Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2261411-The-Third-Man---Chapter-One
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Detective · #2261411
Jonathan takes his new girlfriend Genevieve to a lighthouse to tell her a story.
"Where is the sea?" said Genevieve. The wind blew strongly in her face, pushing her long red hair behind her as she marched up the hill towards the lighthouse at its top.

"It is there," said Jonathan, walking behind her. "Look between the sky and the land there is a line of blue."

"Oh yes I see it now, do you think that anyone is home?"

"Unlikely, lighthouses are mainly automated these days with occasional visits for repairs and maintenance."

"So how are we going to get in then?"

"Hey, I am the local here. You let me worry about that," said Jonathan.

They reached the door of what looked like a small house on the land side of the lighthouse at the foot of the tower. There was a narrow door in the middle of the house with no windows, an ancient cross was carved into the wood. There was a window some distance above the house roof and then the tower stretched upwards to the lantern room. This contained the main lighthouse beacon which would shine out over the sea.

Genevieve noticed that Jonathan brought out an ancient key which he had on a silver chain around his neck. He turned the key in the lock and the latch clicked and then the door squeaked open as he pushed it inwards. She felt a little nervous about going in but he seemed so confident, albeit a little grim today, and she trusted him and so she followed him in. Then Jonathan pushed the door shut behind them. Only then did he switch the light on the wall to light up the room. She could see that this was not really a place to live, more a tool shed with spare bulbs and various equipment shelved neatly on each side. They continued forwards past all this to the winding staircase that led to the top of the tower and started to climb upwards to the lantern house.

As they reached the top Genevieve ran to the front of the lantern house and gasped at the view. From here they could see the rough seas below pounding the cliffs. Jonathan hugged Genevieve from behind as they shared the moment. He felt good, strong, and warm and she loved the feeling of being with him.

"So what is the story about this place that you wanted to tell me?" asked Genevieve.

Still hugging her with his left hand Jonathan pointed with his right to a rocky headland.

"Before the lighthouse was built ships used to flounder on that headland all the time. They were pushed by storm winds into the rocks just below the surface there. So many ships floundered there that stories started to rise up about ghost ships sailing through the night and then disappearing with the sounds of men screaming. One story relates to a young woman in love with a sailor. " Jonathan said. He paused for dramatic effect as if to gauge her reaction thus far.

"Go on, you cannot stop now," Genevieve said.

"Well, the man was a smuggler. At that time taxes were high on imported goods and so the smugglers could make a handsome profit by bypassing the ports and bringing their goods in secretly. So they would operate out of caves all down the coast here and bring their stuff in late at night. The young sailor in our story, called Tom, was in love with a woman called Maria. He had no money and he wanted to give her a house and home and buy her nice things so he joined up with a local gang. He knew the risks. The smugglers would often use the storms for cover because the Royal Navy had ships all down the coast here looking out for them. But in a storm, the navy ships would port in a safe harbor or stay out further at sea so there was a window of opportunity to bring the goods in."

"But they risked those rocks by doing that at night and in a storm," said Genevieve.

"Yes, exactly. Well, one stormy night in the Winter of 1509 they brought a shipload of contraband to the coast and attempted to unload it. But the waves and the wind were all too much and the ship broke against those rocks and all the men were lost including Tom. "

"OK, sad but isn't that the end of the story?"

"No this is where it starts to get interesting. The story goes that Maria on hearing the news ran down to the beach, dressed in the white wedding dress that she had planned to marry Tom in, and in the madness of her grief ran into the ocean looking to save her lost love. She also drowned. However, from that day on, on a stormy night, the smuggler's ghost ship would appear to people on the beach. A couple would be seen walking on the water, holding hands, moving away from the ship. As they do so the ship continues on its course, it crashes against the rocks, and with the sounds of men screaming disappears."

"Cool story did you just make that up, to impress me? This is perhaps the coolest date you have ever taken me on by the way," Genevieve smiled and turned her head as she spoke. She saw that Jonathan still had that grim look on his face but he kissed her on the lips anyway as she reached for him.

"No you can read it for yourself in the local town archives, but I am not finished yet."

"OK, go on." Genevieve snuggled back into his embrace and her eyes turned back to the rough seas below.

"Well these appearances went on for about 350 years and then they built the lighthouse on this cliff and a local Vicar blessed it and pronounced that the light would not only save physical ships but banish the ghosts that still haunted these shores. From that moment on there were no more ghost stories or sitings of the ghost ship along this shore."


"Yes and then just last week you remember I told you that we had that power outage right across the area and for the first time in 150 years the Lighthouse did not shine into the darkness."

"What they even had this one shining in World War Two?" Genevieve's face registered surprise.

"Yes, they kept this one shining even then. So this was the first time that darkness prevailed across the beach in 150 years. Then there was that storm."

"And the ghosts came back!" Genevieve's face lit up, this really is a cool story, she thought.

"Yes, three local people in two separate incidents reported seeing the ghost ship and the couple from the beach while they watched the storm."


"Then just two days ago two of those witnesses were murdered, the day after their story was published in the local paper."

"That is awful!... Murdered! Do they know who did it?"

"No they do not and moreover neither do I? For you see I am the third witness to whatever happened that night of the storm. You are the first person that I have told about this. I am a little scared about what might happen if whoever did this found out. But I was the third man on that beach that night."

"So why did you bring me here if there is a risk?" asked Genevieve suddenly concerned.

"This lighthouse is a blessed place, it has been so from its very foundation. We are safe here. But I wanted you to understand where I am at right now and there was no better place than this to share my news. I had to be honest with you about what was going on in my life and I would understand if you would want to walk away right now. If I am a marked man because of what I saw then perhaps it is best that you are not involved."

Genevieve moved away from Jonathan's embrace, turning away from him and looking over the beach below.

"Thanks for letting me know, thanks for being honest with me. But no I am not walking away from you nor from this. You see..." she sobbed. Turning back towards him with tears in her eyes, "You see it is already too late for me, because I am madly in love with you, and our futures are already intertwined. So we are just going to have to solve this one together."

Jonathan smiled as if in relief, and he moved to hug and kiss her. Genevieve open to his embrace laughed with joy as his face changed. The grey clouded somber look he had worn since entering the lighthouse was transformed into bright sunshine and blue-eyed skies as their lips touched.

Word Count & Notes

© Copyright 2021 LightinMind (luminementis at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2261411-The-Third-Man---Chapter-One