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The Candle Man

Estimated reading time — 3 minutes

Over the hill and through the moor,
the candle man comes walking,
up to your door.

He lights up a candle and walks to your bed,
leaves the candle in the window,
and leaves with your head.

That’s the nursery rhyme my grandma used to tell me when I was young. I remember that little rhyme terrifying me as a child, as I cowered under the covers in the bed at her small country cottage, too scared to sleep. She described him as a tall, pale man in a robe, who liked to kill little children. “And whenever he killed,” Grandma would say in hushed voice ‘he would leave a ghostly candle in their window” at that she would yell out and make me jump back in fright while she shrieked with laughter. “The candle man”, even the name gives me chills. It seemed like such a horrible, scary thing to say to a child, but then again, Grandma was a scary woman. She was small, with weathered skin and cruel, sunken eyes that always seemed to glare at me. After Grandpa died she hardly ever left her house, just sat in her rocking chair, telling stories of the candle man and taking delight in my fear, laughing madly when I jumped. I found her such a disgusting woman.


Anyway, when grew up, I learned that it wasn’t her fault really, Grandpa’s death had shaken her up, messed with her head. She didn’t know what was appropriate anymore. Grandpa was only alive when I was a baby and I never knew him, but I learned when I was older how much he had meant to Grandma. Without him, she had been broken. She died when I was thirteen, and I guess it didn’t really come to me as much of a shock, she was incredibly old and frail.

Now I’m thirty, with a wife and a little girl. We have a comfortable suburban home, and I couldn’t be happier. There has been one thing that’s shaken me up recently, however. It was a silly thing, but it still scared the hell out of me. A nightmare. In the dream I was in my bedroom, comfy under the covers, when I heard a tune being played on the piano downstairs. I knew what was being played as soon as I heard it, “the candle man”. Goosebumps ran up my arms and neck, and ice filled my stomach. I sprinted down the narrow staircase into the living room, where I saw a tall, pale figure in a robe holding a candle, leaving through the open door. The candle man. He was about six foot four or five, with dead looking beady eyes and a wide, evil grin. I woke up suddenly in a cold sweat, turned on the light, and read until I was ready to sleep again. I put the dream down to too many drinks and the coming of Halloween, but it freaked me out anyway.


And that takes me up to yesterday, Halloween night. I was trudging back from a party, not drunk, (I don’t drink) but still woozy from tiredness. I thrust my hands into my pockets for warmth. Whilst I was walking back through the crisp orange leaves, the poem of the candle man popped into my head. My heart began to thud as I walked down the poorly-lit street, leaves crunching underfoot, the pale moon casting long shadows along the path. In my mind’s eye, I could see the candle man, thin and ghostly, running up to me and cutting off my head in one swing of an axe. Silly I know, but the dark can make my imagination run wild sometimes. I arrived on my road and began to calm down. I felt silly for having let the poem get to me. I was perfectly safe under the streetlights.

As I arrived at my front yard, I noticed a tall man in a robe standing at the end of the street, his face shrouded in darkness. He appeared to be staring at me. Once again images of the candle man flooded through my head, sending my heartbeat into overdrive. I shook it off. “It’s just a tall man out for Halloween, nothing to be scared of,” I assured myself, as I attempted to slow my breathing. Then I looked up at my house, hearing demonic laughter from the man’s direction. An icicle of terror stabbed at my heart. There, in my daughter’s window, flickering softly, was a candle.


Credit: Anonymous

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23 thoughts on “The Candle Man”

  1. Norris Vaughn III

    You did a great job at creating suspense and dread. It was a decent story with a pretty good twist ending, but that was kind of predictable. Overall, a good story, but I agree with the others it feel flat towards the end because the story went in a different direction than it needed to.

  2. Psychotic Grammar Nazi

    Here’s my theory. The main character is, in fact, a drinker. He had the first dream about the Candle Man after he had been drinking. At the end of the story where he sees the candle and Candle Man, he is once again in a drunken sleep. In his dream he doesn’t drink and that’s why he said that. The Candle Man is only real in your dreams. All he can do is scare you because all he is is a story to inspire fear.

  3. O this story had so much potential at the beginning! I loved the detail about the creepy poem, the Grandma, even the nightmare. But then it just kind of… fell flat. It ended so abruptly and predictably, as if the author rushed to the ending. The first half is a lot of build up to what could be a great story. There’s good content at the start, it’s something to work off of. The drinking inconsistency could have easily been avoided. Just a second set of eyes would have caught it :)

  4. Why was he coming home from the party alone? If the daughter was home with the mom that probably could’ve been explained. For example, maybe the wife didn’t feel like going so the man went by himself. I dunno, that plus the drinks thing that everyone mentioned threw me off.

  5. “I put the dream down to too many drinks and the coming of Halloween…”

    “I was trudging back from a party, not drunk, (I don’t drink) but still woozy from tiredness.”

    So does he drink, or doesn’t he?

    Pasta seemed undercooked and underseasoned. Has potential though, I always like pastas based on old nursery rhymes and folk stories.

  6. A little predictable and short. How come in one sentence he says he had too many drinks, and the next he says he doesn’t drink…?

  7. Good story. The only thing that took me out of it was when you say that it was too many drinks, and then in the next paragraph it says not drunk (I don’t drink). But it was not bad.

  8. “I put the dream down to too many drinks”

    “I was trudging back from a party, not drunk (*I don’t drink*)”


  9. Sleepless Beauty

    I can’t stand poems on here, so I almost didn’t read it thinking that it was one. Glad I kept going though!

  10. “. I put the dream down to too many drinks and the coming of Halloween, but it freaked me out anyway.”

    I was trudging back from a party, not drunk, (I don’t drink) but still woozy from tiredness.


  11. Not a bad story, but inconsistent, and lacking in details. This sentence “I put the dream down to too many drinks and the coming of Halloween, but it freaked me out anyway.” contradicts the very next sentence that begins a new paragraph “I was trudging back from a party, not drunk, (I don’t drink) but still woozy from tiredness.”.

    Also, I can’t help but wonder where the wife is through the story, seems odd to point out that narrator was “thirty, with a wife and little girl” and never mention where the wife was when he woke up from his nightmare (did she sleep through it?) or if she was at home with the daughter (can’t leave a kid unattended) and also became a victim of the Candle Man?

    1. Psychotic Grammar Nazi

      She knew about her husband’s inward fear from his childhood and, as a Halloween prank, decided to dress up as the Candle Man and scare him when he got home.

      1. Good point. Maybe he’s a fallen down drunk in the monster world, but a tee-totaller in the real one?

        You know, like he’s always throwing bottles of Jack Daniels at the monster bartender and calling him names like “chubby cheeks” and “tender paws” and “sweet bottom”. But in the real world he hangs out at coffee shops and cries profusely.

        That’s the only logical scenario I can think of.

    1. Haha! Yeah I noticed that to. It’s totally a good starting concept for a story. I like the idea of the killer leaving a candle in his victim’s Windows.

      Maybe if you decide to flesh the story out a bit, you might consider some ideas for said candle. Like maybe he could make the wax of one out of some substance that turns to a posinous gas when it burns. Then you could have instances where the killer’s candles start getting a kill count of there own. Like a forensic team could all die or something?

      IDK just a random idea. Keep at it, and I look forward to reading more:)

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