Morgan stood against the rail at the top of the Lighthouse, his yellow raincoat defying the elements. With his eyes closed he listened to the wind and the rain and the ocean, each following
its own rhythm, rising and falling with the power of infinite unseen forces. The waves crashed again and again in an endless looping tide, and the wind whipped up the spray and filled the air with
salty water. There was nothing like a storm, Morgan thought, nothing like the thrill of darkness and chaos. It was all around, horizon to horizon, blotting out the night sky. Before him the sea
leaped and tumbled, pulled back and then thundered through, unable to spare a single inch of water from the muscular liquid beast harassing the shore. Above and behind him the wind danced a
seductive, destructive dance; whispering innocently one moment, then wrenching away, buffeting the Lighthouse in vain coordination with the ocean. It whistled through the woods along the shore,
periodically plucking away trees and branches that took its fancy, or incurred its wrath.
Through all this rhythmic disorder the Lighthouse stood dormant, the vital oils of the flame exhausted. Yet Morgan remained vigilant, stretching his senses as far as they could feel, tracing the rise and fall of the water, and riding the spiralling wind. He knew the coast as closely as he knew himself, and each wave that broke upon the rocks broke upon his mind also. Water then trickled over the wrinkles of his face, robbed of any strength and once again under the dominant control of gravity. A drop of water formed from the spray on the tip of his nose and he felt as it cowered from the wind, wandering from side to side with each gust until large enough to fall back into the storm.
As Morgan felt the wind, he also felt what it carried. Amidst the spiralling torrent was a sound, at once out of place with the tune of the storm yet fitting perfectly alongside it. He felt it before he heard it, the repeated clang of a bell. It grew to his ears and faded away at the whim of the weather, and the smell of damp mahogany tickled his nose. Morgan, now aware that he was not alone in this storm, opened his eyes and peered into the black. There was no light by which to see even the waves on the rocks let alone what was beyond, but the presence of a ship was unmistakable. The bell chimed rudely and irregularly on the wind, yet calmly as if unaware of the perilous coast. Morgan listened, more intently than before, to the patterns of the sea and the flight of the wind. By careful counting he determined that it was a Whaleship, returning with a good haul and riding low in the water.
Morgan ran his hand over the rail as the swells ran over the deck of the ship. He felt as they pulled it this way and that, with no definite control but an idle interest. And just as idly the ship was closing on the rocks. Sure to scuttle, Morgan thought, sure to bash itself to bits. He turned and glanced up at the vacant eye of the Lighthouse. An impulse found its way inside of him, telling him to climb the lantern room. He grabbed hold of the slippery metal ladder and advanced as fast as the weather would allow. Morgan’s closeness to the wind grew with each rung he climbed, the air hurtling through the narrow space between his body and the Lighthouse. There the whistle and screech turned to a foreboding moan, as if begging him to return to the platform. What his goal was he was still not sure.
The storm felt so much more real and dangerous from the top of the lantern room. There were no rails, no solid flat surface. There was Morgan, the wind, the rain and the slippery glass of the lantern room. The clang of the bell came only faintly now, though he knew the ship was closer. The battering of the wind in his ears removed him from the ocean and the rocks, the status of the imperilled vessel beyond the reach of his senses. That same strange impulse took his arms and whipped the yellow coat from his back, swaying it this way and that against the wind, never catching long enough to offset his footing but altering the airflow ever so slightly. He repeated this steady dance for several minutes, all the while aware of a change in sound. The wind did not batter his ears so harshly, the trees below did not sway so much and the spray did not carry so far.
A moment flashed a bright yellow before him as a single ray of moonlight lit upon his coat. For the first time a chill hit him and he stopped, still as the lighthouse itself, his head tilted up towards the moon. The clouds were separating in a rough spiral before the celestial body, whose light shone thick and pale on Morgan’s face. A voice shot out, straight as an arrow through the tumbling sky, and caught Morgan’s ear. The bell of the Whaleship below rang out urgently, and more voices joined the first. Morgan hurried down the ladder, forsaking the rungs in his haste, and through himself against the rail once again. He saw pools of water glistening back at him, revealing the dark rocks that held them. He saw, too, the Whaleship and its occupants, rushing around on the deck, fighting for dominance over the current.
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Book / Science Fiction
Short Story / Other
Short Story / Flash Fiction
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