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Thriller Horror Drama

Timothy lay languishing in his own putrid expulsions of blood, vomit and faeces.

He rolled over to turn his face skyward and it was smeared and sticky, coated in the brown tarry mixture of foul liquid he had been laying in all night. Some had entered his nostrils, the choking smell had knocked him awake.


“EEUUUGGHH, WHERE IS…… I” Timothy gargled.


“You’ve fallen down the goddamn middle of the stair, you daft drunken fool, you’ve cursed yourself and no one else to blame” Donald the lighthouse keeper shouted down the endless chasm. “You’ve been up here drinking the night, and you’ve took yourself down the short way, you stupid little… ”


“THE WIND” Timothy choked “IT SHOOK ME DOWN”


“The wind nothing, you’re a drunk and a masturbator and a selfish bastard” Donald spat “I knew you’d be hurtin yourself one way or another if I left thee alone, and after just 3 months on the job. I’ve been on this lighthouse most of my life and most of that alone in this godforsaken wilderness with nothing but the sea and the weather fer company. And you can’t stomach it for 3 measly months o’ winter”


Donald grabbed a rope and started feeding it down to Timothy through his gnarled leathery hands.


++++++++++++


Timothy came to, with the sound of creaking rope and an agonising tightness gripping his waist just above his kidneys, as he pulled back consciousness, the pain in his skull, jaw, shoulders, hips and legs awoke.


“WHAT…. ER…… YA…… DOIN…… TO…… ME…… YER……. OLD…….. B’STARD” Timothy stumbled over every word as the rope lurched him upward. “I… THINK ….ME….. LEGS…. ARE….. BROKENNN””


“Saving yer worthless pig hide yer foul smelling urchin” Donald shouted up from the bottom, letting his grip on the rope slip a little as a warning, “And saving meself a lot of bother”


“YER’VE PUSHED ME AVEN’T YA, YA OLD CRACKED MINDED CRONE” Timothy tried to shout but it came out as a breathless, weak jumbled mess of noise.


“Stop tryin to speak ya daft child, you’ve broken yer jaw, I’d’ve thought even with a brain as mushed as old porridge as yours is now youd’ve noticed that.” Donald cruelly exclaimed.


Once Donald had hauled Timothy to the top of the lighthouse he set about dragging him up to a sitting position, this must’ve caused Timothy some agony as he wailed out with every movement.


“Stop yer foul whining yer smell like a piece of long dead rectum.” Donald griped “And so do I now yer filth is all over me.”


Donald set a chair out against the wall and heaved Timothy into it.

“Now you’ll just sit here and wait for yer replacement, and while you’re at it you can watch fer oncoming ships, and pull the blower cord if any get too close,” Donald said “Can ya understand me, boy, have ya lost ya faculties all together or were ya always this stupid?”


“The wiiinnndddd” Timothy squeaked.


“Shut yer hole about no damn wind, this lighthouse is solid as the day twas built, yer the only thing full of wind here, too drunk to make it down the spiral staircase and too stupid to even know ye shouldn’t ave been drinking on the job” Donald shook Timothy as he spoke, “I’ve been keeping this lighthouse in good order against the elements fer 35 years and you’ve no cause to question me handy work. Now ya sit ere and watch fer ships, if yer eyes are still workin.”


++++++++++++++


“Good morning Mr Caimbeul, I’m Mr Williams, I’ve been sent by Trinity House to relieve Mr Dawson from his duties. Your letter explained there had been… a misfortune, will he need to use my skiff to get back to shore or have arrangements been made?”


Peter Williams stood in his Trinity House company attire, a thick hard-edged Jacket which hung too largely around his shoulders and an unworn navy esque cap with a lighthouse emblem sown into it. A calm breeze blew around him.


“Nice day for it,” Peter said


“Englishman Aye? Calm before the storm! You’ve had much experience on these remote lighthouses?” Donald said shooting a glare at the young well-dressed man who was standing before him.


“The company sent me as they were quite concerned by your message and they wanted a company man to make his way up here and assess the situation and carry out an inspection of the building. I may look young Mr Caimbeul but I can assure you my credentials are all in order, but to answer your question no I haven’t spent much time in a live-in lighthouse, especially one this remote and this far offshore. Now to get back to my question will Mr. Dawson be requiring the use of my skiff and will he be able to make it to shore unaided?” Peter Williams said maintaining as friendly yet official tone he could muster.


