Heavy Fog & The Sea

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
The Great War left Duncan Ainsley a broken man. In the years that followed he found himself alone on a hazy beach in Prince Edward Island, when a mysterious speck appears on the horizon.

Submitted: May 11, 2016

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Submitted: May 11, 2016

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Heavy Fog & The Sea

Jacob Harroway


 


 

It was always there. The constant swish and swill of an endless body of water, called the Atlantic Ocean. Though it was only the Northumberland Straight nestled in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, Duncan Ainsley still liked to think of it as the almighty Atlantic. It was not always insight, but it's voice was heard day and night, an organic being if there ever was one.

Duncan found it soothing for the most part, up until the winds howled, funneled by the straight, and the waves crashed upon the shore slowly calling the earth back into it's depths. It covered the ringing in his ears for the most part and that was more than welcome. That whole mess had begun after a stray shell had landed too close to Duncan in that hell hole called France. A piece of shrapnel embedded itself in his right thigh, giving him a permanent limp. That wasn’t even including his damaged lungs from all that bloody gas. Being told to piss on your hanker-chief by some medical man, while your mates choke beside you can cause some stress on the mind.

The only Ainsley on Prince Edward Island liked to keep to himself these days. Having built a small cabin on the North side of Egmont Bay, he was content to live out his days fishing, drinking rum, and painting his surreal surroundings; rocky cliffs, red beaches, thin forests, and grassy fields. But, there were times when he was in a particular mood, that Duncan would paint a scene from the Great War. Images that had been burned in his mind since the day they happened. At times it was the quiet landscapes that stretched on and on, but mostly it was all the rest; the chlorine gas at Ypres, mustard gas floating along the ground like a heavy cloak come to smother them, the massacre at Somme, and finally Vimy Ridge where the shell almost tore him to pieces.

Duncan’s family originally hailed from around Northumberland (fitting that he should reside near another) by the border of Scotland and England, but as do all, his great-grandparents fell upon hard times. So they gathered up the family and hopped on a great big streamer to skip across the pond and found a new life in Nova Scotia.

After the war, Duncan knew he wasn’t the same lad that had signed up at seventeen, full of excitement. Right after he and his mates had heard the news, that war had broken out in Europe; they along with many others felt great nationalistic pride and went off to fight for God, King and Country. When Duncan returned he was a broken man, lost. The only one of his friends to survive the war, injured in more ways than he could count. He left to wander. Wander without purpose or aspiration.

He found his way to the red fields of Prince Edward Island. With his rations running low, exhaustion crept in and Duncan prepared to die. Looking out to the waters he had no idea where he was, having not seen a single person since leaving Summerside. Lying there on the ground, wondering which breath would be his last, Duncan had a sudden revelation. The same one that had slowly dawned on him while he was on death’s bed in France. He did not want to die yet.

Simple as that; spurned on by the ceaseless pounding of the waves, Duncan pushed himself off the ground, one movement for every crash, and set about trying to survive. It wasn’t long before he was all settled in, having built himself a modest cabin accompanied by a small deck overlooking the bay, a thin walkway to anchor his fishing boat and all the rest of his meager needs.


 

The day was nearing its end and the red sun was obscured by a colossal cloud moving over from the west. It resembled a great hand unfolding and was content to smother the sun, it dispersed a fog that was becoming thicker by the hour. Duncan finished his painting when the cloud was about to overcome the dying sun, and brought it back inside to rest on the table to dry. Pouring himself another glass of rum he decided to walk along the rocks, and small beach to watch the tide come in.

There was a staircase of sorts made naturally and partly chiseled away by Duncan to leave a convenient way down to the water. He passed his small fishing boat tied to the rickety dock, but the water had not risen high enough for the boat to be floating as it still rested on the red rock. Duncan traveled along the shore looking at the crabs, jellyfish, and other sea creatures that were anticipating the return of their life force. As he slowly walked, drinking deep from his glass, Duncan thought he could see some sort of dark blob out in the thick fog.

The waves approached, slowly advancing up the shore line while the last of the light began to fade. Duncan turned back needing to get to his cabin before darkness enclosed in, and all along his walk he noticed the speck coming closer, and closer. As Duncan neared his dock and cabin he looked back once again to the swirling waters and found the mysterious object closer than ever.

