The Lamplighter
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The bedroom clock strikes midnight and I immediately strike up out of bed without even thinking. I can hear the clock tower in town tolling off the twelve. But that’s not what woke me. Practice has taught my body what to do. This isn’t my first night as the lamplighter and god forbid it’ll be my last. I put on some clothes, pull out a long jacket for the chill already breaking through my windows, grab my nightly pack, my rifle and head out for the wooded walk to town. I get right to the path and I remember, gosh darn it! I almost forgot the light. That would be a kids mistake and I am long removed from being a kid. I head back inside and back into my bedroom to right underneath the bedroom clock. There’s a small oaken chest right underneath the clock with a large lock on the handle. I produce a key from behind my ear, one of the first tricks any lamplighter worth his oil learns. And I unlock the chest, revealing its only inhabitant. A lonely steel box. About the size of an oil lamp with a small iron handle protruding from the top. I grab the handle and head out back out to the path. Now to really start the day. I used to hate this, waking up at midnight, living in the middle of nowhere. Before I was given this job I would’ve killed to avoid it. But now I know different. Now I have to kill to keep it. Lamplighter, that’s what they call me. You see, our town is one of the oldest in the land and we’ve lived off a job based system. For as long as any has kept track, everyone has had a job as soon as they are able and as long as everyone does their job the town stays alive. And my job is one of the oldest, well at least I am one of the oldest in our town to have a job. Most folks have never known a lamplighter besides me. And if any ever ask my age I usually just respond with “older than you can remember”. Not that I care about my age, its more that I can’t even remember anymore. I remember a few things from before my time as a lamplighter but not many. Not enough anyway. Oh well, enough reminiscing. I’m almost at the town and that means its time for work. Once I reach the main gate, right in front of the church bell tower just now striking 12:20, I set my pack, my rifle and the iron box down on a nearby bench and pull out a long cigar from my jacket pocket. An old lamplighter tradition. I pull out a match from my other pocket and light it up to enjoy a little smoke before I do what I came here for. There are some that have watched lamplighters all through time light a cigar before work and assume that leads to their long lives. I have no idea if its true or not, but it feels good and damn it if it doesn’t take some stress away. Once I finish my smoke I throw the cigar onto the ground and retrieve all of my materials. I then head into the church and make my way up into the clock tower. At the very top of the tower in a compartment about half the size of the clock room is a big lamp. A lamp that’s really just a large room built into the town with a fire pit in the middle and large holes on all the walls to let the light out. I step up to the fire pit, set my materials down and pull out my torch and my tin of oil from the pack. I open up the tin (Its starting to feel a little light, that’s really not good. Ill deal with that after though) and I cover the tip of the torch in a sticky substance. I set the torch on the floor, pick up the iron box and gently open up the front hatch. As soon as its opened up even an inch a bright almost blinding light pours out. A light so bright that I’ve never even been able to see the source. I just now that its not something I want to lose. Once I open up the lamp, I grab up the torch again and shove the oil covered end in the lamp. I pull the torch back out again and like every night before the torch lights up the whole room like I had broken the lamp and spilled the strange contents out into the world. And I’ve definitely thought about it. But with the things I I’ve seen over the years, I wouldn’t dare. Lets see what I get to deal with tonight. I then stand over the fire pit and place the white glow of the torch into the pit. When I pull the torch back up the whole fire is gone as if it just jumped from the torch to the pit. With the pit alight though I immediately drop my pack and pull out my rifle. Now the real job begins. The clock tower below me chimes 1am and the glowing white fire from the pit bursts up into a huge white ball. Off into the distance I hear an inhuman scream and I know immediately what tonight brings. “Banshees…yay.” Why couldn’t it be zombies like last night, those suckers literally just lined up in front of me to shoot. Banshees will be different though. Ill have to hide in one of the hay piles in the corner. Those things always wait for someone to pop up in curiosity to start their attack. That’s a mistake I only made once though. Ill just wait for them to turn their back and while they are not looking ill pop a bullet in their skull. One shot for one banshee that’s my goal for tonight. Nothing fancy.

