The Lantern

By Evie Burns

The lantern flickered as the boys sat there in the dark. The wind howled fiercely, and snow fell like feathers. They were on their own now. The lantern was most important to them. It kept them warm and made it bright. They both cuddled each other as the night got darker. Melted snow trickled from the lantern, but it still shone bright. The youngest of them peered at the gleaming moon, suddenly realising that the boy next to him was the closest thing he had to family.

One of the boys held on tightly to his worn, purple-knitted beanie, the other smothered himself in his velvet jacket. The threatening smell of smoke made the youngest boy shiver; the older boy comforted him. “It’s okay … someone is bound to see us soon,” said the older boy, holding out his knitted beanie. “Here, have this and keep warm.”

The younger boy smiled and gratefully took the knitted beanie. As the sky grew darker, the boys agreed to call it a night and lay down dreaming of sitting in a warm house with a fireplace, drinking fresh mushroom soup.

In the dark of the night, they heard a whisper—a little girl’s whisper. The eldest boy froze and slowly lifted his head. His eyes had heavy bags under them. He could not tell if he was dreaming. As the flame flickered through the icy wind, he put his head back down to rest.

The next morning the flame in the lantern was still lit, and all seemed quiet through the street. Suddenly, a deafening scream pierced the silence. Everyone on the street ran out to see what it was. Horrified, they saw a woman hanging from her apartment by her fingertips, her eyes as desperate as a lion willing to do anything for food. Unfortunately, she started falling from the great height, screaming her lungs out. A tall man in the apartment leaned out the window and frantically tried to grab onto the woman’s hand, but he couldn’t hold her for very long. Luckily, the firefighters got there quick enough to catch her with a safety net.

“I don’t know how she fell,’ said the tall man to the sheriff. “I thought I saw a little girl … but I must have imagined it.”

The eldest boy, standing nearby, realised something horrifying. The lantern had a mind of its own. When the sheriff had gone, the boy walked over to the tall stranger and tugged at his shirt. “I don’t know your name but … does this place have a history with lanterns?”

“W-why, yes it does,” stuttered the man, as he turned as pale as paper. “They say that a girl is trapped inside a lantern and is trying to be set free by helping other people, then possessing them and taking her revenge on her enemies.”

There was a short silence. “Anyway! Hope you two have a momentous day!” said the man, tipping his hat and hurrying away.

The two boys looked at each other, and then slowly moved to the lantern.

“A ghost?” cried the youngest boy, as fear filled his eyes.

“I’m afraid so,” replied the eldest, squeezing his hands tight.

“Are we going to be, okay?” whimpered the youngest boy.

“We’ll be absolutely fine,” said the oldest boy. “Because I’m not letting some silly ghost ruin our life! No, sir!”

“You ready to throw this ghost into the sea?” yelled the eldest boy.

“Ready when you are!”

3 …2 … 1 …

And so, they tossed the haunted lantern into the ocean and watched it slowly drift away.

It is said that the boys found a wonderful home where they could drink mushroom soup every single night. They have a happy life in a remote village.

“Hey, Mum! I found this cool lantern!” shouted a small boy, paddling at the edge of the ocean.

“Bring it here,” replied the mother.

Edru—author of ‘The Three Little Pigs (but the big bad wolf is polite and playful)‘—and Evie, proudly displaying our latest book, ‘Adventure Unlocked’.