While it moved Duncan felt a tightening in his chest. Deep down he knew what it could be and he certainly wasn’t looking forward to what was going to happen once it reached shore. Onward it came, married to the waves, they came up and over, and the object went up and over. At long last it beached upon the small sandy shore before the rock, and was tugged back out on the next wave, only to be tossed up again.

Duncan stood still, staring in the fading light. Not moving an inch he forced himself to breath slowly and control his thoughts. A dead man stared up at him through open glassy eyes. His arms and legs had been bound, and there were deep cuts and slashes all over. Duncan continued to stare, but was not really looking at the body. His mind was elsewhere.

He was in a trench and there was gun fire everywhere. Duncan cradled the head of his best friend since he was old enough to speak. A ringing suddenly assaulted his ears until that was all Duncan could hear, and soil rained down from the sky. Those same glassy eyes bore right through Duncan, but the face changed endlessly.

Snapping free, he tried to identify the poor fool. Unfortunately only traveling into town once a year did not make him well acquainted with the other locals, he had never even visited the lighthouse on the point. Knowing there was nothing he could do in the darkness, Duncan grabbed the body by it's feet and tugged it up to his cabin, it took some time as darkness began to settle in, plus he didn’t want to break his favourite glass.

Duncan pulled the body beside his cabin and went to grab something to at least cover the poor fellow. The clouds grew darker, fuller, and more menacing by the minute. Feeling rain in the wind Duncan quickly gathered up anything outside and sparked a lamp once he was under the roof. Mechanically going through his meager chores before bed, Duncan made a point of not thinking about what the body meant.

As he lay under his blankets, and the rain pattered on his roof, Duncan tried to find sleep. He had been lying there for three hours now, and all he could think about was the dead man lying beside his cabin.


 

Duncan was up before the sunlight trickled through the fog, not enough to really be called sunlight, but enough to know day had arrived. It seemed the fog had thickened during the night and had no plans on dispersing. There was no breeze during the morning and the gloom hung like a smothering blanket.

It was near impossible to see out on the waters and Duncan didn’t fancy his luck fishing today. Instead he sat at his kitchen table nursing an early glass of rum. He had already been to the side of his cabin three times to reassure himself that the body was still there. It was. Each time he rounded the corner he prayed it was a strange dream and he would only find firewood stacked neatly in a pile. Every time he was proved wrong.

Duncan assembled his oils and paper, but found no desire to paint anything today, the fog weighed on him, and the shrouded landscape offered no inspiration. Instead he drank some more, deep in thought. He judged it was almost noon when his bottle went dry. He walked to his cellar to fetch another. Duncan moved with the calm and steady movements of repetition. He pulled a bottle out of the crate and noticed there was less than half a dozen. Just brilliant.

Duncan poured his glass and stood staring down on it on the table. Finally he snapped. He needed to find someone, talk to anyone. Tell them what he had found. Springing up he left the glass, grabbed the bottle and rushed to put his coat on. The closest place was Light in the Fog, the lighthouse on the corner a few miles off. Duncan carefully made his way down the stone steps and began to untie his boat. Looking at the dim light out in the horizon a cold hand clutched his heart. He feared going out into the unknown, but the drink made him courageous and the desire to solve this mystery made him hungry, so Duncan set out on his fool’s errand.

The strait was still, as no wind ran through and an eerie calm was out on the water. The light in the distance grew in magnitude as Duncan sailed onward. This part was easy, it was the docking and landing at the lighthouse that had him on edge. The lap of water against the hull was the only noise while Duncan took another pull from the bottle between his knees. There was no shape to the lighthouse this far out, just the revolving light coming round and round.

As he got closer to the light, the shoreline became a long dark shadow, barely visible. He had never been out to the lighthouse, and Duncan didn’t even know the fellow who manned it. All he knew was this was the quickest way he would get answers to his questions. The shore grew bigger still, but Duncan wasn’t focused on it all that much. He kept his gaze on that giant light bulb in the sky.

