The Porch Light
The Porch Light
By J.D. Karsner
© Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved.
Far over the glowing hills of amber and beyond what was once known as the Black Forest laid mysterious things indeed. There were rumors of dark enchantment and magical wonder upon the land and because most people of this era were so superstitious they feared to stray too far into the unknown and therefore, the region had never before been explored nor was it ever topographically mapped. Of course this tale is very old and has been rarely told and if I had not taken it upon myself to pen this enigmatic history it would perhaps have already been forever lost in history. This story takes place during a time when electricity was fairly new to the world of men and a mere porch light was the marvel of the century. Therefore, I have appropriately headlined this account – The Porch Light.
A young boy once lived near the Black Forest and spent his days tending to his family’s farm, which could be found just on the outskirts of the said Black Forest. Life was so demanding and laborious that the boy seldom had time to play and as most children who lived according to such a lifestyle of fatigue he was compelled to grow up faster than normal. However, it was nothing out of the ordinary for the boy to find himself captured in a daydream or two while he performed his tasks and chores. Still these imaginary experiences could never have prepared him for the grim fantasy he was soon to encounter.
He had red hair and a face full of freckles and he was usually seen wearing azure blue overalls and a red handkerchief around his neck, which had been direly faded by the sweltering sun. In fact a frequent visitor or daily passerby would swear that this was the only outfit the boy owned. Of course the consistency of his day to day routine left little time for change and the fruits of his labor consisted of nothing more than enough bread to keep him strong enough to work again the following day. Such a repetitious basis was enough to belittle anyone’s imagination.
One afternoon he was fetching a pale of water from the nearby well when he heard a frantic voice echoing from deep within the hollow cylindrical stone. “Help me….help me out of this forsaken watery grave….” The boy peered down into the darkness but could only see the silhouette of a small figure, but was ever so awestruck by his shimmering white eyes that gleamed from the depths like tiny diamonds. “Lure the pale down and pull me up before I drown down here.” he pleaded, while splashing around overwrought as he pounded his tiny fists upon the surface of the stagnant water. The boy slowly let down the slack of his rope as the tin bucket wobbled clumsily down into the mossy well. He felt the little man take hold of the pale and then he felt the weight of him climbing into it and then setting within as if it were a child’s swing. The boy immediately began pulling him up astonished by the size and weightlessness of the dwarf.
The sun was sinking over the hills like a blazing ship in a vast ocean whose waves were transpiring to black from the cinder and smolder. The clouds of the sky were now becoming black and violet and the dismal farm a land of shadows. It was now twilight as the diamond eyes drew closer and closer to the boy as he heaved and hoed. As the dwarf rose closer the boy could see his chest breathing heavily from the distress he had endured before his hero had arrived.
Finally the little dwarf leaped off of the tin bucket and rolled through the tall grass past the boy’s feet. “Thank you! Thank you…. thank you lad!” He said kicking his feet in the air. Dandelions stuck to his wet coat as he rolled around several more times excitedly. The boy then got a glimpse of the little man’s face noticing that it was in fact not a man at all. It was a goblin with wrinkled caramel-colored skin and a smudged face. It wore a pointy hat that was so dusty one would assume the creature kept it buried in the earth for safe keeping when it was not upon his head. A black cloak was draped over its broad shoulders. Its shoes looked like they were made of pure metal as he clanked them together rejoicing over his fortunate rescue from what he thought would have been a slow and certain death. Crimson red and black striped stockings hid his legs and ankles. The boy glanced around him just hoping his mother or father would be jointly present to witness this marvelous spectacle along with him. However, he quickly realized that it was only the two of them beside the isolated well. It was now on the verge of complete darkness and a gentle breeze was blowing from what seemed to be every direction. “You’re a goblin…..but I thought goblins were only fictional?” questioned the boy as he stared down at the grinning leather face of the tiny man. The white diamonds of his eyes sparkled and for a brief moment the boy felt hypnotized by their peculiarity. “Over those hills there are things one could only find in their deepest slumber, whether it be in dream or nightmare…. things that only children can see because they are only children and no one else would believe them even if they were to tell.” The goblin then ran off into the tall grass and the boy watched as the sage swayed back and forth until he disappeared out of sight blending into the overhanging darkness. The boy stood perplexed at how fast the dwarf could run with such small legs until the loneliness of his situation shattered his trance.
