The Crying in the Lighthouse

Welcome to the sixth of twelve.  For those who don’t know, my New Year’s resolution was to write twelve short stories, one each month, and then post them to my blog on the last Wednesday of each month.

Now, this story I think deserves a little introduction.  It’s a story I actually wrote a couple of years ago.  I initially wanted to send it in to a magazine, but I quickly discovered that the market for short stories wasn’t quite the same as it was some decades ago.  I found that my story was either too long or didn’t fit the theme of the publication well enough.  So I never bothered sending it in anywhere.  Shortly after that, the day after my 25th birthday to be precise, I started writing my novel.  But this story never truly left my mind.  It was one of the few I was legitimately proud of.  I decided that, if I wasn’t going to get it published anywhere, I could post it here and share it regardless.

So, without further ado, I present to you “The Crying in the Lighthouse”.  It is a longer story than my previous works, so get comfortable and enjoy!

 

The mass of deep blue slithers, boils, pitches and rolls, hurling itself against the gray rocks. It foams as it batters the land, sliding up the shore. A flash of wicked light is followed by a loud boom that reverberates through the air. The sky is dark, and the wind whistles through the rocks as it sears the land with its fury.

A line of light shines through the darkness, a solitary beacon. It spins around a dark tower, cutting through the gloom like a knife. The light silhouettes the structure, casting it in an ominous shadow. It looms, an emblem of foreboding and a reminder of danger to passing ships. This is Sharp Point, perhaps better known by its nickname “Demon’s Rock”. The area is treacherous, full of rocks hiding their cold talons below the dark blue water, cutting into any ship foolish enough to attempt passing.

Occasionally, a silhouetted figure appears in the sky, spotlighted by the tower’s beam. He stands at the top of the lighthouse, gazing out the wall of windows into the stormy night. He is an older man in his mid-forties. He wears a mat of light brown hair on his head, and a light goatee of similar color surrounds his slightly chapped lips. His dark green eyes blink as the light swings around behind him, momentarily encasing him in a blinding white halo.

His name is Devon Woolfe, and he is the keeper of the lighthouse.

 

As Devon’s eyes fluttered open, he found that the storm from the night before had passed, replaced instead by a beaming yellow sun. He threw the blanket off of him and sat up on his small green cot. Unsurprisingly, aside from the storm the night was uneventful. There was nothing to fix, nothing to monitor, and nothing to do.

Standing up, Devon walked over to the small glass window and looked out at the ocean before him. It gleamed in the sunlight, a sparkling white glow blooming out most of the faraway landscape. He strained his eyes, just barely able to make out the mainland town of Colwyn. Foggy, unclear buildings of red brick and white mortar stood next to the shore. Small waves crashed onto the rocks below, making a serene swishing sound as they wrapped around the cold gray stones. The wind whipped through the lighthouse tower, carrying with it the salty smell of the ocean.

Devon turned around to face his room. The white, stone walls lacked any real texture, and the room was only lightly furnished. The green cot sat on the floor to Devon’s left, with a wooden bed table that had a small, windup clock sitting on it. On the right side of the room was a large, oak desk. On the desk were scattered papers, a pen, a small mirror, and a leather-bound book that Devon kept as a journal. A small, red lamp sat in one corner of the desk, aiming down at the journal like a spotlight. Devon had many late nights with that light on, jotting down important daily events and reading books for pleasure.

Last night’s entry in his journal simply read “Storm passed through. No ships.”

Devon changed into a gray sweater and light blue pants, slipping on a pair of large brown boots before he stepped out into the giant stairwell. It was a black snake, winding around a pole that shot straight up through the lighthouse like an axis. The lighthouse was a giant white cylinder of mortar, protruding from the rocky land like a stubby finger. There were little rectangular windows on the sides, taller than they were wide. Devon leaned over the railing and looked down at the bottom. At that moment, he was thankful for not having vertigo. The lighthouse was over five stories tall.

Pushing off the railing, Devon started walking upstairs. The wind blew through the rectangular windows, blowing back Devon’s hair. The smell of the ocean wafted into his nostrils, mixing with the faint stench of oil and industrialism. Devon’s large boots clunked against the steps as he climbed, creating an intermittent tune that reverberated off the walls.

As he ascended, Devon felt grim. It was a familiar sensation.

Finally landing on solid floor, Devon was confronted by a metallic monstrosity. A giant circle of metal encased the massive bulb of the lighthouse’s beacon. It had shut off during the night, just as expected. He glanced over to his left and saw the culprit, a strange looking device mounted on the wall.

It looked like a metal cage with a black rod inside. It was known as the Sun Valve, a device which automated the lighthouse beacon. In the sunlight, the black rod expanded which would cut off the flow of gas to the light, turning it off. At night, the rod would contract which allowed gas back into the system, switching on the light. The Sun Valve had been a permanent fixture since before Devon’s time here, but it was a reminder of what was to come. The advancements of technology were slowly rendering men like him obsolete. The Sun Valve had only played a small part.

The man in charge of upgrading the lighthouse was a man by the name of Patrick O’Neill. Patrick was Devon’s patron of sorts, paying him for his work at the lighthouse. Patrick and his boy Charlie had been visiting more often lately, supervising upgrades and checking on the tower’s well-being. Last month’s visit appeared before Devon now, making its way up from the murky depths of his memory.

It’s called GPS, or Global Positioning System. It’ll tell you exactly where you are on the planet with coordinates and everything! How cool is that?”

“Yeah…cool.”

“Devon, what’s wrong?”

“I’ve just got a lot on my mind. Things are moving so fast these days.”

“It’s amazing isn’t it? GPS is going to change so many things. Ships will never get lost again. No need for old, outdated maps.”

No need for old, outdated men either, thought Devon. He groaned on the inside, tuning out the chattering young man next to him. Charlie was a good kid, but naive. He had yet to truly understand how the world worked. In any case, Devon didn’t hold his enthusiasm against him. There was still time for him, time to figure out his place in the world. But for him…Devon stared out the window of the crew room, watching the waves as they rolled over the rocks…

Once it had fallen to him to ensure that the Sun Valve worked. But with time, that was taken away. They started sending out their own mechanic to inspect it at scheduled intervals, someone with “proper training”. Devon was relegated to backup, there only in case something went awry and no one could get out to the lighthouse on short notice. He gazed around the light room, watching the sunlight glint off the massive windows, wondering where it all changed.

There was a time when the lighthouse needed three people to maintain it. They all lived here in the tower. They laughed, played games, and were as close as brothers. But with the constant upgrades and shifting times, the other two eventually left, seeking out different opportunities and different paths. Only Devon remained.

Turning his back on the massive light apparatus, Devon descended the black spiral staircase again, stopping at the floor of the crew room. The crew room was higher up than his bedroom, sitting just a few flights or so below the light room. Like the bedroom, it was spartan in appearance. An ancient looking gray stove oven sat in the corner near a window, and a small wooden table with four chairs sat in the center of the room. A small storage closet sat off to the side of the oven, which contained spices and foods that didn’t require refrigeration. For everything else, there was a large white fridge sitting on the opposite side of the room.

Devon opened the closet and took stock of what was inside. There were lots of random spices sitting here and there, some that hadn’t been used for quite some time. There was a half-used bag of sugar in one corner along with some coffee grounds. Other than that there were a couple cans of brand name pasta.

Pulling his head out of the closet doorway, Devon sauntered over to the fridge and pulled it open. There were some cans of beer, a jug of milk, and some leftover meat from dinner a couple nights ago. He checked the freezer and found it empty. He closed the fridge door, continued out of the crew room, and made his way down the spiral stairs. He would have to travel to the mainland for supplies.

The bottom of the lighthouse had a brick boiler room with a gas generator in it. The large, bronze boiler in the middle sat unused since the generator’s installation. Devon glanced at it as he walked by. The once shiny color had faded and rust had begun creeping around on the inside, staining it a sickly orange-red. It was a pathetic old thing, sad and lonely, replaced by the sleek and small red generator in the corner.

The boiler room led up a series of stone steps into a small wooden shed. He pushed the wooden door open and shielded his eyes from the blazing sun. The wind whirled around him, ruffling his sweater as he walked. It was a cool day, but Devon didn’t mind the cold.

He descended the stone steps and headed toward the dock. It wasn’t long before something caught his eye, a golden gleam coming from beneath one of the rocks close to the water. When he got closer, his shadow covered the glare of the sun and he was able to see what it was.

Washed up on the shore was a pair of golden coins. Devon reached down and picked one up. It held a series of patterns in something akin to a police shield symbol. Circles and lines of all shapes and sizes were etched into the coin, running around in a tangled web of gold. A massive crown sat atop the shield, and when Devon turned the coin over he was greeted by a pompous looking figure of a man’s face. From what Devon could tell of the faded image, the man was an aristocrat. He exuded royalty, deeming it beneath him to even look at the artist who had etched his image.

Devon scooped up the other coin and slid them both into his pants pocket. When he was on the mainland he would show it to the local museum owner, an old friend. He might know where and when the coin came from. Continuing down to the dock, Devon stepped onto the little ferry boat he used to go to and from the mainland. It was an old-looking ship, white with a brown roof over the main cabin. Devon pulled the cord on the black motor in the back. It roared to life, old but still reliable.

He stepped into the pilot cabin and took his place at the wheel. Moments later the boat was skimming away from the island, the tall white tower shrinking slowly as the boat moved further and further away. It slid effortlessly through the water, pitching to the tune of the waves as it crossed the watery chasm between island and town…

 

Faint static reached Devon’s ears when he flipped the switch on. As he turned the dial, he got a series of different crackling noises: some high-pitched, some low. Other times he could make out a distant voice. But no one needed to speak with him directly. Flipping through the dials of the radio was like an act of meditation he did every night.

It was an old ham radio, with a black microphone on a stand and a small gray box for a receiver. A more modern looking black speaker sat next to it. It seemed even the radio couldn’t escape the incessant need to upgrade.

It sat in a small room on a floor between the bedroom and the crew room. The room was dimly lit, making the white walls look almost gray. It was mostly a storage room, with boxes, chairs, and other random things strewn about. A boxy little door sat in one corner that opened up into a storage space. It had a false back in it, which was where Devon stored the coins he had found.

His trip to the mainland was mostly successful. He picked up plenty of supplies which would allow him to stay on the lighthouse for another few weeks or so, barring any emergencies. His research into the coins had been less fortuitous. He had walked to the museum, but it was closed for some reason. So Devon had slid the coins into the little hiding space upon his return and sat down at the radio.

Devon fiddled with the frequency dial until he found a station of static that he liked. A low droning hiss emerged from the speaker, and Devon closed his eyes. The hissing slowly enveloped him, coiling like an electronic snake. In his mind, he conjured up an image of a lonely sailor sitting out on the ocean, with nary a shoreline in sight. His boat churned with the motion of the water, the waves mimicking the attitude of the static, low and calm. The wooden craft gently pitched up and down over the waves as they lapped against the bow. The glowing moon shined down on the water, enveloping the scene in a dim white light…

Devon opened his eyes after a few minutes had passed. He cranked the dial down to a common frequency used by ship captains and left the radio on. It was common procedure, just in case someone need to get in touch with him. It was very unlikely these days, but nevertheless he left it on each night.

Normally Devon would head off to bed after this moment of tranquility, but he wasn’t tired yet. He grabbed a small wicker chair from the corner of the room and headed upstairs toward the light room, stopping off at the crew room to grab a few cans of beer from the fridge. Once he reached the top, he put the chair down in front of the massive windows and sat. The light swooped around behind him, momentarily burning his shadow onto the sky. He popped the tab off one of the beer cans, and settled into melancholy.

How long had he been working here? Devon scratched his chin as he pondered the question. He had lost track a long time ago, but he figured it was over twenty years. In his working life, he knew nothing but the lighthouse. He hadn’t trained in anything else, hadn’t learned anything else. This was it. This was his life. But now, it was fading away. The unfortunate nature of progress is what it mercilessly leaves behind in the dust.

Lighthouses fascinated him as a child. He used to read entire books on them, featuring accounts by actual lighthouse keepers about their time on the job. He recalled their words, the elegant descriptions in their journals. That feeling of loneliness, but also of importance. Out here, alone on an island, Devon truly understood what they meant.

He took a swig of his beer. It was bland and bitter, but it dulled the senses like he wanted. The giant beam of light swung past every few seconds or so, glaring on his backside. Devon stood up here often enough to be used to it. It was comforting.

The alcohol made him feel warm, but whenever he thought about his future, a bitter coolness settled in his bones. Devon had always assumed that he would work the lighthouse until he retired. He thought he might even work up to his dying breath. In so many ways it was a dream come true, and it was all he really had. But the march of technology had proven to be far too powerful.

Now all Devon could do was wait for the inevitable. So often had he sat up here with a can of beer in his hands, drinking the night away. He knew it was sad, pathetic even, but there was nothing he could do. Everything was being automated, and he wasn’t even there to fix things anymore. In his gut, Devon knew that some time in the future he would become an unnecessary expenditure, if he wasn’t already.

So he sat in his small wicker chair, gazing out into the night at the calm and dark ocean before him. It seemed to ooze around carelessly, a giant slinking blob without goals or ambition. It was just content to be. Devon felt the sting of envy burning his soul as he watched.

After a while a bright flare of light caused him to look up. A streak of orange flame flew across the sky above, only visible when the lighthouse beacon wasn’t shining at his back. He guessed it was a meteor or a comet of some kind. It was falling fast, descending the sky with the stars as a backdrop. From Devon’s viewpoint, it seemed like it was going to crash somewhere far off in the ocean. But the beacon swung by one more time, whitewashing the streak out of his vision. When the beacon swung away, it was gone.

Devon didn’t feel like pondering the event any further. His second can was empty, and he dropped it to the ground with a dull clank. He picked up another can, popped the tab, and took a giant swig. He felt tingly. His entire body seemed to vibrate.

Some time later, Devon decided to call it quits. Six cans was enough. He stood up and stumbled, kicking the empty cans across the room. He took a few unsteady steps toward the staircase. Wrapping his arm around the railing to support himself, Devon began his descent. After what felt like ten straight minutes, he found himself at his small bedroom. He stumbled in, collapsed on the green cot, and drifted off into sleep.

 

The next day passed by with little incident. Waking up in the morning, Devon made his entry into the journal and then headed upstairs to check the beacon. He found that it had, as always, automatically shut off with the dawn. He picked up the empty beer cans from the night before and tossed them into a bag.

Devon decided to take a walk on the shore. He enjoyed the calm air, walking along in a green sweater and dark brown pants. He didn’t find any new treasure, but made a mental note to head back to the mainland some day soon to check in with the museum again.

Finding little pieces of treasure was surprisingly common. Many ships had met their end or had been damaged by the rocks and the elements around these parts, spilling out their cargo into the ocean. In many cases, that cargo included little pieces of jewelry, coins, or other valuables. The ocean claimed them and occasionally deposited some off on the island like a gift, a little “thank you” for allowing the waves to crash up against the rocks.

But in any case there was nothing to find, so Devon went back inside and read a book to pass the time. The day slid by without event. Devon didn’t even realize how much time had passed until he looked up from his book to find that the sun was setting on the horizon, a dark orange glow enveloping the landscape. Sliding his bookmark in between the pages, he clapped the book shut and stood up. He was about to head upstairs to the radio room, but something made him pause. He turned toward the large desk, his eyes landing on the leather-bound journal. He pulled the chair out and sat back down, opening the journal up to last night’s entry.

It read “No ships. Saw an orange streak across the sky. A meteor? Maybe there was a local meteor shower. I should research it next time I head to the mainland.”

Looking over his entry, Devon couldn’t ascribe any real importance to the meteor. He didn’t understand why he had even bothered to mention it. He scanned over the black letters that came from his hand, waiting for some kind of enlightenment to rise up from them. But nothing came, so Devon closed the book and climbed to the radio room. After he performed his nightly ritual, he headed up to the light room for the second night in a row.

