Author: Steve Smith, Staff Writer

I woke with a start before dawn, the sky outside was still dark and yet the room was bathed in a shimmering orange glow.

For a moment I thought I was dreaming, but the room was my room, as I left it when I went to sleep, excepting of course the strange light. And the man.

He sat just beyond the foot of the bed in a straight back chair that did not belong, his arms at his side, hands folded neatly in his lap. His head was tipped back ever so slightly, and flames poured as if liquid from his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth only to evaporate before reaching his shoulders, filling the air and the room with this shimmering liquid firelight.

I knew in my gut what this was, who this was, why he was here. I had been remiss, I owed him a debt and he was trying to collect.

I believed him lost. I thought I could forget. I thought he was free of this mortal coil, and yet here he was, having found his own way from who knows where to me.

The air crackled, static charge raising my hair as it bridged the distance between the walls and where he sat.

His head tilted forward ever so slightly, the fiery eye sockets looking right through me before he disappeared with a snap, the room suddenly plunged back into darkness.

I sat stunned for some time, hair still on end, the smell of ozone permeating the room and a metalic taste in my mouth.

I raised a hand, pulled a fistful of light from the ether and tossed it to the empty glass globe hung from the bedroom ceiling. It coalesced there, gained strength, and bathed the room in a soft white light.

My knowledge of and agency over light came at a cost, the loss of a partner I assumed was final, but clearly more than light can be pushed into and pulled from the ether, and if he was there, trapped in the who knows where, it would be in my best interest to find a way to bring him back.

Before he found a way back on his own.