The boy ran to the front porch and lit a lantern knowing it would soon be far too dark to see anything. The boy chased after the goblin, but he could not catch up to him or find any trace of his whereabouts as he scavenged through the tall sage slowly being engulfed by the collapse of nightfall. The boy continued until his farmhouse was nothing more than a minuscule spec that he could barely see even while squinting his eyes. The porch light however, was like a tiny ball of fire dilated by the autumnal moisture in the air. The boy scouted for tracks and listened for footsteps, but all he could hear was the wind howling a whisper against his ears and the hoot of a night owl that was stretching its nocturnal wings to take flight.
By now the boy was physically exhausted and considered turning around and returning home, but was suddenly overtaken by a tumultuous noise emerging from the Black Forest. Hundreds of crows were all cawing at once flying spastically in circles over his head. The boy could hear the sound of their wings swooshing and flapping. They were like shadows with wings avalanching from distance just on the edge of the woods until they came closer and closer over the boy in one massive screeching cloud. One might suppose this to be a bad omen warning the boy that he was much too close to the Black Forest. Nevertheless, the boy found himself running away from the murderous myriad of crows and he ultimately ran into the forest with them circling over his head and high above the trees.
The boy was now in the forest as the birds ascended into the starless sky leaving him alone with the throbbing drumbeat in his chest. The temperature of the air seemed to coldly spiral as he timidly walked into the Black Forest. The woods were dark and damp and the lantern shined a little ways in front of the boy allowing him to have a dim path to follow. The little goblin was nowhere to be found but there were tiny footprints depressed into the mud from where his metallic shoes had been romping. The boy walked slowly through the thick woods now worriedly considering other creatures that might be hungry for derelict fresh meat.
Suddenly his foot struck something hard as he took another step. It was shallowly buried beneath the black earth. The boy brushed the dirt away and found a crystalline glass door that was hinged to solid tree roots. He tried to peer inside but the lantern’s reflection was too bright to allow him to see into the glass. There was an iron handle on the door that was shaped like a horseshoe. The boy pulled and pulled with all of his might with so much force that he was certain the door should have busted into pieces.
Suddenly the boy heard a voice behind him. “That door will lead you to wherever your heart’s desire may be.” It was the ugly goblin standing behind him. He was standing on a fallen down tree tapping his acoustical metal shoes against the trunk. “All you have to do is close your eyes and go through, but it will only open if you know for sure where it is you want to go.” The boy frowned and stared down at the glass door. “But it won’t even open. No matter how hard I pull.” The goblin gave an impatient frown as well.
“That’s because you don’t know where you want to go.” said the goblin jumping off of the tree trunk and landing upon the ground and barely making the slightest noise at all. “You see under this door is magic quick sand that will suck you in and take you as far away as you want to go…..over any land…over any mountain….over any sea.” The boy cupped his hands around his eyes and pressed his face against the glass….it was still too dark to see inside and the lantern could not afford him enough light to see.
The goblin was carrying a black suitcase with him that was antiquely old and rugged. “What is in the suitcase?” asked the boy. “Birdseed.” said the goblin. “Every night I feed the crows but your presence disturbed them tonight and frightened them all away.” The boy frowned again wanting to explain how they had scared him instead of him scaring them. “I suggest you take your lantern and go home.” said the goblin. “Not everything in this forest is as welcoming as I am.” “What is there to be afraid of?” asked the boy with a growing concern for his personal safety. The goblin grinned squinting his diamond eyes and removing his hat to show a bald head with long hair compassing his bulbous crown. The light from the lantern did not illuminate his face entirely, but instead caused shadows to veil his features, particularly his cheekbones. “The moth people……they’re attracted to light and that lantern of yours is sufficiently bright.” “Moth people?” the boy thought but said nothing as the goblin walked off into the dark forest clanking his metal shoes as he went. He then turned around and laughed; “You’ve been warned and my conscience is clear….a favor for a favor.” Then the goblin slipped behind a tree and was gone.
The boy decided it was time to go home but stopped when he heard the noise of galloping hooves against the cold earth. The moon was now a little brighter over the forest so he could see fairly well with the aid of his iron framed lantern. Suddenly three horses burst forth from the darkness, but they had ivory horns protruding out of their heads. The boy knew what they were because he had seen them in story books. They were authentic unicorns long thought to have been driven into extinction. They were very beautiful two of them were alabaster white while the middle one was ebony black with beautiful wings that were patterned a burning orange of ashen ember. In fact the color of its wings was so vibrant that the boy thought for sure if he touched them it would surely scorch the tips of his fingers.
