The Dying Light (Part 4)

lantern, light, rustic

Nathaniel braced himself for going outside. He could hear the wind and the rain knocking against the lighthouse door.

‘We’ll need the lantern again,’ Tom’s voice called from behind him.

Nathaniel glanced over his shoulder as the old station master lit the candle and closed the lantern’s door.

‘I won’t need to take my case. Just a few things,’ Nathaniel announced.

Opening his case on the floor, because there was nowhere else to search through it, Nathaniel dug out a large cross, a bible and a small bottle of Holy Water. Pausing he debated what else to take. He had never done this before, he was not that kind of religious man and he was more use to standing before the congregation and leading them in hymens and prayers.

‘You ready now, Father?’ Tom’s voice spoke out.

Nathaniel nodded and closed his case. Then he followed Tom to the door and they both stepped out into the bad weather. The wind blew hard around them, making sounds like a crying person as it swept around the marsh. Rain hit and blinded them, making the walk down the rock steps difficult. The candle flame in the lantern flickered and Tom had to hold the side with the broken panel close to him to stop the light from going out.

Slowly they arrived at the edge of the low bridge and Nathaniel blinked away the rain in his eyes. He could hardly see though and he thought for a few moments he could hear the very distant sea pounding on the rocky shore. The light from the lighthouse flashed by and for a few seconds, Nathaniel thought it was lightening and the sound he had mistaken for the sea had actually been thunder. Then though he looked up and saw the lighthouse beam turning slowly around.

‘Here is good,’ Nathaniel said trying to be bold.

‘I thought you might want to go more in the middle!’ Tom shouted over the wind, ‘closer to where the boy died.’

‘And where did he-?’ Nathaniel cried then the words were snatched from his mouth by a gust of wind.

‘No one knows for sure, but further out,’ Tom concluded after the wind finished whipping them.

Gritting his teeth, Nathaniel walked on, feeling the bridge under his feet and clutching the cross, bible and bottle to his chest. After a few paces he stopped again.

‘This is good enough! Bring the light here!’ he called out.

Tom moved closer till their shoulders were touching and they could huddle over the bible and lantern together.

‘What was the boy’s name?’ Nathaniel asked.

‘Paul, I believe!’ Tom shouted.

‘Paul? To the spirit of Paul, if you are out here, we do not mean you any harm, we wish to help you. Come towards us,’ Nathaniel began, ‘your sister has been worried about you for so many years, but now it’s time you went towards the light and up into Heaven. Your family is awaiting for you there. You will not have to be lonely or lost ever again.

Nathaniel paused for breath and felt Tom shivering violent beside him. A worrying thought entered Nathaniel’s mind; he did not two deaths in his hands tonight. Swallowing water that tasted salty, he held out the cross and hoped he was doing this right.

‘Paul come towards us now! Let us help you cross over! Go into the light, rise up to the Holy Father and Mother. I release you from this Earth and into their hands. Go now and be at peace!’

Giving the cross a little wave, Nathaniel then tucked it back in the crook of his arm and palmed the bottle of Holy water. Carefully he unscrewed the lid and let a few drops fall out before closing the bottle again. The wind snatched the Holy water drops away and mingled them with the rain. Whatever power they might have had seemed lost but Nathaniel hung on to his faith.

‘I bless this place!’ Nathaniel screamed into the wind, ‘I release all the spirits that have lingered! Go into Heaven! Go and be at peace! Go!’

The wind howled and pushed hard against them as more rain flooding down on them. Tom lost his footing and waved his arms around to try and keep his balance. The lantern light waved and flickered around. Nathaniel grabbed and held on to him, struggling to juggle the things in his hands too.

Somehow, they steadied each other and the light candle survived. Pushing Tom ahead of him, they made their way back to the rock steps. Behind him, Nathaniel swore he could hear people crying but it must have been the wind. Feeling their way up the rocks, like tried and injured sailors, they reached the lighthouse door.

