The matches whisper to her from the table. Their hissing crackling syllables are clearer this evening.
“Come dance with us.” Pauline is sure that’s what they said.
Mother and Nurse told her not to touch the matches. Only they could light the fire that would bring Hans’s beaming face into being. Pauline loved seeing the snaggle-toothed smile, eyes that glowed brightly in a pumpkin face. She had seen Mother and Nurse dance him into being often enough. She could do it. She reaches for the box.
Kitschen and Katzchen mew warningly, “You’ll burn to death, if you do so.”
What do they know? Pauline thinks. They’re only cats. She pulls some matches out of the box and lights them. The flames waver and flicker. Pauline moves her body to match the incendiary motion. Her arms describing arcs and spirals. Her legs walking the pattern around the table with the pumpkin in the center. Then dancing faster, the flames burn brighter.
Kitschen and Katzchen hiss angrily at her. “This is wrong. You shall burn for doing this.” Kitschen’s claws scratch an arcane symbol in the air. Katzchen’s paws bat at the sigil.
Pauline laughs. She has never felt such joy.
She starts singing as she dances around the table, flames swirling. Not that she knows the song, she just strings together the ancient syllables she had heard Mother and Nurse sing.
The flames jump to her apron strings as she leaps around the room. They travel up her arm to her hair. She’s burning everywhere. She screams in ecstasy as flames consume her clothes. Her eyes burn brightly. Gouts of steam escape her nose. She is the fire.
She stretches out charred hands to the pumpkin. His eyes light up and his toothy grin shines through.
“Hello, Hans,” Pauline says. “I missed you.”
Oliver’s book Letters to the Editor of Cthulhu Sex Magazine, available on Amazon, is an epistolary novel about the sacrifices needed to create and maintain a cult following.