“Nae, nae he’s fine, come you must be tired from yer travels” Donald said pulling Peter into the lighthouse “Now will ye be requiring any food before I show you up to meet Mr Dawson?”


“You’ve got him up at the bulb Mr Caimbeul?” Peter asked concerned


“Aye, he still working injury or no. He can’t be slovenly resting while we awaited your arrival.” Donald said as they made their way up the rickety metal spiral staircase.


++++++++++++++++


Peter arrived at the top of the lighthouse and looked out at the wild haunting view of the North Sea, the jutting rocks and spray pluming off as the wind carried the waves crashing into them, the bitter cold that seeped in through every unsealed gap of each pane of glass.


“EEEUUGH”


Peter swung around in shock as the noise came out of the shadows of the back wall.


“The Wiiinnndd”


He heard coming from a crumpled emaciated figure propped up on a chair behind him, his face was a twisted shrivelled mess with an agonized grimace painted permanently across it. The smell coming from the creature was one of excrement and putrefied necrotic decay.


“The Wiiinnndd” it croaked again.


“Afraid that’s all the conversation you’ll get out of poor Timothy now Mr Williams, since his tumble he hasn’t been quite himself,” Donald said breathlessly reaching the top of the rickety metal spiral staircase.


“You mean to say you’ve kept him here, in this condition, without any medical attention!?” Peter said shocked “How long has he been like this?”.


“Aye well you see he still has the power of sight and his arm is still working well enough to tug the warning horn rope if he sees anything get too close, so I thought the company would prefer that he’d stay here and fulfil his contract, fer as long as is practical. I sent the letter a month or so after the fall, but the mail is not quick to reach anybody from here, the supply boats only come once a month you see. The radio’s been blown out for a while, since the last big storm so we rely on our wits out here” Donald said without a glimmer of guilt. “He’s a more useful man now than he was when he was ‘well’” Donald said smirking.


“Sir, where is your humanity, he looks close to death,” Peter said concerned


“Aye he’s been looking like that fer a while now, and he’s smelling worse, I’ve cut a hole in the chair he sits on so I can at least catch his leavins and toss them out to sea” Donald said “I thought if the companies payin fer his recovery they’d be wantin to get their moneys worth out of him.”


“Mr Caimbeul!” Peter exclaimed


“He be fine I say” Donald pushed “He was never the brightest as he was, he’s simply less trouble now”


“There will be legal actions taken Mr Caimbeul, if he dies his family will be seeking retributions from the company” Peter insisted “Not to mention the ethical matter!”


“I be feedin him, everyday, enough to be keepin him alive anyway” Donald said defensively “It’s not easy pokin porridge down that mangled gullet of his, you know”


Peter knelt down to look into Timothy's face, his jaw had healed in a grotesque protracted off-kilter manner, and a large infected lump had formed on his forehead, Peter refrained from further examination of his crumpled body. He looked into his eyes, the young man looked back at him pleadingly, he could recognise the tortured intelligence that was still there behind his dark blue pupils desperately seeking salvation or release.


Peter turned to make his way back down the staircase, as he did a gale-force gust struck the lighthouse, and the metal staircase leading down shook with a deafening thunderous rattle.


“Mr Caimbeul, I believe some of the holding bolts on the staircase have rusted through and have not been replaced this is a serious matter of safety,” Peter said in an angry officious tone “You have been solely responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of this structure for the past 35 years I believe?”


“Aye that’s right, solely responsible and what help do I get some nit-witted drunkard, who can't be trusted to make his way down the stairs.” Donald protested “I’ve been dragging my old bones up and down those stairs without a slip or fall for the best part of my life!”

As Donald spoke a deafening wind was picking up making him hard to hear.


“We really must be getting down from here Mr Caimbeul” Peter shouted back to him in a panicked screech which exposed his youth. “This storm is going to make the stairs unsafe if we wait much longer.”