Tom opened the door and they tumbled in, slamming the door shut and fighting the wind as they locked it. Tom set the lantern and himself down on the first step. Nathaniel slumped against the door and they both caught their breaths back.

‘Is it done?’ Tom finally asked.

‘I did my best,’ Nathaniel answered, ‘though with the storm it was hard to tell anything.’

Tom nodded, ‘best go up and tell her.’

Collecting the lantern again, Tom started climbing the stairs.

Nathaniel opened his case and placed the now wet cross, bible and bottle inside. Closing it again, he picked up the worn handle and trailed after Tom upstairs. Water dripped off them and back down the steps. In the quietness of the lighthouse they could both hear the storm now raging outside.

They reached Mrs. Fitz and found her comfortable in bed still.

‘It’s done,’ Nathaniel said coming to her side and sitting down.

The dying woman didn’t reply.

Nathaniel took her hand which she had just slipped back under the blanket. He patted the warm skin and began praying, whispering the words softly with a bowed head.

Tom moved to the other side of the bed, the handle of the lantern tightly clutched in both his hands. The candle flame still glowing behind the glass.

Nathaniel finished his prayer and just as he was about to start another, Mrs Fitz’s fading voice uttered, ‘thank you, Father.’

‘Your welcome. Sleep now,’ Nathaniel whispered back then he took up the Lord’s Prayer.

The storm carried on through the night, seemingly attacking the lighthouse but the building had stood for hundreds of years and was well use to taking on bad weather. As dawn finally broke, grey and watery, the wind quieted down and the rain turned back into a light drizzle.

Nathaniel finished his final prayer and looked up at Mrs Fitz’s face. She was gone.

Tom, having placed the lantern down hours ago when the candle had finally melted and go out, drew up a blanket and lay it over her face.

Nathaniel took in a few deep breaths and moved his stiff body. He stood up slowly, feeling weighed down by numb limbs.

‘Thank you, father,’ Tom whispered, ‘I know she will be fine now.’

‘Of course. She is at peace,’ Nathaniel said.

‘I shall walk you back to the station and signal a train to stop for you,’ Tom spoke out.

‘Thank you,’ Nathaniel replied as he collected his case, ‘might I go to the top of the lighthouse first?’

Tom glanced up then with a single nod turned towards the stairs. They went up and on the fourth floor was another bedroom this time with a double bed and dust growing thickly across everything. They went up again and Tom opened a heavy metal door and stepped out.

Nathaniel followed, feeling cold and wet air sweeping passed him. The huge light of the lighthouse which had now gone out dominated the roof floor. A rusty railing ran around the edge stopping anyone from falling off. Nathaniel went to over and looked out. Far in the distance, he thought he could make out the sea but all around him was the marsh. A stillness had settled over the tall grasses and stagnate water pools now, bring a calmness that seemed heavenly.

Nathaniel took a few deep breaths then thought he heard the sound of playful children laughing somewhere below him in the marshlands.

The End

The Dying Light (Part 3)

lantern, light, rustic

Nathaniel waited on the doorstep to the lighthouse listening to the rain and wind picking up. He knocked again, louder this time then felt a chill go up his spine.

What if I’m too late? he thought.

He reached for the door handle and tried it, the simple brass knob turned and the door opened on squeaky hinges. He shone the lantern in and though he had not given much thought to what he would find inside the lighthouse, he was pleasantly surprised.

Many years ago, someone had re-done up the lighthouse and turned into in a comfy home. The ground floor had been made into seem like the front hallway of a house. A light bulb with a white shade on it hung down from the ceiling. The walls were painted pale blue. A handmade rug covered a large area of the floor, an empty wooden hat stand stood next to wall hooks that held three coats and a small wire framed rack on the floor held a collection of boots and shoes.

Nathaniel collected his case and stepped inside. The stone spiraling stairs were straight ahead of him attracted to the wall on his left. Next to the stairs was a small table that held a very old fashioned phone and a vase of fake red roses. Then he spotted a totally out of place door set into the far wall with a little sign reading bathroom. He pondered this then wondered if he should take his coat and shoes off.