The light swung around at a slow rate, a thick beam of smokey yellow light that reached out as far as it could into the impenetrable grey. It helped Duncan see the dock, but left his hands trembling once the light had moved on and left him hard pressed for vision. The dock was only a few yards ahead and closing, but Duncan knew that bloody light was about to pass off the side again. Back peddling his rows, Duncan hoped to slow himself down, but a stray gust of wind urged him onward.

The light returned and Duncan found himself an arms distance away from the small dock. Springing forward he grabbed onto the wood planks as his boat smashed up against it. Ignoring the jarring pain Duncan held on and managed to tie the boat. Taking one last pull from his bottle and shaking off the head rush, Duncan put his hood back up, inched his coat tighter and walked up the path.

It wound over the cliff side paved in old stone and led up to the only door to be seen. It was painted white along with the rest of the towering structure. The sun still tried to peer in through the veil of cloud, but was denied and the winds began to subside. Light in the Fog spun round while Duncan stared at the door. He knocked once, then louder, louder again, and hollered a few calls toward the lighthouse. Nothing moved, and no one came to greet him.

Puzzled Duncan pounded again one more time for good measure and when nothing came of it, he tried the door knob. It turned and with a groan the door came swinging out to greet him. He peered inside and saw darkness, with a flickering light coming from above.

‘Hello!?’ Duncan cried out, no answer came and again he continued onward, up the creaking wooden stairs and closer to the candle light.

Duncan poked his head over the second floor and cast his gaze around the spartan room. One single bed was neatly made, with a book on the end table. On the opposite side close to the only window, was a desk, neatly littered with some papers and the flickering candle. To complete the room a rocking chair sat idle in the far corner. Puzzled, Duncan continued up the longer run of stairs. He grabbed the candle to help him see and held it in front of his face while he spiraled upwards.

Duncan reached the top landing and saw a wooden ladder that reached up ten rungs to a trap door. He climbed up, and a bump of his shoulder caused the door to fling open. Duncan stuck his head out and was immediately blinded by the strongest light he had ever seen. Startled he put his hand over his eyes and slipped off the ladder, falling with a crash to the wooden floor below. He let out a cry of pain, followed by a groan and rolled onto his side. The candle had fallen beside him and was snuffed out.

Lying there in the darkness Duncan struggled to his knees and crawled his way back to the stair. With care he reached the bottom, still smarting from his fall he stumbled back down to the dock. He flopped back into his boat exhausted, and immediately went for his bottle of rum. Drinking deep he let out a sigh as the liquor burned his throat, and Duncan thought about what to do next.

There didn’t seem to be anyone around, and the lit candle did not ease the worries in the back of his head. The man could have stepped out, but Duncan had seen no one, nor any footprints near. It could have all been coincidence, but the slashed, and bound body laying next to his cabin begged to differ. It was passed time Duncan let someone of authority know what he had found. Which meant a long row across the bay, around to Summerside and the Constable.


 

The trip across was almost enough to make Duncan turn back. He didn’t spot a single soul on his trip and the cold silence was only broken by the dip and creak of his oars. In the thick fog wisps of visions formed, and Duncan saw all the faces he had forgotten. That young woman he had saved in the woods in France, yellow haired and hollow, his childhood mates, and of course Gregory who died down that fox hole. Fortunately the wind began to pick up as he neared the sleepy town, and it helped Duncan make good time to Summerside. It was still before supper he reckoned and his head was more than a little swirly from the drink.

He tied off at the local docks, and heaved himself up onto the planks. Duncan was hard pressed to make out any of the details in the haze, but he came to town every now and then to get supplies. There was only one road going from the docks out into the countryside. Shops and homes lined the street, but there was no one in sight. Silence filled the void and Duncan’s heavy footfalls pulsed along with his heartbeat as he traveled. He stopped at the general store and knocked, the window showed a few lanterns were burning inside.

A muffled call bade him to enter and Duncan stepped inside. He greeted the shop keeper, Peter, and Duncan inquired about the lack of patrons. Peter mentioned the fog made folk uneasy and brought out a case of rum and the few staples Duncan always ordered when he came to town. They passed a few more noncommittal remarks and Duncan headed back out into the fog, taking his supplies back to his boat.