The other two unicorns ran away into the forest startled by the presence of the newfound boy, but the winged black unicorn paused before him curiously staring. The boy had ridden many horses before back on the farm but he did not know how a wild flying unicorn would react to his foreign touch. The boy walked closer and closer whispering to the animal as it backed away in a mixture of shyness and precaution. “Can I ride you….let me ride you?” the boy gently requested as the motionless creature continued to stare. The boy went to climb up on the unicorn’s back but was suddenly thrown to the ground as it raised its legs and leapt into the air spreading its mountainous wings over him. The lantern revealed the magnificence of the beast as its ashen ember wings swooshed like a fiery blaze and its hooves thundered against the earth and the boy could have sworn that the entire forest was momentarily shaken by the impact. The boy closed his eyes curling up into a ball fearing that the massive beast was going to trample him. It flew off the ground gliding briefly in mid-air before it landed again running away into the darkness and leaving the frightened boy behind.
Suddenly the boy heard a monotonous and chilling laughter from behind him as he let down his arms that he had previously been using to shield his face. “They are far too wild to tame…..no one has ever bridled a grown adult since the dawn of time.” The wind ceased to blow and dread consumed everything. Even the moon seemed to vanish as if it were terrified and now hiding somewhere in the high firmament. The boy turned around and was covered in cold chills from head to toe when he observed his spectator. A brute creature slithered out from behind his curtain of darkness as the boy picked up the lantern that had been knocked out of his hand. The individual had the body of a very large serpent and the masculine torso of a human, which amalgamated into the other serpentine half. The monstrous being had human arms and a human-like face with long black and course hair that draped over its entire torso and back like a shawl.
Considering the face the boy noticed its pupils were black slits like that of a snake. The creature never blinked nor did ever need to. Its tongue was forked extending out between its glossy lips as it studied the courage of the boy trying to probe his weaknesses. Its body was black, but splotched with areas of white giving the impression of an animate marble statue. The boy lifted the lantern high enough to notice the monster’s razor sharp teeth as it smiled ever so deceptively and slithered closer exposing his size and muscularity. Two horns projected from its skull that appeared to be as strong as stone.
The creature hissed. “A stranger has entered the Black Forest…..A stranger in a strange land.” The boy tried to scramble to his feet but the wet clay was slippery beneath his feet as he genuflected back down to his knees. “So you live within the burning star?” asked the beast flicking its tongue and smelling the fear mingling with the sweat that was seeping out of the boy’s pores. Looking closer the boy could appreciate the marbleized scales of the humanoid serpent as it approached him dragging the pitch darkness behind it. “What star are you talking about?” asked the boy trying to create a conversational diversion. “Do you mean the porch light of our house?” The creature grinned with its lips, but its eyes bulged violently as if ready to pop. “House…..oh well….now that is a shame if the moth people were to discover your vulnerable circumstance.” The beast was so lethargic in size that it made the boy’s voice quiver in its presence and he was again reminded that he was just a child alone in these dangerous woods with no weapon or means of self-defense.
“Who are the moth people?” inquired the boy as he scanned around him plotting for the best path of escape. “Do you mind if I taste just a scintilla drop of your blood?” asked the monster demandingly. “Young blood is sweeter than raw honey and young flesh as soft as the honeycomb that contains it.” The boy reflexed backing up quickly. “Most certainly not.” he retorted picking up a large tree limb. “Away with you now and leave me alone snake.” The boy swung the stick as the monster snorted severing it out of his hands and onto the forest floor. “Am I a dog that you wave a stick at me? For that I will hang your body from the trees and shower in your warm blood.”
Just as the monster vaulted towards the boy his instincts told him to swing the iron frame of the lantern against the serpent-man’s face, which resulted in breaking the fangs in his mouth. The creature’s mouth was pouring blood as he spit his teeth out into his large human hands becoming enraged as his pupils eclipsed with rage. The boy ran through the woods gripping his lantern tightly as the human snake slithered behind him. “The prey was made for the predator!” echoed the entity as he trailed behind the boy. His legs were getting tired and the sound of his heartbeat flooded his ears. He wished for this to be just a nightmare. He desperately wished that he would wake up in his bed and for a brief moment considered falling down and giving up so that he might wake up from this horrible lucid dream state he was in.
Suddenly the boy tripped over a surfaced rock and went tumbling down a steep hill into a chasm of thick fog. He rolled dropping his lantern all the way to the bottom of the frosty precipice. Luckily the lantern was unharmed and remained lit as it rolled alongside him like a falling star. When his body stopped rolling he strained his sore neck looking up the hill and saw the silhouette of the mythical creature turn around abandoning his efforts and thus ending the hunt. The boy sighed with relief, but his arm was severely scraped and bleeding and his entire body felt mangled from his role as a human snowball.
