It was New Year’s Eve. There would be no fireworks tonight. Dad had given me the matches, told me to take care of them until he needed them for the fireworks. He always gave me simple tasks to do, so I’d learn to be responsible. He never gave me any real tasks though. I suppose I was too young at eight years.

It was dark, snow fell from the sky. We lived in a secluded place, the only other house to be seen was that of an old couple who had already gone to sleep. The rest were farming fields. My sister texted her boyfriend, he couldn’t come over tonight. The whole family were talking about things at the table, except me. The digital clock said 22:11. I was more interested in watching the snow pile up in front of the window. The light only reached out a few meters out the window until darkness took over.

Dad went outside to smoke. Mom was always mad at him for that, said he was a bad role model. I saw him standing in the snow. Then he stared into the darkness. As if he had seen something. He seemed to call out for it, I saw his mouth move. Then he went into the darkness. He never came back.

Uncle Doug said, he’d look for him. He took a flashlight and went outside, crossed the street. He found something on the other side, something small, long. I think it was dad’s cigarette. The flashlight went out. Uncle Doug was gone.

It had been then, when we all had noticed something was wrong tonight. Mom panicked, picked up the phone and dialed for the police. It was so silent I heard the policeman on the other side answer. Mom started to ramble about people disappearing in the dark, about being scared. It took her a while to notice she had been disconnected.

Then the power went out. We were only illuminated by the candles and sister’s phone display. Grandpa locked the front door and then went to lock the backdoor as well. Whatever was outside, at least we’d notice it come in if it had to smash the doors open. Mom said she’d go get some flashlights. When she stepped into the dark, she stopped mid-sentence and was gone too.

It wasn’t just that thing in the darkness to be afraid of, it was also the darkness itself. Me, sister and Grandma became so quiet we could hear them breathe. It got so cold inside.

It was 23:56. I could see it on the display shining in the dark. We huddled around three candles. Sister’s boyfriend had stopped texting back. She kept staring at the display, tears reflecting the light. The candles would soon reach their end. Someone would come to help us soon, I told myself. I told myself all would be fine if we just stayed illuminated until the New Year.

Two flames went out, the third would soon follow. I took out a match to try and light them again. The third light went out seconds after I ignited the first match.

The burned down candles were gone. When I illuminated the spot they stood on they weren’t there anymore. The cold dark took them. Grandma was gone too. It was only me with my matchsticks and sister with her phone.

23:58. The batteries died. Sister hadn’t said anything about that. I crept against a wall, holding the burning stick close to me. Just two more minutes. The box was half empty. They were all around me. I heard them breathe. I even felt their cold breath. They merged perfectly with the dark. The flame trembled with the cold winds, as did I. Slowly I shuffled across the wall, I wanted to reach the kitchen. Get the flashlight in the drawer, top right, careful not to let the flame die before another had been made.

I reached the door. The red numbers in the dark said 23:59. I leaned against the wooden door, legs pressed to my body to keep them illuminated. I checked my matches. Two left. The door handle was above me, hidden in the dark. I ignited both matches, one to keep me illuminated, one to keep my hand safe when reaching for the door handle. I’d have enough time to get the flashlight. I held my arm above my head and grabbed the handle. It was so cold. I pulled it down and pressed the door open. A cold wind howled through the door as if a window was open behind it. It blew out the match and my hand around the door handle became freezing cold. The pain bit with icy fangs. When I pulled my arm back into the light it was like my fingers just glided through the handle. Just in the pathetic light I saw my arm ended in a black stump under the elbow. I didn’t really acknowledge it. I knew my time was limited. I pushed the door open with my back, protecting the small light I had left.

Still 23:59. It would soon be over. I reached the drawer. The problem was it was at the height of the door handle. The small flame would only illuminate me full when I made myself small like this. I had no time to think. I could slide the drawer open from underneath, but to reach the top side… I’d have to make a sacrifice. I slowly stood up, just so I was still completely in the light. Then I jumped and hung myself onto the drawer. I felt the cold eat away my legs. I used my black arm to shove the flashlight towards me then clicked the button on top to turn it on. It didn’t. I pressed it again and again as hard as I could. I picked it up. It was light. No batteries. I cried. The little flame started to fade, shrunk more and more as it exposed more and more of me to the dark. I turned my head to see the little clock that stood on the window sill.


No one came to save me.

Happy New Year.