He was really only stalling, dreading what he had come here for in the first place. Once his supplies were all secured Duncan took out a fresh bottle from the case, yanked the cork out and took a deep pull. With a cough he returned the cork, shook his head to dispel the dizziness and stumbled onward to the Constable.

The Constable lived with his family in the largest building on the strip, and attached lived his deputy. Duncan reached the front door and hesitated, he hoped they weren’t sitting down to supper. He knocked anyway and waited while heavy footsteps approached the door. The Constable opened the door and squinted at Duncan.

“What’s the meaning of this?” the Constable inquired. “We were about to sit down to eat.” He was a tall man, not quite thick but certainly strong. His large mustache twirled at the ends like a Frenchman.

“I apologize for the intrusion sir,” Duncan managed to get out under his stare, “but I found a body out on the bay, washed right up to me cabin. A bloody body that had been hacked top to bottom. Murder sir, murder!”

“Calm yourself man!” the Constable said sternly and took a sniff of the air. “You're that hermit from the bay aren’t yea, I can smell the rum from here. People say you got hurt in the war, not body, but brain hurt. You weren’t drunk and hallucinating were yea?”

“Hallucinating!?” Duncan was becoming a little testy. “Sir I served my country, fought for the king and managed to come back, and when I do I’m cast aside and labeled a loony. If you’d seen the things I had, done the things I did, then I tell yea, you’d be a different man then the rest.”

“I didn't mean no harm, all I’m saying is you come stumblin' over here, while the heaviest fog we’ve seen is out, screaming bloody murder, I get a little bit suspicious.” The Constable peered back, then walked to the porch and closed the door behind. “Now where is this body?”

“Uhh, well it ain’t here,” Duncan said shuffling his feet.

“What do you mean ‘not here’?”

“Uhh, well I went out to the lighthouse first thing, but I didn’t find no one there. That struck me as strange so I came here right away. I swear sir, there be a dead body cut up beside my cabin. Please can yea sail out there so yea can see?” Duncan begged. “That weren’t no fishing accident, I’ve seen enough violence to know the difference.”

The Constable blew out his mustache in a long breath, and finally nodded.

“Alright, Duncan you're called right? I’ll come out with the deputy just after we finish our meal. We’ll meet you at your cabin and you can show us this body,” Duncan looked to say something, but the Constable cut right in. “But if there ain’t a body and you’ve been pullin’ my leg, I will be cross, you here me?”

“Aye Sir.”

Duncan scurried off to the docks, still not seeing a soul. He hadn’t really noticed his limp with all the excitement going on, but he caught his leg on a loose board, fell and cried out in pain. The bruise from the fall at the lighthouse began to throb on the other side and Duncan limped along into his boat and began the row back to the cabin.


 

Duncan waited in the red sands, pacing back and forth, trying to make out the shape of the Constable and Deputy coming in. They couldn’t have been that far behind him, so Duncan quickly carried his supplies up to the cabin and raced back down. Sure enough, on the horizon through the impenetrable fog there came another dark blob. Closer and closer it came, but this time it wasn’t dread that filled Duncan, but a mild sense of relief and restlessness.

He hollered a few times to set the Constable on the right course, and they pulled up near his cabin as the tide was nearing it's lowest point. They beached their boat next to Duncan’s much smaller one and waded out to greet him. The Deputy merely nodded his head in acknowledgment, while the Constable took a deep breath of air.

“Christ, but is this a far row. Was hard enough to find the place, let alone in this damn fog!” The Constable took another deep breath and continued toward the dock. “Alright Duncan show us what you found, let us hope this trip wasn’t for nothin’.”

“Aye sir,” he replied and bade them follow. The trio traveled in silence up onto the hard rock near the bluff, and then the rough stairs. As they reached the top both the Constable and Deputy were red in the face and heaving as they surveyed Duncan’s land.

“Nice bit of property you got here Duncan, what I can see that is,” the Constable remarked.

“Why thank yea sir,” Duncan said, “stumbled onto it one day you might say. If you’ll follow me I put the body round the side there.” The men came around the deck and Duncan led the way through his familiar yard. He reached the bush by the firewood and stopped, cold panic gripped his heart like a vise. Gone. It was gone.