The boy was now at the bottom of the hill on level ground surrounded by a dense fog and the temperature was extremely cold as his breath exhaled like smoke, which was most appropriate considering his lungs felt like they were on fire. But when he turned around he found a very large lagoon of muddy water. The blackened water was thick as tar and the only sound was of crickets chirping alongside the upper hill. The boy could not believe how much the temperature transitioned between the top of the bluff and the bottom. He saw ice sickles hanging from the trees and frost glittered throughout the fog and upon the surface of the murky lagoon. There was a small wooden boat in the water just big enough for one passenger with a dry rotted rope linking the boat to a tree stump. The boy worried that the monster might be taking another route to get to him so he decided to sail across the body of water to get to the other side. He climbed into the boat with his lantern and a large stick and pushed himself off into the murky lake.
As he drifted away from the shoreline the sound of the crickets grew fainter and fainter and the silence became all the more disturbing. The boy gripped his lantern tightly against his chest while shivering. Frost covered his hair and his clothes as he paddled with the stick and he wondered what he would do if his lantern were to burn out. He was relieved to view the moon’s reflection in the water and for some odd reason it made him not feel so alone. He really wanted to go home and be reunited with his parents.
Suddenly he felt something rub against the bottom of the boat. Then he heard a splash in the dark distance and he halfway stood up in the boat lifting the lantern high to cast a forward light. “Perhaps it was a fish?” he told himself. The boy tried to gaze outward but there was nothing to see but a foggy abyss. The fog was so thick that he felt like it was trying to invade his eye sockets and there were moments when he caught himself rubbing his eyes and wondering if he was going blind.
Then suddenly a feminine-like face came out of the water screaming and wailing like an irate banshee. She was inhuman treading directly beside him as she grappled with the boat violently rocking it with superhuman strength. The boy saw she had sunken eyes that went in too deep to see the shapes or the color. The face had pointed ears and a mouth that had small needle-like teeth barely penetrating her black gums. The thing had white hair with white muddy skin and its form and extremities were thin and emaciated. Her body was wrinkled in the same condition as the fingers of a child who sits too long in their bathing tub.
Another feminine-like face poked out of the water similar to the other shrieking so loudly that the boy was forced to cover his ears with his hands. When she went back underwater the boy saw she had the tail of a fish. The boy knew they were some sort of nightmarish mermaids. Unlike the mythological sirens he had read about that sang to sailors, while sprawled out on rocks during dusk there was nothing beautiful about these screaming demoniacs. Their skeletons were showing under the skin as if they rarely ate anything at all and it would seem that they were not willing to let their meal escape. A third mermaid arose and reached for his arms and legs screaming and shrieking, while gnashing her teeth and slobbering yellow mucus.
The boy yelled for help as two more mermaids grabbed the boat from behind rocking it and trying to tip it over. The creatures didn’t seem to stay out of the water very long. They seemed to be avoiding the light from the lantern as if it was painful for them to behold it for too long. Finally the boy grabbed the lantern and began shining it into their eyes as they retreated underwater into the icy depths. He could hear them screaming and gurgling beneath the muddy sludge as they pounded the bottom of the boat with their fish tails.
The boy paddled and paddled with every ounce of energy that he still retained. The fog was so thick that he had no idea how large the lagoon actually was. “What if it goes on forever?” He continued paddling and at times he felt the mermaids trying to steal his stick from his tired arms. Finally the boat hit the other side of the bank as the boy jumped out catching his breath and coughing due to the cold air that had infiltrated his lungs freezing them on contact. He wondered if he would ever have the desire to go fishing again if he ever made it home. He crouched in the weeds trying to take slower breaths. His feet were soaking wet and numb from the cold, but at least he had survived.
The boy walked for a very long time through the forest going uphill and eventually the weather grew warmer. He had been gone from home for a very long time in the mystical place and he wondered how much longer it would be until sunrise. For several hours he walked until his feet were no longer numb, but instead extremely sore. Suddenly he stopped to behold a row of bleached sycamore trees that were all hallowed out at the trunk line. It was as if something had been inside of them nesting. The holes were quite large. In fact he could have easily fit inside any one of them very comfortably. The boy peered into the interior of one of the trees with his lantern to discover a white powdery dust. The boy sneezed as if allergic to the dust and thought it to be a very strange substance as he rubbed it between his fingers.
“Get away from this place right now.” vociferated a familiar voice. It was the shrunken goblin once again and the boy sighed with relief to finally feel like he had some trustworthy company. “I saw your lantern coming this way and I had to warn you. You have to go home right now. You’re in grave danger with that lantern of yours. You’ve put us both in danger with that bright light.” The boy didn’t quite understand what the goblin was going on about. “What is it? What is this place?” he asked shining his lantern back towards the empty cocoons. “Those hollow trees are just coffins for vampires.” said the goblin. “These are what contain the moth people during the daylight and when it turns night they leave them to feed. They will see that lantern of yours and you’ll never make it out of here alive. Flee for your house now before they come.” The goblin looked in every direction as his voice quivered and his body trembled in the lantern’s light.