Footsteps sounded on the stairs, catching his attention.

An old man appeared coming down. He wearing a white shirt, blue jacket and blue trousers. A scrubby beard covered the lower half of his face and his blue eyes flashed with worry and panic.

‘Are you him?’ the old man cried, ‘Father Tawny?’

Nathaniel nodded, ‘yes, I am.’

‘I’m Tom, the station master…well, retired now. The trains don’t stop here any more. But I still volunteer from time to time. I was meant to meet you. But Mrs. Fitz, she begged me to stay with her in case she passed before you came,’ Tom gushed.

‘And is she…?’ Nathaniel trailed.

‘Hanging on, just about though…’ Tom added in a dropped voice.

‘Then I must- here,’ Nathaniel said and give the lantern to Tom, ‘Sorry, I stole it and broke it. I would not have made it across that marsh without it though, thank the Lord.’

Tom stared at the lantern as if he had never seen it before then nodded his head. He blew out the candle and placed the lantern down next to the table.

‘Come up, then,’ he spoke.

The old station master turned and led Nathaniel up the stairs. The first floor was a kitchen with the cooker, sink, work tops and cupboards special made to fit the rounded walls. A small fridge and freeze took up all the room under the stairs. A small table and two chairs stood in the middle. Above the sink was a net curtained window.

They carried up to the second floor which was a living room, once again the furniture had been made to fit the round walls. There was a sofa, an armchair, a TV stand, cupboards and a bookcase. Carpet covered the floor and wall lamps lit up the room. A window above the sofa had a curtain half drawn across it. Nathaniel marveled at it all. The place seemed so homely.

They climbed the third section of the spiral staircase and arrived in a dimly light room.

‘This is it. The bedroom,’ Tom pointed out as he came to a stop.

Nathaniel give a nod. Two small single beds was opposite them, bedside tables were either side with lamps on them, there was a small dressing table and a wardrobe tucked under the staircase which carried on upwards. A window was slotted between the two beds, a dark curtain pulled tightly across it.

‘Mrs. Fitz?’ Tom said softly and moved to the first bed.

Nathaniel followed him and saw an old woman laying in the bed. The blankets were pulled up tight around her so that only her face poked out. A white night cap was on her head, keeping her hair back. She seemed to be struggling to awake.

‘Sit down, Father,’ Tom said indicting a rickety wooden chair next to the bed.

Nathaniel placed his case down and sat.

‘Mrs Fitz? I’m Father Tawny. Shall we prayer together?’

The dying old woman’s eyes eased open and looked up at him.

‘Yes,’ she breathed through dry cracked lips, ‘but first you must do something for me.’

‘Yes?’

‘Hundreds of years ago, when the sea surround this lighthouse, the owners and men from the village use to wreak ships on the rocks by turning the light off. Then they would salvage what they could from whatever washed ashore,’ Mrs Fitz spoke.

Nathaniel frowned, wondering what that had to do with anything. He moved closer and listened more carefully as the dying woman began speaking again.

‘As a child, I would play with the children from the village and we played a game called Wreakers. In the early evenings, a few of us would be here and we would turn the light on and off as the other children pretended to be ships and tried to reach the lighthouse from the village across the marsh.’

Mrs Fitz stopped and drew in some shaky wheezy breaths.

‘Take your time,’ Nathaniel spoke gently.

Mrs Fitz wet her lips and continued, ‘one evening as we were finished playing Wreakers, I realised my younger brother had not returned. We set out looking for him, but we could not find him. I had to tell my parents and they with the other villagers searched for him. Finally, it was decided he had fallen into a deep marsh pool and drowned.’

‘Oh. I’m so sorry,’ Nathaniel uttered.

