Nathaniel continued to shuffle his way across the low bridge. The candle light from the lantern barely penetrated though the darkness. What he could see of the marshland though, he decided he did not like. A soft breeze made the reeds and long grass rattle together and shadows played at the edge of his vision. The bull frogs were still croaking, now aware of his presence and letting all know about it.
The end of a prayer finished on his lips and he hurried to start up another. The flashing of the distant light stopped him. For a few seconds, the marshland lit up then faded into darkness again. Nathaniel tried to see if he was any closer but it was too difficult to say. Gathering himself, he walked on forgetting all his fears as the urge to just get there took over.
To take his mind off things, he thought about this morning and how everything had been so normal. Soon after lunch as he was heading over to the small village church which he was in his fourth month of being in charge of, a boy had shouted to him across the road. He had stopped and the boy had given him a telegram. It had been a simple request for him to come and tend Mrs Fitz at the Long Grave Lighthouse as she was dying.
Feeling duty bound, he had asked the boy how to get there. Then Nathaniel had dropped everything, packed a few important things in his case and caught the first train towards the coast.
‘I do not regret it,’ Nathaniel muttered through gritted teeth, ‘it can not be much farther now.’
The flashing light came by again and Nathaniel took his chance to try and see further ahead. Luckily, he saw a tall shape growing up out of the mash. Picking up his pace, he broke into a small run. The lantern jiggled in his hand, causing the light to splash everywhere.
He suddenly felt wetness on his face and looked up. He could hardly see but then he felt a fine rain began to fall. Praying it did not get heavier, Nathaniel hurried on until the tip of his walking boots caught a slightly raised plank of wood. He stumbled and unable to stop himself tumbled face down onto the bridge.
Moaning and gasping for breath, Nathaniel moved to curl into a ball. Pain was pounding through his chin, chest and knees. His vision was blurry and his head was swimming. Slowly, he looked up and tried to make sense of what had happened. As the worse of the pain subsided, he pushed himself into a sitting position and looked for his things.
He was in darkness. The candle gone out from the lantern. He waited till the lighthouse beam came around again the spotted the metal frame a little ahead of him on the bridge. Nathaniel pulled himself towards it and picked it up. A tinkle of glass told him that at least one panel of glass had broken.
From his pocket he took the matches and waited for the light to come back around. Then he opened the door, lit another match and tried to get the candle wick to take it. The match flickered out. He tried again and this time it worked. The light showed him what he had all ready guessed. A panel was gone and another was badly cracked.
Shinning the lantern around the bridge he search for his case. Not seeing it, he felt a lump in his throat. He looked over the side, praying it had not fallen into and/or sunk into a pool of mash water. Luckily, his case had just slipped down the side and it was safe. Nathaniel pulled the case up and checking it was okay, got to his feet.
Feeling better, he walked more carefully towards the lighthouse. Approaching the towering structure, the light which had been his guide started to blind him and Nathaniel had to keep looking away. He also noticed that large rocks were now dotted throughout the marsh and the closer he got the more the rocks loomed out of the darkness.
A lot fast then he now thought, Nathaniel came to the edge of the rock that the lighthouse sat upon. A small stone staircase, cut within the rock trailed upwards. He looked up and saw other lights shinning from the lighthouse. He shuffled onto the first step and began to climb upwards, keeping the lantern low so he could fully see.
At the top, he stopped and looked at the front door of the lighthouse which was now before him. Feeling a wave of relief that he had just about made it , Nathaniel placed down his case and knocked loudly on the the door.
To Be Continued…