The sun sank slowly, and darkness cast its spell over the land. The orange light eventually faded, and all that was left was a dark blue glow mixed with blackness. Devon stood at the massive window, watching it all unfold. Once everything sank into shadow, a low hissing could be heard from across the room. One loud clunk later, and the massive beacon switched on, beginning its rotation. As Devon stood there, he heard the first few unmistakable drops and saw them splat against the window. Gradually it picked up speed, escalating from a steady drizzle to a downpour.

Its sound was soothing. There was no thunder this time, no lightning. It was an old-fashioned rain storm. The wind whistled quietly as it passed through the lighthouse windows. Devon stood at those windows for some time, gazing out at the rain, enveloped in an atmosphere of isolation. Eventually he walked around the room, did some checks on the machinery, then went downstairs, heading off to sleep in his little cot.

 

A faint noise awoke Devon in the night. Groggy and uncertain, he glanced over at the clock on the bed table. Everything was out of focus for a moment, but when his eyes adjusted, he could read the clock. It was after midnight, closer to one. The rain had stopped. Rubbing his eyes, Devon sat up in his bed, listening to the noise off in the distance.

At first he thought it might just be the wind, but then he realized that the sound was too defined for that. He strained his ears, but couldn’t discern its origin. It was intermittent and high-pitched. He sat there for several minutes, shutting out all other senses to focus on the sound. It didn’t have a consistent pattern to it. It jumped around, often going for several seconds before stopping, only to start up again moments later. And sometimes it would cease altogether for nearly a half-minute before his ears would pick up on it again.

He got up off the bed, standing still in the darkness, feeling an unearthly chill run over him. He stealthily tip-toed forward, afraid that if he was too loud the noise would stop. He blinked for a moment, his eyes still adjusting to the darkness. Gradually, the faint outline of the wooden door slunk into view. He placed a shaky hand on the gray knob and pulled the door open.

When Devon stepped out into the stairwell, he was immediately overwhelmed. The sound was much louder now, and it was unmistakably the sound of someone weeping. The tower was a natural amplifier, making it impossible to determine where it was coming from. It echoed all over the place, cries overlapping with cries.

It sounded like a child. But there weren’t any children here. No one else was on this island at night except for Devon. No one living anyway.

Devon leaned over the railing, looking down then up. But he couldn’t tell if the sound was coming from above or below him. The echoes swarmed his mind, making it impossible to concentrate. Devon shivered, fear crawling over his skin. He had faced stormy nights. He had faced power outages. But this, this was something different, something incomprehensible.

The faint night breeze came in through the tower windows, ruffling Devon’s hair and chilling him to the bone. He spun around rapidly. The crying was everywhere, a ceaseless cacophony. Giving in to a primal instinct, Devon jumped back into his room and slammed the door shut behind him. He backed away from it, staring with wide eyes. From in here the crying was indistinct, but it still faintly rang in his eardrums.

Devon didn’t believe in ghosts. He had no time for such superstitious nonsense. But now, staring at the faded wooden door in front of him, Devon found himself doubting his beliefs on the matter. He felt like a little boy again, scared of the dark, paralyzed by the fear of the unknown.

He laid down in his bed, pulling the blanket over him. He plunged his head into the pillow and scrunched his eyes shut, trying to shut out the crying. It kept going and going throughout the night, shifting in volume at times but always present. Devon almost pulled the blanket up over his head, but his pride and dignity forbade him from doing that. He was a man in his forties after all, not a six-year-old child who wanted the lights kept on.

Eventually, the noise ceased. Devon opened his eyes, laying on his back, and stared at the ceiling for several minutes. The sound never resumed, and Devon felt relief. He turned on his side to look at the clock. According to the hands, it was past three in the morning. Devon groaned aloud, and turned over. Closing his eyes, he finally drifted off into sleep.

 

“No ships”.

That was all Devon recorded in the log. He hadn’t wanted to admit that he had been afraid last night, as he stood alone in the stairwell. The crying really got to him. But he couldn’t understand why. He still believed there had to be an explanation for it. He was reluctant to turn to the supernatural, but it was something he was forced to consider.

He tried chalking it up to being a bad dream. But that didn’t work, because in his mind he knew it couldn’t have been. It was far too vivid in his mind to be a mere figment. Devon shook his head as he sat at his desk, staring at the old white wall. There was no point in dwelling on it now.

Devon slipped on his boots and climbed the stairs to the light room. He examined the Sun Valve and the beacon, finding each in working order. He climbed down the stairs to the boiler room. The rusted bronze machine seemed to sneer at him, menacingly shrouded in the shadows. Devon quickened his pace up the stone steps and out the door.

He stood outside, looking at the overcast sky. Damn it, he thought, get a hold of yourself. There’s no such thing as ghosts. But his reassurances sounded hollow. He vowed to get to the bottom of it. He had wanted to take another trip to the mainland to ask about those gold coins.

 

When Devon stepped off the boat, the sounds of the town reached his ears. It was late morning in Colwyn, the hustle and bustle of the market at its peak. People milled about the streets, carrying baskets of fruit and vegetables. Children and adults strolled down the cobblestone walkways, laughing and chattering, their shoes clicking against the stone. It felt good to be around other people again.

Devon headed straight for the museum, which was just off the main avenue, nestled in a shady corner of the city. It was an old, red brick building two stories high. Small black windows dotted the exterior, and an ancient fountain stood out front. Stone swans stood in the fountain, reaching their beaks up to try and drink the water.

Devon walked up to the double doors at the front of the building. They were bright, shiny brown with bronze knobs. He pushed them open and stepped in to a warmer climate. The interior of the museum wasn’t much to look at, red brick walls lined with different kinds of exhibits. The key gimmick of the museum was that all the exhibits had something to do with the town or at least had some kind of connection to it. Devon smiled to himself when he saw distinctive, familiar pieces of jewelry and coins glinting various shades of gold, green, and red. His little service to the community.

A large wooden reception desk sat to the left of the doorway. As Devon approached, a small, old man with wiry gray hair looked up. When his green eyes laid upon Devon, he stood up with a smile, and walked out from behind the desk.

“Ah Devon my boy!” His Irish accent was obvious.

“Hello Sean,” Devon said with a smile, and the two embraced each other. Devon had known Sean Campbell all his life. Sean had been a young man when Devon was born, and used to babysit him when his parents were away. He was a mentor of sorts, guiding him through life.

Sean was dressed in a tweed vest with long brown pants. He was the spitting image of a professor, which was indeed his former occupation. He used to teach history at a college, but retired back here to his home town of Colwyn and took up the museum as his pet project. Devon would have loved to have him as a teacher when he was going to school. He was that rare sort of professor who genuinely cared about what he taught and challenged his students to go above and beyond. He was loved by all who took his class, although Devon suspected that was mainly because he didn’t believe in giving out tests. He considered them a waste of time, only good at showing how well students could regurgitate his lectures.

Even in old age, Sean carried with him an air of authority. He pushed the small, gray glasses back onto his eyes and motioned Devon to follow him.

“So what can I do for you today son,” he asked.

“Well I have some coins for you to look at. I was going to show them to you a couple days ago, but when I came by the museum was closed.”

“We had an incident. Some kids broke into the museum the night before and stole some of those jewels you brought me. They didn’t realize I was upstairs, and when I came down to investigate the noise, they bolted out the window they came in.”

“How much did they get away with,” Devon asked.
“Not much,” Sean replied. “At the very least, I have things of similar value so the only loss here is historical. In any case, I doubt they’ll show up here again.”

Sean seemed calm despite the theft. That was his nature. He carried himself with an almost zen-like aura. Hardly anything bothered him. He was Devon’s role model in that sense, gliding through life with the ease of a monk.

“Anyways I closed down the museum that day so I could inventory everything I lost. Who knows, the jewels might show up again someday. A man can only hope,” Sean said with a light smile. “But enough about that. Show me these coins.”

Devon reached into his pants pocket and pulled out the two golden coins he had found on the shore. Sean took them from his hands and walked over to a small table with a magnifying glass strapped to a stand. He slid the coins under it and carefully examined them, paying close attention to the inlaid patterns on one side.

“Well these are definitely of Spanish origin. I would guess somewhere around the sixteenth century.”

Sean flipped one of the coins over and looked at the face on the other side.

“This image is obviously of someone in the aristocracy. His clothing tells me that he was very prominent in the hierarchy, perhaps even a member of the Spanish royal family.”

“Can you tell which ship it might have come from,” Devon asked.

“It’s possible, although highly unlikely. There are several Spanish ships which were wrecked on Demon’s Rock, and those are just the ones we know about.”

Sean motioned Devon to follow him again, and they headed up the large wooden stairs. The second floor of the museum was a different beast altogether. Instead of fancy jewels and treasures, it contained models of various shipwrecks, from large cargo ships to small passenger boats. In the middle of the room, there was a scale model version of the lighthouse Devon worked in. The lighthouse had been a fixture of Colwyn for over a century. Sean always liked to remind him of that whenever they spoke, to tell him how lucky he was to work there. It was his way of trying to alleviate the growing depression inside Devon. Devon appreciated the gesture, but it only made him feel worse.

Sean walked among the scale models of shipwrecks, examining the golden plaques inlaid on each exhibit stand. After he had examined a few, he shook his head and turned back toward Devon.

“It’ll be next to impossible to figure out which of these buggers held those coins. At least half the Spanish wrecks here were carrying gold coins, all from the same basic time period. Not that it really matters in the end, but it would have been nice to know.”

“Indeed,” was all Devon said. He stepped up to the scale model of the lighthouse, and studied it for a moment in silence. Sean walked up beside him and stood there staring at the model as well.

“So are you going to say it or should I? It’s obvious there’s something else on your mind son, so spit it out.”

“You always were perceptive old man,” Devon said with a light smile. He stood silent for a moment, trying to think of the best way to broach the topic.

“Have there ever been reports of…unusual activity in the lighthouse?”

“How do you mean,” Sean inquired.

“Well has anyone ever reported…strange noises at night? Noises that shouldn’t be there?”

Sean turned his attention away from the model lighthouse and studied Devon for a moment. He knew something was up. But he also knew better than to push. Devon would speak of it when he felt like it. He’d been that way ever since he was a teenager.

“I’ve lived around here for a long time, and I’ve known some of the previous keepers. I was well acquainted with the others that used to serve with you, Drake and…and…hmm blast it what was the name of that other boy?”

“James,” Devon answered.

“Ah yes James! He was a fine lad. A bit quiet but one of the nicest souls I ever met. None of the previous keepers or James or Drake ever mentioned anything about noises.”

“You know the lighthouse’s history well, right?”

Sean fixed him with a steely stare.

“Son, it’s my business to catalog the history of this town, good and bad. So of course I know the history of that lighthouse. I know it like the back of my hand. And I can tell you that I’ve never heard of any ‘noises’ in the night, nor did any of the keepers write anything in their journals.”

“But is it possible that the keepers just…left it out of their journals? Maybe they didn’t want people to know they were hearing things,” Devon said, thinking back to his journal entry for last night.

“What exactly have you got in your head?”

“Nothing nothing. It’s just a thought I was having. I was curious to see if there was anything unusual in the lighthouse’s history.” It was a bad lie, and they both knew it.

When Devon left the museum a half hour later, instead of feeling relieved he felt more anxious than ever. The news that there was no recorded hauntings or ghosts should have been cathartic, but it wasn’t. Devon’s boots clicked on the cobblestones as he walked with his head low, lost in thought.

A part of him still wouldn’t let him chalk it up to a bad dream. It felt so vivid and defined, whereas dreams are normally murky and incoherent. Devon was frustrated. He was so used to having the answers at his fingertips. But this time, he felt lost and confused. He wasn’t sure if he had just hallucinated it or not.

The two small coins clinked together in his pocket, diverting his train of thought back to the last thing Sean had said to him. He had told Devon to keep the coins with him in the lighthouse, because he wasn’t sure if the thieves would come back. He figured they wouldn’t, but he wanted to be safe.

Despite the events of the day, it had been nice to catch up with his old friend again. It was only when he left the harbor and was on his way back to the lighthouse that his thoughts drifted back toward the mysterious crying. If the crying was just a bad dream, then he wouldn’t hear it again tonight. The thought filled him with hope.

But if he did hear it…then he would have to open himself up to considerations more sinister.

 

His sleep was disturbed. Devon’s eyes snapped open to a dark room, and when he tilted his head to read the clock, he saw that the hands pointed at one and ten. Laying there, he focused his attention, trying to detect whatever it was that had pulled him from his slumber. It emerged from the darkness like a phantom. From inside the little room it sounded so far off, but he knew if he opened that door the noise would become overwhelming, vibrating through the tower like it was a gigantic tuning fork. The mere thought of it made Devon shiver.

He lay there for a long time, staring at the ceiling. With every faint cry, his soul shuddered and withdrew. Devon had never felt anything quite like it before, an intense and palpable fear. It was so strange and otherworldly that he couldn’t even find the right words to describe it. It was deep, so deep that it tapped into parts of Devon he hadn’t known existed, or that he had buried. As a child he had a terrible fear of darkness, more so than other kids. It was debilitating for a long time before he finally conquered it. But now, he felt like that child again.

The crying seemed to be growing softer, but at the same time more intense. Devon had never felt quite so isolated. He was alone in the lighthouse most of the time, day and night, but right now he felt that sensation of solitude more than ever. He couldn’t call anyone for help, not that he would, fearful for the sake of his pride and dignity. But the simple thought of not having that option rattled him to the core.

And so Devon did the only thing he could. He pulled the covers up around his neck and laid his head back down on the pillow. He closed his eyes and tried shutting out the noise coming from beyond the door. It was a long time before he succeeded.

 

When Devon pulled himself out of bed the next morning, he still felt tired. He walked over to his desk and picked up the mirror. For a split second, he almost didn’t recognize the man looking back at him. He seemed older. His eyes were sunken and dull, even with the light of the sun shining on one half of his face.

“I can’t keep this up forever,” Devon muttered to himself.

Setting the mirror back down, Devon pulled out the journal, scribbled “no ships” under yesterday’s date, and went about his morning routine. He climbed up the black spiral stairs, examined the sun valve and the beacon, then made his way back down to the bedroom. As he was slipping on his working clothes, a faint rumble suddenly reached his ears. He ran to the window. There he saw Patrick O’Neill disembarking from a boat with his son Charlie. He had forgotten they were stopping by today at around noon. Hastily, he grabbed the clock from his bedside and looked at it. With shock, he realized that it was already twelve-thirty.

Quickly dressing, Devon ran out the door and bounded down the staircase. It wasn’t like he needed to hurry, but he was always one for punctuality and dependability. The fact that he had slept longer than he meant to rubbed on him, irritated him. It was silly, but he couldn’t help it.

He jogged past the boiler and up into the little shed. He stopped at the door, collected himself, and strolled out into the sunlight with an air of purpose and authority. Patrick and Charlie were coming up the stone steps toward the lighthouse. Devon simply nodded at them, covering his shakiness under a mask of calm.

Patrick was an older man, not quite Devon’s age, but close. He had black hair and blue eyes. He wore a small, gray beret on his head, and a light brown jacket with a button pocket on the front. The most noticeable thing about Patrick, indeed the very thing one noticed about the man right away, is that he walked with a slight limp. An accident with a car some years ago was to blame.

By contrast, Charlie had light brown hair with matching hazel eyes. He was wearing a gray jacket with blue jeans. Charlie was not the spitting image of his father Patrick. In fact, they didn’t really look anything like each other. There was one simple explanation for that: Charlie was adopted. His biological parents died when he was but two years old, and Patrick had found him living in a dingy orphanage in London. Since then Patrick was the only father Charlie had ever known.

They walked up to the front of the lighthouse, and Devon shook hands with Patrick.

“Nice to see you again Patrick,” Devon said.

“Good to see you too.” Despite being Irish, Patrick didn’t have much of an accent.

Patrick stepped past Devon and went down the stairs into the boiler room. Always straight to business, Devon thought to himself as he followed him down the stairs, glancing behind him at Charlie, who was holding up the rear. Charlie was staring at the ground as he walked. He always seemed quiet and reserved when Patrick was present, Devon had noticed. He figured that was due to his father’s fiery personality.

Patrick and Devon used to be close friends, a long time ago. But ever since the accident that left him with a limp, Patrick had grown grouchy and irritable. His fuse had been snipped, and the tiniest of things would set him off. Because of that, Devon had spent less and less time around the man. They only met each other for business these days.