“You think I’d listen to you, fresh off o’ yer mothers teet and telling ME what’s safe! You’re nothin but a Puffin Chick in yer daft wee suit chest plumped out like yer mean something, the wind can’t hear ye it listens to no man, it won’t listen to a boy, who thinks himself a company man. It preys on folk like ye who spout their righteous arrogance over all who’ll listen. Well, I won’t hear ye and the wind won't hear YE either!............”


Donald's voice grew louder and fiercer as the wind increased in power, the guttural chanting of his outrage still barely perceptible over the thunderous roar that was growing outside.


“157 Souls I’ve saved in my 35 years 157 and 9 ships., all without the company help or aid or recognition. And ye come here to tell me I’ve wronged, YE are wronged. Ye fill out yer forms and use them to wipe Timothy’s stench while yer at it.”

Spittle sprayed from Donald's mouth as he raved.


“The wiiinnnnddd” Timothy croaked.


Donald fetched a bottle from a storage area underneath the lamp, turned and sat cross-legged facing the North Sea view and started swigging. Peter looked at Timothy despairingly.


“The Wiinnndd d d d d” he continued.


“Mr Caimbeul, our records have shown no such ships in need of rescue over the time you’ve been here. Now we really must be getting down from here the storm is only set to grow stronger” Peter shouted.


Your records" Donald hissed , "I’ll wait it out,” Donald said tiredly.

Peter's mind raced through his possible options, he considered the practicality of winching Timothy's broken body down from his position during a raging storm and winced at the thought of the pain this would cause him. Peter looked down the rattling stairway and watched as bolts shook free and hit the floor with a clang. He wondered whether he would make it down himself.


“Mr Cambeul!” Peter shouted with immediacy.


“I’ll Wait it out!!” Donald roared back.


“If the stairway breaks free you’ll be stranded up here!” Peter insisted


Donald took another long swig from his bottle.


++++++++++++


Peter tentatively put some weight on the first step and felt it shudder up through his leg, he looked down through the seemingly endless distance of shaking metal stairs. The effect gave him a horrifying feeling of vertigo.


As he stood staring down, he could hear an intermittent scraping coming from behind him, timothy was using his one good leg to try to push his chair over to Peter, Peter watched in horror as Timothy's broken body forced with all its remaining strength to scrape itself and the chair across the floor. His face twisted in pain Scrape… Scrape… Scrape. Slowly he was making his grim progress towards Peter at the top of the stairs. Peter used one hand to steady himself on the smooth concrete wall and braced himself to face the descent. Shakily he began, small steps at first as the metal stairway shifted under his weight and quivered with each gust of wind. He pictured himself a crumpled mess at the bottom but pushed on. With each step, he could hear the Scrape… Scrape…. Scrape of Timothy's chair, and in the background Donald maniacally muttering to himself.


+++++++++++


2/3rds of the way down the slow and cautious descent, a stair was missing, Peter saw the metal sheet lying on the ground at least 30 feet below him. He turned to look back up wondering if he should turn back and think of another solution. Timothy's head was peering down at him from the top of the stairs.


“The wiiiinnnd d d d” He cried, his eyes welling with tears.


Peter bravely hopped the missing step and landed on the next with as little weight as he could manage, it flexed disturbingly as he did so., he clung to the wall trying to find any recess to get a fingertip into, but it was smooth and damp.


Peter heard a tremendous metallic crashing from behind, Timothy's body flew past him down the middle of the stairs and hit the ground with a hard crunch.


“Wait it out!” He heard Donald's voice call down the stairs chuckling to himself.


Peter threw caution to the wind and skipped step after step in a hurry to meet Timothy at the bottom.


He found Timothy laying among the broken pieces of chair and metal pieces of stair. He was breathing, but barely, with each breath a gurgling suction as though he was drawing air through a clogged wet tube. His eyes were trying to open, but the eyelids merely flickered with the effort.


“Can you hear me, sir?” Peter said directly into his ear.


Donald had started a nimble descent rappelling down the rope he had pulled Timothy up with.


“Well ye’ve done fer him noo” Donald said reaching the bottom.

Peter eyes filled with rage.


“Me! If he’s dead it’s on your hands! Donald, you left him stranded up here, slowly decaying for weeks with no hope” Peter shouted.

