Contest entry for the Haunted Houses Short Story Contest
|As part of an adventure, we invested our savings into a picturesque lighthouse on the hill at the headwater of Cyril Cove. Teresa and I had high hopes. We could start our family here. The place was perfect. Secluded. The loveliest place, I assured her, that would stir our creativity. I knew we could both generate a life. Teresa could paint and I could write.
I'd been experiencing a bit of a dry spell lately and felt a change would do me, or rather us, a great deal of good. I convinced Teresa this was the best place for us. She hadn't been certain at first, but I managed to persuade her.
The day we moved in proved to be filled with a few obstacles I had not anticipated. The first thing was the fact that the key would not unlock the old bolt lock. I had to call up the local locksmith and get the door refitted with a new lock.
The place had been abandoned for many years. The locksmith told us the family before us had met with a sad end and since then the locals had hired a company to keep the lighthouse running. No one wanted to stay there.
I had not been told this story, and even if I had heard it, I doubt I would have shared it with Teresa. She would have refused to come. Even now, she radiated uneasiness. She bit her lip as she glanced around the room as if looking for something. She was a highly sensitive person. I took her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
When the locksmith drove off, Teresa turned to me.
"I don't like this Tom. There is something off here. I can feel it."
"It's just jitters from the move..." I began.
"No. It is more than that," she glanced around uneasily, "I'm feeling..."
"It'll be alright. It's just a local legend, something the locals stir up to make this area more intriguing to tourists."
"But we aren't tourists, Tom. This is supposed to be our home..."
"And we will make it our home. You'll see. Once we bring in all our things and make this place our own it will be fine."
She smiled then, but I could feel the apprehension ripple through the air between us.
We set about moving our things in and arranging things just so. That night the wind howled with a ferocity that even had the hairs on the back of my neck standing at attention. I told myself I was being a fool. Teresa cuddled in close when we got into bed and it took her a long time to fall asleep.
In the deep, dark of night I woke to a sound of scrapping. I eased out of bed, careful not to wake Teresa and slipped on my robe before descending the stairs to the kitchen. The light from the lighthouse pierced the fog that hugged us in tight. I stood staring out at the night, staining to hear the sound that had dragged me from a sound sleep. All had fallen silent.
I turned on the light in the kitchen after nearly tripping over one of the chairs that had been pulled out from the table.
"Bloody Hell, I whispered as I rubbed my shin.
"You shouldn't swear like that," I heard behind me and turned to see... nothing. I could feel a waft of cold air surround me. I shivered. I'd heard a woman's voice.
My heart skipped a beat. I pulled in a shaky breath before muttering, "Sorry."
"S'alright. I shouldna left the chair out like that. Damn nuisance with everything moved around," I heard her say.
I craned my neck out to see where the voice was coming from.
"Hello?' I inquired into the empty room.
"Damn fool can't see ya Sara," a deeper voice said and I swallowed a scream as my arms bristled with goosebumps.
"I know that Harold, but he can hear us fair enough,"
"Are you the painter then?" Harold asked and I shook my head dumbly before squeaking out, "my wife."
"She's really very talented," Sara said.
"And you, what do you do?" Harold asked.
"Write. I'm a writer," I whispered still looking around as I quivered.
"Isn't that nice dear. Such a lovely couple." Sara said.
I dropped down into the chair that I still had not pushed back in.
"Can't say its all that manly. Looks a might scrawny to me. Not sure if he has what it takes to run this here lighthouse."
"He's young, Harold. You'd be surprised what young men can do,"
The man growled and I could feel my goosebumps getting goosebumps. My mind scrambled to recall the story the locksmith had told that afternoon.
Harold was a beefy man. Bulky and full of brawn. He was not a very trusting soul. His wife, Sara was sweet and friendly.... maybe too friendly to some of the locals and old Harold took offense. He claimed she was being unfaithful, thought she denied it. Then one night he had found her with one of the delivery men and he had become angry and violent. The story was that old Harold had thrown her off the top of the lighthouse, then fell off after her. No one really knows for sure what happened, but they weren't heard from again.
Nobody had dared to live there since.
"We don't mean you any harm, sir. My wife and I bought this place in the hopes of following our creative dreams. We want the solitude and the sea air."
"He could write our story, Harold. Set the record straight. Find the killers..."
"The killers?" I said almost swallowing my tongue.
Harold grunted, this time not so roughly.
"All this time we have been held captive here, maybe if he tells our story... we could move on. Find some peace."
"Honey, who are you talking too?" Teresa asked sleepily from the doorway. Her eyes looked into the room and seemed to settle first at the stove and then at the chair across from me.
"Harold and Sara," I whispered not wanting to alarm her, but she only nodded as if that were the thing to do.
"Did you offer them coffee?"
I shook my head and she tutted, "Tom, you need to be more social. Would you like anything at all?'
Neither Sara or Harold said a thing. They only shook their heads.
"Okay then I'll let you talk, good night." She slipped away back up the stairs and I stared after her.
"She's walking in her sleep," Sara whispered.
"She can see us," Harold groused.
"But not hear us," Sara mused.
"The writer and the painter, " Harold said.
"She can see and he can hear. Very interesting." Sara said. "Perhaps you can both help...others hear the creaks... the wind scares them. They remember the stories and run..."
"I don't see how Sara," the man groused.
"To tell the truth. To set the record straight. To show the world that a wrong was made and those people can be found and made to pay for what they did to us."
"It was so long ago..."
"But the story could still be told... should be told," I heard myself say and as I said it, I felt a rush of excitement at the thought of bringing their story into the light. Putting their demons behind bars and letting them move on from this place.
After a time, Harold said, "alright, but first let him get some sleep."
Over the next several weeks I worked furiously crafting a tale out of the landscape of the past, filling in the details and drawing the darkness into the light. Teresa found herself sketching and painting a couple that seemed to appear to her, first dark and hazy, but as the story unfolded to me and I read it to her, she was able to let the light find its way in. The painting became lighter as well.
I felt the presence of Harold and Sara with us for those many weeks and when their story was told and I had managed to find a publisher, they moved on. I was sad to see them go, but the time they had dwelled with us had given me a chance to hone my craft and free my spirit to feel more confident. I was no longer a scrawny, wee man. I was able to move mountains and make the past a part of the local history.
My research also uncovered the untimely death of the killers. They had met their fate and died a horrible death. The wrong had been avenged and that set Harold and Sara at peace.
Words = 1463.