Stepping down into the boiler room, Devon saw Patrick looking up at the ceiling, scanning his head around the room. He ran a finger down the wall, and it came back coated with dust. When his eyes met the old, bronze boiler in the dark part of the room, he grimaced.

“We really should get rid of that,” he muttered. “What a waste of space.”

He went on in this way for a minute, examining walls and the floor until Devon finally chimed in.

“So then, any big news?”

“No, nothing of importance,” he said, barely paying attention.

“What exactly are you looking for Patrick?”

Patrick didn’t respond, but Devon had a good idea what he was doing. He had suspected for some time that Patrick was looking for an excuse to let him go. Patrick was more concerned with his money than anything, and Devon had become an unnecessary drain on it. The last few times Patrick had shown up here, he had behaved in this way, closely examining everything like he had a magnifying glass. It seemed like he was hoping Devon would screw something up. Then he would have an excuse to let him go early. But Devon was too good at his job.

Devon didn’t hate Patrick, and he assumed that Patrick didn’t hate him either. It was just one of those things in life. Neither of them really wanted it to happen, but it did. They drifted apart, and now they were little more than business associates.

“The boiler room looks good, albeit dusty,” Patrick said. “But I don’t suppose there would really be much purpose to cleaning it up, now that the entire place runs on gas.”

“I would agree with you on that,” Devon replied.

“Now, I’m gonna go check out the…get your hands off of that!” Charlie, out of curiosity, had run his hand along the cold metal of the boiler. Patrick caught him and scolded him loudly, causing Charlie to jerk his hand back in fright. Devon shook his head.

“Was that really necessary Pat? The kid meant no harm. He’s just curious,” Devon suggested.

Patrick turned toward him with an icy stare. The black strands of his hair seemed to snake their way out from under his beret, slinking down in front of his blue eyes. His mouth curled into a sour grimace. Devon decided it was best not to push the matter and remained silent. Patrick turned and started limping toward the staircase.

“I’m going to do my check of the light room,” he shouted back. “I’m sure there’s nothing to be seen, but you can’t fault redundancy!” He was quick to cover his anger.

The stairs clanged awkwardly due to Patrick’s unusual gait. As the sound got more and more distant, Devon noticed a change in Charlie. His eyes seemed brighter now, and he no longer sat staring at the floor.

“I’m sorry about that my boy. Your father just likes things to be done in a particular way, that’s all,” Devon reassured him.

“Oh I know,” Charlie said. “I live with the old man after all.”

Devon trotted over to the boiler, and banged his hand against it.

“Would you believe that this thing was the only source of power for this entire lighthouse at one point? Now it just sits here, rusting away into nothing…” he trailed off, gazing deeply into the faded bronze finish.

Charlie knew what Devon was thinking. He had heard his adopted father talking about firing him, although he always called it “letting him go” as if it was a favor. Charlie felt bad for him. Devon had always seemed like an impressive man, standing about half a foot taller than him. But his eyes seemed faded and listless these days. Depression had made its nest, but there was something else, something Charlie had seen the moment they walked up the stairs. But he had waited until his father was out of earshot to bring it up.

“Devon, there’s something I want to ask you. Is there…something else going on with you lately? You seem more tired than usual.”

“I haven’t been sleeping well these past couple of nights. I’ve been…hearing things.” Devon found it strange that he talked so freely around Charlie.

“What kind of things,” Charlie asked.

“I don’t know how to describe it. Some kind of…crying. It echoes all over the lighthouse late at night, and for some reason, it frightens me to no end. I don’t even know what it is, a ghost or what. But for the past two nights it has woken me up.”

And before he knew it, Devon was revealing things he had never told anyone save his parents.

“It makes me feel like I’m a little boy again. When I was really young, I had a paralyzing fear of darkness. It was terrible and made it almost impossible for me to sleep without some kind of light. I used to cling to stuffed animals for support.” Devon chuckled. “I bet you didn’t expect that, a man like me, afraid of the dark, jumping at shadows and strange noises. I must seem like a fool.”

“On the contrary Devon, I find it mighty brave of you to even admit that. You’re so different from Patrick. He’ll never admit to being frustrated or afraid or…anything really. He just bottles it all up inside until it bursts out. I worry about his health, all that stress. Sometimes I think he uses his leg as an excuse to not take care of himself. The only thing he cares about is having me take over the family business. He wants me to be in charge of the lighthouse when he’s gone, but all I want to do is paint. I love drawing, I love sitting out on the waterfront sketching the ships that go by. But he’ll never understand…”

In that moment, looking at the young boy, Devon realized that the two of them were more alike than he thought. A couple of decades apart in age, and they were experiencing a similar crisis in life. Both of them, wanting to pursue their own interests and live out their lives the way they wanted to, but being denied the chance.

After a little while, Devon heard the limping footsteps on the stairs.

“Son, can you do me a favor? Don’t tell Patrick any of what I said to you,” he pleaded. “If he finds out, he’d finally have an excuse to fire me on the spot. He’ll chalk it up to a case of the ‘crazies’.”

Charlie smiled. “Don’t worry Devon, your secret’s safe with me.”

“Thank you,” Devon whispered, and nodded. Just then Patrick came around the corner, groaning as he limped forward.

“Damn gimpy leg,” he cursed. “Well Devon, everything is in tip-top shape it seems. Now, there’s another matter I wanted to discuss with you.” Devon felt his muscles tighten. “There’s no sense beating around the bush on this one. I’m sure you’ve suspected it for some time.”

“You’re letting me go?”

“No no…at least not yet. But I figured I should give you fair warning. Things are in the works, and you’ll receive a fair severance package. Now don’t look so gloomy,” he said, noticing Devon’s downcast face. “You’ll be set for life, never having to work another day for as long as you live! Be happy that you served your community so well for all these years. You deserve a rest.”

Patrick began limping toward the door, motioning for Charlie to come along. Charlie seemed stilted and awkward again, briefly glancing at Devon with no expression before walking up the stairs. Patrick turned back toward Devon.

“I’ll get back to you when I have a specific date for the end of your tenure. But until then, keep up the good work!”

And with that, Patrick made his way up the stone steps and out the door. The door shut behind them, leaving Devon alone in the boiler room with only a buzzing, dim overhead light for company. Water dripped from pipes inside the wall, creating a tinny plonking noise. Devon gazed at the old, rusted boiler, tucked away and forgotten. He stared into the glass thermometer on it, and saw himself in the reflection. After a silent minute, Devon turned away and walked back up the stairs.

 

It was like clockwork. Each night, Devon would find himself awake in bed after midnight, listening to the faint crying echoing through the lighthouse. There was no rational explanation for it. Even his efforts to open himself up to more extravagant explanations had failed.

He had traveled to the mainland a couple of times to do research. There were no records of any mysterious deaths in the lighthouse, least of which the death of a child. There was no trace of any supernatural or strange events occurring in the lighthouse at all. Devon had gone back to the very beginning of its construction, and still nothing.

On the sixth night of the insidious noise, Devon finally decided he’d had enough. He threw off the light blanket and steeled his nerves. Slipping on his boots, Devon stomped out of the bedroom door. Outside his tiny sanctuary, the noise was almost too much. It emanated from all directions, pinging off the rounded walls of the tower. It overlapped with itself, creating a distorted and eerie echo. Devon looked up toward the light room, then leaned over the railing and looked down toward the boiler room. He had no clue where it could be coming from. But on a hunch, he decided to continue up the tower rather than down.

As he started his climb, his ears detected a strange undercurrent to the noise which grew more apparent the higher he got. It was a strange sort of buzzing, a hissing that seemed to be behind the crying. He was heading in the right direction. His hunch had paid off.

He drew closer and closer to the top. The odd hissing droned on, growing louder and louder as he climbed the tower. And that’s when he realized what it was. His mind spun, flashed back to his nightly ritual. The old brass dial, the dusty speaker, the standing black microphone…it all clicked inside his head to form a perfect picture.

The sound was coming from the old ham radio.

He stepped onto the landing, and strolled through the open doorway into the radio room. As he thought, the crying was much more pronounced here, and was definitely coming from the radio. It no longer echoed madly around in his ears, but finally shrank down to one point. Whoever was on the other side of the transmission sounded miserable. The crying was deep and intense, coming through the radio in waves that would spike at any given moment. This wasn’t a recording. This was the genuine article.

Devon sat down in the small chair in front of the radio, and just stared at it. As the crying went on, the speaker occasionally crackled, distorting the sound. He reached over toward the dial and looked at the frequency. It was just as he left it, tuned to the frequency used by captains. He shifted the frequency to see what would happen. To his horror, the crying was on every frequency he tried. The transmission must be so powerful that it eclipses the transmissions on all these frequencies, he thought to himself. He was too tired to think more of it.

Nevertheless, it was time to find out who was on the other end of the line. Devon picked up the microphone in a shaky hand, and pressed his finger down on the transmit button.

“He…hello? Who’s there?”

Almost immediately the crying ceased. There was a brief moment of silence before a child’s voice, as clear as a bell, came through the speaker.

“Is someone there,” the voice asked. From Devon’s estimation, he couldn’t be more than eight years old.

“Son, my name is Devon Woolfe. I’m the keeper of the Sharp Point lighthouse.”

“Light…house?”

“Yes, the lighthouse. Do you need help?”

“Where is everybody? I just want to go home…”

“Where are you kiddo? Can you describe where you are?”

“I do not know…it is cold and dark, so dark…”

He began to whimper quietly. Devon wasn’t sure what to say. He had no way of knowing how far away he was or even where to start looking. But he knew he had to do something.

“Listen, stay calm…I know things seem bad now, but you’re not alone anymore. I’m here…please don’t cry. I’ll stay with you.”

“You…you mean it,” he sniffled.

“Of course I do.”

“Th..thank you…it is just really scary here right now.”

“Now, is there anything you can tell me about how you got where you are?”

“The last thing I remember is blackness…and then I was here.”

Devon sighed to himself. This was going to be next to impossible.

“Will you be my friend,” the voice asked.

“Only if you’ll be mine,” Devon teased.

“Why would I not be?” Apparently he didn’t understand the joke.

“I was just teasing…of course I’ll be your friend.”

“Thank you.” There was a brief pause. “I have to go now. I am tired. Goodbye.”

“Wait…hello…hello?!”

But it was no use. He was already gone.

Devon sat there in stunned silence for a few moments, trying his best to comprehend what had just transpired. But his eyes began drooping on him, and he was forced to retire for the night.

He made his way back down the spiral stairs. Each step was tired and slow, and it seemed like ages before he finally made it back down to his bedroom. He pulled open the wooden door and entered, closing it behind him. He unbuckled his boots, shrugged them off, and climbed into bed. The moment his head hit the pillow, he was gone.

 

The next day Devon had planned to make his way over to the mainland in order to do some more investigation, hoping to figure out who or where this child was. But the moment his eyes opened, the pattering that reached his ears was a sign. There would be no traveling on the water today, and the loud peal of thunder moments later confirmed his assessment.

Devon rose out of bed and quickly shut his bedroom window. A puddle of water sloshed around his feet as he stepped away, soaking into the white floor. Slipping on his boots, Devon climbed the staircase to the light room. Outside, nature was furious. The wind whipped around the building, ferociously whistling. The waves crashed against the rocks, and the clouds were ominous and dark. Devon strained his eyes, but couldn’t make out any hint of the mainland.

His investigation would have to wait.

The storm was relentless, raging throughout the entire day. Devon consigned himself to reading a book, taking a chair up with him to the light room. He tried bringing up the child on the radio again, but couldn’t find any sign of him.

And so he settled in with his book, the giant beacon of light swinging by him every so often. His entire day was spent reading, glancing up from time to time to check on the weather conditions. They barely changed throughout the day. The wind rose and fell just like the waves, but it never ceased howling. The rain smashed against the lighthouse hard. Devon could hear the pinging and the pattering coming from all over as water met metal and stone. At one point he attempted to venture outside just to see how bad it was. The wooden door nearly slammed him back into the lighthouse as he tried to push it open. He didn’t venture beyond the doorway, but rather stood against the door as the rain and wind battered him. He retreated inside and went back to reading.

As night fell, the storm continued on. Sliding a bookmark into the pages of his book, he clasped it shut and stood up, stretching. He felt restless. He wanted to do something about the child on the other end of the radio, but with the storm outside he was trapped. A very real sense of isolation crept into his heart, and for the first time Devon wanted to be anywhere but the lighthouse. He felt like an animal in a cage.

He walked downstairs to the radio room. The hissing static did little to calm him, and so Devon was forced to abandon his nightly ritual early. He crept downstairs and slid into bed, but he didn’t fall asleep. He lay awake for hours, waiting. Time crept by slowly as he stared at the ceiling, occasionally glancing at the bedside clock. First it was ten. Then eleven. Then twelve. When the clock had nearly struck one, he heard what he had been waiting for.

“Hello? Hello?” The child’s voice called to him like a Siren.

Devon jumped out of bed and raced up the stairs, taking the steps two at a time. He sat himself down in the tiny wooden chair in front of the radio and picked up the microphone.

“Yes I’m here. Are you okay?”

“I am fine. It is just so lonely here. You are the only friend I have,” the child said. His voice seemed so innocent and serene.

But doubt crept into Devon’s mind. Something was not normal about all of this. As he read his book throughout the day, he found his thoughts constantly drifting back to the conversation he had with the child the night before. With a good amount of sleep and clarity of mind, Devon realized a few things that seemed odd.

He was particularly perturbed by the way the child just ended the conversation so suddenly. Devon began to wonder if the child was somewhere against his will, like he had been kidnapped. But that wasn’t the only thing that bothered him.

Some of the child’s mannerisms were odd. His sentence structure was a little strange, and something called Devon’s attention as his mind went over that brief and strange conversation. The child didn’t use any contractions in his sentences. Instead of “I’m”, he would say “I am”. Instead of “it’s”, “it is”. It wasn’t something Devon had considered before, but in retrospect it stuck out like a sore thumb.

But no matter how much ruminating he did on the subject, he was left more confused than enlightened. More to the point, Devon was beating himself up over the fact that he didn’t discover that the crying was coming from the radio sooner. If this kid was really in trouble, Devon’s fearfulness had put him in even more danger the longer time passed.

Their conversation continued much like the last one, as a sort of question and answer session. But then the child asked a question that gave Devon pause.

“Friend Devon, what is a light house?”

Devon blinked for a moment in disbelief. “What,” he sputtered.

“You said something about a light house before. What is a light house?”

“Haven’t you ever seen one of those big towers with a spinning light at the top?”

“No.”

“Well when you do see one of those, that’s a lighthouse. We used it to guide people to safety in dangerous areas.”

“Do you not anymore?”

“No we do it’s just…well…it’s complicated. I’ll have to tell you about it sometime.”

“I look forward to it friend Devon.”

How did he not know what a lighthouse was? Where was he? And why was he calling him “friend Devon” all the time, like some strange formality? Questions swarmed around inside his brain like a bunch of insects, gnawing away at his mind.

“I am sorry, but I am tired again. I have to sleep,” the child said without changing his tone.

And just like before he was gone. The radio hissed.

Devon sat back in his chair and ran back over the conversation in his mind. But like the night before, he had grown too tired to discern anything useful from it. He figured that after he slept, he would be better able to think on it. He headed back down the stairs and climbed into bed. The rain pinged against his bedroom window, lulling him to sleep.

 

The next day the sun shined as Devon woke up, freeing him from his dark and dreary prison. The more he stayed on hand at the lighthouse, the more it reminded him that sometime in the future it would no longer be his to take care of. The thought hit him unexpectedly that morning, and he realized that he hadn’t really focused on it over the last couple of days. The mysterious child had taken his mind off of it, something Devon was strangely grateful for.

He headed over to the mainland with the morning sun gleaming off the calm blue ocean. He hit up the local library again, researching the news to see if he could find any reference to a missing child. It was a long shot at best, but he figured that it was better than wasting his time wondering.