“It’s not here,” Duncan said at a loss for words.

“What do you mean man?” the Constable inquired and pushed Duncan aside searching for anything. All he saw was a pile of wood and a few bushes. “I told yea, I bloody well told yea!” he yelled to the Deputy. “I knew this was all some wild goose chase.”

“I swear it was right here!” Duncan insisted. “I pulled it out of the water all cut up and bound, then brought it over here. I even checked it this morning fore I left.”

“I don’t want to here any of it, you here?” the Constable said. “On a day like today, when I can’t even see my shoes in front of me, you drag me out onto the water, disturb my meal with my family, spouting bloody murder and you say you don’t know where it is!

“Sorry sir,” was all Duncan could make out in his frozen state. The Constable huffed out his mustache, muttered something about drunks and stalked back down to his boat, the Deputy in his tow.

Duncan couldn’t believe it, there had been a body there this morning, he was positive. Could it be possible he was hallucinating? Sure sometimes he saw things in the mist, but this was completely different. He never lost his way with reality to the extent of fabricating something like this. He had lugged that body out of the water, he had spotted it in the fog coming in. A different type of fear clung over him as another thought entered his mind. Someone had moved the body.

A coughing spasm over took him, doubling over Duncan to his knees while he tried to get the phlegm out. After plenty of rough wet coughs he managed to clear it, and got back up, wincing over his aching leg. The war was all too kind to him. It was impossible to search light-less in the fog so Duncan raced inside, or as fast as his body would allow him, and fumbled for his lantern. The sun was starting to go down, and the temperature was dropping. What limited visibility Duncan had was also fading.

Down at the bush beside the firewood, Duncan began to scour the ground with his lantern. Anything, he just needed to find anything. There appeared to be some slickness to the ground a few feet away from the cabin. Duncan followed it like a hound and felt a burst of energy when he spotted a few boot marks a ways on. It led him out to the edge of the cliff and Duncan cursed in frustration. He cast his glance down on the other side of the point, the one separating his beach from the rest of the bay and nearly fell down the bluff in his surprise. Down in the sand was the distinct mark of a falling object and further along, where the tide had been but a few hours ago was the unmistakable wedge of a beached boat.

Duncan stood there on the edge of the cliff for a few moments searching the horizon for anything, but he already couldn’t make out the fleeing Constable. Still he searched knowing it was futile. There was only one thing that changed in the thick blanket of fog. A blink of light so faint it almost couldn't been seen. Duncan just barely made it out, and his eyes were drawn to it. It seemed there was only one place to go.

 

The waters splashed onto Duncan's face and he pulled his hood closer for not the second time. The night was settling in and the winds had begun to pick up, making the strait churn and heave. Duncan’s meager boat carried on towards the beacon of light. His lantern was hung off the bow trying its best to be useful. A bottle of rum tumbled in between his feet as he powered onward.

It was slow going, slower than his previous trip in the afternoon. Plus now he was exhausted by a full day of rowing. Luckily he could hoist the sail and take advantage of the wind. The waters were capped white in spots, but Duncan kept his steely gaze on Light in the Fog. He took a swig from the bottle and cradled his rifle beside him. It hadn’t been used to kill a man in many years, not since the Great War and hopefully wouldn’t be needed tonight, but precautions needed to be taken.

The water was meaner then it had been in months, dipping and jerking Duncan’s boat every time it crested a wave. Night had come completely and the thick murk was here to stay, the moon could not penetrate the thick veil and Duncan’s only light source was the rotating dot out in the distance. Docking was sure going to be a bastard this time around. He wasn’t really sure what he hoped to find out at the lighthouse, or even what he was looking for. All he knew was that was where he needed to be.

The light drew closer and Duncan’s heartbeat began to increase, the thumping seemed to have synced up with the pounding of the waves urging him forward. Every time the light rounded the far side and darkness embraced him, Duncan gripped the rudder tight and kept his eyes straight. Only to be shocked at how quickly he was moving. The light swung around the point again and was just about to hit directly at Duncan when the unthinkable happened, a shadow passed over and the light went out.