“Hope! Hope twas what killed him, you gave him a vision of hope where none was coming” Donald sternly responded.


Peter rushed outside into the storm, his mind in a frantic panic searching for a solution, he looked out across the water to see his skiff smashed against the rocks. He looked into the sky and released an ungodly wail of frustration and anger screaming into the storm until his throat was raw. He turned and made his way back into the shelter of the lighthouse.


Donald was standing over Timothy's body, “well he’s done fer noo” Donald said calmly. Peter saw that one of Donald's boots was covered in blood, and Timothy's face and head were pulped.


“Noooo!” Peter screamed furiously, voice breaking as he did.


“I’ve done him a kindness” Donald said “It’s what he’s been wantin”


“You’ll hang for this” Peter wailed.


“Stop yer whining and lets get to repairin these stairs” Donald said with ease.


“Where’s the radio?” Peter shouted


“Up yonder stairs” Donald said pointing back up at what steps remained “but I told ye it’s not been workin since the last storm.”


Peter rushed for the rope and started hauling himself up..


“You’ll no git it workin laddie, We’re to deal with one problem at a time, I’ve dealt with Timothy, noo you get to fixing these stairs”

Donald called up after him.


“I have some training in radio repair, it’s standard procedure these days for new employees to have some training in small electronic repair” Peter shouted down.


Donald looked scared.


“And what will ye be telling the company if yer get a signal?” Donald said sheepishly.


Peter pulls himself up onto the top floor of the lighthouse, as he looks back down the chasm he can see Timothy’s broken body pooling blood around it, Donald has moved to the wall and is pulling on a cable that extends up the length of the lighthouse wall, he pulls a knife from his back pocket and begins to saw at it. Peter stared at Donald, a mixture of horror and exhaustion etched on his face. He lays back breathlessly watching as the light rotates around the room, the storm still blowing outside, and surrenders hope. He reaches up to find where the rope is tied to the top beam of the lighthouse roof and begins untying it. He lets the rope fall making a soft rippling thud that alerts Donald to look up at him.


They meet each others stare for a long time as a clap of thunder echoes around the lighthouse and lightning illuminates both their faces frozen in an ambivalent expression of glee and fear.


The end

March 04, 2024 13:36

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11 comments

Kailani B.
01:04 Mar 13, 2024

The thought of the staircase in a lighthouse going out is terrifying, and you capture that horror well. Thanks for sharing!

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James Moore
05:51 Mar 13, 2024

Thank you so much. I think if it were anywhere less remote it would be manageable, and if it was with pleasant company.

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Angela M
15:37 Mar 12, 2024

I feel the insanity in the best way possible. Well done!!

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James Moore
15:39 Mar 12, 2024

Thank you Angela, that was exactly what I was hoping for. 🤪

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LeeAnn Hively
03:03 Mar 06, 2024

What a terrifying tale! Donald is insane, but I hear that happened to people living in solitude in lighthouses. I wonder how long he had been that far gone. And surely the company will send someone else to check, possibly a team once two have failed to return. One can only hope that it's soon and that they're stronger than him.

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James Moore
09:05 Mar 08, 2024

I don't think it'll take much to take on Donald and I think he probably just needs to be brought back to some sort of civilization. I pictured the story taking place in early 1900s but I suppose in such a remote place the exact date doesn't make a huge difference. Thank you so much for reading it. 😁

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Asia W
08:35 Mar 05, 2024

Fantastic work, super engaging and what a start!!

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James Moore
10:37 Mar 05, 2024

Wow thank you Asia.

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Alexis Araneta
14:21 Mar 04, 2024

Great job, James. A lovely tale full of tension. For a while, I thought it was Donald who would plunge to his death as karma. I suppose I guessed wrong, though.

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James Moore
14:31 Mar 04, 2024

Thank you Stella, you're right he should have done, but in a funny way I also feel sorry for Donald stuck out there on his own losing his mind, with no help or communication from'the company'. But yeah there's no excusing his behaviour. 👍

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Kristina Lushey
12:36 Mar 18, 2024

I enjoyed this James. Your characterisation is great, and so descriptive. The lighthouse keeper was terrifying and poor Timothy. Great!

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