As he predicted, he found nothing after scanning through the archives. So he wasn’t surprised when he found himself drifting towards subjects more occult in nature. Devon hadn’t quite shaken the idea that everything that had been happening to him was otherworldly in nature. He scanned through different books on ghosts and other supernatural entities, but he only found some references to ghosts and radios. And from what he could tell, most ghosts just repeated the same few things over and over again. What he was experiencing was different. Whoever or whatever the child was, he talked to him, responded to him.

Finding nothing, Devon left the mainland feeling a little empty. As he sailed along the waters back toward the lighthouse, he felt like he had failed. The sun was already beginning to set, and he had nothing to show for it. He gazed glumly at the dark orange haze on the horizon, wondering what else he could do. But his mind remained empty.

He continued his conversations with the child, becoming more and more convinced that nothing was what it seemed. The mannerisms grew more bizarre along with the questions. It was almost as if the child had never been alive until that night when the crying began. He knew nothing about modern culture and even once asked what a “car” was. Devon found himself perplexed, and for some odd reason, afraid.

Then one day, everything changed.

 

The sky was overcast that day, setting a grim and foreboding mood, but the weather never took a turn for the worse. With that in mind, Devon decided to take another trip into Colwyn that afternoon. He hadn’t found much progress in his research over the last few days, and was growing more and more frustrated. The boat seemed to pitch up and down to the tune of his troubled mind. He stared ahead, not at his destination, but at some undefined point in the distance, lost in his thoughts.

There was no evidence of this child’s existence anywhere. It was like he was a figment of the imagination, an echo of the unreal. Devon rubbed his forehead with one hand, and drifted backward into the conversation he had with the child the night before.

“Son, what’s your name?”

“My…name?”

“Yes your name.”

“I do not understand friend Devon.”

“You don’t…uh…how do I put this…what do I call you?”

“You can call me ‘friend’.”

“What do you call yourself?”

“What do you mean?”

“When you think of yourself, of who you are, what is that called?”

“I do not understand.”

“Never mind…it’s nothing important.”

“Friend Devon?”

“Yes?”

“What is a ‘name’?”

Lowering his hand from his forehead, Devon recalled how he had just stared at the radio in disbelief. It was as if the child had no real education, like someone had taught him a decent command of English but failed to teach him proper context. But even that seemed like an inadequate explanation for the strangeness.

In any case, Devon continued across the water, tying his boat up at the dock when he arrived. He started down the cobblestone paths, back over toward Sean’s museum, deciding that he would drop in on an old friend once again.

When Devon waltzed through the double doors, Sean was just accepting a donation from some customers: a family with two kids, both boys. Sean nodded at Devon when he walked in, but kept his attention on the family. They thanked him for the tour, and headed toward the door, walking past Devon. Sean slipped the money into a jar he kept below the desk, then walked out to greet him.

“Top of the morning Devon! How are you doing son?”

“I’m fine Sean, thanks for asking. How are things at the museum?”

“Fewer people are coming through these days, but I still get enough patrons to keep me going.”

Sean motioned Devon forward, and they walked down the aisles of exhibits while they chatted.

“Did they ever catch those thieves,” Devon asked.

“That’s a crying shame that one,” Sean shook his head. “They were careful to leave no trace of anything that would lead back to them. The only thing I could give the authorities was a brief glimpse of a tattoo on one of their forearms.”

“What kind of tattoo?”

“Nothing too special. It looked like some kind of snake or something. I didn’t get a good look at it as the thief was climbing through the window at that point.”

“Ah.”

They continued up the stairs, chatting away. When they came to the model of the lighthouse, they stopped. It was then that Devon decided to unveil his ulterior motive.

“I didn’t just come here to catch up with you Sean.”

“I figured as much. You always were easy to read my boy,” Sean smiled, and slapped Devon on the back. Devon chuckled awkwardly.

“Yeah…but in all seriousness, you were interested in radios and broadcasting for a time correct?”

“Yes. It was one of my passions as a young man.”

“Is it…possible for a radio transmission to be broadcast on multiple frequencies?”

“Well, yes it is possible,” Sean said, which sent a wave of relief up Devon’s spine. “Why do you ask?”

“Well,” Devon began, “I’ve been having these conversations with someone on the radio, a child. And it seems like his transmission eclipses all others. I’ve turned the dials all over the place and he’s on every single one whenever he decides to broadcast.”

“A child?”

“Yes.”

“Hmmm…and you say he’s transmitting across multiple frequencies?”

“Yes…” Devon was getting nervous now.

“Well that complicates things. Usually when someone transmits across multiple frequencies they use something easier to send, such as Morse code. But with an actual voice transmission? That’s a different matter. I suppose it could be done, technically, but you’d need some serious hardware to do it.” Sean stood there scratching his chin for a minute in silence.

“I was hoping we could track the signal or something. I don’t know if this helps, but I wrote down the frequencies I tested on this piece of paper,” Devon said, handing the paper to Sean. Sean took the paper and looked it over for a moment.

“Hmmmm….” he said thoughtfully.

“What, what is it,” Devon asked, unable to mask the fear in his voice.

“You didn’t mention that he was transmitting over multiple bands. Oh my boy, this changes everything.”

“How so?”

“Transmitting over multiple bands like this…with this amount of coverage…Devon it just simply isn’t possible. The amount of power and technology required to produce something like this would be staggering. And as far as I know, no technology like that exists yet.”

Sean slowly turned toward Devon, with a look in his eyes he had never seen. And then, Sean said the words that made his skin crawl.

“At least…no man-made technology…”

 

Shortly after his conversation with Sean, Devon decided to head back to Sharp Point. It would do him little good to do any extra research, knowing what he now knew. But even that was inconclusive. Devon didn’t really know what to make of it all.

The rest of the day was fraught with pondering. The radio, the frequencies, Sean’s analysis…it all jumbled around in his head, and he felt more confused than ever. Devon barely focused on his duties, so ingrained into his mind as they were. Instead, his thoughts were on the child, what he meant, and what he was. Before he headed up to the radio room that night, he scribbled a cryptic journal entry.

“No ships. Not sure what to make of the discovery I made today. Is the child on the radio even real, or am I really losing my mind? Maybe true insanity isn’t being ignorant of it, but knowing that you’re going crazy and being unable to stop it.”

He flipped back over the entries he made over the past week or so. He had begun detailing his conversations with the child, despite the fact that later readers might view him with a curious look in their eyes. It didn’t matter to him. He was going to lose his job anyways, his only purpose in life. Let them think what they will.

After writing his entry, Devon went upstairs to the radio room. He sat in that small chair, staring ahead at the interlaced metal on the speakers, waiting for a long time. The sun set, machinery shut down, and people closed their doors for the night. All the while, Devon sat still in that chair. He felt almost dizzy sometimes, like he was spiraling out of control. He felt like he was going to lose his grip on Earth and fly away like a cast-off insect.

It began to rain later that night. The pattering was steady, but not intense like the other storms. A low boom of thunder sounded in the distance, a companion to his melancholy.

After a long time, the radio sparked to life.

“Friend Devon, are you there?”

Devon didn’t make a move at first, wasn’t even sure if he wanted to. For all he knew he was talking to some evil creature intent on stealing his soul. The microphone seemed to leer at him, taunting him with its dusty black mouth. The crackling static snake coiled like it was ready to strike.

Devon shook his head. No, he thought, I can’t accept that. All that he had heard from this enigmatic voice told him that whatever was on the other line was not a malevolent entity. Somehow, he knew a child of some description was just lonely and reaching out for companionship. Steadying his resolve, Devon gripped the microphone and pressed the button.

“Yes I’m here.”

“It is nice talking to you. I find it comforting.”

Devon sat for a moment before he spoke again.

“I have to ask you a question. Do you remember that first night, when I asked you how you got to where you are? You told me that you couldn’t remember anything. Can you remember anything now?”

“I remember a little friend Devon, but it is blurry and unclear.”

“Tell me what you remember.”

“Green, blue, dark. It was all approaching fast…”

This wasn’t helping. Devon decided to go for a different tack.

“Are you……human?”

“Friend Devon?”

“My name is Devon Woolfe. I am a human being. That is what I call myself. What do you call yourself?”

“I do not understand friend Devon.”

“What would you call yourself? What is the name of your…kind?”

There was a long period of silence. Devon thought that maybe he had offended the child somehow, but soon enough the voice came back.

“I do not understand what being ‘human’ is, nor do I have something to call myself. I do know one thing, friend Devon, and that is that I am not like you, and that this place is not my home.”

How had he not noticed it sooner? It was obvious that the child was strange in some way. Devon even recognized this himself. But his weary spirit and tired mind didn’t make the connection between the odd mannerisms and the child’s non-human nature.

“Why didn’t you tell me,” Devon finally asked.

“I was afraid. I was afraid that you would abandon me if I told you that I was not like one of you. I did not want to be alone. Please forgive me.”

The tone of voice coming from the radio’s speaker was so genuine it hurt. Devon was now absolutely certain that whatever this child was, he meant no harm. He was simply that, a scared child with no one to talk to. He was reaching out for someone to help guide him.

A brief whimper came through the speaker.

“Please don’t. You did nothing wrong.”

“You will stay with me?”

Devon thought for a moment. How could he say “yes” when he knew he was going to lose his job soon? The radio was the property of his employer. He held no claim on it.

“For as long as I can,” Devon promised. It was the best he could do.

Somewhere off in the distance, Devon thought he heard something sputter. But when he strained his ears, he detected nothing. So he shrugged it off, chalking it up to the gas generator having a brief hiccup.

Devon began to wonder. For the first time since this whole strange business started, he had an idea. He connected the dots to an explanation he hadn’t thought of before.

“Tell me, friend, when you came here…were you falling?”

“Falling? Yes…yes I was falling. I fell from blackness into a world of green, blue, and darkness. I remember I hit the blue, and it felt cold, yet inviting. It was natural to me, like I belonged. But I was alone here, so I grew scared. I cried and cried, but no one heard me. That is, until you answered me. You came to me. You gave me comfort.”

The flare across the sky that night…Devon almost couldn’t believe it. But his, or its, description was too telling for him not to connect the two. The child was the flare. The child fell from the sky into the ocean.

The concept of it was ridiculous, but it fit what he had experienced. He had made contact with alien life. Devon’s mind swirled, his perception of the world around him changed shape and form so suddenly he almost fell back in his chair. What were his troubles compared to the isolation of a cosmic child? At least he had people. At least he was connected in some way. It was like he had opened a door into a blinding light, a light that engulfed him with knowledge and understanding. It was a strange sensation. He felt like he was floating.

But he was grounded by the thought that he would probably have to abandon this fledgling being so soon after their meeting. He could perhaps purchase another radio, and search for him again, but he had no way of knowing how their connection worked. It could be proximity. It could be wavelength. It could be some random happenstance defect in the radio he was using. It could be Devon specifically.

In any case, Devon didn’t have much time to ponder it when he heard a voice behind him.

“Stand up and put your hands behind your head old man.”

Turning around in his chair, the first thing Devon saw was the glinting silver finish of the magnum. Raising his eyes, he saw the face of a younger male, possibly as young as a teenager. He pointed the gun at Devon, and motioned for him to stand up. Devon slowly stood up from his chair, putting his hands up as requested.

Devon studied the boy. He had short, black hair and eyes of dark hazel. He wore a light, black, coat with black pants. A black box with a speaker on it was clipped to his waist. He seemed shaky, uncertain. His finger twitched on the trigger.

“Now,” the boy’s voice shook slightly, “where is it?”

Devon squinted at him. “What?”

“The treasure old man! Where is it?!”

Devon didn’t understand what he was talking about, but then his eyes were drawn to a tattoo on the boy’s forearm. It was a snake eating its own tail.

This boy was one of the thieves that had hit the museum looking for stuff to steal. Sean had been right about the tattoo. Devon groaned inwardly. His name was on many of the exhibits in that museum. It wouldn’t have taken them long to look him up, and to realize that he sat out here at the lighthouse all alone most of the time. He was an easy target.

“I won’t ask you again! Where is it?”

The treasure had little meaning for Devon. He had no desire for plunder or riches. He just enjoyed giving something back to the community that had treated him so well, that had raised him as a child. And at that moment, looking into the boy’s eyes, Devon decided that the last thing he would do was give up the treasure to a punk.

“Where. Is. The. Treasure,” the boy asked. “Can you even hear me old man?”

Devon stared back at him, saying nothing. Another young male with a black wool hat on appeared behind him.

“Is he saying anything,” the new boy asked.

“No. He’s probably deaf. You know how old people are,” the first boy said.

“You think you’re something don’t you,” Devon snarled.

The two of them turned their heads toward him, taken aback by his sudden burst of anger.

“You think you can just walk in wherever you want, take whatever you want, and no one will care?! Punks like you are all the same, bottom-feeding scumbags who make their livings at the expense of everyone else. You don’t give a damn about what people go through or what their lives are like. No, not as long as you can get what you want from them. Because damn everyone else, you’re all that matters. That sound about right?”

The three of them stood there, staring at each other for a while. Then, before Devon could react, the kid with the gun came to his senses and swung at him, smashing him in the cheek with the butt of the magnum. Devon spiraled backwards into the desk the radio sat on. He nearly collapsed, but managed to hold on to the edge of the desk.

The boy stepped forward and swung again. Devon tried to put a hand up to defend himself, but the gun hit its mark, striking him across the face. He collapsed to the ground and spat out blood, the funky taste of copper filling his mouth. He glared up at the hoodlum, who sneered back at him.

“Tell us old man, tell us where you hid it!”

He smacked Devon with the gun again, forcing him onto his stomach. The kid stood over him, holding the gun to the back of Devon’s head. He pulled back the hammer, cocking it. Death stared Devon right in the face.

“Stop! I found something.”

Devon and the kid turned to look. The other kid had opened the small storage closet and discovered the false back. He held up the two coins with a smirk on his face. The armed kid turned back toward Devon and pressed the gun deeper into his neck.

“Now, tell me where the rest is.”

“There is nothing else.”

“Liar,” he screamed, kicking Devon in the chest.

“Listen punk,” Devon gasped. “There is nothing else. I give it away after I find it. The only reason I have those is because you broke into the museum you morons!”

“Shut up,” the boy yelled, raising the gun for another swing.

“Leave him alone,” a voice suddenly commanded.

The two young boys looked around, confused. Devon knew what it was right away. He had left the transmit button on the radio pressed down. It must have gotten stuck, and transmitted the entire incident as it happened.

“Who the hell…” the gun-less boy muttered.

There was a flurry of footsteps. Two more kids with black hats and tattoos entered the room.

“Hey did you hear that? Something came over the walkie-talkies,” one of them said, holding up another black box with a speaker in it.

“Leave. Him. Alone,” the child said again, his voice suddenly full of menacing authority.

The boy with the gun turned toward the ham radio. He leaned on the desk, squinting at the little gray box. After a few moments, he chuckled.

“What is this, some kind of joke,” he asked Devon, turning toward him. Devon said nothing.

“You need to leave. Now,” the child said over the radio.

The boy leaned into the microphone.

“I don’t know where you are, but we’re not leaving until your old man here tells us where the rest of the treasure is.” He turned back toward his comrades. “Can you believe this?”

“Leave, or you will regret it” the radio crackled.

“You got guts kid,” the boy grabbed the microphone, “but I don’t care. Now tell your old man to be nice or else we’ll come find you. And we won’t be nice to you. In fact, we’ll be real nasty. You wouldn’t want that, would you Devon?” The punk sneered at him.

Two of the others walked over and pulled Devon to his feet. The armed punk placed the barrel of his gun against Devon’s forehead. But before he could say anything, all of them were enveloped in a strange screeching noise. It pierced their ears, driving its way into their brains. The two kids let go of Devon and grabbed their heads. Devon stumbled backwards into the wall and put his hands against his ears, sliding down onto the floor.

“What is that,” one of them screamed.

The young thieves fell to their knees, and the screeching suddenly stopped. Devon took his hands away from his ears. And then, he had a plan. He seized the opportunity, slowly returning to his feet.

“You have no idea do you,” he said to the armed boy, who watched him with fear in his eyes. “You have no idea what this lighthouse is.”

Devon flashed him a wicked grin.

