lonely shop nestled between a failing cinema and a run-down library, said the same thing: "I couldn't possibly let something as beautiful as this just melt away".

He made them a promise.

If, in ten years, his company was still in business, then he would make them a new candle with the exact same formula, and he would light them himself. A kind of hailing to the very beginning of it all.

It was indeed ten years later that Castiel sat at his messy workable and made those special candles. He had no recipe, but ten years in the business meant he just knew what to use. One after the other, they were carefully formed out of silken wax, the students' initials lovingly carved into the surface of each with precision. And, at midnight on the day of the anniversary he set them out on the table before lighting the wicks. Blossoming from the darkness, a bright orange flame erupted from each.

A celebration of how far he had come.

He saw it on the news early the next morning, reporting the deaths of five thirty-something year olds that had all died of a mystery illness in their sleep. When the names of the victims came on the screen, his heart stopped.

He looked over at the candles which had burnt all the way down into short, waxy stumps, the names that had previously resided on their smooth surfaces now puddles of molten wax on the table.

Castiel's blood ran cold; it was them- the students from all those years ago.

Their flames had burnt out.