I looked out across the eerie, placid waters.
“Well, gentlemen, here we are,” I said, excited and nervous to start this new chapter.
Thomas and Issac were settling in and unpacking their things.
“I never envisioned myself becoming a lighthouse keeper,” Thomas replied.
“How hard could it be?” Questioned Issac.
We had only met each other on the boat ride in. I didn’t know their past, and they didn’t know mine.
Hell, we were only on a first-name basis at this point. We finished putting away what belongings we could fit into our small bags and headed out to investigate the terrain surrounding the lighthouse.
Jagged rocks outlined the perimeter, and the lighthouse itself sat on a cliff. To describe it as dangerous would be an understatement. The view, however, was breathtaking. The ocean was oddly still and could be seen for miles. It was almost hypnotic, allowing thoughts I was trying to bury to resurface.
“It’s getting late,” Thomas yelled, breaking me from my trance.
“Let’s head back for dinner,” I shouted back.
On the menu tonight was rice and dried pork. We sat together at a makeshift table and made small talk, getting to know each other better.
“Thomas, what’s your story? Wife? Kids?” Issac asked.
“Neither. I lost the love of my life a few years ago. I haven’t been the same since, can’t bring myself to move on.” Thomas hung his head.
“You aren’t alone there. I just found out my wife has been having an affair for at least the last few months and that the baby I thought was mine is most definitely not.” Issac said, shovelling rice in his mouth.
“What about you, Ben?” Thomas asked me.
I froze. I haven’t talked to anyone about my past, let alone to people I just met on a boat.
“Actually it’s bizarre how we all have suffered trauma in different ways. I lost my entire family in a row boat accident. Throwboated out too far, while a vicious storm was rolling in… I tried so hard to get to them but, there was nothing I could do, I swear!” I surprised myself with how defensive I was getting.
The others just stared at me. Trying to conceal my trembling hands, I cleaned the few pieces of pork I still had on my plate and excused myself from the table.
My sleeping arrangement was small but sufficient, and I laid on the bed gazing at the ceiling.
I really did try to save them. I’m trying to start fresh.
Even though I could still hear my wife’s cries for help, I drifted off to sleep. As always, my slumber didn’t last long; after tossing and turning for an hour, I decided to take a walk.
The air was cool, and the wind was picking up. Maybe the waves hitting the shore would be soothing? Buttoning up my trench coat, I headed towards the water’s edge. To my surprise, the ocean was completely still. Not a wave or even a ripple. But the wind was intensifying. The hair on the back of my neck started to stand up. Then she appeared, walking across the top of the quiet ocean. It was my wife, but she no longer had a face. The outline was there, but it was all a pale white canvas. But yet without a mouth, she was still screaming!
I awoke the same way I always do, in sweat from another nightmare. It was part of my routine at this point. It’s been two years since the accident. I thought taking this job would feel rewarding. Like somehow, if I could do my part to save others out here, I would feel better about not saving my family. So in a way, I was excited to start this job to maybe silence the voices that haunted my dreams. To maybe forgive myself?
As I walked outside, I realized there was a storm rolling in. Great. This was it. Testing us to see if we could handle this job or not. The three of us strapped down anything we thought could be taken by the wind and made sure we were on high alert to warn any ships out there.
As the night passed, the wind howled, and the water still didn’t so much as ripple. Thomas and Issac didn’t question it, so I just kept this observation to myself. We ultimately saved some ships from the wreckage throughout the storms, risking our lives for strangers, but the voices didn’t stop. The nightmares didn’t stop. All three of us were damaged, lost souls just trying to feel whole again.
Days passed, then weeks, then months. The isolation on this island was harder than expected. We did our best to be good to one another but being stuck with the same people for months at a time was getting to all of us.
“It was almost like this lighthouse was cursed.”
Things started to fall off the rails the night that Thomas walked into the cold, motionless ocean. Thankfully Issac and I caught him and convinced him to come back to the lighthouse. I have never seen a man’s eyes look the way his did. So empty and unemotional. He told us a lady in the water beckoned him to follow her into the icy depths. The craziest part was that he claimed that this woman looked just like the love that he lost. He was so adamant it was her. Thomas wasn’t the same after this incident; he barely ate and didn’t rest. Just pacing the shoreline looking for his love.
