Before she passed, Aunt Gloria said, "in the house, in my bedroom, there is a doorway behind a curtain.”

Bruce had to lean in to hear her low creaky voice. She smelled terrible. She smelled like death and medicine and old person.

“Inside the room there is a candle. If you make a wish and blow out that candle, the wish will come true. Anything you want. But you can’t ever do it. You must never do it. Promise me, Bruce, you won’t blow out that candle."

Bruce held the old woman’s liver-spotted hand and promised. He didn’t believe her. What bullshit . But he’d say what he needed to so her last moments could be peaceful. After all, he was getting the house.

There was no sign of any door or curtain in the master bedroom of the quaint little two-story. He spent the afternoon moving the old lady’s furniture out. Aunt Gloria had terrible taste.

That first night he spent camped out on the floor of what had been her room. Thank goodness she’d died in the hospital. He had a sleeping bag and a 6-pack and his laptop screen for company. Twenty-four-years-young, a college drop-out, and a house owner. Hell yeah. Not too shabby.

It was about three AM when he heard the pop, like a cork being yanked from a wine bottle. He got up, felt his way to the door and found the light-switch next to it, flicked it on.

There was a velour curtain, hanging over what had been an empty stretch of wall. His heart began a drumroll in his chest. He went over and whipped the curtain aside.

Behind it was a chamber made of green stone, like some kind of wizard’s en suite. Come to think of it, Aunt Gloria’s bedroom didn’t have an en suite. Maybe this was it and she’d had some strange experimental decorating done?

But there wasn’t anything bathroom-like about the black altar in the centre of the chamber, or the glowing red candle on the altar.

“If you make a wish and blow out that candle, the wish will come true.”

Bruce’s first thought was to wish for a night of sweet love with a popular TV actress he’d had a crush on from the age of thirteen. He was halfway about to blow out the candle before his brain woke up and told him to stop.

First of all, dumb wish, his brain said. You’re always supposed to wish for more wishes with your first wish. Second, she told you not to blow out that candle and make a wish. And third, his brain went on, there’s no way on Earth there’s a magical candle in your Aunt’s bathroom.

Yeah, the other part of Bruce said, the part that wanted some sweet loving. But isn’t this green stone weird? Isn’t it strange that candle is still burning, even though she’d been in the hospital for like three months? Isn’t that curtain thing weird? There Was no curtain earlier.

His brain conceded that, yes, there were some strange things that might lead a weak-willed 24-year-old college drop-out to believe in magic, but there were still the two other arguments to contend with. Firstly, you had to wish for more wishes first and, more importantly, Aunt Gloria told you no.

But she’s dead now. What can it hurt?

He argued this way for about an hour. The candle flame twinkled and glimmered and smoldered. He finally went to bed without blowing it out. The fact of the matter was that he was pretty tired and drunk anyway. Not really up for making wishes. The candle would be there tomorrow.

In the morning, Bruce went to the hardware store and bought a sheet of plywood and some nails. Back at Aunt Gloria’s house he nailed the plywood over the curtained doorway. The curtain had no disappeared.

He was going to abide by his Aunt’s wish. The occult and that kind of thing wasn’t really his style anyway.

Bruce spent the day thinking about all the wishes he’d like to have granted: lots of money, true love and hot sex, Happiness everlasting, all the good movies books and games that didn’t exist yet but would be created in the future.

The candle haunted him. When he closed his eyes he saw it. He found himself, halfway through making a sandwich, blowing up monsters on his laptop, even jerking off, suddenly stopping and as if commanded, going to stand in Aunt Gloria’s bedroom in front of the nailed piece of plywood. He wanted to tear out the nails, rip back the curtain, go through the doorway, make his wish and blow that candle out.

He didn’t go to sleep in Aunt Gloria’s room the second night, but in the morning he found himself curled up on the floor in front of the plywood. He locked the door to her room for the third night. On the fourth night, he slept in his car.

On the fifth night, he caved. He told himself he’d imagined it all. There was no curtain, no chamber of green stone, no altar and candle. He’d imagined it.

He dug up the key to the door that he’d buried in the flowerbed. He took a hammer and pulled the nails out of the plywood. He ripped back the velour curtains.

And there was the green chamber, the black altar, the glowing red candle of wishes.

“If you make a wish and blow out that candle, the wish will come true.”

Lots of money, true love and hot sex, Happiness everlasting, all the good movies books and games that don’t exist yet but will be created in the future.

“Promise me, Bruce, you won’t blow out that candle."

Bruce knelt on the green stone floor before the black altar, made his wish, and blew.

Almost immediately he felt a heavy weight lift from his shoulders. He stood and left the chamber and got into his sleeping bag. He fell into a very deep sleep.

In his dreams, all his wishes were granted: plenty of money, true love and hot sex, Happiness everlasting, all the good movies books and games that don’t exist yet but will be created in the future.

But Bruce never woke up. He’s still sleeping, and having one hell of a good time.

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Edmonton-based writer of scifi, fantasy, horror, and other weird fictions. No publication credits. Read at your own risk.

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