HEARTHSIDE STORIES: A Holiday Burner, by D.M. Siciliano

As they entered the abandoned house, the floor creaked and groaned, lamenting their intrusion.

“I told you we shouldn’t have come. It’s haunted,” the last word fell away from Danny in a whisper.

“Yeah, and it’s Christmas Eve, we should be having eggnog and toasting our feet by the fire,” Clint added. The room was dim, as the sun outside was setting in the gray cloud of winter night. The icy air sliced through them. He fought back a chatter of his teeth.

“Don’t say fire, douchenozzles!” Heather’s dramatic eye roll was lost in the darkness of the one-roomed house.

With that mere mention, a spark ignited in the fireplace. First a crackle, then a faint light like a match flicking to life.

“A single flame to light the darkness,” Alex said, the words rolling off his tongue robotically.