“Where is home? I’ve been lost all night.” Yelled the boy as the goblin urged him to keep quiet by holding his finger up to his leather lips. “Look through the trees over there.” said the goblin pointing towards the east. “Look closely.” Upon squinting the boy could see a red dot glowing in the distance with his tired eyelids. It was the porch light of his house and it seemed so very far away.
“Run.” said the goblin. Run as fast as you can run.” The boy then ran away into the forest not taking his eyes off of the porch light. His rusted lantern creaked and groaned in his hand as he sprinted through the thorny brush. Suddenly he heard the goblin cry out in horror and he stopped dead in his tracks. All was silent again as he listened from the midst of the blackness. “Goblin?” the boy cried out to no avail. Something then swooped down out of the trees clawing him on his cheek from the corner of his mouth all the way to his ear lobe. The boy fell to the ground but got back up and started running again not taking his eyes away from the hazy porch light. He needed the lantern to guide him but he knew it could cost him his life.
Suddenly he paused at what was standing before him. Four creatures stood even taller than his father was with white bodies covered in patches of white and xanthous fur. They had the wings of moths only mutated and eyes that were glowing red crested into heads that were human shaped. Their red eyes made him feel paralyzed as he lost strength in both his arms and legs. They had sharp fangs in their mouths and there was a noise they produced that seemed to be buzzing deep within the boy’s head. It was as if they were telepathically sending him white noise trying to drive him mad. He held his hands over his ears and wept “Stop…. please stop.” The moth people just stared at him completely alienated from his emotional turmoil.
White dust fluttered around them as they stood in the lantern light giving the illusion of a wintry snowfall. They spoke their own language with one another as the noise grew louder in the boy’s head and he fell to his knees cringing upon the ground. Off in the distance the horizon was beginning to introduce the dawn as warm colors crept across the firmament. The boy knew the sun would be rising soon so he took the lantern and hurled it at the moth people causing them to jump backwards. It busted against a tree and shattered as his loyal flame evaporated giving him enough time to run away.
He ran and ran but the moth people were capable of flying over him with tremendous speed. One of them shoved him to the ground and another one of them ripped his shirt off of his back. Whether it was with their teeth or claws he could not tell. The boy grabbed a large stone and struck one of them over the head as it squealed in pain bleeding profusely from its temple. The boy again darted towards the porch light running like he never had before.
Suddenly he was close to the edge of the sage meadow and he could see that he was now closer than ever to home. However, the moth people seemed to be multiplying in numbers as they too trespassed towards the sage. Some of them were now walking on foot towards the boy as if they were confident in their siege. That’s when his foot struck a solid object in the dirt, which caused him to stagger a bit. It was the glass door and he knew it was his only escape.
He gripped the horse shoe handle thinking hard about where he wanted to go and he pulled with all of his might. This time the glass door opened revealing a pit of sand underneath. Just before the moth people grabbed his shoulders he fell in and was sucked deep into the sand before he could blink as the glass door slammed shut above him. The boy held his breath and felt a gust of hot air on his face and hot sand blowing against his skin. When it was over he opened his eyes to find himself safely in his bed. His bed sheets were covered in bronze sand and there was some on the floor as if someone had smashed an hourglass upon the floor.
His red handkerchief was missing having been torn from his neck just before he went through the glass door. He looked out his window to see the sun was rising over the glowing hills of amber. The goblin had been right after all. Over those hills there were things one could only find in their deepest slumber whether it be in dream or nightmare…..things that only children could see because they are only children and no one else would believe them even if they were to tell. Because of this he scarcely told a soul about his adventure. He walked out to the porch and shut off the porch light just in time to witness a tiny white moth fluttering away towards its daytime sanctuary; perhaps the Black Forest. Somewhere near the stone well a snake slithered and off in the distance a horse grazed in the field. He had never been happier than he was now to see the sun.
And so ends the history that took place during the early years of electricity when a mere porch light was the marvel of the century. Eventually cities were erected where the amber hills and the Black Forest once stood. Of course no unicorns, goblins, serpent monsters, mermaids or even moth people were ever found during the process of deforestation. However, it was documented that a mysterious pair of metal shoes were discovered partially buried during building.
The Porch Light
- Author: LamentedHaven
- Published: 2017-01-03 20:50:17
- Words: 5317