There was no warning or noise, only the howl of the wind and the pounding of his heart. He was engulfed in darkness. It seemed a lifetime ago he faced this same fear, shoulder to shoulder in the trenches while the captain readied the charge to almost certain death. He had conquered it then and he could do it again, but underneath that cool calm was panic, that was for sure.

Desperately he tried to search out for a mass in the dark, anything that would signal land. His efforts were in vain, so he practically ripped down the sail in an attempt to slow himself. Duncan knew he was traveling fast, fast enough that he would hit land at any moment. He took one last gulp from his bottle, emptying it in the process, made sure his knife was strapped tight to his boot and finally grasped his rifle in one arm. The other gripped the rudder so hard, Duncan was sure it would snap.

His heart threatened to rip out his chest as seconds became ages until he hit something and was instantly thrown clear of his boat and into the abyss. The deafening crack of wood was his only warning and then Duncan hit the water. Air rushed out of his lungs as he struggled to stay afloat, while the sea threw him around like a cheap toy it was tired of playing with. Duncan lost his rifle on impact and his only concern was survival.

Darkness was everywhere, the waves took him where they would and Duncan flailed in the cold waters. Visions floated all around him, threatening to pull him under, so Duncan kicked. He didn’t know if he was moving out further into the bay or closer to the rocky cliffs that supported the lighthouse, and he didn’t care. All he did was kick and claw his arms, kick and claw, hoping to hit something solid before he drowned and fell into the deep depths below him.

Just when he thought he could take no more; when his legs gave out, fire burning through them, and his lungs were more full of water than his boat at the bottom of the bay. Duncan Ainsley struck land. Or the Land struck him, and hard. He smashed up against a rock face and his left side scraped along the red sands. Dazed he was drawn back to the water, caressed and then thrown once more onto the beach. This time Duncan had enough sense to dig his fingers into the sand to resist being pulled back into the water.

Gasping for breath Duncan coughed and coughed until he threw up his pitiful breakfast, more rum than a normal man could handle, and enough salt water to fill a tub. He pulled himself up further where the water couldn’t reach him and turned over onto his back staring into the fog, trying to catch his breath.

Fumbling his person Duncan tried to assess the damage. His old war wound in the leg ached like it had happened all over again yesterday and Duncan was thankful his knife was still there, because he was going to kill the man that did this too him. He didn’t care who it was, he was going to kill him. Duncan rolled over onto his knees and took a few more deep breaths before heaving himself up to stand.

Like a dead man come to life, Duncan stumbled past the docks and up the stony path. One foot followed by another. He had removed his knife and held it strongly in his right fist. The water dripped off of him and the wind chilled him to the bone, but a deep fire within kept Duncan moving. In the blackness of the night it was slow going and Duncan’s exhausted bruised legs made it even slower.

He brought his gaze from the ground to find himself face to face with the white door encased in red. Duncan pushed aside the thick door. It moved with a creak and he peered around expecting the worst. Instead he was faced with a familiar scene. The wooden stair case going round the edge and spiraling up, lit by the flickering light of a candle. Duncan gripped his large knife tightly and tread slowly toward the murderer.

He moved soundlessly upwards, all the while keeping a sharp ear out for any noise. Duncan reached the second level and waited a few moments in silence before inching his head round the corner. Sure enough there was a candle on the nightstand flickering in the wind, placed as it had been when Duncan first came. Beside it was the unmistakable lump of a body. On tip toe he inched forward, knife at the ready, but as he came closer to the body he became aware of the smell and a sinking realization swept over him. In a panic he surveyed the room behind him again looking for the assailant. Reluctantly he continued over to the body and pulled the cover back.

It was the lighthouse keeper, he could only assume, bloated from the water and decay, tied up the same way as when Duncan last saw him. Leaving the candle on the stand Duncan continued up the stairs, ready for his foe. It seemed like mere seconds before he was at the hatch up to the top deck. Taking one last breath he busted up through the hatch climbing as fast as he could and looked around for his man. Nothing. It couldn't be, the candle, the body, someone was here. But there was nothing, just the fog, the wind, and the crash of the waves on the rocks.

