Haunted Passages: “The Lamp,” a flash fiction by Scott Daughtridge DeMer

The Lamp

Echo’s kids asked what secrets the lamp told. She didn’t answer, just stared at the bulb, lit to full brightness. She didn’t blink. Her husband asked what was wrong, asked if she planned to go back to work. Her friends came and tried to pull her away, but she shrugged them off and stayed in place. They called the doctor who checked Echo’s vitals and listened to her blood and breath. The doctor said Echo seemed fine, then stepped aside when the psychic swept in. The psychic watched over Echo for two weeks and confirmed she was on the right path. With Echo’s job long gone, her family grew weary. They threatened to pull the plug. The psychic advised against it, said Echo might literally shatter. The kids eventually left for college, found jobs, moved into places of their own. Before her husband left, he unplugged the lamp, but the bulb stayed lit, made Echo’s eyes glow. Mold grew. The roof gave way in many places, rain and wind filled the house. Rats and roaches flourished. Eventually the electricity was cut, and the wires lost their pulse. Still the bulb beamed. Every night from afar, the townspeople watched, made guesses as to what kept the bulb alive: Echo’s dreams, Echo’s prayers, Echo’s love for the earth, Echo’s hatred for humanity. Over time, Echo’s shoulders hunched. Her skin soured. Her bones sank like the soft spots in the plaster walls, but she kept her eyes wide. The light held her for seven more years. Then one winter night, trees bare, fields thick with snow, the lamp clicked off. Echo blinked and released a breath. Into the cold, dark space, she said, “Welcome.”

Scott Daughtridge DeMer is a fiction writer from Atlanta, Georgia. His work has been featured in Shirley Magazine, Gone Lawn, FANZINE, Hobart, and other places. He also runs Lostintheletters, a literary organization that presents readings, workshops, and the annual Letters Festival.

Image: lamphq.com

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