What happened at the lighthouse, Mr Keeper? That is your name, is it not? Mr Keeper?
Eh, aye, sir. T-t-terrible things Sir Dick. Terrible things.
In the lighthouse kitchen there are two chairs, but I’ve only ever needed to use one of them. I sit there most days and listen to the waves crash against the rocks outside, the smell of the sea in my nostrils from dawn until the sky turns orange and red and finally black and it is just me, the light and the waves once again. I stare in wonder and hate at the thunderous sea, wine bottle green and veined in white with foam, clinging and smashing to the sheer sides of my lighthouse island.
There had been a storm last night smashing and breaking itself against the steadfast rock. I had heard far off cries and stood at the window, uselessly looking out at the rain and the waves.
The gull’s calls had brought me to the back of the lighthouse early this morning. I climbed down the steps facing the mainland, a distant strip of brown and dark green, which today, disappeared constantly behind the heave and swell of the ocean. When I saw the human body, a tangled mess of seaweed and ragged clothes, I scrambled down the sharp rocks to the edge of the water. Grabbing a branch that had been washed up by last nights storm, I somehow hooked her and gradually dragged her through the flotsam and jetsam.
I negotiated the sharp, slippery steps slowly and with great caution. The woman was heavy and my back and shoulders burned with each step. I focused on the splash and crash of the waves until finally I reached the gate at the entrance of the lighthouse. A metre long tunnel of slate rock led from the gate to the door of the lighthouse. I lay her down and rested her back against the wall as I swung the gate open against the increasingly violent wind. Crouching next to her I could hear a faint wheezing breath. My heart quickened.
All of a sudden, an ominous shadow rose and rippled up the steep sides of the island. My eyes followed it up, up until it smothered the tip of the lighthouse and met the grey sky. A wave. Not just a wave. Gargantuan. The kind of wave that would have terrified Moby Dick and turned Jason home. I scrambled about me, pulling and dragging at the soaking pile of rags and limp limbs. Her head lolled from side to side as I became more desperate and the wave closed in. Her torso was inside the metre long tunnel that led from the gate to the door of the lighthouse and I clutched at her dress, white knuckled.
Everything went dark as the sea wrapped itself round the lighthouse in a tight embrace. I was knocked against the side of the tunnel. My eyes closed, the sea fell away and I slipped from consciousness.
When I awoke, I was surrounded by darkness and the taste of blood filled my mouth. I looked at my hands. Although the material of the woman’s dress had not been pried from them, she was gone. I sat alone in the tunnel, where I sit now, and cried.