“There are places in this world that are dangerous, but not in ways that you can see. These areas are enveloped with supernatural energy. This entire lighthouse is infused with it. You can feel it in the air if you open yourself up.” Devon drew closer to the armed youth and lowered his voice to a whisper, concocting his story like a mad artist. “You want to know why? You want to know what lies underneath this lighthouse, in the deepest depths of the rocks below?”

“Wh….wha…..what,” the punk asked, eyes wide and shaking.

“A gate,” Devon said with a devilish smile. “A gate straight into the lowest levels of hell. And it’s waiting for you…”

Devon’s eyes rolled upward, and he collapsed to the ground twitching and seizing. His mouth moved, but only loud gibberish came out. He drooled and spat all over the floor, in the throes of some kind of seizure. White foam spewed from his lips, pooling on the floor in front of him. The thieves rapidly backed away in fear.

“What the hell is this,” one of them shouted over Devon’s incoherent babbling.

“Who cares,” shouted the one with the gun. “Just run!

And with that, the thieves ran from the lighthouse screaming like frightened children. A minute later a far off-door slammed, echoing along the tower walls. Devon’s gibberish slowly turned into triumphant laughter. Moments later, off in the distance, a sputtering motor started up and moved away from the lighthouse.

He sat listening for a moment. The motor receded into the distance, and only the light pattering of the rain remained. He chuckled to himself.

“Idiots.”

 

The next morning Devon awoke, sore and exhausted. His body ached from the events of the night before. But he was alive. He had the child to thank for that.

The child tethered himself to Devon. He needed him because he had no one of his kind to give him comfort, to give him warmth or guidance. Devon knew about loneliness, but he could barely begin to fathom the isolation the child was feeling.

Devon knew what the day would bring. Today was the scheduled day for Patrick and Charlie to pay another visit, and he knew that would only mean one thing: his termination. Patrick had said the last time he was here that he was still sorting things out. Devon could only assume that at this point, he would now know the destined date, the date he would have to abandon the child and leave.

It was strange. Devon hadn’t considered having children, the thought never crossed his mind at any point in his life. But the events of the last week or so had awoken a strange fatherly feeling in him. He wanted to protect this child, to keep him safe. Devon felt like it was his duty, his purpose. But now, it was all slipping away from him.

He slowly pulled on his boots, not eager to begin his day. Slipping into a jacket, Devon stepped to the window of his bedroom. Looking down, he caught sight of a boat skimming across the gleaming water. It was time to face his fate.

As he descended the stairs, his steps sounded like a funeral dirge, a sad meeting of rubber and metal. Losing his job was nothing compared to what the child would lose. Devon would be forced to abandon the lighthouse and the radio, leaving the child in the dark and alone. Maybe Patrick could be convinced to part with the radio, but Devon doubted it. He steeled himself for the future, ready to face whatever it brought. There were no other courses of action left.

When he reached the bottom he passed through the stone arch into the boiler room. He gazed at the pathetic looking boiler, encased in rusted bronze. He walked up the stone steps, taking each one slowly and sadly. He put his hand on the wooden door to the outside and paused. Taking a deep breath, he pushed it open and stepped outside into the frigid morning air.

The wind lightly breezed through his hair, making it stand up. The waves gently lapped the rocks, soothing the island with its watery embrace. Gulls called out from their flight in the skies above, a white “v” traveling across the water. Devon lowered his head to the dock.

He immediately knew something was off when Charlie dismounted the boat alone. His adoptive father was nowhere to be seen. Devon assumed that Patrick was deeper into the boat, but when Charlie approached, the look in his eyes told a different story. His face was grim, full of determination and purpose. He climbed the steps and extended his hand.

“Devon,” he said with an air of calm. Devon took his hand and they shook.

“Charlie what’s going on,” he asked.

Charlie didn’t say anything at first. Instead he looked away, gazing out at the endless ocean of blue. He stood there in silence, letting the wind blow back his hair.

“He’s gone…Devon Patrick is gone,” Charlie finally said.

Devon blinked. “What? How?”

“Heart attack. It seems all the stress over the years finally caught up with him. He passed away last night. Peacefully I’m told.”

“Charlie…I’m so sorry…”

“Don’t be. While I’m sad he’s gone, he was never the one I looked up to.” He turned to Devon, and stepped forward.

“And besides that,” he continued, “there’s been a development. You know that Patrick was grooming me to take over the business. Well, they read his will this morning. Everything he owned is now under my authority, including those he employed.”

“I’m not following,” Devon said.

“You and I think alike Devon. We both have dreams we want to live out. I want to be a painter, and you want to be a lighthouse keeper. The only difference is that I wasn’t being given the chance to live my dream, and you were about to get yours taken away.”

When understanding finally hit him, Devon felt like crying for the first time in many years.

“Devon,” Charlie said, reaching up to put a hand on his shoulder. “The lighthouse is going to become a tourist attraction eventually. That I can’t prevent. But what I can do is keep you on as its keeper, now and for the rest of your life. I want you to keep the lighthouse in tip-top shape. I want you to take care of it, because you’re the only one I trust enough to get the job done. I don’t care about any engineers or mechanics with some fancy degree. I care about passion. I may be a lot younger than you Devon, but I have always known you were in love with this place. And now, I leave it in your capable hands.”

“Charlie, I can never repay you for this.”

“If anything I am paying you back for my father’s callousness. A man like him could never understand true devotion to one’s work. The bottom line was all that mattered. He may have taught me about business, but you taught me about people. And with you taking care of the lighthouse, I’ll be able to pursue my dream of painting at long last.”

The two of them stood there for a moment in silence. The crashing of the waves was a happy sound to Devon’s ears.

“It’s funny,” Charlie began, “I can remember Patrick taking me from the orphanage like it was yesterday. He was…happy then. He didn’t have that grimace on his face, that constant anger and frustration. These last few years…he was so distant. Some days it was like he was barely there at all.”

“People change. It’s inevitable,” Devon replied. “But not all change is bad.”

Charlie locked eyes with him and smiled.

“By the way Devon, did you ever find out what that crying was,” he asked.

Devon smiled.

“Just another lost soul looking for guidance.”

Charlie gave Devon a confused look, but decided not to push the matter. “In any case,” he said, “I’ll be in contact with you soon to begin the transition. If everything goes as planned it shouldn’t be much more than a bump in the road for you. Good luck Devon.”

And with that, Charlie and walked down the stone steps toward the landing. When he was halfway to the dock, he stopped and gazed out at the ocean for a few moments. After some time Charlie turned and looked at Devon. He flashed him a light smile and waved. His eyes were different. They no longer had that naive glint to them. They weren’t the eyes of a boy.

They were those of a man.

 

That night, Devon sat up in the light room with the radio on his lap. He had pulled it up with him so that he could use it while gazing out into the night. He held a can of beer in one hand, and the microphone in the other. This time, he drank not to melancholy, but to celebration.

“Friend Devon?”

“Yes,” Devon replied.

“What is a shooting star?”

Devon smiled. He had been telling the child the story of what he saw the night of the flare.

“Shooting stars are chunks of rock that fall from space. They catch on fire, which creates an orange streak as they fly across the sky. Some people like to make wishes when they see them.”

“Wishes?”

“Yeah. See some people believe that if you hope for something after you see a shooting star, then it will happen.”

“Do you believe that friend Devon?”

“No. But it’s a nice thought.”

They sat there in silence, Devon drinking his beer. The light beacon was turned off. It was no longer needed. But rather than feel sad, Devon felt elated. Even though the lighthouse was becoming obsolete, Devon had a new purpose. Life had color for him again, and the night sky no longer looked despondent and dreary, but serene and comforting.

The beer made Devon feel tingly, warm, happy…

After what felt like an eternal silence, the child piped up again.

“Do you think I will ever find more of my kind?”

“I don’t know,” Devon answered truthfully. “Your coming here was such a strange occurrence that I can’t really say.”

“I hope I do…someday. Because…you will not be around forever…will you?”

The question gave him great pause. He stared into the endless black sky, filled with tiny specks of distant light. He heard the ocean wind breezing through the tower below. He could feel the chill in the night air as it swirled up the stairs toward the light room.

For a long time, he could not answer. The child was absolutely right of course. Devon would not be around forever. He felt the vicious sting, the telltale sign of sudden awareness. He was human. He was mortal. Someday, he would die. Hell, it could be tomorrow for all he knew. He could trip on the stairs and go tumbling over the railing. And that would be it. It would all be over.

Suddenly, he saw Charlie again, standing on the shore. He smiled and waved at Devon, his hazel eyes twinkling like jewels in the sun.

“No, I won’t,” he finally answered. “But there will always be good people in the world. You never have to be alone.”

 

How long he sat up in the light room that night, Devon couldn’t say. For the first time in quite a while he was blissfully unaware of the passage of time. The child said goodbye and vanished from the radio waves, but Devon sat up there a bit longer, watching the stars twinkle far above him.

When he was finished, he got up from his seat and started down the stairs. He stopped off and returned the radio to its proper place. He left it on, faint static filling the room.

After that, he made his way back down to his bedroom. Before going to sleep, he opened the window and let the breeze caress his face. There was a mild coolness in the air, but that was commonplace for the region. Otherwise it was a calm and auspicious night, one he would be certain to remember for a very long time.

His journal entry bore three simple words: “Life is good”.

Thanks for reading.  Check back next Wednesday for a regular post and as always, have a wonderful week!

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Story Re-Analysis: Returning to the World of “Dark Fall: Lights Out”

Human beings love to look back.  They long for past days, past events…times when they were younger.  But other times, they look back on the past with regret, wishing they could change things…

A little over three years ago I started writing this blog, posting every Wednesday.  And I’m proud to say that I’ve never missed a week.  But there are other things I am not so proud of, things that I wish I could have done better.  The biggest regret I have were the “story analysis” pieces I did.  I think I did around four of them total before I gave up on it entirely.  They were just proving too difficult to write and took more time than I thought they were worth.

And nowhere did I feel this more than the story analysis for a little video game called “Dark Fall: Lights Out”.

It just wasn’t a good post.  It was boring, and it was long (it totaled at almost five thousand words).  I have trouble reading through the entire thing and I was the one who wrote it!  So in the spirit of looking back I decided “what the heck…I’ll give it another shot!”  Here’s to second chances!

And without further ado, I present to you the story of “Dark Fall: Lights Out” once again…

 

The Story

A man tosses back and forth in his sleep.  Ghostly visions of a lighthouse and disembodied voices swirl around in his dreams.  He wakes, brought out of his slumber by a brief knocking at his door.  But when he opens the door, no one is there…

 

Don’t you hate it when ghosts knock on your door? Stupid ghosts…some of us are trying to sleep!

 

Our main character for this journey is Benjamin Parker, a cartographer commissioned to map the coast around the small town of Trewarthan.  In his journal, Parker makes it clear that he doesn’t enjoy the job and considers it a waste of his time.  But it doesn’t take long before he becomes intrigued by a light offshore.  He believes it belongs to a lighthouse, which is strange because the maps show no such lighthouse nearby.

He also talks about a repeating dream he’s been having for a long time, one of a metallic object falling from the sky…

Parker was called to Trewarthan by a man named Robert Demarion.  According to Parker’s journal, while the two are having breakfast one morning, Parker asks Demarion about the lighthouse.  Demarion responds as if he’s ill and exits the cottage, leaving Parker alone.  Parker begins rummaging around, finding a log by Demarion.  The log mentions how Demarion found a cavern underneath the lighthouse out on Fetch Rock island, but when he went to explore it he felt a terrifying presence that forced him to run away.

The book also holds a curious black object he found that can bend but not break, yet can be easily scratched or cut…

 

My oh my, what could this mysterious object be?

 

(Side note: the name “Hadden” refers to a company that was in the first “Dark Fall” game).

Back in the present, Parker ventures outside.  It doesn’t take long before a voice beckons Parker to enter a doorway.  Inside, Parker finds Demarion, who explains that he didn’t tell him about the lighthouse because he didn’t want Parker to be caught up in the town’s superstition.  Demarion also tells him that a passing ship reported that the lighthouse lamp isn’t lit, something the keepers would never allow.  There are three men manning the lighthouse: Oliver Drake, Robert Shaw, and James Woolf, who is the youngest.  Demarion implores Parker to go out to the island and investigate.  Parker agrees and takes a small boat moored on the pier.

(Side note: during the transition to Fetch Rock, we are treated to a partial reading of the poem “Flannan Isle”, based on real life disappearances at a lighthouse.  This event and poem likely inspired the game’s story).

Trewarthan at night.

 

Upon arriving at Fetch Rock, Parker finds that it is indeed dark inside the lighthouse.  Once he gets the interior lights back on, he ventures further up the lighthouse to discover what happened.  Mysterious shadows dart through the corridors, and Parker has a run-in with a ghostly voice that identifies itself as Robert Shaw.  The ghost laments being unable to protect the younger keeper, James, and tells Parker that Drake has gone mad, as if possessed by a demon.

The ghost vanishes and Parker continues exploring.  He finds no signs of anyone, but does discover a unsent letter from Woolf to his beloved.  In it, Woolf describes how Drake had gone mad, moaning to himself in the bowels below the lighthouse.  He tells about how Drake came after them and seemed to transform into a colorful glow.  As he was transfixed by the impossible vision, Woolf heard a name in his mind: Malakai.

He later came to with Shaw in a barricaded room, but Drake came for them again soon after.  James’ last words are that he can see the light under the door…

Continuing upward, Parker makes his way into Drake’s room where he finds the man’s journal.  Drake mentions a dream eerily similar to the one Parker had, right down to the flaming comet of metal.  But in Drake’s, he sees the object falling into a bed of reeds, which reminds him of an etching somewhere in the lighthouse.  Drake complains of a headache one day shortly before the journal descends into maddened gibberish.  Drake starts rambling about a “master” and dotes on Parker as being instrumental to his plans.  He conspires against the other keepers, saying that his master needs them to “feed”.

The journal ends with a creepy “I see you, Parker” scrawled across the page.

 

Cute.

 

In Drake’s desk, Parker finds a drawing showing a path leading to a cavern.  He makes his way down to the ground floor and across the rickety wooden planks.  He enters the cavern, led on by ghostly whispers of “this way” and “over here”.  Upon reaching a caved-in tunnel, lines of color suddenly crawl across the rocks.  When Parker leaves the cave, he notices things are different.

And not just anything…everything.

 

 

The entire island has changed.  Parker enters a small building just a little ways away from the cavern and finds a machine projecting images on to a sheet, a radio, and a mystical, wondrous device full of such magical power that-

 

 

Okay, it’s just a laptop.  But come on!  Imagine how crazy that would be to someone from the beginning of the 20th century.

Anyways, it doesn’t take long before Parker discovers he’s in the year 2004.  Somehow, he was thrown through time almost a hundred years into the future.  The lighthouse is now a tourist attraction, but it appears to have closed down for the day.  And a storm looms on the horizon…

Making his way into the gift shop, Parker finds a plethora of books and music.  One book in particular catches his eye: Horror at Fetch Rock.

 

 

In the book, Parker discovers that after he disappeared off the face of the world along with the three lighthouse keepers, the resulting investigation concluded that Parker must have murdered the keepers.  Demarion covered everything up, denied any involvement with the proceedings, and placed the blame squarely on Parker (although it seems that, over the years, Demarion was suspected of being involved in some way).

Parker also finds letters and a journal written by a woman named Polly White.  It turns out Polly is a ghost hunter who believes the lighthouse is haunted.  She also believes that she is the reincarnation of James Woolf, the youngest lighthouse keeper.

(Side note: Polly White is actually a character from the first “Dark Fall” game.  Fortunately knowledge of the first game’s story is not essential here.)

In the journal, Polly describes how she was led to the lighthouse because of her dreams.  It didn’t take long for her to experience some unexplained activity, such as a chair throwing itself across the room.  Along with her journal is a creepy recording of a hypnotic regression session she went through, which is what led her to believe she is the reincarnation of Woolf.