Several hours of banshee shooting later…

The clock tower bongs 6am, the white portal flickers into nonexistence and I”m done. Another day another…wait…I don’t get paid! I slump back down on the pile of hay that’s been my home for the last five hours, pull a flask I keep in my coat for just this occasion and take a long drawn out victory swig. That’s the stuff. *Sigh*. Now to face the masses. I grab my shit and head out of the church out into town. If it wasn’t for the five hour monotonous killing, this would be the worst part. As soon as I exit the church, I’m swarmed by masses of people from the town all curious about my new “adventure”. I killed banshees, I tell them, that’s it. But they ask for, what were they like(not like I talked to them), what happened(I KILLED BANSHEES). It’s the same thing almost every night. No one really understands m job so they always need to know everything. These questions are the better ones though. There’s always one bad one though. Why do you have to murder them, they ask, why cant we do it, what is your purpose. All of these questions that I don’t really have answers for. I do my job, that’s the only answer I can really give. But with the questions slowly going away, I remember, I have bigger fish to fry. The small inconvenience of my oil being almost empty is actually a major problem. I’ll have to look at the rule book tonight. In our town each worker is given a rulebook, a small book with rules and regulations and what ifs. Since there’s usually only one member of each job at a time there needs to be some way to know that you’re doing it right. When I get back to my cabin, I put all of my gear away and immediately consult my rulebook. I usually don’t have to use it so I’m not entirely sure where to look. I search through the pages for a bit until I find the chapter I need. What if you’re out of oil. I skim through the pages and what I find nearly knocks me to the damn floor! Right at the top of the page in big blue letters it says a few simple words. “Oil comes from the townspeople. Talk to the mayor, he knows what to do.” What the hell does that mean! You know what its been a long day, I’m not going to worry about it ill just go talk to the mayor before tonight’s shift. Until then though I’m going to rest.

Around 10 O’clock I decide to head to town early to meet with the mayor. I grab all of my gear though in case our discussion last until its time for work. I walk up to his mansion knock on the door and am “greeted” by our dear mayor in his pajamas. Clearly not happy to see me. At least the feeling is mutual. He asks why the hell I am here and he starts to look more and more worried as he realizes who I am. I look him dead in the eyes and say four words “My oil is out.” He must know what im talking about though because he immediately rushes me inside, and as soon as he can he says “ Know what I am about to tell you cannot leave this room under any circumstance. Not on paper, through voice or even in song. Do you understand? “ I slowly nod yes and that in mind now is where I will be skipping ahead in the story. Because the Important part isn’t till later anyway

After I leave the mayoral mansion, I am no longer ready for tonight. I am no longer an experienced lamplighter taking his job day by day. I am fresh, at least for the task ahead I am fresh. I am also scared, frustrated, and beyond frozen in denial at what I was just told. But again, I cant tell you that, what I can tell you though is that that night my job wasn’t to go to the clock tower and open the normal portal. That night my job took place elsewhere. I went to one of the many house around the town. A house special only in that I was directed to it, not in any way with looks. But with the way the mayor described it and who lived in it, I knew which house it was. And I completely regretted what was about to happen in that house. I walked up to the door, pulling out my rifle as I did. I knocked on the door and as the owner of the house opened up the door, I did a quick prayer begging that they would both forgive me and that I would never have to do this again. The man looked into my eyes noticed who I was and not unlike the mayor said “ Oh my goodness, Lamplighter, what are you doing here?” I had no idea what to say, should I tell him the truth. I looked at my rifle still clutched in my arms, looked back at him and replied “ Im out of oil.” He then noticed my rifle and began to panic. “ Wait! What do you” Then before he can finish I pull my rifle up, put his head in view and fire a bullet deep into his brain. From the commotion, a child pokes his head out from the bannister behind the newly deceased man. He doesn’t even notice his dead father. I quickly say to myself, just like the banshees; one bullet for one banshee that’s my goal for tonight. And with that it’s time for work.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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