The bed clothes moved and a wrinkly weak hand appeared, reaching out to him. Nathaniel took it, clasping Mrs Fitz’s hand in between his. He brushed the cooling skin with his finger tips, trying to offer comfort to the old woman.

‘Please, Father. Go out into the marsh and help guide his spirit to Heaven. I hear him crying so often that I know he’s out there still. A little boy so lost and lonely.’ Mrs Fitz begged.

‘Yes, Of course,’ Nathaniel answered.

‘Do you need assistance, Father?’ Tom asked.

‘Go with him and be my eyes!’ Mrs. Fitz cried out.

‘I shall,’ Tom answered.

‘We will be back soon,’ Nathaniel uttered.

He stood and collecting his case followed Tom back down the stairs.

To Be Continued…

The Dying Light (Part 2)

lantern, light, rustic

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…

The Dying Light (Part 1)

lantern, light, rustic

 Nathaniel arrived late at night on the tiny train station platform, tried and dirty from the journey. As the old steam train pulled away behind him, he looked around, loosely clutching his large case in one hand at his side. There was a small hut with a single door and window to his right. A light in an old fashioned black case with a fancy pointed dome on top hung over the door.

He went to the window and looked in, but it was dark inside. He tried the door but it was locked. Sighing, he walked away and back to the middle of the platform. There was nothing else here and no other source of light. For a few moments, he wondered if this was a dream; had he fallen a sleep on the train?

Then from far in the distance came a flash of white light and Nathaniel saw for a few seconds what lay before him. Stretching as far as he could see was a marshland. Large pools of dark water, some of which were half hidden by the giant reeds created moats around islands of tall grass. Unseen bullfrogs croaked loudly and splashed into the deep waters, their sounds the only thing that could be heard.

‘Yes, I’m dreaming,’ he uttered, ‘this can’t really be the place!’

He went back to the hut’s door and banged loudly on it. The lantern above his head swung, creaking on a short chain. No one answered the door.

‘Hello? Is anyone in there?’ Nathaniel shouted, ‘I’m Father Tawny and I’m looking for Mrs. Fitz. She called me to give aid in her dying hour.’

His voice faded and he listened hard but still heard nothing. At a lost for want to do, Nathaniel paced the tiny platform which was actually only a few feet across. His case swung about then he placed it down and carried on walking back and forth. Every so often he would see the flash of white light in the distance and catch a glance of the dark marshland.

‘God, I could do with some guidance,’ Nathaniel muttered, ‘how am I to get over there?’

He quickened his pacing as he tried to think. He went back to the hut again and double checked the door. He rattled the handle hard and without really meaning to give the door a sharp kick. Suddenly, the door handle and lock came away in his hand, the wood splintering loudly. Nathaniel stumbled backwards as the door squeaked open.

He looked down, seeing the handle and lock in his hand. Glancing around he made sure no one had seen him then walked into the hut. The door, he noticed had totally rotted away which had made it easier for the handle and lock to come away. He set them on a small desk and looked around in the gloomy light.

There was hardly anything inside the hut. He found a stack of tickets, a few pens, an empty water bottle, a box of matches, four candles and a large lantern. Upon realising this, he thanked God, collected the last three items and took them outside under the light above the door.

Inspecting the lantern, Nathaniel saw it was a simply made long rectangle with black iron and thick glass panels. The handle was a massive hoop like that of a door handle and seemed quite secure. The door was a latch lock and it took a few moments for Nathaniel to open it. Picking the biggest candle, he placed it inside and lit a match. The tiny flame glowed brightly then become two as the wick caught.

Removing the match, Nathaniel shook it out then closed the lantern door. The candle light made a nice circle to see by.

‘Thank you, Father,’ Nathaniel whispered.

Putting the other candles and matches into his long brown coat’s pockets, he picked up the lantern and his case. Moving the light around the platform, he walked to the nearest corner and looked down at the train tracks which led away from the mash. The distant white light flashed by and he turned his head towards it in time to see something at the opposite corner.