Continuing through the lighthouse, Parker discovers that history has not been kind to him.  He is portrayed as a troubled soul who likely murdered the keepers in a fit of madness.  There are numerous signs with details about the duties of lighthouse keepers, how a lighthouse operates, and some bronze age relics.  As he makes his way up the stairs, Parker finds that the rooms have been dressed up for the guests, with the crewroom featuring a voice re-enactment of the keepers’ final night.

Suddenly, Parker hears someone dart out of sight farther up the stairs.  A dropped journal entry reveals that Polly saw Parker enter the gift shop and is trying to hide.  Continuing up the stairs, Parker finds that she has locked herself in what used to be Drake’s room, but is now a storage room of some sort.  She slides a piece of paper under the door for him, which leads him back to the little building outside with the laptop.

There he finds the “Radvision” goggles, which let him see ghostly phenomena.  But they also serve another purpose: by using them on certain objects, Parker can travel back to 1912.

 

I see a bad moon a-rising

 

After some sleuthing, Parker finds a section of wall behind the boiler in 1912 that transports him to another time period.  In this time, the lighthouse is no longer standing.  A foundation remains, but most of the structure is now gone.  Parker follows a hole in the wall and climbs down an elevator shaft, finding a futuristic tablet belonging to a man named Gerard Magnus who works for the D.E.O.S. organization.  Continuing through a metallic tunnel, Parker finds another tablet from someone named Maria Ortega, who complains because Magnus has begun acting weird ever since he started working in the elevator shaft.

As Parker makes his way deeper into the facility, things start to fall into place, and a narrative eerily familiar emerges…

 

 

D.E.O.S. stands for Deep Exploration of Space, and is a scientific organization that launches probes to study, you guessed it, cosmic bodies and phenomena.  But things haven’t been well since the disappearance of their most recent probe.  According to the log of one Mitsuyo Taku, someone has been skulking around her room.  She suspects Magnus because, like Ortega, she has noticed him acting weird.

She has also noticed someone on the cameras…someone who seems to glow with an unearthly light…

Taku hatches a plan.  She decides to use one of the crew’s birthday party as a ruse to gather fingerprints.  Everything seems to be going fine, although spirits are down because of the lost probe.  However, Taku writes about a brief confrontation between Magnus and Cobin Hart, the overseer of the probe project and the one blamed for the lost probe.  Hart is lamenting the loss when Magnus starts acting weird, muttering things like “he is calling to me”.  The party eventually breaks up, but soon after Taku returns to her quarters the lights go out and alarms start ringing.  Evidently, soon afterward everyone vanished, just like in 1912.

But more telling is the name of the lost probe: Malakai…the very name James Woolf heard in his mind.

Malakai was apparently the fourth probe D.E.O.S launched and featured an advanced AI system as well as something called Matter Manipulation Software.  This would, according to Hart, theoretically let Malakai generate power from anything it wanted.  The probe was launched into deep space and encountered some type of unknown matter.  When it tried to jump back, the probe vanished without a trace.

So now Parker knows: Malakai is behind all the mysterious events and disappearances.  But where is the probe itself?  The answer lies back in 1912 with Drake’s journal.

In the journal, Drake mentioned that his dream featured a bed of reeds, which reminded him of an etching.  In Drake’s closet, there is a secret compartment Parker was unable to open before.  But now, using clues he got in 2004, Parker solves the code and opens it.  Inside is the etching of reeds, and when Parker looks at it with the googles, he is transported through time yet again.

 

 

Finding himself in an abandoned bronze age village, Parker finds the cavern once again.  Only this time, he is able to continue down the tunnel.  And there, after all this time, lies the object that he’s been seeing in his dreams…Malakai.

 

 

Apparently, when Malakai attempted to jump back to Earth, the resulting incident catapulted the probe back in time to the bronze age.  It’s been lying there the entire time, desperately trying to find a way back home.  But for that to happen, it needed someone to enter the activation code, a code known only to Hart and Malakai itself.  Using clues he’s found throughout the times he’s visited, Parker manages to decipher the activation code and enter it.

Malakai then ascends into the sky before the scene shifts back to the lighthouse.  The lamp is lit once again, the swift beam of light cutting through the gloomy night…

 

Concluding Thoughts

It’s funny.  I still enjoy this game and its story.  But looking back on it, there are some things that could have been fleshed out more.

For instance, the history of Fetch Rock itself.  We know from Demarion at the beginning of the game that the island has a cursed reputation and that the building of the lighthouse was fraught with strange accidents.  But since the Malakai probe would have been there since around prehistoric times, there must have been other weird things going on throughout the island’s history.  Why not flesh it out some more, give it more of a history instead of just saying “hey this place is bad news…take our word for it.”

And for that matter, what about Polly White?  Her only purpose in the game is to feed Parker the location of the Radvision goggles.  And yet, she’s given a whole little bit about being a possible reincarnation of one of the lighthouse keepers.  But it’s never touched on again once you get the goggles.

And what about Malakai itself?  It’s vaguely hinted at that Malakai uses the Matter Manipulation Software to “feed” on people for energy, but why do Drake and Magnus suddenly start glowing?  What is the purpose of that?

I could go on about stuff like this, but I think it comes down to the fact that it is a video game first and foremost.  And to be honest, the atmosphere and exploration were why I was playing the game in the first place, not the story.  But in the end, the story was intriguing.  It just didn’t use its potential enough.  I love the idea of ghostly happenings turning out to be advanced technology that people from earlier times can’t even begin to fathom.  I like the idea of a ghost story with a science-fiction bent to it.  It would make for a fascinating novel.  That way the story could hammer home the technology theme by having Parker be the “man out of time” who encounters these strange devices.

I think the story’s biggest flaw is that it ends up being too complex for its own good.  There’s a lot at play here and it doesn’t all connect in a neat fashion.  Part of that is likely due to the game being very low-budget and indie.  But a lot of it has to do with the fact that a point and click game generally tells its story in a non-linear fashion, whereas I think this game’s story could have benefited from being told in a more structured manner.

In the end, I still love the game.  But I think I enjoyed the idea of the story more than the story itself.

 

Thanks for reading!  Check back next Wednesday for my next short story.

You can like the Rumination on the Lake Facebook page here or follow me on Twitter here.

It’s Halloween! Time for some spooky ghosts.

Happy Halloween!  As everyone knows there’s nothing scarier than breaking your schedule and posting two days early OOOOOOH SPOOKY!

In all seriousness though, I wanted to do a special post for Halloween.  I’m not much for the dressing up in costume type stuff, but I do enjoy the stories and the general atmosphere that pervades the holiday.  So with that in mind, today I wanted to share some ghosts stories with you.  Generally speaking, I don’t technically believe in ghosts, but I enjoy the tales nonetheless.  So let’s get started.

 

The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall

Raynham Hall is a country house in Norfolk, England that was built in the 1600s and is the seat of the Townshend family.  It may or may not have been the first of its kind in England, as the builders choose an Italian style rather than the native one.

 

Raynham Hall

Raynham Hall from the outside.

 

It is certainly something to look at.  But Raynham Hall’s fame extends beyond its architecture, as it is also the sight of one of the most famous ghost photographs of all time.  The story goes like this: two photographers from Country Life magazine, Captain Provand and Indre Shira, were on assignment at the house taking pictures for the magazine in September of 1936.  They had just finished taking a photograph of the stairs when Shira says he saw a veiled figure descending the stairs.  He called out to Provand, who was focusing for another exposure, to take a picture quickly as he flashed the light.

This was the photograph they caught:

 

brown-lady-of-raynham

 

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve seen this image before, as it is one of the most famous ghost photographs of all time.  Now, is it necessarily real?  No.  It is possible that the image is a double-exposure, especially considering the photographers had just taken a shot of the stairs moments before.  But the age of the photograph makes it highly unlikely to be a fake in the sense that they staged it (although some have suggested that maybe Shira walked down the stairs himself or smeared grease on the camera lens).  To me it is likely a genuine article, although whether or not it’s actually a ghost is debatable.  Nevertheless, it is one of the more well-known photos out there, even today.

The supposed ghost is called the Brown Lady because of the dress she wears.  According to legend the ghost is that of Lady Dorothy Walpole, the sister of Robert Walpole who is considered the first Prime Minister of Great Britain.  She was married to Charles Townshend, a man who was apparently known for a violent temper.  When Townshend discovered that Lady Dorothy was having an affair, he grew angry and locked her into her rooms in the house.  She officially died of smallpox in 1726.  Her ghost was seen a number of times, although the sightings grew less frequent following the 1936 photo.

 

The Lord’s Chair

Next we have another old photograph, this one from the 1890s.  But first, a little background.

 

Combermere Abbey

Combermere Abbey

 

 

Combermere Abbey is a former monastery and country house in Cheshire England that was built in the 1130s, making it nearly 900 years old.  After its dissolution in 1538 it was bought and held by the Cotton family until 1919.  Ever since then it has been in private ownership.

But the tale we’re interested in takes place in 1891.  In that year the second viscount (a viscount is a British nobleman ranking above a baron but below an earl) Lord Combermere passed away after being struck by a horse-drawn carriage.  At the time his funeral was taking place, Sybell Corbet (Lady Combermere’s sister) decided to take a picture of the abbey library.  The exposure of the camera took about an hour.  And this is what showed up:

 

combermere-abbey-ghost

 

If you look at the bottom left of the picture, you’ll see what appears to be the transparent figure of a man sitting down in the chair.  Many believe the figure to be that of Lord Combermere.  Now, due to the long exposure time, it has been suggested that one of the staff may have stepped in and sat in the chair.  However, the staff and family at the time refuted this, saying that all of the staff were attending the funeral miles away from there.

Does this mean it’s a true and blue ghost?  Again, no.  It could simply be another case of double-exposure, like in the case of the Brown Lady.  It could also be our brains taking in visual data from the photo and arranging it in the form of a face.  You see, we only actually see a certain percentage of what’s around us (around sixty percent or so, maybe even less).  The rest of it is filled in by our brains, which recognizes patterns and smooths over the gaps for us.  So what we see as the ghost of a man might simply be a trick of the mind.

Or maybe it really is a ghost.  Who knows?

 

The White Lady

This story is interesting, because unlike the last two there is no known possible identity to the mysterious figure that appears in the photo below:

 

White Lady of Worstead Church

 

She is known simply as “The White Lady of Worstead Church”.  Worstead Church itself resides in Norfolk, United Kingdom.  Initially the White Lady was believed to be a malevolent spirit of some kind who would appear on Christmas eve, and that anyone who witnessed her would suffer an untimely death.  A story goes that a man in the 1830s heard of the rumor, laughed it off, and decided to spend the night in the church to debunk it.  When he didn’t return, his friends went looking for him.  They found him huddled in the corner of the belfry, shaking with fear.

His last words before he died were “I’ve seen her…I’ve seen her……”

But a more recent story would seem to show the White Lady in a better light.  In 1975 a woman named Diane Berthelot was traveling in Norfolk with her husband and son.  It was a very hot day, and the family decided to take a rest inside the church.  Diane was sick, and so decided to sit down on one of the pews and rest while her husband took photos.  It wasn’t until after they returned that they saw the white figure in the picture, a figure that none of them saw that day.  When they returned to Norfolk the following summer they showed the picture to a vicar at the church who told them of the White Lady and said that she was a healing spirit.  After being told this, Diane realized that her illness had abated somewhat, something she traced back to that hot summer day the year before.

An interesting story, and an exercise in how beliefs can change over time, given how the White Lady went from being a death-dealing spirit to being a healing one instead.

 

Good Life Ghost

I started with older photographs because in the modern era, photographs are very hard to take at face value.  With the advent of Photoshop and other image editing software, it’s far too easy to edit photos and pass them off as real.  But this next one I feel is a good example of a modern ghost photo, regardless of whether or not it’s a fake:

 

good-life-festival-ghost

 

This was taken at the Good Life music festival in Australia.  Now, it might be hard to see, but if you look at the far right of the picture you’ll see what appears to be the transparent image of a little girl hovering over a building of some kind.  Here’s a closer view:

 

good-life-ghost-close-up

 

Now, the Good Life festival actually made an official statement on Facebook, which reads as follows:

“Good Life Management have been made aware of a photo from Good Life Brisbane 2016, showing what appears to be the ghost of a young girl holding a teddy and hovering on the roof of a building over looking the festival. We have checked with the photographer who took the photo and the original image from the memory stick also shows the girl. We have since spoken with the Brisbane Showgrounds who have revealed that ground staff refuse to go near one of the old warehouses after repeated sightings of a young girl. It is rumoured a little girl named Lucy died at the site in the early 1900’s and has haunted it since.”

Interesting stuff.  They later released an update that said they couldn’t find anything that corroborated the story about Lucy, but that they still believe that the ghost in the picture is genuine.  Now, it could still be a fake, perhaps some kind of marketing ploy by the festival itself.  But like I said, these days it’s very hard to tell.

 

Oklahoma Car Impound Ghost

I thought I’d end with something different.  This time, we have a video to look at, instead of just a picture.

Here’s the story: back in July of 2005 a worker at a car impound lot in Oklahoma spotted something moving around the lot on one of the cameras.  Thinking there might be an intruder and confused about why the alarms had not been triggered, she sent another employee to go see what it was.  But of course, they never found anything, and by that time the figure had disappeared off the cameras as well.

Now, much to my chagrin, I was unable to find a good version of the clip.  There was one that just had the video itself, but for some reason the person who uploaded it put some kind of hard rock/heavy metal track in the background.  So rather than make your eardrums bleed, I’ll share this video of a story a local news station did on the event instead:

 

 

It’s an interesting clip, and one I’ve actually been aware of for a long time.  I first heard about the story back when I was in high school actually, and in doing this post, I was reminded of it.  Could it have been faked?  Probably, although I can’t see what the car lot stood to gain from doing so aside from perhaps some brief publicity.  In any case, some people believe the ghost belongs to one of three car wrecks that were there that day which were involved in fatal accidents.  Some went further, saying that the ghost may have been that of a 33-year-old woman named Tracy Martin, whose pick-up truck had been one of those involved in a deadly crash.

Skeptics have suggested that perhaps, among other things, someone dangled a doll on a string in front of the camera, replicating the effect of a moving figure.  But like our other stories, neither side gains a victory.  And so the footage will likely remain inconclusive, now and forever…

 

Well thank you for reading this special post.  Before I go, I do want to say that I feel that the line between skeptics and believers is often too harsh.  Skeptics often call believers stupid, and vice versa.  Now, I am a skeptic when it comes to these things, but as I said before I still enjoy the stories.  They’re almost like small nuggets of folklore in a way, telling tales about the people of the region who have come and gone.  And sure, it is probably possible to fake every single entry on this list, but just because it is possible doesn’t mean it is so.  That doesn’t mean that they necessarily show actual, factual proof of ghosts.  It just means that there are other possibilities that don’t involve deceitful intent on the part of the photographer or other parties.  Believers need to take things with a grain of salt as well though.  Far too often their need to believe is so strong that they’ll ignore what is right in front of them, the same way conspiracy theorists will ignore any evidence that doesn’t support the story they want.  And they often mark skeptics as “arrogant”, simply because they dare to question things.

Ghosts or no ghosts, we can all just enjoy the stories themselves.  And can’t we all just admit that it’s a little arrogant of human beings to assume that we know all the ways in which the world works?

Anyways, happy Halloween everyone!  Have a great holiday and I will see you this Wednesday for my regularly scheduled post.

Spotlight: Blackwell

Blackwell is a series of video games that, I must admit, I found myself surprised by.  I stumbled across them one random day around a year or two ago while browsing for some new games to play and I didn’t think too much of them at first, but I marked them down as a future possibility.  Fast-forward to now, and I’ve played through four of the five games in the series.  And I have to say, they are up there with some of my more favorite adventure games.

 

Blackwell Legacy, first game in the series.

Blackwell Legacy, first game in the series.

 

For those unfamiliar with the term “adventure game”, allow me to explain.  Adventure games are video games that are primarily story-driven with an emphasis on puzzle solving and exploration.  Most of them don’t involve combating enemies (at least in the usual sense).  Now, adventure games can refer to other games with combat in them, but for our purposes this is the definition we’ll go with.

Now, on to Blackwell.