We chalked it up to just hallucinations until he took his life; I mean, we can only assume. Yet again, he was convinced he saw this woman out in the ocean, and he left in a rowboat, vanishing into the night. There was nothing we could do to stop him; he threatened to harm us with a knife. In his deranged state, there was no way he made it to the desired destination.
It was almost like this lighthouse was cursed. Like the souls we couldn’t save, or the ones we had lost were calling to us. Taunting us.
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Issac fell to the madness next, kept claiming that he heard a baby crying every night. I tried to reassure him it was only the wind. We’ve had so many storms, yet the waters lay still. He, too, became distant.
I found him floating, face-up, eyes black, along the rocky shoreline of the island. I assumed he drowned. When I radioed out, dispatch said they wouldn’t be able to reach me until the morning because of an anticipated storm and that I would have to ride out the night with my dead coworker’s body.
That night the voices got louder; the wind was screaming. How was I supposed to endure this storm with a rapidly decaying body? I needed desperately to get off this island.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse- it started,
“Daddy, daddy, please help us.”
I wasn’t dreaming this time; I know I wasn’t. Again, I heard my daughter’s little voice. I wasn’t about to let this lighthouse take me down, to fall to its curse. Not like the other men, letting those unsaved souls take me away. I TRIED TO SAVE YOU, DAMMIT! I screamed into the lighthouse, my voice just echoing back to me.
Abruptly my wife was there, slowly descending from the staircase. This time she has a face, eyes hollow, skin hanging from her bones, and she’s wailing…but…smiling. An evil, horrible grin is plastered across her entire face. Before I can even process what’s happening, she is dragging me out of the lighthouse and towards the cliff. Her strength is otherworldly. I’m trying to fight her, but I am proving to be no match.
Before she throws me to my watery grave, I can faintly hear police yelling. They are coming to rescue me! I am flooded with relief. How did they find me so quickly?
“Hands up! Police!” They shouted through the wind.
But my wife didn’t raise her hands, and then everything went black.
“Was the lighthouse curse following me?”
I awoke in the hospital, grateful to have survived. What was going on? I was handcuffed to the bed. I screamed for the doctor. There was clearly a misunderstanding.“Doctor, what the hell is going on here?”
The doctor came in and curtly asked me what I remembered. In as much detail as I could, I recalled all of the events that occurred over the last several months. Starting with what was intended as a fresh start but ending in such unspeakable terror. She looks at me as if to be studying me, and then she begins…
“I have to be honest with you. That is not how the last WEEK has transpired,” she slowly began. “You see, Ben, you had a psychotic break two years ago and murdered your entire family. Then you dumped their bodies in the ocean. You were diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to a psychiatric hospital.
It is there that you escaped with two fellow patients Thomas and Issac. You three managed to reach an abandoned lighthouse, and that is where you hid yourselves. Ben, you murdered them too. Thomas and Issac’s bodies were found in the lighthouse. You strangled them and hid them. The bodies also showed signs that someone stripped the flesh off of them to consume. I know this is hard to hear, but please don’t try to deny it. We’ve been through this, and all of the evidence points to you. When the police finally found you, you were ready to jump off the cliff. That being said, you are now being charged with two additional murders. You are an extremely sick and dangerous man, Ben.”
I sat there numb. This couldn’t be true; it was the lost souls that took those men’s lives and my family. I lost them in an accident! They have it all wrong. Was the lighthouse curse following me?
I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples as if somehow that would help me make sense of everything. When I opened my eyes, the doctor was joined by a detective who was eyeing me closely.
“I tried to save them. It was an accident. I TRIED TO SAVE THEM DAMMIT! LEAVE ME ALONE!” I said, trying to explain to them.
I struggled against the restraints. The detective slammed his fist on the side table in frustration, but when he did, the water in the cup didn’t ripple. Zero movements. It brought me back to how odd it was that the water didn’t move by the lighthouse. She’s here. I’m not crazy!
The hairs on my arms start to stand, and out of the corner of my eye, I can see what is left of my wife peering around the hospital curtain. Faceless again.
“SHE’S HERE! BEHIND THAT CURTAIN, YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE ME!” I screamed at everyone in the room, desperate for her to stop tormenting me.
Security was called.
Then darkness again.
Brittany MacBeth is a daycare provider by day. By night, she is a writer. Her passion is to dive deep into people’s imaginations, forcing them to think outside the box of ordinary. She lives in New Brunswick, Canada, with her husband and three kids.