Willow the Wisp – part four of ten

(This fall my first published book will be arriving from the printers. It is called The Horror of Loon Lake and it is a horror anthology comic paying tribute to the classic horror magazines and comics that many of us loved. Included also is one prose tale, which will feature several illustrations by the talented Nicole Bresner. In ten installments, www.horror-writers.net will serialize this short story, entitled Willow the Wisp. For more information about the book, follow its page at www.facebook.com/horrorofloonlake  – Carl Smith, aka Dr. Carl Cadaver)


The spying bachelor stared in stunned curiosity. Before him was a woman of immense grace and poise, floating as if no longer tethered to gravity’s tug. Her hair fell and swayed as if in slow motion, constantly keeping time for her bobbing rhythm. Instead of casting a revealing light she glowed in a way that made the world around her dim and fade out of existence, drawing all focus to her radiant form. Something stirred within Jonathan. It was a feeling he had great difficulty placing a name to.

At the moment when fear had begun to subside to this new bewitching rush of adrenaline and emotion, the form before him turned its head. A wave of silky ethereal hair flowed to exaggerate the turn. Soon the lady-of-light’s side profile was revealed to Jonathan. In the moment preceding his reflexive retreat and clumsy fall onto his backside he saw the face of an angelic beauty. Her cheekbones, chin, nose, lips, and brow were all perfectly chiseled from some past master’s enchanted alabaster. He longed to flee only slightly more than his hand burned to reach out and touch her fair face.

He pulled himself into a ball letting confusion and fear once again rule his body. He trembled as he glanced at his watch. Time had barely passed leaving him with nearly a full hour to seek refuge with the Gunderson family. Unsure what to do now that he had seen the source of the mysterious glow, his mind was a thunderstorm of questions. He watched the shadows stretch and bend as the light behind him started to move about. Too scared to expose his presence and too curious to flee altogether, he closed his eyes and thought of what he had seen.

The sound of his own snoring woke Jonathan. He found himself quite chilled and confused. The night had started to lift and the sun was giving notice that it would soon rise. He had slept the night beneath the large headstone. Frantically he gathered himself up and ran to his house, hoping that none of his neighbors were the early bird type. Bursting through his front door, he in turn slammed it shut and slid down it to the floor. There he sat for a great long while pondering what had transpired.

Had anyone called on Jonathan that day they surely would have feared for his mental health. Just within his door he sat, staring into the space beyond his home. He was vexed by what he had seen in the small church graveyard. The effect was not lasting however, as he began to stir at about 7 o’clock in the evening. Emerging from his mesmerized state he soon set to preparing for the next visit. Pacing about his home between intermittent shots of whiskey and preparing various introductions aloud, it was clear Jonathan intended to confront the bewitching light.

The night soon found our man huddled beneath the Gunderson’s memorial, waiting with determination. Each second ticked away in successively slower intervals as if there was a growing resistance to the woman’s arrival. Jonathan’s answer was to grit his teeth, to sweat, and to tremor his way through the tortuous moments leading to the sudden appearance of the soft, bobbing blue light.

As the first rays of the spectral glow crept around the edge of the gravestone, Jonathan reflexively withdrew. A moment passed where all resolve bled out from his body and he suddenly wished he had stayed home. A dread feeling fell over him but just as his body gathered motivation to flee he lunged around the corner. Standing as if he was expecting to harass a burglar, he looked about and found himself quite alone. Nothing appeared before him. Nothing except a slowly lengthening shadow stretching from his own feet towards the markers beyond.

A tingling electricity lapped at his back as he slowly was engulfed in a soft, blue glow. There was a slight hum in his ear and an even slighter ringing of tiny chimes. As he turned the world slowly disappeared into black nothingness. He found himself standing before the ghostly woman, who floated and regarded him with an annoyed curiosity. Her head cocked to one side as she examined him, and he suddenly felt very sheepish and a little afraid. Still, Jonathan pressed forward and approached her.