Playing through the Blackwell games feels like playing through a good novel.  Each of the four games I’ve played so far have all been paced very well (each of them clocking in at around 3-4 hours, although the fourth game took me a little longer).  They don’t drag themselves out too long, but they always leave you wanting more.  Which, to me, is a very good thing.

The story of Blackwell goes like this: you play as Rosangela Blackwell, a struggling writer who at the start of the series works for a small-time newspaper.  As the first game opens up (Blackwell Legacy), Rosa finds out about a death in her family.  Her aunt, Lauren, has passed away after spending roughly two decades in a mysterious coma.  Lauren was the only family she had left, as Rosa’s parents both passed away in a car crash early on in her life.  But there’s something strange going on.  The doctor reveals to Rosa that Lauren was muttering the name “Joey” shortly before she passed.  Soon after, Rosa begins suffering headaches that get worse and worse as she tries to go about her day.  They get worse and worse until, upon returning to her apartment, she suffers a massive one before the sudden appearance of a ghost who calls himself Joey.  Joey reveals to her that she is a medium, a person who can communicate with ghosts.  He also reveals that he is, as he calls himself, the “Blackwell legacy”.  He has followed the family from generation to generation for some time.  Joey tells Rosa that it is now her task to help lost spirits “move on”, as in guide them to the afterlife (or whatever awaits them).

Her aunt Lauren was the one before her.  And now, it becomes Rosa’s turn to take up the family calling.

Initially I thought the games were going to be mostly standalone affairs that dealt with cases Rosa would work, but I was surprised once again.  By the third game, there is definitely a thread being woven throughout them.  Characters and events have impact on the series as a whole rather than just on their individual games.  But I won’t go into greater detail here for fear of spoiling things.

 

Blackwell Unbound, the second game where you actually play as Rosa's aunt Lauren investigating a case back in the '70s.

Blackwell Unbound, the second game where you actually play as Rosa’s aunt Lauren investigating a case back in the ’70s.

 

I will say this, I was pleasantly surprised by the voice acting in these games.  It’s nothing absolutely stellar, but it comes across as believable which is more than I can say for most adventure games (I’ve already talked about The Black Mirror and its hilariously bad English voice acting).  And the characters as well are very easy to identify with.  Rosa and Joey, although they don’t always get along, do genuinely care about each other and you can see that caring deepen through each successive game (even in Blackwell Unbound when you play as Rosa’s aunt Lauren, you get the sense that although they butt heads sometimes, Joey and Lauren do like each other).  But what I was most surprised by were the ghosts themselves.

You see, in Blackwell‘s universe ghosts usually don’t know they’re dead.  They’re typically roaming around thinking they’re still alive and living their lives like nothing happened.  To help them move on, you must first convince them they’re dead.  This involves finding out all about who they are and what happened in their lives.  It’s basically a pretext for some in-depth character study, although it works very well.  But what I found myself most surprised by was how each ghost was actually sympathetic in some way.  In the beginning of the fourth game you’re tasked with investigating a yacht that for some reason keeps untying itself and drifting away.  You quickly discover that a ghost is the culprit and learn that he was the previous owner of the boat.  You also learn that he was involved with a bank robbery, as there is a hidden cache of money on board as well.

 

Blackwell Deception, the fourth game.

Blackwell Deception, the fourth game.

 

But the thing is, he robbed the bank because he felt cheated.  The bank unceremoniously fired him after he worked there for thirty years.  Combine that with the fact that his wife died of cancer, and you can see how his world got torn apart so quickly.  It doesn’t exactly justify what he did, but it makes you feel for him all the same.

And that’s the thing with Blackwell that I like a lot.  The world isn’t just rosy and happy, nor is it dreary and depressing.  It’s full of shades, conflicting moralities, characters who are just trying to find their ways in life when their life meets a sudden end.  It feels…real in a lot of ways, despite the supernatural trappings that it has.

 

Convergence, the third game, starts with you talking to the ghost of someone who apparently committed suicide. It's also one of the few moments in the series where you can handle the situation in a couple of different ways.

Convergence, the third game, starts with you talking to the ghost of someone who apparently committed suicide and is now stuck reliving that final moment…stuck facing that final decision.

 

But enough about the story.  How do the games play?  Well, I’m pleased to report that, compared to most adventure games, the puzzles are all fairly logical (some people have complained they’re a little too easy, but honestly I prefer that to puzzles where the only reason I can’t solve it is because I haven’t swiped my mouse over every little speck on-screen).  I only got stuck a handful of times, and all it really took was me thinking about the situation differently.  Better yet, the puzzles actually make you feel smart.  For example, in Unbound you need to talk to the son of one of the ghosts over the phone.  But he won’t talk to you unless you know his mom’s apartment number.  Now, if you’ve done your homework, you’ve been given the two pieces of the apartment number and you can enter it correctly.  The thing I like about it is that it never gives you the full number in an obvious manner.  The pieces come about from your conversations with the ghost, and it’s up to you to put them together.

In a way, the games make you feel like an amateur detective.  You have to find clues and put them together in a way that makes sense (you can have Rosa/Lauren look at her notes and combine clues to see if they fit together in any manner, which is sometimes necessary to uncover the next place to go or a person to talk to).  And hey, if you get stuck in the later games you can actually talk to Joey and plan your next move, which usually results in you getting a clue to help you progress.

 

The games are very well-written as well. Sometimes unimportant objects to the story will still result in some sharp pieces of dialogue.

The games are very well-written as well. Sometimes unimportant objects to the story will still result in some sharp pieces of dialogue.

 

I could go on and on about these games, but I’ll just finish it here by saying this: if you’re a fan of stories and characters in your video games, Blackwell is a great series for you.  The sharp writing combined with the above-average voice acting (especially for adventure games) makes them a joy to play.  And they’re short games too, usually clocking in at only a few hours, which helps keep the pacing fast and interesting.  The puzzles all make sense within the game world as well as logically (no pixel-hunting here, if you know what I mean).  But don’t just take my word for it.  Try them out yourself.  You can buy the first four games in a bundle (on Steam as well as Good Old Games).

I look forward to playing the final game whenever I get around to picking it up.

 

Well that’s all I have for this week.  Check back next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.

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After Life: People’s Desire to Believe in Ghosts and the Paranormal

It has almost been two years since I started this blog.  My very first post (aside from the introductory post) was a post about ghosts.  I talked about how, while I don’t believe in ghosts and the paranormal, I find the idea rather fascinating.  Briefly, I mentioned that I believe that ghosts represent a certain desire of people to understand what happens to them after death.  Some people want to believe that the human spirit somehow endures, whether it be in ghostly form or in some other version of an afterlife (the Christian idea of Heaven, for example).  But the question becomes “why”.  Why do people want to believe this so badly?

Death is a scary thing.  The human mind can’t truly grasp the concept.  Even with the concept of an afterlife, the very idea of death is bizarre.  It’s especially strange to those of us who do not believe in an afterlife.  The simple idea of just not being, not existing someday is an impossible thing to comprehend.  The very thought of not being able to talk to our families, our loved ones is a terrifying one.

I believe this is where ghosts come in.

Ghosts are a way to explain what happens to the very consciousness of the human body when one dies.  There is no real scientific basis for it.  There is no logical basis for it.  And yet, it is an idea that has persisted for centuries.  To some, it is a comforting idea.  It is a way to reach into the past.  It is a way to comfort ourselves, to assure ourselves that death is not simply an end.  I am always amazed by the obsession with death that some people have.  It is an interesting thing to think about, but some people go to far, becoming completely enveloped by it.  Perhaps out of fear, they turn to ideas like these, paranormal ideas that give them a reason to believe in life after death.

 

White Lady of Worstead Church

White Lady of Worstead Church

 

The world is a very strange and confusing place.  The human desire to explain everything around us is what I believe leads to ideas such as ghosts.  We have an insatiable need to know everything, to understand everything.  And we are not patient people.  We want to know and we want to know now.  We’re not always willing to wait and thoroughly study something to understand it.  So sometimes, we speculate.  We try to interpret the world around us, even if we don’t have anything to support our reasoning.  And you know what?

That’s okay.  In fact, that’s human.

Maybe the paranormal believers will someday turn out to be right.  Maybe they’ll eventually provide us with some evidence that will concretely prove the existence of ghosts.  And maybe someday they’ll be proven wrong.  This is the reason why I ascribe to the scientific method.  It works.  And if theories are proven wrong, science moves past that to come up with a better hypothesis, a better theory to explain the world around us.

But until then, we’ll just have to keep searching.

 

Well that’s all I have this time.  Tune in next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week!

 

Guilty Pleasures: Ghost Hunting Television Shows

So I have a little bit of a confession to make.  I actually enjoy watching those ghost hunting TV shows every now and then, even though I don’t really believe in paranormal phenomena.  It’s a guilty pleasure of mine (but you already knew that because you read the title of the post…you clever scamp).

But let’s rewind a bit, back to March 2014.  I was just starting up this blog and my very first post dealt with the paranormal.  In it, I talked about how even though I am skeptical when it comes to whether or not ghosts and the like actually exist, I enjoy ghost stories and just the idea of the paranormal in games, movies, and television.  In the post, I only really talked about video games, specifically the Dark Fall games, a series of point and click adventures dealing with ghosts.

I suppose then, that this was a long time coming.  I have seen several ghost hunting shows before (interesting fact, the show Ghost Adventures actually visited Duluth earlier this year), but the one I’ve enjoy most is Ghost Hunters and its spinoff Ghost Hunters International on the Syfy channel (yeah don’t ask, I don’t know how that ever became a thing).  I mainly like this show specifically because when it comes to the spectrum of being believable, Ghost Hunters probably lies at the top.  I have a healthy skepticism about most of these shows, especially a certain one I’ll talk about in a little bit.

But why do I like these shows?  Mainly because they feel atmospheric to me.  I like the idea of going into a supposedly haunted place and just experiencing all it has to offer.  And since I’m certainly not going to be buying plane tickets and going to any famous haunted locales in the near future, I have to do it vicariously through video games and television.  I chalk it up to a mixture of the part of me that likes exploring and that masochistic part of me that likes horror and being scared.

And as far as experiencing a haunted place goes, Ghost Hunters is a good avenue for it.  If you’ve never seen the show before, the gist of it is this team of people go to a bunch of different places (usually two per episode) and see if they can find any sort of paranormal evidence, be it on video, audio, or some other means.  And of course, they investigate in the dark, because that’s when all the spooky stuff happens.  In any case, I enjoy the process that they go through in each episode.  And in the end, they seem the most genuine out of all of the shows, because they at least admit when they haven’t found anything…which leads me into the other show I want to talk about.

Have you ever heard of Paranormal State?  If you have, and have seen it, you might understand the direction I’m about to go in.

Paranormal State is another ghost hunting show I’ve watched, but not for the same reasons as Ghost Hunters.  I watch Ghost Hunters because I like the idea of ghosts and hauntings, and their method of doing things doesn’t strike me as ridiculous as some of the other shows.  I watch Paranormal State because I like to laugh at it.  Me and my roommate used to watch it in college a lot because it was just so absurd.  The team in this show hails from Penn State University, and seems to have a major confirmation bias going on.  If you don’t understand what I mean by that, let me put it like this: they like to twist things around so that it fits their version of what they want to be true.

Here’s an example.  In one episode, they investigate an abandoned sanitarium (read: mental hospital).  While they’re there, they get a recording of a voice saying the name “Lucy”.  After doing some research, they discover that they can’t find any evidence of a woman named Lucy ever having worked there, been a patient there, or even having set foot through its doors.  So what’s their conclusion?  A demon is covering up the evidence.  Yeah…I wish I was kidding.

But that kind of thing is precisely why my roommate and I watched the show a bunch, because it was hilarious to us.  About ninety percent of their cases were attributed to demons.  I mean they even had a serialized arc going on with a demon that followed the Mississippi River.  It’s really rather ridiculous how much demonic activity they’ve supposedly encountered in their time.  And after all that, most of their demons just create drafts of air and blow doors shut.  Demons everybody!  They’re seriously evil and stuff!

Paranormal State is definitely one of those shows that I believe is either faked on some level, or the people in it are just really full of themselves.  In any case, I still enjoyed watching it.  Too bad it’s no longer on Netflix instant streaming.  Comedy for days man.  Comedy for days.

Everyone has that guilty pleasure in their life, that thing that they do that they know is kind of stupid but they do it anyways because they enjoy it.  Ghost hunting shows are that thing for me.  I know that on some level the science those shows use is pretty much bunk or unproven, but the idea of chasing down paranormal entities is something that fascinates me.  It’s a primal sort of thing, when you enter a deserted or empty building in the middle of the night, and you feel that sharp chill on the back of your neck.  You get the unshakable sensation of not being alone.  The wind howls through a distant hallway, creating an eerie sound akin to someone moaning.  That’s the kind of thing I feel when I watch those types of shows, the sensation of exploring a place like that.  And I love it.

And you know what the best thing about shows like Ghost Hunters is?  No obnoxious jumpscares.

 

Well that’s all I’ve got for this week.  Tune in next Wednesday for another new post, and as always, have a wonderful week.

The Journal of Thomas Edmond

A little introduction to this one is probably necessary.  I decided to try my hand at writing a little ghost story for you folks.

Let me know what you think of it in the comments, and if you’d like to see more.

The story begins after the break.

 *   *   *

Day 1

My first impression is that I like it.

It may be a run-down old hotel, but I like it.  It sits near the edge of a massive ocean cliff, with so many of the bedroom windows looking out at the sea.  You can hear the waves crashing on the rocks below at all times of the day.  The breeze rustles through your hair when you stand outside.  It’s peaceful really.

They called it “The Cliffside Inn”.

This is the fourth place I’ve visited, and I’ve gotta say, it’s the most picturesque of the places I’ve been to so far.  Even if my quest to visit the most haunted places in Europe ends up being a bit of a bust, at least I got to see some cool locations.

I’ve set up in one of the rooms on the third floor of the four floor hotel.  This one still has some wallpaper in it, left over from when the hotel was still operating.  The wallpaper is a light, faded floral pattern with roses and violets.  Yeah it’s kind of a girly room but screw it.  This is where I’m making my bed.  I’m secure in my masculinity damn it!

I’ll write a day entry and a night entry for this journal, recording all that I see and hear.  I plan to camp out here for a week.  So hopefully, something interesting will happen.

 

Night 1

It’s about two in the morning right now, and so far nothing.  I don’t even get a vibe from this place.  I spent most of the night looking into the different rooms around the place.  Most of them have nothing in them, but some still have dressers and drawers left over, and some even have bed frames.  People really did a number on the place.  I had heard that looters had basically cleaned the place, taking everything of value.  But I didn’t realize just how much they did.

When I explored the main lobby and reception area, I found some pamphlets about the hotel.  “Come visit The Cliffside Inn, with exquisite vistas and unforgettable service.  You’ll never want to leave!”  Man, advertisers in the early 1900s were just as out of touch as they are today huh?  Despite their cheesiness, it did give me some good background information on the place.  Apparently the owner, Joshua E. Whitcomb, bought this place back in 1901.  It started as a brothel when it was built in the late 1800s, but didn’t last long that way.  It was abandoned for a couple of decades before Whitcomb bought it and renovated it into a hotel.  I’m actually surprised no one thought of that before.

But now the place is abandoned again.  I’ve heard the stories.  Strange inexplicable events, rumors that Whitcomb may have been a wee bit too interested in the occult, ghostly sightings and noises, the works.

The root of it all seems to be this one June night way back in 1938.  The Great Depression was still hitting people hard, and a lot of them came here to forget their worries.  On June 18th, there was this gigantic party.  All of the regulars and some new people showed up and they were all having a great time.  Well, that is until they all disappeared without a trace.  No one even realized something had happened until a family member of one of the guests went looking for them, and found the hotel completely empty.

The detail that always sends a shiver down my spine was the half-eaten dinners and full glasses of beer left behind, like everyone just got up and left suddenly.

No one was ever found, and the police suspected Mr. Whitcomb once they discovered his interest in the occult.  I’ve always wondered if Whitcomb actually had anything to do with it, or if there was something else going on.  I doubt I’ll ever truly know.  The place was picked clean long ago, so anything of note is probably long gone.