There was attached to the edge of the platform a wooden plank. He approached slowly, letting the light show him the way. The plank was attached to a second one then a third by thinning ropes on either sides. It was a bridge just above the marshland. The planks were dark, but dry and seemed to led towards the distance flashing light.

Nathaniel reached a booted foot out and stepped onto the plank. There was a small groan and slight shifting movement. He put his other foot on and uttering a pray moved on to the next one. The bridge held his weight and underneath him rose the smell of stagnate water with rotting vegetation. A bullfrog crocked loudly close by, startling him and Nathaniel saw the long legs of said bullfrog jump off the bridge and splash into a pool below.

Swallowing, Nathaniel tightened his grip on his case and lantern, started whispering another prayer and walked further into dark marsh.

 

To Be Continued…

(This story was originally written for Sue’s Thursday Photo Prompt Lantern. However, I decided it was too long and I wanted to divided it up into smaller parts, making it unsuitable for the prompt. Sometimes, my story ideas demand to be longer and I like to do them justice, so that what they want to tell can happen. So, please enjoy this story and if you like it please give me a like and share it with your friends. Feel free to leave comments too, I love hearing feedback and it helps inspire me to write more. Also, if you are not already please follow my blog. I’d love to get up to 500 followers this year! I’m currently at 327 followers. Thanks, Hayley)

Lantern

glaston6-024

The lantern shone out in the darkness, guiding all that needed it out of the gloom and to safety away from the fire. The light reflected in the fancy windows of the museum sending a strange glow across the glass cases. The people crowded inside, around the historical items and watched from the windows as the fire grew in the distance.

(https://scvincent.com/2017/01/19/thursday-photo-prompt-lantern-writephoto/)

Chinese Dragon

Paris, France, Chinese New Year, People, Celebration

Mini sat on her father’s shoulders holding her breath. Below her, the heads of the crowd pressed around them and she saw more children on adult shoulders who were pointing with chubby fingers down the street. She looked, but couldn’t see anything other than the red paper lanterns that were strung up between the streetlamps.

She sniffed and rubbed her nose, feeling the tail end of her cold getting her down again. Mini put her hands on top of father’s head and pressed her cheek on them. The voices and movements of those around her slipped into the background and her eyes began to close.

The pounding of drums jumped her awake and her eyes shot down the street. A path was being made and coming through were smiling people wearing red and yellow costumes.  Above their heads, flags and banners waved in the breeze. Mini wiggled, leaning over to get a better look. Father’s voice told her to be still, she’d see soon enough.

The people walked past, waving to the crowd then the drummers came, rolling out the marching beat. She caught a glance of something big and golden bobbing in the sky. Her hands slipped back to around father’s chin and Mini lend over his head, desperate to see. The shape grew, becoming clearer and clearer till she could see the mighty head of the dragon. He was gold and fiery orange, with large white triangle teeth, a red mane and crest. She gasped and watched him swooping over peoples’ heads. She wanted to cover her eyes, but couldn’t move.

The crowd was going crazy and shouting so much at once. Most of the words were drowned out by the drummers. Hands clutching red squares reached for the sky and the dragon as he came closer, weaving from one side to the other. His tongue was flopping out and his black eyes seemed to searching for something to eat. Mini tightened her grip on father and got told off, but she couldn’t help it.

The dragon loomed over and she ducked, burying her head in father’s hair. He bounced her a little, telling her comforting things, but she couldn’t listen. She was sure the dragon had seen her and was preparing to eat her. She felt a strong wind sweep over her head and cried out. Mini risked a peek and saw that the huge dragon head had past her. Easing up, she watched the dragon’s body flying by, the gold and orange colours moving as if they had a life of their own.

She sighed and watched the spiky tail disappearing into the crowd. The dragon hadn’t been hungry for her after all. Mini patted her father’s head and told him, as he looked up at her, that the dragon was scary. He laughed and told her that’s how they were meant to be, but dragons had no interested in eating little girls. They enjoyed money and treasure far more.