(Continued from; Water Swell, Part 1)
In the dim light that still lingered in the sky above, he could just make out the outline of the building. It was definitely a large house with a lighthouse stretching up from the right hand side. Trying to steady his breathing, Colton walked up the steps. His boots sloshed with water, but couldn’t compare to the sound the sea was now making against the cliff. He reached the door and touched the cold, rotting wood.
Some instinct told him the place was long abandoned. He glanced over his shoulder, but could see nothing other than the rolling night. He pushed against one of the doors and surprisingly it squeaked open. He looked inside and saw nothing but the pitch darkness. Fear prickled the back of his neck, but he had no choice. He stepped inside, but didn’t close the door behind him.
He shuffled his feet and pressed a hand to the wall as he walked. He could feel the peeling paint of the other door then a freezing cold stone wall. He paused as his hand touched what felt like a curtain. He further explored and found it was a velvet drape. He felt something crawling on the back of his hand and shook it off. Dust tickled his nose and breathed in a musty scent.
Shaking the curtain, he yanked it down and heard the pinging of brass rings. The drape tumbled down and he took the full weight of it in his hands. Letting it fall to his feet, he took off his clothes then his shoes. Collecting the curtain again, he wrapped it around himself and sat down on the floor. He couldn’t decide if he liked the velvet against his skin, but as the sea chill began to lift, he felt grateful.
He looked to the open door and saw that the outside darkness had crept in and had mixed with the darkness of the house. The roaring stormy waves rocked Colton’s ears and he heard the patter of rain. He sighed and dried off his hair, glad to be out of the sea and now somewhat safe. A crack of lightening blinded him and he turned his head away. A growl of thunder started up a competition of roaring sounds with the ocean.
Colton shivered and lay down on the floor. A blast of wind slammed the door and he pulled the drape over his head. Letting out a small sob, he tried to sleep but his thoughts were plague with the shipwreck. He couldn’t really remember what had happened, only that the captain had called The Ocean Wonderer to be evacuated. There had been a scum to the lifeboats and no one had given a thought to the cabin boy. Colton wasn’t even sure how he had survived. Just that as the ship was breaking apart, he had come up deck and gone into a lifeboat that had been abandoned. He shook his head and tried not to give it any more thought. He took in deep breaths of stale air and fell asleep.
His dreams refused to let the trauma of the afternoon go and he slept feverishly. A few times he woke up, believing he was still on the ship and it was sinking. Once he even scrambled up shouting, ‘abandoned ship! Men over boarded.’ Then dragging in deep breaths he saw he was actually in the hallway of a house. He lay back down, curling up like an injured dog and trying to sleep again.
When he woke for the final time, he didn’t know what time it was. Struggling out of the curtain, he went to the door and opened it. Light poured into the hallway, shinning across his bare feet and alighting the grand staircase behind him. Colton looked out and saw a large rectangle of earth that had once been a front lawn. Running from the steps was something of a sand pathway and it seemed to led down to the cliff face he had climbed up.
He opened the door fully then the other one, letting in sunlight and after-storm scented sea air. He stepped out, realised he was naked and went back for his clothes. They and his shoes were still wet. He took them outside and lay them out on the steps. Then stepping carefully, he walked to the edge of the cliff. Looking out, he could see nothing but calm waves bobbing all around. There was no sign of the shipwreck. He looked down and saw the waves tapping against the cliff. There seemed no beach or other island that he could see.
He turned back and decided to walk around the house. He kept just were the edge of the grass use to be and walked the full circle in less than ten minutes. He guessed there had once been a garden with space to grow food in at the back. He saw a large green house that was empty beside from a few dead plants and had some windows smashed in by the wind. He also saw what had once been fruit trees, perhaps.
Inspecting the lighthouse attached to the side of the house, Colton found the small door open. The stone spiral staircase was covered in dust and the leavings of birds. He went straight to the top and found himself face to face with the broken electrical light. He couldn’t tell if a person had broken the light or not. The glass surrounding walls were broken too and he could look out and get a clear view of the sea.
He went back into side the house and roamed through the rooms. There wasn’t a lot to be seen. Maybe when someone had lived here it had looked nice and been full of interesting furniture, but now there was only some fitted cupboards in the kitchen, the large stone slab fireplaces, a fitted bookcase in the wall of what could have been a study or living room. And of course the drapes that hung closed at every window, but the front one he had torn down.
Coming back to his almost dried clothes, his stomach growled. He had seen no food, but there had been an old well in the back garden. Putting on his clothes and shoes, he walked back there. The well was small and covered with a wooden lid. Miraculously there was still a bucket on the floor. Colton shifted the lid and tied the bucket to the end of a spool of rope, that looked little weathered but still good. He lowered the bucket, suddenly realising how thirsty he was.
Praying there was drinkable water at the bottom, he let the rope spool spin around. He heard a faint plop and splash of water. The rope had almost reached its end. Grabbing the turning handle, Colton dragged the bucket back up. It felt heavier, but it wasn’t till the bucket had come fully up that he saw the discoloured water inside.
He grabbed the bucket handle and slid it over the well’s edge and to the floor. He scooped a handful of water and saw it had a yellow colour. He pressed it to his lips and sucked up a little bit. The water wasn’t salty nor was it fresh. There was an after taste of staleness and something else he didn’t know. Deciding that he didn’t have a choice, he filled his hungry belly with the dirty water.
After, he walked around the island again often pausing to look out at the sea. Nothing seemed to change, other than the sky becoming lighter. He sat down on the front steps, wondering what to do. One thought become clear in Colton’s mind. He couldn’t stay here. There was no food and the water was bad. A dread filled him at his next thought; I’ll have to face the sea again if I want to get off here.
Collecting himself, he walked around looking for anything he could use or any clue as to watch direction land was in. He found nothing but the bones of some birds and cat. Finally, having no choice he went to the edge of the cliff and began to climb down. The rocks bit into his hands and thin leather shoes, but he struggled on. A few times he tried to head across, just to see if he could see anything of interested. However, the cliff face didn’t seem to want to let him and he carried on.
Halfway down, he pondered how people had gotten on and off the island. There must have been a staircase of something. Maybe he should have spent more time looking for it? Shaking his head, he carried on and eventually reached the bottom. The waves swirled around and over the large rocks, creating another barrier for Colton. His hands and feet were stinging and bloody. He wiped his hands on his shorts then decided to try and get around the island. The idea that there must have a staircase or some indication of a dock had really got to him. Slowly, he made his way around, being careful of the wet, seaweed covered stones and using the cliff face to balance on. He came across a wooden pole stuck in-between to rocks and next to a small rough staircase had been cut into the cliff side. Growling, Colton looked further around, but couldn’t see anything else. At least he now knew which way to swim.
Getting into the sea trigged bad memories, but he forced them away. Kicking off from a rock, he set off at a good pace and found that the waves were pushing him forward. The cold water caused him to shiver and feel tried, but still he swim on. A few times he paused to catch his breath and to check to see if he was still going the right way. Though of course he couldn’t be hundred percent sure about that.
The first sign he got was another set of rocks and a line of yellow sand. Joy, hope and desperation filled him at once and he swim harder towards what he saw. He past the rocks and a beach came into full form before him. He saw people walked around, some horses and large wooden ship planks. He swum on, feeling the aches in his limbs then his feet hit sand and he stood up. He walked out of the sea and on to the beach.
A man ran towards him as he collapsed and Colton remembered other faces and voices. They were all asking him questions, but he no longer cared. His eyes closed and thought he saw the flashing of the lighthouse against his eye lids.