Strange…I thought I heard a voice just now.  I’m gonna check the hallways real quick.

Nope nothing.  Just empty hallways.  It was probably the wind.  It’s always the wind.

Well I guess that’s it for tonight then.

 

Day 2

Something I forgot to mention yesterday.  There’s a lighthouse off in the distance.  It sits at the edge of another cliff, looking out over the ocean.  It’s really tall.  I guess that it must be at least three stories in height.  I’ll have to go check it out sometime this week.  Maybe tomorrow.

Anyway I did some more exploring today.  I didn’t find any more useful information about the place, but I did find something weird.

So the reception area is this big room right?  It has a large, faded wood desk in the middle, with an office directly behind it that I assume was for the owner.  There’s also a restaurant and bar at the other end of the room, separated by a set of double doors and stained glass windows.  Well anyways, near the front entrance to the hotel I found a door I hadn’t seen before.  It was this heavy, shiny oak door with a gleaming brass handle.  When I tried the handle, it was locked.  I briefly considered breaking the door down, but that just seemed stupid.  I’ll look around for a key.

The weird thing about it?  I could swear this door wasn’t there before.  I thought I remembered looking there yesterday and seeing nothing.  Who knows, maybe I just missed it or something.  But I got this strange feeling in my stomach when I was close to it.  I felt uneasy, and a little dizzy.  The hair on my arms stood up.  It sounds silly I know, but there’s something about that door that doesn’t sit right with me.  I can’t explain it.  It all felt so much clearer to me in the moment, but now it feels far away, like a distant sound or memory.

In any case, something better happen tonight, or I’m going to be really angry!

 

Night 2

Um, you know how I said something better happen?  I regret that.  I really, REALLY regret that.

So I was just about to fall asleep tonight (it must have been like eleven) when I suddenly heard music off in the distance.  It sounded like an old piano.  Jesus.  I nearly crapped my pants right there.  Look, I’m not a guy who gets scared easy, but when ghost pianos start playing in the middle of the night I tend to freak out a little bit.

Anyway, I sat still listening to it for a couple of minutes.  It was playing some old classical tune of some kind.  It might have been one of those really early Frank Sinatra tunes, I couldn’t really tell.  After listening for a little bit, I grabbed a flashlight from my pack and decided to investigate.

When I entered the hallway, the piano was considerably louder than it was in my room.  I could tell it was coming from somewhere below me.

I raced down the stairs, the sound growing louder and louder as I went.  Once I hit the ground floor and entered the reception area, I could tell it was coming from the bar area.  As I swept my flashlight across the stained glass, I could swear I saw a woman’s shadow.  She was sitting down, hammering her fingers across shadowy keys.  I only caught a glimpse of it, but I think her mouth was moving.  She was silently singing along to the song.  Call it wishful thinking, but she seemed happy.

I walked up to the door and placed my hand on it.  It was then that the piano just stopped abruptly.  It just cut, like someone paused a recording.  When I entered the bar I found nothing.  There was no piano.  There was no music.  Nothing.

I brushed some of the dust off the pictures hanging on the wall, and sure enough, there was a piano in some of them.  At times, there was a young woman with bright red hair sitting at it.  She looked the same size and shape of the shadow, but I couldn’t tell for sure.  She had lovely eyes.  An older woman stood behind her in one of the pictures, smiling.  She looked to be the girl’s mother, or at least a relative of some sort.

The piano was one of those really old, classy grand pianos.  My guess is that one of the looters took it, although I can’t imagine why.  Seems like a lot of work and effort for a freaking piano.  Who knows, maybe they were a budding musician and just didn’t have the money to buy one.

The pictures are eerie.  They’re like snapshots in time, echoes of the past.  The people in  them are smiling and happy, blissfully unaware that anything bad will happen to them.  As I ran my eyes across them I couldn’t help but ask where?  Where did these people go?  How did they just disappear with no trace?

I have a theory.  If Whitcomb really did murder these people, he probably tossed the bodies over the cliff.  The rocks at the bottom surely tore the bodies apart, and the ocean current carried what was left out to sea.  But I have my doubts about the Whitcomb murder theory.  I see a man in these pictures that looks like he could be Whitcomb.  He has bright blue eyes and slick brown hair.  He’s wearing an old fashioned tweed suit and smiling, standing next to the piano as the young redheaded lady.  He seems happy.  Call it a gut feeling, but I don’t fully believe that he just up and killed everyone.  But who knows, maybe I’m wrong.

In any case, I’m sitting on one of the bar stools right now, wondering what to do next.  I admit, the experience rattled me.  But secretly, I’m all pumped up inside.

Finally, some excitement!

 

Day 3

I found a safe!  But I don’t know how to open it yet.

It was behind a painting in one of the old rooms.  From what I could tell, this was Whitcomb’s room at some point.  I found some books on the desk that talked about the occult, so that’s the assumption I’m making.  It’s odd, certain parts of this hotel are incredibly well-preserved.

Anyway, the safe has a strange mechanism.  It has a little ball that you move along a track.  It can go up, down, left and right, and I’m guessing that when you move it in a certain pattern, it’ll unlock the safe.  The track looks a lot like a cross, which would seem to imply some religious symbolism to the safe.  I have a hint on how to solve it.  When I opened one of the occult books on the desk, a slip of paper fell out.

It read “if I ever forget the combination to the safe, I can remember one word: Trinity.  – J.W.”

I thought about what it could mean for several minutes, but decided to return to it later.

I passed by that door again in the reception area, the one that I assume leads into the cellar.  I don’t know why it bothers me so.  It just looks like an ordinary door but something deep inside tells me that it’s not at all what it seems.  I feel almost nauseous whenever I see it.

So I’m sitting at the bar again (hit me barkeep), looking at all the old pictures.  It seems that at some point this place was always lively and fun.  They may be grainy old photos, but they’re still in color.  Everyone seems to be having a good time.  I wonder if they were having a good time on that summer night all those years ago.  I wonder if they even saw it coming.

 

Night 3

So first it was the ghostly piano, now the ghostly foghorn.  As I went upstairs to write this entry, an ear-splitting horn sounded from far off.  When I looked out of the window, I saw the lighthouse’s beam swinging through the night.  The glaring beam blinded me as it swung past.

Here’s the thing.  That lighthouse hasn’t been operational since around the 1960s, and I’m pretty sure no one has been in the thing for some years.  I remember hearing that there were plans to turn the lighthouses around here into historical landmarks and museums, but it never happened.

Wait.  Now I’m hearing knocking.  It’s really far off, but I can definitely tell it’s knocking.  Is someone else here?  I have to go check this out.

 

Well that was a bust.  I followed the sound as best as I could, but it kept changing locations.  At first it sounded like it was just down the hall, but when I thought I got close to where it was coming from, it changed.  It was now below me, so I went downstairs.  But it went further below me again.  So I made my way to the reception lobby.  And again, it was below me.

It was coming from whatever lies below the hotel.  I swept my flashlight over in that corner, and there it was, that damn door.  It seemed to sneer at me, tempting me to open it.  I almost walked toward it, but I fought the urge.  I walked slowly back upstairs like a total badass.  I didn’t care.  I wasn’t scared at all.

Okay, I lightly jogged up the stairs.

Fine, I ran up the stairs like a little girl.  What do you want from me?

Things are starting to get really weird around here.  Well I’m signing off for the night.  Hopefully tomorrow brings some clarity.

 

The darkness is alive

The darkness is alive

The darkness is alive

The darkness is alive

The darkness is alive.

 

Day 4

Okay, what the hell is going on?  I woke up this morning to find my journal spread open on a nearby desk.  Below my journal entry from the night before, someone had scribbled “the darkness is alive” in some kind of scrawling handwriting with big letters.

The strange thing is that it isn’t my handwriting.  I can tell as much.  It has some similarities to mine, but there’s a distinctive curve to it, especially around the letter “i”.  So is someone else here, messing with me?  Or is it something else?  I have no idea.

In any case, I’m headed out this morning to check out that lighthouse.  The light and the foghorn last night have me all curious about it.

 

The damn thing is padlocked shut.  I’m standing on the cliff near the lighthouse right now writing this.  There’s no way I’m getting in there, and there’s nothing in there that would make me try.  Here’s the curious thing.  I knew the hotel was supposedly haunted, but I heard nothing about the lighthouse.  Could it be possible that they’re symptoms of the same phenomenon?  I’ve never heard of such a thing, but then again, I’ve never actually SEEN a real haunting.  This place, this entire area is getting under my skin.  I’m gonna start heading back to the hotel.  It took me about an hour’s walk or so to get here, so it’ll be a fair trek back.

 

Eureka!  I did it!  I opened the safe!

On my walk back, I had a moment of inspiration.  The word “trinity” could be referring to the holy trinity.  You know, father, son, holy ghost and all that.  And when do religious people usually invoke the holy trinity?  When they cross themselves right?  So I replicated the motion (up  to down, and then left to right in one smooth motion), and POP went the safe.  Let’s check out what’s inside.

This is weird.  The only thing that’s in here is an old diary.  It looks like it belonged to Whitcomb.

Weirder still, most of the pages seem to be blank.  All except one.

I’m feeling some serious chills right now.  It’s the entry from the night everyone disappeared.  I’ll transcribe it in my journal.

 

June 18th, 1938

It’s all set.  I’m going to try to open that door tonight, the door that shouldn’t be there.  It’s been an oddity since it first appeared some months back.  I know we’ve never built a cellar, nor do the plans for the building ever reference such an addition.  I talked to Betty about it, and she’s never seen it before either.  We’ve lied to our guests about it, telling them that we made the addition during the winter when we closed for renovations.  Thank god for that.

The door is a strange thing, immaculate and shiny.  No matter how much time passes, it never loses its luster.  The brass handle shines just as spectacularly as it did when I first noticed the door.  I put my ears up to it some time back.  I could hear and feel something coming up from below, some kind of thumping.  Like a heartbeat.  I could feel something else in it, something evil.

I plan on getting to the bottom of this tonight.  I procured a crowbar, and hopefully while everyone is still partying in the bar I’ll be able to pry open the door without interruption.  If someone asks, I’ll just say I lost the keys.

Eight o’clock tonight.  That’s when I will attempt to open it.

 

Oh god help me…what have I done.  What did I unleash?  When I emerged from that endless dark abyss, I found no one in the bar.  It was all so deathly quiet.  I ran through the hotel screaming for anyone.  But no one else was here.  Except…that thing.  I can still feel it now, leering at me from the darkness.  I don’t know what it is.  But it wants to claim me, just like I assume it did everyone else.

The front door is gone.  It disappeared.  I’m trapped here now.

I made my way back to my room.  I’m sitting here now trying to figure out what to do.  The bottom floor is totally encased in darkness now, darkness so thick I can’t even see the bottom steps.  I know that if I go down there I’m gone, sent wherever it sent all the others.  What do I do?  I can’t escape.  Everything outside the windows is black.  There are no stars, no light, nothing.  There’s only one thing I can try.  I’m going to see if I can find another way back into that door.  Maybe I can seal it from the other side, and end this.  I wish I could see my wife and child one last time.  By the time they return, I’ll be long gone.

 

The devil sleeps in the rocks

The devil sleeps in the rocks

I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry

 

This journal, no one fakes something like this.  Those last few lines, they were written by a man in the throes of true terror.  Either what he said actually happened, or he went crazy enough to believe it.  Either way, I’m done with this.  I’m not spending another damn night here.  The sun is setting, but I’m gone.  I’m packing my stuff and getting out.  I’ll be damned if I’m gonna die here.

 

Night 4

Well I’m damned.  The front door is gone.

I packed up my supplies and headed toward the front door, only to find that the front door didn’t exist anymore.  I ran around the entire hotel, looking for another exit, but there is none.  I tried the windows, but all is blackness outside.  Oh god why didn’t I leave earlier?  Why didn’t I leave after the second night with that damn piano?  I’m such an idiot.

I’m sitting in the reception area right now, trying to figure out what to do.  In a last ditch effort I brought Whitcomb’s occult books down with me, trying to find something, anything to help me out here.  But it’s all useless.  There’s nothing in here that’s remotely similar to what I’m experiencing.  I’m trapped here, just like they were.  Am I going to be consumed next?

Wait a second…this book is signed to Joshua Edmond Whitcomb.  Edmond?  Could it be?

Was Joshua Whitcomb my grandfather?

My parents never really spoke about my grandfather, and I never met him as a child.  I didn’t even really know anything about him, and whenever I asked, they dodged the question.  Was this why?  Because they believed the stories about him?  That he murdered all those people and then just vanished?

The only thing my mother ever said about him was that “hopefully he’s dead now.”

Was this fate?  Was I meant to come here?  I mean, what are the odds that I would show up at this place, looking for a thrill, and find traces of my long lost grandfather?

Oh no, The door is open.  I heard a creak just a second ago, and when I looked up, the damn door was OPEN.  I can hear something coming from below, a pulse, a thumping.  Is that…a heartbeat?  Is this what Whitcomb described when he put his ears to the door all those years ago?

It beckons.  It calls.  It wants me to go down there.  I don’t think I can resist.

I’m going.  I don’t care what happens to me.  I have to know.  If I’m going to die here, I might as well know why.

 

The cellar, the cellar is NOT a cellar.  I don’t know what it is.  Something far more ancient.  The darkness down there is impenetrable.  The light from the stairwell won’t reach beyond the stairs.  It just stops, like there’s a barrier there.  I reached out, and I could feel cold stone walls.  I heard a distant wailing noise, the shrieks of the suffering.  The heartbeat, or whatever it is, was much stronger down there.  It thumped in my ears, causing my head to pound.  It felt like my head kept pulsing, getting bigger and smaller with each passing thump.  I felt dizzy, like I was going to faint.  I still couldn’t see anything.

I kept hearing different voices, crying out for release.  They weren’t aware of me I think.  They just kept crying and crying and crying.  It was about to drive me insane.

And then, I heard it.  A deep, gravely voice from right next to me.

It said my name.  IT KNEW MY NAME.

And the laughter, oh god the laughter.

I ran.  I ran as fast as I could to escape.  I bounded up the stairs and slammed the door shut behind me.  It won’t help.  I know it won’t help.

“The devil sleeps in the rocks”.  My grandfather was right.  Something is down there, something evil.  And it wants me.

 

I can see it now, the darkness, it spreads out from behind the door.  The door itself is gone, swallowed by the blackness.  The heartbeat is getting louder now.  I can feel it looking at me, grinning wide, ready to devour my soul.  I’m heading for the attic, maybe I can hold out there until this passes.  It’s my only chance.

 

I’ve been in the attic for about half an hour now, and there’s no sign of the thing.  But I can’t be sure that it’s gone.  I’ll stay here for a while longer before I venture out.

 

It’s getting darker now, so dark.  I can barely see the far wall anymore.

 

I HEAR IT.  It’s right below me now, the pounding heartbeat.  The pulse of pure evil.

 

It’s coming up through the trapdoor.

 

It’s saying my name.  It knows me.  It wants me.

If anyone is reading this, RUN.  Just get out of here before it knows you’re here.  Run as fast as you can, and don’t look back.

 

It’s here, IT’S HERE.  I can see it seeping through the trapdoor.

 

There’s something there, in the darkness.  I can almost see it…

 

Oh god they’re faces.  I see FACES.  They’re begging me, pleading with me.  They want help.  But there’s nothing I can do.

 

Someone is screaming at me from the darkness.  Someone strangely familiar.

 

…Dad?

 

The devil sleeps in the rocks

The devil sleeps in the rocks

The devil sleeps in the rocks

The devil sleeps in the rocks

 

The devil sleeps…no more…

 

*   *   *

I hope you enjoyed the story.  I know I enjoyed writing it.  Being a long time horror fan, I found it odd that I hadn’t ever really written anything like this before.  The stuff I tend to write is mainly science fiction with maybe a little tinge of horror in it.

Well let me know what you think about it in the comments below.  Let me know if you want to see more.  I have some ideas on how to expand of the tale of The Cliffside Inn, or I could do something else altogether.  Share your thoughts in the comments.

In any case, that’s all I have for this week.  Tune in next Wednesday for another post.  Until then, have a great week everyone!