Suddenly the sun burst from the light bulb in the center of the top deck blinding Duncan as he fell to the ground shielding his eyes. It lasted only a heartbeat, but when Duncan opened his eyes once more all he could see was the residue of that light. There was no warning when a cold blade slashed at his back. Duncan cried out in pain and swung out blindly, to a mocking laugh. This time Duncan heard the footsteps come close, but was too late in reacting so he took another slash, this time to the chest.

“Found you,” he heard, followed by that high mocking laugh again. A third slash to the thigh sent Duncan berserk and he hacked and slashed all around him, until he crashed back down to the deck. His night vision was starting to come back and Duncan barely saw a dark shape move toward him again. Waiting til the last moment Duncan kicked out and slew footed the murderer, bringing him to the deck. Duncan spun up and brought his knife down hard onto the man. He was rewarded with a scream, but the man convoluted backwards and pulled the knife free of Duncan’s hand.

Duncan returned to his feet to see a smaller man cloaked in black lying near the railing with Duncan’s knife stuck in his calf. With a blood chilling scream the man ripped the knife out his leg and tossed it into the abyss.

“Duncan Ainsley!” the man screamed. “So very nice to see you again.”

“Who the hell are you?!” Duncan roared right back. “And what could I have possibly done to yea?”

“Left me to die, that's what yea did,” the man seemed delirious and was mumbling to himself. “A week stuck under the earth...time I clawed my way out...no one left. Could barely see, crawled...crawled so far.”

Duncan saw a scene play out in the mist. Him and his platoon lay in wait. They hide in fox holes in the ground beside the road. A caravan approaches from down the way. Shells start to fall from the clear blue sky. Chaos. Their ambush had been turned on it's head. There is no time to look for any of the others. There was only time to run.

“You left me down there, you bastard!” the man said. “You and all the others just left me for dead.”

“Charlie!” Duncan exclaimed as his vision came back. “Charlie, it can't possibly be?” Duncan reached out a hand to his old friend, but Charlie recoiled back in horror.

“You think I came here for your pity? I came here to kill you, fiend!” Charlie let out. “No one came back for old Charlie, you lot were too hung up over your hero Gregory's death. I can still see yea now with his head in your arms, sobbing like a babe. I wonder if you cried like that for old Charlie?”

“Charlie please,” Duncan begged. “I lost everyone that day.”

“I've no more words for you.”

With another chilling scream the little man launched himself back at Duncan. Weaponless Duncan retreated til his back was to the railing and brought up his fists. There was no way this was going to be the end of Duncan Ainsley of Northumberland.

The murderer lunged at Duncan, his knife poised toward Duncan’s neck. Duncan dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes, and braced the underside of the railing with his hands. He rammed his injured legs into the air as hard as he possibly could and catapulted the deranged man up over the railing and down to the rocky cliff below. Charlie's inhuman scream followed him downward, until all that was left was the howl, and the sea.


 

Duncan woke with the sunrise, curled up in pain by the railing. The fog was dissipating and the red sun was rising over Prince Edward Island. From his position on the deck Duncan had quite the view, but his wounds burned and his entire body ached. The ocean soothed him, a gentle wish-wash, and a few gulls cried out their greetings to the world.

With great effort Duncan dragged his body so he could peer over the side. Low tide had come once more,and red sand encircled the bluff where the lighthouse stood. The blood from the madman's fall was no where to be seen and neither was the body, perhaps that was for the best.

There was also the poor lighthouse keeper tied up in his bed below, but that could wait. The Constable could wait as well, for all Duncan cared about at that moment was that he was alive once again. The sun began to peak up over the island from the east and splay out its radiant light. Wishing he had his painting supplies Duncan closed his eyes to preserve the image in his mind. He let the sun’s warmth wash over him and made an important decision.

He would stay and live at this lighthouse, it had almost cost him his sanity and life, but Duncan felt he owed the light-keeper something. Someone needed to man Light in the Fog, someone who could guide others caught in the tunnel of shadows and guide them to the other side.


 


The End


 


© Copyright 2017 Jacob Harroway. All rights reserved.

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