The Skull, the Claw, and the Door


“There are twelve steps to the top of the lighthouse. Except today. Today, there is only one.”

The voice of the dead man whispered in the air around Joshua. He opened his eyes slowly. His head hurt. HIs eyes hurt. The sun was in a place it hadn’t been when he last heard the dead man’s voice. He turned his head and looked into the dead, empty sockets of a skull.

“You should go, man with questions,” the voice said like the sigh of the sea beyond the lighthouse. “This is not your place.”

Joshua sat up quickly, looked around. Monsters, the dead man had said. There were monsters and Joshua could hear them, clicking and slithering, unseen but close.

“…they come very close…”

The skull shifted in the sand alongside the stone step. The hand bones twitched, seemed to point.

“They are hungry.”

A claw reached over a tumble pile of rocks, sickly grey and huge — twice the size of the skull at his feet. The limb to which it was attached had no shell but was a moist, mottled brown and as thick as his thigh. He heard a slithering sound now over the slow-breaking waves and a slow rhythmic champing. Jaws. He could almost see them in his mind.

He turned to the door of the lighthouse. There was no knob nor lock but there was an outline of a hand. He placed his own hand in it and was about to push when the door clicked and ground open toward him a slow inch. The sound caused a stir on the other side of the rocks. The claw grasped the rock and…pulled…whatever was behind it. The rock groaned and, for a moment, Joshua thought it would shatter. A few chips flew in random directions as the claw exerted more pressure. He caught a glimpse of something that could have been a face, but before he could see more, he yanked the door further open, stepped up into the lighthouse, then inside. The door closed behind him with an emphatic click.

“Welcome to Lighthouse Eight, located at Heartsafe Harbor,” a pleasant, unaccented female voice said from the darkness. “We regret that the elevator is not currently operational but if you wish to enjoy the view from the observation deck, there are 216 steps to the top of the lighthouse.”

Joshua gaped as the lights came up.

This story is a direct sequel to “There are 216 Steps to the Top of the Lighthouse”, which I wrote last week. I hadn’t planned to write it at all. The idea didn’t even come to me until earlier in the evening. I do like the idea of discovering a bigger story one chunk at a time. It’s something I’ve never done. To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t know quite how it will go or even if I will see it through to whatever ending there will be.

I am curious, though, about Joshua and The Lighthouse. I don’t know any more than you do at this point, though I might have an idea or two. This will probably be a regular Wednesday thing so long as my Wednesdays leave me with enough brain power in the evening to write. That is not guaranteed either, but If I have it to spend, I’ll spend it on following Joshua as he explores this strange new place.

Oh, let me also say I’m not quite sure how to handle the quotes from the dead man, so I just handled them as regular spoken quotes, even though they weren’t spoken. I think we all know what happened.

(Photo Credit: dmitrisvetsikas1969 on Pixabay)